Life Advice from The Signature of All Things – Part II

“Beatrix instructed Prudence that she must never say back and forth, when backwards and forwards was so much more refined. The word fancy in any context sounded crude, as did the word folks. When one wrote a letter at White Acre, it went sent in the post, not the mailA person did not fall sick; a person fell ill. One was not partly there; one was nearly there. One did not stove along; one hurried along. And one did not talk in this family; one conversed.”

“Shyness is simply another species of vanity. Banish it.”


“I also wish to speak to you, Prudence, about Mr. Edward Porter’s behavior this evening at the dinning table. You should not have let that man stare at you for quite so long as you did. Engrossment of this sort is demeaning to all. You learn how to abort this sort of behavior in men by speaking to them with intelligence and firmness about serious topics. It is not sufficient to be merely good, you must also become clever. As a woman, of course, you will always have a heightened moral awareness over men, but if you do not sharpen your wits in defense of yourself, your morality will serve you little good.”


How to say thank you:

“I offer you my unfeigned thanks for your encouragement. Unfortunately, my thanks are the only compensation I can make at the moment, but they are sincere.”

“Wild creatures belong in wild places.”

“Don’t go too far with the cleaning. A little neglect can be of benefit. Have you ever noticed how the most splendid lilacs, for instance, are the ones that grow up alongside derelict barns and abandoned shacks ? Sometimes beauty needs a bit of ignoring, to properly come into being.”


“If you ask me what I believe, I shall tell you this: the whole sphere of air that surrounds us is alive with invisible attractions – electric, magnetic, fiery and thoughtful. There is a universal sympathy all around us. There is hidden means of knowing. When we cease all argument and debate – both internal and external – our true questions can be heard and answered. That is the powerful mover. That is the book of nature, written neither in Greek nor in Latin. That is the gathering of magic, and it is a gathering that, I have always believed and wished, can be shared.”



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