Politics of all sorts, I confess, are far beyond my limited powers of comprehension. Those of this country as far as I have been able to observe, resolve themselves into two great motives. The aristocratic desire of elevation and separation, and the democratic desire of demolishing and levelling.
American gentlemen are a cross between English and French men, and yet really altogether like neither. They are more refined and modest than Frenchmen, and less manly, shy, and rough, than Englishmen. Their brains are finer and flimsier, their bodies less robust and vigorous than ours. We are the finer animals, and they the subtler spirits. Their intellectual tendency is to excitement and insanity, and ours to stagnation and stupidity.
[When her husband said her earnings as a married woman belonged to him:] I cannot persuade myself that that which I invent - create, in fact - can belong to anyone but myself! I wish that women could be dealt with, not mercifully, not compassionately, nor affectionately, but justly; it would be so much better - for the men.
...I cannot help being astonished at the furious and ungoverned execration which all reference to the possibility of a fusion of the races draws down upon those who suggest it, because nobody pretends to deny that, throughout the South, a large proportion of the population is the offspring of white men and colored women.
The whole gamut of good and evil is in every human being, certain notes, from stronger original quality or most frequent use, appearing to form the whole character; but they are only the tones most often heard. The whole scale is in every soul, and the notes most seldom heard will on rare occasions make themselves audible.
I am persuaded that we are all surrounded by an atmosphere - a separate, sensitive, distinct envelope extending some distance from our visible persons - and whenever my invisible atmosphere is invaded, it affects my whole nervous system. The proximity of any bodies but those I love best is unendurable to my body.
The plodding thrift and scrupulous integrity and long-winded patient industry of our business men of the last century are out of fashion in these "giddy-paced" times, and England is forgetting that those who make haste to be rich can hardly avoid much temptation and some sin.
I never desire to know anything of the detail of political measures, lest even those which I think best should lose anything of their intrinsic value to me, by seeing what low, paltry, personal motives and base machinery and dirty hands have helped to bring them about.
The Southern newspapers, with their advertisements of negro sales and personal descriptions of fugitive slaves, supply details of misery that it would be difficult for imagination to exceed. Scorn, derision, insult, menace - the handcuff, the last - the tearing away of children from parents, of husbands from wives - the weary trudging in droves along the common highways, the labor of body, the despair of mind, the sickness of heart - these are the realities which belong to the system, and form the rule, rather that the exception, in the slave's experience.
My chief time for reading is at night while brushing my hair before I go to bed, and as you may suppose, but little profit and pleasure can be derived from such mere sips at the well of knowledge. 'Tis a great privation to me, for my desire for information increases instead of diminishing, and I look forward with great anxiety to the time when I can improve my poor neglected mind and learn some of the few exhaustless store of things which I wish to know.
A good many causes tend to make good masters and mistresses quite as rare as good servants.... The large and rapid fortunes by which vulgar and ignorant people become possessed of splendid houses, splendidly furnished, do not, of course, give them the feelings and manners of gentle folks, or in any way really raise them above the servants they employ, who are quite aware of this fact, and that the possession of wealth is literally the only superiority their employers have over them.
Though the Negroes are fed, clothed, and housed, and though the Irish peasant is starved, naked, and roofless, the bare name of freemen-the lordship over his own person, the power to choose and will-are blessings beyond food, raiment, or shelter; possessing which, the want of every comfort of life is yet more tolerable than their fullest enjoyment without them.