Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


Loveliest of women! heaven is in thy soul,
Beauty and virtue shine forever round thee,
Bright’ning each other! thou art all divine!
Addison—Cato. Act III. Sc. 2.

Divination seems heightened and raised to its highest power in woman.
Amos Bronson Alcott—Concord Days. August. Woman.

Oh the gladness of their gladness when they’re glad,
And the sadness of their sadness when they’re sad;
But the gladness of their gladness, and the sadness of their sadness,
Are as nothing to their badness when they’re bad.

Oh, the shrewdness of their shrewdness when they are shrewd,
And the rudeness of their rudeness when they’re rude;
But the shrewdness of their shrewdness and the rudeness of their rudeness,
Are as nothing to their goodness when they’re good.
Anon. Answer to preceding.

On one she smiled, and he was blest;
She smiles elsewhere—we make a din!
But ’twas not love which heaved her breast,
Fair child!—it was the bliss within.
Matthew Arnold—Euphrosyne.

Woman’s love is writ in water,
Woman’s faith is traced in sand.
Aytoun—Lays of Scottish Cavaliers. Prince Edward at Versailles.

But woman’s grief is like a summer storm,
Short as it violent is.
Joanna Baillie—Basil. Act V. Sc. 3.

Not she with trait’rous kiss her Saviour stung,
Not she denied Him with unholy tongue;
She, while apostles shrank, could danger brave,
Last at His cross, and earliest at His grave.
Eaton S. Barrett—Woman. Pt. I. L. 141. “Not she with trait’rous kiss her Master stung, / Not she denied Him with unfaithful tongue; / She, when apostles fled, could danger brave, / Last at His cross, and earliest at His grave.” Version in ed. of 1810.

You see, dear, it is not true that woman was made from man’s rib; she was really made from his funny bone.
Barrie—What Every Woman Knows.

Oh, woman, perfect woman! what distraction
Was meant to mankind when thou wast made a devil!
What an inviting hell invented.
Beaumont and Fletcher—Comedy of Monsieur Thomas. Act III. Sc. 1.

Then, my good girls, be more than women, wise:
At least be more than I was; and be sure
You credit anything the light gives life to
Before a man.
Beaumont and Fletcher—Maid’s Tragedy. Act II. Sc. 2.

“And now, Madam,” I addressed her, “we shall try who shall get the breeches.”
William Beloe—Miscellanies. (1795). Translation of a Latin story by Antonius Musa Brassavolus. (1540).

Phidias made the statue of Venus at Elis with one foot upon the shell of a tortoise, to signify two great duties of a virtuous woman, which are to keep home and be silent.
W. De Britaine—Human Prudence. (Ed. 1726). P. 134. Referred to by Burton—Anatomy of Melancholy. Pt. III. Sec. III. Mem. 4. Subs. 2.

You forget too much
That every creature, female as the male,
Stands single in responsible act and thought,
As also in birth and death.
E. B. Browning—Aurora Leigh. Bk. II. L. 472.

A worthless woman! mere cold clay
As all false things are! but so fair,
She takes the breath of men away
Who gaze upon her unaware:
I would not play her larcenous tricks
To have her looks!
E. B. Browning—Bianca among the Nightingales. St. 12.

Thy daughters bright thy walks adorn,
Gay as the gilded summer sky,
Sweet as the dewy milk-white thorn,
Dear as the raptured thrill of joy.
Burns—Address to Edinburgh.

Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears
Her noblest work she classes, O:
Her ’prentice hand she tried on man,
An’ then she made the lasses, O.
Burns—Green Grow the Rashes.

Their tricks and craft hae put me daft,
They’ve ta’en me in, and a’ that,
But clear your decks, and—Here’s the sex!
I like the jads for a’ that.
Burns—Jolly Beggars.

It is a woman’s reason to say I will do such a thing because I will.Burroughs—On Hosea. Vol. IV. (1652).

Women wear the breeches.
Burton—Anatomy of Melancholy. Democritus to the Reader.

The souls of women are so small,
That some believe they’ve none at all;
Or if they have, like cripples, still
They’ve but one faculty, the will.
Butler—Miscellaneous Thoughts.

Heart on her lips, and soul within her eyes,
Soft as her clime, and sunny as her skies.
Byron—Beppo. St. 45.

Soft as the memory of buried love,
Pure as the prayer which childhood wafts above.
Byron—Bride of Abydos. Canto I. St. 6.

The Niobe of nations! there she stands,
Childless and crownless, in her voiceless woe.
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto IV. St. 79.

Her stature tall—I hate a dumpy woman.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto I. St. 61.

A lady with her daughters or her nieces
Shine like a guinea and seven-shilling pieces.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto III. St. 60.

I love the sex, and sometimes would reverse
The tyrant’s wish, “that mankind only had
One neck, which he with one fell stroke might pierce;”
My wish is quite as wide, but not so bad,
And much more tender on the whole than fierce;
It being (not now, but only while a lad)
That womankind had but one rosy mouth,
To kiss them all at once, from North to South.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto VI. St. 27.

I’ve seen your stormy seas and stormy women,
And pity lovers rather more than seamen.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto VI. St. 53.

But she was a soft landscape of mild earth,
Where all was harmony, and calm, and quiet,
Luxuriant, budding; cheerful without mirth.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto VI. St. 53.

What a strange thing is man! and what a stranger
Is woman! What a whirlwind is her head,
And what a whirlpool full of depth and danger
Is all the rest about her.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto IX. St. 64.

