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Jane Austen

  • It was too pathetic for the feelings of Sophia and myself — we fainted alternately on a sofa. Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint.

    • Jane Austen,
    • "Letter the 8th," Love and Freindship ()
  • She is probably by this time as tired of me, as I am of her; but as she is too polite and I am too civil to say so, our letters are still as frequent and affectionate as ever ...

  • A woman never looks better than on horseback.

  • The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!

  • No temper could be more cheerful than hers, or possess, in a greater degree, that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself.

  • The less said the better.

  • ... with them, to wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect.

  • On every formal visit a child ought to be of the party, by way of provision for discourse.

  • Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.

  • The business of self-command she settled very easily; — with strong affections it was impossible, with calm ones it could have no merit.

  • Lady Middleton ... exerted herself to ask Mr. Palmer if there was any news in the paper. 'No, none at all,' he replied, and read on.

  • Fortunately for those who pay their court through such foibles, a fond mother, though, in pursuit of praise for her children, the most rapacious of human beings, is likewise the most credulous; her demands are exorbitant; but she will swallow any thing ...

  • She was not a woman of many words: for, unlike people in general, she proportioned them to the number of her ideas ...

  • Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.

  • ... where so many hours have been spent in convincing myself that I am right, is there not some reason to fear I may be wrong?

  • It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

  • Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us.

  • Angry people are not always wise.

  • Nine times out of ten, a woman had better show more affection than she feels.

  • The power of doing anything with quickness is always much prized by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance.

  • You ought certainly to forgive them as a Christian, but never to admit them in your sight, or allow their names to be mentioned in your hearing.

  • She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper.

  • But that is one great difference between us. Compliments always take you by surprise, and me never.

  • One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.

  • Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.

  • ... it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.

  • A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment.

  • But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever.

  • My good opinion, once lost is gone forever.

  • Everything nourishes what is strong already.

  • ... it is happy for you that you possess the talent of flattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?

  • Those who do not complain are never pitied.

  • You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.

  • We all know him to be a proud, unpleasant man; but this would be nothing if you really liked him.

  • ... I have often observed that resignation is never so perfect as when the blessing denied begins to lose somewhat of its value in our eyes.

  • A scheme of which every part promises delight can never be successful; and general disappointment is only warded off by the defense of some little peculiar vexation.

  • Mrs. Bennett was restored to her usual querulous serenity ...

  • For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?

  • I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle.

  • Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.

  • Nothing ever fatigues me, but doing what I do not like.

  • I trust that absolutes have gradations.

  • To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.

  • A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.

  • Five is the very awkwardest of all posible numbers to sit down to table.

  • Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.

  • ... there is not one in a hundred of either sex, who is not taken in when they marry. ... it is, of all transactions, the one in which people expect most from others, and are least honest themselves.

  • Be honest and poor, by all means — but I shall not envy you; I do not much think I shall even respect you. I have a much greater respect for those that are honest and rich.

  • What strange creatures brothers are! You would not write to each other but upon the most urgent necessity in the world; and when obliged to take up the pen to say that such a horse is ill, or such a relation dead, it is done in the fewest possible words. You have but one style among you. ... 'Dear Mary, I am just arrived. Bath seems full, and every thing as usual. Yours sincerely.' That is the true manly style; that is a complete brother's letter.

  • ... it is a shocking trick for a young person to be always lolling upon a sofa.

  • We do not look in great cities for our best morality.

  • ... there is not the least wit in my nature. I am a very matter of fact, plain spoken being, and may blunder on the borders of a repartee for half an hour together without striking it out.

  • Oh! do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.

  • I speak what appears to me the general opinion; and where an opinion is general, it is usually correct.

  • ... they are much to be pitied who have not ... been given a taste for nature in early life. They lose a great deal.

  • There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient — at others, so bewildered and so weak — and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control!

  • ... even the conjugal tie is beneath the fraternal. Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply ...

  • Fraternal love, sometimes almost every thing, is at others worse than nothing.

  • ... the trees, though not fully clothed, were in that delightful state, when farther beauty is known to be at hand, and when, while much is actually given to the sight, more yet remains for the imagination.

  • She was of course only too good for him; but as nobody minds having what is too good for them, he was very steadily earnest in the pursuit of the blessing ...

  • If a woman doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him. If she can hesitate as to 'Yes,' she ought to say 'No,' directly.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • A single woman with a narrow income must be a ridiculous, disagreeable old maid, the proper sport of boys and girls, but a single woman of fortune is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as anybody else.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • It is very difficult for the prosperous to be humble ...

