Last modified on 18 April 2014, at 17:22

J. M. Barrie

Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?

Sir James Matthew Barrie (9 May 186019 June 1937) was a Scottish novelist and dramatist, more commonly known as J. M. Barrie. He is most famous as the author of the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up.

QuotesEdit

Never ascribe to an opponent motives meaner than your own.
Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
  • The best of our fiction is by novelists who allow that it is as good as they can give, and the worst by novelists who maintain that they could do much better if only the public would let them.
    • The Contemporary Review (1891)
  • His lordship may compel us to be equal upstairs, but there will never be equality in the servants' hall.
  • I'm not young enough to know everything.
    • The Admirable Crichton, Act I (1903)
  • Oh, it's — it's a sort of bloom on a woman. If you have it, you don't need to have anything else; and if you don't have it, it doesn't much matter what else you have. Some women, the few, have charm for all; and most have charm for one. But some have charm for none.
  • There are few more impressive sights in the world than a Scotsman on the make.
    • What Every Woman Knows, Act II
  • The tragedy of a man who has found himself out.
    • What Every Woman Knows, Act IV
  • Never ascribe to an opponent motives meaner than your own.
    • Rectorial Address, St. Andrew's, 1922 May 3
  • One's religion is whatever he is most interested in, and yours is Success.
    • The Twelve-Pound Look (1910)
  • Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
    • As quoted in Christ's Second Coming Fulfilled (1917) by Marion Morris, p. 144
  • I do loathe explanations.
    • My Lady Nicotine (1890) ch. 16

The Little Minister (1891)Edit

To look upon you was to rejoice that so fair a thing could be; to think of you is still to be young.
Full text online
  • "They didna speak, but they just gave one another a look, and I saw the love-light in their een." No more is remembered of these two, no being now living ever saw them, but the poetry that was in the soul of a battered weaver makes them human to us for ever.
    It is of another minister I am to tell, but only to those who know that light when they see it. I am not bidding good-bye to many readers, for though it is true that some men, of whom Lord Rintoul was one, live to an old age without knowing love, few of us can have met them, and of women so incomplete I never heard.
    • Ch. 1 : The Love-Light
  • The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.
    • Ch. 1 : The Love-Light
  • How often is it a phantom woman who draws the man from the way he meant to go? So was man created, to hunger for the ideal that is above himself, until one day there is magic in the air, and the eyes of a girl rest upon him. He does not know that it is he himself who crowned her, and if the girl is as pure as he, their love is the one form of idolatry that is not quite ignoble. It is the joining of two souls on their way to God. But if the woman be bad, the test of the man is when he wakens from his dream. The nobler his ideal, the further will he have been hurried down the wrong way, for those who only run after little things will not go far. His love may now sink into passion, perhaps only to stain its wings and rise again, perhaps to drown.
    • Ch. 1 : The Love-Light
  • The gladness of living was in your step, your voice was melody, and he was wondering what love might be.
    You were the daughter of a summer night, born where all the birds are free, and the moon christened you with her soft light to dazzle the eyes of man. Not our little minister alone was stricken by you into his second childhood. To look upon you was to rejoice that so fair a thing could be; to think of you is still to be young.
    • Ch. 1 : The Love-Light
  • Your heart is as fresh as your face; and that is well. The useless men are those who never change with the years. Many views that I held to in my youth and long afterwards are a pain to me now, and I am carrying away from Thrums memories of errors into which I fell at every stage of my ministry. When you are older you will know that life is a long lesson in humility.
    • Ch. 3 : The Night-Watchers
  • If the young leddy was so careless o' insulting other folks' ancestors, it proves she has nane o' her ain; for them that has china plates themsel's is the maist careful no to break the china plates of others.
    • Ch. 26 : Scene at the Spittal