And whether coldness, pride, or virtue dignify
A woman, so she’s good, what does it signify?
Byron—Don Juan. Canto XIV. St. 57.

She was his life,
The ocean to the river of his thoughts,
Which terminated all.
Byron—The Dream. St. 2. “River of his Thought” from Dante—Purgatorio. XIII. 88.

Believe a woman or an epitaph,
Or any other thing that’s false.
Byron—English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.

The world was sad; the garden was a wild;
And man, the hermit, sigh’d—till woman smiled.
Campbell—Pleasures of Hope. Pt. II. L. 37.

Of all the girls that are so smart,
There’s none like pretty Sally.
Henry Carey—Sally in our Alley.

La muger que se determina á ser honrada entre un ejército de soldados lo puede ser.
The woman who is resolved to be respected can make herself so even amidst an army of soldiers.
Cervantes—La Gitanilla.

Ther seyde oones a clerk in two vers, “what is bettre than Gold? Jaspre. What is bettre than Jaspre? Wisdom. And what is bettre than Wisdom? Womman. And what is bettre than a good Womman? No thyng.”
Chaucer—Canterbury Tales. Melibeus. L. 2,300.

We shall find no fiend in hell can match the fury of a disappointed woman,—scorn’d! slighted! dismiss’d without a parting pang.
Colley Cibber—Love’s Last Shift. Act IV. Sc. 1.

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned,
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.
Congreve—The Mourning Bride. Act III. Sc. 2.

The sweetest noise on earth, a woman’s tongue;
A string which hath no discord.
Barry Cornwall—Rafaelle and Fornarina. Sc. 2.

Her air, her manners, all who saw admired;
Courteous though coy, and gentle, though retired:
The joy of youth and health her eyes display’d,
And ease of heart her every look convey’d.
Crabbe—Parish Register. Pt. II.

Whoe’er she be,
That not impossible she,
That shall command my heart and me.
Crashaw—Wishes to his (Supposed) Mistress.

Man was made when Nature was but an apprentice, but woman when she was a skilful mistress of her art.
Cupid’s Whirligig. (1607).

Were there no women, men might live like gods.
Dekker—Honest Whore. Pt. I. Act III. Sc. 1.

There’s no music when a woman is in the concert.
Dekker—Honest Whore. Pt. II. Act IV. Sc. 3.

Les femmes ont toujours quelque arrière pensée.
Women always have some mental reservation.
Destouches—Dissipateur. V. 9.

But were it to my fancy given
To rate her charms, I’d call them heaven;
For though a mortal made of clay,
Angels must love Ann Hathaway;
She hath a way so to control,
To rapture the imprisoned soul,
And sweetest heaven on earth display,
That to be heaven Ann hath a way;
She hath a way,
Ann Hathaway,—
To be heaven’s self Ann hath a way.
Charles Dibdin—A Love Dittie. In his novel Hannah Hewitt. (1795). Often attributed to Shakespeare.

But in some odd nook in Mrs. Todgers’s breast, up a great many steps, and in a corner easy to be overlooked, there was a secret door, with “Woman” written on the spring, which, at a touch from Mercy’s hand, had flown wide open, and admitted her for shelter.
Dickens—Martin Chuzzlewit. Vol. II. Ch. XII.

She was not made out of his head, Sir,
To rule and to govern the man;
Nor was she made out of his feet, Sir,
By man to be trampled upon.
But she did come forth from his side, Sir,
His equal and partner to be;
And now they are coupled together,
She oft proves the top of the tree.
Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England. Collected by James Henry Dixon.

Be then thine own home, and in thyself dwell;
Inn anywhere;
And seeing the snail, which everywhere doth roam,
Carrying his own home still, still is at home,
Follow (for he is easy-paced) this snail:
Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail.

And, like another Helen, fir’d another Troy.
Dryden—Alexander’s Feast. L. 154.

For women with a mischief to their kind,
Pervert with bad advice our better mind.
Dryden—Cock and Fox. L. 555.

A woman’s counsel brought us first to woe,
And made her man his paradise forego,
Where at heart’s ease he liv’d; and might have been
As free from sorrow as he was from sin.
Dryden—Cock and the Fox. L. 557.

She hugg’d the offender, and forgave the offence;
Sex to the last.
Dryden—Cymon and Iphigenia. L. 367.

I am resolved to grow fat and look young till forty, and then slip out of the world with the first wrinkle and the reputation of five and twenty.
Dryden—The Maiden Queen. Act III. Sc. 1.

And that one hunting, which the devil design’d
For one fair female, lost him half the kind.
Dryden—Theodore and Honoria. L. 427.

What all your sex desire is Sovereignty.
Dryden—Wife of Bath.

Cherchez la femme.
Find the woman.
Dumas—Les Mohicans de Paris. Vol. III. Ch. X. and elsewhere in the novel. Act III. Sc. 7. of the play. Probably from the Spanish. A common question of Charpes. See Revue des Deux Mondes. XI. 822.

Her lot is made for her by the love she accepts.
George Eliot—Felix Holt. Ch. XLIII.

When greater perils men inviron,
Then women show a front of iron;
And, gentle in their manner, they
Do bold things in a quiet way.
Thomas Dunn English—Betty Zane.

There is no worse evil than a bad woman; and nothing has ever been produced better than a good one.

Our sex still strikes an awe upon the brave,
And only cowards dare affront a woman.
Farquhar—Constant Couple. Act V. Sc. 1.

A woman friend! He that believes that weakness,
Steers in a stormy night without a compass.
Fletcher—Woman Pleased. Act II. Sc. 1.

