Last modified on 2 November 2014, at 03:21

Dinah Craik

Silence sweeter is than speech.
There never was night that had no morn.

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (20 April 182612 October 1887) was an English novelist and poet. Born Dinah Maria Mulock, the name under which her first works were published, her work has also been presented as by Dinah Craik, Dinah Maria Craik, Dinah Mulock Craik, and simply Miss Mulock or Mrs. Craik.

QuotesEdit

The irrevocable Hand
That opes the year's fair gate, doth ope and shut
The portals of our earthly destinies
Awakener, come! … Let Thy wide hand
Gather us all — with none left out (O God!
Leave Thou out none!) from the east and from the west.
Give us one heart, one tongue, one faith, one love.
In Thy great Oneness made complete and strong
To do Thy work throughout the happy world
Thy world, All-merciful, Thy perfect world.
When faith and hope fail, as they do sometimes, we must try charity, which is love in action.
Autumn to winter, winter into spring,
Spring into summer, summer into fall, —
So rolls the changing year, and so we change;
Motion so swift, we know not that we move.
We never know through what Divine mysteries of compensation the great Father of the universe may be carrying out His sublime plan; but those three words, "God is love " ought to contain, to every doubting soul, the solution of all things.
  • Sweet April-time — O cruel April-time!
    Year after year returning, with a brow
    Of promise, and red lips with longing paled,
    And backward-hidden hands that clutch the joys
    Of vanished springs, like flowers.
    • "April", in Poems (1859)
  • The irrevocable Hand
    That opes the year's fair gate, doth ope and shut
    The portals of our earthly destinies;
    We walk through blindfold, and the noiseless doors
    Close after us, for ever.

    Pause, my soul,
    On these strange words — for ever — whose large sound
    Breaks flood-like, drowning all the petty noise
    Our human moans make on the shores of Time.
    O Thou that openest, and no man shuts;
    That shut'st, and no man opens — Thee we wait!

    • "April", in Poems (1859)
  • Awakener, come!
    Fiing wide the gate of an eternal year,
    The April of that glad new heavens and earth
    Which shall grow out of these, as spring-tide grows
    Slow out of winter's breast.
    Let Thy wide hand
    Gather us all — with none left out (O God!
    Leave Thou out none!) from the east and from the west.

    Loose Thou our burdens: heal our sicknesses;
    Give us one heart, one tongue, one faith, one love.
    In Thy great Oneness made complete and strong
    To do Thy work throughout the happy world
    Thy world, All-merciful, Thy perfect world.
    • "April", in Poems (1859)
  • When faith and hope fail, as they do sometimes, we must try charity, which is love in action. We must speculate no more on our duty, but simply do it. When we have done it, however blindly, perhaps Heaven will show us why.
    • Christian's Mistake (1865). p. 64
  • Immortality alone could teach this mortal how to die.
    • "Looking Death in the Face", Miss Mulock's Poems (1866)
  • There never was night that had no morn.
    • "The Golden Gate", Mulock's Poems, New and Old (1888), this has sometimes been misquoted as There was never a night that had no morn.
  • Oh my son's my son till he gets a wife,
    But my daughter's my daughter all her life.
    • "Young and Old"
  • Two hands upon the breast,
    And labour’s done;
    Two pale feet crossed in rest,
    The race is won.
    • Now and Afterwards; there exists a similar Russian proverb: "Two hands upon the breast, and labour is past".
  • Down in the deep, up in the sky,
    I see them always, far or nigh,
    And I shall see them till I die —

    The old familiar faces.

    • "Magnus and Morna", in Thirty Years, Poems New and Old (1880)
  • And all day long, so close and near,
    As in a mystic dream I hear
    Their gentle accents kind and dear —
    The old familiar voices.

    They have no sound that I can reach —
    But silence sweeter is than speech;
    • "Magnus and Morna", in Thirty Years, Poems New and Old (1880)
  • Drink, my jolly lads, drink with discerning,
    Wedlock's a lane where there is no turning;
    Never was owl more blind than a lover,
    Drink and be merry, lads, half seas over.
    • "Magnus and Morna", in Thirty Years, Poems New and Old (1880)
  • The buttercups across the field
    Made sunshine rifts of splendor.
    • "A Silly Song"
  • To-morrow is — ah, whose?
    • "Between Two Worlds"
  • Autumn to winter, winter into spring,
    Spring into summer, summer into fall, —
    So rolls the changing year, and so we change;
    Motion so swift, we know not that we move.
    • "Immutable"
  • Oh, if I could live four weeks longer! but no matter, no matter!
    • Last words, after suffering a heart attack, while in a period of preparation for her adopted daughter Dorothy's wedding. (12 October 1887)
  • We never know through what Divine mysteries of compensation the great Father of the universe may be carrying out His sublime plan; but those three words, "God is love " ought to contain, to every doubting soul, the solution of all things.
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 270

