Courtship is the period in a couple's relationship which precedes their engagement and marriage, or establishment of an agreed relationship of a more enduring kind. In courtship, a couple get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement or other such agreement. A courtship may be an informal and private matter between two people or may be a public affair, or a formal arrangement with family approval. Traditionally, in the case of a formal engagement, it has been perceived that it is the role of a male to actively "court" or "woo" a female, thus encouraging her to understand him and her receptiveness to a proposal of marriage. Within many western societies, these distinct gender roles have lost some of their importance and rigidity.
- He that will win his dame must do
As love does when he draws his bow;
With one hand thrust the lady from,
And with the other pull her home.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part II (1664), Canto I, line 449.
- She that with poetry is won,
Is but a desk to write upon;
And what men say of her they mean
No more than on the thing they lean.
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part II (1664), Canto I, line 591.
- Do proper homage to thine idol's eyes;
But not too humbly, or she will despise
Thee and thy suit, though told in moving tropes:
Disguise even tenderness, if thou art wise.
- Not much he kens, I ween, of woman's breast,
Who thinks that wanton thing is won by sighs.
- 'Tis an old lesson; time approves it true,
And those who know it best, deplore it most;
When all is won that all desire to woo,
The paltry prize is hardly worth the cost.
- And whispering, "I will ne'er consent"—consented.
- There is a tide in the affairs of women
Which, taken at the flood, leads—God knows where.
- Some are soon bagg'd but some reject three dozen.
'Tis fine to see them scattering refusals
And wild dismay, o'er every angry cousin
(Friends of the party) who begin accusais,
Such as—"Unless Miss (Blank) meant to have chosen
Poor Frederick, why did she accord perusals
To his billets? Why waltz with him? Why, I pray,
Look yes last night, and yet say No to-day?"
- "Chops and Tomata Sauce. Yours, Pickwick." Chops! Gracious heavens! and Tomata Sauce! Gentlemen, is the happiness of a sensitive and confiding female to be trifled away by such shallow artifices as these?
- If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), Part III, line 111.
- Why don't you speak for yourself, John?
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), III. Last line.
- Her virtue and the conscience of her worth,
That would be woo'd, and not unsought be won.
- Lightly from fair to fair he flew,
And loved to plead, lament, and sue,—
Suit lightly won, and short-lived pain,
For monarchs seldom sigh in vain.
- Walter Scott, Marmion (1808), Canto V, Stanza 9.
- A heaven on earth I have won by wooing thee.
- Most fair,
Will you vouchsafe to teach a soldier terms
Such as will enter at a lady's ear
And plead his love-suit to her gentle heart?
- She's beautiful and therefore to be woo'd:
She is a woman, therefore to be won.
- Be merry, and employ your chiefest thoughts
To courtship and such fair ostents of love
As shall conveniently become you there.
- Wooing thee, I found thee of more value
Than stamps in gold or sums in sealed bags;
And 'tis the very riches of thyself
That now I aim at.
- We cannot fight for love, as men may do;
We should be woo'd and were not made to woo.
- Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore;
To one thing constant never.
- I was not born under a rhyming planet, nor I cannot woo in festival terms.
- She wish'd she had not heard it, yet she wish'd
That heaven had made her such a man: she thank'd me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that lov'd her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story
And that would woo her.
- Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
- O gentle Romeo,
If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully.
Or if thou think'st I am too quickly won,
I'll frown and be perverse and say thee nay,
So thou wilt woo: but else, not for the world.
- She is a woman, therefore may be woo'd;
She is a woman, therefore may be won.
- Women are angels, wooing:
Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing:
That she belov'd knows nought that knows not this:
Men prize the thing ungain'd more than it is.
- Win her with gifts, if she respect not words;
Dumb jewels often in their silent kind
More than quick words do move a woman's mind.
- Never give her o'er;
For scorn at first makes after-love the more.
If she do frown, 'tis not in hate of you,
But rather to beget more love in you;
If she do chide, 'tis not to have you gone,
For why, the fools are mad if left alone.
- Take no repulse, whatever she doth say;
For, "get you gone," she doth not mean, "away."
Flatter and praise, commend, extol their graces;
Though ne'er so black, say they have angels' faces.
That man that hath a tongue, I say, is no man,
If with his tongue he cannot win a woman.
- Say that upon the altar of her beauty
You sacrifice your tears, your sighs, your heart:
Write till your ink be dry and with your tears
Moist it again, and frame some feeling line,
That may discover such integrity.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 898-902.
- Thrice happy's the wooing that's not long a-doing,
So much time is saved in the billing and cooing.
- R. H. Barham, Sir Rupert the Fearless.
- Why don't the men propose, mamma?
Why don't the men propose?
- Thomas Haynes Bayly, Songs and Ballads, Why Don't the Men Propose?
- 'Yes,' I answered you last night;
'No,' this morning, sir, I say:
Colors seen by candle-light
Will not look the same by day.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Lady's "Yes".
