Quotations are cited from Maria Edgeworth Tales and Novels (New York: J. and J. Harper, 1834), 20 vols.
- Man is to be held only by the slightest chains; with the idea that he can break them at pleasure, he submits to them in sport.
- Letters for Literary Ladies (1795), "Julia and Caroline", Letter 1; Tales and Novels, vol. 13, p. 225.
- Obtain power, then, by all means; power is the law of man; make it yours.
- "An Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification" (1795); Tales and Novels, vol. 1, p. 206.
- Surely it is much more generous to forgive and remember, than to forgive and forget.
- "An Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification"; Tales and Novels, vol. 1, p. 213.
- We cannot judge either of the feelings or of the characters of men with perfect accuracy from their actions or their appearance in public; it is from their careless conversations, their half-finished sentences, that we may hope with the greatest probability of success to discover their real characters.
- Castle Rackrent (1800), Preface; Tales and Novels, vol. 1, p. 9.
- A love-match was the only thing for happiness, where the parties could any way afford it.
- Castle Rackrent, "Continuation of the Memoirs of the Rackrent Family"; Tales and Novels, vol. 1, p. 46.
- Our Irish blunders are never blunders of the heart.
- To our unhappy sex genius and sensibility are the most treacherous gifts of Heaven. Why should we cultivate talents merely to gratify the caprice of tyrants? Why seek for knowledge, which can prove only that our wretchedness is irremediable? If a ray of light break in upon us, it is but to make darkness more visible; to show us the narrow limits, the Gothic structure, the impenetrable barriers of our prison.
- Leonora (1806), Letter 1; Tales and Novels, vol. 13, p. 5.
- My mother took too much, a great deal too much, care of me; she over-educated, over-instructed, over-dosed me with premature lessons of prudence: she was so afraid that I should ever do a foolish thing, or not say a wise one, that she prompted my every word, and guided my every action. So I grew up, seeing with her eyes, hearing with her ears, and judging with her understanding, till, at length, it was found out that I had not eyes, ears or understanding of my own.
- Vivian (1812), ch. 1; Tales and Novels, vol. 8, p. 8.
- A man who sells his conscience for his interest will sell it for his pleasure. A man who will betray his country will betray his friend.
- Vivian, ch. 7; Tales and Novels, vol. 8, p. 80.
- Alarmed successively by every fashionable medical terror of the day, she dosed her children with every specific which was publicly advertised or privately recommended…The consequence was, that the dangers, which had at first been imaginary, became real: these little victims of domestic medicine never had a day's health: they looked, and were, more dead than alive.
- Patronage (1814), ch. 20; Tales and Novels, vol. 14, p. 245.
- It is unjust and absurd of those advancing in years, to expect of the young that confidence should come all and only on their side: the human heart, at whatever age, opens only to the heart that opens in return.
- Helen (1834), ch. 7; Tales and Novels, vol. 19, p. 62.
- I have made up my mind to like no novels really, but Miss Edgeworth's, yours and my own.
- Jane Austen, letter to her niece, Anna Lefroy, 1814; cited from Valerie Grosvenor Myer Jane Austen, Obstinate Heart (New York: Arcade, 1997) p. 196.
- That is the great clue to bourgeois psychology: the reward business. It is screamingly obvious in Maria Edgeworth's tales, which must have done unspeakable damage to ordinary people.—Be good, and you'll have money. Be wicked, and you'll be utterly penniless at last, and the good ones will have to offer you a little charity.
- D. H. Lawrence, Introduction to These Paintings (1929); cited from James Boulton (ed.) Late Essays and Articles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004) pp. 192-3.