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There are few higher, better, or more profitable enjoyments in this world than reading a good novel. 'A Petition to the Novel-Writers' (1856)

My Weight has been the grand misfortune of my life.  'The Fatal Cradle' (1861)  


The Woman in White (1860)

This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure and what a Man's resolution can achieve. (Opening lines)

It is the grand misfortune of my life that nobody will let me alone.  (Mr Fairlie)

Hurry of any kind is inexpressibly injurious to me.

I sadly want a reform in the construction of children.  Nature's only idea seems to be to make them machines for the production of incessant noise

No sensible man ever engages, unprepared, in a fencing match of words with a woman. 

The misery of a weak, helpless, dumb creature is surely one of the saddest of all the mournful sights which this world can show.

He was in that state of highly respectful sulkiness which is peculiar to English servants

Nature was absorbed in making cabbages when Mrs Vesey was born.


The Moonstone (1868)

Carbon, Betteredge! mere carbon, my good friend, after all!

Whatever happens in a house, robbery or murder, it doesn't matter, you must have your breakfast.

Every human institution (Justice included) will stretch a little, if you only pull it the right way.

Doors and listeners have a knack of getting together.

A drop of tea is to a woman's tongue what a drop of oil is to a wasting lamp.

The glorious prospect of interference was opened before me.

The established Sunday tyranny which is one of the institutions of this free country, so times the trains as to make it impossible to ask anybody to travel to us from London.  

Sand - in respect of its printing off of people's footsteps - is one of the best detective officers I know of.

We only believe in a romance when we see it in a newspaper.

Photography - doing justice without mercy

Rosanna Spearman had been a thief, and not being the sort that get up Companies in the City, and rob from thousands, instead of only robbing from one, the law laid hold of her.


Armadale (1866)

Books - the generous friends who met me without suspicion - the merciful master who never used me ill!

The men who rise in the law are the men who decline to take No for an answer.

When you say No to a Woman, Sir, always say it in one word.  If you give her reasons, she invariably believes that you mean Yes.

In all the thousands of times I have asked other people for advice, I never yet got the advice I wanted.

I was wondering ... whether there is such a thing as chance.

Nobody escapes observation in the country. 

A governess is a lady who is not rich...and a Duchess is a lady who is not poor.


Man and Wife (1870)

Life is a comedy to those who think, and a tragedy to those who feel.  

It is the nature of Truth to struggle to the light.

When a man's mind's upset, a man must smoke.

At my age...nothing is serious except indigestion.

The grand secret, in dealing with a woman, is to take her as you take a cat, by the scruff of the neck.


Heart and Science (1883)

Vanity wants nothing but the motive power to develop into absolute wickedness. 

People who read stories are said to have excitable brains.


The Evil Genius (1886)

In one respect, men are all alike; they hate to see a woman in tears.  

Reckoned up is, if you please, detective English for being watched.

I have always said, and I stick to it, Guy Fawkes was a great statesman.

Modestly looking down at the ample prospect of a personal nature which presented itself below her throat.

Time, animals, and buildings wear out with years, and submit to their hard lot.  Time only meets with flat contradiction when he ventures to tell a woman that she is growing old. 

You are one of the most remarkable women in England - you have never written a novel. 

Of all oppressive summers, a hot summer in London is the hardest to endure


Jezebel's Daughter (1880)

The doctor who is not honest enough to confess it when he is puzzled, is a well-known member of the medical profession in all countries.

Always distrust a man's last wishes on his death-bed  -  unless they are communicated to his lawyer, and expressed in his will.

The doctors had no immediate fear of his death.  He proved the doctors to be mistaken, and took the liberty of dying at a time when they all declared that there was every hope of his recovery.


Haunted Hotel (1879)

Ask yourself if there is any explanation of the mystery of your own life and death. 

Have you ever heard of such a thing as the fascination of terror?


The Fallen Leaves (1879)

After a child or two, that sort runs to fat, and you find you have married more of her than you bargained for

When there's a rash thing to be done by a man and a woman together, sir, philosophers have remarked that it's always the woman who leads the way.  

It is only men over forty who can court the mistress, with reserves of admiration to spare for the maid.  


Hide and Seek (1854)

Without the slightest comprehension of the subject to embarrass him in the flow of language.

The smug human vultures who prey commercially on the civilised dead.  [of undertakers] 


Poor Miss Finch (1872)

I am not rich enough to care about money.  

What right has anyone to be rich? 

Blindness is never bashful, for the one simple reason that that blindness cannot see.  

Reckless speculation which is, so to speak, the national sin of the United States.

The greatest of all virtues is - Patience. 


The Black Robe (1881)

Another damp day...I hope you won't pay the rheumatic penalties of a winter residence in England. 

Books are companionable creatures. 

What right has an obstacle to get in my way? 

The gloomy and hideous evening costume of a gentleman in the nineteenth century.  

True remorse depends, to my mind, on a man's accurate knowledge of his own motives. 

If the public only knew that every writer worthy of the name is the severest critic of his own book before it ever gets into the hands of the reviewers, how surprised they would be!

The man who has worked in the full fervour of composition yesterday is the same man who sits in severe and merciless judgement to-day on what he has himself produced.


The Dead Secret (1857)

Time possesses nothing but the negative virtue of helping to wear itself out.  

In short, my dear sir, everything wears out in this world - and why should the House of Commons be an exception to the rule.

A very remarkable work... in the present state of light literature in England - a novel that actually tells a story... it has another extraordinary merit - it isn't written by a woman. p. 172.


The Law and the Lady (1875)

The actions of human beings are not invariably governed by the laws of pure reason. 

Only give a woman love, and there is nothing she will not venture, suffer, and do.

I don't doubt that it is a great privilege to be a human being.  But may it not be the happier destiny to be an animal or a plant?

A man who eats a plain joint is only one remove from a cannibal - or a butcher.

Properly pursued, the Art of Cookery allows of no divided attention.

But then I am a lawyer, and my business is to make a fuss about trifles.


'I Say No' (1884)

In these days everybody knows everything - and thinks nothing worth knowing after all.

The hardest disease to cure that I know of is - worry. 

The worst curse of human life is the detestable necessity of taking exercise.


The New Magdalen (1873)

The cat is a sleek and splendid creature.    

Did you ever know a woman who could resist looking out of a window?

All women have a claim on us. 

Architecture is one of the lost arts.  You know nothing about it; I know nothing about; the architects themselves know nothing about it. 

He is at the head of his profession.....- and he knows no more about it than I do.  The great physician has just gone away with two guineas in his pocket.  One guinea for advising me to keep her quiet; another guinea for telling me to trust to time..... 

The medical profession thrives on two incurable diseases in these modern days - a He-disease and a She-disease.  She disease - nervous depression;  He-disease - suppressed gout.  Remedies, one guinea if you go to the doctor; two guineas if the doctor goes to you. 

A woman's courage rises with the greatness of the emergency. 


Miss or Mrs? (1873)

Jealousy has a Second Sight of its own





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