Francesca Carrara

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Francesca Carrara (1834) is a novel by Letitia Elizabeth Landon that hinges on a close relationship between the eponymous heroine and her cousin, Guido. It is set in the times of the English civil war. Robert Evelyn and Francesca meet in Italy and fall in love. He returns to England to discuss this with his father but, as a republican, he is drawn into acting for Cromwell. The two cousins move to Paris, where Guido finds his love, Marie Mancini has deserted him and Francesca unwittingly encounters Robert's twin, Francis who is a Royalist and entirely different in character. Disillusioned, the couple move on the England, where Francesca has discovered her true father lives. Francis is here captured and killed and Guido dies also. By the time Francesca is reunited with Robert, the restoration has occurred and he has become an outlaw. Only a pardon from Charles II himself enables them to sail for America. The novel ends with shipwreck and death. (As a contemporary reviewer put it - A sterner goddess never presided over the destinies of a novel.)

Quotes[edit]

Volume I.[edit]

Chapter 1[edit]

  • Toil is the portion of day, as sleep is that of night; but if there be one hour of the twenty-four which has the life of day without its labour, and the rest of night without its slumber, it is the lovely and languid hour of twilight.
  • Strange mystery of our nature, that those in whom genius developes itself in imagination, thus taking its most ethereal form, should yet be the most dependent on the opinions of others !
  • [Guido] 'I do believe there is no existence so content as that whose present is engrossed by employment, and whose future is filled by some strong hope, the truth of which is never proved.'
  • There are some moments, the hues of which are like those on the wing of a butterfly — a touch brushes them away.
  • There are words to paint the misery of love, but none to paint its happiness ; that childish, glad, and confiding time, to which youth gave its buoyancy and hope its colours. Its language repeated, ever seems exaggerated or foolish ; albeit there are none who have not thought such sounds "honey-sweet" in their time. The truth is, we never make for others the allowance we make for ourselves ; and we should deny even our own words, could we hear them spoken by another.

Chapter 2[edit]

  • THE history of a minute — why, it would give a bird's-eye view of every possible variety in human existence. Wonderful the many events that are happening together — life and death — joy and sorrow— the great and the mean — the common and the rare — good and evil — are all in the record of that brief segment of time.
  • ... — for nothing is more mournful than man's work and man's skill going to ruin for want of man's care — ...

Chapter 3[edit]

  • [From Sir Robert Evelyn]: Opinion should guide in public affairs, not feeling. Opinion is grounded on circumstance, on observation, and on reflection. Feeling acts from impulse, which sees but half. Excitement leads to enthusiasm, that moral intoxication, whose effects seem incredible to the sober, while the influence which produces the extravagance appears more extraordinary than the act itself.
  • Perhaps there is no moment when beloved objects are so much beloved, as on the return from a long absence. … Assuredly meeting after absence is one of — ah, no ! — it is life's most delicious feeling.

Chapter 4[edit]

  • It is wonderful how some words ever were invented, for they express what does not exist — confidence is among the number ; confidence is what no human being ever really had in another.
  • We talk of the influence of education — in what does it consist ? Here were two with the same blood flowing in their veins, born under the same roof, nursed by the same mother, playmates in the same nursery, surrounded by the same scenes, pursuing the same studies, subject to the same rules, rewarded by the same indulgences — never till the age of eighteen having been parted for a day; and yet were these two as opposite as if they had never known one circumstance in common.
  • That certain sign of intense selfishness — he never gave any one credit for a good motive, for he believed no one better than himself.
  • Who has not observed in the daily intercourse of domestic life, that the very subject we have been striving to avoid, or planning to disclose, is sure to defeat our best-laid scheme, and start up before us when least expected?
  • [Of Sir Robert Evelyn]: [He might have said, that] if there be one habit more than another the dry-rot of all that is high and generous in youth, it is the habit of ridicule.

Chapter 5[edit]

  • I cannot love evergreens — they are the misanthropes of nature. To them the spring brings no promise, the autumn no decline ; they are cut off from the sweetest of all ties with their kind—sympathy. They have no hopes in common, but stand apart—very emblems for the fortunate and worldly man, whose harsh temper has been unsoftened by participating in general suffering, existing alone in his unshared and sullen prosperity. I will have no evergreens in my garden ; when the inevitable winter comes, every beloved plant and favourite tree shall droop together — no solitary fir left to triumph over the companionship of decay.
  • [Robert Evelyn to his brother]: {Of Italy} What is the result of the exclusive privilege of one class, and the hereditary bondage of another, and the ignorance of both — what but cruelty, indolence, and debasing superstition ? … the slightest encroachment of the powerful, are not matters to be neglected — such are the first steps of tyranny. Woe betide the people who allow such invasion on their freedom to gain courage from endurance, or strength from time !
  • Frankness and confidence belong to youth ; and where experience comes too soon, it brings but half knowledge. The conviction of much evil in the heart should be learned at a later period, when we shall be aware also of much good.

Chapter 6[edit]

  • Time, of which so little has been measured, seems so very long — we soon learn the worldly lesson, that friends are easily replaced, and still more easily forgotten.
  • [From Francisco di Carrara]: … gold is the earthly deity, to whom is intrusted the destinies of humanity. It is power, it is pleasure, it is love ; for even affection may be bought by gratitude. What can a king give to his bravest but wealth ? How can the lover surround the loved with the lovely but with wealth ? Nay, will it not,[“ added he, with a scarce perceptible sneer, “]buy even salvation from our holy church ? There is only one thing on earth more glorious, and that is science ; …

Chapter 7[edit]

  • But, alas ! those who are heirs of the future, destined to fill the earth with the immortal and the beautiful, what is their share in the present? the sad and the weary path — the bowed down and broken heart ! … But the young look to the goal, not to the road ; and well it is for them so to do ; they would never reach it but for such onward gaze.
  • The results of this feminine interference were inevitable — vacillation, absurdity, and profligacy. The northern and southern hemispheres are not more divided than those allotted to man and woman — public and private life. There is no period of history which records the authority of the gentler sex without also recording its injurious effects. Leaving out the darker shades of the picture, are not impulse and sentiment the two mainsprings of all female action ?
  • Consistency is a human word, but it certainly expresses nothing human.

Chapter 8[edit]

  • [From D'Argenteuil]: … a man's circumstances must be desperate before he attempt to mend them by marriage.
  • Ah ! hope fulfilled is but a gentler word for disappointment.

Chapter 9[edit]

  • [From Francis Evelyn]: ... who can have a miser's treasure, and not guard it with a miser's care ?
  • Ay, love teaches many lessons to a woman ; but its last and worst must be when she learns to know that it is not eternal— that it can depart, and leave a scar never to be effaced, and a void never to be filled.

Chapter 10[edit]

  • Nothing at first frames such false estimates as an imaginative temperament. It finds the power of creation so easy, the path it fashions so actual, that no marvel for a time hope is its own security, and the fancied world appears the true copy of the real. How much of disappointment — what a bitter draining of the cup of mortification to the dregs — does it take, to sober down the ardour, and chain the winged thoughts of a mind so constituted! Let any, now perhaps staid with care, and grave with many sorrows, but who once indulged in the romance born of enthusiasm and ignorance — let them recall the visions in which their youth delighted, while they smile at their folly, or sigh over their sweetness.
  • ... love cares not for distinctions ; but friendship cannot exist without equality.
  • Good heavens ! the isolation of a crowd — that bitter blending of solitude and shame, when you fancy every one that passes casts on you an invidious or scornful glance, and yet are perfectly aware that they do not care — scarcely know— whether you are a human being like themselves ! It is in vain to say this is over-sensitiveness ; weakness though it be, it is very universal.
  • Now, if there be one thing in the world more provokingly insolent than another, it is a personal compliment from a stranger, whom you consider to have not even the right of speaking to you.
  • But a thoroughly unselfish temper is singularly alive to the feelings of others.
  • But ill-nature is inevitable in those who "season their discourse with personal talk".

Chapter 11[edit]

  • [From Marie Mancini]: I believe the pleasures of childhood, being translated, means the comfits and confections with which we were regaled.
  • [From Marie Mancini]: I think that great science, the science of grace, which I consider one of the fine arts, may be displayed in eating a bunch of grapes. First, there is the stalk to be poised in one hand, then the small fingers are to be put in motion while picking the berries of the purple fruit one by one ; then a pretty eagerness may be evinced, and a half smile shows at once your teeth and your dimples ; and all this without that constant suspicion of display which attends your bending over a lute.
  • There was some curiosity, too, in it ; for those who depend much on others for their amusement are always curious, especially when conversation is a great staple of entertainment. People are apt to mistake this, and fancy the attention given to their details is a proof of the interest taken in themselves ; it is merely that their auditors are attracted by novelty.
  • We dread the future, unless it comes upon us imperceptibly;— whenever we anticipate, unless under some strong excitement of joy, we always fear. There are so many dangers, so many disappointments, and so many sorrows, ready to beset the human path, that we cannot but expect some at least to fall to our lot.
  • Generally speaking, we are incredulous of the good fortune of our friends, and, even though loving them, undervalue their qualities ; the success of our greatest intimates takes us by surprise.

Chapters 12-15[edit]

Chapter 12

  • Well, memory is a very comfortable thing, usually adapting itself to the prejudices of the present.

Chapter 13

  • It is singular the charm that youth flings over both its exaggeration and its selfishness — perhaps they are pardoned for their very unconsciousness. Its expectations are unreasonable; but they are entertained in such good faith, that we first envy and then excuse the state of mind which admits them, and forgive their present folly, from our conviction of their coming disappointment. It is our own sense of superiority — the conscious superiority of knowledge, dear bought by experience, that makes us thus charitable. In youth, too, selfishness is divested of its most obnoxious part — its calculation ; it seems thoughtlessness— again we pity, pardon, and fancy that amendment which never comes.

Chapter 14

  • [From Madame de Mercœur (Henriette)]: The truth is, ma mignonne, we have nothing else to do — talking is the business of the idle. We do not talk out of the careless gaiety of the heart, which indulges its hopes, or expresses its feelings — we talk for amusement ; we are not interested in the doings of others, but we are entertained — always supposing, as the narrator may very well contrive, there is something a little absurd in them. We live together in society — strangers, rivals, and enemies, hiding the envy and hate which it would be impolitic to exhibit. We care nothing for each other; society could not exist a day now, did the dislike or the indifference rise to the surface. Talking is an ingenious contrivance for hiding all this. An agreeable compliment conceals carelessness ; a pointed phrase gives vent to many a suppressed emotion ; and we can veil our perfect disregard to what people feel, by a most studied attention to what they say. I can assure you, talking is more than an amusement — it is a necessity.

Chapter 15

  • … ; but there is no mind, however worldly, without some ideal enjoyment ; …
  • There is an inexpressible charm to politic and care-worn age in the hopes which can never more be its own, and the illusions which can never again lend a grace to the beaten path of existence. It is memory that makes the old indulgent to the young.
  • It is the man who is feared — not the man who is loved — that succeeds in the world. Refuse a favour, and all your gracious smiles, your kind words, aye, and even your really kind feelings, are utterly forgotten. But be necessary ; let men have aught to hope from you ; forward in any way their interests — and it matters not how you do it ; be harsh, abrupt, insolent, and it will only be "your way." People would, to be sure, rather obtain their object by trampling upon you ; but sooner than not obtain it, they will let you trample upon them. Civility is not only troublesome, but it is waste. To vary the old simile, people in general are like sweet herbs — they require crushing, not for their sakes, but for your own.

