Quintessential Quotations

Jane Austen


Conversation

Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person, who either marries or dies, is sure of being kindly spoken of.

Jane Austen
Emma, Chapter XXII

On every formal visit a child ought to be of the party, by way of provision for discourse.

Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility, Volume I, Chapter VI

Mrs Elton does not talk to Miss Fairfax as she speaks of her. We all know the difference between the pronouns he or she and thou, the plainest spoken among us; we all feel the influence of a something beyond common civility in our personal intercourse with each other—a something more early implanted. We cannot give anybody the disagreeable hints that we may have been very full of the hour before. We feel things differently.

Jane Austen
Emma, Chapter XXXIII

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Dances

What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr Darcy! — There is nothing like dancing after all. — I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished societies.

"Certainly, sir; — and it has also the advantage of being in vogue amongst the less polished societies of the world. Every savage can dance."

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter VI

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Disappointed Love

Oh! if that is all, I have a very poor opinion of young men who live in Derbyshire; and their intimate friends who live in Hertfordshire are not much better. I am sick of them all. Thank Heaven! I am going tomorrow where I shall find a man who has not one agreeable quality, who has neither manner nor sense to recommend him. Stupid men are the only ones worth knowing, after all.

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter XXVII

Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.

Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey, Chapter IV

And after all, Marianne, after all that is bewitching in the idea of a single and constant attachment, and all that can be said of one's happiness depending entirely on any particular person, it is not meant — it is not fit — it is not possible that it should be so.

Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility, Volume III, Chapter I

I am now convinced, my dear aunt, that I have never been much in love; for had I really experienced that pure and elevating passion, I should at present detest his very name, and wish him all manner of evil. But my feelings are not only cordial towards him; they are even impartial towards Miss King. I cannot find that I hate her at all, or that I am in the least unwilling to think her a very good sort of girl. There can be no love in all this. [Elizabeth Bennet, on being dumped by Mr. Wickham.]

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter XXV

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Gothic Imaginativeness

This lengthened absence, these solitary rambles, did not speak a mind at ease, or a conscience void of reproach.

Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey, Chapter VIII

Catherine sometimes started at the boldness of her own surmises, and sometimes hoped or feared that she had gone too far; but they were supported by such appearances as made their dismissal impossible.

Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey, Chapter VIII

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How to Attach Men

She was heartily ashamed of her ignorance. A misplaced shame. Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well-informed mind, is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing any thing, should conceal it as well as she can.

Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey, Chapter XIV

There is so much of gratitude or vanity in almost every attachment, that it is not safe to leave any to itself. We can all begin freely — a slight preference is natural enough, but there are very few of us who have heart enough to be really in love without encouragement. In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better show more affection than she feels. Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but he may never do more than like her, if she does not help him on.

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter VI

It would be mortifying to the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand how little the heart of man is affected by what is costly or new in their attire; how little it is biased by the texture of their muslin, and how unsusceptible of peculiar tenderness towards the spotted, the sprigged, the mull or the jackonet. Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter.

Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey, Chapter X

There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart,. said she afterwards to herself. "There is nothing to be compared to it. Warmth and tenderness of heart, with an affectionate, open manner, will beat all the cleverness of head in the world, for attraction: I am sure it will."

Jane Austen
Emma, Chapter XXXI

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Inner and Outer Beauty

Lovely & too charming Fair one, notwithstanding your forbidding Squint, your greazy tresses & your swelling Back, which are more frightful than imagination can paint or pen describe, I cannot refrain from expressing my raptures, at the engaging Qualities of your Mind, which so amply atone for the Horror, with which your first appearance must ever inspire the unwary visitor.

"Your sentiments so nobly expressed on the different excellencies of Indian & English muslins, & the judicious preference you give the former, have excited in me an admiration of which I can alone give an adequate idea, by assuring you that it is nearly equal to what I feel for myself."

