She had been my lord’s chief slave and blind worshipper. Some women bear farther than this, and submit not only to neglect but to unfaithfulness too—but here this lady’s allegiance had failed her. Her spirit rebelled, and disowned any more obedience. First she had to bear in secret the passion of losing the adored object; then to get further initiation, and to find this worshipped being was but a clumsy idol: then to admit the silent truth, that it was she was superior, and not the monarch her master: that she had thoughts which his brains could never master, and was the better of the two; quite separate from my lord although tied to him, and bound, as almost all people (save a very happy few), to work all her life alone.
William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.
To be doing good for some one else, is the life of most good women. They are exuberant of kindness, as it were, and must impart it to someone.
William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.
'Tis an error, surely, to talk of the simplicity of youth. I think no persons are more hypocritical, and have a more affected behavior to one another, than the young. They deceive themselves and each other with artifices that do not impose upon men of the world; and so we get to understand truth better, and grow simpler as we grow older.
William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.
Then, perhaps, the pair reached that other stage which is not uncommon in married life, when the woman perceives that the god of the honeymoon is a god no more; only a mortal like the rest of us—and so she looks into her heart, and lo! vacuae sedes et inania arcana. And now, supposing our lady to have a fine genius and a brilliant wit of her own, and the magic spell and infatuation removed from her which had led her to worship as a god a very ordinary mortal—and what follows? They live together, and they dine together, and they say “my dear” and “my love” as heretofore; but the man is himself, and the woman herself: that dream of love is over as everything else is over in life; as flowers and fury, and griefs and pleasures, are over.
William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.
'Tis not the dying for a faith that's so hard, Master Harry - every man of every nation has done that - 'tis the living up to it that is difficult, as I know to my cost.
William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond, Esq (speaker: Dick Steele).
I look into my heart and think that I sin as good as my Lord Mayor, and know I am as bad as Tyburn Jack. Give me a chain and red gown and a pudding before me, and I could play the part of Alderman very well, and sentence Jack after dinner. Starve me, keep me from books and honest people, educate me to love dice, gin, and pleasure, and put me on Hounslow Heath, with a purse before me, and I will take it. “And I shall be deservedly hanged,” say you, wishing to put an end to this prosing. I don’t say No. I can’t but accept the world as I find it, including a rope’s end, as long as it is in fashion.
William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.
My Lady Viscountess’s face was daubed with white and red up to the eyes, to which the paint gave an unearthly glare: she had a tower of lace on her head, under which was a bush of black curls—borrowed curls—so that no wonder little Harry Esmond was scared when he was first presented to her—the kind priest acting as master of the ceremonies at that solemn introduction—and he stared at her with eyes almost as great as her own, as he had stared at the player woman who acted the wicked tragedy-queen, when the players came down to Ealing Fair. She sat in a great chair by the fire-corner; in her lap was a spaniel-dog that barked furiously; on a little table by her was her ladyship’s snuff-box and her sugar-plum box. She wore a dress of black velvet, and a petticoat of flame-colored brocade. She had as many rings on her fingers as the old woman of Banbury Cross; and pretty small feet which she was fond of showing, with great gold clocks to her stockings, and white pantofles with red heels; and an odor of musk was shook out of her garments whenever she moved or quitted the room, leaning on her tortoise-shell stick, little Fury barking at her heels.
William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.
I wonder shall History ever pull off her periwig and cease to be court-ridden? Shall we see something of France and England besides Versailles and Windsor? I saw Queen Anne at the latter place tearing down the Park slopes, after her stag-hounds, and driving her one-horse chaise - a hot, red-faced woman, not in the least resembling that statue of her which turns its stone back upon St. Paul’s, and faces the coaches struggling up Ludgate Hill. She was neither better bred nor wiser than you and me, though we knelt to hand her a letter or a wash-hand basin. Why shall History go on kneeling for all time?
William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.
Thus finished the great feast of Beiram, and with it all the hopes of the Bashaw’s wife, who had reckoned so much on obliterating the dissentions of the castle. She is most sincerely to be pitied. When they speak of her they say, she is an ornament to the throne, an affectionate mother, and a friend to the human race; her actions, public and private, are constantly guided by humanity and benevolence.
A French Consul, whose acquaintance I made in North Africa, replied to me, on rallying him on the various disavowels of French functionaries in different parts of the world: “I assure you, the only way to get distinction in our consular service is to get disavowed. When disavowed about English differences, we must be decorated, or the mob of Paris and its journals would not be satisfied.”
James Richardson, Travels in the Great Desert (1847).