Margaret Ogilvy (1897)Edit

We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it.
Full text online
  • We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it.
    • Ch. 8
  • My mother's favourite paraphrase is one known in our house as David's because it was the last he learned to repeat. It was also the last thing she read —
    Art thou afraid his power shall fail When comes thy evil day? And can an all-creating arm Grow weary or decay?
    I heard her voice gain strength as she read it, I saw her timid face take courage, but when came my evil day, then at the dawning, alas for me, I was afraid.
    • Ch. 10
  • I had been gone a fortnight when the telegram was put into my hands. I had got a letter from my sister, a few hours before, saying that all was well at home. The telegram said in five words that she had died suddenly the previous night. There was no mention of my mother, and I was three days' journey from home.
    The news I got on reaching London was this: my mother did not understand that her daughter was dead, and they were waiting for me to tell her.
    • Ch. 10

The Little White Bird (1902)Edit

Peter is ever so old, but he is really always the same age, so that does not matter in the least.
Full text online - This story contained the first published reference to "Peter Pan"; after the success of the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up which premiered on 27 December 1904, the chapters involving Peter were published as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906)
The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.
It is frightfully difficult to know much about the fairies, and almost the only thing known for certain is that there are fairies wherever there are children.
  • Sometimes the little boy who calls me father brings me an invitation from his mother: "I shall be so pleased if you will come and see me," and I always reply in some such words as these: "Dear madam, I decline." And if David asks why I decline, I explain that it is because I have no desire to meet the woman.
    "Come this time, father," he urged lately, "for it is her birthday, and she is twenty-six," which is so great an age to David, that I think he fears she cannot last much longer.
    • Ch. 1
  • Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?
    • Often paraphrased as: Always be a little kinder than necessary.
    • Ch. 4
  • If you ask your mother whether she knew about Peter Pan when she was a little girl she will say, "Why, of course, I did, child," and if you ask her whether he rode on a goat in those days she will say, "What a foolish question to ask; certainly he did." Then if you ask your grandmother whether she knew about Peter Pan when she was a girl, she also says, "Why, of course, I did, child," but if you ask her whether he rode on a goat in those days, she says she never heard of his having a goat. Perhaps she has forgotten, just as she sometimes forgets your name and calls you Mildred, which is your mother's name. Still, she could hardly forget such an important thing as the goat. Therefore there was no goat when your grandmother was a little girl. This shows that, in telling the story of Peter Pan, to begin with the goat (as most people do) is as silly as to put on your jacket before your vest.
    Of course, it also shows that Peter is ever so old, but he is really always the same age, so that does not matter in the least.
    • Ch. 14
  • Every living thing was shunning him. Poor little Peter Pan, he sat down and cried, and even then he did not know that, for a bird, he was sitting on his wrong part. It is a blessing that he did not know, for otherwise he would have lost faith in his power to fly, and the moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it. The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply that they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.
    • Ch. 14
  • It is frightfully difficult to know much about the fairies, and almost the only thing known for certain is that there are fairies wherever there are children.
    • Ch. 16
  • When you were a bird you knew the fairies pretty well, and you remember a good deal about them in your babyhood, which it is a great pity you can't write down, for gradually you forget, and I have heard of children who declared that they had never once seen a fairy. Very likely if they said this in the Kensington Gardens, they were standing looking at a fairy all the time. The reason they were cheated was that she pretended to be something else. This is one of their best tricks.
    • Ch. 16
  • Wise children always choose a mother who was a shocking flirt in her maiden days, and so had several offers before she accepted their fortunate papa.
    • Ch. 22
  • "In twenty years," I said, smiling at her tears, "a man grows humble, Mary. I have stored within me a great fund of affection, with nobody to give it to, and I swear to you, on the word of a soldier, that if there is one of those ladies who can be got to care for me I shall be very proud." Despite her semblance of delight I knew that she was wondering at me, and I wondered at myself, but it was true.
    • Ch. 26

Peter Pan (1904)Edit

All children, except one, grow up.
Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (1904) These are just a few samples, for more quotes from this play, see Peter Pan
  • To die will be an awfully big adventure.
    • Act III
  • Do you believe in fairies?...If you believe, clap your hands!
    • Act IV

