"What a blessing it is to love books. Everybody must love something, and I know of no objects of love that give such substantial and unfailing returns as books and a garden."
No contest on the books -- and love of flowers ...
And Elizabeth has an honest-to-God favorites shelf! Go figure!
"In the centre of my library there is a wooden pillar propping up the ceiling, and preventing it, so I am told, from tumbling about our ears; and round this pillar, from floor to ceiling, I have had shleves fixed, and on these shelves are all the books that I have read again and again, and hope to read many times more -- all the books, that is, that I love quite the best. In the bookcases round the walls are many that I love, but here in the centre of the room and easiest to get at, are those I love the best -- the very elect among my favourites."
Aaand there we are -- there had to be a veritable Thoreau eulogy sooner rather than later. I love the sense of spiritual companionship coming through here, though -- and I love how she is attributing different times of day and environments to different authors. Ah, the luxury of being able to do that in the first place!
"I sometimes literally ache with envy as I watch the men going about their pleasant work in the sunshine, turning up the luscious damp earth, raking, weeding, watering, planting, cutting the grass, pruning the trees -- not a thing that they do from the first uncovering of the roses in the spring to the November bonfires but fills my soul with longing to be up and doing it too. A great many things will have to happen, however, before such a state of popular large-mindedness as will allow of my digging without creating a sensation is reached, so I have plenty of time for further grumblings; only I do very much wish that the tongues inhabiting this apparently lonely and deserted countryside would restrict their comments to the sins, if any, committed by the indigenous females (since sins are fair game for comment) and leave their harmless eccentricities alone. After having driven through vast tracts of forest and heath for hours, and never meeting a soul or seeing a house, it is surprising to be told that on such a day you took such a drive and were at such a spot; yet this has happened to me more than once. And if even this is watched and noted, with what lightning rapidity would the news spread that I had been seen stalking down the garden path with a hoe over my shoulder and a basket in my hand, and weeding written large on every feature! Yet I should love to weed."
Women's lives in the 19th century -- working class women were working their fingers to the bone ... whereas women in the nobility weren't even allowed to have a hobby if it involved any level of physical labor. "A great many things" have happened in the interim indeed; let's hope we never even get near this state of things, ever again ...
And I love her asides about her tongue-wagging neighbors ... though I wonder whether she'd still hold to her views about the exposure of perceived "sins" being "fair game" with the state of today's tabloid press.
"A great deal that is poetical has been written by English people about May Day, and the impression left on the foreign mind is an impression of posies, and garlands, and village greens, and youths and maidens much be-ribboned, and lambs, and general friskiness. I was in England once on a May Day, and we sat over the fire shivering and listening blankly to the north-east wind tearing down the street and the rattling of the hail against the windows, and the friends with whom I was staying said it was very often so, and that they had never seen any lambs and ribbons. We Germans attach no poetical significance to it at all, and yet we well might, for it is almost invariably beautiful; and as for garlands, I wonder how many villages full of young people could have been provided with them out of my garden, and nothing be missed?"
Oh, Elizabeth ... smh -- on so many levels.