Chapter 16[edit]

  • The day passed away in that hurry which makes it seem so short, and in the many little cares, so few of which ever answer their purpose, and which yet appear so indispensable to the feminine affection from which they generally emanate.
  • Absence, like every other pang, weakens by repetition ; the friend who has once returned in safety may return so again ; we soon draw precedents from the past. She had to say farewell for the first time, and whatever we do not know, we always exaggerate.
  • The bustle of a departure suspends everything but itself;
  • The great popularity of the Stuarts — certainly more allied to personal causes than we can at present calculate — is a curious fact. It was not one of those feelings drawn from hoar antiquity, when habit has become religion. No — their ascension to the throne was of recent occurrence. Neither were they grafted into the heart by that enthusiasm which, more than all others, dazzles and delights, viz., military renown. No victories, no conquests, excited the imagination, and confounded theirs and the glory of England together. Their reigns had been most pacific, and their few warlike attempts unsuccessful ; and yet what devotion and attachment they inspired ! — fortune, liberty, and life, were yielded, and joyfully, in their cause. Wrongs were forgiven ; violated privileges and outraged laws forgotten ; and nothing but the still mightier spirit of fanaticism could have been opposed with any success to the spirit of loyalty. It was Charles's bigotry that cost him his crown. If he had given up the bishops, uncurled his hair, and spoken through his nose, he might have been an absolute monarch in all but name. As it was, he contrived to die a martyr, and to be mourned with a degree of personal affection which one, now-a-days, scarcely expects from the nearest and dearest friends.
  • The appearance of your lover — known to be such — among your intimate friends, is embarrassing enough to any girl, who anticipates their remarks and foresees their railleries.
  • Now, one may be very well content to renounce a lover, but it a very disagreeable to have him taken away.

Chapter 17[edit]

  • Their faults grew suddenly perceptible, and their absurdities an unfailing subject of mimicry. All these, in his hands, became singularly amusing. Francesca, who had little knowledge, and no envy, of the individuals so relentlessly caricatured, could not help being entertained. While their more intimate friends, whose competitors they were, who had a thousand small jealousies to be gratified, and divers little grudges almost unconsciously treasured up, placed no bounds to their encouragement. Still, it was a mirth that left, as sarcasm always does, its doubt and its depression. Human nature avenges itself by suspicion. First, there comes the internal and unerring whisper, As others have been used, so shall we ; and, secondly, we are in our hearts a little ashamed of our own enjoyment; we feel how contemptible it is, thus to revel in and exult over our neighbour's faults, follies, and misfortunes. Our very selfishness rebukes us.
  • The superstition which once taught us to believe that prayer and penance brought down their blessing on some beloved one, was at least a kindly one. The affections of earth grew at once more tender and more spiritual, thus elevated and purified by an intercourse with heaven. The court was dissipated, worldly, false, — even as human nature has ever been from the beginning, and will be even unto the end; but there, also, human nature asserted its better part, and its deeper feelings and had its higher hopes. Many a young and lovely woman, whose feet knew but the pleasant paths of prosperity, and whose ear was familiar but with the voice of the flatterer, would voluntarily offer up a portion of her time, as her holiest sacrifice ; and on the straw pallet, and in the serge robe, take a profound lesson of the vanities which made up ordinary existence. To these vanities, it is true, they returned ; but surely not without a stronger humility, and some thoughts which even in the world, were God's own.
  • Perhaps there is not a situation in the world so confidential as pacing up and down some shady walk, arm in arm. The freedom of that freest element, the air, communicates itself to the thoughts ; the green obscurity of the closing branches over head reassures timidity ; the motion gives its own activity, and dissipates the nervous restlessness ever attendant on excitement. Your face is necessarily a little averted from your companion's, though not enough to prevent your marking the attention given. Then the chance which led to your choice of subject was so accidental, the discourse has proceeded so gradually, that restraint has melted away from the lip, and reserve from the heart, almost before the speaker is aware that the secret soul has found its way in words.
  • Only those who have looked hopelessly upon life, and turned again to the restless and gloomy depths of their own heart with a despair which is as the shadow of the valley of death, — only they can know the peace that is of heaven, and the faith that looks beyond the portals of the grave.
  • Nothing more truly proves that life is but a trial — than the pleasures which depart, the sense of enjoyment which deadens, and the disappointments which spring up at every step in our pilgrimage. Could life preserve its illusions, who would be fit to die ? Vanity of vanities is written on this side of the grave, but that we may more clearly discern that on the other shines the hope of immortality.

Chapter 18[edit]

  • We talk of youth as our happiest season, because, perhaps, we do not begin to moralise upon it till it has been long past. The present sorrow always exceeds its predecessors — not so the present joy ; comparison exaggerates the one, while it diminishes the other ; and people talk of their youth as if it had not been a period of feverish sensitiveness, awkward embarrassments, many heart burnings, and an utter want of that self-reliance which alone can ensure content. It is folly to dwell on any season's peculiar happiness ; each might in turn be weighed in the balance, and found wanting.
  • … ; for in truth gaiety must make some small appeal to our vanity before it is enjoyed.
  • One would think that, in society, beauty, instead of lying on the surface, was in the mine, and required discovery ; the majority would never discover the loveliness of the Venus de Medici, unless it were pointed out to them.
  • … ; however, like most proofs of faith, it was to be put off as long as possible.

Chapter 19[edit]

  • She had all the faults peculiar to very weak people — faults which are of the meanest order ; violent, for it requires strength of mind to curb emotion; obstinate, for with the obstinate opinion is made up of habit and conceit ; and cunning for cunning is the genius of the fool.
  • [From the ex-Queen Christina of Sweden]: I am persuaded that war was always meant to be the one great luxury of the human race. War calls out all our good qualities ; courage teaches a man to respect himself — and self-respect is at once the beginning and the guarantee of excellence. Besides, a campaign teaches patience, generosity, and exertion. So much for the morale; and as to the enjoyment, pardieu ! I can imagine nothing beyond the excitement of leading a charge of cavalry.
  • Well — audacity, oddity, and flattery, are the three graces which wake their way in modern society.

Chapter 20[edit]

  • Even in our time, when they are so many in number — things of morning, noon, and night occurrence — a letter is a delight. We never hear the postman's knock without a vague sort of hope that it is for us. A letter, too, is one of the few mysteries that yet remain — a small and a transitory one, but still a mystery, though but of a moment. We have to open it. If these are a pleasure even now, what must they have been when an epistle was an event in a life, and when rarely any but a beloved hand traced the characters ?
  • Francesca's was a grievance of which most of her sex have to complain ; a man's letter is always the most unsatisfactory thing in the world. There are none of those minute details which are such a solace to feminine anxiety ; the mere fact of writing always seems sufficient to content a masculine conscience.
  • The imagination shuns to reveal its workings, unless it can clothe them in some lovely and palpable shape, and create into existence the high romance, the mournful song, the animated canvas, or the carved marble ; …
  • [From the ex-Queen Christina of Sweden]: Certainly it is pleasant to appreciate one's own perfections ; it puts one on good terms with others, by first being on such with ourselves.
  • A lover owes his mistress a little jealousy. Indifference to the homage she receives may show reliance, but it is a bad compliment.
  • None but worldly people appreciate simplicity.
  • There is a story somewhere of an eastern king, whose delight it was to assemble his subjects in a glittering hall, where they were crowned with roses, and drank the purple wine from cups of gold ; but beneath them were caverns and chains. Suddenly, the floor gave way, and the guests were precipitated into the darkness below, there to meditate at leisure over their former blind enjoyment. Human life is just such a tyrant — the pleasure hides the pain ; but not long — soon, very soon, are we precipitated into the depths of experience and regret !

Chapter 21[edit]

  • Voiture belonged to a race of poets essentially French, who sacrificed to the Graces instead of the Muses ; to whom Cupid, with his wings and arrows, was the ideal of love, and whose art of poetry consisted in epigram, tournure, readiness, and facility.
  • But the passion which gives its deep and melancholy tone to our English imaginative literature was unknown across the channel. Feeling never got beyond sentiment; and that bien arrangé. The heart's faith was but la galanterie — a term, by the bye, which our word gallantry does not translate.
  • [From the ex-Queen Christina of Sweden]: Ah ! women like to have desperate things done on their account ; besides, people in love never calculate on probabilities.

Chapter 22[edit]

  • Like most persons utterly unused to deception, she could not imagine how it was to be managed ; and her thoughts conjured up every probable and improbable embarrassment that might occur.
  • Ah ! misfortune ought to have sufficient self-respect for solitude.
  • It was curious to observe the many indications of character called forth by the spirit of gambling so unexpectedly evoked. Some pressed forward ; others hung back, as if they feared to tempt their fate without some effort at propitiation, in the way of "muttered vow and inward prayer." While one would take up a sealed billet with affected carelessness — belied, however, by the anxious eye — another could not conceal the flushed cheek and the trembling hand.
  • [From the ex-Queen Christina of Sweden]: {of Rome} Yet, you must admit, that the past, with its gathered glories of many ages, exceeds the past which has only to-day?

Chapter 23[edit]

  • Her education, it is true, had preserved her from much of the ignorant belief of her country ; but, whatever the head may be, the heart is always superstitious.
  • … ; she had already learned that leading lesson of society, namely, that of curbing your first impulses.
  • There is something peculiarly attractive to a woman in any display of strong emotion, though she has herself no part in it.
  • No person is much in any particular room without having a favourite seat in it;
  • — nothing is more painful than to have a kindly anxiety treated as curiosity.
  • 'Tis pity for those whose standard of love is high and ideal ; for them are prepared the downfall and the disappointment. The heart is the true sensitive plant — revolting at a touch.

Chapter 24[edit]

  • The ear long accustomed to, and therefore on its guard against, dissimulation, often catches the fact from slight indications which would pass unnoticed by the common observer.
  • … ; a first lover was welcome rather as an omen of future triumph than for his own sake. The sentiment of such a heart is dew, that exhales with the earliest sunbeam.
  • An idol must be picked to pieces before it is discovered to be but wood and stone.
  • Injustice is so revolting to the young — they hear of it, they think of it, they believe in its existence, but always as of that which cannot affect themselves. It is a bitter lesson that which first brings it home.
  • No marvel that we regret our youth. Let its bloom, let its health, let its pleasures depart, could they but leave behind the singleness and the innocence of the happy and the trusting heart. The lessons of experience may open the eyes; but, as in the northern superstition, they only open to see dust and clay, where they once beheld the beauty of palaces.

Chapter 25[edit]

  • The first appreciation of one's own face and figure is a very delightful feeling ; and as the youth outgrows the boy, it seems as if so much lost time had to be made up.
  • Memory has many conveniences, and, among others, that of foreseeing things as they have afterwards happened.
  • Truly, society is like a large piece of frozen water ; there are the rough places to be shunned, the very slippery ones all ready for a fall, and the holes which seem made expressly to drown you. All that can be done is to glide lightly over them. Skating well is the great art of social life.

Chapter 26[edit]

  • No entertainment, however brilliant, to which you merely go, can at all equal the delights of one where you have assisted from the original idea of the giving to the actual accomplishment of its being given. Your taste has been consulted, and your self-love enlisted in its cause; your advice has been asked, and, consequently, you have a personal interest in its success. Your time has been taken up by a thousand details — and occupation is the life of time.
  • Enjoyment is the least descriptive of all feelings ; …
  • I believe there are few who have not, even in their gladdest hours, felt how nearly gaiety and sadness are allied ; a shadow steals over the spirits, like a cloud over the moon, soft and subduing, perhaps transitory, but not the less dark for the moment.
  • We take some most favourable portion of another's existence, and compare it with one of the darkest in our own, and then exclaim against the difference.
  • Evelyn — for falsehood brings its own cowardice — was speechless.