- Alas! to seize the moment
When heart inclines to heart,
And press a suit with passion,
Is not a woman's part.
If man come not to gather
The roses where they stand,
They fade among their foliage,
They cannot seek his hand.
- William Cullen Bryant, Song. Translation from the Spanish of Iglesias.
- Woo the fair one when around
Early birds are singing;
When o'er all the fragrant ground
Early herbs are springing:
When the brookside, bank, and grove
All with blossom laden,
Shine with beauty, breathe of love,
Woo the timid maiden.
- William Cullen Bryant, Love's Lessons.
- Duncan Gray cam here to woo,
Ha, ha, the wooing o't!
On blithe Yulenight when we were fou,
Ha, ha, the wooing o't!
Maggie coost her head fu' high,
Looked asklent and unco skeigh,
Gart poor Duncan stand abeigh:
Ha, ha! the wooing o't!
- Robert Burns, Duncan Gray.
- And let us mind, faint heart ne'er wan
A lady fair.
Wha does the utmost that he can
Will whyles do mair.
- Robert Burns, To Dr. Blacklock.
- The landlady and Tam grew gracious
Wi' favours secret, sweet and precious.
- Robert Burns, Tam o' Shanter, Stanza 7.
- Blessed is the wooing
That is not long a-doing.
- Quoted in Richard Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy.
- How often in the summer-tide,
His graver business set aside,
Has stripling Will, the thoughtful-eyed
As to the pipe of Pan,
Stepped blithesomely with lover's pride
Across the fields to Anne.
- Richard Burton, Across the Fields to Anne (referring to Shakespeare).
- 'Tis enough—
Who listens once will listen twice;
Her heart be sure is not of ice,
And one refusal no rebuff.
- Lord Byron, Mazeppa, Stanza 6.
- Better be courted and jilted
Than never be courted at all.
- Thomas Campbell, The Jilted Nymph.
- Never wedding, ever wooing,
Still a lovelorn heart pursuing,
Read you not the wrong you're doing
In my cheek's pale hue?
All my life with sorrow strewing;
Wed or cease to woo.
- Thomas Campbell, The Maid's Remonstrance.
- So mourn'd the dame of Ephesus her Love,
And thus the Soldier arm'd with Resolution
Told his soft Tale, and was a thriving Wooer.
- Colley Cibber, Richard III (Altered) (1700), Act II, scene 1.
- Faint heart hath been a common phrase, faire ladie never wives.
- J. P. Collier's Reprint of The Rocke of Regard (1576), p. 122.
- And when with envy Time transported
Shall think to rob us of our joys,
You'll in your girls again be courted,
And I'll go wooing in my boys.
- Gilbert Cooper, according to John Aikin, in Collection of English Songs. Winifreda. Claimed for him by Walter Thornbury—Two Centuries of Song. (1810). Bishop Percy assigns it a place in his Reliques. I. 326, (Ed. 1777), but its ancient origin is a fiction. Poem appeared in Dodsley's Magazine and in Miscellaneous Poems by Several hands. (1726).
- Ah, Foole! faint heart faire lady n'ere could win.
- Phineas Fletcher, Brittain's Ida, Canto V, Stanza 1. William Ellerton—George a-Greene. Ballad written about 1569. A Proper New Ballad in Praise of My Lady Marques. (1569). Reprint Philobiblian So. 1867, p. 22. Early use in Camden's Remaines. (Ed. 1814). Originally published with Spenser's name on the title page.
- Perhaps if you address the lady
Most politely, most politely,
Flatter and impress the lady
Most politely, most politely.
Humbly beg and humbly sue,
She may deign to look on you.
- W. S. Gilbert, Princess Ida.
- If doughty deeds my lady please,
Right soon I'll mount my steed,
And strong his arm and fast his seat,
That bears me from the meed.
Then tell me how to woo thee, love,
Oh, tell me how to woo thee
For thy dear sake, nae care I'll take
Though ne'er another trow me.
- Robert Graham, Tell me how to woo Thee.
- I'll woo her as the lion woos his brides.
- John Home, Douglas, Act I, scene 1.
- The surest way to hit a woman's heart is to take aim kneeling.
- Douglas Jerrold, Douglas Jerrold's Wit, The Way to a Woman's Heart.
- Follow a shadow, it still flies you,
Seem to fly, it will pursue:
So court a mistress, she denies you;
Let her alone, she will court you.
Say are not women truly, then,
Styled but the shadows of us men?
- Ben Jonson, The Forest, Song, That Women are but Men's Shadows.
- There be triple ways to take, of the eagle or the snake,
Or the way of a man with a maid.
- Rudyard Kipling, The Long Trail, L'Envoi to Departmental Duties.
- A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care)
But the fool he called her his lady fair—
(Even as you and I!)
- Rudyard Kipling, The Vampire.
- The nightingales among the sheltering boughs
Of populous many-nested trees
Shall teach me how to woo thee, and shall tell me
By what resistless charms or incantations
They won their mates.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Masque of Pandora, Part V, line 62.
