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


My dear, my better half.

Sir Philip Sidney.

How much the wife is dearer than the bride!

Lord Lyttleton.

The light wife doth make a heavy husband.


Lord of yourself, uncumbered with a wife.


Hanging and wiving goes by destiny.


  • We’ll leave a proof, by that which we will do,
  • Wives may be merry, and yet honest too.
  • Shakespeare.

    Should all despair that have revolted wives, the tenth of mankind would hang themselves.


    Thy wife is a constitution of virtues: she’s the moon, and thou art the man in the moon.


    He who would have fine guests, let him have a fine wife.

    Dr. Johnson.

    He knows little who will tell his wife all he knows.

    Thomas Fuller.

    All other goods by fortune’s hand are given; a wife is the peculiar gift of heaven.


    As the husband is, the wife is; thou art mated with a clown.


    She is not made to be the admiration of everybody, but the happiness of one.


    A happy union with wife and child is like the music of lutes and harps.


    A wise man in his house should find a wife gentle and courteous, or no wife at all.


    She commandeth her husband, in any equal matter, by constant obeying him.


    One can with dignity be wife and widow but once.


    Of earth’s goods, the best is a good wife; a bad, the bitterest curse of human life.


    He knew whose gentle hand was on the latch, before the door had given her to his eyes.


  • Think you, if Laura had been Petrarch’s wife,
  • He would have written sonnets all his life.
  • Byron.

  • The world well tried—the sweetest thing in life
  • Is the unclouded welcome of a wife.
  • N. P. Willis.

    Wives are young men’s mistresses; companions for middle age; and old men’s nurses.


    I have known men of valor cowards to their wives.

    Horace Walpole.

  • To no men are such cordial greetings given
  • As those whose wives have made them fit for heaven.
  • Byron.

  • But thou dost make the very night itself
  • Brighter than day.
  • Longfellow.

  • One word can charm all wrongs away,—
  • The sacred name of Wife.
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes.

  • Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self,
  • Thy wish, exactly to thy heart’s desire.
  • Milton.

  • The wife was pretty, trifling, childish, weak;
  • She could not think, but would not cease to speak.
  • Crabbe.

    Her pleasures are in the happiness of her family.


    First get an absolute conquest over thyself, and then thou wilt easily govern thy wife.


    Nothing flatters a man so much as the happiness of his wife; he is always proud of himself as the source of it.

    Dr. Johnson.

    To be man’s tender mate was woman born, and in obeying nature she best serves the purpose of heaven.


  • In the election of a wife, as in
  • A project of war, to err but once is
  • To be undone forever.
  • Thos. Middleton.

    An intelligent wife can make her home, in spite of exigencies, pretty much what she pleases.


    Her gentle spirit commits itself to yours to be directed, as from her lord, her governor, her king.


    A woman in a single state may be happy and may be miserable; but most happy, most miserable,—these are epithets belonging to a wife.


  • O wretched is the dame, to whom the sound,
  • “Your lord will soon return,” no pleasure brings.
  • Maturin.

    Being asked why in some kingdoms the king is of age at fourteen, but cannot marry until eighteen, Molière replied: “Because it is more difficult to rule a wife than a kingdom.”

    J. A. Bent.

  • You know I met you,
  • Kist you, and prest you close within my arms,
  • With all the tenderness of wifely love.
  • Dryden.

  • For nothing lovelier can be found
  • In woman, than to study household good,
  • And good works in her husband to promote.
  • Milton.

  • The wife, where danger or dishonor lurks,
  • Safest and seemliest by her husband stays,
  • Who guards her, or with her the worst endures.
  • Milton.

  • Awake,
  • My fairest, my espous’d, my latest found,
  • Heaven’s last best gift, my ever new delight!
  • Milton.

  • What is there in the vale of life
  • Half so delightful as a wife;
  • When friendship, love and peace combine
  • To stamp the marriage-bond divine?
  • Cowper.