John Halifax, Gentleman (1857)Edit

Full text online at Wikisource
Shall we, whose atom of time is but a fragment out of an ever-present eternity — shall we, so long as we live, or even at our life's ending, dare to cry out to the Eternal One, "It is too late!"
  • "Get out o' Mr. Fletcher's road, ye idle, lounging, little — "
    "Vagabond," I think the woman (Sally Walkins, once my nurse,) was going to say, but she changed her mind.
    • First lines
  • "I am but as others: I am but what I was born to be."
    "Do you recognize what you were born to be? Not only a nobleman, but a gentleman; not only a gentleman, but a man — man, made in the image of God. How can you, how dare you, give the lie to your Creator?"
    "What has He given me? What have I to thank Him for?"
    "First, manhood; the manhood His Son disdained not to wear; worldly gifts, such as rank, riches, influence, things which others have to spend half an existence in earning; life in its best prime, with much of youth yet remaining — with grief endured, wisdom learnt, experience won. Would to Heaven, that by any poor word of mine I could make you feel all that you are — all that you might be!"
    A gleam, bright as a boy's hope, wild as a boy's daring, flashed from those listless eyes — then faded.
    "You mean, Mr. Halifax, what I might have been. Now it is too late."
    "There is no such word as 'too late,' in the wide world — nay, not in the universe. What! shall we, whose atom of time is but a fragment out of an ever-present eternity — shall we, so long as we live, or even at our life's ending, dare to cry out to the Eternal One, 'It is too late!'"
    • Chapter 36

