A woman cannot do the thing she ought, which means whatever perfect thing she can, in life, in art, in science, but she fears to let the perfect action take her part and rest there: she must prove what she can do before she does it, -- prate of woman's rights, of woman's mission, woman's function, till the men (who are prating, too, on their side) cry, A woman's function plainly is... to talk. Poor souls, they are very reasonably vexed!
I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.
It is not merely the likeness which is precious... but the association and the sense of nearness involved in the thing... the fact of the very shadow of the person lying there fixed forever! It is the very sanctification of portraits I think -- and it is not at all monstrous in me to say that I would rather have such a memorial of one I dearly loved, than the noblest Artist's work ever produced.
What is art but life upon the larger scale, the higher. When, graduating up in a spiral line of still expanding and ascending gyres, it pushes toward the intense significance of all things, hungry for the infinite?
We all have known good critics, who have stamped out poet's hopes; Good statesmen, who pulled ruin on the state; Good patriots, who, for a theory, risked a cause; Good kings, who disemboweled for a tax; Good Popes, who brought all good to jeopardy; Good Christians, who sat still in easy-chairs; And damned the general world for standing up. Now, may the good God pardon all good men!
Girls blush, sometimes, because they are alive, half wishing they were dead to save the shame. The sudden blush devours them, neck and brow; They have drawn too near the fire of life, like gnats, and flare up bodily, wings and all. What then? Who's sorry for a gnat or girl?
Books, books, books had found the secret of a garret-room piled high with cases in my father's name; Piled high, packed large, --where, creeping in and out among the giant fossils of my past, like some small nimble mouse between the ribs of a mastodon, I nibbled here and there at this or that box, pulling through the gap, in heats of terror, haste, victorious joy, the first book first. And how I felt it beat under my pillow, in the morning's dark. An hour before the sun would let me read! My books!
Women know the way to rear up children (to be just). They know a simple, merry, tender knack of tying sashes, fitting baby-shoes, and stringing pretty words that make no sense. And kissing full sense into empty words.
The works of women are symbolical. We sew, sew, prick our fingers, dull our sight, producing what? A pair of slippers, sir, to put on when you're weary -- or a stool. To stumble over and vex you... curse that stool! Or else at best, a cushion, where you lean and sleep, and dream of something we are not, but would be for your sake. Alas, alas! This hurts most, this... that, after all, we are paid the worth of our work, perhaps.