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.
After all, people may really have in them some vocation which is not quite plain to themselves, may they not? They may seem idle and weak because they are growing. We should be very patient with each other, I think.
What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life--to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?
The fact is unalterable, that a fellow-mortal with whose nature you are acquainted solely through the brief entrances and exits of a few imaginative weeks called courtship, may, when seen in the continuity of married companionship, be disclosed as something better or worse than what you have preconceived, but will certainly not appear altogether the same.
There are answers which, in turning away wrath, only send it to the other end of the room, and to have a discussion coolly waived when you feel that justice is all on your own side is even more exasperating in marriage than in philosophy.
True, he had dreamy visions of possibilities: there is no human being who having both passions and thoughts does not think in consequence of his passions - does not find images rising in his mind which soothe the passion with hope or sting it with dread."
[She was] a creature full of eager, passionate longings for all that was beautiful and glad; thirsty for all knowledge; with an ear straining after dreamy music that died away and would not come near to her; with a blind unconscious yearning for something that would link together the wonderful impressions of this mysterious life, and give her soul a sense of home in it."
It seemed to him as if he were beholding in a magic panorama a future where he himself was sliding into that pleasureless yielding to the small solicitations of circumstance, which is a commoner history of perdition than any single momentous bargain."
And we must learn to accommodate ourselves to the discovery that some of those cunningly-fashioned instruments called human souls have only a very limited range of music, and will not vibrate in the least under a touch that fills others with tremulous rapture or quivering agony."
After all has been said that can be said about the widening influence of ideas, it remains true that they would hardly be such strong agents unless they were taken in a solvent of feeling. The great world-struggle of developing thought is continually foreshadowed in the struggle of the affections, seeking a justification for love and hope."
Where lies the power, there let the blame lie too."Nay, power is relative; you cannot frightThe coming pest with border fortresses,Or catch your carp with subtle argument.All force is twain in one: cause is not causeUnless effect be there; and action's selfMust needs contain a passive. So commandExists but with obedience."
It is the moment when our resolution seems about to become irrevocable--when the fatal iron gates are about to close upon us--that tests our strength. Then, after hours of clear reasoning and firm conviction, we snatch at any sophistry that will nullify our long struggles, and bring us the defeat that we love better than victory.
The most solid comfort one can fall back upon is the thought that the business of one's life is to help in some small way to reduce the sum of ignorance, degradation and misery on the face of this beautiful earth.
Sir Joshua would have been glad to take her portrait; and he would have had an easier task than the historian at least in this, that he would not have had to represent the truth of change - only to give stability to one beautiful moment.
There are few of us that are not rather ashamed of our sins and follies as we look out on the blessed morning sunlight, which comes to us like a bright-winged angel beckoning us to quit the old path of vanity that stretches its dreary length behind us.
Poor dog! I've a strange feeling about the dumb things as if they wanted to speak, and it was a trouble to 'em because they couldn't. I can't help being sorry for the dogs always, though perhaps there's no need. But they may well have more in them than they know how to make us understand, for we can't say half what we feel, with all our words.
There is one order of beauty which seems made to turn heads. It is a beauty like that of kittens, or very small downy ducks making gentle rippling noises with their soft bills, or babies just beginning to toddle.
Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
When we are suddenly released from an acute absorbing bodily pain, our heart and senses leap out in new freedom; we think even the noise of streets harmonious, and are ready to hug the tradesman who is wrapping up our change.
There is no hour that has not its births of gladness and despair, no morning brightness that does not bring new sickness to desolation as well as new forces to genius and love. There are so many of us, and our lots are so different, what wonder that Nature's mood is often in harsh contrast with the great crisis of our lives?
To be candid, in Middlemarch phraseology, meant, to use an early opportunity of letting your friends know that you did not take a cheerful view of their capacity, their conduct, or their position; and a robust candor never waited to be asked for its opinion.
It is possible to have a strong self-love without any self-satisfaction, rather with a self-discontent which is the more intense because one's own little core of egoistic sensibility is a supreme care.
