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Mary Russell Mitford

  • ... prejudices of taste, likings and dislikings, are not always vanquishable by reason ...

  • ... autumn glows upon us like a splendid evening; it is the very sunset of the year ...

  • All the news and scandal of a large county forty years ago, and a hundred years before, and ever since, all the marriages, deaths, births, elopements, law-suits, and casualties of her own times, her father's, grandfather's, great-grandfather's, nephew's, and grand-newphew's, has she detailed with a minuteness, an accuracy, a prodigality of learning, a profuseness of proper names, a pendantry of locality, which would excite the envy of a county historian, a king-at-arms, or even a Scotch novelist.

  • His speech flows not from vanity or lust of praise, but from sheer necessity; — the reservoir is full, and runs over.

  • ... the gentlewoman is touchy. This affliction has given a color to her whole life. Her biography has a certain martial dignity, like the history of a nation; she dates from battle to battle, and passes her days in an interminable civil war.

  • Nothing so pretty to look at as my garden!

  • ... they know little of the passions who seek to argue with that most intractable of them all, the fear that is born of love.

  • There was no getting away from her hearty hospitality, no escaping her prodigality of presents. It was dangerous to praise or even to approve of any thing belonging to herself in her hearing; if it had been the carpet under her feet or the shawl on her shoulders, either would instantly have been stripped off to offer.

  • Her father doted upon her and thought her the most accomplished young woman of the age; for certain, she could play a little, and sing a little, and paint a little, and talk a little very bad French, and dance and dress a great deal.

  • She ... even aspired to the character of authoress, having actually perpetrated a sonnet to the moon, which sonnet, contrary to the well-known recipe of Boileau and the ordinary practice of all nations, contained eighteen lines, four quatrains and a couplet; a prodigality of words which the fair poetess endeavored to counterbalance by a corresponding sparingness of idea.

  • There is no running away from a great grief.

  • Trees and children are, of all living things, those whose growth soonest makes one feel one's age ...

  • The power of admiring whatever is deserving of admiration, the nice and quick perception of the beautiful and the true, is one of the highest and noblest of our faculties, born of taste, and knowledge, and wisdom, or rather it is taste, and wisdom, and knowledge, in one rare and great combination.

  • ... fashion is a capricious deity ...

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • Recollections of a Literary Life, vol. 2
    • ()
  • That bad letters of every kind arise from want of the habit of thinking, I cannot doubt.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1812, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 1 ()
  • ... I detest so much ... those persons, who insist upon telling you everything — who labor every point, as the lawyers say, as if they thought all excellence consisted in length ...

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1851, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 1 ()
  • I place flowers in the very first rank of simple pleasures; and I have no very good opinion of the hard worldly people who take no delight in them.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1812, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 1 ()
  • ... does it not appear to you that versatility is the true and rare characteristic of that rare thing called genius — versatility and playfulness? In my mind they are both essential.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1813, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 1 ()
  • ... I have discovered that our great favorite, Miss Austen, is my countrywoman ... with whom mamma before her marriage was acquainted. Mamma says that she was then the prettiest, silliest, most affected, husband-hunting butterfly she ever remembers ...

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1815, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 1 ()
  • In our present high state of civilization, people are so much alike, that anything at all odd comes on one with the freshness and character of an antique coin among smooth shillings.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1815, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 1 ()
  • Buonaparte is certainly writing, or rather dictating, his memoirs. He walks backwards and forwards with his hands behind him, and dictates so fast that two or three of his suite are obliged to be in attendance, that the one may take down one-half of a sentence, and another the rest; they then literally compare notes, and put the disjointed legs and wings and heads of periods together. This is writing a book as he fought a battle.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1817, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 2 ()
  • Enthusiasm is very catching, especially when it is very eloquent.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1817, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 2 ()
  • One's conscience may be pretty well absolved for not admiring this man: he admires himself enough for all the world put together.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1817, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 2 ()
  • We may admire people for being wise, but we like them best when they are foolish.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1818, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 2 ()
  • I do not think very highly of Madame D'Arblay's books. The style is so strutting. She does so stalk about on Dr. Johnson's old stilts.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1819, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 2 ()
  • A novel should be as like life as a painting, but not as like life as a piece of waxwork.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1819, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 2 ()
  • Well, great authors are great people — but I believe that they are best seen at a distance.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • letter to Mrs. Hofland (1819), in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 2 ()
  • ... friendship is the bread of the heart.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1853, in the Reverend A.G. L'Estrange, ed., The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, vol. 3 ()
  • I wonder by what accident Miss Seward came by her fame. Setting aside her pedantry and presumption, there is no poet male or female who ever clothed so few ideas in so many words.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1818, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 1 ()
  • That letter of hers came upon me like a kiss, so short, so sudden, and so affectionate ...

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1819, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 1 ()
  • ... I prepare myself for all disappointments by expecting nothing ...

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1822, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 1 ()
  • You must not mind her talking most to Mr. Hofland: she never does talk to a lady when a gentleman is by.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • letter to Mrs. Hofland about "Miss N." (1822), in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 1 ()
  • [On Elizabeth Barrett Browning:] Her sweetness of character is even beyond her genius.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1839, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 1 ()
  • [On Elizabeth Barrett Browning:] ... for finish, and melody of versification, there is nothing approaching to Miss Barrett in this day, or in any other — also for diction. Her words paint.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1841, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 1 ()
  • I have had a great misfortune; my dear old dog is dead.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1847, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 2 ()
  • 'Jane Eyre' is a coarse book, I think, and one to which nobody will return.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1849, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 1 ()
  • Our English people are much addicted to raising idols, and then revenging themselves on their own idolatry by knocking down and demolishing the poor bits of wood and stone that they had worshipped as gods. How many literary reputations have been so treated!

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1850, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 2 ()
  • ... I have still the best comforts of life — books and friendships — and I trust never to lose my relish for either.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1851, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 2 ()
  • Your conversation is a spring that never fails, never overflows.

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1854, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 2 ()

Mary Russell Mitford, English writer, poet

(1787 - 1855)