Thomas Bailey Aldrich
- It was pleasant to me to get a letter from you the other day. Perhaps I should have found it pleasanter if I had been able to decipher it. I don't think that I mastered anything beyond the date (which I knew) and the signature (which I guessed at).
There's a singular and a perpetual charm in a letter of yours; it never grows old, it never loses its novelty... Other letters are read and thrown away and forgotten, but yours are kept forever - unread. One of them will last a reasonable man a lifetime.
- letter to Professor E.S. Morse, circa 1889.
- All the best sands of my life are somehow getting into the wrong end of the hourglass. If I could only reverse it! Were it in my power to do so, would I?
- Leaves From a Notebook, Ponkapog Papers (1903).
- When friends are at your hearthside met,
Sweet courtesy has done its most
If you have made each guest forget
That he himself is not the host.
- Hospitality; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 379.
- If my best wines mislike thy taste,
And my best service win thy frown,
Then tarry not, I bid thee haste;
There's many another Inn in town.
- Quits; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 379.
- Somewhere—in desolate wind-swept space—
In Twilight-land—in No-man’s land—
Two hurrying Shapes met face to face,
And bade each other stand.
“And who are you?” cried one, agape,
Shuddering in the gloaming light.
“I know not,” said the second Shape,
“I only died last night.”
- Identity; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
- So precious life is! Even to the old
The hours are as a miser’s coins!
- Broken Music; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
- Wide open and unguarded stand our gates,
Named of the four winds, North, South, East and West;
Portals that lead to an enchanted land…
Here, it is written, Toil shall have its wage
And Honor honor, and the humblest man
Stand level with the highest in the law.
Of such a land have men in dungeons dreamed
And with the vision brightening in their eyes
Gone smiling to the fagot and the sword.
O Liberty, white Goddess! is it well
To leave the gates unguarded? On thy breast
Fold Sorrow’s children, soothe the hurts of Fate,
Lift the down-trodden, but with hand of steel
Stay those who to thy sacred portals come
To waste the gifts of Freedom.
- Unguarded Gates; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
- Here is woe, a self and not the mask of woe.
- Andromeda; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
- That was indeed to live—
At one bold swoop to wrest
From darkling death the best
That Death to Life can give!
- Shaw. Memorial Ode; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
- What is more cheerful, now, in the fall of the year, than an open-wood-fire? Do you hear those little chirps and twitters coming out of that piece of apple-wood? Those are the ghosts of the robins and blue-birds that sang upon the bough when it was in blossom last Spring. In Summer whole flocks of them come fluttering about the fruit-trees under the window: so I have singing birds all the year round.
- Miss Mehitabel's Son; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).