Thursday, January 10, 2008

Inspiring Quotes From Victorians

Quotes Passed Down From the 19th Century
When I was growing up we girls enjoyed buying autograph books. If we could not buy them, we made them out of paper and tiethem together with string or ribbon. This was a tradition handed down from the Victorians, when there was available little poetry books from which to copy verses. These verses had many pure and noble thoughts, and rhymed delightfully. Young women enjoyed each others' friendships and seemed to pass on encouragement to one another by sharing noble thoughts of whatever was lovely and good.
While the 19th century citizens had the poetry books to help them write in one another's books, my generation saw naught of them (there was no such thing) and had to rely on memorized sayings and poetry passed down to us from our mothers and grandmothers.By the end of the 1950's, few of us knew any of the poetry and we were simply signing our names in one another's books, with words like, "Good luck."The lofty poems of the Victorian society is being revived and a trend started amongst the young again, of writing such things in each other's books.
The clip art I chose because it is so similar to the commercial art of the Victorian era, and some of it is reproduced from the exact prints of the times. You can observe something about the kind of people they were, by their pretty art and the lovely quotes. Some of the poetry is from the printed poetry sample books that could be purchased in order to write in other people's books.
Dare to do right, dare to be true,
You have a work that no other can do.
Do it so kindly, so bravely, so well
That angels will hasten
The story to tell.
Careful with fire, is good advice, we know:
Careful with words, is ten times doubly so.
Remember me,And let's have tea.
Remember me,when this you see.
Other friends will be forgot,
But still will I forget thee not.
Live for those who love you
For those whose hearts are true
For the heaven that smiles above you
And the good that you may do.
Be not false, unkind, or cruel,
Banish evil words or strife,
Thus shall each day be a pearl,
Strung upon the thread of life.
It is no wonder that even the simplest poetry was rifed with good thoughts designed to motivate friends to keep a high level of conduct. Many of the women of the Victorian era lectured and wrote the very beliefs reflected in common poetry. Here are a few:
Quote by Catherine Beecher, in a day when people were more impressed by good manners than by material success:
"Avoid all remarks which tend to embarrras, ves, mortify, or in any way wound the feelings of another. To notice personal defects; to speak disparagingly of the sect or party to which a person belongs; to be inattentive when addressed in conversation; to contradict flatly; to speak in contemptuous tones of opinions expressed by another; all these are violations of the rules of good breeding."
A quote from Queen Victoria (1837-1901) gives insight into her character as an 18 year old:
"Today is my eighteenth birthday! How old! and yet how far am I from being what I should be. I shall from this day take the firm resolution to study with renewed assiduity, to keep my attention always well fixed on whatever I am about, and to strive to become every day less trifling and more fit for what, if Heaven wills it, I'm some day to be.The courtyard and the streets were crammed when we went to the Ball, and the anxiety of the people to see poor stupid me was very great, and I must say I am quite touched by it, and feel proud, which I always have done, of my country and of the English nation.
"Lucretia Garfield (1832-1918), wife of President James A. Garfield:
One day Lucretia Garfield was kneading a batch of bread for her family, and feeling overwhelmed by the work, when an idea flashed through her mind: if she tried to make the best bread in the world, she might overcom her dislike of baking. At once her attitude changed.
"It seemed like an inspiration and the whle of my life grew brighter," she recalled years later. "The very sunshine seemed flowing down through my spirit into the white loaves, and now I believe my table is furnished better with bread than ever before, and this truth, old as creation, seems just now to have become fully mine: that I need not be the shrinking slave of toil, but its regal master, making whatever I do yield its best fruits." - From "President's Wives" by Paul F. Boller.
Sarah Josepha Hale, another Victorian, said,"Swearing is considered so inadmissible in good society, or in the presence of ladies, that there is little danger of its being introduced in either. "
From a collection of 19th century quotes and inspirational comments put together by my mother in law, I share the following:
We mutter, we sputter,We fume and we spurt.
We mumble and grumble,Our feelings get hurt.
We can't understand things;Our vision grows dim,
When all that we needIs a moment with Him.
She clipped things out of the church bulletin, the small town newspaper, cards, and other things, that had been reprinted from "the old days" and glued them into a blank book.


