Jane Austen

A person who can write a long letter with ease, cannot write ill.

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

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Where an opinion is general, it is usually correct.

Those who do not complain are never pitied.

One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.

One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.

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 fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want.

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.

You are very kind in planning presents for me to make, and my mother has shown me exactly the same attention; but as I do not choose to have generosity dictated to me, I shall not resolve on giving my cabinet to Anna till the first thought of it has been my own.

You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve.

You have delighted us long enough.

You will have a great deal of unreserved discourse with Mrs. K., I dare say, upon this subject, as well as upon many other of our family matters. Abuse everybody but me.

Young ladies should take care of themselves. Young ladies are delicate plants. They should take care of their health and their complexion. My dear, did you change your stockings?

A very short trial convinced her that a curricle was the prettiest equipage in the world.

A woman, especially, if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.

All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one, you need not covet it) is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone.

An artist cannot do anything slovenly.

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.

And it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who by nature had nothing very heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country, at the age of fourteen, to books.

Another stupid party last night; perhaps if larger they might be less intolerable, but here there were only just enough to make one card-table, with six people to look on and talk nonsense to each other.

Business, you know, may bring you money, but friendship hardly ever does.

But are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid? [Referring to Gothic novels, fashionable in England at the beginning of the 19th century, but frowned upon in polite society.]

But Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is a part of an Englishman's constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them everywhere; one is intimate with him by instinct.

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?

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

From politics, it was an easy step to silence.

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

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.

Good-humoured, unaffected girls, will not do for a man who has been used to sensible women. They are two distinct orders of being.

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.

He was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy to make them pleasing.

History, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. I read it a little as a duty; but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all.

How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!

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.

Husbands and wives generally understand when opposition will be vain.

I am afraid that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety.

I am come, young ladies, in a very moralizing strain, to observe that our pleasures of this world are always to be for, and that we often purchase them at a great disadvantage, giving readi-monied actual happiness for a draft on the future, that may not be honoured.

I am very much obliged to my dear little George for his message -- for his love at least; his duty, I suppose, was only in consequence of some hint of my favourable intentions towards him from his father or mother. I am sincerely rejoiced however that I ever was born, since it has been the means of procuring him a dish of tea. [about her nephew George]

I begin already to weigh my words and sentences more than I did, and am looking about for a sentiment, an illustration, or a metaphor in every corner of the room. Could my Ideas flow as fast as the rain in the Storecloset it would be charming.

I had a very pleasant evening, however, though you will probably find out that there was no particular reason for it; but I do not think it worthwhile to wait for enjoyment until there is some real opportunity for it.

I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle.

I have now attained the true art of letter-writing, which we are always told, is to express on paper exactly what one would say to the same person by word of mouth.

I will not say that your mulberry-trees are dead, but I am afraid they are not alive.

If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.

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.

If things are going untowardly one month, they are sure to mend the next.

In his company, I am grieved to the soul by a thousand tender recollections.

In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better show more affection than she feels.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

It is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should refuse an offer of marriage.

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.

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can.

Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.

Loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable -- one false step involves her in endless ruin -- her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful, and she cannot be too much guarded in her behavior toward the undeserving of the other sex.

Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.

Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then.

There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.

Those who do not complain are never pitied.

To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.

To flatter and follow others, without being flattered and followed in turn, is but a state of half enjoyment.

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

One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.

One cannot fix one's eyes on the commonest natural production without finding food for a rambling fancy.

One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.

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

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.

She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper.

Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor -- which is one very strong argument in favor of matrimony.


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