May every soul that touches mine - be it the slightest contact - get there from some good; some little grace; one kindly thought; one aspiration yet unfelt; one bit of courage for the darkening sky; one gleam of faith to brave the thickening ills of life; one glimpse of brighter skies beyond the gathering mists - to make this life worthwhile.
It is in these acts called trivialities that the seeds of joy are forever wasted, until men and women look round with haggard faces at the devastation their own waste has made, and say, the earth bears no harvest of sweetness - calling their denial knowledge.
What mortal is there of us, who would find his satisfaction enhanced by an opportunity of comparing the picture he presents to himself of his doings, with the picture they make on the mental retina of his neighbours? We are poor plants buoyed up by the air-vessels of our own conceit.
Yes, Isaac Taylor, who has just published 'The World of Mind,' is the Isaac Taylor, author of the 'Natural History of Enthusiasm.' I dare say by this time there is a want of fatty particles in his brain.
How is it that the poets have said so many fine things about our first love, so few about our later love? Are their first poems their best? or are not those the best which come from their fuller thought, their larger experience, their deeper-rooted affections? The boy's flute-like voice has its own spring charm; but the man should yield a richer, deeper music.
Among all the many kinds of first love, that which begins in childish companionship is the strongest and most enduring: when passion comes to unite its force to long affection, love is at its spring-tide.
Speech is often barren; but silence also does not necessarily brood over a full nest. Your still fowl, blinking at you without remark, may all the while be sitting on one addled egg; and when it takes to cackling will have nothing to announce but that addled delusion.
As soon as we lay ourselves entirely at His feet, we have enough light given to us to guide our own steps. We are like the foot soldiers, who hear nothing of the councils that determine the course of the great battle they are in, but hear plainly enough the word of command that they must themselves obey.
What quarrel, what harshness, what unbelief in each other can subsist in the presence of a great calamity, when all the artificial vesture of our life is gone, and we are all one with each other in primitive mortal needs?
Our instructed vagrancy, which has hardly time to linger by the hedgerows, but runs away early to the tropics, and is at home with palms and banyans - which is nourished on books of travel, and stretches the theatre of its imagination to the Zambesi.
Fairy folk a-listening Hear the seed sprout in the spring, And for music to their dance Hear the hedgerows wake from trance, Sap that trembles into buds Sending little rhythmic floods Of fairy sound in fairy ears. Thus all beauty that appears Has birth as sound to finer sense And lighter-clad intelligence.
When a homemaking aunt scolds a niece for following her evangelistic passion instead of domestic pursuits, her reply is interesting. First, she clarifies that God's individual call on her doesn't condemn those in more conventional roles. Then, she says she can no more ignore the cry of the lost than her aunt can the cry of her child.
Let thy chief terror be of thine own soul: There, 'mid the throng of hurrying desires That trample o'er the dead to seize their spoil, Lurks vengeance, footless, irresistible As exhaltations laden with slow death, And o'er the fairest troop of captured joys Breathes pallid pestilence.
It is, I fear, but a vain show of fulfilling the heathen precept, ''Know thyself,'' and too often leads to a self- estimate which will subsist in the absence of that fruit by which alone the quality of the tree is made evident.
Perspective, as its inventor remarked, is a beautiful thing. What horrors of damp huts, where human beings languish, may not become picturesque through aerial distance! What hymning of cancerous vices may we not languish over as sublimest art in the safe remoteness of a strange language and artificial phrase! Yet we keep a repugnance to rheumatism and other painful effects when presented in our personal experience.
Oh, sir, the loftiest hopes on earth Draw lots with meaner hopes: heroic breasts, Breathing bad air, run risk of pestilence; Or, lacking lime-juice when they cross the Line, May languish with the scurvy.
Life is too precious to be spent in this weaving and unweaving of false impressions, and it is better to live quietly under some degree of misrepresentation than to attempt to remove it by the uncertain process of letter-writing.
