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Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • I did not write it. God wrote it. I merely did His dictation.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • on Uncle Tom's Cabin, in Raymond Weaver, introduction to 1938 edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin ()
  • The hand of benevolence is everywhere stretched out, searching into abuses, righting wrongs, alleviating distresses, and bringing to the knowledge and sympathies of the world the lowly, the oppressed, and the forgotten.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • "Author's Preface," Uncle Tom's Cabin ()
  • It is one mark of a superior mind to understand and be influenced by the superiority of others.

  • The same quickness which makes a mind buoyant in gladness often makes it gentlest and most sympathetic in sorrow.

  • Perhaps ... it is impossible for a person who does no good not to do harm.

  • In the gates of eternity the black hand and the white hand hold each other with equal clasp ...

  • The soul awakes ... between two dim eternities — the eternal past, the eternal future.

  • Well, I've got just as much conscience as any man in business can afford to keep, — just a little, you know, to swear by, as 'twere ...

  • Sublime is the dominion of the mind over the body, that, for a time, can make flesh and nerve impregnable, and string the sinews like steel, so that the weak become so mighty!

  • I b'lieve in religion, and one of these days, when I've got matters tight and snug, I calculates to tend to my soul ...

  • O, ye who visit the distressed, do ye know that everything your money can buy, given with a cold, averted face, is not worth one honest tear shed in real sympathy?

  • ... the Lord gives good many things twice over; but he don't give ye a mother but once.

  • Money is a great help everywhere; — can't have too much, if you get it honestly.

  • All men are free and equal in the grave, if it comes to that ...

  • So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why doesn't somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?

  • ... in a novel, people's hearts break, and they die, and that is the end of it; and in a story this is very convenient. But in real life we do not die when all that makes life bright dies to us. There is a most busy and important round of eating, drinking, dressing, walking, visiting, buying, selling, talking, reading, and all that makes up what is commonly called living, yet to be gone through ...

  • Miss Ophelia was the absolute bond-slave of the 'ought.'

  • Religion! Is what you hear at church religion? Is that which can bend and turn, and descend and ascend, to fit every crooked phase of selfish, worldly society, religion?

  • General rules will bear hard on particular cases.

  • Whipping and abuse are like laudanum; you have to double the dose as the sensibilities decline.

  • And Mr. Shelby, not knowing any other way of enforcing his ideas, raised his voice, — a mode of arguing very convenient and convincing, when a gentleman is discussing matters of business with his wife.

  • ... he who has nothing to lose can afford all risks.

  • O, what an untold world there is in one human heart!

  • ... the heaviest anguish often precedes a return tide of joy and courage.

  • No one is so thoroughly superstitious as the godless man.

  • The longest day must have its close, — the gloomiest night will wear on to a morning. An eternal, inexorable lapse of moments is ever hurrying the day of the evil to an eternal night, and the night of the just to an eternal day.

  • Mountains are nature's testimonials of anguish. They are the sharp cry of a groaning and travailing creation. Nature's stern agony writes itself on these furrowed brows of gloomy stone. These reft and splintered crags stand, the dreary images of patient sorrow, existing verdureless and stern because exist they must.

  • Cathedrals do not seem to me to have been built. They seem, rather, stupendous growths of nature, like crystals, or cliffs of basalt.

  • These Germans seem an odd race, a mixture of clay and spirit — what with their beer-drinking and smoking, and their slow, stolid ways, you would think them perfectly earth; but ethereal fire is all the while working in them, and bursing out in most unexpected jets of poetry and sentiment, like blossoms on a cactus.

  • Sensitive people never like the fatigue of justifying their instincts.

  • As oil will find its way into crevices where water cannot penetrate, so song will find its way where speech can no longer enter.

  • Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.

  • Half the misery in the world comes of want of courage to speak and to hear the truth plainly and in a spirit of love.

  • There are in this world two kinds of natures, — those that have wings, and those that have feet, — the winged and the walking spirits. The walking are the logicians; the winged are the instinctive and poetic.

  • There are two classes of human beings in this world: one class seem made to give love, and the other to take it.

  • ... in the old times, women did not get their lives written, though I don't doubt many of them were much better worth writing than the men's.

  • ... there is no independence and pertinacity of opinion like that of these seemingly soft, quiet creatures, whom it is so easy to silence, and so difficult to convince.

  • ... the temperaments of children are often as oddly unsuited to parents as if capricious fairies had been filling cradles with changelings.

  • A shrewd observer has significantly characterized the period as the time when the boy wishes he were dead, and everybody else wishes so too.

  • One of the most common signs of this period, in some natures, is the love of contradiction and opposition, — a blind desire to go contrary to everything that is commonly received among the older people.

  • Prayer is a long rope with a strong hold.

  • His cravings and dreams were not for somebody to be devoted to, but for somebody to be devoted to him. And, like most people who possess this characteristic, he mistook it for an affectionate disposition.

  • Just so sure as one puts on any old rag, and thinks nobody will come, company is sure to call.

  • There are griefs which grow with years ...

  • A ship is a beauty and a mystery wherever we see it ...

  • A ship-building, a ship-sailing community has an unconscious poetry ever underlying its existence.

  • The ship, built on one element, but designed to have its life in another, seemed an image of the soul, formed and fashioned with many a weary hammer-stroke in this life, but finding its true element only when it sails out into the ocean of eternity.

  • God has always been to me not so much like a father as like a dear and tender mother.

  • ... the truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end.

  • ... it isn't mere love and good-will that is needed in a sick-room; it needs knowledge and experience.

  • There is no phase of the Italian mind that has not found expression in its music.

