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Margaret Deland

  • ... his truthfulness, which ignored the courteous deceits of social life, was a kind of impropriety.

  • ... there's a pitch of virtue about him that is exhausting.

  • Truth is like heat or light; its vibrations are endless, and are endlessly felt.

  • ... faith, it seems to me, is not the holding of certain dogmas; it is simply openness and readiness of heart to believe any truth which God may show.

  • How long I've loved thee, and how well — / I dare not tell!

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "Love's Wisdom," The Old Garden and Other Verses ()
  • That leap up of the sun is as glad as a child's laugh; it is as a renewal of the world's youth.

  • ... one must desire something, to be alive: perhaps absolute satisfaction is only another name for Death.

  • ... in a wicked way, it is an incentive to good living to observe the spice of enjoyment there is to a godly soul in a very little sin.

  • ... the blue and cloudless day closes like the lid of a casket of jewels upon the violet rim of sea, and shuts out the light.

  • ... the attempt to break a habit of years is necessarily experimental.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • Sidney
    • ()
  • ... perhaps there is no conceit so arrogant as the conceit which follows a conviction of emancipation.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • Sidney
    • ()
  • ... the insolence of time is like a blow in the face from an unseen enemy.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • Sidney
    • ()
  • ... it is better to be lonely than to wish to be alone.

  • There was hardly a wrinkle on her placid face. Dr. Lavendar had been heard to say, in this connection, that 'thought made wrinkles.' And the inference was obvious.

  • Books are like sapphires; they must be polished — polished! or else you insult your readers.

  • ... weakness is a great bully without knowing it ...

  • Real divorce takes place without a decree ...

  • There's one thing that always interests me about you good people, not your certainty that the rest of us are swine, — no doubt we are, — but your certainty that your opinions are pearls.

  • ... she empties her soul of its emotions just as a boy pulls his pocketwrong side out to show you that there's nothing in it.

  • ... by some mysterious method, Susan Carr's gossip gave the listener a gentler feeling towards his kind. When she spoke of her neighbors' faults, one knew that somehow they were simply virtues gone to seed ...

  • Frances's goodness was the worst part of her.

  • ... a mother, she's always got love enough to go round, somehow. I wish you could say the same of shoes.

  • Absurdity is the one thing love can't stand; it can overlook anything else, — coldness, or weakness, or viciousness, — but just be ridiculous and that's the end of it!

  • ... nothing may be more selfish than remorse ...

  • Some time in our lives every man and woman of us, putting out our hands toward the stars, touch on either side our prison walls the immutable limitations of temperament

  • To talk over a quarrel, with its inevitable accompaniment of self-justification, is too much like handling cobwebs to be very successful.

  • ... his past was no more to him than the eggshell is to the eagle.

  • ... gossip, after it reaches a certain point of insult and falsehood, becomes a source of amusement to its victims.

  • There is no embarrassment quite like the embarrassment of listening to a person for whom one has a regard making a fool of himself.

  • Isn't there any statute of limitation in things spiritual? I don't believe any large mind dwells on its sins, any more than on its virtues!

  • ... there must be reserves — except with God. The human soul is solitary. But for confession that is different; justice and reparation sometimes demand it; but, again, justice and courage sometimes forbid it.

  • ... convictions do not imply reasons.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Promises of Dorothea," Old Chester Tales ()
  • ... there are few things that are more endearing than the grace of listening with attention; indeed, it is more than endearing, it is impressive — for no one knows what wisdom lies concealed in silence!

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "Miss Maria," Old Chester Tales ()
  • ... we middle-aged folk have the education of life, truly; we know the multiplication table of anxieties and sorrows, the subtraction table of loss, the division table of responsibility.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "Miss Maria," Old Chester Tales ()
  • Of all the bitter and heavy things in this sorry old world, the not being necessary is the bitterest and heaviest.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Child's Mother," Old Chester Tales ()
  • The anger of slow, mild, loving people has a lasting quality that mere bad-tempered folk cannot understand.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Child's Mother," Old Chester Tales ()
  • ... men love their wives not because of their virtues, but in spite of them.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "Mr. Horace Shields" Old Chester Tales ()
  • ... arguing with Lucy was like trying to sew with no knot in your thread.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "Mr. Horace Shields" Old Chester Tales ()
  • Did you ever notice, Ellen, that the truth always hurts people's feelings?

