No woman has ever told the truth of her life. The autobiographies of most famous women are a series of accounts of the outward existence, of petty details and anecdotes which give no realization of their real life. For the great moments of joy or agony they remain strangely silent.
As we grow older, our bodies get shorter and our anecdotes longer.
My native place was [alive] with old legends, tales, traditions, customs and superstitions; so that in my early youth, even beyond the walls of my own humble roof, they met me in every direction.
It is probable, indeed, that subjects of a serious and philosophical kind were more frequently the topics of Greek and Roman conversation than they are of ours; as the circumstances of the world had not yet given occasion to those prudential reasons which may now perhaps restrain a more free exchange of sentiments amongst us. There was something likewise in the very scenes themselves where they usually assembled that almost unavoidably turned the stream of their conversations into this useful channel. Their rooms and gardens were generally adorned, you know, with the statues of the greatest masters of reason that had then appeared in the world; and while Socrates or Aristotle stood in their view it is no wonder their discourse fell upon those subjects which such animating representations would naturally suggest. It is probable, therefore, that many of those ancient pieces which are drawn up in the dialogue manner were no imaginary conversations invented by their authors, but faithful transcripts from real life. And it is this circumstance, perhaps, as much as any other, which contributes to give them that remarkable advantage over the generality of modern compositions which have been formed upon the same plan. I am sure, at least, I could scarcely name more than three or four of this kind which have appeared in our language worthy of notice. My Lord Shaftesburyâ€™s dialogue entitled The Moralists, Mr. Addisonâ€™s upon Ancient Coins, Mr. Spenceâ€™s upon the Odyssey, together with those of my very ingenious friend Philemon to Hydaspes, are almost the only productions in this way which have hitherto come forth amongst us with advantage. These, indeed, are all masterpieces of the kind, and written in the true spirit of learning and politeness. The conversation in each of these most elegant performances is conducted, not in the usual absurd method of introducing one disputant to be tamely silenced by the other, but in the more lively dramatic manner, where a just contrast of characters is preserved throughout, and where the several speakers support their respective sentiments with all the strength and spirit of a well-bred opposition.
I had been fed, in my youth, a lot of old wives' tales about the way men would instantly forsake a beautiful woman to flock around a brilliant one. It is but fair to say that, after getting out in the world, I had never seen this happen.
We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God sticks with us.