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Success supposes endeavor.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • It was a delightful visit; - perfect, in being much too short.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Nobody, who has not been in the interior of a family, can say what the difficulties of any individual of that family may be.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person, who either marries or dies, is sure of being kindly spoken of.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Something occurred while they were at Hartfield, to make Emma want their advice; and, which was still more lucky, she wanted exactly the advice they gave.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind; - but when a beginning is made - when the felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt - it must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • The ladies here probably exchanged looks which meant, 'Men never know when things are dirty or not;' and the gentlemen perhaps thought each to himself, 'Women will have their little nonsenses and needless cares.'

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Fine dancing, I believe, like virtue, must be its own reward. Those who are standing by are usually thinking of something very different.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • ... why not seize the pleasure at once? - How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Ah! there is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Business, you know, may bring money, but friendship hardly ever does.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • ... a vast deal may be done by those who dare to act.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • The post-office is a wonderful establishment! The regularity and dispatch of it! If one thinks of all that it has to do, and all that it does so well, it is really astonishing!

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • One cannot have too large a party. A large party secures its own amusement.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken ...

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • My sore throats are always worse than everyone's.

  • You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

  • She had been forced into prudence in her youth. She learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequence of an unnatural beginning.

  • If there is anything disagreeable going on men are always sure to get out of it.

  • How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!

  • One man's ways may be as good as another's, but we all like our own best.

  • 'My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.' 'You are mistaken,' said he gently, 'that is not good company, that is the best.'

  • Every body's heart is open, you know, when they have recently escaped from severe pain, or are recovering the blessing of health ...

  • One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering ...

  • I will not allow it to be more man's nature than woman's to be inconstant ...

  • ... if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove any thing.

  • When any two young people take it into their heads to marry, they are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point, be they ever so poor, or ever so imprudent, or ever so little likely to be necessary to each other's ultimate comfort.

  • ... you ... may perhaps be brought to acknowledge that it is very well worthwhile to be tormented for two or three years of one's life, for the sake of being able to read all the rest of it.

  • But history, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. ... the quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilences on every page ... and hardly any women at all.

  • There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.

  • Everyone allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female.

  • ... only a novel! ... only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humor, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.

  • In every power of which taste is the foundation, excellence is pretty fairly divided between the sexes.

  • One day in the country is exactly like another.

  • ... this is a very nice day; and we are taking a very nice walk; and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! it is a very nice word, indeed! it does for everything.

  • A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.

  • ... from politics it was an easy step to silence.

  • I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.

  • Nothing but death.

    • Jane Austen,
    • last words, when asked if there was anything she wanted (1817), in J.E. Austen-Leigh, A Memoir of Jane Austen ()
  • Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor ...

    • Jane Austen,
    • 1816, in Sarah Chauncey Woolsey, ed., The Letters of Jane Austen ()
  • What dreadful hot weather we have! — It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance.

    • Jane Austen,
    • letter to her sister Cassandra (1796), in R.W. Chapman, ed., Jane Austen's Letters ()
  • Mrs. Hall, of Sherborne, was brought to bed yesterday of a dead child, some weeks before she expected, owing to a fright. I suppose she happened unawares to look at her husband.

    • Jane Austen,
    • 1798, in R.W. Chapman, ed., Jane Austen's Letters ()
  • Your letter came quite as soon as I expected, and so your letters will always do, because I have made it a rule not to expect them till they come ...

    • Jane Austen,
    • letter to her sister Cassandra (1798), in R.W. Chapman, ed., Jane Austen's Letters ()
  • I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.

    • Jane Austen,
    • letter to her sister Cassandra (1798), in R.W. Chapman, ed., Jane Austen's Letters ()
  • ... if a book is well written, I always find it too short.

    • Jane Austen,
    • in Frances Beer, ed., The Juvenilia of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë ()
  • ... I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible Vanity, the most unlearned & uninformed Female who ever dared to be an Authoress.

    • Jane Austen,
    • 1815, in Deirdre Le Faye, ed., Jane Austen's Letters ()
  • Where love is there is no labor; and if there be labor, that labor is loved.

    • Jane Austen
  • Grant us grace, Almighty Father, so to pray as to deserve to be heard.

    • Jane Austen
  • Well! evil to some is always good to others.

    • Jane Austen,
    • Emma
    • ()
  • Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.

    • Jane Austen,
    • letter to her sister Cassandra (1815), in R.W. Chapman, ed., Jane Austen's Letters ()
  • Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.‬

  • When pain is over, the remembrance of it often becomes a pleasure.

  • ... if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better; we find comfort somewhere ...

  • They parted at last with mutual civility, and possibly a mutual desire of never meeting again.

Jane Austen, English novelist

(1775 - 1817)