  • I'm not to blame for an old body, but I would be to blame for an old soul. An old soul is a shameful thing.

  • ... we've all of us got to meet the devil alone. Temptation is a lonely business ...

  • ... he had been up until three with an old woman who thought she was sick, and he had been routed out of bed again at five because she told her family that she was going to die. William King was not given to sarcasm, but he longed to say to the waiting relatives, 'There is no hope! — she'll live.'

  • Home is the best place to be sick in.

  • It is useless to deny that, unless one has a genius for imparting knowledge, teaching is a drudgery.

  • ... as I get older there is nothing more constantly astonishing to me than the goodness of the Bad; — unless it is the badness of the Good.

  • I've always thought the law ought to put on spectacles, it has mighty poor eyesight once in a while.

  • The fact is, the secret of happiness is the sense of proportion ...

  • Dr. Lavendar had reached that degree of wisdom which knows that successful interference in love affairs must come from the inside, not from the outside.

  • You see so much of the sin of human nature that you get to thinking human nature has got to sin. You are mistaken, sir; it has got to be decent.

  • Age, with shamefaced relief, has learned the solvent quality of Time. It is this quality which makes possible the contemplation of certain embarrassing heavenly reunions ...

  • Age, per se, may claim tenderness and pity, but not respect; that only comes when the years have brought humanity and wisdom and the experience that worketh hope.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "On the Shelf," The Common Way ()
  • ... she is the Buffer of civilization.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "Aunts," The Common Way ()
  • Twenty-five years ago, Christmas was not the burden that it is now; there was less haggling and weighing, less quid pro quo, less fatigue of body, less weariness of soul; and, most of all, there was less loading up with trash.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "Concerning Christmas Giving," The Common Way ()
  • You can't have genius without patience.

  • I notice that when people have no sense of responsibility, you call them either criminals or geniuses.

  • As soon as you feel too old to do a thing, do it!

  • ... there isn't any virtue where there has never been any temptation. Virtue is just temptation, overcome.

  • A sneer is like a flame; it may occasionally be curative because it cauterizes, but it leaves a bitter scar.

  • ... safety that depends on an apron-string is very unsafe!

  • ... when personal happiness conflicts with any great human ideal, the right to claim such happiness is as nothing compared to the privilege of resigning it.

  • I have heard that a man might be his own lawyer, but you can't be your own judge.

  • ... a manufactured interest has no staying quality — especially if it involves any hard work.

  • ... it is curious how fatal it is, either to a situation or to an individual, or even to a name, if in an evil moment it becomes funny.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Change in the Feminine Ideal", in The Atlantic ()
  • ... nothing is as conventional as adolescence.

  • ... habit does much to reconcile us to unpleasantness ...

  • A letter is a risky thing; the writer gambles on the reader's frame of mind.

  • There is a bond, it appears, between mother and child which endures as long as they do. It is independent of love; reason cannot weaken it; hate cannot destroy it.

  • He's always had something for nothing That is the one immorality that damns.

  • In connection with death, or birth, or love, modesty is only a rather puerile self-consciousness.

  • When it comes to bombshells, there are few that can be more effective than that small, flat, frail thing, a letter.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Harvest of Fear," Around Old Chester ()
  • ... the profession of the ministry is like matrimony: if it is possible for you to keep out of it, it's a sign that you've no business to go into it!

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Harvest of Fear," Around Old Chester ()
  • ... if you give way to fear, you'll be a coward; and ... a coward is apt to be a liar. The devil's first name is Fear ...

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Harvest of Fear," Around Old Chester ()
  • ... as everybody knows, truthfulness and agreeable manners are often divorced on the ground of incompatibility.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "An Encore," Around Old Chester ()
  • Mary, the Lord gives us our children; but Somebody Else gives us our in-laws!

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "An Encore," Around Old Chester ()
  • ... he was of that pleasant temperament which believes whatever it is comfortable to believe; he was always able to explain facts to suit his mental necessities.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Third Volume," Around Old Chester ()
  • If Paul ... had tar on the seat of his breeches, and sat down in a bushel of doubloons, not one of 'em would stick to him!

