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104 Inspiring Quotes by Washington Irving

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Washington Irving. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Washington Irving

Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859) was an American short-story writer, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat of the early 19th century. He is best known for his short stories "Rip Van Winkle" (1819) and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1820), both of which appear in his collection The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works include biographies of Oliver Goldsmith, Muhammad and George Washington, as well as several histories of 15th-century Spain that deal with subjects such as Alhambra, Christopher Columbus and the Moors. Irving served as American ambassador to Spain in the 1840s.

Born and raised in Manhattan to a merchant family, Irving made his literary debut in 1802 with a series of observational letters to the Morning Chronicle, written under the pseudonym Jonathan Oldstyle. He temporarily moved to England for the family business in 1815 where he achieved fame with the publication of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., serialized from 1819–20. He continued to publish regularly throughout his life, and he completed a five-volume biography of George Washington just eight months before his death at age 76 in Tarrytown, New York.

Irving was one of the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe, and he encouraged other American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Herman Melville and Edgar Allan Poe. He was also admired by some British writers, including Lord Byron, Thomas Campbell, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Francis Jeffrey and Walter Scott. He advocated for writing as a legitimate profession and argued for stronger laws to protect American writers from copyright infringement.

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Longer Version:

Great minds have purpose, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortunes; but great minds rise above them.


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Longer Version:

A father may turn his back on his child, brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies, husbands may desert their wives, wives their husbands. But a mother's love endures through all; in good repute, in bad repute, in the face of the world's condemnation, a mother still loves on, and still hopes that her child may turn from his evil ways, and repent; still she remembers the infant smiles that once filled her bosom with rapture, the merry laugh, the joyful shout of his childhood, the opening promise of his youth; and she can never be brought to think him all unworthy.


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There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.


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The tie which links mother and child is of such pure and immaculate strength as to be never violated, except by those whose feelings are withered by vitiated society. Holy, simple, and beautiful in its construction, it is the emblem of all we can imagine of fidelity and truth.


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There rise authors now and then, who seem proof against the mutability of language, because they have rooted themselves in the unchanging principles of human nature. They are like gigantic trees that we sometimes see on the banks of a stream; which, by their vast and deep roots, penetrating through the mere surface, and laying hold on the very foundations of the earth, preserve the soil around them from being swept away by the ever-flowing current, and hold up many a neighboring plant, and perhaps worthless weed, to perpetuity.



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Longer Version:

It is not poverty so much as pretence, that harasses a ruined man--the struggle between a proud mind and an empty purse.


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Longer Version:

There is something nobly simple and pure in a taste for the cultivation of forest trees. It argues, I think, a sweet and generous nature to have his strong relish for the beauties of vegetation, and this friendship for the hardy and glorious sons of the forest. He who plants a tree looks forward to future ages, and plants for posterity. Nothing could be less selfish than this.


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