Woman, I tell you, is a microcosm; and rightly to rule her, requires as great talents as to govern a state.
Samuel Foote—The Minor.

Toute femme varie
Bien fol est qui s’y fie.
Woman is always fickle—foolish is he who trusts her.
François I. Scratched with his ring on a window of Chambord Castle. (Quoted also “souvent femme.”) See Brantome—Œuvres. VII. 395. Also Le Livre des Proverbes François, by Le Roux de Lincy. I. V. 231. (Ed. 1859).

Are women books? says Hodge, then would mine were
An Almanack, to change her every year.
Benj. Franklin—Poor Richard. Dec., 1737.

A cat has nine lives and a woman has nine cats’ lives.

’Tis a woman that seduces all mankind;
By her we first were taught the wheedling arts.
Gay—The Beggar’s Opera. Act I. Sc. 1.

How happy could I be with either,
Were t’other dear charmer away!
But, while ye thus tease me together,
To neither a word will I say.
Gay—The Beggar’s Opera. Act II. Sc. 2.

If the heart of a man is depressed with cares,
The mist is dispell’d when a woman appears.
Gay—The Beggar’s Opera. Act II.

And when a lady’s in the case,
You know all other things give place.
Gay—Fables. The Hare and Many Friends. L. 41.

Es ist doch den Mädchen wie angeboren, dass sie allem gefallen wollen, was nur Augen hat.
The desire to please everything having eyes seems inborn in maidens.
Salomon Gessner—Evander und Alcima. III. 1.

I am a woman—therefore I may not
Call to him, cry to him,
Fly to him,
Bid him delay not!
R. W. Gilder—A Woman’s Thought.

Denn geht es zu des Bösen Haus
Das Weib hat tausend Schritt voraus.
When toward the Devil’s House we tread,
Woman’s a thousand steps ahead.
Goethe—Faust. I. 21. 147.

Denn das Naturell der Frauen
Ist so nah mit Kunst verwandt.
For the nature of women is closely allied to art.
Goethe—Faust. II. 1.

Das Ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan.
The eternal feminine doth draw us upward.
Goethe—Faust. II. 5. “La Féminine Eternel / Nous attire au ciel.” French trans. of Goethe by H. Blaze de Bury.

’Tis Lilith.
Adam’s first wife is she.
Beware the lure within her lovely tresses,
The splendid sole adornment of her hair;
When she succeeds therewith a youth to snare,
Not soon again she frees him from her jesses.
Goethe—Faust. Sc. 21. Walpurgis Night. Bayard Taylor’s trans.

Ein edler Mann wird durch ein gutes Wort
Der Frauen weit geführt.
A noble man is led far by woman’s gentle words.
Goethe—Iphigenia auf Tauris. I. 2. 162.

Der Umgang mit Frauen ist das Element guter Sitten.
The society of women is the foundation of good manners.
Goethe—Die Wahlverwandtschaften. II. 5.

When lovely woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can soothe her melancholy?
What art can wash her guilt away?
Goldsmith—Vicar of Wakefield. Ch. XXIV.

Mankind, from Adam, have been women’s fools;
Women, from Eve, have been the devil’s tools:
Heaven might have spar’d one torment when we fell;
Not left us women, or not threatened hell.
Geo. Granville (Lord Lansdowne)—She-Gallants.

Vente quid levius? fulgur. Quid fulgure? flamma
Flamma quid? mulier. Quid mulier? nihil.
What is lighter than the wind? A feather.
What is lighter than a feather? fire.
What lighter than fire? a woman.
What lighter than a woman? Nothing.
Harleian MS. No. 3362. Folio 47.

De wimmin, dey does de talkin’ en de flyin’, en de mens, dey does de walkin en de pryin’, en betwixt en betweenst um, dey ain’t much dat don’t come out.
Joel Chandler Harris—Brother Rabbit and His Famous Foot.

That the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.
Matthew Henry—Note on Genesis II. 21 and 22. Also in Chaucer—Persones Tale.

First, then, a woman will, or won’t,—depend on’t;
If she will do’t, she will; and there’s an end on’t.
But, if she won’t, since safe and sound your trust is,
Fear is affront: and jealousy injustice.
Aaron Hill—Epilogue to Zara.

Where is the man who has the power and skill
To stem the torrent of a woman’s will?
For if she will, she will, you may depend on’t;
And if she won’t, she won’t; so there’s an end on’t.
From the Pillar Erected on the Mount in the Dane John Field, Canterbury. Examiner, May 31, 1829.

Women may be whole oceans deeper than we are, but they are also a whole paradise better. She may have got us out of Eden, but as a compensation she makes the earth very pleasant.
John Oliver Hobbes—The Ambassador. Act III.

Man has his will,—but woman has her way.
Holmes—Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. Prologue.

She moves a goddess, and she looks a queen.
Homer—Iliad. Bk. III. L. 208. Pope’s trans.

O woman, woman, when to ill thy mind
Is bent, all hell contains no fouler fiend.
Homer—Odyssey. Bk. XI. L. 531. Pope’s trans.

What mighty woes
To thy imperial race from woman rose.
Homer—Odyssey. Bk. XI. L. 541. Pope’s trans.

But, alas! alas! for the woman’s fate,
Who has from a mob to choose a mate!
’Tis a strange and painful mystery!
But the more the eggs the worse the hatch;
The more the fish, the worse the catch;
The more the sparks the worse the match;
Is a fact in woman’s history.
Hood—Miss Kilmansegg. Her Courtship. St. 7.