A Woman's Thoughts About Women (1858)Edit

Let every one of us cultivate, in every word that issues from our mouth, absolute truth.
"Believe only half of what you see, and nothing that you hear," is a cynical saying, and yet less bitter than at first appears.
How can we possibly decide on even the plainest actions of another, to say nothing of the words, which may have gone through half-a-dozen different translations and modifications, or the motives, which can only be known to the Omniscient Himself?
The world! It is a word capable of as diverse interpretations or misinterpretations as the thing itself...
Society, in the aggregate, is no fool. It is astonishing what an amount of "eccentricity" it will stand from anybody who takes the bull by the horns, too fearless or too indifferent to think of consequences.
You rarely can make another happy, unless you are happy yourself.
We have not to construct human nature afresh, but to take it as we find it, and make the best of it.
It may often be noticed, the less virtuous people are, the more they shrink away from the slightest whiff of the odour of un-sanctity. The good are ever the most charitable, the pure are the most brave.
No virtue ever was founded on a lie. The truth, then, at all risks and costs — the truth from the beginning.
A finished life — a life which has made the best of all the materials granted to it, and through which, be its web dark or bright, its pattern clear or clouded, can now be traced plainly the hand of the Great Designer; surely this is worth living for?
  • These "Thoughts," a portion of which originally appeared in "Chambers' Journal," are, I wish distinctly to state, only Thoughts. They do not pretend to solve any problems, to lay down any laws, to decide out of one life's experience and within the limits of one volume, any of those great questions which have puzzled generations, and will probably puzzle generations more. They lift the banner of no party; and assert the opinions of no clique. They do not even attempt an originality, which, in treating of a subject like the present, would be either dangerous or impossible.
    In this book, therefore, many women will find simply the expression of what they have themselves, consciously or unconsciously, oftentimes thought; and the more deeply, perhaps, because it has never come to the surface in words or writing. Those who do the most, often talk — sometimes think — the least: yet thinkers, talkers, and doers, being in earnest, achieve their appointed end. The thinkers put wisdom into the mouth of the speakers, and both strive together to animate and counsel the doers. Thus all work harmoniously together; and verily
"Was never good work wrought,
Without beginning of good thought."
    • Preface
  • What on earth should we do if we had no matches to make, or mar; no "unfortunate attachments" to shake our heads over; no flirtations to speculate about and comment upon with knowing smiles; no engagements "on" or "off" to speak our minds about, nosing out every little circumstance, and ferreting out our game to their very hole, as if all their affairs, their hopes, trials, faults, or wrongs, were being transacted for our own private and peculiar entertainment! Of all forms of gossip — I speak of mere gossip, as distinguished from the carrion-crow and dunghill-fly system of scandal-mongering — this tittle-tattle about love-affairs is the most general, the most odious, and the most dangerous.
    Every one of us must have known within our own experience many an instance of dawning loves checked, unhappy loves made cruelly public, happy loves embittered, warm, honest loves turned cold, by this horrible system of gossiping about young or unmarried people...
    • Ch. 8
  • There can be — there ought to be — no medium course; a love-affair is either sober earnest or contemptible folly, if not wickedness: to gossip about it is, in the first instance, intrusive, unkind, or dangerous; in the second, simply silly.
    • Ch. 8
  • Gossip, public, private, social — to fight against it either by word or pen seems, after all, like fighting with shadows. Everybody laughs at it, protests against it, blames and despises it; yet everybody does it, or at least encourages others in it: quite innocently, unconsciously, in such a small, harmless fashion — yet we do it. We must talk about something, and it is not all of us who can find a rational topic of conversation, or discuss it when found.
    • Ch. 8
  • Let every one of us cultivate, in every word that issues from our mouth, absolute truth. I say cultivate, because to very few people — as may be noticed of most young children — does truth, this rigid, literal veracity, come by nature. To many, even who love it and prize it dearly in others, it comes only after the self-control, watchfulness, and bitter experience of years.
    • Ch. 8
  • "Believe only half of what you see, and nothing that you hear," is a cynical saying, and yet less bitter than at first appears. It does not argue that human nature is false, but simply that it is human nature. How can any fallible human being with two eyes, two ears, one judgment, and one brain — all more or less limited in their apprehensions of things external, and biased by a thousand internal impressions, purely individual — how can we possibly decide on even the plainest actions of another, to say nothing of the words, which may have gone through half-a-dozen different translations and modifications, or the motives, which can only be known to the Omniscient Himself?
    • Ch. 8; Craik is sometimes credited with originating the proverb "Believe only half of what you see, and nothing that you hear" — but in this passage she appears to be merely quoting it
  • Do your neighbour good by all means in your power, moral as well as physical — by kindness, by patience, by unflinching resistance against every outward evil — by the silent preaching of your own contrary life. But if the only good you can do him is by talking at him, or about him — nay, even to him, if it be in a self-satisfied, super-virtuous style — such as I earnestly hope the present writer is not doing — you had much better leave him alone.
    • Ch. 8
  • The world! It is a word capable of as diverse interpretations or misinterpretations as the thing itself — a thing by various people supposed to belong to heaven, man, or the devil, or alternatively to all three.
    • Ch. 9
  • Society, in the aggregate, is no fool. It is astonishing what an amount of "eccentricity" it will stand from anybody who takes the bull by the horns, too fearless or too indifferent to think of consequences.
    • Ch. 9