  • She is a winsome wee thing,
  • She is a handsome wee thing,
  • She is a bonny wee thing,
  • This sweet wee wife o’ mine.
  • Burns.

  • And while the wicket falls behind
  • Her steps, I thought if I could find
  • A wife I need not blush to show
  • I’ve little further now to go.
  • William Barnes.

  • She who ne’er answers till a husband cools,
  • Or, if she rules him, never shews she rules;
  • Charms by accepting, by submitting sways,
  • Yet has her humour most when she obeys.
  • Pope.

  • The man to Jove his suit preferr’d;
  • He begg’d a wife; his prayer was heard.
  • Jove wonder’d at his bold addressing:
  • For how precarious is the blessing!
  • Gay.

  • Oh! ’tis a precious thing, when wives are dead,
  • To find such numbers who will serve instead;
  • And in whatever state a man be thrown,
  • ’Tis that precisely they would wish their own.
  • Crabbe.

    You are my true and honorable wife, as dear to me as the ruddy drops that visit my sad heart.


  • A wife, domestic, good, and pure,
  • Like snail, should keep within her door;
  • But not, like snail, with silver track,
  • Place all her wealth upon her back.
  • W. W. How.

  • 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,
  • Think you, I am no stronger than my sex,
  • Being so father’d and so husbanded?
  • Shakespeare.

  • Be thou the rainbow to the storms of life!
  • The evening beam that smiles the clouds away
  • And tints to-morrow with prophetic ray!
  • Byron.

  • She is mine own;
  • And I as rich in having such a jewel,
  • As twenty seas, if all their sand were pearl,
  • The water nectar, and the rocks pure gold.
  • Shakespeare.

  • I crave fit disposition for my wife;
  • Due reference of place, and exhibition;
  • With such accommodation, and besort,
  • As levels with her breeding.
  • Shakespeare.

  • As for my wife,
  • I would you had her spirit in such another:
  • The third o’ the world is yours; which with a snaffle,
  • You may pace easy, but not such a wife.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Alas! he has banish’d me his bed already;
  • His love too long ago: I am old, my lords,
  • And all the fellowship I hold now with him
  • Is only my obedience. What can happen
  • To me, above this wretchedness?
  • Shakespeare.

  • Fye! fye! unknit that threat’ning unkind brow;
  • And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,
  • To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor:
  • It blots thy beauty, as frosts bite the meads;
  • Confounds thy fame, as whirlwinds shake fair buds;
  • And in no sense is meet, or amiable.
  • Shakespeare.

  • I am asham’d, that women are so simple
  • To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
  • Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway,
  • When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Happy in this, she is not yet so old
  • But she may learn; happier than this,
  • She is not bred so dull but she can learn;
  • Happiest of all is, that her gentle spirit
  • Commits itself to yours to be directed.
  • Shakespeare.

    Would it not grieve a woman to be over-mastered by a piece of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marle?


  • What? I! I love! I sue! I seek a wife!
  • A woman that is like a German clock,
  • Still a repairing, ever out of frame,
  • And never going aright; being a watch,
  • But being watch’d that it may still go right!
  • Shakespeare.

  • Give me, next good, an understanding wife,
  • By nature wise, not learned by much art;
  • Some knowledge on her side will all my life
  • More scope of conversation then impart;
  • Besides her inborn virtue fortify;
  • They are most good who best know why.
  • Sir Thomas Overbury.

  • Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
  • Even such a woman oweth to her husband:
  • And, when she ’s froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
  • And not obedient to his honest will,
  • What is she but a foul contending rebel,
  • And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
  • Shakespeare.

  • Horses (thou say’st) and asses men may try,
  • And ring suspected vessels ere they buy;
  • But wives, a random choice, untried they take;
  • They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake;
  • Then, nor till then, the veil’s removed away,
  • And all the woman glares in open day.
  • Pope.