God in his harmony has equal ends
For cedar that resists and reed that bends;
For good it is a woman sometimes rules,
Holds in her hand the power, and manners, schools
And laws, and mind; succeeding master proud.
With gentle voice and smiles she leads the crowd,
The somber human troop.
Victor Hugo—Eviradnus. V.

O woman! thou wert fashioned to beguile:
So have all sages said, all poets sung.
Jean Ingelow—The Four Bridges. St. 68.

In that day seven women shall take hold of one man.
Isaiah. IV. 1.

Wretched, un-idea’d girls.
Samuel Johnson—Boswell’s Life of Johnson. (1752).

I am very fond of the company of ladies. I like their beauty, I like their delicacy, I like their vivacity, and I like their silence.
Samuel Johnson. Seward’s Johnsoniana. 617.

Ladies, stock and tend your hive,
Trifle not at thirty-five;
For, howe’er we boast and strive,
Life declines from thirty-five;
He that ever hopes to thrive
Must begin by thirty-five.
Samuel Johnson—To Mrs. Thrale, when Thirty-five. L. 11.

One woman reads another’s character
Without the tedious trouble of deciphering.
Ben Jonson—New Inn. Act IV.

And where she went, the flowers took thickest root,
As she had sow’d them with her odorous foot.
Ben Jonson—The Sad Shepherd. Act I. Sc. 1.

Nulla fere causa est in qua non femina litem moverit.
There’s scarce a case comes on but you shall find
A woman’s at the bottom.
Juvenal—Satires. VI. 242.

Nemo magis gaudet, quam femina.
Revenge we find,
The abject pleasure of an abject mind
And hence so dear to poor weak woman kind.
Juvenal—Satires. XIII. 191.

I met a lady in the meads
Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.
Keats—La Belle Dame sans Merci.

When the Hymalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted, rends the peasant tooth and nail,
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
Kipling—The Female of the Species.

Ich hab’ es immer gesagt: das Weib wollte die Natur zu ihrem Meisterstücke machen.
I have always said it—Nature meant woman to be her masterpiece.
Lessing—Emilia Galotti. V. 7.

Was hätt ein Weiberkopf erdacht, das er
Nicht zu beschönen wüsste?
What could a woman’s head contrive
Which it would not know how to excuse?
Lessing—Nathan der Weise. III.

The life of woman is full of woe,
Toiling on and on and on,
With breaking heart, and tearful eyes,
The secret longings that arise,
Which this world never satisfies!
Some more, some less, but of the whole
Not one quite happy, no, not one!
Longfellow—Christus. The Golden Legend.

A Lady with a lamp shall stand
In the great history of the land,
A noble type of good,
Heroic womanhood.
Longfellow—Santa Filomena. St. 10.

Like a fair lily on a river floating
She floats upon the river of his thoughts.
Longfellow—Spanish Student. Act II. Sc. 3. Idea taken from Dante—Purgatorio. XIII. 88.

’Twas kin’ o’ kingdom-come to look
On sech a blessed cretur.
Lowell—Biglow Papers. Introduction to Second Series. The Courtin’. St. 7.

Earth’s noblest thing, a Woman perfected.
Lowell—Irene. L. 62.

Parvula, pumilio, chariton mia tota merum sal.
A little, tiny, pretty, witty, charming darling she.
Lucretius—De Rerum Natura. IV. 1158.

A cunning woman is a knavish fool.
Lord Littleton—Advice to a Lady.

When all the medical officers have retired for the night, and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she [Florence Nightingale] may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.
Mr. MacDonald, on the staff of the London Times, in a letter to that paper when leaving Scutari. See Pictorial History of the Russian War. 1854–5–6. P. 310.

Of all wild beasts on earth or in sea, the greatest is a woman.
Menander—E Supposititio. P. 182.

I expect that woman will be the last thing civilized by man.
Meredith—Richard Feveral. First page.

O woman, born first to believe us;
Yea, also born first to forget;
Born first to betray and deceive us,
Yet first to repent and regret.
Joaquin Miller—Charity.

Too fair to worship, too divine to love.
Milman—Apollo Belvidere.

I always thought a tinge of blue
Improved a charming woman’s stocking.
Richard Monckton Milnes—Four Lovers. II. In Summer.

My latest found,
Heaven’s last best gift, my ever new delight!
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. V. L. 18.

Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. VIII. L. 488.

For nothing lovelier can be found
In woman, than to study household good.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. IX. L. 232.

Oh! why did God,
Creator wise, that peopled highest Heaven
With Spirits masculine, create at last
This novelty on Earth, this fair defect
Of Nature, and not fill the World at once
With men as Angels, without feminine.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. X. L. 888.

A bevy of fair women.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. XI. L. 582.

Disguise our bondage as we will,
’Tis woman, woman rules us still.
Moore—Sovereign Woman. St. 4.

My only books
Were woman’s looks,
And folly’s all they’ve taught me.
Moore—The Time I’ve Lost in Wooing.

The virtue of her lively looks
Excels the precious stone;
I wish to have none other books
To read or look upon.
Songs and Sonnets. (1557).

For if a young lady has that discretion and modesty, without which all knowledge is little worth, she will never make an ostentatious parade of it, because she will rather be intent on acquiring more, than on displaying what she has.
Hannah More—Essays on Various Subjects. Thoughts on Conversation.

Queens you must always be: queens to your lovers; queens to your husbands and your sons, queens of higher mystery to the world beyond…. But, alas, you are too often idle and careless queens, grasping at majesty in the least things, while you abdicate it in the greatest.
D. M. Mulock. Quoted from Ruskin on the title page of The Woman’s Kingdom.

