George Eliot

George Eliot

1819 – 1880
Artist name of Mary Ann Evans, writer and Poet.

What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?

It is easy to say how we love new friends, and what we think of them, but words can never trace out all the fibers that knit us to the old.

Jealousy is never satisfied with anything short of an omniscience that would detect the subtlest fold of the heart.

Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.

The world is full of hopeful analogies and handsome, dubious eggs, called possibilities.

We must not sit still and look for miracles; up and doing, and the Lord will be with thee. Prayer and pains, through faith in Christ Jesus, will do anything.

If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence.

The beginning of compunction
is the beginning of a new life.

Great things are not done by impulse,
but by a series of small things brought together.

Ignorant kindness may have the effect of cruelty; but to be angry with it as if it were direct cruelty would be an ignorant unkindness.

Perhaps the most delightful friendships are those in which there is much agreement, much disputation, and yet more personal liking.

One must be poor to know the luxury of giving!

The egoism which enters into our theories does not affect their sincerity; rather, the more our egoism is satisfied, the more robust is our belief.

And when a woman’s will is as strong as the man’s who wants to govern her, half her strength must be concealment.

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.

No compliment can be eloquent,
except as an expression of indifference.

You should read history and look at ostracism, persecution, martyrdom, and that kind of thing. They always happen to the best men, you know.

Quarrel? Nonsense; we have not quarreled.
If one is not to get into a rage sometimes,
what is the good of being friends?

You may try but you can never imagine what it is to have a man’s form of genius in you, and to suffer the slavery of being a girl.

Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.

The intense happiness of our union is derived in a high degree from the perfect freedom with which we each follow and declare our own impressions.

The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words.

What makes life dreary is the want of a motive.

Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.

The best augury of a man’s success in his profession is that he thinks it the finest in the world.

I like trying to get pregnant. I’m not so sure about childbirth.

When we get to wishing a great deal for ourselves, whatever we get soon turns into mere limitation and exclusion.

Breed is stronger than pasture.

A difference of taste in jokes
is a great strain on the affections.

All meanings, we know, depend on the key of interpretation.

Excellence encourages one about life generally; it shows the spiritual wealth of the world.

Conscientious people are apt to see their duty in that which is the most painful course.

Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.

Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.

The responsibility of tolerance lies with those who have the wider vision.

It is never too late to be what you might have been.

Adventure is not outside man; it is within.

It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses we must plant more trees.

There are many victories worse than a defeat.

I like not only to be loved, but also to be told I am loved.

Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.

Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief, in denying them.

A toddling little girl is a centre of common feeling which makes the most dissimilar people understand each other.

Harold, like the rest of us, had many impressions which saved him the trouble of distinct ideas.

An ass may bray a good while before he shakes the stars down.

In all private quarrels the duller nature is triumphant by reason of dullness.

Marriage must be a relation either of sympathy
or of conquest.

No great deed is done by falterers who ask for certainty.

No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather we who read it are no longer the same interpreters.

Hobbies are apt to run away with us, you know; it doesn’t do to be run away with. We must keep the reins.

In spite of his practical ability, some of his experience had petrified into maxims and quotations.

The only failure one should fear, is not hugging to the purpose they see as best.

The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down.

Cruelty, like every other vice, requires no motive outside of itself; it only requires opportunity.

Mortals are easily tempted to pinch the life out of their neighbour’s buzzing glory, and think that such killing is no murder.

People who can’t be witty exert themselves to be devout and affectionate.

But human experience is usually paradoxical, that means incongruous with the phrases of current talk or even current philosophy.

There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms.

There is no private life which has not been determined by a wider public life.

Genius at first is little more than a great capacity for receiving discipline.

Iteration, like friction, is likely to generate heat instead of progress.

In the vain laughter of folly wisdom hears half its applause.

It is a common enough case, that of a man being suddenly captivated by a woman nearly the opposite of his ideal.

The beginning of an acquaintance whether with persons or things is to get a definite outline of our ignorance.