  • The pain of discipline is short, but the glory of the fruition is eternal.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • "The Cathedral," Atlantic Monthly ()
  • ... women are the real architects of society.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • "Dress, or Who Makes the Fashions," Atlantic Monthly ()
  • The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.

  • ... a true gentleman ... was characterized as the man that asks the fewest questions. This trait of refined society might be adopted into home-like in a far greater degree than it is, and make it far more agreeable.

  • ... the delicacy that respects a friend's silence is one of the charms of life.

  • Gems, in fact, are a species of mineral flowers; they are the blossoms of the dark, hard mine; and what they want in perfume, they make up in durability.

  • When you get in a tight place, and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the time and the place the tide will turn.

  • Greek is the morning land of languages, and has the freshness of early dew in it which will never exhale.

  • No ornament of a house can compare with books; they are constant company in a room, even when you are not reading them.

  • One part of the science of living is to learn just what our own responsibility is, and to let other people's alone.

  • He was gret on texts, the doctor was. When he hed a p'int to prove, he'd jest go through the Bible, and drive all the texts ahead o' him like a flock o' sheep; and then, if there was a text that seemed agin him, why, he'd come out with his Greek and Hebrew, and kind o' chase it round a spell, jest as ye see a feller chase a contrary bell-wether, and make him jump the fence arter the rest. I tell you, there wa'n't no text in the Bible that could stand agin the doctor when his blood was up.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • "The Minister's Housekeeper," Sam Lawson's Oldtown Fireside Stories ()
  • Huldy was one o' them that has the gift, so that ef you jist give 'em the leastest sprig of anything they make a great bush out of it right away ...

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • "The Minister's Housekeeper," Sam Lawson's Oldtown Fireside Stories ()
  • Praise is sunshine; it warms, it inspires, it promotes growth; blame and rebuke are rain and hail; they beat down and bedraggle, even though they may at times be necessary.

  • People who hate trouble generally get a good deal of it.

  • Eyes that have never wept cannot comprehend sorrow.

  • Who shall interpret what is meant by the sweet jargon of robin and oriole and bobolink, with their endless reiterations? Something wiser, perhaps, than we dream of in our lower life here.

  • [On Uncle Tom's Cabin:] I no more thought of style or literary excellence than the mother who rushes into the street and cries for help to save her children from a burning house, thinks of the teachings of the rhetorician or the elocutionist.

  • [At age 16:] I don't know as I am fit for anything and I have thought that I could wish to die young and let the remembrance of me and my faults perish in the grave rather than live, as I fear I do, a trouble to everyone. ... Sometimes I could not sleep and have groaned and cried till midnight ...

  • By what strange law of mind is it that an idea long overlooked, and trodden under foot as a useless stone, suddenly sparkles out in new light, as a discovered diamond!

  • It would be an incalculable gain to domestic happiness, if people would begin the concert of life with their instruments tuned to a very low pitch: they who receive the most happiness are generally they who demand and expect the least.

  • If I am to write, I must have a room to myself, which shall be my room.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • letter to her husband (1840), in Annie Fields, ed., Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe ()
  • If you were not already my dearly loved husband I should certainly fall in love with you.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • letter to her husband (1841), in Annie Fields, ed., Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe ()
  • I would not attack the faith of a heathen without being sure that I had a better one to put in its place, because such as it is, it is better than nothing.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • (1855), in Annie Fields, ed., Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe ()
  • Rome is an astonishment!

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • (1857), in Annie Fields, ed., Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe ()
  • It is always our treasure that the lightning strikes.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • (1857), in Annie Fields, ed., Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe ()
  • Can anybody tell what sorrows are locked up with our best affections, or what pain may be associated with every pleasure?

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • (1857), in Annie Fields, ed., Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe ()
  • Let death between us be as naught, / A dried and vanished stream; / Your joy be the reality, / Our suffering life the dream.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • "The Other World," in Edmund Clarence Stedman, An American Anthology 1787-1900 ()
  • A man builds a house in England with the expectation of living in it and leaving it to his children; while we shed our houses in America as easily as a snail does his shell.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • in Catherine Gilbertson, Harriet Beecher Stowe ()
  • Let us never doubt, everything that ought to happen is going to happen.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • (1882), in Catherine Gilbertson, Harriet Beecher Stowe ()
  • To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of every-day life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • in Mary Alice Warner and Dayna Beilenson, eds., Women of Faith and Spirit ()
  • The world has been busy for some centuries in shutting and locking every door through which a woman could step into wealth, except the door of marriage.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Private opinion is weak, but public opinion is almost omnipotent.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • [Letter to her twin daughters:] I long to put the experience of fifty years at once into your young lives, to give you at once the key to that treasure chamber every gem of which has cost me tears and struggles and prayers, but you must work for these inward treasures yourselves.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The past, the present and the future are really one: they are today.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • ... home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserves; it is life's undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room from which we go forth to more careful and guarded intercourse ...

  • The person who decides what shall be the food and drink of a family, and the modes of its preparation, is the one who decides, to a greater or less extent, what shall be the health of that family.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • in Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, American Woman's Home ()
  • ... intemperance in eating is one of the most fruitful of all causes of disease and death.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • in Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, American Woman's Home ()
  • ... in America, far too large a portion of the diet consists of animal food. As a nation, the Americans are proverbial for the gross and luxurious diet with which they load their tables; and there can be no doubt that the general health of the nation would be increased by a change in our customs in this respect.

    • Harriet Beecher Stowe,
    • in Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, American Woman's Home ()

Harriet Beecher Stowe, U.S. writer, abolitionist

(1811 - 1896)

Full name: Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe. She also wrote under the name Christopher Crowfield (see quotations under that name).