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Nellie McClung

  • War is the antithesis of all our teaching. It breaks all the commandments; it makes rich men poor, and strong men weak. It makes well men sick, and by it living men are changed to dead men.

  • Away back in the cave-dwelling days, there was a simple and definite distribution of labor. Men fought and women worked. Men fought because they liked it; and women worked because it had to be done. ... The masculine attitude toward life was: 'I feel good today; I'll go out and kill something.'

  • War is a crime committed by men and, therefore, when enough people say it shall not be, it cannot be.

  • War proves nothing. To kill a man does not prove that he was in the wrong. Bloodletting cannot change men's spirits, neither can the evil of men's thoughts be driven out by blows. If I go to my neighbor's house, and break her furniture, and smash her pictures, and bind her children captive, it does not prove that I am fitter to live than she — yet according to ethics of nations it does. I have conquered her and she must pay me for my trouble; and her house and all that is left in it belongs to my heirs and successors, forever. That is war!

  • Humanity has to travel a hard road to wisdom, and it has to travel it with bleeding feet.

  • It is so much easier sometimes to sit down and be resigned than to rise up and be indignant.

  • Disturbers are never popular — nobody ever really loved an alarm clock in action, no matter how grateful he may have been afterwards for its kind services!

  • Women who set a low value on themselves make life hard for all women.

  • The good is the greatest rival of the best.

  • That seems to be the haunting fear of mankind — that the advancement of women will sometime, someway, someplace, interfere with some man's comfort.

  • The economic dependence of women is perhaps the greatest injustice that has been done to us, and has worked the greatest injury to the race.

  • Chivalry is like a line of credit. You can get plenty of it when you do not need it.

  • ... chivalry is a poor substitute for justice, if one cannot have both. Chivalry is something like the icing on the cake, sweet but not nourishing.

  • There are countless thousands of truly chivalrous men, who have the true chivalry whose foundation is justice ... 'Let us give women a fair deal!'

  • If prejudices belonged to the vegetable world they would be described under the general heading of: 'Hardy Perennials; will grow in any soil, and bloom without ceasing; require no cultivation; will do better when left alone.'

  • In regard to tenacity of life, no old yellow cat has anything on a prejudice. You may kill it with your own hands, bury it deep, and sit on the grave, and behold! the next day it will walk in at the back door, purring.

  • The horse on the treadmill may be very discontented, but he is not disposed to tell his troubles, for he cannot stop to talk.

  • ... thought without expression is dynamic and gathers volume by repression. Evolution when blocked and suppressed becomes revolution.

  • We may yet live to see the day when women will be no longer news! And it cannot come too soon. I want to be a peaceful, happy, normal human being, pursuing my unimpeded way through life, never having to stop to explain, defend or apologize for my sex.

    • Nellie McClung,
    • "A Retrospect," in The Country Guide ()
  • Literature may be light as a cobweb, but it must be fastened down to life at the four corners.

  • Prohibition is a hard sounding word, worthless as a rallying cry, hard as a locked door or going to bed without your supper.

  • '... take it from me, nice women don't want the vote.' His voice dripped fatness.

  • A wound in a young heart is like a wound in a young tree. It does not grow out. It grows in.

  • No nation ever rises higher than its women ...

  • The middle years of life come on like thunder.

  • ... the grief that can be turned into words soon heals.

  • The average reader can contemplate with considerable fortitude the sorrows and disappointments of someone else.

  • ... it makes a great difference to a speaker whether he has something to say, or has to say something.

  • Every season of life has its compensations ...

  • It is often true that those who sit in the wings can see more than the players.

  • Children are great idealists, until the stupidity of their elders puts out the fires of the aspirations.

  • I am one of those irritating people, who hang on to the door-knob after they say good-bye, and will neither come back nor go, always remembering something else which must be said ...

  • The greatest insult came at the marriage ceremony when the minister asked 'who giveth this woman,' and some brother, or father or other man, unblushingly said he did, as though it were entirely a commercial transaction between men.

    • Nellie McClung,
    • newspaper report (c. 1915), in Linda Rasmussen et al., A Harvest Yet to Reap ()
  • Men alone are not capable of making laws for men and women.

    • Nellie McClung,
    • newspaper report (1915), in Linda Rasmussen et al., A Harvest Yet to Reap ()
  • Never retract, never explain, never apologize — get the thing done and let them howl.

    • Nellie McClung,
    • personal motto, in Merna Forster, 100 Canadian Heroines ()

Nellie McClung, Canadian writer, politician, activist

(1873 - 1951)

Full name: Nellie Letitia Mooney McClung.