Chapter 27[edit]

  • — shame can never be the first feeling of the innocent; but even the falsest accusation brings the burning and bitter blush, to think that such can even have been imagined.
  • I say, deeply is that woman to be pitied whose first attachment has been ill requited. The qualities most natural to youth are at once destroyed ; suspicion takes the place of confidence, reserve of reliance, distrust instead of that ready belief in all that was good and beautiful. Knowledge has come to her too soon — knowledge of evil, unqualified by the general charities which longer experience infallibly brings; but her age has lent its own freshness to this first great emotion ; it becomes unconsciously a criterion, and the judgment is harsh, because the remembrance is bitter. Another affection may, and in nine cases out of ten does, supersede the first ; and it is well that it should; the daily contentment of life, the household happiness of hourly duty and hourly love, are not to be offered up in vain sacrifice to the unpitying past. But not the less at the time did the disappointment appear too heavy, not the less cruel was its influence over the mind ; the ideal of love is gone for ever — its poetry a dream, its fairy-land a departed vision.
  • There are few but must recollect the first awakening after any event ; the unconscious rousing, the gradual remembrance that something unusual has occurred, the half reluctance to recall it, till suddenly it flashes full upon your mind, and you start up in astonishment at even your momentary oblivion.
  • No man likes to hear that any woman is in love with his friend — it seems a sort of personal affront to himself; … … And here we cannot but note the less selfish nature of woman. In nine cases out of ten, a girl is delighted in her companions' conquests — to be the confidante is almost equal to having the lover her own. This, we grant, is confined to the very young, and perhaps they may consider it as an augury ; still, this mere satisfaction in confidence is a purely feminine feeling.

Volume II.[edit]

Chapter 1[edit]

  • [From Marie Mancini]: Ah ! beauty without vanity is but a sort of barbaric gold, unfit for any of the purposes of civilised life. I can only supply its place by the delusions of self-love — by deceiving people into the belief that they are thinking of me, when they are in reality thinking of themselves.
  • [From Marie Mancini]: Yes, it is ; for amusement destroys interest. There is nothing for which people are less grateful than for being entertained; in their hearts they are ashamed of not being able to entertain themselves, and therefore seek consolation in despising, or at least undervaluing, those to whom they owe that very entertainment.
  • [From Marie Mancini]: … ; my features do not express superb disdain with any effect. That is the reason, I firmly believe, why Cleopatra poisoned herself, while Zenobia walked in the triumph of the Roman conqueror. The one knew she would not look well — the other knew she would."
  • Let a fortunate man do what he will for his own fate, he nevertheless works the most for the benefit of others.

Chapter 2[edit]

  • One proof of a great man is fitness for the circumstances in which he is placed. That talent may reasonably be doubted which is never exercised; …
  • We cannot understand what we have never experienced ; and we need pain, were it only to teach us sympathy.
  • Now it is not in human nature — at least in feminine nature — to see pretty things, yet not wish for them ; …

Chapter 3[edit]

  • [From De Joinville]: Now, I hold that, in most matrimonial instances, it is as well to provide for repentance ; and wealth has its advantages and its alleviations in affairs of the heart, as in all other affairs. It was by means of a golden bough that Æneas passed the evil spirits of Tartarus, and gained Elysium in safety.
  • [From De Joinville]: But I consider that all individuals have but a certain portion of love in their composition, and it is a pity to exhaust it at once. Who are the persons with whom we remain on good terms to our old age? Why, those whom we never cared much about.
  • [From De Joinville]: … the causes of inconstancy are much misunderstood. It is commonly said that love never lasts. Now, that is not so much from change, or that it exhausts itself, as that it is mixed up with the paltry cares and daily interests of life ; thus losing its ideality, which constitutes its great charm. Two lovers begin by reading poetry, and end by casting up bills together. The real reason why an unfortunate attachment outlasts the one more happy is, that it is less confounded with the commonplace of existence.
  • [From De Joinville]: Ah! the truth is, that nobody knows anything about anybody. Our nearest and dearest friends have a thousand thoughts and feelings which we have never even suspected. We look in them only for what reflects our own. Our very sympathy is egotism.
  • [From Francesca]: Nay, there is nothing which appears to me so much exaggerated as the common exclamations about the selfishness of human nature. We are a great deal better than we make ourselves out to be.
  • [From Francesca]: Kind and generous impulses are rife in our nature. Look at the pity which springs spontaneously at the sight of affliction — witness the admiration so ready to welcome any great action ; and call to mind the thousand slight acts of kindness, almost unmarked, because of such daily occurrence.
  • True enough was the Chevalier's assertion, that we know but little of even our most intimate friends — and yet this does not originate from want of sympathy ; it is rather owing to the extreme sensitiveness of all our more imaginative feelings. How many emotions rise in every heart which we never dream of communicating! They are too fine, too fragile, for expression, like those delicate hues of the atmosphere, which never yet could painter embody. Moreover, there is an odd sort of satisfaction which we all take in making ourselves other than we are. This is a species of deception which defies analysis, and is yet universally practised. Some make themselves out better, some worse, than they really are; but none give themselves their exact likeness. Perhaps it is that the ideal faculty is so strongly developed in us, that we cannot help exercising it even upon the reality of ourselves.

Chapter 4[edit]

  • But fortune takes a strange pleasure in mocking herself, and sometimes bestows all her gifts only to show how unavailing she can make them.
  • Generally speaking, ambition grows upon the ruins of disappointed love; and we ask from honours and interests that delusion which we can no longer find in affection.
  • — and quarrels are the common resource of the unoccupied —
  • It is a great error for the heart to hoard up that romance which is only graceful in youth — and it is dangerous, too ; for the feeling is as real and as keen, though no longer likely to meet return or sympathy.
  • … ; but I never, for the life of me, could discover what consolation there is in knowing that we are suffering from our own folly. To my taste, it rather aggravates the ill ; for there is always a sort of comfort in being able to lay the blame on others.
  • It is curious, in any great festival, to note the various motives that animate its crowd. Some — and these are the very young — are joyful in the mere delight of being dressed, and of going out ; some — and these are the very happy — look forward to meeting the individual at once their dream and their destiny. … … Others go as a matter of course; society is the business of their life, and attendance on a fête is a moral duty. Some go to see — more, to be seen ; some to be flattered — others, to flatter. Some go for the sake of their jewels — others, for themselves ; and at the close of the festival, how few come away but worn out with lassitude and discontent !
  • Climax of feminine indifference, she did not care how she looked !

Chapter 5[edit]

  • I have heard a great deal said of the cheerfulness of music, lighted rooms, and a gay crowd. I only know, that the most melancholy moments of one's life are passed in such scenes. There is such a feeling of solitude — so much conversation going on in which you can take no interest — so many persons who care not whether you are living or dead — so many forced words and smiles — so much fatigue — such a mockery of gaiety — such a dragging together of strangers, who can have nothing in common —and so much neglect, impertinence, and indifference. A large festival always appears to me a funeral on a grand scale of all human graces, affections, and kindlinesses. Like dancing, it is a remnant of ancient barbarism — fit for the days of the Chaldeans or the Babylonians, when people were only amused through their eyes — the sole entertainment of which savage nations are susceptible.
  • The actions on which we calculate and decide never bring the important consequences which we expected from them. It is the thoughtless, the careless, the unmarked of the minute, that set their seal upon our fate — that are the final and the fatal in their results.
  • I do believe, that the rule of love at first sight, like all other rules, admits of exceptions — while so many characters and temperaments exist, no one law can extend to all ; but this I also believe, that love at first sight belongs to the highest and most imaginative order of passion — it stamps it at once with the seeming of destiny.
  • Now, when you have acted upon impulse, there is something exceedingly provoking in being suspected of acting from some interested motive ;
  • They say many a heart is caught in the rebound ... Pride may be soothed by the ready devotion of another; vanity may be excited the more keenly by recent mortification. But the great characteristic of deep and true love is its entire indifference to all feelings and opinions except its own ;

Chapter 6[edit]

  • We daily hear of crimes of all kinds, we are perfectly aware of their existence ; but we never think of their being perpetrated by those whom we actually know. We always deem our own circle secure.
  • Well, custom is a surprising thing : and when we think how, from earliest infancy, we are surrounded by false impressions, undue rights, privileges, and prejudices, we may well marvel that there is such a thing as truth in the world. That it should be concealed, is far less wonderful than that it should ever be discovered. After all, the great error in human judgment is not so much wilful perversion, as that we judge according to situation, and always make that situation our own ; while the chances are, that we really have not one thought, feeling, or habit, in common with those on whom we yet think ourselves qualified to decide.

Chapter 7[edit]

  • [From de Joinville]: All profound truths startle you in their first announcement.
  • [From de Joinville]: Singularity is never forgiven ; it is taken as a personal affront by all from whom we differ; it is an assumption of superiority ; and why should the general taste not be good enough for the generality ?
  • [From de Joinville]: My own vanity, which is great, makes me sensitive to that of others. And here I would observe, that love of admiration seems scarcely to be properly appreciated; it is the only bond of society; we could not otherwise endure each other. It is the true source of the sublime, and, my conscience obliges me to add, of the ridiculous. Still, it is the strong necessity of admiring each other, and the being admired in our turn, that has built cities, congregated multitudes, and organized what we call our present state of civilisation.
  • [From de Joinville]: I own my memory is not good ; the fact is, that life is too short to be occupied by aught but the present — hope and remembrance are equally a waste of time.
  • [From de Joinville]: Anybody's applause is better than nobody’s.
  • [From de Joinville]: ... ; for most individuals, resembling short stories, are soon read to the end.
  • [From de Joinville]: Half the character of wit must rely upon what is forgotten.

Chapter 9[edit]

  • ... but death is the expected of old age — we anticipate its approach even before we know what it is ; the full of years seems but to have fulfilled his destiny. Sorrow is subdued by strong necessity ; there is no cause why life should be lengthened for our love ; and we feel that the worn and the decrepit do but go down into that grave which had received youth, health, beauty, — all that made existence precious — long before. But when the blow comes down in the fulness of expectation ; when the bough is smitten while green, and the flower cut down in its spring; when the young and lovely perish, while the eyes, full of light, were fixed on the future, — then, indeed, is the visitation heavy to bear.
  • Unexpected kindness, though it be but a word or a glance, goes direct to the heart ;
  • One woman instantly penetrates the drift of another ; ...
  • It is a singular sensation the first time that we see the portrait of a friend after death. There is something of mockery in the very pleasure that it brings. The face, which we know to be mouldering in the dust, looks upon us, fresh with hues of health; there are the jewels, and the robe round the graceful form, now decaying in its shroud. Why should the work of man's hand outlast that of his Maker's ? — why should we have the semblance of life, whose breathing reality is no more ? We are not half thankful enough for the forgetfulness inherent even in our affections : did the first agony continue in all its keenness, who could endure to live ?
  • One useful lesson then sowed its first seeds within her mind — that, even more than pleasure, or sentiment, or reflection, life requires to be filled with active duties.
  • It is a mortifying conviction to arrive at, that of being utterly forgotten even by those to whom we are indifferent.
  • Spiritual pride came in support of spiritual exaltation. Louise felt raised above her species ; a voice had spoken within her inmost soul, whose revealings were vouchsafed but to the chosen few; and what had been indifference, was now disdain. This species of mystical misanthropy is, of all states of mind, the least accessible to the affections. It distrusts them as human, dreads them as perishable, and despises them as degrading ; and their renouncement, at first so bitter, soon becomes a triumph.
  • Hopes and regrets are the sweetest links of existence — we pine to attach and be attached; …

Chapters 11-14[edit]

Chapter 11

  • It is a solace to confide our hopes, our feelings, and our thoughts ; but none to impart our mortifications, — their shame is heightened, not subdued, by sympathy.