Jane Austen
Frederic and Elfrida

They were exceedingly handsome and so much alike, that it was not every one who knew them apart. Nay even their most intimate freinds had nothing to distinguish them by, but the shape of the face, the colour of the Eye, the length of the Nose & the difference of the complexion.

Jane Austen
Frederic and Elfrida

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Judging Others

If I were not afraid of judging harshly, I should be almost tempted to say, that there is a strong appearance of duplicity in all this.

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter XXVI

And yet I meant to be uncommonly clever in taking so decided a dislike to him, without any reason. It is such a spur to one's genius, such an opening for wit to have a dislike of that kind. One may be continually abusive without saying anything just; but one cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter XL

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Managing Others

You are very fond of bending little minds; but where little minds belong to rich people in authority, I think they have a knack of swelling out till they are quite as unmanageable as great ones.

Jane Austen
Emma, Chapter XVIII

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Marriage and Happiness

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 beforehand, 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.

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter VI

To be so bent on marriage — to pursue a man merely for the sake of situation — is a sort of thing that shocks me; I cannot understand it. Poverty is a great evil, but to a woman of education and feeling it ought not, it cannot be the greatest. —I would rather be a teacher at a school (and I can think of nothing worse) than marry a man I did not like.

Jane Austen
The Watsons

A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.

Jane Austen
Mansfield Park, Chapter 22

My dear Alicia, of what a mistake were you guilty in marrying a man of his age! — just old enough to be formal, ungovernable and to have the gout — too old to be agreeable, and too young to die.

Jane Austen
Lady Susan

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Memory

If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory. There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences. The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient—at others, so bewildered and so weak—and at others again, so tyrannic, so beyond control! —We are to be sure a miracle in every way—but our powers of recollecting and forgetting do seem peculiarly past finding out.

Jane Austen
Mansfield Park, Chapter 22

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Mr Bingley on Mr Darcy

"By all means," cried Bingley; "let us hear all the particulars, not forgetting their comparative height and size; for that will have more weight in the argument, Miss Bennet, than you may be aware of. I assure you, that if Darcy were not such a great tall fellow, in comparison with myself, I should not pay him half so much deference. I declare I do not know a more awful object than Darcy, on particular occasions, and in particular places; at his own house especially, and of a Sunday evening when he has nothing to do."

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter X

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Mr Darcy on Mr Bingley

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

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter X

The power of doing anything with quickness is always much prized by the possessor, and often without any attention to the imperfection of the performance.

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter X

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Temptation

I always find that the most effectual mode of getting rid of temptation is to give way to it.

Eliza de Feuillide, cousin and friend of Jane Austen
Quoted in Park Honan, Jane Austen: Her Life

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The Melancholy Outsider

Everybody around her was gay and busy, prosperous and important; each had their object of interest, their part, their dress, their favourite scene, their friends and confederates: all were finding employment in consultations and comparisons, or diversion in the playful conceits they suggested. She alone was sad and insignificant; she had no share in anything; she might go or stay; she might be in the midst of their noise, or retreat from it to the solitude of the East Room, without being seen or missed.

Jane Austen
Mansfield Park, Chapter 17

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The Mental Faculties

Miss Morland, no one can think more highly of the understanding of women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much, that they never find it necessary to use more than half.

Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey, Chapter XIV

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The Symptoms of Love

Pray, how violent was Mr Bingley's love?

"I never saw a more promising inclination; he was growing quite inattentive to other people, and wholly engrossed by her. Every time they met, it was more decided and remarkable. At his own ball he offended two or three young ladies by not asking them to dance; and I spoke to him twice myself, without receiving an answer. Could there be finer symptoms? In not general incivility the very essence of love?"

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter XXV

He admires her I know, but I beleive nothing more. Indeed I have heard him say that she was the most beautifull, pleasing, & amiable Girl in the world, & that of all others he should prefer her for his Wife. But it never went any farther I'm certain.

Jane Austen
The Visit

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Writing

It is a rule with me, that a person who can write a long letter, with ease, cannot write ill.

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter X

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