Louisa May Alcott Quotes (October 2014)

Susan's Thursday morning note October 30, 2014
Louisa May Alcott Quotes

Good morning!  Coffee.  Sweet silence of early morning.  My lumps of gold which have not yet made their entries.   The angel of dawn is almost ready to make her appearance to bring me another gift of a new dawn.   These beautiful still moments.  Moments to think.  To plan.  To see beauty only available to our eyesight in the shadows.  Dark stacks of books desiring to be opened.  Soft friends desiring to be given attention and to reward my attention with their purrs.  Life.  Early morning.  Beautiful two words! 

This week I have been reading a new treasure by Louisa May Alcott, Alternative Alcott.  These are short stories by Alcott that were found under a pseudonym much later than her famous printed works.  One excerpt that captivated me came from her short story, My Contraband, where Alcott describes a scene between a nurse during the war that awakens in a room with her patient being attacked by someone he hurt deeply earlier in life wanting to kill the man who abused him.  The paragraph is on the nurse working with the mind of the abused attacker that has gone temporarily mad.  The scene of getting him not take the life of another, regardless of how the other deserves the death.  The short story ends with the abuser dying in a scene back on the battleground…the one that was able to kill him was the one hurt by him.  But, able to take his life in a moral setting.  One sentence I especially liked in the description of the patient falling asleep, Sleep, the healer, had descended to save or take him away gently.  What a beautiful sentence.  Bringing scenes of my own past watching those I love on the edge of sleep bringing death or healing…I can exactly picture what she meant.

Below are some favorite quotes by Louisa May Alcott.  I could highlight each as being a favorite.  The scene of a mother in the night covering her little ones.  The description of a perfect room for having a pity party in (love that one!) and so many on dreaming and goals. 

“…books are always good company if you have the right sort. Let me pick out some for you.' And Mrs. Jo made a bee-line to the well-laden shelves, which were the joy of her heart and the comfort of her life.” 

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” 

“I'd rather take coffee than compliments just now.”

“A faithful friend is a strong defense; And he that hath found him hath found a treasure.” 

“The small hopes and plans and pleasures of children should be tenderly respected by grown-up people, and never rudely thwarted or ridiculed.” 

“If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that’s all that you really are. Time erodes all such beauty, but what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind: Your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage. These are the things I cherish so in you. I so wish I could give my girls a more just world. But I know you’ll make it a better place

“…she was one of those happily created beings who please without effort, make friends everywhere, and take life so gracefully and easily that less fortunate souls are tempted to believe that such are born under a lucky star.” 

“. . . children should draw [a husband & wife] nearer than ever, not separate you, as if they were all yours, and [your husband] had nothing to do but support them. . . . don't neglect husband for children, don't shut him out of the nursery, but teach him how to help in it. His place is there as well as yours, and the children need him; let him feel that he has his part to do, and he will do it gladly and faithfully, and it will be better for you all. . . . That is the secret of our home happiness: he does not let business wean him from the little cares and duties that affect us all, and I try not to let domestic worries destroy my interest in his pursuits. Each do our part alone in many things, but at home we work together, always. . . . no time is so beautiful and precious to parents as the first years of the little lives given them to train. Don't let [your husband] be a stranger to the babies, for they will do more to keep him safe and happy in this world of trial and temptation than anything else, and through them you will learn to know and love one another as you should.”

“Don't cry so bitterly, but remember this day, and resolve with all your soul that you will never know another like it.” 

“such hours are beautiful to live, but very hard to describe…” 

“... for it is the small temptations which undermine integrity unless we watch and pray and never think them too trivial to be resisted.” 

“She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain.” 

“Jo had learned that hearts, like flowers, cannot be rudely handled, but must open naturally…” 

“...the love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy.” 

“Keep good company, read good books, love good things and cultivate soul and body as faithfully as you can” 

“Preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell.” 

“Don't try to make me grow up before my time…” 

“To be strong, and beautiful, and go round making music all the time. Yes, she could do that, and with a very earnest prayer Polly asked for the strength of an upright soul, the beauty of a tender heart, the power to make her life a sweet and stirring song, helpful while it lasted, remembered when it died.” 

“Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.” 

“Go out more, keep cheerful as well as busy, for you are the sunshine-maker of the family, and if you get dismal there is no fair weather.” 

“The clocks were striking midnight and the rooms were very still as a figure glided quietly from bed to bed, smoothing a coverlid here, settling a pillow there, and pausing to look long and tenderly at each unconscious face, to kiss each with lips that mutely blessed, and to pray the fervent prayers which only mothers utter.” 