Chapter 12

  • [From Richard Arden]: There are whole races marked out as the victims of a blind and terrible fatality; and circumstances, over which they themselves have no control, work out, unshunned and unsought, the wrong whereof they perish.
  • [From Richard Arden]: The mule knows the hidden pitfalls of the morass ; the swallow feels the storm ere it comes upon the air, and wings to the quiet shelter of its nest — they foresee their dangers, and avoid them ; while we blindly rush forward into the depths of the pit and the fury of the tempest ; for we know not what evils await us. No kind foreknowledge gives us even the choice of avoidance.

Chapter 14

  • How often have I had my ideal destroyed, my pleasant imaginings checked and debased, by the ill-timed remark that changed their whole bearing ! Heaven knows, the observation was true enough ; still there are two ways of putting a fact, and one prefers that which lends a little enchantment to the view.
  • … ; but absence, like charity, covers a multitude of sins ; …
  • Did we not daily observe them, we could not believe the instances of hard-heartedness evinced in social life — the neglect, the forgetfulness, and the ingratitude.
  • Nothing is so soon lost in a crowd as affection ; we are in too great a hurry to attach ourselves to anything or anybody. What bitter knowledge is brought us by experience ! How do we grow cold, indifferent, and unbelieving — we, who were so affectionate, so eager, so confiding ! Perhaps we expect too much from others. Because an individual likes you, from some sudden impulse, from the effect of circumstances which drew both out agreeably, you have no right to rely on the continuance of that feeling ; a fresher impulse may counteract it — a newer situation lead it to some one else ; and you ought rather to be thankful for even the temporary warmth, than feel disappointed at its cessation. But though this is what it would be wise to do, it is not what we can do. Mutable as is our nature, it delights in the immutable: and we expect as much constancy as if all time had not shown that ever "the fashion of this world passeth away." And this alone would be to me the convincing proof of the immortality of the soul, or mind, or whatever is the animating principle of life. Whether it be the shadow cast from a previous existence, or an intuition of one to come, the love of that which lasts is an inherent impulse in our nature. Hence that constancy which is the ideal of love and friendship. Hence, too, that readiness of belief in the rewards and punishments of a future state held out by religion. From the commonest flower treasured, because its perfume out lives its beauty, to our noblest achievements where the mind puts forth all its power, we are prompted by that future which absorbs the present. The more we feel that we are finite, the more do we cling to the infinite.

Chapter 15[edit]

  • We grow attached unconsciously to the objects we see every day. We may not think so at the time — we may he discontented, and used to talk of their faults ; but let us be on the eve of quitting them for ever, and we find that they are dearer than we dreamed. The love of the inanimate is a general feeling. True, it makes no return of affection, neither does it disappoint it ; its associations are from our thoughts and emotions. We connect the hearth with the confidence which has poured forth the full soul in its dim twilight ; on the wall we have watched the shadows, less fantastic than the creations in which we have indulged. Over each and all is flung the strong link of habit — it is not to be broken without a pang.
  • [From Francesca]: Even the very robbers, of whose ferocity we were wont to hear such tales in our own land, have usually possessed some redeeming trait which arose out of a yearning towards their kind.
  • [From Guido]: From the beginning of the show to the end, vanity is the sole stimulus and reward of action.
  • [From Francesca]: The truth is, we begin life with too exalted ideas — our wishes and our expectations go together. We are soon forced to lower our standard ; and this depreciation brings at first coldness, distress, and distrust, but also wisdom. We learn not to anticipate so much, and to cling with firmer faith to those whose truth has been proved. Courtesy from the many, kindness from the few, and affection from the individual, become the limit of our hopes; and. even that moderate limit must prepare for exceptions.
  • [From De Joinville]: {of Madame de Savoie} She uses a whole language to herself. Her discourse is an avalanche of words, beneath which the hearers are overwhelmed.
  • When I have marked, as all must do, the disappointment that rewards the noblest efforts, the agony that attends the most generous affections, I have asked, is it not better to waste life than to use it ? The vain question of a mood of profitless dejection— the most unprofitable state in which we can indulge !

Chapter 16[edit]

  • He was roused from his brief rest by a violent fit of coughing, which seemed to shake the whole system. It was one which in England is so simply, yet so emphatically, denominated a churchyard cough. It was hollow, like the echo of the grave.
  • The radiance now began to mellow ; a large cloud, which had been slowly floating up, crossed the burning centre ; it melted, but into a rich crimson ; the reddening tints spread rapidly, softening as they receded from the round orb that now seemed to rest on the waters ; many small white clouds rose flitting from afar, and each as they approached caught a tinge of pink. The sun sunk below the waters, which glowed with his descent ; but, almost unperceived, a purple shadow fell on the atmosphere— Nature's royal mourning over her king. Far as the eye could reach, the waves had a faint lilac dye, reflected from deeper-dyed heavens above, whose magnificence at last faded into a broad and clear amber line, with an eddy of pale crimson on its extremest verge. The long shadows now heralded the coming darkness ; …

Chapter 17[edit]

  • The host himself was one of those very quiet men whom we usually see linked to the most active helpmates. Whether Nature, in the first instance, pointed out the necessity of a supply from another of that quality in which each was most deficient, and thus the match originated — or whether the state of quietude comes on after marriage, exertion on both sides being discovered to be a superfluity, — is really too profound an investigation ; but the fact is certain, that the keen-tongued, quick-witted, bustling wife is always united to the slow, silent, and quiet husband.
  • ... reasons are proofs given as much for our own satisfaction as for that of others.
  • Be as philosophical as we can on the subject, fortify the mind with as many old proverbs as we will, — how that beauty is a flower of the field that perisheth, and that "handsome is that handsome does," — yet there will always be something in beauty that attracts and interests us — we know not how. Such homage is a sort of natural religion of the heart, or rather superstition, that the good must be inherent in the lovely.
  • A sweet smile and a soft word have usually their desired effect ; …

Chapter 18-20[edit]

Chapter 18

  • But now, the first fog of the morning had cleared away, and the round red sun looked cheerfully as it shed its crimson hues amid the topmost branches. The light snow lay on the narrow and winding path before them, pure as if just fresh winnowed by the wind. The outline of every tree was marked with the utmost distinctness by the frost which covered it; but every spray drooped beneath the weight of the fairy and fragile tracery that gemmed them ; while the gossamer threads, like strung and worked pearls, seemed to catch every stray sunbeam, and glitter with the bright and passing hues of crystal. Every tree was as distinguishable as in summer.
  • A woman never can wholly shake off the influence of him whom she first loved. The love itself may be past, — gone like a sweet vain dream which it is useless to remember, or dismissed as an unworthy delusion ; still its memory remains. A thousand slight things recall some of its many emotions — it has become a standard of comparison ; and the "once we felt otherwise," occurs oftener than many would allow, but all must confess.

Chapter 19

  • With shame — for resentment was a justice she owed to herself. There are some offences which it is an unworthy weakness to forget.

Chapter 20

  • … there is a readiness of attachment in youth — the fresh and unused heart is so alive to the kindlier impressions. Pass but a few, a very few years, and we shall marvel how we ever could have found love enough for the many objects which were once so dear! … … Ah! that exaggeration of liking — that readiness to like — that taking for granted all imaginable good qualities — to what a joyous time, to what a buoyant and happy state of feeling, does it belong !
  • In all things there is one period more lovely than aught that has gone before — than aught that can ever come again. That delicate green of the young leaves, when the boughs are putting forth the promise of a shadowy summer — the tender crimson of the opening bud, whose fragrant depths are unconscious of the sun, — these are the fittest emblems for that transitory epoch in the history of a girl's heart, when her love, felt for the first time, is as simple, as guileless, as unworldly as herself. It is the purest, the most ideal poetry in nature. It does not, and it cannot last. It is only too likely that the innocent and trusting heart will be ground down to the very dust. Falsehood, disappointment, and neglect, form the majority of chances ; and even if fortunate— fortunate in requited faithfulness and a sheltered home — still the visionary hour of youth is gone by. There are duties instead of dreams, romance exhausts itself — and the imaginative is merged in the commonplace. The pale green returns not to the leaf, the delicate red to the flower, and, still less, its early poetry to the heart.

Chapter 21[edit]

  • There is something in a deep conviction that forces, for the time, its own belief on others.
  • … they felt as if the evil influence were indeed upon them, and shrunk before that nameless dread of the future, which for the moment subdues the energies, and in whose presence reason trembles. Surely all the more imaginative know this sensation; it is not omen — sound, light, even a cheerful word, have power to destroy its dark dominion ; and, unlike most other human emotions, it has no consequence. But who has not shuddered before the indefinite and unknown ?
  • In the ordinary course of daily life, it is wonderful how little we think of the morrow. That sufficient for the day is the evil thereof, is a truth unconsciously, but universally acknowledged. Instinct clings to the immediate ; but when we do think of the future, uninfluenced by any present hope — by any strong tide of anticipation carrying us along its darkening depths — how terrible does that future ever appear ! — what may it not have in store for us! Sickness, sorrow, poverty, age, and even crime — all that we should now indignantly disclaim, but that to which we may yield under some strong and subtle temptation. The guiltiest have had their guileless and innocent hour. Who knows what may await them of degradation and despair ? Death, too ! — that awful spectre, which stalks over the morrow as his own domain, opens before us his many graves — our own the last ! — no rest till we are worn with weeping for the loved and lost ! At such times, how we marvel at our usual recklessness, and pause, as it were, shrinking from the busy and inevitable current which is hurrying us on to eternity !
  • Strange the unconscious comfort which it is to exaggerate our self-importance, and that crime and sorrow are redeemed from the commonplace by stamping them with the character of fate !
  • Never tell me of the sterner beauties of winter. Winter may have a mighty beauty of its own, where the mountain rises, white with the snow of a thousand years, hemmed in by black pine forests, eternal in their gloom ; where the overhanging avalanche makes terrible even the slightest sound of the human voice ; and where waters that never flowed spread the glittering valleys with the frost-work of the measureless past. But the characteristic of English scenery is loveliness. We look for the verdant green of her fields, for the colours of her wild and garden flowers, for daisies universal as hope, and for the cheerful hedges, so various in leaf and bud. Winter comes to us with gray mists and drizzling rains : now and then, for a day, the frost creates its own fragile and fairy world of gossamer ; but not often. We see the desolate trees, bleak and bare ; the dreary meadows, the withered gardens, and close door and window, to exclude the fog and the east wind.