Letter-writing I imagine is counted as 'work' from which you must abstain, and I scribble this letter simply from the self-satisfied notion that you will like to hear from me. You see, I have asked no questions, which are the torture-screws of correspondence. Hence you have nothing to answer.
I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.
You must love your work, and not be always looking over the edge of it, wanting your play to begin. And the other is, you must not be ashamed of your work, and think it would be more honorable to you to be doing something else. You must have a pride in your own work and in learning to do it well.
Perhaps nothing ud be a lesson to us if it didn't come too late. It's well we should feel as life's a reckoning we can't make twice over; there's no real making amends in this world, any more nor you can mend a wrong subtraction by doing your addition right.
How impossible it is for strong healthy people to understand the way in which bodily malaise and suffering eats at the root of one's life! The philosophy that is true - the religion that is strength to the healthy - is constantly emptiness to one when the head is distracted and every sensation is oppressive.
That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don't quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of the divine power against evil -- widening the skirts of light and making the struggle with darkness narrower.
The disappointments of life can never, any more than its pleasures, be estimated singly; and the healthiest and most agreeable of men is exposed to that coincidence of various vexations, each heightening the effect of the other, which may produce in him something corresponding to the spontaneous and externally unaccountable moodiness of the morbid and disagreeable.
I like not only to be loved, but also to be told that I am loved. I am not sure that you are of the same mind. But the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave. This is the world of light and speech, and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.
People are so ridiculous with their illusions, carrying their fool's caps unawares, thinking their own lies opaque while everybody else's are transparent, making themselves exceptions to everything, as if when all the world looked yellow under a lamp they alone are rosy.
But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.
For what we call illusions are often, in truth, a wider vision of past and present realities - a willing movement of a man's soul with the larger sweep of the world's forces - a movement towards a more assured end than the chances of a single life.
Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them: they can be injured by us, they can be wounded; they know all our penitence, all our aching sense that their place is empty, all the kisses we bestow on the smallest relic of their presence.
But I think it is hardly an argument against a man's general strength of character, that he should be apt to be mastered by love. A fine constitution doesn't insure one against small-pox or any other of those inevitable diseases. A man may be very firm in other matters, and yet be under a sort of witchery from a woman.
The beauty of a lovely woman is like music ... the rounded neck, the dimpled arm, move us by something more than their prettiness--by their close kinship with all we have known of tenderness and peace.
The prevarication and white lies which a mind that keeps itself ambitiously pure is as uneasy under as a great artist under the false touches that no eye detects but his own, are worn as lightly as mere trimmings when once the actions have become a lie.
Deeds are the pulse of Time, his beating life, And righteous or unrighteous, being done, Must throb in after-throbs till Time itself Be laid in stillness, and the universe Quiver and breathe upon no mirror more.
When we are young we think our troubles a mighty business - that the world is spread out expressly as a stage for the particular drama of our lives and that we have a right to rant and foam at the mouth if we are crossed. I have done enough of that in my time.
Nature has the deep cunning which hides itself under the appearance of openness, so that simple people think they can see through her quite well, and all the while she is secretly preparing a refutation of their confident prophecies.
[She was] a creature full of eager, passionate longings for all that was beautiful and glad; thirsty for all knowledge; with an ear straining after dreamy music that died away and would not come near to her; with a blind unconscious yearning for something that would link together the wonderful impressions of this mysterious life, and give her soul a sense of home in it.
In spite of his mildness and timidity in reproving, every one about him knew that on the exceptional occasions when he chose, he was absolute. He never, indeed, chose to be absolute except on some one else's behalf.
A man carries within him the germ of his most exceptional action; and if we wise people make eminent fools of ourselves on any particular occasion, we must endure the legitimate conclusion that we carry a few grains of folly to our ounce of wisdom.
A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
There was no keenness in the eyes; they seemed rather to be shedding love than making observations; they had the liquid look which tells that the mind is full of what it has to give out, rather than impressed by external objects.
