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James Wood, comp. Dictionary of Quotations. 1899.

George Eliot

A chill air surrounds those who are down in the world.

A good solid bit of work lasts.

A great anguish may do the work of years, and we may come out from that baptism of fire with a soul full of new awe and new pity.

An ass may bray a good while before he shakes the stars down.

Angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.

Breed is stronger than pasture.

Childhood has no forebodings; but then it is soothed by no memories of outlived sorrow.

Colour blindness, which may mistake drab for scarlet, is better than total blindness, which sees no distinction of colour at all.

Death is the only physician, the shadow of his valley the only journeying that will cure us of age and the gathering fatigue of years.

Even success needs its consolations.

Falsehood is easy, truth is difficult.

Family likeness has often a deep sadness in it.

Favourable chance is the god of all men who follow their own devices instead of obeying a law they believe in.

Folks as have no mind to be o’ use have always the luck to be out o’ the road when there’s anything to be done.

Folks must put up with their own kin as they put up with their own noses.

Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco-pipes of those who diffuse it; it proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker.

Habit is the purgatory in which we suffer for our past sins.

Hatred is like fire; it makes even light rubbish deadly.

Human beliefs, like all other natural growths, elude the barriers of system.

I can count a stocking-top while a man ’s getting ’s tongue ready; an’ when he out wi’ his speech at last, there ’s little broth to be made on’t.

I desire no future that will break the ties of the past.

I know that dancin’ ’s nonsense; but if you stick at everything because it’s nonsense, you wonna go far in this life.

I’m not denyin’ the women are foolish; God Almighty made ’em to match the men.

I’m not one of those who can see the cat i’ the dairy an’ wonder what she’s come after.

I’ve had my say out, and I shall be th’ easier for’t all my life.

I’ve never any pity for conceited people, because I think they carry their comfort about with them.

If the chaff-cutter had the making of us, we should all be straw, I reckon.

If you would slip into a round hole, you must make a ball of yourself.

In every parting there is an image of death.

In so complex a thing as human nature, we must consider it hard to find rules without exceptions.

Irritation, like friction, is likely to generate heat instead of progress.

It is a lucky eel that escapes skinning.

It is mere cowardice to take safety in negations.

It is no wonder man’s religion has much suffering in it; no wonder he needs a suffering God.

It seems as if them as aren’t wanted here are th’ only ones as aren’t wanted i’ the other world.

It’s a small joke sets men laughing when they sit a-staring at one another wi’ a pipe i’ their mouths.

It’s all very well having a ready-made rich man, but it may happen he’ll be a ready-made fool.

It’s hard to tell which is Old Harry when everybody’s got boots on.

It’s ill livin’ in a hen-roost for them as doesn’t like fleas.

It’s no use filling your pocket full of money if you have got a hole in the corner.

It’s poor eating where the flavour of the meat lies in the cruets.

It’s them as take advantage that get advantage i’ this world, I think; folks have to wait long enough before it’s brought to ’em.

It’s your dead chicks take the longest hatchin’.

Jess would have been an omnivorous reader of books had it not been her conviction that reading was idling.

Joy is the best of wine.

Life is so complicated a game, that the devices of skill are liable to be defeated at every turn by air-blown chances, incalculable as the descent of thistle-down.

Life’s a reckoning we cannot make twice over.

Man cannot choose his duties.

Marriage must be a relation either of sympathy or of conquest.

Men are mostly so slow, their thoughts overrun ’em, an’ they can only catch ’em by the tail.

Men can see through a barn-door, they can. Perhaps that’s the reason they can see so little o’ this side on’t.

Men’s muscles move better when their souls are making merry music.

More helpful than all wisdom is one draught of simple human pity that will not forsake us.

Nemesis is lame, but she is of colossal stature, like the gods.

Not liberty, but duty, is the condition of existence.

One ’ud think, an’ hear some folk talk, as the men war cute enough to count the corns in a bag o’ wheat wi’ only smelling at it.

Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them.

Our deeds are fetters that we forge ourselves.