- Come live in my heart and pay no rent.
- Samuel Lover, Vourneen! when your days were bright.
- His heart kep' goin' pity-pat,
But hern went pity-Zekle.
- James Russell Lowell, Introduction to The Biglow Papers, Second Series, The Courtin', Stanza 15.
- Whaur hae ye been a' day,
My boy Tammy?
I've been by burn and flowery brae,
Meadow green and mountain grey,
Courting of this young thing
Just come frae her mammy.
- Hector MacNeill, song.
- I will now court her in the conqueror's style;
"Come, see, and overcome."
- Philip Massinger, Maid of Honour, Act II, scene 1.
- He kissed her cold corpse a thousand times o'er,
And called her his jewel though she was no more:
And he drank all the pison like a lovyer so brave,
And Villikins and Dinah lie buried in one grave.
- Henry Mayhew condensed and interpolated the modern version in his Wandering Minstrel. The words of an old song given to him by the actor, Mitchell, who sang it in 1831. The ballad is older than the age of Queen Elizabeth, according to G. A. Sala—Autobiography.
- And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale.
- John Milton, L'Allegro, line 67.
- That you are in a terrible taking,
By all these sweet oglings I see;
But the fruit that can fall without shaking,
Indeed is too mellow for me.
- Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, lines written for Lord William Hamilton.
- Let this great maxim be my virtue's guide:
In part she is to blame that has been tried;
He comes too near that comes to be denied.
- Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, The Lady's Resolve. In Works, Volume V, p. 104. Ed. 1803. Quoted from Overbury.
- If I speak to thee in friendship's name,
Thou think'st I speak too coldly;
If I mention Love's devoted flame,
Thou say'st I speak too boldly.
- Thomas Moore, How Shall I Woo?
- 'Tis sweet to think that where'er we rove
We are sure to find something blissful and dear;
And that when we're far from the lips we love,
We've but to make love to the lips we are near.
- Thomas Moore, 'Tis Sweet to Think.
- Happy Mary Anerly, looking O so fair,
There's a ring upon your hand, and there's myrtle in your hair.
Somebody is with you now: Somebody I see,
Looks into your trusting face very tenderly.
- Arthur James Munby, Mary Anerly.
- I sat with Doris, the Shepherd maiden;
Her crook was laden with wreathèd flowers;
I sat and wooed her through sunlight wheeling,
And shadows stealing for hours and hours.
- Arthur James Munby, Pastoral.
- Ye shall know my breach of promise.
- Numbers, XIV. 34.
- In part to blame is she,
Which hath without consent bin only tride;
He comes too neere, that comes to be denide.
- Sir Thomas Overbury, A Wife, Stanza 36.
- Ah, whither shall a maiden flee,
When a bold youth so swift pursues,
And siege of tenderest courtesy,
With hope perseverant, still renews!
- Coventry Patmore, The Chase.
- They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake.
- Alexander Pope, Wife of Bath, line 103.
- The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.
- Proverbs, XXX. 19.
- But in vain did she conjure him
To depart her presence so,
Having a thousand tongues t'allure him,
And but one to bid him go.
- Sir Walter Raleigh, Dulcina. Attributed to Brydges, who edited Raleigh's poems.
- It was a happy age when a man might have wooed his wench with a pair of kid leather gloves, a silver thimble, or with a tawdry lace; but now a velvet gown, a chain of pearl, or a coach with four horses will scarcely serve the turn.
- Richard Rich, My Lady's Looking Glass.
- Wooed, and married, and a',
Married, and wooed, and a'!
And was she nae very weel off
That was wooed, and married, and a'?
- Alexander Ross, Song.
- A pressing lover seldom wants success,
Whilst the respectful, like the Greek, sits down
And wastes a ten years' siege before one town.
- Nicholas Rowe, To the Inconstant. Epilogue, line 18.
- Bring therefore all the forces that ye may,
And lay incessant battery to her heart;
Playnts, prayers, vowes, truth, sorrow, and dismay;
Those engins can the proudest love convert:
And, if those fayle, fall down and dy before her;
So dying live, and living do adore her.
- Edmund Spenser, Amoretti and Epithalamion, Sonnet XIV.
- Full little knowest thou that hast not tried,
What hell it is in suing long to bide:
To loose good dayes, that might be better spent;
To waste long nights in pensive discontent;
To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow;
To feed on hope, to pine with feare and sorrow.
- Edmund Spenser, Mother Hubberd's Tale, line 895.
- Quiet, Robin, quiet!
You lovers are such clumsy summer-flies,
Forever buzzing at your lady's face.
- Alfred Tennyson, The Foresters, Act IV, scene 1.
- When Venus said "Spell no for me,"
"N-O," Dan Cupid wrote with glee,
And smiled at his success:
"Ah, child," said Venus, laughing low,
"We women do not spell it so,
We spell it Y-E-S."
- Carolyn Wells, The Spelling Lesson.