  • It is hardly possible to over-calculate the evils accruing to individuals and to society in general from this custom, gradually increasing, of late and ultra-prudent marriages. Parents bring up their daughters in luxurious homes, expecting and exacting that the home to which they transfer them should be of almost equal ease; forgetting how next to impossible it is for such a home to be offered by any young man of the present generation, who has to work his way like his father before him. Daughters, accustomed to a life of ease and laziness, are early taught to check every tendency towards "a romantic attachment" — the insane folly of loving a man for what he is, rather than for what he has got; of being content to fight the worldly battle hand-in-hand — with a hand that is worth clasping, rather than settle down in comfortable sloth, protected and provided for in all external things. Young men … But words fail to trace the lot of enforced bachelorhood, hardest when its hardship ceases to be consciously felt.
    • Ch. 10
  • Nevertheless, taking life as a whole, believing that it consists not in what we have, but in our power of enjoying the same; that there are in it things nobler and dearer than ease, plenty, or freedom from care — nay, even than existence itself; surely it is not Quixotism, but common-sense and Christianity, to protest that love is better than outside show, labour than indolence, virtue than mere respectability
  • Happiness! Can any human being undertake to define it for another?
    • Ch. 10
  • I fear, the inevitable conclusion we must all come to is, that in the world happiness is quite indefinable. We can no more grasp it than we can grasp the sun in the sky or the moon in the water. We can feel it interpenetrating our whole being with warmth and strength; we can see it in a pale reflection shining elsewhere; or in its total absence, we, walking in darkness, learn to appreciate what it is by what it is not.
    • Ch. 10
  • Happiness is not an end — it is only a means, and adjunct, a consequence. The Omnipotent Himself could never be supposed by any, save those who out of their own human selfishness construct the attributes of Divinity, to be absorbed throughout eternity in the contemplation of His own ineffable bliss, were it not identical with His ineffable goodness and love.
    • Ch. 10
  • It is not the smallest use to try to make people good, unless you try at the same time — and they feel that you are trying — to make them happy. And you rarely can make another happy, unless you are happy yourself.
    • Ch. 10
  • A lost love. Deny it who will, ridicule it, treat it as mere imagination and sentiment, the thing is and will be; and women do suffer therefrom, in all its infinite varieties: loss by death, by faithlessness or unworthiness, and by mistaken or unrequited affection.
    • Ch. 10
  • To have loved and lost, either by that total disenchantment which leaves compassion as the sole substitute for love which can exist no more, or by the slow torment which is obliged to let go day by day all that constitutes the diviner part of love — namely, reverence, belief, and trust, yet clings desperately to the only thing left it, a long-suffering apologetic tenderness — this lot is probably the hardest any woman can have to bear.
    • Ch. 10
  • There is no sorrow under heaven which is, or ought to be, endless. To believe or to make it so, is an insult to Heaven itself.
    • Ch. 10
  • It is a curious truth — and yet a truth forced upon us by daily observation — that it is not the women who have suffered most who are the unhappy women. A state of permanent unhappiness — not the morbid, half-cherished melancholy of youth, which generally wears off with wiser years, but that settled, incurable discontent and dissatisfaction with all things and all people, which we see in some women, is, with very rare exceptions, at once the index and the exponent of a thoroughly selfish character.
    • Ch. 10
  • Though it is folly to suppose that happiness is a matter of volition, and that we can make ourselves content and cheerful whenever we choose — a theory that many poor hypochondriacs are taunted with till they are nigh driven mad — yet, on the other hand, no sane mind is ever left without the power of self-discipline and self-control in a measure, which measure increases in proportion as it is exercised.
    • Ch. 10
  • What comfort there is in a cheerful spirit! how the heart leaps up to meet a sunshiny face, a merry tongue, an even temper, and a heart which either naturally, or, what is better, from conscientious principle, has learned to take all things on their bright side, believing that the Giver of life being all-perfect Love, the best offering we can make to Him is to enjoy to the full what He sends of good, and bear what He allows of evil!
    • Ch. 10
  • We have not to construct human nature afresh, but to take it as we find it, and make the best of it.
    • Ch. 11
  • This is practically the language used to fallen women, and chiefly by their own sex: "God may forgive you, but we never can!" — a declaration which, however common, in spirit if not in substance, is, when one comes to analyse it, unparalleled in its arrogance of blasphemy.
    That for a single offence, however grave, a whole life should be blasted, is a doctrine repugnant even to Nature's own dealings in the visible world.
    • Ch. 11
  • It may often be noticed, the less virtuous people are, the more they shrink away from the slightest whiff of the odour of un-sanctity. The good are ever the most charitable, the pure are the most brave.
    • Ch. 11
  • No virtue ever was founded on a lie. The truth, then, at all risks and costs — the truth from the beginning. Make a clean breast to whomsoever you need to make it, and then — face the world.
    • Ch 11
  • The only way to make people good, is to make them happy.
    • Ch 11
  • A finished life — a life which has made the best of all the materials granted to it, and through which, be its web dark or bright, its pattern clear or clouded, can now be traced plainly the hand of the Great Designer; surely this is worth living for? And though at its end it may be somewhat lonely; though a servant's and not a daughter's arm may guide the failing step; though most likely it will be strangers only who come about the dying bed, close the eyes that no husband ever kissed, and draw the shroud kindly over the poor withered breast where no child's head has ever lain; still, such a life is not to be pitied, for it is a completed life. It has fulfilled its appointed course, and returns to the Giver of all breath, pure as He gave it. Nor will He forget it when He counteth up His jewels.
    • Ch 12

