Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Thomas Bailey Aldrich

American Author, Poet, Playwright, Novelist, Travel Writer and Editor

"In her eyes a thought grew sweeter and sweeter, deepening like the dawn, A mystical forewarning."

"It is the Lord's Day, and I do believe that cheerful hearts and faces are not unpleasant in His sight."

"It was pleasant to me to get a letter from you the other day. Perhaps I should have found it pleasanter if I had been able to decipher it. I don't think that I mastered anything beyond the date (which I knew) and the signature (which I guessed at)."

"My father invested his money so securely in the banking business that he was never able to get any of it out again."

"Night is a stealthy, evil Raven, wrapt to the eyes in his black wings."

"No bird has ever uttered note that was not in some first bird's throat; Since Eden's freshness and man's fall No rose has been original."

"No man has ever yet succeeded in painting an honest portrait of himself in an autobiography, however sedulously he may have set to work about it. In spite of his candid purpose he omits necessary touches and adds superfluous ones. At times he cannot help draping his thought, and the least shred of drapery becomes a disguise. It is only the diarist who accomplishes the feat of self-portraiture, and he, without any such end in view, does it unconsciously. A man cannot keep a daily record of his comings and goings and the little items that make up the sum of his life, and not inadvertently betray himself at every turn. He lays bare his heart with a candor not possible to the self-consciousness that inevitably colors premeditated revelation."

"O harp of life, so speedily unstrung!"

"O Liberty, white Goddess! is it well to leave the gates unguarded? On thy breast fold Sorrow's children, soothe the hurts of Fate, lift the down-trodden, but with hand of steel stay those who to thy sacred portals come to waste the gifts of Freedom."

"October turned by maple's leaves to gold; The most are gone now; here and there one lingers; Soon these will slip from the twig's weak hold, Like coins between a dying miser's fingers."

"Only the sea intoning, only the wainscot-mouse, only the wild wind moaning over the lonely house."

"Or light or dark, or short or tall, she sets a spring to snare them all; all's one to her--above her fan, she'd make sweet eyes at Caliban."

"Shakespeare is forever coming into our affairs -- putting in his oar, so to speak -- with some pat word or sentence."

"Since Eden's freshness and man's fall, no rose has been original."

"So I sit there kicked my heels, thinking about New Orleans, and watching a morbid blue-bottle fly attempt to commit suicide by butting his head against the windowpane."

"So precious life is! Even to the old, the hours are as a miser's coins!"

"Sorrow itself is not so hard to bear as the thought of sorrow coming. Airy ghosts that work no harm do terrify us more than men in steel with woody purpose."

"That was indeed to live?at one bold swoop to wrest from darkling death the best that Death to Life can give!"

"The air is full of hints of grief, strange voices touched with pain--the pathos of the falling leaf and rustling of the rain."

"The happy bells shall ring Marguerite; the summer birds shall sing Marguerite; you smile but you shall wear orange blossoms in your hair, Marguerite."

"The laurels of an orator who is not a master of literary art wither quickly."

"The man who suspects his own tediousness has yet to be born."

"The ocean moans over dead men's bones."

"The poplars showed the white of their leaves, the amber grain shrunk in the wind,--and the lightning now is tangled in tremulous skeins of rain!"

"The possession of gold has ruined fewer men than the lack of it."

"The possession of unlimited power will make a despot of almost any man. There is a possible Nero in the gentlest human creature that walks."

"The Summer comes and the Summer goes; wild-flowers are fringing the dusty lanes, the shallows go darting through fragrant rains, then, all of a sudden--it snows."

"The thing one reads and likes, and then forgets, is of no account. The thing that stays, and haunts one, and refuses to be forgotten, that is the sincere thing."

"The unchecked thought wanders at will upon enchanted ground, making no sound in all the corridors? The bell sleeps in the belfry--from its tongue a drowsy murmur floats into the air, like thistle-down. Slumber is everywhere. The rook's asleep, and, in its dreaming, caws; and silence mopes where nightingales have sung; the Sirens lie in grottos cool and deep, the Naiads in the streams."

"The walking delegates of a higher civilization, who have nothing to divide, look upon the notion of property as a purely artificial creation of human society. According to these advanced philosophers, the time will come when no man shall be allowed to call anything his. The beneficent law which takes away an author's rights in his own books just at the period when old age is creeping upon him seems to me a handsome stride toward the longed-for millennium."

"The young girl in my story is to be as sensitive to praise as a prism is to light. Whenever anybody praises her she breaks into colors."

"Then the ship gave sudden lurches that made it a matter of uncertainty whether one was going to put his fork in his mouth or into his eye."

"There is a sadness in sweet sound that quickens tears."

"There must be such a thing as a child with average ability, but you can't find a parent who will admit that it is his child."

"These Winter nights against my window-pane Nature with busy pencil draws designs of ferns and blossoms and fine spray of pines, oak-leaf and acorn and fantastic vines, which she will make when summer comes again--quaint arabesques in argent, flat and cold, like curious Chinese etchings."

"They fail, and they alone, who have not striven"

"This one sits shivering in Fortune's smile, taking his joy with bated, doubtful breath. This other, gnawed by hunger, all the while laughs in the teeth of Death."

"Though I be shut in darkness, and become insentient dust blown idly here and there, I count oblivion a scant price to pay for having once had held against my lip life's brimming cup of hydromel and rue--for having once known woman's holy love and a child's kiss, and for a little space been boon companion to the Day and Night, Fed on the odors of the summer dawn, and folded in the beauty of the stars. Dear Lord, though I be changed to senseless clay, and serve the potter as he turns his wheel, I thank Thee for the gracious gift of tears!"

"Till then, good-night! You wish the time were now? And I. You do not blush to wish it so? You would have blush'd yourself to death to own so much a year ago. What! both these snowy hands? ah, then I'll have to say, Good-night again."

"Up from the dark the moon begins to creep; and now a pallid, haggard face lifts she above the water-line: thus from the deep a drowned body rises solemnly."

"Upon the cunning loom of thought we weave our fancies, so and so."

"We knew it would rain, for the poplars showed the white of their leaves, the amber grain shrunk in the wind,--and the lightning now is tangled in tremulous skeins of rain."

"We shall get on famously...and be capital friends forever."

"We visit... a neighboring grave-yard. I am by this time in a condition of mind to become a willing inmate of the place."

"We vivisect the nightingale to probe the secret of his note."

"We weep when we are born, not when we die!"

"What a Babel of voices it was, everybody directing everybody else, and everybody doing everything wrong!"

"What is a day to an immortal soul! A breath, no more."

"What is more cheerful, now, in the fall of the year, than an open-wood-fire? Do you hear those little chirps and twitters coming out of that piece of apple-wood? Those are the ghosts of the robins and blue-birds that sang upon the bough when it was in blossom last Spring. In Summer whole flocks of them come fluttering about the fruit-trees under the window: so I have singing birds all the year round."

"What is slang in one age sometimes goes into the vocabulary of the purist in the next."