Quotations by Stowe, Harriet Beecher


Everyone confesses that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us; but most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive them to do.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
“The Lady Who Does Her Own Work,” Atlantic Monthly (1864)
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Fanatics are governed rather by imagination than by judgment.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
(Attributed)

This quote was attributed to "Stowe" in the 1913 ed. of Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (itself a reprint of Webster's International Dictionary). It is referenced in quotes as an uncited aphorism in The Unjust Judge (1854).
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Human nature is above all things — lazy.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Household Papers and Stories, ch. 6 (1864)
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To do common things perfectly is far better worth our endeavor than to do uncommon things respectably.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Household Papers and Stories, ch. 10 (1864)
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In lecturing on cookery, as on housebuilding, I divide the subject into, not four, but five grand elements: first, Bread; second, Butter; third, Meat; fourth, Vegetables; and fifth, Tea — by which I mean, generically, all sorts of warm, comfortable drinks served out in teacups, whether they be called tea, coffee, chocolate, broma, or what not. I affirm that, if these five departments are all perfect, the great ends of domestic cookery are answered, so far as the comfort and well-being of life are concerned.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Household Papers and Stories, ch. 10 (1864)
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All places where women are excluded tend downward to barbarism; but the moment she is introduced, there come in with her courtesy, cleanliness, sobriety, and order.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Household Papers and Stories, Part 2, ch. 2 (1864)
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True love ennobles and dignifies the material labors of life; and homely services rendered for love’s sake have in them a poetry that is immortal.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Household Papers and Stories, Part 2, ch. 4 (1864)
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True love ennobles and dignifies the material labors of life; and homely services rendered for love’s sake have in them a poetry that is immortal.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Household Papers and Stories, Part 2, ch. 4 (1864)
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Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room, from which we go forth to more careful and guarded intercourse, leaving behind us much debris of cast-off and everyday clothing.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Little Foxes, ch. 1 (1865)
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The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Little Foxes, ch. 3 (1865)
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I am speaking now of the highest duty we owe our friends, the noblest, the most sacred — that of keeping their own nobleness, goodness, pure and incorrupt. … If we let our friend become cold and selfish and exacting without a remonstrance, we are no true lover, no true friend.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Little Foxes, ch. 3 (1865)
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The obstinacy of cleverness and reason is nothing to the obstinacy of folly and inanity.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Little Foxes, ch. 4 (1865)
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When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a moment longer, never give up then — for that is just the place and time that the tide’ll turn.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Old Town Folks, ch. 34 “Last Days in Cloudland” (1869)
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Never trust to prayer without using every means in your power, and never use the means without trusting in prayer. Get your evidences of grace by pressing forward to the mark, and not by groping with a lantern after the boundary-lines, — and so, boys, go, and God bless you!

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Old Town Folks, ch. 39 (1869)
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A man builds a house in England with the expectation of living in it and leaving it to his children; while we shed our houses in America as easily as a snail does his shell. We live a while in Boston, and then a while in New York, and then, perhaps, turn up at Cincinnati. Scarcely any body with us is living where they expect to live and die. The man that dies in the house he was born in is a wonder. There is something pleasant in the permanence and repose of the English family estate, which we, in America, know very little of.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands (1854)
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George’s first voyage was on a slaver, and he wished himself dead many a time before it was over, — and ever after would talk like a man beside himself, if the subject was named. He declared that the gold made in it was distilled from human blood, from mothers’ tears, from the agonies and dying groans of gasping, suffocating men and women, and that it would sear and blister the soul of him that touched it; in short, he talked as whole-souled, unpractical fellows are apt to talk about what respectable people sometimes do. Nobody had ever instructed him that a slaveship, with a procession of expectant sharks in its wake, is a missionary institution, by which closely. packed heathens are brought over to enjoy the light of the Gospel.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
The Minister’s Wooing, ch. 1 “Pre-Railroad Times” (1859)
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In the old times, women did not get their lives written, though I don’t doubt many of them were much better worth writing than the men’s.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
The Pearl of Orr’s Island (1862)
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The truth is the kindest thing we can give folks in the end.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
The Pearl of Orr’s Island, ch. 36 [Aunt Roxy] (1869)
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“It don’t look well, now, for a feller to be praisin’ himself; but I say it jest because it’s the truth. I believe I’m reckoned to bring in about the finest droves of niggers that is brought in, — at least, I’ve been told so; if I have once, I reckon I have a hundred times, — all in good case, — fat and likely, and I lose as few as any man in the business. And I lays it all to my management, sir; and humanity, sir, I may say, is the great pillar of my management.”

