William Congreve

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William Congreve
William Congreve (1670-01-241729-01-19) was an English playwright and poet.


  • Careless she is with artful care,
    Affecting to seem unaffected.
    • "Amoret", line 7 (1710)
  • Invention flags, his brain goes muddy,
    And black despair succeeds brown study.
    • "An Impossible Thing", line 105 (1720)
  • Defer not till tomorrow to be wise,
    Tomorrow's sun to thee may never rise.
    • "Letter to Cobham", line 61

The Old Bachelor (1693)

Wikisource has original text related to The Old Bachelor.
  • In my conscience I believe the baggage loves me, for she never speaks well of me herself, nor suffers any body else to rail at me.
    • Act I, sc. iii
  • I find we are growing serious, and then we are in great danger of being dull.
    • Act II, sc. vii
  • Eternity was in that moment.
    • Act IV, sc. vii
  • If this be not love, it is madness, and then it is pardonable.
    • Act IV, sc. x
  • Men are apt to offend ('tis true) where they find most goodness to forgive.
    • Act IV, sc. xi
  • Thus grief still treads upon the heels of pleasure;
    Married in haste, we may repent at leisure.
    • Act V, sc. viii

The Double Dealer (1694)

Wikisource has original text related to The Double Dealer.
  • It is the business of a comic poet to paint the vices and follies of human kind.
    • Epistle dedicatory
  • Retired to their tea and scandal, according to their ancient custom.
    • Act I, sc. i
  • Though marriage makes man and wife one flesh, it leaves 'em still two fools.
    • Act II, sc. iii
  • No mask like open truth to cover lies,
    As to go naked is the best disguise.
    • Act V, sc. iv

Love for Love (1695)

Wikisource has original text related to Love for Love.
  • Thou liar of the first magnitude.
    • Act II, sc. ii
  • I warrant you, if he danced till doomsday, he thought I was to pay the piper.
    • Act II, sc. ii
  • O fie, miss, you must not kiss and tell.
    • Act II, sc. x
  • I know that's a secret, for it's whispered every where.
    • Act III, sc. iii
  • Women are like tricks by sleight of hand,
    Which, to admire, we should not understand.
    • Act IV, sc. iii
  • Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life. Security is an insipid thing.
    • Act IV, sc. xx
  • 'Tis well enough for a servant to be bred at an University. But the education is a little too pedantic for a gentleman.
    • Act V, sc. iii

The Mourning Bride (1697)

Wikisource has original text related to The Mourning Bride.
  • Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
    To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.

    I've read, that things inanimate have mov'd,
    And, as with living Souls, have been inform'd,
    By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.
    What then am I? Am I more senseless grown
    Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe!
    'Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs.
    Anselmo sleeps, and is at Peace; last Night
    The silent Tomb receiv'd the good Old King;
    He and his Sorrows now are safely lodg'd
    Within its cold, but hospitable Bosom.
    Why am not I at Peace?
    • Act I, sc. i
    • The first lines of this passage are often rendered in modern spelling as "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast", or misquoted as: "Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast."
  • Vile and ingrate! too late thou shalt repent
    The base Injustice thou hast done my Love:
    Yes, thou shalt know, spite of thy past Distress,
    And all those Ills which thou so long hast mourn'd;
    Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd,
    Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd.
    • Act III, sc. viii
    • Often paraphrased: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

The Way of the World (1700)

Wikisource has original text related to The Way of the World.
  • They come together like the Coroner's Inquest, to sit upon the murdered reputations of the week.
    • Act I, sc. i
  • Say what you will, tis better to be left than never to have been loved.
    • Act II, sc. i
    • May have inspired Alfred Tennyson's similar phrase " 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."[1]
  • Love's but a frailty of the mind,
    When 'tis not with ambition joined.
    • Act III, sc. xii
  • If there's delight in love, 'tis when I see
    That heart which others bleed for, bleed for me.
    • Act III, sc. xii
  • I nauseate walking; 'tis a country diversion, I loathe the country.
    • Act IV, sc. v
  • 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.
    • Act IV, sc. v
  • Thou art a retailer of phrases, and dost deal in remnants of remnants.
    • Act IV, sc. ix
  • O, she is the antidote to desire.
    • Act IV, sc. xiv


  • Never go to bed angry, stay up and fight.

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