Our deeds are like children born to us; they live and act apart from our own will. Children may be strangled, but deeds never.

Our deeds determine us as much as we determine our deeds.

Our love is inwrought in our enthusiasm, as electricity is inwrought in the air, exalting its power by a subtle presence.

Our thoughts are often worse than we are, just as they are often better.

People who can’t be witty exert themselves to be pious and affectionate.

Roast meat at three fires; as soon as you’ve basted one, another’s burnin’.

Scarceness is what there is the biggest stock of in the country.

Scarceness o’ victual ’ull keep; there’s no need to be hasty wi’ the cooking.

Some folk’s tongues are like the clocks as run on strikin’, not to tell you the time o’ the day, but because there’s summat wrong i’ their inside.

Sometimes ideas are made flesh; they breathe upon us with warm breath; they touch us with soft responsive hands; they look upon us with sad, sincere eyes, and speak to us in appealing tones.

Sympathetic people are often uncommunicative about themselves; they give back reflected images which hide their own depths.

That’s what a man wants in a wife, mostly: he wants to make sure o’ one fool as’ll tell him he’s wise. But there’s some men can do wi’out that—they think so much o’ themselves a’ready—an’ that’s how it is there’s old bachelors.

The blessed work of helping the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.

The devil tempts us not—’tis we tempt him, / Beckoning his skill with opportunity.

The finest language is chiefly made up of unimposing words.

The first condition of goodness is something to love; the second, something to reverence.

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.

The great river-courses which have shaped the lives of men have hardly changed.

The law’s made to take care o’ raskils.

The light can be a curtain as well as the darkness.

The mother’s yearning feels the presence of the cherished child even in the degraded man.

The only failure a man ought to fear is failure in cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best.

The reward of one duty is the power to fulfil another.

The seeds of things are very small.

The true cross of the Redeemer is the sin and sorrow of the world.

The women are quick enough—they’re quick enough. They know the rights of a story before they hear it, and can tell a man what his thoughts are before he knows ’em himself.

Them as ha’ never had a cushion don’t miss it.

There is a mercy that is weakness, and even treason against the common good.

There is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow, when we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and be healed, to have despaired and have recovered hope.

There’s folks ’ud stand on their heads and then say the fault was in their boots.

There’s folks as make bad butter, and trusten to the salt t’ hide it.

There’s many a good bit o’ work done with a sad heart.

There’s no pleasure i’ living, if you’re to be corked up for ever, and only dribble your mind out by the sly, like a leaky barrel.

There’s no slipping up-hill again, and no standing still when once you’ve begun to slip down.

There’s no work so tirin’ as danglin’ about an’ starin’, an’ not rightly knowin’ what you’re goin’ to do next; an’ keepin’ your face i’ smilin’ order, like a grocer o’ market-day.

There’s nothing but what’s bearable as long as a man can work.

Those who trust us educate us.

To be a poet is to have a soul in which knowledge passes instantaneously into feeling, and feeling flashes back as a new organ of knowledge.

We cannot speak a loyal word and be meanly silent; we cannot kill and not kill at the same moment; but a moment is room enough for the loyal and mean desire, for the outflash of a murderous thought, and the sharp backward stroke of repentance.

We must put up with our contemporaries, since we can neither live with our ancestors nor posterity.

We reap what we sow, but Nature has love over and above that justice, and gives us shadow and blossom and fruit that spring from no planting of ours.

What is a handful of reasonable men against a crowd with stones in their hands?

What makes life dreary is the want of motive.

What we have been makes us what we are.

When death comes, it is never our tenderness that we repent of, but our severity.

When your broth’s ready-made for you, you mun swallow the thickenin’, or else let the broth alone.

Where’s the use of a woman’s having brains of her own if she’s tackled to a geck as everybody’s a-laughing at?

You don’t value your peas for their roots or your carrots for their flowers. Now that’s the way you should choose women.

You find faut wi’ your meat, and the faut’s all i’ your own stomach.

You make but a poor trap to catch luck if you go and bait it with wickedness.

You must begin at a low round of the ladder if you mean to get on.