“We never are too old for this, my dear, because it is a play we are playing all the time in one way or another. Out burdens are here, our road is before us, and the longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes to the peace which is a true Celestial City. Now, my little pilgrims, suppose you begin again, not in play, but in earnest, and see how far on you can get before Father comes home.” 

“Christie loved books; and the attic next her own was full of them. To this store she found her way by a sort of instinct as sure as that which leads a fly to a honey-pot, and, finding many novels, she read her fill. This amusement lightened many heavy hours, peopled the silent house with troops of friends, and, for a time, was the joy of her life.” 

“I almost wish I hadn't any conscience, it's so inconvenient. If I didn't care about doing the right and didn't feel uncomfortable when doing wrong, I should get on capitally.” 

“I read somewhere that every inch of rope in the British Navy has a strand of red in it, so wherever a bit of it is found it is known. That is the text of my little sermon to you. Virtue, which means honour, honesty, courage, and all that makes character, is the red thread that marks a good man wherever he is. Keep that always and everywhere, so that even if wrecked by misfortune, that sign shall still be found and recognized. Yours is a rough life, and your mates not all we could wish, but you can be a gentleman in the true sense of the word; and no matter what happens to your body, keep your soul clean, your heart true to those who love you, and do your duty to the end.” 

“Life is my college. May I graduate well, and earn some honors.” 

“Rose sat all alone in the big best parlor, with her little handkerchief laid ready to catch the first tear, for she was thinking of her troubles, and a shower was expected. She had retired to this room as a good place in which to be miserable; for it was dark and still, full of ancient furniture, somber curtains, and hung all around with portraits of solemn old gentlemen in wigs, severe-nosed ladies in top-heavy caps, and staring children in little bobtailed coats or short-waisted frocks. It was an excellent place for woe; and the fitful spring rain that pattered on the windowpane seemed to sob,"Cry away; I'm with you.” 

“You have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life?” 

“ She would make a man of me. She puts strength and courage into me as no one else can. She is unlike any girl I ever saw; there’s no sentimentality about her; she is wise, and kind, and sweet. She says what she means, looks you straight in the eye, and is as true as steel.”

“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.”

“And Polly didn't think she had done much; but it was one of the little things which are always waiting to be done in this world of ours, where rainy days come so often, where spirits get out of tune, and duty won't go hand in hand with pleasure. Little things of this sort are especially good work for little people; a kind little thought, an unselfish little act, a cheery little word, are so sweet and comfortable, that no one can fail to feel their beauty and love the giver, no matter how small they are. Mothers do a deal of this sort of thing, unseen, unthanked, but felt and remembered long afterward, and never lost, for this is the simple magic that binds hearts together, and keeps home happy.”

“...and best of all, the wilderness of books, in which she could wander, where she liked, made the library a region of bliss to her.” 

So many thoughts to keep our minds focused on what a joy life is.  Beauty always reappearing.  A steadfast friend.   Regardless of not showing at times.  Always coming back.  Possibly in only small ways.  A child looking at the shadow.  The brilliant moon.  Stars always being steadfast friends when we are alone.  And, Alcott’s description of her booksfinding many novels, she read her fill. This amusement lightened many heavy hours, peopled the silent house with troops of friends, and, for a time, was the joy of her life.  Always the companionship we find in our books.  The ability to travel in our mind.  To find those who have lived before us constantly giving us examples of how to handle what we go through. 

A new day.  The angel of dawn has appeared.  The gold has risen.  One stumbling through reality.  One with a red hat sliding down a floor lamp making fireman sounds ready to save the cat…let the day unfold.  Today.  Our gift.  The ability to look into other’s eyes.  To let the little fireman save us.  To notice any moments of silence given.  To keep our focus on five years.  Ten years.  Not only on details today which won’t matter in five years.  Tonight we again have the opportunity to write our epitaph in stone of the moments we use up today.  Will we have thoughts and actions worthy of inscription?   Will we consciously take the time to notice individual grains of sand as they slide one by one through our sand timers?  Only one morsel can get through per moment.  Will we notice the moments?  Each moment making our song of life.  Thank you for letting me enter your Thursday again.  Thank you for shopping in our store and letting me be here.  I hope you can come soon – we’ll be ready with your coffee!   How much your friendship means.  Susan


Latin for this week:
Dum, spiro, spero – While I breathe, I hope (motto of South Carolina)
Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito – Yield not to misfortunes, but advance all the more boldly against them.
Caelitus mihi vires – My strength is from heaven.

Works Cited:
Alcott, Louisa May.  Alternative Alcott.  New Jersey.  Rutgers Press. 1988.