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Third Volume," Around Old Chester ()
  • ... it's better to be crazy on one point and happy, than sane on all points and unhappy.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Third Volume," Around Old Chester ()
  • He tried, poor fellow, to assume his grand manner, but all in vain; he was like a drenched and dripping rooster, trying to crow in the rain.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Thief," Around Old Chester ()
  • ... is there anything more unjust than to build gold and brass and iron on poor, well-meaning clay, — and then blame the clay when the whole image falls into dust?

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "The Thief," Around Old Chester ()
  • ... she had risen and was walking about the room, her fat, worn face sharpening with a sort of animal alertness into power and protection. The claws that hide in every maternal creature slipped out of the fur of good manners ...

  • Grandmother belongs to the generation of women who were satisfied to have men retain their vices, if they removed their hats.

  • What I object to in Mother is that she wants me to think her thoughts. Apart from the question of hypocrisy, I prefer my own.

  • ... self-sacrifice which denies common sense isn't virtue; it's spiritual dissipation!

  • Nature is perfectly impartial. Brain has no sex!

  • ... anger as well as love casts out fear ...

  • ... a great moment raises most of the people who experience it, to its own level; and that is why they do not always recognize its greatness — or their own.

  • 'Ellen!' — he was one of those men who always call their wife's name the minute they enter the house ...

  • When two duties jostle each other, one of 'em isn't a duty.

  • When one promise jostles another, one of 'em isn't a promise.

  • Conscience that isn't hitched up to common sense is a mighty dangerous thing.

  • ... silence is very moving to youth, for who knows what it hides?

  • ... spelling is a matter of private judgment with Maurice!

  • ... a short cut to matrimonial unhappiness is not to have the same taste in jokes!

  • Lawyers make their cake by cooking up other people's troubles.

  • Poor Eleanor! Always doing the wrong thing, with greatness.

  • She knows as much about babies as a wild cat knows about tatting.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "An Old Chester Secret," New Friends in Old Chester ()
  • ... a pint can't hold a quart; but if it holds a pint it is doing all that can be expected of it.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "How Could She?" New Friends in Old Chester ()
  • Hearts don't come when Reason whistles to 'em.

    • Margaret Deland,
    • "An Old Chester Secret," New Friends in Old Chester ()
  • War is wicked, beause it is murder and hate. And it is foolish, because hate and murder can only destroy people's bodies, not change their minds.

  • Fighting should be left to dogs and cats and chickens, who can't reason.

  • Every new truth begins in a shocking heresy ...

  • Her voice had the compulsion of a hand.

  • ... conceit is the devil's horse, and reformers generally ride it when they are in a hurry.

  • ... there couldn't be war, unless lies were believed. War has to be nourished by lies.

  • ... moral vanity is the snare of good people.

  • [The remark] shocked poor Ellen into the realization that when children go wrong, everybody (except their parents) knows that it is their parents' fault.

  • ... she felt, as mothers have been apt to feel since sons began to choose wives — that her son's choice was a repudiation of the influences which had surrounded him ever since he was born!

  • ... Love never forgets; or if it does, it is an imperfect love, like the beautiful love of a dog, faithful and unreasoning.

  • If you are kind to an enemy, you cannot hate him.

  • ... if a man really and truly believed that black was white, you might advise him to see an oculist, but you mustn't call him a liar.

  • ... nobody who is Somebody looks down on anybody.

  • ... I have no faith in a human critter who hasn't one or two bad habits.

  • ... she talked continually — and talking almost always smothers thinking.

  • When did Youth ever thank Age for its wisdom?

  • Grief is the price Love pays for being in the same world with Death.

  • ... some of the things floating about in the Well of Memory are not worth recording.

  • Life in Boston, on the corner of Mt. Vernon Street and a cobblestoned alley, was interesting ... To begin with, we were thrilled when someone told us that our little house was a hundred years old; also that in its cellar was a bricked-up spring, to which, when the lot was still an open hillside, the first child born in the colony had been brought to be baptized. The thrill subsided when someone else told us that there were houses on the Hill even older than '112,' and that many of them had 'springs' in their cellars, to which this 'first child' had been carried for baptism.

Margaret Deland, U.S. writers

(1857 - 1945)

Full name: Margaret Wade Campbell Deland