Mary Elizabeth Braddon · 455 pages
Rating: (16.7K votes)
“Surely a pretty woman never looks prettier than when making tea.”
“Phoebe Marks was a person who never lost her individuality. Silent and self-contained, she seemed to hold herself within herself, and take no colour from the outer world.”
“Why, I can't help smiling at people, and speaking prettily to them. I know I'm no better than the rest of the world; but I can't help it if I'm pleasanter. It's constitutional.”
“He forgot that love, which is a madness, and a scourge, and a fever, and a delusion, and a snare, is also a mystery, and very imperfectly understood by everyone except the individual sufferer who writhes under its tortures.”
“The Eastern potentate who declared that women were at the bottom of all mischief, should have gone a little further and seen why it is so. It is because women are never lazy. They don’t know what it is to be quiet. They are Semiramides, and Cleopatras, and Joan of Arcs, Queen Elizabeths, and Catharine the Seconds, and they riot in battle, and murder, and clamour, and desperation. If they can’t agitate the universe and play at ball with hemispheres, they’ll make mountains of warfare and vexation out of domestic molehills; and social storms in household teacups. Forbid them to hold forth upon the freedom of nations and the wrongs of mankind, and they’ll quarrel with Mrs Jones about the shape of a mantle or the character of a small maid-servant. To call them the weaker sex is to utter a hideous mockery. They are the stronger sex, the nosier, the more persevering, the most self-assertive sex.”
“You seem to have quite a taste for discussing these horrible subjects," she said, rather scornfully; "you ought to have been a detective police officer."
"I sometimes think I should have been a good one."
"Because I am patient.”
“Do you think I will suffer myself to be baffled?”
“He was a square, pale-faced man of almost forty, and had the appearance of having outlived every emotion to which humanity is subject.”
“We hear every day of murders committed in the country. Brutal and treacherous murders; slow, protracted agonies from poisons administered by some kindred hand; sudden and violent deaths by cruel blows, inflicted with a stake cut from some spreading oak, whose every shadow promised—peace. In the county of which I write, I have been shown a meadow in which, on a quiet summer Sunday evening, a young farmer murdered the girl who had loved and trusted him; and yet, even now, with the stain of that foul deed upon it, the aspect of the spot is—peace. No species of crime has ever been committed in the worst rookeries about Seven Dials that has not been also done in the face of that rustic calm which still, in spite of all, we look on with a tender, half-mournful yearning, and associate with—peace.”
“[...] that magic power of fascination by which a woman can charm with a word or intoxicate with a smile”
“. . . when the horror of his grief was new to him, and every object in life, however trifling or however important, seem saturated with his one great sorrow.”
“Now love is so very subtle an essence, such an indefinable metaphysical marvel, that its due force, though very cruelly felt by the sufferer himself, is never clearly understood by those who look on at his torments and wonder why he takes the common fever so badly.”
“. . . and he knew that our dreams are none the less terrible to lose, because they have never been the realities for which we have mistaken them.”
“For you see Miss Lucy Graham was blessed with that magic power of fascination by which a woman can charm with a word or intoxicate with a smile”
“What had been his love for his first wife but a poor, pitiful, smouldering spark, too dull to be distinguished, too feeble to burn? But *this* was love - this fever, this longing, this restless, uncertain, miserable hesitation [...]”
“We are apt to be angry with this cruel hardness in our life—this unflinching regularity in the smaller wheels and meaner mechanism of the human machine, which knows no stoppage or cessation, though the mainspring be forever hollow, and the hands pointing to purposeless figures on a shattered dial.”
“To call them the weaker sex is to utter a hideous mockery. They are the stronger sex, the noisier, the more persevering, the most self-assertive sex.”
“It is because women are never lazy. They don't know what it is to be quiet. They are Semiramides, and Cleopatras, and Joan of Arcs, Queen Elizabeths, and Catharine the Seconds, and they riot in battle, and murder, and clamour, and desperation.
If they can't agitate the universe and play at ball with hemispheres, they'll make mountains of warfare and vexation out of domestic molehills; and social storms in household teacups. Forbid them to hold forth upon the freedom of nations and the wrongs of mankind, and they'll quarrel with Mrs. Jones about the shape of a mantle or the character of a small maid-servant.
To call them the weaker sex is to utter a hideous mockery. They are the stronger sex, the noisier, the more persevering, the most self-assertive sex. They want freedom of opinion, variety of occupation, do they? Let them have it. Let them be lawyers, doctors, preachers, teachers, soldiers, legislators — anything they like — but let them be quiet — if they can.”
“The race is to the driven, not the swift.”
“Will hated Christmas, for the obvious reason: people knocked on his door, singing the song he hated more than any song in the world and expected him to give them money.”
“Fiction is a particularly effective way for strangers to connect across time and distance”
“Unlike the land, where courage and the simple will to endure can often see a man through, the struggle against the sea is an act of
physical combat, and there is no escape. It is a battle against a tireless enemy in which man never actually wins; the most that he can hope for is not to be defeated.”
“A sword so fine must bear a name. It would please me if you would call this one Oathkeeper.”
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