Peter & Wendy (1911)Edit

Occasionally in her travels through her children's minds Mrs. Darling found things she could not understand, and of these quite the most perplexing was the word Peter.
Based upon the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up (1904) and often published simply as "Peter Pan" Full text online
If you believe … clap your hands; don't let Tink die.
When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.
When Margaret grows up she will have a daughter, who is to be Peter's mother in turn; and thus it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless.
  • All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!" This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.
    • Ch. 1
  • Occasionally in her travels through her children's minds Mrs. Darling found things she could not understand, and of these quite the most perplexing was the word Peter. She knew of no Peter, and yet he was here and there in John and Michael's minds, while Wendy's began to be scrawled all over with him. The name stood out in bolder letters than any of the other words, and as Mrs. Darling gazed she felt that it had an oddly cocky appearance.
    "Yes, he is rather cocky," Wendy admitted with regret. Her mother had been questioning her.
    • Ch. 1
  • You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.
    • Ch. 3
  • "There ought to be one fairy for every boy and girl."
    "Ought to be? Isn't there?"
    "No. You see children know such a lot now, they soon don't believe in fairies, and every time a child says, 'I don't believe in fairies,' there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead."
    • Ch. 3
  • She said out of pity for him, "I shall give you a kiss if you like," but though he once knew, he had long forgotten what kisses are, and he replied, "Thank you," and held out his hand, thinking she had offered to put something into it. This was a great shock to her, but she felt she could not explain without shaming him, so with charming delicacy she gave Peter a thimble which happened to be in her pocket, and pretended that it was a kiss.
    • Ch. 6
  • Peter flung out his arms. There were no children there, and it was night time; but he addressed all who might be dreaming of the Neverland, and who were therefore nearer to him than you think: boys and girls in their nighties, and naked papooses in their baskets hung from trees.
    "Do you believe?" he cried.
    • Ch. 13
  • "If you believe," he shouted to them, "clap your hands; don't let Tink die."
    Many clapped.
    Some didn't.
    A few beasts hissed.
    The clapping stopped suddenly; as if countless mothers had rushed to their nurseries to see what on earth was happening; but already Tink was saved. First her voice grew strong, then she popped out of bed, then she was flashing through the room more merry and impudent than ever. She never thought of thanking those who believed, but she would have like to get at the ones who had hissed.
    • Ch. 13
  • When a new baby laughs for the first time a new fairy is born, and as there are always new babies there are always new fairies. They live in nests on the tops of trees; and the mauve ones are boys and the white ones are girls, and the blue ones are just little sillies who are not sure what they are.
    • Ch. 17
  • Michael believed longer than the other boys, though they jeered at him; so he was with Wendy when Peter came for her at the end of the first year. She flew away with Peter in the frock she had woven from leaves and berries in the Neverland, and her one fear was that he might notice how short it had become; but he never noticed, he had so much to say about himself.
    She had looked forward to thrilling talks with him about old times, but new adventures had crowded the old ones from his mind.
    • Ch. 17
  • "Why can't you fly now, mother?"
    "Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way."
    "Why do they forget the way?"
    "Because they are no longer gay and innocent and heartless. It is only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly."
    • Ch. 17
  • The last thing he ever said to me was, "Just always be waiting for me, and then some night you will hear me crowing."
    • Ch. 17
  • "I am old, Peter. I am ever so much more than twenty. I grew up long ago."
    "You promised not to!"
    "I couldn't help it. I am a married woman, Peter."
    • Ch. 17
  • As you look at Wendy, you may see her hair becoming white, and her figure little again, for all this happened long ago. Jane is now a common grown-up, with a daughter called Margaret; and every spring cleaning time, except when he forgets, Peter comes for Margaret and takes her to the Neverland, where she tells him stories about himself, to which he listens eagerly. When Margaret grows up she will have a daughter, who is to be Peter's mother in turn; and thus it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless.
    • Ch. 17

Quotes about BarrieEdit

Peter Pan is a great and refining and uplifting benefaction to this sordid and money-mad age; and the next best play is a long way behind. ~ Mark Twain
  • It is my belief that Peter Pan is a great and refining and uplifting benefaction to this sordid and money-mad age; and the next best play is a long way behind.
    • Mark Twain, in a letter to actress Maude Adams, quoted in Maude Adams : An Intimate Portrait (1956) by Phyllis Robbins, p. 90

External linksEdit

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