Quotes from The Buccaneers

Edith Wharton ·  406 pages

Rating: (4.9K votes)


“The greatest mistake is to think that we ever know why we do things...I suppose the nearest we can ever come to it is by getting what old people call 'experience.' But by the time we've got that we're no longer the persons who did the things we no longer understand. The trouble is, I suppose, that we change every moment; and the things we did stay.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“And for a long while they stood side by side without speaking, each seeing the other in every line of the landscape.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“Her soul opened slowly and timidly to her kind, but her imagination rushed out to the beauties of the visible world; and the decaying majesty of Allfriars moved her strangely.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“She lay for a long time listening to the mysterious sounds given forth by old houses at night, the undefinable creakings, rustlings, and sighings, which would have frightened Virginia had she remained awake, but which sounded to Nan like the long murmur of the past breaking on the shores of a sleeping world.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“But they're too shy to speak when my mother-in-law doesn't; sometimes they open their mouths to begin, but they never get as far as the first sentence. You must get used to an ocean of silence, and just swim about in it as well as you can.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers



“She is still a bundle of engaging possibilities rather than a finished picture. Of the mother there is nothing to say, for that excellent lady evidently requires familiar surroundings to bring out such small individuality as she possesses. In the unfamiliar she becomes invisible; and Longlands and she will never be visible to each other.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“Sometimes life seems like a match between oneself and one's gaolors. The gaolers, of course, are one's mistakes; and the question is, who'll hold out longest? When I think of that, life instead of being too long, seems as short as a winter day....”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“Each was anxious to play the part fate had allotted to him, and each was dimly conscious of an inability to remain confined in it, and painfully aware that their secret problems would have been unintelligible to most men of their own class and kind.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“You mustn't tell your dreams. Miss Testvalley says nothing bores people so much as being told other people's dreams. Nan said nothing, but an iron gate seemed to clang shut in her - the gate that was so often slammed by careless hands. As if anyone could be bored by such dreams as hers!”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“He pocketed his watch with a milder look, and began to turn about busily in the empty shell of his own mind. His universe was a brilliantly illuminated circle extending from himself at it's centre to the exact limit of his occupations and interests.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers



“All the girls feared their Father less than they did their Mother, because she sometimes remembered things and he did not. Lord Brightlingsea was swept through life on a steady amnesiac flow.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“Lizzy Elmsworth was not a good-tempered girl, but she was too intelligent to let her temper interfere with her opportunities.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“Though he sought simplicity, he dread dulness. Dimly conscious that he was dull himself, he craved the stimulus of a quicker mind; yet he feared a dull wife less than a brilliant one, for with the latter how could he maintain his superiority?”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“Obviously he had aspired too high, or been too impatient; but it was his nature to be aspiring and impatient, and if he was to succeed it must be on the lines of his own character.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“These Americans, under their forthcoming manner, their surface-gush, as some might call it, have an odd reticence about what goes on underneath.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers



“She has been better educated than her sister, and has a more receptive mind. It seems as though someone had sown in a bare field a sprinkling of history, poetry, and pictures, and every seed had shot up in a flowery tangle.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“But she had the awful gift of omnipresence, of exercising her influence from a distance; so that while the old family friends and visitors at Longlands said, "It's wonderful, now tactful Blanche is - how she keeps out of the young people's way," every member of the household, from its master to the last boots and scullion and gardener's boy, knew that Her Grace's eyes was on them all.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“The words came out slowly, haltingly, as if they had cost him a struggle. Nan had noticed before now that anger was too big a garment for him; it always hung on him in uneasy folds.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“...life makes ugly faces at us sometimes, I know.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“But she saw that his eyes, which were sand-colored like his face, and sandy-lashed, had found another occupation. They were fixed on Conchita Closson, who sat opposite to him; they rested on her unblinkingly, immovably, as if she had been a natural object, a landscape or a cathedral, that one had traveled far to see, and had the right to look at as long as one chose. He's drinking her up like blotting paper. I thought they were better brought up over in England!”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers



“The allegation that English girls had no conversation must be true; but theirs was a SPEAKING silence. Their eyes and smiles were eloquent! She hoped it would teach their own girls that they need not chatter like magpies.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“To begin with, I hate these new-fangled intermediate meals. Why can't people eat enough at luncheon to last till dinner?”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“Lady Brightlingsea considered it her duty to fish out of this out darkness, and drag for a moment into the light, any person or obligation entitled to fix her husband's attention; but they always faded back into night as soon as they had served their purpose.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“She knew that Virginia's survey of the world was limited to people, the clothes they wore, and the carriages they drove in. Her own universe was so crammed to bursting with wonderful sights and sounds that, in spite of her sense of Virginia's superiority - her beauty, her ease, her confidence - Nan sometimes felt a shamefaced pity for her.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“I think I like 'em better like that...divinely dull...just the quiet bearers of their own beauty, like the priestesses in a Panathenaic procession.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers



“It was amusement enough to be with a group of fearless and talkative girls, who said new things in a new language, who were ignorant of tradition and unimpressed by distinctions of rank; but it was soon clear that their young hostesses must be treated with the same respect, if not with the same ceremony as English girls of good family.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“Their bewilderment is so great that, when one of the girls spoke of archery clubs being fashionable in the States, somebody blurted out: "I suppose the Indians taught you?"; and I am constantly expecting to ask Mrs. St. George how she heats her wigwam in winter.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


“Sir Helmsley imparted this information in a loud, almost challenging voice, as he always did when he had to communicate anything unexpected or difficult to account for. Explaining was a nuisance, and somewhat of a derogation. He resented anything that made it necessary, and always spoke as if his interlocutor ought to have known beforehand the answer to the questions he was putting.”
― Edith Wharton, quote from The Buccaneers


About the author

Edith Wharton
Born place: in New York City, NY, The United States
Born date January 24, 1862
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