Chapter 22[edit]

  • But while the common run of ordinary circumstances were going their little round of influence, — small pebbles flung in the great stream of time, whose motion extends not beyond their own narrow eddy, — one of those mighty events was on the wheel of fate which shake the nations with the sound thereof. The generality of individuals perish and are forgotten before the wild flowers have sprung up in the grass sods that cover them. Their home is desolate for a time, and, perchance, missing their care may force their children to grieve for their loss ; perhaps, too, some faithful heart may feel that its life of life has gone from it for ever. But, take the majority of deaths — how little are they felt — how little do they matter ! Strange mystery of human existence, that its most awful occurrence is often its least important ! Death is ever around us, and yet we think not of it; its terrible presence is made manifest, and then forgotten. The most passing interests of life occupy more of our thoughts than its end.
  • One after another the parti-coloured fragments of each fragile fabric were strewed over the table, till gradually his hand became accustomed and steady — wall and roofs were properly balanced, and the mimic Babels mounted high in air, — fittest symbols of all the graver plans and trials that agitate human existence. Scarcely is one scheme overthrown ere another is raised out of its ruins, but destined, like its predecessor, to destruction ; and yet, it would seem, the more we know the chances against our efforts — how a breath may demolish, nay, what our own weariness will soon destroy, — the more earnestly do we pursue them to the end.
  • The truth is, that people in general are stupified by any great event.

Chapter 23[edit]

  • It is curious to mark the many shapes taken by mental suffering. With some it at once assumes the mask and the manner, puts on smiles, and forces the gay and brilliant word. These are they who are sensitively alive to the opinions of others, who, having once been called animated, deem that they have a character to sustain. Such shrink with morbid susceptibility from its being supposed how much they really feel ; and vanity — vanity, by the bye, in its most graceful and engaging form, usually native to such characters — aids them to support the seeming. They cannot endure being thoughtless agreeable; and only in solitude give way to the regret which oppresses them — then exaggerated to the utmost.
  • The general aspect of midnight is calm and solemn ; the lulled spirits unconsciously are subdued by the deep repose.
  • Half inclined! — that little phrase contains the secrets of all failures : it is the strong will, which knows nothing of hesitation, that masters the world.
  • [From Robert Evelyn]: Suspicion never obtains more than the mockery of security.
  • The ideal of liberty — now the excitement of the day — had arisen from three sources. First, from the religious discussions, which led to an extent and to conclusions of which the original agitators of such discussions little dreamed. To claim a right of thinking for yourself in one instance, ends by claiming that right in many ; and when the habit of examination is once introduced, the folly of any exclusive privilege is soon manifest; for most privileges have commenced in some necessity of the time, and a positive benefit has accrued from their exercise to the many as well as to the individual.
  • Wealth acquired by commerce must always bring with it its portion of intelligence, and a desire of security. We would not lightly lose what we have hardly earned. Security can be obtained but by defined rights, and these can be ensured only by equitable laws. … Liberty has been called the daughter of the mountains — she ought rather to be styled the daughter of commerce ; for her best and most useful rights have been founded and defended by states embarked in trade.
  • History, it is said, is the past teaching by example. How many false principles have been laid down, how much delusion supported, by reference to the glories of Athens and of Rome !
  • They forget that tyranny and caprice are the attributes of the many as well as of the one, — that the ingratitude of the mob is as proverbial as that of the court; and that an equal subserviency is required by either.

Chapter 24[edit]

  • We turn from no object, even the most common and the most trivial, for the last time, knowing it to be the last, without a touch of sad thoughtfulness. What then must be the feeling with which we look on this glorious and beautiful world, and know that such looks are our last ? — when we know that, in a few fleeting weeks, of the green leaves we now see putting forth, such as are doomed to perish early, like ourselves, will fall upon the earth, in whose dark bosom we are laid in our long rest ? — that the flowers, colouring branches which droop beneath their luxury of bloom, will only expand in time to form our funeral garland? It is even more solemn than mournful to gaze upon the far blue sky, and feel, in the dimness of the soon-wearied sight, how, pass but a little while, and the whole will have faded from our view — its beauty never more to be heightened by the tender associations of earth, and its rain and shine shedding vain fertility on our grave.
  • The mysteries of this wonderful universe rise more palpable upon the departing spirit, so soon to mingle with their marvels. A voice is on the air, and a music on the wind, inaudible to other ears, but full of strange prophecies to the ear of the dying ! — he stands on the threshold of existence, and already looks beyond it; his thoughts are on things not of this life ; his affections are now the only links that bind him to the earth, but never was their power so infinite, — all other feelings have passed away. Ambition has gone down to the dust, from which it so vainly rose; wealth is known to be the veriest dross of which chains were ever formed to glitter and to gall ; hope has resigned the thousand rainbows which once gave beauty and promise to the gloomiest hour ; — all desires, expectations, and emotions are vanished — excepting love, which grows the stronger as it approaches the source whence it came, and becomes more heavenly as it draws nigh to its birth-place — heaven.

Chapter 25[edit]

  • Death leaves behind its own solemnity; and, even with the sunshine checkering the grass, the place had a peculiar gloom.
  • [From Francesca]: … judgment is an awful word for mortal lips to utter ! Who dares pronounce that a doom is deserved ? If the sudden and early death be a judgment on one, must it not be so on all ?
  • There is nothing more delicious than one of these summer and sudden showers. There is something so inexpressibly lulling in the sound of the falling drops — like remembered poetry, inwardly murmured, rather than spoken. The leaves and flowers seem as if they were conscious of the reviving moisture, and wear fresher verdure and livelier hues ; the perfume which they exhale makes the very breathing a delight — so sweet is the cool and fragrant air : while the birds flutter to and fro, as if they, too, shared the general enjoyment.
  • … smoke is the very type of that vapour of the human heart, hope. So does hope spring from the burning passions, which consume their home and themselves — so does it wander through the future, making its own charmed path — and so does it evanish away: lost in the horizon, it grows at last too faint for outline.
  • … love delights in hearing its own name, and has a childish pleasure in making excuses for the enjoyment it takes in aught that links its future to that of the beloved.

Chapters 26-28[edit]

Chapter 26

  • I know nothing more pleasant than the half kitchen, half flower-garden ; — the few trees that extend a light shade — either the apple, with its spring shower of fair blossoms, and its summer show of fruit, reddening every day ; or the cherry, with its scarlet multitude — berries more numerous than leaves. Below, long rows of peas put forth their white-winged flowers, tempting the small butterflies to flutter round their inanimate likenesses ; or else of beans, whose fresh, sweet odour, when in bloom, might challenge competition with the sea gales of the spice islands. Then the deep glossy green of the gooseberry is so well relieved by the paler shade of the currant-bush ; and alongside, spreading the verdant length of the strawberry-bed, so beautiful in its first wealth of white blossoms — pale omens of the blushing fruit, which so soon hides beneath its large and graceful leaves. The strawberry is among fruits what the violet is among flowers. Then, I do so like the one or two principal walks, neatly edged with box, cut with most precise regularity, keeping guard over favourite plants : — columbines, bending on their slender stems ; rose-bushes, covered with buds enough to furnish roses for months ; pinks, with their dark eyes ; and the orient glow of the marigold. And there are the neat plots planted with thyme, so sweet in its crushed fragrance ; the sage, with that touch of hoar-frost on its leaves, which, perhaps, has gained for it its popular name of wisdom ; the sprig of lavender, so lastingly sweet ; and the emerald patches of the rapidly springing mustard and cress. I would not give a common garden like this, with the free air tossing its boughs, and the sun laughing upon its flowers, for all that glass and gardener ever brought from a hot-house.

Chapter 27

  • Alas ! in this our valley of the shadow of death, how many such vigils have been kept, and are keeping ! — it is a common scene : — the still and darkened room — darkened, for the eyes are too weak to bear that light which is departing from them for ever ; where, if a sunbeam enters, it is like an unwelcome visitor; where one sweet and watchful nurse glides like a shadow ; — so subdued is every movement, the loudest noise in that still chamber is the beating of the sufferer's heart, or the low music of a whispered question, fainter than even the failing voice which answers.
  • How many dreary nights are passed in feverish wakefulness on one side, and dreadful solicitude on the other ! It seems worst to die at night; the blackness throws its own gloom, and the damp on the ever cold midnight hour is as if disembodied spirits brought with them the chill of the grave, which only then they are permitted to quit. How long the minutes seem when sleep is banished by pain and anxiety! The single pale and shaded light, flinging round its fantastic shapes — that "visible darkness," enough to try the strongest nerves ; and how much more so, when the bodily strength is worn down, and the imagination, excited by one ever-present dread, is wound up to admit all forms of fearful fantasy !
  • To many, the visionary hope which is born of the imagination may seem the very mockery of nothing. The imagination, the highest, the noblest, the most ethereal portion of our nature, lies in some almost dormant ; and to such, how strange must the influence which it exercises appear !

Chapter 28

  • [From Guido]: What a vain dream it is, which we call life ! First comes the fever, and then the exhaustion. We wear ourselves out with hopes that, night after night, haunt a sleepless pillow — with daily exertions whereof we reap not the fruit. We love, and are unrequited — we believe, and are deceived ; and from first to last, our existence is a mockery — the fulfilled hope and the realised desire the worst of all ; for then we find how utterly worthless is that for which we craved, and for which we have toiled even unto weariness. We talk of our energies and of our will — we are the mere playthings of subtle and malignant chances.
  • Think of a young, beautiful, and delicately nurtured female, giving up not only the world, with its vanities and its pleasures, but all comfort, all companionship, all feminine employment, not denied to the nun of the strictest order. She renounced them all to live in seclusion, silence, and perpetual dread ; for what but a cruel death could have awaited her had her secret been discovered save when dying. And this melancholy, this isolated existence, was dragged on, unsupported by any hope, for no change of circumstance could affect her position; and unsoothed by the thought that her great devotion was held precious by him for whom it was exercised. Not one of the ordinary motives — the vanity or the selfishness which people call by the name of love — actuated her through this long trial ; she had everything to fear, and nothing to expect. What creation of the poet ever exceeded this terrible reality of love sepulchred in this living tomb ?

Chapter 29[edit]

  • And youth it was that gave its own value to that early pledge of vows never to be redeemed — of faith plighted but to be broken. The fragile chain, the braided hair, are the graceful tokens of love's childhood — precious for the sake of the many illusions in which we then held such devout evidence. We grow too stern and too cold for such trifles in after-life.
  • — ridicule, that blight of all that is warm and true, …
  • This is a pleasant hour in human existence — the hour after some unusually agreeable fête — agreeable from its homage to yourself; just enough fatigued for languor, but not for weariness — enough to make you enjoy the loosened hair, the careless robe, and the indolent armchair ; while the spirits are still in a state of excitement, the tones of the music, or yet more musical words, still floating in your ear ; your own light replies yet living on the memory, and the fancy animated by their vivid recollection.
  • [From Marie, now Comtesse de Soissons]: Praise should be given unguardedly and eagerly — rather as it were a relief to express one's feeling —

Chapter 30[edit]