To see an enemy humiliated gives a certain contentment, but this is jejune compared with the highly blent satisfaction of seeing him humiliated by your benevolent action of concession on his behalf. That is a sort of revenge which falls into the scale of virtue [...]
Love gives insight, Maggie, and insight often gives foreboding. Listen to me, let me supply you with books; do let me see you sometimes, be your brother and teacher, as you said at Lorton. It is less wrong that you should see me than that you should be committing this long suicide.
The great safeguard of society and of domestic life was, that opinions were not acted on. Sane people did what their neighbors did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.
The presence of a noble nature, generous in its wishes, ardent in its charity, changes the lights for us: we begin to see things again in their larger, quieter masses, and to believe that we too can be seen and judged in the wholeness of our character.
The prevarication and white lies which a mind that keeps itself ambitiously pure is as uneasy under as a great artist under the false touches that no eye detects but his own, are worn as lightly as mere trimming when once the actions have become a lie.
The sense of an entailed disadvantage - the deformed foot doubtfully hidden by the shoe, makes a restlessly active spiritual yeast, and easily turns a self-centered, unloving nature into an Ishmaelite.
It belongs to every large nature, when it is not under the immediate power of some strong unquestioning emotion, to suspect itself, and doubt the truth of its own impressions, conscious of possibilities beyond its own horizon.
Are there many situations more sublimely tragic than the struggle of the soul with the demand to renounce a work which has been all the significance of its life--a significance which is to vanish as the waters which come and go where no man has need of them?
I might mention all the divine charms of a bright spring day, but if you had never in your life utterly forgotten yourself in straining your eyes after the mounting lark, or in wandering through the still lanes when the fresh-opened blossoms fill them with a sacred silent beauty like that of fretted aisles, where would be the use of my descriptive catalogue?
Of what use, however, is a general certainty that an insect will not walk with his head hindmost, when what you need to know is the play of inward stimulus that sends him hither and thither in a network of possible paths?
Most of us who turn to any subject we love remember some morning or evening hour when we got on a high stool to reach down an untried volume, or sat with parted lips listening to a new talker, or for very lack of books began to listen to the voices within, as the first traceable beginning of our love.
I know forgiveness is a man's duty, but, to my thinking, that can only mean as you're to give up all thoughts o' taking revenge: it can never mean as you're t' have your old feelings back again, for that's not possible.
Mighty is the force of motherhood! It transforms all things by its vital heat; it turns timidity into fierce courage, and dreadless defiance into tremulous submission; it turns thoughtlessness into foresight, and yet stills all anxiety into calm content; it makes selfishness become self-denial, and gives even to hard vanity the glance of admiring love.
There is no short-cut no patent tram-road, to wisdom. After all the centuries of invention, the soul's path lies through the thorny wilderness which must still be trodden in solitude, with bleeding feet, with sobs for help, as it was trodden by them of old time.
Of a truth, Knowledge is power, but it is a power reined by scruple, having a conscience of what must be and what may be; whereas Ignorance is a blind giant who, let him but wax unbound, would make it a sport to seize the pillars that hold up the long-wrought fabric of human good, and turn all the places of joy as dark as a buried Babylon.
Quick souls have their intensest life in the first anticipatory sketch of what may or will be, and the pursuit of their wish is the pursuit of that paradisiacal vision which only impelled them, and is left farther and farther behind, vanishing forever even out of hope in the moment which is called success.
Our passions do not live apart in locked chambers but dress in their small wardrobe of notions, bring their provisions to a common table and mess together, feeding out of the common store according to their appetite.
Perhaps there is no time in a summer's day more cheering, than when the warmth of the sun is just beginning to triumph over the freshness of the morning--when there is just a lingering hint of early coolness to keep off languor under the delicious influence of warmth.
I at least have so much to do in unraveling certain human lots, and seeing how they were woven and interwoven, that all the light I can command must be concentrated on this particular web, and not dispersed over that tempting range of relevancies called the universe.