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Sydney, Lady Morgan

  • ... what is heroism? it is the deed of a great soul, capable of a great passion.

  • He thought the song, like the songstress, was in a class by itself.

  • There can be no individual happiness but that which harmonizes with the happiness of society; there may be virtue without felicity, but there can be no felicity without virtue.

  • Nature has only given us desires, whose gratification is enjoyment; but society in its gradual estrangement from her dictates, engenders passions which become the scourge of those who cherish them ... religion, which is of nature, conveyed through the senses to the soul, awakening its gratitude, and commanding its adoration, becomes an incomprehensible dogma, propagated by cruelty and fanaticism; disfigured by human invention on every side, breaking the tie of human sympathy, scattering discord and disorder through nations, founding its merits upon earthly privation, and imposing its belief by eternal terrors.

  • In every religion may be traced the arrogant faith of its own infallibility, and in the breast of every fanatic sectarian is established a secret inquisition by which the opinions of others is tried and condemned on every side. Virtue and felicity are of nature! on every side vice and misery are of man.

  • ... a government, radically bad in the very basis of its structure, diffuses its noxious influence upon the most private feelings and intimate associations of life ...

  • ... the heart is always a patriot! — In that country where it first learns to feel, to love, to suffer, there will the associating ideas rivet the social affections; and it is thus we insensibly attach ourselves to our country from sentiment, even when we are destitute of the virtue to love it from principle.

  • If there are sufferings, which (however dreadful in their endurance) are yet susceptible of amelioration, the sorrow which a parent's loss awakens is not among the number ... though the tear which sorrow sheds upon the parent's grave, may be dried up by time, the loss which bids that tear to flow, can never be replaced by human tenderness, or human power!

  • ... though the mind may err, the senses are always true ...

  • Expectation is hope colored by fancy.

  • ... the frequency of bad books proves only that fools and knaves now employ their leisure in reading, instead of the more dangerous and brutal pastimes which occupied their predecessors.

  • Of theology it is dangerous to speak; but as every one will admit that whatever has been written without the pale of his own narrow sect is pernicious error; and as what every body says must be true, the reader may draw his own consequence.

  • History has ever been a record of errors, of party misrepresentations, and of mistaken views, passed through the colander of the historian's fancy ...

  • Another cause for the multiplication of flimsy books, is the universality of authorship; and this fashion for writing is, at least, as good a fashion as that of driving coaches and beating the watch. When all sorts and conditions of persons publish, all sorts and conditions of persons must read; and the annual quality of publications is less an exponent of the talent in the market, than of the minimum of wit, sense, and utility, beyond which the public will not buy.

  • Reviewers should know that bad books make good reviews, exactly as 'de mauvais vin on fait de bon vinaigre.' Without the necessary supply, adieu the opportunity for being witty in print, and of showing forth your own superiority, and enlivening the town at the small expense of an author's feelings.

  • Strong impulses come of strong feelings; and strong feelings are the source of all that is great and good, not, alas! of all that is wise ...

  • The science of cookery is the science of civilization; and considering the effect which the material, raw or cooked, has upon the digestion, and the digestion on the brain, it is a science of quite as much importance, as any other in the great scale of utility and consideration.

  • It is extremely difficult to draw tears from blockheads, except when muddled; and then they talk of themselves, and are pathetic.

  • The playful kitten ... is infinitely more amusing than half the people one is obliged to live with in the world.

  • Egotism is the sin of autobiography, and vanity naturally takes the pen to trace its dictation.

  • Architecture is the printing-press of all ages, and gives a history of the state of the society in which it was erected.

  • Napoleon had the bad taste to put on the Tuileries the inscription 'La République Française.' Madame de Staël observed that in this he acted like a bad painter, who writes under his picture 'Ceci est un lion.'

  • I am sick of the jargon about the idleness of genius. All the greatest geniuses have worked hard at everything — energetic, persevering, and laborious. ... it is the energy that gives what we call 'genius'; that leaves its impression on all it touches. Nothing but mediocrity is slothful and idle.

    • Sydney, Lady Morgan,
    • 1828, Lady Morgan's Memoir, vol. 2 ()
  • It is just as well not to be married, for marriage is but another name for suffering.

    • Sydney, Lady Morgan,
    • 1828, Lady Morgan's Memoir, vol. 2 ()
  • Just read the account of the funeral of Mary, Dowager Countess of Cork and Orrery; she died in harness, full of bitterness and good dinners.

    • Sydney, Lady Morgan,
    • 1840, Lady Morgan's Memoir, vol. 2 ()
  • [After her husband's death:] The winter fire kindles alone for me now.

    • Sydney, Lady Morgan,
    • 1843, Lady Morgan's Memoir, vol. 2 ()
  • Time applied to grief is a worldly common place — time has its due influence over visible grief, that which is expressed by visible emotions — it softens sighs and dries tears ... but the loss of that which is, or was, part of yourself, remains for ever.

    • Sydney, Lady Morgan,
    • 1844, Lady Morgan's Memoir, vol. 2 ()
  • London is the best place in the world for the happy and the unhappy, there is a floating capital of sympathy for every human good or evil ...

    • Sydney, Lady Morgan,
    • 1844, Lady Morgan's Memoir, vol. 2 ()
  • Nothing is left me to love; but, also, nothing to fear.

    • Sydney, Lady Morgan,
    • 1846, Lady Morgan's Memoir, vol. 2 ()
  • Your letters are always to me fresher than flowers, without their fading so soon.

    • Sydney, Lady Morgan,
    • letter (1859), Lady Morgan's Memoir, vol. 2 ()

Sydney, Lady Morgan, Irish writer

(1781 - 1859)

Born: Sydney Owenson. She published many of her books as Miss Owenson.