When death, the great reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness that we repent of, but our severity.

Excessive literary production is a social offense.

For what is love itself, for the one we love best? An enfolding of immeasurable cares which yet are better than any joys outside our love.

Hostesses who entertain much must make up their parties as ministers make up their cabinets, on grounds other than personal liking.

Might, could, would – they are contemptible auxiliaries.

A woman’s heart must be of such a size and no larger, else it must be pressed small, like Chinese feet; her happiness is to be made as cakes are, by a fixed recipe.

We must find our duties in what comes to us, not in what might have been.

There is only one failure in life possible, and that is not to be true to the best one knows.

I should like to know what is the proper function of women, if it is not to make reasons for husbands to stay at home, and still stronger reasons for bachelors to go out.

Play not with paradoxes. That caustic which you handle in order to scorch others may happen to sear your own fingers and make them dead to the quality of things.

To have in general but little feeling, seems to be the only security against feeling too much on any particular occasion.

The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice.

Is it not rather what we expect in men, that they should have numerous strands of experience lying side by side and never compare them with each other?

I’m proof against that word failure. I’ve seen behind it. The only failure a man ought to fear is failure of cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best.

Anger and jealousy can no more bear to lose sight of their objects than love.

Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.

Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.

It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.

What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?

In every parting there is an image of death.

Consequences are unpitying.

Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

Acting is nothing more or less than playing. The idea is to humanize life.

He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow.

All the learnin’ my father paid for was a bit o’ birch at one end and an alphabet at the other.

Science is properly more scrupulous than dogma. Dogma gives a charter to mistake, but the very breath of science is a contest with mistake, and must keep the conscience alive.

Will not a tiny speck very close to our vision blot out the glory of the world, and leave only a margin by which we see the blot? I know no speck so troublesome as self.

Worldly faces never look so worldly as at a funeral. They have the same effect of grating incongruity as the sound of a coarse voice breaking the solemn silence of night.

There are some cases in which the sense of injury breeds not the will to inflict injuries and climb over them as a ladder, but a hatred of all injury.

I desire no future that will break the ties with the past.

No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.

Every woman is supposed to have the same set of motives, or else to be a monster.

Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been makes us what we are.

More helpful than all wisdom is one draught of simple human pity that will not forsake us.

I have the conviction that excessive literary production is a social offence.

It always remains true that if we had been greater, circumstance would have been less strong against us.

The reward of one duty is the power to fulfill another.

Opposition may become sweet to a man when he has christened it persecution.

That’s what a man wants in a wife, mostly; he wants to make sure one fool tells him he’s wise.

The sons of Judah have to choose that God may again choose them. The divine principle of our race is action, choice, resolved memory.

We hand folks over to God’s mercy, and show none ourselves.

Rome – the city of visible history, where the past of a whole hemisphere seems moving in funeral procession with strange ancestral images and trophies gathered from afar.

But that intimacy of mutual embarrassment, in which each feels that the other is feeling something, having once existed, its effect is not to be done away with.

Our words have wings, but fly not where we would.

Knowledge slowly builds up what Ignorance in an hour pulls down.

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.

Different taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections.

The happiest women, like the happiest nations,
have no history.

The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.

Falsehood is easy, truth so difficult.

Vanity is as ill at ease under indifference as tenderness is under a love which it cannot return.

Truth has rough flavours if we bite it through.

Whether happiness may come or not, one should try and prepare one’s self to do without it.

Death is the king of this world: ‘Tis his park where he breeds life to feed him. Cries of pain are music for his banquet.

When death comes it is never our tenderness that we repent from, but our severity.

What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined – to strengthen each other – to be at one with each other in silent unspeakable memories.

Little children are still the symbol of the eternal marriage between love and duty.

But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.

There is a sort of jealousy which needs very little fire; it is hardly a passion, but a blight bred in the cloudy, damp despondency of uneasy egoism.

There is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow, when we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and be healed, to have despaired and have recovered hope.

An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.