C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


Do you suppose we owe nothing to Pope’s deformity? He said to himself, “If my person be crooked, my verses shall be straight.”


  • In nature there’s no blemish but the mind;
  • None can be call’d deform’d but the unkind:
  • Virtue is beauty; but the beauteous evil
  • Are empty trunks, o’er-flourish’d by the devil.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Deformity of the heart I call
  • The worst deformity of all;
  • For what is form, or what is face,
  • But the soul’s index, or its case?
  • Colton.

    Deformity is either natural, voluntary or adventitious, being either caused by God’s unseen Providence (by men nicknamed chance), or by men’s cruelty.


  • Deform’d, unfinish’d, sent before my time
  • Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
  • And that so lamely and unfashionably,
  • That dogs bark at me, as I halt by them.
  • But I,—that am not shap’d for sportive tricks,
  • Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
  • I that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty,
  • To strut before a wanton ambling nymph.
  • Shakespeare.

    From whence comes it that a cripple in body does not irritate us, and that a crippled mind enrages us? It is because a cripple sees that we go right, and a distorted mind says that it is we who go astray. But for that we should have more pity and less rage.


  • Deformity is daring;
  • It is its essence to o’ertake mankind
  • By heart and soul, and make itself the equal—
  • Ay, the superior of the rest. There is
  • A spur in its halt movements, to become
  • All that the others cannot, in such things
  • As still are free for both, to compensate
  • For stepdame Nature’s avarice at first.
  • Byron.

  • Nature herself started back when thou wert born,
  • And cried, “the work’s not mine.”
  • The midwife stood aghast; and when she saw
  • Thy mountain back and thy distorted legs,
  • Thy face itself,
  • Half-minted with the royal stamp of man,
  • And half o’ercome with beast, she doubted long
  • Whose right in thee were more;
  • And know not if to burn thee in the flames
  • Were not the holier work.
  • Lee.

  • Why, love forswore me in my mother’s womb:
  • And, for I should not deal in her soft laws,
  • She did corrupt frail nature with some bribe
  • To shrink mine arm up like a wither’d shrub,
  • To make an envious mountain on my back,
  • Where sits deformity to make my body;
  • To shape my legs of an unequal size;
  • To disproportion me in every part,
  • Like to a chaos, or an unlick’d bear-whelp,
  • That carries no impression like the dam.
  • And am I then a man to be belov’d?
  • Shakespeare.

  • Am I to blame, if nature threw my body
  • In so perverse a mould! yet when she cast
  • Her envious hand upon my supple joints,
  • Unable to resist, and rumpled them
  • On heaps in their dark lodging; to revenge
  • Her bungled work, she stamped my mind more fair,
  • And as from chaos, huddled and deform’d,
  • The gods struck fire, and lighted up the lamps
  • That beautify the sky; so she inform’d
  • This ill-shap’d body with a daring soul,
  • And, making less than man, she made me more.
  • Lee.

    Many a man has risen to eminence under the powerful reaction of his mind in fierce counter-agency to the scorn of the unworthy, daily evoked by his personal defects, who with a handsome person would have sunk into the luxury of a careless life under the tranquillizing smiles of continual admiration.

    De Quincey.