A penniless lass wi’ a lang pedigree.
Lady Nairne—The Laird o’ Cockpen.

So I wonder a woman, the Mistress of Hearts,
Should ascend to aspire to be Master of Arts;
A Ministering Angel in Woman we see,
And an Angel need cover no other Degree.
Lord Neaves—O why should a Woman not get a Degree?

Who trusts himself to women, or to waves,
Should never hazard what he fears to lose.
Oldmixon—Governor of Cyprus.

What mighty ills have not been done by woman!
Who was’t betray’d the Capitol? A woman;
Who lost Mark Antony the world? A woman;
Who was the cause of a long ten years’ war,
And laid at last old Troy in ashes? Woman;
Destructive, damnable, deceitful woman!
Thomas Otway—The Orphan. Act III. Sc. 1.

Who can describe
Women’s hypocrisies! their subtle wiles,
Betraying smiles, feign’d tears, inconstancies!
Their painted outsides, and corrupted minds,
The sum of all their follies, and their falsehoods.
Thomas Otway—Orpheus.

O woman! lovely woman! Nature made thee
To temper man: we had been brutes without you;
Angels are painted fair, to look like you:
There’s in you all that we believe of Heaven,
Amazing brightness, purity, and truth,
Eternal joy, and everlasting love.
Thomas Otway—Venice Preserved. Act I. Sc. 1.

Wit and woman are two frail things, and both the frailer by concurring.
Thomas Overbury—News from Court. Webster—Devil’s Law. Act I. Sc. 2.

Still an angel appear to each lover beside,
But still be a woman to you.
Parnell—When thy Beauty Appears.

Ah, wasteful woman! she who may
On her sweet self set her own price,
Knowing man cannot choose but pay,
How has she cheapen’d Paradise!
How given for nought her priceless gift,
How spoil’d the bread and spill’d the wine,
Which, spent with due respective thrift,
Had made brutes men and men divine.
Coventry Patmore—The Angel in the House. Unthrift. Bk. I. Canto III. 3.

To chase the clouds of life’s tempestuous hours,
To strew its short but weary way with flow’rs,
New hopes to raise, new feelings to impart,
And pour celestial balsam on the heart;
For this to man was lovely woman giv’n,
The last, best work, the noblest gift of Heav’n.
Thomas Love Peacock—The Visions of Love.

Those who always speak well of women do not know them sufficiently; those who always speak ill of them do not know them at all.
Guillaume Pigault-Lebrun.

Nam multum loquaces merito omnes habemus,
Nec mutam profecto repertam ullam esse
Hodie dicunt mulierem ullo in seculo.
I know that we women are all justly accounted praters; they say in the present day that there never was in any age such a wonder to be found as a dumb woman.
Plautus—Aulularia. II. 1. 5.

Multa sunt mulierum vitia, sed hoc e multis maximum,
Cum sibi nimis placent, nimisque operam dant ut placeant viris.
Women have many faults, but of the many this is the greatest, that they please themselves too much, and give too little attention to pleasing the men.
Plautus—Pœnulus. V. 4. 33.

Mulieri nimio male facere melius est onus, quam bene.
A woman finds it much easier to do ill than well.
Plautus—Truculentus. II. 5. 17.

Oh! say not woman’s heart is bought
With vain and empty treasure.
Deep in her heart the passion glows;
She loves and loves forever.
Isaac Pocock. Song, in The Heir of Vironi, produced at Covent Garden, Feb. 27, 1817.

Our grandsire, Adam, ere of Eve possesst,
Alone, and e’en in Paradise unblest,
With mournful looks the blissful scenes survey’d,
And wander’d in the solitary shade.
The Maker saw, took pity, and bestow’d
Woman, the last, the best reserv’d of God.
Pope—January and May. L. 63.

Most women have no characters at all.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. II. L. 2.

Ladies, like variegated tulips, show
’Tis to their changes half their charms we owe.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. II. L. 41.

Offend her, and she knows not to forgive;
Oblige her, and she’ll hate you while you live.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. II. L. 137.

Men some to business, some to pleasure take;
But every woman is at heart a rake;
Men some to quiet, some to public strife;
But every lady would be queen for life.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. II. L. 215.

O! bless’d with temper, whose unclouded ray
Can make to-morrow cheerful as to-day;
She who can own a sister’s charms, or hear
Sighs for a daughter with unwounded ear;
She who ne’er answers till a husband cools,
Or, if she rules him, never shows she rules.
Charms by accepting, by submitting sways,
Yet has her humour most when she obeys.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. II. L. 257.

And mistress of herself, though china fall.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. II. L. 268.

Woman’s at best a contradiction still.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. II. L. 270.

Give God thy broken heart, He whole will make it:
Give woman thy whole heart, and she will break it.
Edmund Prestwich—The Broken Heart.

Be to her virtues very kind;
Be to her faults a little blind.
Let all her ways be unconfin’d;
And clap your padlock—on her mind.
Prior—An English Padlock.

The gray mare will prove the better horse.
Prior—Epilogue to Lucius. Last line. Butler—Hudibras. Pt. II. Canto L. L. 698. Fielding—The Grub Street Opera. Act II. Sc. 4. Pryde and Abuse of Women. (1550). The Marriage of True Wit and Science. Macaulay—History of England. Vol. I. Ch. III. Footnote suggests it arose from the preference generally given to the gray mares of Flanders over the finest coach horses of England. Proverb traced to Holland. (1546).

