Quotes from Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black beauty by Anna Sewell

Anna Sewell (1820 – 1878) inherited her talent from her mother, Mary Wright Sewell, who was also a poet and novelist. Her inspiration for her only novel, Black Beauty (1877) came from personal experience: Anna fell while walking home from school and broke both of her ankles at the age of 14. She never fully recovered, and was  unable to stand or walk for very long for the rest of her life. Having to get around with horse-drawn carriages created for her a great empathy for these beautiful animals.

Anna grew to love horses, and didn’t like what she often observed of their treatment. Black Beauty was not only a plea for more humane treatment of horses, but a great story. Fittingly, it’s one of the best-selling children’s books of all time. Here are quotes from Black Beauty, which reflect the author’s belief in the inherent rights and dignity of animals.


“We have no right to distress any of God’s creatures without a very good reason; we call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words”


“Do you know why this world is as bad as it is?… It is because people think only about their own business, and won’t trouble themselves to stand up for the oppressed, nor bring the wrong-doers to light … My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”


Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

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“There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham.”


“If a thing is right it can be done, and if it is wrong it can be done without; and a good man will find a way.”


“Now I say that with cruelty and oppression it is everybody’s business to interfere when they see it.”


“He said cruelty was the devil’s own trade-mark, and if we saw any one who took pleasure in cruelty we might know who he belonged to, for the devil was a murderer from the beginning, and a tormentor to the end. On the other hand, where we saw people who loved their neighbors, and were kind to man and beast, we might know that was God’s mark.”


Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

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“I hope you will grow up gentle and good, and never learn bad ways; do your work with a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite or kick even in play.”


“Only ignorance! only ignorance! how can you talk about only ignorance? Don’t you know that it is the worst thing in the world, next to wickedness? — and which does the most mischief heaven only knows. If people can say, `Oh! I did not know, I did not mean any harm,’ they think it is all right.”


“God had given men reason, by which they could find out things for themselves; but he had given animals knowledge which did not depend on reason, and which was much more prompt and perfect in its way, and by which they had often saved the lives of men.”


“I felt from the first that what he wanted was to wear all the spirit out of me, and just make me into a quiet, humble, obedient piece of horseflesh. `Horseflesh! Yes, that is all that he thought about,’ and Ginger stamped her foot as if the very thought of him made her angry.”


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