Wide World of Quotes > William Congreve Quotes


William Congreve
English playwright and poet
(1670-1729)



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I am always of the opinion with the learned, if they speak first.
-- Incognita (1692)

If this be not love, it is madness, and then it is pardonable.
-- The Old Bachelor (1693), 3

Eternity was in that moment.
-- The Old Bachelor (1693), 4

Sharper: Thus grief still treads upon the heels of pleasure:
Married in haste, we may repent at leisure.
Setter: Some by experience find those words misplaced:
At leisure married, they repent in haste.
-- The Old Bachelor (1693), 5

Courtship to marriage, as a very witty prologue to a very dull Play.
-- The Old Bachelor (1693), 5

I could find it in my heart to marry thee, purely to be rid of thee.
-- The Old Bachelor (1693), 5

Retired to their tea and scandal, according to their ancient custom.
-- The Double Dealer (1694), 1

Though marriage makes man and wife one flesh, it leaves 'em still two fools.
-- The Double Dealer (1694), 2

She lays it on with a trowel.
-- The Double Dealer (1694), 3

See how love and murder will out.
-- The Double Dealer (1694), 4

No mask like open truth to cover lies,
As to go naked is the best disguise.
-- The Double Dealer (1694), 5

I came up stairs into the world, for I was born in a cellar.
-- Love for Love, 2 (1695)

O fie, miss, you must not kiss and tell.
-- Love for Love, 2 (1695)

I know that's a secret, for it's whispered every where.
-- Love for Love, 3 (1695)

He that first cries out stop thief, is often he that has stolen the treasure.
-- Love for Love, 3 (1695)

Women are like tricks by sleight of hand,
Which, to admire, we should not understand.
-- Love for Love, 4 (1695)

A branch of one of your antedilivian familes, fellows that the flood could not wash away.
-- Love for Love, 5 (1695)

Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.
-- The Mourning Bride (1697), 1
(Often misquoted as "Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast".)

Heav'n has no rage, like love to hatred turn'd,
Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn'd.
-- The Mourning Bride (1697), 3
(Often paraphrased as "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned")
(Compare Colley Cibber's Love's Last Shift, 4: "We shall find no fiend in hell can match the fury of a disappointed woman".)

Is he then dead?
What, dead at last, quite, quite for ever dead?
-- The Mourning Bride (1697), 5

They come together like the Coroner's Inquest, to sit upon the murdered reputations of the week.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 1

Ay, ay, I have experience: I have a wife, and so forth.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 1

I always take blushing either for a sign of guilt, or of ill breeding.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 1

Say what you will, tis better to be left than never to have been loved.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 2
Compare Alfred Tennyson's line: "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all".

Here she comes i' faith full sail, and with her fan spread spread and streamers out, and a shoal of fools for tenders.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 2

Witwoud: Madam, do you pin up your hair with all your letters?
Millamant: Only with those in verse, Mr Witwoud. I never pin up my hair with prose.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 2

Beauty is the lover's gift.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 2

A little disdain is not amiss; a little scorn is alluring.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 3

If there's delight in love, 'tis when I see
That heart which others bleed for, bleed for me.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 3

I nauseate walking; 'tis a country diversion, I loathe the country.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 4

Don't let us be familiar or fond, nor kiss before folks, like my Lady Fadler and Sir Francis: nor go to Hyde-Park together the first Sunday in a new chariot, to provoke eyes and whispers, and then never be seen there together again; as if we were proud of one another the first week, and ashamed of one another ever after... Let us be very strange and well-bred. Let us be as strange as if we had been married a great while, and as well-bred as if we were not married at all.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 4

These articles subscribed, if I continue to endure you a little longer, I may be degrees dwindle into a wife.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 4

I hope you do not think me prone to any iteration of nuptials
-- The Way of the World (1700), 4

O, she is the antidote to desire.
-- The Way of the World (1700), 4

Invention flags, his brain goes muddy,
And black despair succeeds brown study.
-- An Impossible Thing (1720)

Music alone with sudden charms can bind
The wandering sense, and calm the troubled mind.
-- "Hymn to Harmony"

Careless she is with artless care,
Affecting to seem unaffected.
-- "Amoret"

Would I were free from this restraint,
Or else had hopes to win her;
Would she make of me a saint,
Or I of her a sinner.
-- Pious Selinda Goes to Prayers" (song)

Alack, he's gone the way of all flesh.
-- Squire Bickerstaff Detected (attrib.)

I confess freely to you, I could never look long upon a monkey, without very mortifying reflections.
-- Letter to John Dennis, July 10, 1695


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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