Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

English Novelist

"Cruelty, like every other vice, requires no motive outside of itself; it only requires opportunity."

"Half the sorrows of women would be averted if they could repress the speech they know to be useless - nay, the speech they have resolved not to utter."

"It is in those acts called trivialities that the seeds of joy are forever wasted, until men and women look around with haggard faces at the devastation their own waste has made, and say the earth bears no harvest of sweetness, calling their denial knowledge."

"It is never too late to be what we might have been."

"Jealousy is never satisfied with anything short of an omniscience that would detect the subtlest fold of the heart."

"Life is very difficult. It seems right to me sometimes that we should follow our strongest feelings; but then such feelings continually come across the ties that all our former life has made for us - the ties that have made others depend on us - and would cut them in two."

"Little children are still the symbol of the eternal marriage between love and duty."

"Only those who know the supremacy of the intellectual life - the life which has a seed of ennobling thought and purpose within it - can understand the grief of one who falls from the serene activity into the absorbing soul wasting struggle."

"Our life is determined for us; and it makes the mind very free when we give up wishing, and only think of bearing what is laid upon us and doing what is given us to do."

"Our thoughts are often worse then we are."

"Susceptible persons are more affected by a change of tone than by unexpected words."

"That is the bitterest of all - to wear the yoke of our own wrong-doing."

"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 human soul is hospitable, and will entertain conflicting sentiments and contradictory opinions with much impartiality."

"The responsibility of tolerance lies with those who have the wider vision."

"The reward of one duty is the power to fulfill another."

"The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice."

"There are robberies that leave man and woman forever beggared of peace and joy, yet kept secret by the sufferer."

"There is no sorrow I have though more about than that, to love what is great, and try to reach it, and yet to fail."

"To be a poet is to have a soul so quick to discern that no shade of quality escapes it, and so quick to feel that discernment is but a hand playing with finely ordered variety on the chords of emotion: a soul in which knowledge passes instantaneously into feeling, and feeling flashes back as a new organ of knowledge."

"We must not inquire too curiously into motives. They are apt to become feeble in the utterance."

"What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?"

"What makes life dreary is the want of motive."

"Young love-making - that gossamer web!... The web itself is made of spontaneous beliefs and indefinable joys, yearnings of one life towards another, visions of completeness, indefinite trust."

"A man’s a man; but when you see a king, you see the work of many thousand men."

"A proud heart and a lofty mountain are never fruitful."

"Affection is the broadest basis of good in life."

"Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another."

"Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence to the fact."

"Blows are sarcasms turned stupid."

"Can any man or woman choose duties? No more that they can choose their birthplace, or their father or mother."

"Consequences are unpitying. Our deeds carry their terrible consequences, quiet apart form any fluctuations that went before - consequences that are hardly ever confined to ourselves."

"Don’t let us rejoice in punishment, even when the hand of God alone inflicts it. The best of us are but poor wretches, just saved from shipwreck. Can we feel anything but awe and pity when we see a fellow-passenger swallowed by the waves?"

"Falsehood is easy, truth so difficult."

"Habit is the beneficent harness of routine which enables silly men to live respectfully and unhappy men to live calmly."

"Hatred is like fire - it makes even light rubbish deadly."

"He whose ruling passion is the love of praise is a slave to everyone who has a tongue for flattery and calumny."

"I could not live in peace if I put the shadow of a willful sin between myself and God."

"I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved; the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave."

"I’m proof against the word “failure.” I’ve seen behind it. The only failure a man ought to fear is failure in cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best."

"If you mean to act nobly and seek to know the best things God has put within reach of men, you must learn to fix your mind on that end, and not on what will happen to you because of it."

"I'm proof against that word failure. I've seen behind it. The only failure a man ought to fear is failure of cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best."

"In every parting there is an image of death."

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

"Is it any weakness, pray, to be wrought on by exquisite music? to feel its wondrous harmonies searching the subtlest windings of your soul, the delicate fibres of life where no memory can penetrate, and binding together your whole being, past and present, in one ;unspeakable vibration; melting you in one moment with all the tenderness, all the love, that has been scattered through the toilsome years, concentrating in one emotion of heroic courage or resignation all the hard-learned lessons of self-renouncing sympathy, blending your present joy with past sorrow, and your present sorrow with all your past joy?"

"It is in those acts which we call trivialities that the seeds of joy are forever wasted."

"It is only a poor sort of happiness that could ever come by caring very much about our own narrow pleasures. We can only have the highest happiness, such as goes along with true greatness, by having wide thoughts and much feeling for the rest of the world as well as ourselves; and this sort of happiness often brings so much pain with it, that we can only tell it from pain by its being what we would choose before everything else, because our souls see it is good."

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

"It's easy finding reasons why other folks should be patient."

"Keep true, never be ashamed of doing right; decide on what you think is right and stick to it."