A Life for a Life (1859)Edit

Oh, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person — having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
  • Thus ended our little talk: yet it left a pleasant impression. True, the subject was strange enough; my sisters might have been shocked at it; and at my freedom in asking and giving opinions. But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one's deepest as well as one's most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person — having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
    Somebody must have done a good deal of the winnowing business this afternoon; for in the course of it I gave him as much nonsense as any reasonable man could stand ...
    • A part of this passage appeared in The Best Loved Poems of the American People (1936) with the title "Friendship":
Oh, the comfort —
the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person —
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out,
just as they are,
chaff and grain together;
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
Another variant apparently derived from this one is:
Friendship is the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person having neither to weigh thoughts or measure words, but pouring all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful friendly hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping and, with a breath of comfort, blow the rest away.
This quotation, and the derived paraphrases, are often misattributed to another more famous woman writer of the 19th century, George Eliot, and sometimes only the phrase "Keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away" is quoted, which can give a far different impression of intent than is evident by the larger passage.

Poems (1866)Edit

Full text online
Lo! all life this truth declares,
Laborare est orare;
And the whole earth rings with prayers.
Love, the master, goes in and out
Of his goodly chambers with song and shout,
Just as he please — just as he please.
  • Lo! all life this truth declares,
    Laborare est orare;
    And the whole earth rings with prayers.
    • "Labour is Prayer"
  • Forgotten? No, we never do forget:
    We let the years go; wash them clean with tears,
    Leave them to bleach out in the open day,
    Or lock them careful by, like dead friends' clothes,
    Till we shall dare unfold them without pain, —
    But we forget not, never can forget.
    • "A Flower of a Day"
  • Nothing but a speck we seem
    In the waste of waters round,
    Floating, floating like a dream, —
    Outward bound.
    • "Outward Bound"; Poems Since 1860
  • Mine to the core of the heart, my beauty!
    Mine, all mine, and for love, not duty:
    Love given willingly, full and free,
    Love for love's sake — as mine to thee.
    Duty's a slave that keeps the keys,
    But Love, the master, goes in and out
    Of his goodly chambers with song and shout,
    Just as he please — just as he please.
    • "Plighted"

Our Father's BusinessEdit

Full title: "Our Father's Business : Holman Hunt's Picture of "Christ In The Temple."
Meek — as the meek that shall inherit earth,
Pure — as the pure in heart that shall see God.
We too should be about our father's business —
O Christ, hear us!
  • This, this is Thou. No idle painter's dream
    Of aureoled, imaginary Christ,
    Laden with attributes that make not God;
    But Jesus, son of Mary; lowly, wise,
    Obedient, subject unto parents, mild,
    Meek — as the meek that shall inherit earth,
    Pure — as the pure in heart that shall see God.
  • O infinitely human, yet divine!
    Half clinging childlike to the mother found,
    Yet half repelling — as the soft eyes say,
    "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not
    That I must be about my Father's business?
    "
  • All that we know of Thee, or knowing not
    Love only, waiting till the perfect time
    When we shall know even as we are known —
    O Thou Child Jesus, Thou dost seem to say
    By the soft silence of these heavenly eyes
    (That rose out of the depths of nothingness
    Upon this limner's reverent soul and hand)
    We too should be about our father's business —
    O Christ, hear us!

The Little Lame Prince and his Travelling Cloak (1875)Edit

The Little Lame Prince and His Travelling Cloak : A Parable for Young and Old (Illustrated online text)
I think, at any day throughout his long reign, the King would sooner have lost his crown than have lost sight of the Beautiful Mountains.
  • It seemed as if she had given these treasures and left him alone — to use them or lose them, apply them or misapply them, according to his own choice. That is all we can do with children, when they grow into big children, old enough to distinguish between right and wrong, and too old to be forced to do either.
    • Ch 7
  • One cannot make oneself, but one can sometimes help a little in the making of somebody else. It is well.
    • Ch 10
  • Thus King Dolor's reign passed, year after year, long and prosperous. Whether he was happy — "as happy as a king" — is a question no human being can decide. But I think he was, because he had the power of making everybody about him happy, and did it too; also because he was his godmother's godson, and could shut himself up with her whenever he liked, in that quiet little room in view of the Beautiful Mountains, which nobody else ever saw or cared to see. They were too far off, and the city lay so low. But there they were, all the time. No change ever came to them; and I think, at any day throughout his long reign, the King would sooner have lost his crown than have lost sight of the Beautiful Mountains.
    • Ch 10


MisattributedEdit

  • A vision without a task is but a dream.
    A task without vision is but drudgery.
    A vision with a task is the hope of the world.
    • The task of definitely sourcing this quote is thus far but a vision. It is most commonly not attributed to Craik or to any author, but is cited as having been inscribed on a wall, on a window, or on a plaque, in a chapel, or town church, or cathedral somewhere in Sussex, England (or sometimes Surrey) most commonly with a date of 1730, but sometimes dated as early as c. 1640, or as late as 1886. It has also sometimes been cited as having been inscribed on an anonymous gravestone in Sussex. The attribution of this to Craik has only seldom occurred and might have begun with its posting in proximity to quotes by her in some internet quote collections.
    • Variants:
A vision without a task is but a dream, A task without a vision is drudgery, But a vision and a task — that is the hope of the world.
A vision without a task is but a dream.
A task without vision is but drudgery.
A vision and a task are the hope of the world.

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