Jane Austen

Quotations

I am fully sensible that an historical romance, founded on the House of Saxe Cobourg, might be much more to the purpose of profit or popularity than such pictures of domestic life in country villages as I deal in. But I could no more write a romance than an epic poem. I could not sit down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. No, I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way.

Letter, April 1, 1816, to James Clarke. Jane Austen

I do not write for such dull elves
As have not a great deal of ingenuity themselves.

Letter, January 29, 1813, to her sister, Cassandra.

One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering.

But Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is a part of an Englishman’s constitution.

It is very unfair to judge any body’s conduct, without an intimate knowledge of their situation. Nobody, who has not been in the interior of a family, can say what difficulties of any individual of that family may be.

There are secrets in all families.

What should I do with your strong, manly, spirited Sketches, full of Variety and Glow?

Letter, December 16, 1816, to her nephew, J. Edward Austen. Jane Austen

We are to have a tiny party here to-night. I hate tiny parties, they force one into constant exertion.

Letter, May 21, 1801, to her sister, Cassandra.

She believed that she must now submit to feel that another lesson, in the art of knowing our own nothingness beyond our own circle, was becoming necessary for her.

An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself. Her cares are over, and she feels that she may exert all her powers of pleasing without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged; no harm can be done.

A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer.

What is right to be done cannot be done too soon.

There are such beings in the World perhaps, one in a Thousand,as the Creature You and I should think perfection, Where Grace & Spirit are united to Worth, where the Manners are equal to the Heart & Understanding, but such a person may not come in your way, or if he does, he may not be the eldest son of a Man of Fortune, the Brother of your particular friend & belonging to your own Country.

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

“His pride,” said Miss Lucas, “does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favour, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud.”
“That is very true,” replied Elizabeth, “and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”

Chapter 5

It was the misfortune of poetry, to be seldom safely enjoyed by those who enjoyed it completely; and that the strong feelings which alone could estimate it truly, were the very feelings which ought to taste it but sparingly.

Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.

There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.

The truth is, that in London it is always a sickly season. Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.

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