Anonymous said...

It is such a shame that autograph books went out of fashion,I have one which schoolfriends and teachers wrote many lovely poems and quotations in the 1960s.When I read this it brings back their faces and pesonalities in a way that nothing else can.

Tracy said...

My two daughters have autograph books. They are 9 and 15. They were started several years ago, and are treasured keepsakes. How wonderful to read these poems and quotes!

Katy-Anne Binstead said...

Lovely post! And people think I'm strange because I want my daughters to have autograph books and journals and hope chests! I don't care, the girls will love them! (When I have some girls haha).

Anonymous said...

What a nice post! Isn't it sad, we can hardly even write a card anymore, but have to rely on Hallmark to express what we are trying to say.

Memorizing poems is also a lost art.

My mom has all of these poems in her head and sometimes she'll express what she is trying to say by spurting off one of these poems, whether frustration, or happiness. She grew up in Ireland, so many of them are Irish or Englism poems.

~ Ann

Anonymous said...

Oh, Mrs. Sherman! have brought a tear to my eye this morning. I have my mother's autograph book, & it's filled with little quotes. Some are clever, some more serious. One friend of hers even sketched a picture, & another used some very fine calligraphy to pen these words: "Love little, trust few, & always paddle your own canoe." The book is falling apart, but it's a treasure nonetheless.

Thank you for this post, & have a wonderful weekend-

Anonymous said...

Other great places to get nice poems and quotes are old vintage post-cards. I found one card with a poem about accepting trials and tribulation gracefully. I didn't think much of it when I first read it but after I put it in an old-fashioned frame I find myself picking it up and reading it when I am upset.

Thank you for those lovely quotes. I've been trying to find something of that sort to send to my grandmother to brighten up my letters a little. They're just the thing. :-)

Many blessings,

Lizzy F.

Emily said...

Thank you so much, Lady Lydia, for sharing these quotes, ideas, and online resources. I've been making journals and cards for dear friends using decorative paper and fibers, and a timely word is always a welcome addition. A thought I had recently was to create a beautiful guest book for people to sign when they visit my home...kind of a grown-up autograph book! God's blessings to you and yours for a lovely weekend.

Anonymous said...

Although, I enjoyed this post very much, my comment is regarding the earlier post about dressing for home. I wonder if you have any advice about hairstyles. I have longish thick, wavy hair and have trouble with it always being in my way. I would wear it up, but if it is tight enough to stay put, it gives me headaches. Perhaps it is in my technique?

Karen said...

"If wisdom's ways you wisely seek, five things observe with care: to whom you speak, of whom you speak, and how, and when, and where.
your loving mother
C. L. Ingalls
De Smet November 15, 1881"

This is the poem Laura Ingalls' mother wrote in her album - I remember reading it in Little Town on the Prairie, and always liked it!

Millie said...

I have my great grandmother's autograph book, mostly signed in the 1910-1920 era, and one cute rhyme goes:

"When you are sitting on a stump,
Think of me before you jump."

Anonymous said...

Sarah Josepha Hale, another Victorian, said,"Swearing is considered so inadmissible in good society, or in the presence of ladies, that there is little danger of its being introduced in either. "

I wish it were still so, but I think that thanks to the media's barrage of swearing, swearing is now heard often enough in public, even in front of children.

Lydia said...

I sometimes get comments from immature girls who think the Victorian era was a primitive time of ignorance and lack of social progress, but unlike our so-called "progressive" times, they were very concerned about things like public swearing and indecency.

Gail said...

Here's a saying that is old but apt and I use it a lot when admonishing the youth against rash decisions:

"Sin in haste; repent in leisure".

Anonymous said...

I love the quotes