That if weak women went astray,
Their stars were more in fault than they.
Prior—Hans Carvel.

It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman in a wide house.
Proverbs. XXI. 9.

Like to the falling of a star,
Like to the damask rose you see,
Or like the blossom on the tree.
Quarles—Argalus and Parthenia. Claimed by him but attributed to John Phillipot (Philpott) in Harleian MS. 3917. Folio 88 b., a fragment written about the time of James I. Credited to Simon Wastell (1629) by Mackay, as it is appended to his Microbiblion. Said to be an imitation of an earlier poem by Bishop Henry King.

If she undervalue me,
What care I how fair she be?
Sir Walter Raleigh.

If she seem not chaste to me,
What care I how chaste she be?
Sir Walter Raleigh. See Bayley’s Life of Raleigh.

That, let us rail at women, scorn and flout ’em,
We may live with, but cannot live without ’em.
Frederick Reynolds—My Grandfather’s Will. Act III.

Such a plot must have a woman in it.
Richardson—Sir Charles Grandison. Vol. I. Letter 24.

A woman is the most inconsistent compound of obstinacy and self-sacrifice that I am acquainted with.
Richter—Flower, Fruit, and Thorn Pieces. Ch. V.

O wild, dark flower of woman,
Deep rose of my desire,
An Eastern wizard made you
Of earth and stars and fire.
C. G. D. Roberts—The Rose of my Desire.

Angels listen when she speaks;
She’s my delight, all mankind’s wonder;
But my jealous heart would break
Should we live one day asunder.
Earl of Rochester—Song. My Dear Mistress has a Heart. St. 2.

C’est chose qui moult me deplaist,
Quand poule parle et coq se taist.
It is a thing very displeasing to me when the hen speaks and the cock is silent.
Roman de la Rose. XIV. Cent.

Of Adam’s first wife, Lilith, it is told
(The witch he loved before the gift of Eve)
That ere the snakes, her sweet tongue could deceive
And her enchanted hair was the first gold—
And still she sits, young while the earth is old
And, subtly of herself contemplative,
Draws men to watch the bright net she can weave,
Till heart and body and life are in its hold.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti—Lilith.

Toute fille lettrée restera fille toute sa vie, quand il n’y aura que des hommes sensés sur la terre.
Every blue-stocking will remain a spinster as long as there are sensible men on the earth.
Rousseau—Émile. I. 5.

Une femme bel-esprit est le fléau de son mari, de ses enfants, de ses amis, de ses valets, de tout le monde.
A blue-stocking is the scourge of her husband, children, friends, servants, and every one.
Rousseau—Émile. I. 5.

And one false step entirely damns her fame.
In vain with tears the loss she may deplore,
In vain look back on what she was before;
She sets like stars that fall, to rise no more.
Rowe—Jane Shore. Act I.

Ne l’onde solca, e ne l’arena semina,
E’l vago vento spera in rete accogliere
Chi sue speranze fonda in cor di femina.
He ploughs the waves, sows the sand, and hopes to gather the wind in a net, who places his hopes on the heart of woman.
Sannazaro—Ecloga Octava. Plough the sands found in Juvenal—Satires. VII. Jeremy Taylor—Discourse on Liberty of Prophesying. (1647). Introduction.

Such, Polly, are your sex—part truth, part fiction;
Some thought, much whim, and all a contradiction.
Richard Savage—To a Young Lady.

Ehret die Frauen! sie flechten und weben
Himmlische Rosen in’s irdische Leben.
Honor women! they entwine and weave heavenly roses in our earthly life.
Schiller—Würde der Frauen.

The weakness of their reasoning faculty also explains why women show more sympathy for the unfortunate than men;… and why, on the contrary, they are inferior to men as regards justice, and less honourable and conscientious.
Schopenhauer—On Women.

Woman’s faith, and woman’s trust,
Write the characters in dust.
Scott—Betrothed. Ch. XX.

Widowed wife and wedded maid.
Scott—Betrothed. Last chapter.

O Woman! in our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!
Scott—Marmion. Canto VI. St. 30.

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety.
Antony and Cleopatra. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 240.

If ladies be but young and fair,
They have the gift to know it.
As You Like It. Act II. Sc. 7. L. 37.

Run, run, Orlando: carve on every tree
The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she.
As You Like It. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 9.

I thank God I am not a woman, to be touched with so many giddy offences as He hath generally taxed their whole sex withal.
As You Like It. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 366.

O most delicate fiend!
Who is’t can read a woman?
Cymbeline. Act V. Sc. 5. L. 47.

Frailty, thy name is woman!—
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she follow’d my poor father’s body,
Like Niobe, all tears;—why she, even she,
***married with my uncle.
Hamlet. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 146.

And is not my hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench?
As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle.
Henry IV. Pt. I. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 45.

’Tis beauty that doth oft make women proud;
But, God he knows, thy share thereof is small:
’Tis virtue that doth make them most admired;
The contrary doth make thee wondered at:
’Tis government that makes them seem divine.
Henry VI. Pt. III. Act I. Sc. 4. L. 128.

Her sighs will make a battery in his breast;
Her tears will pierce into a marble heart;
The tiger will be mild whiles she doth mourn;
And Nero will be tainted with remorse,
To hear and see her plaints.
Henry VI. Pt. III. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 37.

Two women plac’d together makes cold weather.
Henry VIII. Act I. Sc. 4. L. 22.

I grant I am a woman, but withal,
A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife:
I grant I am a woman; but withal
A woman well-reputed; Cato’s daughter.
Julius Cæsar. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 292.