  • The lasting works of philosophy and poetry, the long-enduring efforts that have been wrought in marble, the pyramids whose age we know not, the statue still a vision of beauty, the influence that individual minds have exercised over their kind, — all these are types of that immortality which gives life to our present, and will give eternity to our future.
  • We talk of the happiness of childhood ! — in what does it consist ? — in the denied delight, and in the enforced task ! Think how the child must turn from the wearisome page, whose future value it is impossible then to appreciate. Think, too, with what unkindness and what injustice they are often treated ! How often must the infant heart swell with the quick sense of oppression, when the caprice of an angry moment punishes the fault which has been often passed over, till impunity had appeared a right! And yet restraint is a necessity. Every indulgence from the first exacts some bitter penalty ; and we dread and curb the present, for the sake of the retribution which ever lies amid the shadows of the future.
  • Or, to pass on to youth, with its warm feelings, so sensitive to the return which they will not meet, so sure in a few passing years to be crushed and withered ; but at what expense of misery, let each ask of the records from his own remembrance! True, its hopes are sweet, and its spirits buoyant ; but how soon are those hopes disappointed, and those spirits broken down for ever ! How often during that period of fervour and of heart burning, must we be forced to shrink within ourselves with all the mortifying consciousness of unreturned affection, of ill-placed confidence, of too kind, and hence erroneous, judgment. The time while such ordeals are being passed, and such lessons being learned, cannot be one of much happiness.
  • Look at the arduous exertion required of middle life; the thronging anxieties that spring up for others more than for ourselves ; the constant downfall of our best-laid projects; the disappointment attending on the result of those which had mocked us with success; the weariness which gradually steals over the mind; the daily increasing sense of the worthlessness of ever}'thing ; the mournful looking back on the many friends who have parted from our side, some gone down to the grave, but more parted from us by the estrangement of cooled attachments and jarring interest. We have lost, too, all those fresh and beautiful emotions which, if they could not make a world of their own, at least flung their glory over the actual one. These are departed, to return no more; and in their places have come discontent, suspicion, in difference, and, worst of all, worldliness.
  • Through such rough paths do we travel on to old age ; and has life there garnered up its treasures to the last ? Ah, no ! The dust, to which we are so soon to return, lies thick upon the heart ; the affections are grown cold ; and all vivid emotions have ceased. But the calm is that of monotony, not of content, and is ruffled by the thousand small pettishnesses of temper, — temper which grows stronger as all other faculties weaken and decay. And yet, throughout this busy and excited pilgrimage, whose present would seem so engrossing, man is ever looking beyond it ; he never loses the internal consciousness of something undeveloped in his nature. That which is good within us seems to claim a requital not of this world ; that which is bad trembles before some vague and awful anticipation of judgment.
  • The future is written in the past ; and if we prophesy, it is with eyes that look behind.
  • Who knows how many links we may have to ascend in the vast cycle of worlds around, ere we arrive at the one which is knowledge — where we may look before, and after, and judge of the whole ? How many stages of probation may we yet have to pass !
  • We ask of that which answers not. But when we recall how feverish, how wretched, how incomplete has been the life of mortality, we feel that the present owes us a future.

Chapter 31[edit]

  • The vanity of weeping, which in time works out its own consolation, is at first but the aggravation of sorrow.
  • It is wonderful how, for the day or two after death, all that was lovely in life comes back to the face ; the pure marble whiteness of the skin, the closed eyes, the features in such deep stillness, like those of a statue wrought in the highest ideal of art, but with that impressed upon them which was never yet the work of mortal hand.
  • Many have a horror of looking upon the dead — they are wrong ; futurity and peace are written on the composed and beautiful countenance; it suggests the idea of an intellectual slumber.
  • Good God ! how dreadful a penalty exacted of mortality, to think that we must turn with unconquerable disgust from all that was once so dear, and with that affection strong in our hearts as ever! And yet the revolting triumphs over the spiritual and the tender feeling.

Chapter 32[edit]

  • It is a strange refinement in our modern times, that we should leave it to the hired mourner to pay that last tender office, the last sign of care for their remains that can be given on earth, to those whom we have loved dearer than ourselves. Few but have known the wretchedness of such a morning — but have listened to the noise of strangers in a chamber so long silent as the grave. The moving of the coffin, the carrying it downstairs, the heavy steps, the creaking stairs, the opening doors, are a terrible contrast to the deep stillness that had before reigned throughout the house.
  • All who have long been shut up in-doors know the almost intoxication of their first walk in the free wind and glad sunshine — the common expression of "you do not feel your feet," or "you seem to tread on air," so completely express the sensation.

Volume III.[edit]

Chapter 1[edit]

  • Who has not paused upon some portion of their existence, and felt its burden greater than they could bear ? — who has not looked back to the past with that passion of hopelessness, which deems that life can never more be what it has been, — with a consciousness that the dearer emotions are exhausted, while in their place have arisen but vacancy and weariness ? You feel as if you could never be interested in anything again — nay you do not even desire it ; — your heart is divided between bitterness and indifference.
  • Some few have fallen in pleasant places ; it is folly to say that we share and share alike.
  • We need to suffer ere we understand the language of suffering ; but, Heaven above knows ! it is very generally understood. And hence the charm of the sad, sweet page, which idealises our anguish, and makes sorrow musical : if it does not come home to all, it does to the mass.
  • I have often been told that my writings are too melancholy. How can that be a reproach if they are true ? and that they are true, I attest the sympathy of others and my own experience.
  • Good Heaven! even to myself how strange appears the faculty, or rather the passion, of composition ! how the inmost soul developes its inmost nature on the written page! I, who lack sufficient confidence in my most intimate friends to lay bare even an ordinary emotion — who never dream of speaking of what occupies the larger portion of my time to even my most familiar companions — yet rely on the sympathy of the stranger, the comprehension of those to whom I am utterly unknown. But I neither ordered my own mind, nor made my own fate. My world is in the afar-off and the hereafter, — to them I leave it.

Chapter 2[edit]

  • There are some moods which are singularly profitless; and such is that of allowing the thoughts to wander into combinations of past events with creations never likely to occur.
  • Ah ! the weight of actual existence forces us to dream an unreal one.
  • No one can feel gay by moonlight ; the influence is as overpowering as it is solemn. There are a thousand mysterious sympathies, which act upon our nature, and for which we can render up no account ; and the power of this mournful and subduing beauty may be more easily acknowledged than analysed. But the young, the buoyant, and the glad, feel it. They wander alone, and the thoughts unconsciously take a tone of tender melancholy. Alas ! it is some dim prophecy of the future, with all its cares and its sorrows, that floats upon the atmosphere; and we are penetrated by the effect, though the cause be unrevealed.
  • No woman can see with indifference the man whom she once loved devoted to another.
  • — and disdain is sorrow's most certain consolation.

Chapters 3-10[edit]

Chapter 3

  • Distrust is an acquired feeling — we never doubt till we have been deceived ;

Chapter 4

  • That transient but most lovely hour which follows the sunset was now melting away in the far recesses of the forest. A few gleams of richer hues still lingered in some of the crimson clouds which yet treasured up a sunbeam ; but the great expanse was filled with that pure and pale purple, so soon to merge in deeper gloom, or to tremble into silvery light beneath the radiant and rising moon. The glorious dyes of autumn— autumn, that comes in like a conqueror, but departs like a mourner — were upon the boughs, but lost in that undistinguishing light which subdued all things with its own gentle tinting.
  • Conspiracies, like all other exercises of human ingenuity, are of very different kinds.

Chapter 5

  • … there are many follies in this world, but none so foolish as regret.

Chapter 7

  • And, truly, strong nerves are required to steal at midnight through a lonely suite of rooms, haunted by vague imaginings, and all the terrible superstitions and records accumulated on the past.

Chapter 8

  • The first struggle between light and darkness is a dreary hour, — the air is so raw, so cold; the want of rest is then most severely felt ; sleep avenges itself for its dismissal by sending stupor in its place ; and the relaxed nerves and worn-out spirits presage the misfortunes which they yet lack strength to meet.
  • [From Francesca]: … and life is more easily parted with than happiness.

Chapter 11[edit]

  • Winter softens into spring, spring blushes into summer, and summer ripens into autumn, — all going on into increased good. But autumn darkens into winter, and is the only quarter that ends as the destroyed and the desolate. There is in autumn no hope, that prophetic beautifier of the foregone year.
  • There is something peculiarly mournful in the sound of the autumn wind. It has none of the fierce mirth which belongs to that of March, calling aloud, as with the voice of a trumpet, on all earth to rejoice ; neither has it the mild rainy melody of summer, when the lily has given its softness and the rose its sweetness to the gentle tones. Still less has it the dreary moan, the cry as of one in pain, which is borne on a November blast ; but it has a music of its own — sad, low, and plaintive, like the last echoes of a forsaken lute — a voice of weeping, but tender and subdued, like the pleasant tears shed over some woful romance of the olden time, telling some mournful chance of the young knight falling in his first battle, or of a maiden pale and perishing with ill-requited love. Onward passes that complaining wind through the quiet glades, like the angel of death mourning over the beauty it is commissioned to destroy. At every sweep down falls a shower of sapless leaves — ghosts of the spring — with a dry, sorrowful rustle ; and every day the eye misses some bright colour of yesterday, or marks some bough left entirely bare and sear; and ever and anon, on some topmost branch, as the foliage is quite swept off, a deserted nest is visible — love, spring, and music, passed away together.
  • But the heart is its own world, and the outward influence takes its tone from that within.
  • A high and generous nature is always trustful.
  • There is nothing more dreary than a new-made grave — so bare, so desolate, so comfortless, with the cold stones, and damp gravel scattered all carelessly round. After a little while the long grass and the sweet wild flowers sanctify the place — even as, in the human heart, gentle memories and subduing time throw a kindly soothing over the first bitter and rigid suffering.
  • The customary scaffold has its own awe — justice and obedience and usage surround the place ; but to die a violent death, and by the hand of man, amid life's daily scenes, all associations so domestic and so ordinary, aggravates the ghastly spectacle, and makes the doom seem at once cruel and undeserved.

Chapter 12[edit]

  • ... and most old sayings are singularly true — we are not so very much wiser than our ancestors, after all.
  • Despair is unnatural ; and the powers of Time, the comforter, can scarcely be exaggerated ; but the agency by which he works is exhaustion.
  • There is a grief which may darken a whole life, shut up the heart from every influence but its own, remain unchanged through every change of various fortune, flinging its own shadow over all that is fair, its own bitterness into all that is sweet; but that grief is the silent and the secret — it goes abroad with a smooth brow and a smiling lip — it knows not the relief of tears, and words it disdains. None have fathomed its depths, for its existence is denied; pride is mingled with its strength, for the hidden soul knows there is that within which parts it from its kind, and perhaps triumphs even in such agonising consciousness. With such the spirits often seem buoyant without a cause — often too guy for the occasion. The truth is, that society is to them as a theatre; and what actor is there who does not occasionally over act his part ? Few ever penetrate their dark and weary seclusion, for few ever look beyond the surface, unless actuated by some hope, fear, or love of their own, and then their feelings blind their judgment. Such motives turn all objects into mirrors, which reflect some likeness, even if distorted, of themselves. We conjecture, question, desire, anticipate — do everything but observe. And slight, indeed, are the tokens by which the seared heart betrays itself. But it has its signs ; there is that real disregard of the pleasures in which it shares, half as a disguise, half to avoid the trouble of importunity. But the eye, however trained to attention, will wander; the set smile becomes absent — weariness is pleaded as an excuse — and lassitude serves as the cloak to indifference. Moreover, though almost unconsciously, the words have a biting and shrewd turn — the opinions are either harsh or given with undue levity — contradiction is almost habitual — and the feelings, denied the resource of sympathy, take refuge in sarcasm.
  • — for it is a wearisome task to teach where there is little inclination and less understanding.
  • The reason why so many fallacious opinions have passed into proverbs is owing to that carelessness which makes the individual instance the general rule. Of all feelings, love is the most modified by character; like the chameleon, it is indeed coloured by the air which it breathes. To half the world its depth is unknown, and its intensity unfelt. To such the expression of its wild passion, its fateful influence, its unalterable faith, are but mysteries, or even mockeries ; while, again, to those who hold such true and fervent creed, the heartless change, the utter forgetfulness, the sudden transfer of life's deepest and dearest emotion, is equally absurd and incomprehensible.

