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Elizabeth Goudge

  • Acting a part is not always synonymous with lying; it is far more often the best way of serving the truth. It is more truthful to act what we should feel if the community is to be well served rather than behave as we actually do feel in our selfish private feelings.

  • Her birthdays were always important to her; for being a born lover of life, she would always keep the day of her entrance into it as a very great festival indeed ...

  • Our home, our special country, is for all of us the place where we find liberation; a very difficult word ... that tries to describe something that can't be described but is the only thing worth having.

  • ... cowardice more than any other failing demands a ruthless paying of the price from those who give it hospitality.

  • The perfect moment, once lost, is not easily found again.

  • Presently there was taking place in his mind that undirected, haphazard activity which he was accustomed to describe to himself inaccurately as 'thought.'

  • I've never been one for religion, but yet I've never been what ye could call an unbeliever. What I say is, nothin' don't seem impossible once you've clapped eyes on a whale.

  • Nothing living should ever be treated with contempt. Whatever it is that lives, a man, a tree or a bird, should be touched gently, because the time is short.

  • She would not rest until existence was for her a sucked orange. When there was no drop of juice left, then she would fling away the rind and die content.

  • His hatred of his wife horrified him. It was the first hatred of his life, it was growing in bitterness and intensity day by day, and he had no idea what to do about it.

  • It would save a lot of trouble, he thought, if every man and woman could realize at the outset which leaf of the triune clover claimed his allegiance, accept the limitation with humility, and not try to behave as though he — or she — had it in him to be the whole damn plant.

  • Most of the basic truths of life sound absurd at first hearing.

  • ... it is when a man has to soak his biscuits in his tea that he knows he's old.

  • The shocking discovery that her way was not necessarily good because it was hers had been epoch-making in her life ...

  • If you'll let me have my way first with the sick bodies ... you can have your way later with their souls. That's only fair and right; though I shall have the advantage of you, the bodies being existences in actual fact and the souls mere figments of your imagination.

  • [Salvation] is a curious process of divine burglary. The first thing to be wrested from one by a God who said 'Thou shalt not steal' is one's good opinion of one's self.

  • He had not known, until his child had been born, that a love as complete and exquisite and perfect as that which he felt for her could exist upon this earth.

  • To be sorry and glad together is to be perceptive to the richness of life.

  • Only at the very center of pain or joy was one wholly wretched, wholly joyful. There was only one hour of the night in which sunset or dawn was not present to the mind in memory or hope, only one hour of the day when the sun seemed neither rising nor declining, and the intensity of those hours dulled and blinded.

  • Sensible fathers and mothers, when their children marry, go back to the old days and renew their youth.

  • ... marriage is a very long process ...

  • The child in us is always there, you know, and it's the best part of us, the winged part that travels farthest.

  • I doubt if we nuns are really as self-sacrificing as we must seem to be to you who live in the world. We don't give everything for nothing, you know. The mystery plays fair.

  • There's much that goes to the makin' of a man or woman into somethin' better than a brute beast, but there's three things in chief, an' they're the places where life sets us down, an' the folks life knocks us up against, an' — not the things ye get, but the things ye don't get.

  • The bad things of life were very transitory. It was the good things, the ribbed sand, the wind blowing over the white-capped waves, the sunshine and the stars, that were so tough and durable.

  • Humanity can be roughly divided into three sorts of people — those who find comfort in literature, those who find comfort in personal adornment, and those who find comfort in food ...

  • ... Maria was one of your true aristocrats; the perfection of the hidden things was even more important to her than the outward show.

  • ... Wiggins was not one of those emotional dogs who let themselves go with quivering whiskers, hot nose, and dribbling tongue.

  • Nothing is ever finished and done with in this world. You might think a seed was finished and done with when it falls like a dead thing into the earth; but when it puts forth leaves and flowers next spring you see your mistake.

  • All the best things are seen first of all at a far distance.

  • His was the triumphant mien of the military commander who has taken no active part in the dust and heat of the battle, yet marches very actively indeed at the head of his troops when they return victoriously home.

  • She always refused to be hurried. Hurry was so aging.

  • ... you felt that your life was not an isolated thing, but existed in all other lives, as all other lives existed within yours. There wasn't anything anywhere to which you could say, 'We don't need each other.'

  • ... autumn days have a holiness that spring lacks ... They are like old serene saints for whom death has lost its terror.

  • Imagination comes from yourself and can deceive you, but vision is a gift from outside yourself — like light striking on your closed eyelids and lifting them to see what's really there.

  • Writers and painters have a medium that can foster self-effacements. Actors haven't. An actor can't hide himself behind paper or canvas. If you're not there your art's not there. That's why we actors are often such self-centered objects.

  • I don't think there's anything more tiring ... than expecting people who don't turn up ...

  • ... to know perfect happiness a woman may be a mother, but must be a grandmother.

  • The lovers of life, they are children at heart always in their wonder and delight, but they do not grab.

  • This modern craze for putting the young in positions of authority — headmasters in their thirties, bishops without a gray hair on their heads, generals who scarcely need to use a razor — ever since it took hold the world's gone steadily downhill.

  • Butterflies ... not quite birds, as they were not quite flowers, mysterious and fascinating as are all indeterminate creatures.

  • All we are asked to bear we can bear.

Elizabeth Goudge, English writer

(1900 - 1984)

Full name: Elizabeth de Beauchamp Goudge