Ah me, how weak a thing
The heart of woman is!
Julius Cæsar. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 39.

She in beauty, education, blood,
Holds hand with any princess of the world.
King John. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 493.

There was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a glass.
King Lear. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 35.

A child of our grandmother Eve, a female; or, for thy more sweet understanding, a woman.
Love’s Labour’s Lost. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 266.

Fair ladies mask’d are roses in their bud:
Dismask’d, their damask sweet commixture shown,
Are angels veiling clouds, or roses blown.
Love’s Labour’s Lost. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 295.

Would it not grieve a woman to be overmaster’d with a piece of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a cloud of wayward marl?
Much Ado About Nothing. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 63.

She speaks poniards, and every word stabs: if her breath were as terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her; she would infect to the north star.
Much Ado About Nothing. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 255.

One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well: another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace.
Much Ado About Nothing. Act II. Sc. 3. L. 27.

A maid
That paragons description and wild fame;
One that excels the quirks of blazoning pens,
And in the essential vesture of creation
Does tire the ingener.
Othello. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 61.

You are pictures out of doors,
Bells in your parlours, wild-cats in your kitchens,
Saints in your injuries, devils being offended,
Players in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds.
Othello. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 110.

Have you not heard it said full oft,
A woman’s nay doth stand for nought?
Passionate Pilgrim. L. 339.

Think you a little din can daunt mine ears?
Have I not in my time heard lions roar?
Have I not heard great ordnance in the field,
And heaven’s artillery thunder in the skies?
And do you tell me of a woman’s tongue,
That gives not half so great a blow to hear
As will a chestnut in a farmer’s fire?
Taming of the Shrew. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 200.

Why, then thou canst not break her to the lute?
Why, no; for she hath broke the lute to me.
Taming of the Shrew. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 148.

Say that she rail, why then I’ll tell her plain
She sings as sweetly as a nightingale;
Say that she frown; I’ll say she looks as clear
As morning roses newly wash’d with dew;
Say she be mute and will not speak a word;
Then I’ll commend her volubility,
And say she uttereth piercing eloquence.
Taming of the Shrew. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 171.

A woman mov’d is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty.
Taming of the Shrew. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 142.

Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Taming of the Shrew. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 165.

Muse not that I thus suddenly proceed;
For what I will, I will, and there an end.
Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 64.

To be slow in words is a woman’s only virtue.
Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 338.

If, one by one, you wedded all the world,
Or from the all that are took something good,
To make a perfect woman, she you kill’d
Would be unparallel’d.
Winter’s Tale. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 13.

Women will love her that she is a woman
More worth than any man; men, that she is
The rarest of all women.
Winter’s Tale. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 110.

In the beginning, said a Persian poet—Allah took a rose, a lily, a dove, a serpent, a little honey, a Dead Sea apple, and a handful of clay. When he looked at the amalgam—it was a woman.
William Sharp. In the Portfolio, July, 1894. P. 6.

Woman reduces us all to the common denominator.
Bernard Shaw—Great Catherine. Sc. 1.

The fickleness of the woman I love is only equalled by the infernal constancy of the women who love me.
Bernard Shaw—Philanderer. Act II.

Woman’s dearest delight is to wound Man’s self-conceit, though Man’s dearest delight is to gratify hers.
Bernard Shaw—Unsocial Socialist. Ch. V.

You sometimes have to answer a woman according to her womanishness, just as you have to answer a fool according to his folly.
Bernard Shaw—Unsocial Socialist. Ch. XVIII.

A lovely lady garmented in light.
Shelley—The Witch of Atlas. St. 5.

One moral’s plain,***without more fuss;
Man’s social happiness all rests on us:
Through all the drama—whether damn’d! or not—
Love gilds the scene, and women guide the plot.
R. B. Sheridan—The Rivals. Epilogue.

She is her selfe of best things the collection.
Sir Philip Sidney—The Arcadia. Thirsis and Dorus.

Lor’, but women’s rum cattle to deal with, the first man found that to his cost,
And I reckon it’s just through a woman the last man on earth’ll be lost.
G. R. Sims—Moll Jarvis o’ Morley.

What wilt not woman, gentle woman, dare
When strong affection stirs her spirit up?
Southey—Madoc. Pt. II. II.

He beheld his own rougher make softened into sweetness, and tempered with smiles; he saw a creature who had, as it were, Heaven’s second thought in her formation.
Steele—Christian Hero. (Of Adam awaking, and first seeing Eve.)

She is pretty to walk with,
And witty to talk with,
And pleasant too, to think on.
Sir John Suckling—Brennoralt. Act II. Sc. 1.

Of all the girls that e’er was seen,
There’s none so fine as Nelly.
Swift—Ballad on Miss Nelly Bennet.

Daphne knows, with equal ease,
How to vex and how to please;
But the folly of her sex
Makes her sole delight to vex.

Lose no time to contradict her,
Nor endeavour to convict her;
Only take this rule along,
Always to advise her wrong,
And reprove her when she’s right;
She may then crow wise for spite.

O Woman, you are not merely the handiwork of God, but also of men; these are ever endowing you with beauty from their own hearts…. You are one-half woman and one-half dream.
Rabindranath Tagore—Gardener. 59.

Femmina è cosa garrula e fallace:
Vuole e disvuole, è folle uom chi sen fida,
Si tra se volge.
Women have tongues of craft, and hearts of guile,
They will, they will not; fools that on them trust;
For in their speech is death, hell in their smile.
Tasso—Gerusalemme. XIX. 84.