Chapter 13[edit]

  • Time passed as time ever does when passed monotonously, that is, with a degree of rapidity which only astonishes us when it is recalled to mind by some chance circumstance. Time should he reckoned by events, not hours ; the heart is its truest time-piece, at least as concerns ourselves.
  • But England at the period of the Restoration was, like a child escaped from school, weary of restraint, impatient for amusement, and little inclined to balance the future against the present.
  • The gay peal of the bells came upon the air, mingled with music, which owed much of its melody to being afar off.
  • The sunshine glittered through the diamond shower, which came like a flight of radiant arrows ; while, outlined on a dim purple cloud, a magnificent rainbow spanned the mighty forest; instantly a second, but fainter, spread beneath the first; but even while she looked, the vast cloud dispersed, broken fragments of delicious hues coloured the atmosphere, a soft violet faded into pale primrose, and touches of rose deepened into red. Gradually the sky cleared into one deep blue, over which a mass of white clouds, broken into a thousand fantastic shapes, went sailing slowly by.

Chapter 14[edit]

  • It is curious to note how few people ever contrive to give you any idea of what they have seen ; they seize upon some little personal fact, and there the memory halts. While others, who allow their observation to travel out of their own sphere, contrive to bring the scene vividly before you, and without the aid of invention, but with a dramatic power many a writer might envy, give the most lively and graphic description, simply because they have attended to what passed around them.
  • There is something in human nature that shrinks from any great change, even though that change be for the better. Alas ! all experience shows us how little we dare trust our fate.
  • — I believe there is nothing more genuine or delightful than one woman's admiration of another's beauty. There is a pure and delicate taste about their nature which gives a keen sense of enjoyment to such appreciation : and loveliness is to them a religion of the heart, associated with a thousand fine and tender emotions.

Chapters 15-17[edit]

Chapter 15

  • People who have not strong feelings themselves dislike their display in others. Wanting in that sympathy which intuitively teaches how to console, agitation always embarrasses them ; they are puzzled, and know not what to say, and feel that they are in an awkward and disagreeable position.

Chapter 16

  • No self-complacency can equal that of the selfish. Not content with its indulgence, they actually idolise it into being praiseworthy.

Chapter 18[edit]

  • [Thoughts from Francesca]: How much responsibility is in those few and scarcely audible words which give away your very life to the keeping of another ! What a sudden change is wrought in existence ! — a change whose consequences none may foresee. It is standing on the threshold of youth, and flinging its flowers behind you. The ideal merges at once in the real, and the dream, at least, of love is over. Well if the substance, depart not with the shadow !
  • It is a painful thing to think how the purest and dearest tie that can exist — that which binds the parent to the child, and the child to the parent — is doomed to sever by the very course of nature : that a new and vivid emotion will inevitably enter the heart of youth, and before that emotion, how cold and faint seems all that was held precious before ! And yet, so inextricably blended are happiness and sorrow on our earth, that fortunate, thrice fortunate, are they who have such ties to sever.
  • Is there aught more provoking than the misinterpretation of our saddest thoughts ?
  • What an extraordinary mental delusion jesting is ; that sort of laboured vivacity which fancies it is pointed when it is only personal; and more extraordinary still, it is always the resource of stupid people. "Take any shape but that !" is what I always feel tempted to exclaim when dulness attempts a joke; striving to pervert some poor innocent and ill-used word from its lawful meaning till it ceases to have any at all — worrying some unfortunate idea till, like the hunted hare, it is worried to death — dealing in witticisms whose edge has long since been worn off by constant use ; and truly to the many, witticisms not only require to be explained, like riddles, but are also like new shoes, which people require to wear many times before they get accustomed to them. … … It is said that the name of Love is often taken in vain, compelled to stand godfather to feelings with which he has nothing to do, and made answerable for all the faults and follies which interest, vanity, and idleness commit while masquerading under such semblance. Wit is just as much put upon — blamed for a thousand impertinences over which it would not have held for a moment its glittering shield ; it is like the radiant fairy doomed to wander over earth, concealed and transformed, and only allowed on rare occasions to shine forth in its true and sparkling form. It is well that wit is an impalpable and ethereal substance, or it must long since have evaporated in indignation at that peculiarly wretched and mistaken race, its imitators.

Chapter 19[edit]

  • And terrible indeed was that awakening : it was the desperate grief of the prosperous who have not dreamed that the arrows of calamity can be pointed at them, whose sky has been sunshine, and whose pathway over flowers, till the ordinary lot of mankind seems to them an injustice. They look not to drink of that cup which is measured unto all, to others they apply the rule, and to themselves the exception.
  • Let the young perish in their hour of promise — how much will they be spared ! — passion, that kindles but to consume the heart, and leaves either vacancy or regret, a ruin or a desert; ambition, that only reaches its goal to find it worthless when gained, or but the starting-place for another feverish race, doomed again to end in disappointment; enemies that cross us at every step ; friends that deceive — and what friends do not ? — the blighted hope, the embittered feeling, the wasted powers, the remorse, and the despair, all these are spared by the merciful, the early grave.
  • The living console themselves by the honours which they pay to the dead : and yet this self-deceit is not all in vain. Every feeling that looks to the future elevates human nature ; for life is never so low or so little as when it concentrates itself on the present. The miserable wants, the small desires, and the petty pleasures of daily existence have nothing in common with those mighty dreams which, looking forward for action and action's reward, redeem the earth over which they walk with steps like those of an angel, beneath which spring up glorious and immortal flowers. The imagination is man's noblest and most spiritual faculty ; and that ever dwells on the to-come.

Chapter 20[edit]

  • How little does what we wished fulfil, when realised, what we expected.
  • Common minds always blame some one or other for every misfortune that happens; complaint relieves them, and their style of complaint is always personal.
  • Ah, that talking at ! — only those who have suffered from it can understand its wearing and petty misery, especially when placed in circumstances which forbid reply.
  • We are eloquent about oppression on a large scale, — we deprecate the tyranny of government, which, after all, extends but to few; and yet how little pity is bestowed upon those who suffer from that worst of tyranny in daily practice in daily life. What grievances would not most family histories disclose ! — how much comfort is put aside — how much kindly feeling wasted, by the arbitrary cruelties of temper ! I say cruelties ; for what torture of rack or wheel can equal that of words ? Take the annals of the majority of hearths for a twelvemonth, and we should be amazed at the quantity of wretchedness that would be writ in them, if writ truly.
  • Well, nature makes some wise provisions, it must be confessed. We should be envious of others' happiness if, in nine cases out of ten, we did not despise it.
  • Ah ! the past is the true source of confidence. We must recollect together before we can confide.

Chapters 21-23[edit]

Chapter 22

  • [From Marie, Madame de Soissons]: It is a great mistake, cultivating what are called feelings. Encourage your vanities, your follies, your wishes, and you lay up perpetual sources of delight in their gratification. But feeling ! why cherish the serpent that will sting, and the fire that will consume — dreaming of a return which is never made, and of some impossible happiness which never comes ?

Chapter 23

  • It is wonderful what a talent some people have for extracting information, and combining it when extracted — how one fact is made to elucidate another, and the conclusion inferred from evidence fine as the spider's thread ! It is a pity that this genius should be wasted on the events of ordinary life. Half the ingenuity lavished on news — by news we mean the topics of the day as connected with their own circle — half this ingenuity would set up a whole Society of Antiquaries, and immortalise at least a dozen of them.
  • Ah ! what would life be without its perspective.
  • [From de Joinville, on the young queen of France]: Why, she is one of those persons whom negatives seem invented to describe — I doubt whether she is worth one single bad quality.
  • [From de Joinville, in continuation]: A few faults are indispensable in those with whom we are to live — they are needed to excuse our own. This sort of dull perfection is a perpetual reproach to ourselves ; besides, light cannot exist without shadow. Choose what fault you please ; but, for pity's sake, have one, if you ever mean to be liked or loved."
  • [From Francesca]: Good Heavens! how many cross purposes there are in this intricate game of human life! We only mock ourselves by laying down plans for the future — at least if those plans embrace others.

Chapter 24[edit]

  • [From Marie, Comtesse de Soissons]: Business before pleasure, I am ready to grant; but when there is none, il faut s’amuser.
  • [From Marie, Comtesse de Soissons]: Marriage in real life is the very reverse of what it is in romances; we begin where they finish. I felt that a brilliant marriage was but the very commencement of my career. To assist my friends (because, if they hope nothing from you, what have you to hope from them ?) — to injure my enemies, for fear is the best preventive — to make a failure useful, if only in its experience, have been my rules. I can recommend them by the best test, success.
  • [From Marie, Comtesse de Soissons]: For once we agree — words alike make the destiny of empires and of individuals. Ambition, love, hate, interest, vanity, have words for their engines, and need none more powerful. Language is a fifth element — the one by which all the others are swayed. The king addresses his people, and the heaviest impost is levied with acclamations — the general harangues his troops, and thousands rush upon the smoking cannon and the gleaming bayonets — the lover whispers his mistress, and she forgets even herself for his sake. A word will part friends, and for ever — a word floats down the stream of time when all else has perished : in short, how do we persuade, invent, create, and live, but by words ? — they are at once our subjects and our masters. Judicious those who devote at least half their life to their study.
  • [From Marie, Comtesse de Soissons, to Francesca]: You will find that, at the very best, marriage is a state which requires all sorts of resources to make it even endurable; but to marry for love aggravates the evil; it adds contrast to its other disappointments. Far better to make up your mind to the worst, and say at once, I know that weariness is the regular matrimonial feeling ; but that may be alleviated by a splendid house, magnificent fetes; by influence in society, jewels, laces, a lap-dog, and half-a-dozen lovers.
  • [From Marie, Comtesse de Soissons, to Francesca]: Marrying for love is like putting from shore to dwell in the morning palace the fay Morgana builds at daybreak on the coast of Naples. Fair and far the glistening halls extend, and the shining gardens seem filled with fruit and flowers ; but the wind gets up, the glittering pinnacles melt into the cloudy sky, the haunted terraces vanish, and the golden chimera, born of sunshine and vapour, is no more. Suddenly you find yourself in a little wretched boat, rocked by the waves into sea-sickness, scorched by the hot noon, tossed about by a rough breeze, and left to weep or curse your fate as may best suit your peculiar disposition.
  • Ah! no questions are so difficult to ask as those which the heart deeply and dearly treasures ! When alone, we shape them into a thousand forms — imagine every possible occasion for asking them — say them over to our selves, as if there were a charm in the sound ; but the time comes, and they die unheard upon the lip, — we have not resolution to ask them.

