Jane Austen

Quotations

Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection.

Letter, November 18, 1814, to her niece, Fanny Knight. Jane Austen

Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar before-hand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.

My idea of good company … is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.

It is indolence … indolence and love of ease; a want of all laudable ambition, of taste for good company, or of inclination to take the trouble of being agreeable, which make men clergymen. A clergyman has nothing to do but be slovenly and selfish; read the newspaper, watch the weather, and quarrel with his wife. His curate does all the work and the business of his own life is to dine.

A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable, old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls; but a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as anybody else.

Young ladies are delicate plants. They should take care of their health and their complexion.

What fine weather this is! Not very becoming perhaps early in the morning, but very pleasant out of doors at noon, and very wholesome-at least everybody fancies so, and imagination is everything. To Edward, however, I really think dry weather of importance. I have not taken to fires yet.

Letter, November 17, 1798, to her sister, Cassandra. Jane Austen

Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small for tune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want.

Here and there, human nature may be great in times of trial, but generally speaking it is its weakness and not its strength that appears in a sick chamber.

Where an opinion is general, it is usually correct.

It is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage. A man always imagines a woman to be ready for anybody who asks her.

The ladies here probably exchanged looks which meant, “Men never know when things are dirty or not;” and the gentlemen perhaps thought each to himself, “Women will have their little nonsense and needless cares.”

The work is rather too light, bright, and sparkling; it wants shade; it wants to be stretched out here and there with a long chapter of sense, if it could be had; if not of solemn specious nonsense, about something unconnected with the story; an essay on writing, a critique of Walter Scott, or a history of Buonaparte, or anything that would form a contrast, and bring the reader with increased delight to the playfulness and epigrammatism of the general style.

About her novel 'Pride and Prejudice'. Letter, February 4, 1813, to her sister, Cassandra. Jane Austen

There is something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way to the reception of more general opinions.

A Mr. (save, perhaps, some half dozen in the nation,) always needs a note of explanation.

Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody.

There are people, the more you do for them, the less they do for themselves.

Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.

Do not be in a hurry; depend upon it, the right Man will come at last; you will in the course of the next two or three years, meet with somebody more generally unexceptional than anyone you have yet known, who will love you as warmly as ever He did, and who will so completely attach you, that you will feel you never really loved before.

Letter, March 13, 1817, to her niece, Fanny Knight. Jane Austen

Nothing is more deceitful than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.

If people like to read their books, it is all very well, but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate.

Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply; and it must be by a long and unnatural estrangement, by a divorce which no subsequent connection can justify, if such precious remains of the earliest attachments are ever entirely outlived.

General benevolence, but not general friendship, made a man what he ought to be.

It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind; but when a beginning is made-when felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt-it must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more.

Nothing is to be compared to the misery of being bound without Love, bound to one, & preferring another. That is a Punishment which you do not deserve.

Letter, November 30, 1814, to her niece, Fanny Knight. Jane Austen