Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Thomas Hardy

English Novelist, Poet and Victorian Realist

"Her affection for him was now the breath and life of Tess's being; it enveloped her as a photosphere, irradiated her into forgetfulness of her past sorrows, keeping back the gloomy spectres that would persist in their attempts to touch her—doubt, fear, moodiness, care, shame. She knew that they were waiting like wolves just outside the circumscribing light, but she had long spells of power to keep them in hungry subjection there."

"Her love was entire as a child's, and though warm as summer it was fresh as spring."

"Here is the ancient floor, foot-worn and hollowed and thin here was the former door where the dead feet walked in."

"I agree to the conditions, Angel; because you know best what my punishment ought to be; only - only - don't make it more than I can bear!"

"I am the family face; flesh perishes, I live on, projecting trait and trace through time to times anon, and leaping from place to place over oblivion."

"I did not will a grave should end thy pilgrimage today, but I, too, am a slave!"

"I have been looking for god for fifty years and I think if he had existed I should have discovered him"

"I have seldom known a man cunning with his brush who was not simple with his tongue; or, indeed, any skill in particular that was not allied to general stupidity."

"I know women are taught by other women that they must never admit the full truth to a man. But the highest form of affection is based on full sincerity on both sides. Not being men, these women don't know that in looking back on those he has had tender relations with, a man's heart returns closest to her who was the soul of truth in her conduct. The better class of man, even if caught by airy affectations of dodging and parrying, is not retained by them. A Nemesis attends the woman who plays the game of elusiveness too often, in the utter contempt for her that, sooner or later, her old admirers feel; under which they allow her to go unlamented to her grave."

"I need not go through sleet and snow to where I know she waits for me: she will tarry there till I find it fair, and have time to spare from company."

"I was court-martial in my absence, and sentenced to death in my absence, so I said they could shoot me in my absence."

"I was thinking of stories I've read when I listened to the music. Then I thought about the music and painting and chose the colors, a lot of red and yellow and green."

"I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown, and a delicate face, and could strut about Town!— My dear—a raw country girl, such as you be, Cannot quite expect that. You ain't ruined, said she."

"If all hearts were open and all desires known - as they would be if people showed their souls - how many gapings, sighings, clenched fists, knotted brows, broad grins, and red eyes should we see in the market-place!"

"If an offense come out of the truth, better is it that the offense come than that the truth be concealed."

"If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the inquisition might have let him alone."

"If way to the better there be, it exacts a full look at the worst."

"If we be doomed to marry, we marry; if we be doomed to remain single we do."

"In the ill-judged execution of the well-judged plan of things the call seldom produces the comer, the man to love rarely coincides with the hour for loving. Nature does not often say See! to her poor creature at a time when seeing can lead to happy doing; or reply Here! to a body's cry of Where? till the hide-and-seek has become an irksome, outworn game. We may wonder whether at the acme and summit of the human progress these anachronisms will be corrected by a finer intuition, a close interaction of the social machinery than that which now jolts us round and along; but such completeness is not to be prophesied, or even conceived as possible. Enough that in the present case, as in millions, it was not the two halves of a perfect whole that confronted each other at the perfect moment; a missing counterpart wandered independently about the earth waiting in crass obtuseness till the late time came. Out of which maladroit delay sprang anxieties, disappointments, shocks, catastrophes, and passing-strange destinies."

"Indeed, he seemed to approach the grave as a hyperbolic curve approaches a straight line -- less directly as he got nearer, till it was doubtful if he would ever reach it at all."

"Indifference to fate which, though it often makes a villain of a man, is the basis of his sublimity when it does not."

"Is a woman a thinking unit at all, or a fraction always wanting its integer?"

"It appears that ordinary men take wives because possession is not possible without marriage, and that ordinary women accept husbands because marriage is not possible without possession."

"It is difficult for a woman to define her feelings in a language which is chiefly made by men to express theirs."

"It is foreign to a man's nature to go on loving a person when he is told that he must and shall be that person's lover. There would be a much likelier chance of his doing it if he were told not to love. If the marriage ceremony consisted in an oath and signed contract between the parties to cease loving from that day forward, in consideration of personal possession being given, and to avoid each other's society as much as possible in public, there would be more loving couples than there are now. Fancy the secret meetings between the perjuring husband and wife, the denials of having seen each other, the clambering in at bedroom windows, and the hiding in closets! There'd be little cooling then."

"It is safer to accept any chance that offers itself, and extemporize a procedure to fit it, than to get a good plan matured, and wait for a chance of using it."

"It was that period in the vernal quarter when we may suppose the Dryads to be waking for the season. The vegetable world begins to move and swell and the saps to rise, till in the completest silence of lone gardens and trackless plantations, where everything seems helpless and still after the bond and slavery of frost, there are bustlings, strainings, united thrusts, and pulls-all-together, in comparison with which the powerful tugs of cranes and pulleys in a noisy city are but pigmy efforts."

"Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks."

"Let me enjoy the earth no less because the all-enacting light that fashioned forth its loveliness had other aims than my delight."

"Like the British Constitution, she owes her success in practice to her inconsistencies in principle."

"Love is a possible strength in an actual weakness."

"Love lives on propinquity, but dies on contact."

"Man, without religion, is the creature of circumstances."

"My argument is that War makes rattling good history; but Peace is poor reading."

"My opinion is that a poet should express the emotion of all the ages and the thought of his own."

"My weakness has always been to prefer the large intention of an unskilful artist to the trivial intention of an accomplished one: in other words, I am more interested in the high ideas of a feeble executant than in the high execution of a feeble thinker."

"No one can read with profit that which he cannot learn to read with pleasure."

"O didn't you know I'd been ruined?' said she."

"O man-projected Figure, of late / Imaged as we, thy knell who shall survive? / Whence came it we were tempted to create / One whom we can no longer keep alive?"

"Of course poets have morals and manners of their own, and custom is no argument with them."

"On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore or Blackmoor. The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line. He occasionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, though he was not thinking of anything in particular. An empty egg-basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat was ruffled, a patch being quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in taking it off. Presently he was met by an elderly parson astride on a gray mare, who, as he rode, hummed a wandering tune."

"Once victim, always victim -- that's the law!"

"One evening of late summer, before the nineteenth century had reached one-third of its span, a young man and woman, the latter carrying a child, were approaching the large village of Weydon-Priors, in Upper Wessex, on foot. They were plainly but not ill clad, though the thick hoar of dust which had accumulated on their shoes and garments from an obviously long journey lent a disadvantageous shabbiness to their appearance just now."

"Only a man harrowing clods in a slow silent walk with an old horse that stumbles and nods, half asleep as they stalk."

"'Peace upon earth!' was said. We sing it, ad pay a million priests to bring it. After two thousand years of mass we've got as far as poison-gas."

"People go on marrying because they can't resist natural forces, although many of them know perfectly well that they are possibly buying a month's pleasure with a life's discomfort."

"Pessimism is, in brief, playing the sure game. You cannot lose at it; you may gain. It is the only view of life in which you can never be disappointed. Having reckoned what to do in the worst possible circumstances, when better arise, as they may, life becomes child's play."

"Poetry is emotion put into measure. The emotion must come by nature, but the measure can be acquired by art."

"Rays from the sunrise drew forth the buds and stretched them into long stalks, lifted up sap in noiseless streams, opened petals, and sucked out scents in invisible jets and breathings."

"Remember that the best and greatest among mankind are those who do themselves no worldly good. Every successful man is more or less a selfish man. The devoted fail."