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Lydia Maria Child

  • We first crush people to the earth, and then claim the right of trampling on them for ever, because they are prostrate. Truly, human selfishness never invented a rule, which worked so charmingly both ways!

  • They have stabbed themselves for freedom — jumped into the waves for freedom — starved for freedom — fought like very tigers for freedom! But they have been hung, and burned, and shot — and their tyrants have been their historians!

  • Prejudices of all kinds have their strongest holds in the minds of the vulgar and the ignorant.

  • Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!

  • No music is so pleasant to my ears as that word — father.

  • Avoid the necessity of a physician, if you can, by careful attention to your diet. Eat what best agrees with your system, and resolutely abstain from what hurts you, however well you may like it. A few days' abstinence, and cold water for a beverage, has driven off many an approaching disease.

  • Nature made us individuals, as she did the flowers and the pebbles; but we are afraid to be peculiar, and so our society resembles a bag of marbles, or a string of mould candles. Why should we all dress after the same fashion? The frost never paints my windows twice alike.

  • Oh, these damp, sultry days of August! how oppressive they are to mind and body!

  • Not in vain is Ireland pouring itself all over the earth. ... The Irish, with their glowing hearts and reverent credulity, are needed in this cold age of intellect and skepticism.

  • It is right noble to fight with wickedness and wrong; the mistake is in supposing that spiritual evil can be overcome by physical means.

  • Now twilight lets her curtain down / And pins it with a star.

  • Whoso does not see that genuine life is a battle and a march, has poorly read his origin and his destiny.

  • While I listened, music was to my soul what the atmosphere is to my body; it was the breath of my inward life. I felt, more deeply than ever, that music is the highest symbol of the infinite and holy. ... With renewed force I felt what I have often said, that the secret of creation lay in music. 'A voice to light gave being.' Sound led the stars into their places ...

  • There have always been a large class of thinkers who deny that the world makes any progress. They say we move in a circle; that evils are never conquered, but only change their forms.

  • Birds and beasts have in fact our own nature, flattened a semi-tone.

  • The boughs of no two trees ever have the same arrangement. Nature always produces individuals; She never produces classes.

  • The laws of our being are such that we must perform some degree of use in the world, whether we intend it, or not; but we can deprive ourselves of its indwelling joy, by acting entirely from the love of self.

  • If we really believed that those who are gone from us were as truly alive as ourselves, we could not invest the subject with such awful depth of gloom as we do. If we would imbue our children with distinct faith in immortality, we should never speak of people as dead, but as passed into another world. We should speak of the body as a cast-off garment, which the wearer had outgrown; consecrated indeed by the beloved being that used it for a season, but of no value within itself.

  • Over the river, and through the wood, / To grandfather's house we go; / The horse knows the way, / To carry the sleigh, / Through the white and drifted snow.

    • Lydia Maria Child,
    • "The New-England Boy's Song," Flowers for Children ()
  • Over the river, and through the wood, / Now Grandmother's cap I spy! / Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done? / Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

    • Lydia Maria Child,
    • "The New-England Boy's Song," Flowers for Children ()
  • The existence of very pious feelings, in conjunction with intolerance, cruelty, and selfish policy, has never ceased to surprise and perplex those who have viewed it calmly from a distance. ... It is impossible to exaggerate the evil work theology has done in the world. What destruction of the beautiful monuments of past ages, what waste of life, what disturbance of domestic and social happiness, what perverted feelings, what blighted hearts, have always marked its baneful progress!

  • Even if nothing worse than wasted mental effort could be laid to the charge of theology, that alone ought to be sufficient to banish it from the earth ... What a vast amount of labour and learning has been expended, as uselessly as emptying shallow puddles into sieves! How much intellect has been employed mousing after texts, to sustain preconceived doctrines!

  • The United States is ... a warning rather than an example to the world.

    • Lydia Maria Child,
    • speech ()
  • I have never been so discouraged about abolition as since we came into this iron-bound Valley of the Connecticut. I have ceased to believe that public opinion will ever be sincerely reformed on the question till long after emancipation has taken place. I mean that for generations to come there will be a very large minority hostile to the claims of colored people ...

  • My heart has written you several epistles in reply, but the hand could not be spared. Oh for some spiritual daguerreotype, by which thoughts might spontaneously write themselves!

