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Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • [She] was guiltless of the smallest trace of fashion.

  • Every man is bound to leave a story better than he found it.

  • One may as well preach a respectable mythology as anything else.

  • 'One might have seen it with half an eye from the beginning.' Mrs. Thornbrugh had not seen it with two eyes, as we know, till it was pointed out to her; but her imagination worked with equal liveliness backwards or forwards.

  • There is a tyrannical element in all fanaticism, an element which makes opposition a torment.

  • I regard the whole university system as a wretched sham. Knowledge! It has no more to do with knowledge than my boots.

  • ... Dr. Meyrick, who though glad to talk, was also quite content, apparently, to judge from the radiant placidity of his look, to examine his wine, study his menu, and enjoy his entrées in silence, undisturbed by the uncertain pleasures of conversation.

  • 'Put down enthusiasm!' ... That is a pet saying of mine — the Church of England in a nutshell.

  • Other trades may fail. The agitator is always sure of his market.

  • It is a great thing to be persuaded that at bottom you have a good heart. Lady Charlotte was so persuaded, and allowed herself many things in consequence.

  • Conviction is the Conscience of the Mind.

  • All things change, — creeds and philosophies and outward systems, — but God remains!

  • There were gulfs between them — gulfs which, as it seemed to him, in a miserable insight, could never be bridged again. Oh, the frightful separateness of experience!

  • Truth has never been, can never be, contained in any one creed or system!

  • Every great religion is, in truth, a concentration of great ideas, capable, as all ideas are, of infinite expansion and adaptation.

  • To reconceive the Christ! It is the special task of our age ...

  • Her mind was like a stretch of wet sand, on which all impressions are equally easy to make and equally fugitive.

  • I'd as soon hear a bird-clapper preach as him — theer'd be more sense an' less noise!

  • There is nothing more startling in human relations that the strong emotion of weak people.

  • Customers must be delicately angled for at a safe distance — show yourself too much, and, like trout, they flashed away.

  • ... my credo is very short. Its first article is art — and its second is art — and its third is art!

  • He was in that young morbid state when the mind hangs its own cloud over the universe.

  • We enjoy the great prophets of literature most when we have not yet lived enough to realize all they tell us.

  • ... the paternal relation hardly begins at birth, as the mother's does. The father, who has suffered nothing, cannot shut his eyes to the physical ugliness and weakness, the clash of pain and effort, in which the future man begins; the mother, who has suffered everything, seems by a special spell of nature to feel nothing after the birth but the mystery and wonder of the new creature ... while I am half inclined to say, What! so little for so much? ... Altogether, I am disappointed in myself as a father. I seem to have no imagination, and at present I would rather touch a loaded torpedo than my son.

  • ... the better life cannot be imposed from without — it must grow from within.

  • Is there any other slavery and chain like that of temperament?

  • ... we all grow on somebody's grave ...

  • ... the strictness of to-day may have at any moment to be purchased by the laxity of to-morrow.

  • Her audience looked on at first with the embarrassed or hostile air which is the Englishman's natural protection against the great things of art ...

  • City of rest! — as it seems to our modern senses, — how is it possible that so busy, so pitiless and covetous a life as history shows us, should have gone to the making and the fashioning of Venice!

  • A victim to certain obscure forms of gout, he was in character neither stupid, nor inhuman, but he suffered from the usual drawbacks of his class, — too much money, and too few ideas.

  • Do we all become garrulous and confidential as we approach the gates of old age? Is it that we instinctively feel, and cannot help asserting, our one advantage over the younger generation, which has so many over us? — the one advantage of time!

  • The thoughts and opinions of one human being, if they are sincere, must always have an interest for some other human beings. The world is there to think about; and if we have lived, or are living, with any sort of energy, we must have thought about it, and about ourselves in relation to it — thought 'furiously' often. And it is out of the many 'thinkings' of many folk, strong or weak, dull or far-ranging, that thought itself grows.

  • Nothing ought to be told, I think that does not interest or kindle one's own mind in looking back; it is the only condition on which one can hope to interest or kindle other minds.

  • But education has always been the Cinderella of politics; this nation apparently does not love to be taught!

  • ... the delight in natural things — colors, forms, scents — when there was nothing to restrain or hamper it, has often been a kind of intoxication, in which thought and consciousness seemed suspended ...

  • The leading boarding-schools in England and America, at present, no less than the excellent day-schools for girls of the middle class, with which this country has been covered since 1870, are genuine products of that Women's Movement, as we vaguely call it, in the early educational phases of which I myself was much engaged; whereof the results are now widely apparent, though as yet only half-grown. If one tracks it back to somewhere near its origins, its superficial origins, at any rate, one is brought up, I think, as in the case of so much else, against one leading cause — railways! With railways and a cheap press, in the second third of the nineteeth century there came in, as we all know, the break-up of a thousand mental stagnations, answering to the old physical disabilities and inconveniences. And the break-up has nowhere had more startling results than in the world of women, and the training of women for life.

  • ... praise is a great tonic, and helps most people to do their best.

  • The only thing which can keep journalism alive — journalism, which is born of the moment, serves the moment, and, as a rule, dies with the moment — is — again the Stevensonian secret! — charm.

  • ... no man has a monopoly of conscience.

Mrs. Humphry Ward, English novelist, social worker

(1851 - 1920)

Real name: Mary Augusta Arnold Ward.