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Margaret Oliphant

  • I think reading a novel is almost next best to having something to do.

  • ... one only says it is one's duty when one has something disagreeable to do ...

  • Married people do stand up so for each other when you say a word, however they may fight between themselves.

  • Temptations come, as a general rule, when they are sought.

  • Oh, never mind the fashion. When one has a style of one's own, it is always twenty times better.

  • Good works may only be beautiful sins, if they are not done in a true spirit ...

  • Next to happiness, perhaps enmity is the most healthful stimulant of the human mind.

  • There ain't a worm but will turn when he's trod upon ...

  • Somehow even a popular fallacy has an aspect of truth when it suits one's own case.

  • Against the long years when family bonds make up all that is happiest in life, there must always be reckoned those moments of agitation and revolution, during which the bosom of a family is the most unrestful and disturbing place in existence ...

  • It is so seldom in this world that things come just when they are wanted ...

  • ... there's looks as speaks as strong as words ...

  • Spring cold is like the poverty of a poor man who has had a fortune left him — better days are coming ...

  • ... imagination is the first faculty wanting in those that do harm to their kind ...

  • There is nothing more effectual in showing us the weakness of any habitual fallacy or assumption than to hear it sympathetically through the ears, as it were, of a skeptic.

  • I scarcely remember any writer who has ever ventured to say that the half of the work of the world is actually accomplished by women; and very few husbands who would be otherwise than greatly startled and amazed, if not indignant, if not derisive, at the suggestion of such an idea as that the work of their wives was equal to their own.

    • Margaret Oliphant,
    • "The Grievances of Women," in Fraser's Magazine ()
  • ... every generation has a conceit of itself which elevates it, in its own opinion, above that which comes after it.

    • Margaret Oliphant,
    • "The Open Door," Stories of the Seen and the Unseen ()
  • ... there are some people who never learn; indeed, few people learn by experience, so far as I have ever seen.

  • ... laughing is not the first expression of joy. ... A person laughs in idleness, for fun, not for joy. Joy has nothing, nothing but the old way of tears ...

  • Terror of being found out is not always a preservative, it sometimes hurries on the act which it ought to prevent ...

  • A hotel is a hotel all the world over, a place essentially vulgar, commonplace, venal, the travesty of a human home.

  • Even in misery we love to be foremost, to have the bitter in our cup acknowledged as more bitter than that of others.

  • There is nothing so costly as bargains.

    • Margaret Oliphant,
    • in Mrs. Harry Coghill, ed., The Autobiography and Letters of Mrs. M.O.W. Oliphant ()
  • Life, though it is short, is very long, and contains so much. And one does not, to one's consciousness, change as one's outward appearance and capabilities do. Doesn't Mrs. Somerville say that, so far from feeling old, she was not always quite certain (up in the seventies) whether she was quite grown up!

    • Margaret Oliphant,
    • in Mrs. Harry Coghill, ed., The Autobiography and Letters of Mrs. M.O.W. Oliphant ()
  • I have one gift that I know of, and I am a little proud of it. It is that of making people talk — at least, of making some people talk. My dear Lady Cloncurry says that it is like the art of driving a hoop, — that I give a little touch now and then, and my victim rolls on and on. But my people who pour forth to me are not my victims, for I love to hear them talk and they take pleasure in it ...

    • Margaret Oliphant,
    • in Mrs. Harry Coghill, ed., The Autobiography and Letters of Mrs. M.O.W. Oliphant ()
  • ... I have always been a disappointment to my friends. I have no gift of talk, not much to say; and though I have always been an excellent listener, that only succeeds under auspicious circumstances.

    • Margaret Oliphant,
    • in Mrs. Harry Coghill, ed., The Autobiography and Letters of Mrs. M.O.W. Oliphant ()
  • I have my own way of dividing people, as I suppose most of us have. There are those whom I can talk to, and those whom I can't.

    • Margaret Oliphant,
    • in Mrs. Harry Coghill, ed., The Autobiography and Letters of Mrs. M.O.W. Oliphant ()
  • Many love me, but by none am I enough beloved.

    • Margaret Oliphant,
    • in Lucy Poate Stebbins, A Victorian Album ()
  • What happiness is there which is not purchased with more or less of pain?

    • Margaret Oliphant

Margaret Oliphant, Scottish writer

(1828 - 1897)

Margaret Oliphant Wilson Oliphant (she married her cousin) usually wrote as “Mrs. Oliphant.” She wrote well over 100 books.