  • Woman stock is rising in the market; I shall not live to see women vote, but I'll come and rap on the ballot-box.

  • Work! work! that is my unfailing cure for all troubles.

  • It seems as if slavery would be the death of me. If all I suffer on the subject counts as vicarious atonement for the slave-holders, they are in a hopeful way. My indignation rises higher than it used to in my younger days. According to the general rule, I ought to grow calmer, but I do not. If the monster had one head, assuredly I should be a Charlotte Corday.

  • So easy it is to see the errors of past ages, so difficult to acknowledge our own!

  • We must not forget that all great revolutions and reformations would look mean and meagre if examined in detail as they occurred at the time.

  • To everything there is a bright side and a dark side; and I hold it to be unwise, unphilosophic, unkind to others, and unhealthy for one's own soul, to form the habit of looking on the dark side. Cheerfulness is to the spiritual atmosphere what sunshine is to the earthly landscape. I am resolved to cherish cheerfulness with might and main.

  • ... our republican ideas cannot be consistently carried out while women are excluded from any share in the government. ... Any class of human beings to whom a position of perpetual subordination is assigned, however much they may be petted and flattered, must inevitably be dwarfed, morally and intellectually.

  • I think every individual, and every society, is perfected just in proportion to the combination, and cooperation, of masculine and feminine elements of character. He is the most perfect man who is affectionate as well as intellectual; and she is the most perfect woman who is intellectual as well as affectionate. Every art and science becomes more interesting, viewed both from the masculine and feminine points of view.

  • The civilization of any country may always be measured by the degree of equality between men and women; and society will never come truly into order until there is perfect equality and copartnership between them in every department of human life.

  • It is wonderful how shy even liberal ministers generally are about trusting people with the plain truth concerning their religion. They want to veil it in a supernatural haze. They are very reluctant to part with the old idea that God has given to Jews and Christians a peculiar monopoly of truth. It is a selfish view of God's government of the world, and it is time that we knew enough to outgrow it.

  • In our climate what a misnomer it is to call this season spring! very much like calling Calvinism religion.

  • Death will be to him merely passing out of one room filled with friends into another room still more full of friends.

  • You say you 'like human beings better than books.' I like some human beings better than books, but not many. Books have one very great advantage over people; you can put them aside whenever you don't care to be with them any longer. Moreover, I can make up a contemptuous mouth and say, 'Pshaw! all bosh!' when a book says what I don't like, but it won't do to treat people with so much freedom.

  • Ah, my friend, that is the only true church organization, when heads and hearts unite in working for the welfare of the human race!

  • I keep working because I am quite sure that no particle of goodness or truth is ever really lost, however appearances may be to the contrary.

  • I will work in my own way, according to the light that is in me.

    • Lydia Maria Child,
    • letter to Ellis Gray Loring ()
  • I was gravely warned by some of my female acquaintances that no woman could expect to be regarded as a lady after she had written a book.

    • Lydia Maria Child,
    • 1824, in Carolyn L. Karcher, The First Woman in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child ()
  • Philosophy and the arts are but a manifestation of the intelligible ideas that move the public mind; and thus they become visible images of the nations whence they emanate.

  • To American mothers, on whose intelligence and discretion the safety and prosperity of our Republic so much depend, this volume is respectfully inscribed.

  • ... a great mind can attend to little things, but a little mind cannot attend to great things.

  • The great difficulty in education is that we give rules instead of inspiring sentiments. ... it is not possible to make rules enough to apply to all manner of cases; and if it were possible, a child would soon forget them. But if you inspire him with right feelings, they will govern his actions.

  • ... affectation is fond of making a greater show than reality. ... Nature and truth have never learned to blow the trumpet, and never will.

  • ... the excess of all good things is mischievous.

  • My belief is that no atom of truth or good is ever wasted. The forms die off, but the living force remains and goes on forever taking new forms. I would like to help the progress of truth and good; but if I can't, somebody else will, and I am content.

    • Lydia Maria Child,
    • in Carolyn M. Karcher, The First Woman of the Republic ()

Lydia Maria Child, U.S. writer, abolitionist, suffragist, Indian rights activist

(1802 - 1880)

Full name: Lydia Maria Francis Child