Chapter 25[edit]

  • [From Francesca]: As far as my experience has gone, I infinitely prefer the country to the town. There is something to me at once desolate, and yet confined, in a city. The multitude of faces continually passing and repassing, all strangers, overwhelm you with a sense of your own nothingness. The brick walls are so dreary, the streets so dirty — all the associations belonging to whatever is most commonplace in our existence — that whenever I gaze from the window, I always feel lowered and dispirited. But, in the country, the green fields are so joyous, the pure air so fresh, the fine old trees, redolent of earth's loveliest mythology, the fair flowers, at the unfolding of whose leaves some line of delicious poetry springs to mind ; the singing of the wind, like a natural lute, plaining amid the leaves, all combine to carry me out of myself. I feel a thousand vague and sweet emotions, and am both better and happier. Yes, I do love the country.
  • [Marie, Madame de Soissons, in reply]: Well, the fate of our sex and of the country seems to be much the same ; we are doomed to have a thousand fine things said of us which nobody means or ever acts upon. Your philosopher talks of the virtue only to be found in rural life, and remains quietly in his armchair,, and his town lodgings; your lover raves of your cruelty, which he vows he cannot survive, leaves your presence, and orders a good supper. Considering how much we say that we do not mean, how fortunate it is that we are not taken at our word ! We should then be cautious how we talked of rustic and innocent pleasures, of dying for love, and eternal constancy.
  • [From the Duke of Buckingham]: I could not love a woman whose image was for ever accompanied in my memory by brick and mortar.
  • [From Francesca, in reply]: All our poetical feelings, delight to link themselves with natural objects. The leaf, the flower, the star, the dew, are the inexhaustible sources of imagery.
  • [From the Duke]: And one feeling, loveliest of all, delights in such connexion. The poet bears love with him to his own haunted solitude.
  • [From Francesca]: Ah ! all the finer mysteries of the spirit vanish in the crowd. Vanity is to the many the stimulus that affection is to the few.
  • Interest is your only true cosmetic for smoothing the brow.

Chapter 26[edit]

  • — confidence is a feminine necessity.
  • A woman only can understand a woman; and it is pleasant to be understood sometimes.
  • — the genius for intrigue needs a few obstacles to stimulate its powers.

Chapters 27-30[edit]

Chapter 27

  • [From Marie, Comtesse de Soissons, to Francesca] We all know the worth of a lady's negative. The more forcible the resolution, the more chance there is of its being broken.
  • [From Francesca of the Duke of Buckingham]: Life is to him a scène de comédie : he aims at acting his many parts brilliantly ; but, in our admiration for the actor, we lose all interest in the individual.

Chapter 29

  • [From Lord Avonleigh]: Marriage should always take young ladies by surprise.

Chapter 30

  • — a standing subject of laughter is invaluable, especially to the young, who like what they laugh at. As they advance in life, laughter, in common with all things else; grows bitter — it expresses scorn rather than mirth.

Chapter 31[edit]

  • But happiness is like that fairy flower whose home and birthplace are the air, the most unstable of elements, tossed by every wind, destroyed by every shower, — the frailest, and yet most exposed, of created things.
  • Was ever music at once so sweet and so sad as the echo of his receding steps ?
  • [From The Duke of Buckingham]: Confusion is love's first symptom.
  • Good Heaven ! when we observe what egregious nonsense other people talk, what woful follies other people commit, sure we must be tempted to turn upon ourselves and ask — "What do I do that is equally silly ?” … … Human egotism is very much exaggerated. No one in reality occupies less of our thoughts than we do ourselves. We seriously consider the qualities of others, we dilate on their folly, question curiously on the motives of their actions, and investigate all the recesses of their minds into which we can penetrate. We never do so by ourselves. Who ever sits down to think over himself? Self is the only individual we take for granted. Were the character of any one of our friends to be sketched with tolerable accuracy, we should recognise the likeness at once ; but let our own, drawn to the very life, be brought before us, we should not know it, and even when told, we should in all probability deny the acquaintance.

Chapters 32-33[edit]

Chapter 32

  • … And herein lies the difference between the love of man and that of woman. In his active and hurried career, it is impossible that love should hold the lonely and undivided empire it does over an existence of which it is at once the occupation and the resource. It is in solitude that the imagination exercises its gigantic power ; and where are a woman's feelings nurtured but in solitude ? The one passes so few hours alone, the other passes so many. What impassioned thoughts, how much of that poetry which first creates and then colours the future, haunt the lonely mornings and the long evenings, when the tapestry grows almost mechanically beneath the hand, but when the mind is wholly given up to the heart ! A young girl has rarely anything to call forth that romance inherent in every nature but the idea of her lover; and what a world of deep and beautiful feeling is lavished there ! Every reverie in which she indulges is a poem, filled with the fanciful, the true, and yet the unreal.
  • But, however deeply and entirely a man may love, he can only yield to its influence the hurried moment, the occasional thought. Every day brings its toil and its struggle ; and to meet these demands his mind must give its utmost energies. He cannot pass weeks, months — ay, and years — the eye fixed upon its daily task, but the fancies wandering far, far away. His soul must be in its labour : all the active paths in life are his own, and he must bring to their mastery, hope, thought, patience, and strength ; he may turn sometimes to the flowers on the way-side, but the great business of life must be for ever before him. The heart which a woman could utterly fill were unworthy to be her shrine. His rule over her is despotic and unmodified ; but her power over him must be shared with a thousand other influences.
  • Ah ! if the doctrine of amelioration be true, what a mighty debt does the future owe to the past ! And alas for those who have gone before ! Methinks the struggle has been but ill repaid.

Chapter 33

  • The body and the soul are not friends, but enemies. The one curbs and confines, the other wears and shatters. Perpetual is the terrible struggle, till death parts the mortal and the immortal ; and life, the riddle, is lost in the deeper secrets of eternity.

Chapter 34[edit]

  • Some one says, keep your secret yourself, for how can you expect others to do that which you cannot ? Still, I am persuaded more secrets are revealed by being kept than by being told. You enlist a person's honour, and, still dearer, their vanity, on your side by confidence. We all desire to deserve the good opinion which we believe we have inspired ; but distrust awakens all that is little and mean within us. Why should we be better than we are held to be ? We are mortified by not being thought worthy of trust ; and there is also a feeling of small triumph in circumventing those who doubt either our inclination or our power of service. We like to show that we are not the nonentities for which we were taken.
  • [From de Joinville]: No path appears so short as that which is well known.
  • [From de Joinville]: Ah ! change is a great error — the variety of existence only reminds us of its weight. Who are the happiest individuals of our acquaintance ? Those whose existence revolves in the smallest possible circle — men whose daily horizon is bounded by their dinner — women whose hope extends not beyond their knitting needles.
  • [From Marie, Comtesse de Soissons]: We love to talk of ourselves, but we are obliged to manœuvre for listeners. … …
  • The truth is, we like to talk over our disasters, because they are ours ; and others like to listen, because they are not theirs.

Chapter 35[edit]

  • Child of the Earth's old age, America is the favourite on whom a double portion has been lavished. The glorious sky, the fertile soil, the mine rich beneath, and, more than all, a brave, free, and intelligent race, who but must feel that the world's great destinies are yet unaccomplished, when the mind dwells on the glorious promise which kindles the far shores of the broad Atlantic ? The most creative imagination avails not to picture the noon of that mighty hemisphere now in its infancy.
  • Considering what a useful thing deception is — the first and last lesson taught by what is called knowledge of the world — it is woful to observe how much of it is wasted. In nine cases out of ten, the most ingenious invention not only does not answer, but even defeats its own purpose. How much attention is thrown away, how often is flattery mistaken, and how many of our devices, like ostriches, blind their own eyes, and fancy others are blinded too !
  • … self-possession is the most provoking thing in the world.
  • But there is a love that is stronger than death, and deeper than life ; for whose sake the sacrifice is light — ay, even unfelt. It is a love which, born of the pure and fresh feelings of youth, grows with your growth and strengthens with your strength — a love which would give sweetness to a palace and glory to a cottage — a love prepared to suffer, to endure, and yet suffice unto its own happiness — tried by time, by doubt, even by despair, and yet living on — the heart's deepest hope, and life's dearest tie.

Chapters 36-40[edit]

Chapter 37

  • Terror dwells amid the works of man, not amid the works of nature. We tremble beside the tomb — we shrink from the icy vapour of the charnel-house — the foot walks unsteadily over the stones placed above the dead ; but the green grass and dewy flowers create no fear.

Chapter 38

  • There is something in the shadowless sky and the unbroken moonshine which mocks us with repose. We have no part in it ; our own unrest has no sympathy with the blue and spiritual horizon, whose hope is not with this life. The calm and quiet light is not of our busy and careful world; it belongs to sleep, to silence, and to dreams ; and, alas we gaze on it with the beating heart and the fevered pulse, while the thousand vain delusions of past and future cast their various shadows before our eyes. Who stands watching in the sleepless midnight, but one from whose pillow repose is banished by one all-present thought? Ambition, hate, love, alike have their vigils; and what have they in common with the cloudless sky, where the moon wanders, placid as the spirit of the good when resigned to die, and confident and filled with another and holier sphere ?
  • Besides, there is a strong current of romance in every feminine nature, that delights in the hazardous and the mysterious, especially in love affairs.

Chapter 39

  • Between the future and the soul there is some mysterious sympathy — imperfect and broken in our present state of existence.
  • How unutterably do the wretched feel the least expression of kindness !
  • It is a curious fact, but a fact it is, that your witty people are the most hard-hearted in the world. The truth is, fancy destroys feeling. The quick eye to the ridiculous turns every thing to the absurd side ; and the neat sentence, the lively allusion, and the odd simile, invest what they touch with something of their own buoyant nature. Humour is of the heart, and has its tears ; but wit is of the head, and has only smiles — and the majority of those are bitter.

Chapter 40

  • How odd it is to think how differently people are employed at the same time, and how sad to think how heavily the burden falls on most ! The contrast of the lot of the few with that of the many rather aggravates the misery : — why should they be thus favoured ?
  • [From King Charles (II)]: Let a miracle have happened only once, and we always expect it to happen again, in our own case. Fidelity is very good as a precedent, — one true lover helps on the vows of a thousand false ones.

Chapters 41-44[edit]

Chapter 41

  • No torture, though the human race are most ingenious in their devices of hate, can equal the low fever, the wearing depression of suspense.
  • The wretched catch at hope, however improbable.

Chapter 43

  • … she had delicate health, — only those who have this perpetual interest in themselves can understand its enjoyment, — and what with complaints, symptoms, remedies, and ground-ivy tea, it was quite wonderful how time passed unobserved away. It is on such as these that life lavishes its favours ; these are they of the light heart, and yet lighter mind, for whose sake the earth, to whose base clay they are so near allied, puts forth her best; these are they who have the corn and wine of existence. What know they of the sensitive temper which makes its own misery ? — of the deep feeling that cannot change ? — of the hope that looks too high, whose bright wings melt in the glorious flight, and is dashed to pieces in its rude collision with the common and the actual ? What know they of that feverish impatience of the littleness of society, which takes refuge amid the dreams of a haunted solitude, from which it only ventures forth to have those dreams destroyed ? What know they of these ? Nothing, nothing ; and in their ignorance are they happy !

Chapter 44

  • "Yes, Evelyn !" said Francesca, in a voice of touching sweetness, but calm — not one accent changed. "Yes : and here I am happy. Whatever be the world of which yonder dark sea is the portal, we shall seek it together. It has been upon me from my earliest childhood, a longing for another sphere. I knew that this earth was not my home — that here hopes and affections were to be blighted and to die. Heaven has restored us to each other; it wills that our future be eternal. A deep and a sweet repose is in my heart at this moment, and I wait, as at an altar, that fate which is not of this life."
  • There are some whose sojourn on this earth is brief as it is bitter. For such the world keeps the wasted affection, the hope destroyed, the energy that preys upon itself, the kindly feeling unrequited, and the love that asks for happiness and finds despair or death. The lots in this existence are unequal. Some pass along a path predestined to weariness and tears. Such a destiny have I here recorded ; and ere its truth be denied, I pray those who may turn these pages to think of those they have known, and their memory will witness for me. The kindest, the loveliest, the best, whom they can remember — has not life for them poured forth from its darkest cup ? — have not they known the broken heart and the early grave ? Such natures belong not to our soil — they are of another sphere ; and it is mercy when Heaven recalls its own.

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