    This specter of the female politician, who abandons her family to neglect for the sake of passing bills in parliament, is just as complete an illusion of the masculine brain, as the other specter whom Sydney Smith laid by a joke,—the woman who would forsake an infant for a quadratic equation.

    Frances Power Cobbe.

    The good wife is none of our dainty dames, who love to appear in a variety of suits every day new; as if a good gown, like a stratagem in war, were to be used but once. But our good wife sets up a sail according to the keel of her husband’s estate; and if of high parentage, she doth not so remember what she was by birth, that she forgets what she is by match.


  • Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
  • Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
  • And for thy maintenance; commits his body
  • To painful labour, both by sea and land;
  • While thou ly’st warm at home, secure and safe,
  • And craves no other tribute at thy hands,
  • But love, fair looks, and true obedience;—
  • Too little payment for so great a debt.
  • Shakespeare.

    Nothing can be more touching than to behold a soft and tender female, who had been all weakness and dependence, and alive to every trivial roughness while treading the prosperous paths of life, suddenly rising by mental force to be the comforter and supporter of her husband under misfortune, and abiding with unshrinking firmness the bitterest blast of adversity.

    Washington Irving.

    A good wife is heaven’s last, best gift to man,—his gem of many virtues, his casket of jewels; her voice is sweet music, her smiles his brightest day, her kiss the guardian of his innocence, her arms the pale of his safety, her industry his surest wealth, her economy his safest steward, her lips his faithful counselors, her bosom the softest pillow of his care.

    Jeremy Taylor.

  • What so pure, which envious tongues will spare?
  • Some wicked wits have libell’d all the fair,
  • With matchless impudence they style a wife,
  • The dear-bought curse, and lawful plague of life;
  • A bosom serpent, a domestic evil,
  • A night invasion, and a mid-day devil;
  • Let not the wise these sland’rous words regard,
  • But curse the bones of ev’ry living bard.
  • Pope.

    O woman! thou knowest the hour when the good man of the house will return, when the heat and burden of the day are past; do not let him at such time, when he is weary with toil and jaded with discouragement, find upon his coming to his habitation that the foot which should hasten to meet him is wandering at a distance, that the soft hand which should wipe the sweat from his brow is knocking at the door of other houses.

    Washington Irving.

  • Sail forth into the sea of life,
  • O gentle, loving, trusting wife,
  • And safe from all adversity
  • Upon the bosom of that sea
  • Thy comings and thy goings be!
  • For gentleness and love and trust
  • Prevail o’er angry wave and gust;
  • And in the wreck of noble lives
  • Something immortal still survives.
  • Longfellow.

  • Light household duties, ever more inwrought
  • With placid fancies of one trusting heart
  • That lives but in her smile, and turns
  • From life’s cold seeming and the busy mart,
  • With tenderness, that heavenward ever yearns
  • To be refreshed where one pure altar burns.
  • Shut out from hence the mockery of life;
  • Thus liveth she content, the meek, fond, trusting wife.
  • Elizabeth Oakes Smith.

  • A love still burning upward, giving light
  • To read those laws, an accent very low
  • In blandishment, but a most silver flow
  • Of subtle-paced counsel in distress,
  • Right to the heart and brain, tho’ undescried,
  • Winning its way with extreme gentleness
  • Thro’ all the outworks of suspicious pride;
  • A courage to endure and to obey:
  • A hate of gossip parlance and of sway,
  • Crown’d Isabel, thro’ all her placid life,
  • The queen of marriage, a most perfect wife.
  • Tennyson.

    The death of a man’s wife is like cutting down an ancient oak that has long shaded the family mansion. Henceforth the glare of the world, with its cares and vicissitudes, falls upon the old widower’s heart, and there is nothing to break their force, or shield him from the full weight of misfortune. It is as if his right hand were withered; as if one wing of his angel was broken, and every movement that he made brought him to the ground.