All virtuous women, like tortoises, carry their house on their heads, and their chappel in their heart, and their danger in their eye, and their souls in their hands, and God in all their actions.
Jeremy Taylor—Life of Christ. Pt. I. II. 4.

A woman’s honor rests on manly love.
Esais Tegnèr—Fridthjof’s Saga. Canto VIII.

For men at most differ as Heaven and Earth,
But women, worst and best, as Heaven and Hell.
Tennyson—Idylls of the King. Merlin and Vivian.

Airy, fairy Lilian.

Woman is the lesser man.
Tennyson—Locksley Hall. St. 76.

She with all the charm of woman,
She with all the breadth of man.
Tennyson—Locksley Hall Sixty Years After. L. 48.

Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls.
Tennyson—Maud. Pt. I. XXII. St. 9.

With prudes for proctors, dowagers for deans,
And sweet girl-graduates in their golden hair.
Tennyson—The Princess. Prologue. L. 141.

A rosebud set with little wilful thorns,
And sweet as English air could make her, she.
Tennyson—The Princess. Prologue. L. 153.

The woman is so hard
Upon the woman.
Tennyson—The Princess. VI.

For woman is not undeveloped man
But diverse; could we make her as the man
Sweet love were slain; his dearest bond is this
Not like to like but like in difference.
Tennyson—The Princess. VII.

Novi ingenium mulierum;
Nolunt ubi velis, ubi nolis cupiunt ultro.
I know the nature of women. When you will, they will not; when you will not, they come of their own accord.
Terence—Eunuchus. IV. 7. 42.

When I say that I know women, I mean that I know that I don’t know them. Every single woman I ever knew is a puzzle to me, as I have no doubt she is to herself.
Thackeray—Mr. Brown’s Letters.

Regard the society of women as a necessary unpleasantness of social life, and avoid it as much as possible.

Woman is more impressionable than man. Therefore in the Golden Age they were better than men. Now they are worse.

I think Nature hath lost the mould
Where she her shape did take;
Or else I doubt if Nature could
So fair a creature make.
A Praise of his Lady. In Tottel’s Miscellany. (1557). The Earl of Surrey wrote similar lines, A Praise of his Love. (Before 1547).

He is a fool who thinks by force or skill
To turn the current of a woman’s will.
Sir Samuel Tuke—Adventures of Five Hours. Act V. Sc. 3. L. 483. Trans. from Calderon.

A slighted woman knows no bounds.
John Vanbrugh—The Mistake. Pt. I. Act II. Sc. 1.

Let our weakness be what it will, mankind will still be weaker; and whilst there is a world, ’tis woman that will govern it.
John Vanbrugh—Provoked Wife. Act III.

Dux femina facti.
A woman was leader in the deed.
Vergil—Æneid. I. 364.

Varium et mutabile semper,
A woman is always changeable and capricious.
Vergil—Æneid. IV. 569.

Furens quid fœmina possit.
That which an enraged woman can accomplish.
Vergil—Æneid. V. 6.

All the reasonings of men are not worth one sentiment of women.

Very learned women are to be found, in the same manner as female warriors; but they are seldom or ever inventors.
Voltaire—A Philosophical Dictionary. Women.

“Woman” must ever be a woman’s highest name,
And honors more than “Lady,” if I know right.
Walter von der Vogelweide. Translated in the Minnesinger of Germany. Woman and Lady.

My wife is one of the best wimin on this Continent, altho’ she isn’t always gentle as a lamb with mint sauce.
Artemus Ward—A War Meeting.

She is not old, she is not young,
The Woman with the Serpent’s Tongue.
The haggard cheek, the hungering eye,
The poisoned words that wildly fly,
The famished face, the fevered hand—
Who slights the worthiest in the land,
Sneers at the just, contemns the brave,
And blackens goodness in its grave.
William Watson—Woman with the Serpent’s Tongue.

What cannot a neat knave with a smooth tale
Make a woman believe?
John Webster—Duchess of Malfi. I. II.

Not from his head was woman took,
As made her husband to o’erlook;
Not from his feet, as one designed
The footstool of the stronger kind;
But fashioned for himself, a bride;
An equal, taken from his side.
Charles Wesley—Short Hymns on Select Passages of the Holy Scriptures.

There are only two kinds of women, the plain and the coloured.
Oscar Wilde—Dorian Gray. Ch. III. Same in Woman of No Importance. Act III.

Oh! no one. No one in particular. A woman of no importance.
Oscar Wilde—Woman of No Importance. Act I.

Shall I, wasting in despaire,
Dye because a woman’s faire?
Or make pale my cheeks with care
Cause another’s rosie are?
Be shee fairer than the day,
Or the flow’ry meads in May;
If she be not so to me,
What care I how faire shee be?
George Wither—Mistresse of Philarete. Percy—Reliques.

A Creature not too bright or good
For human nature’s daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.
Wordsworth—She was a Phantom of Delight.

And now I see with eye serene,
The very pulse of the machine;
A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
A Traveller betwixt life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill.
Wordsworth—She was a Phantom of Delight.

A perfect Woman, nobly planned
To warn, to comfort, and command.
Wordsworth—She was a Phantom of Delight.

She was a Phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely Apparition, sent
To be a moment’s ornament.
Wordsworth—She was a Phantom of Delight.

Shalt show us how divine a thing
A Woman may be made.
Wordsworth—To a Young Lady. Dear Child of Nature.

And beautiful as sweet!
And young as beautiful! and soft as young!
And gay as soft! and innocent as gay.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night III. L. 81.