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, ch. 1 “In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity” (1862)
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Treat ’em like dogs and you’ll have dogs’ work and dogs’ actions. Treat ’em like men and you’ll have men’s work.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, ch. 11 “In Which Property Gets into an Improper State of Mind” (1852)
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Whipping and abuse are like laudanum; you have to double the dose as the sensibilities decline.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, ch. 20 “Topsy” (1852)
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The soul awakes … between two dim eternities — the eternal past, the eternal future.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, ch. 22 (1852)
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Any mind that is capable of a real sorrow is capable of good.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, ch. 28 “Reunion” (1852)
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Perhaps it is impossible for a person who does no good not to do harm.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, ch. 28 “Reunion” (1852)
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The number of those men who know how to use wholly irresponsible power humanely and generously is small.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, ch. 29 “The Unprotected” (1852)
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We hear often of the distress of the negro servants, on the loss of a kind master; and with good reason, for no creature on God’s earth is left more utterly unprotected and desolate than the slave in these circumstances. The child who has lost a father has still the protection of friends, and of the law; he is something, and can do something, — has acknowledged rights and position; the slave has none. The law regards him, in every respect, as devoid of rights as a bale of merchandise. The only possible acknowledgment of any of the longings and wants of a human and immortal creature, which are given to him, comes to him through the sovereign and irresponsible will of his master; and when that master is stricken down, nothing remains.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, ch. 29 “The Unprotected” (1862)
Added on 12-Mar-14 | Last updated 12-Mar-14
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Have not many of us, in the weary way of life, felt, in some hours, how far easier it were to die than to live?

The martyr, when faced even by a death of bodily anguish and horror, finds in the very terror of his doom a strong stimulant and tonic. There is a vivid excitement, a thrill and fervor, which may carry through any crisis of suffering that is the birth-hour of eternal glory and rest.

But to live, — to wear on, day after day, of mean, bitter, low, harassing servitude, every nerve dampened and depressed, every power of feeling gradually smothered, — this long and wasting heart-martyrdom, this slow, daily bleeding away of the inward life, drop by drop, hour after hour, — this is the true searching test of what there may be in man or woman.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, ch. 38 “The Victory” (1852)
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Is man ever a creature to be trusted with wholly irresponsible power? And does not the slave system, by denying the slave all legal right of testimony, make every individual owner an irresponsible despot? Can anybody fall to make the inference what the practical result will be? If there is, as we admit, a public sentiment among you, men of honor, justice and humanity, is there not also another kind of public sentiment among the ruffian, the brutal and debased? And cannot the ruffian, the brutal, the debased, by slave law, own just as many slaves as the best and purest? Are the honorable, the just, the high-minded and compassionate, the majority anywhere in this world?

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Conclusion (1852)
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Facts too shocking to be contemplated occasionally force their way to the public ear, and the comment that one often hears made on them is more shocking than the thing itself. It is said, “Very likely such cases may now and then occur, but they are no sample of general practice.” If the laws of New England were so arranged that a master could now and then torture an apprentice to death, would it be received with equal composure? Would it be said, “These cases are rare, and no samples of general practice”? This injustice is an inherent one in the slave system, — it cannot exist without it.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Conclusion (1852)
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What can any individual do? Of that, every individual can judge. There is one thing that every individual can do, — they can see to it that they feel right. An atmosphere of sympathetic influence encircles every human being; and the man or woman who feels strongly, healthily and justly, on the great interests of humanity, is a constant benefactor to the human race. See, then, to your sympathies in this matter! Are they in harmony with the sympathies of Christ? or are they swayed and perverted by the sophistries of worldly policy?

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Conclusion (1852)
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I wrote what I did because as a woman, as a mother I was oppressed and broken-hearted, with the sorrows and injustice I saw, because as a Christian I felt the dishonor to Christianity — because as a lover of my country I trembled at the coming day of wrath. It is no merit in the sorrowful that they weep, or to the oppressed and smothering that they gasp and struggle, not to me, that I must speak for the oppressed — who cannot speak for themselves.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Letter to Lord Denman (20 Jan 1853)

On Uncle Tom's Cabin.
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The greater the interest involved in a truth the more careful, self-distrustful, and patient should be the inquiry. I would not attack the faith of a heathen without being sure I had a better one to put in its place, because, such as it is, it is better than nothing.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) American author
Letter to William Lloyd Garrison (1853)
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