Philip Massinger

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Be wise;
Soar not too high, to fall; but stoop to rise.

Philip Massinger (158317 March 1640) was an English dramatist. His finely plotted plays, including A New Way to Pay Old Debts, The City Madam and The Roman Actor are noted for their satire, realism, and political and social themes.


  • Death hath a thousand doors to let out life.
    • A Very Woman (1619), Act v. Sc. 4. Compare: "Death hath so many doors to let out life", Beaumont and Fletcher, The Custom of the Country, act ii. sc. 2; "The thousand doors that lead to death", Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, part i, sect. xliv
  • Virtue, if not in action, is a vice,
    And, when we move not forward, we go backward.
  • What a sea
    Of melting ice I walk on!
    • The Maid of Honour (c. 1621; printed 1632), Act III, scene iii
  • He
    That kills himself to avoid misery, fears it,
    And, at the best, shows but a bastard valour.
    This life's a fort committed to my trust,
    Which I must not yield up till it be forc'd.
    —Nor will I. He's not valiant that dares die,
    But he that boldly bears calamity.
    • The Maid of Honour (c. 1621; printed 1632), Act IV, scene iii
  • Out, you impostors!
    Quack-salving, cheating mountebanks! Your skill
    Is to make sound men sick, and sick men kill.
  • To doubt
    Is worse than to have lost; and to despair
    Is but to antedate those miseries
    That must fall on us.
    • Duke of Milan (1623), Act I, scene iii
  • The oath in any way or form you please,
    I stand resolv'd to take it.
    • Duke of Milan (1623), Act I, scene iii
  • What a bridge
    Of glass I walk upon, over a river
    Of certain ruin! Mine own weighty fears
    Cracking what should support me:—And those helps,
    Which confidence yields to others, are from me
    Ravish'd by doubts, and wilful jealousy.
    • The Bondman (1623), Act IV, scene iii
  • Some undone widow sits upon mine arm,
    And takes away the use of it; and my sword,
    Glued to my scabbard with wronged orphans' tears,
    Will not be drawn.
    • A New Way to pay Old Debts (1625), Act v. Sc. 1. Compare: "From thousands of our undone widows / One may derive some wit", Thomas Middleton, A Trick to catch the Old One (1605), Act i, Scene 2
  • Cause me no causes.
    • A New Way to Pay Old Debts (1625), act i. sc. 3. See X me no X's
  • This many-headed monster,
    The giddy multitude.
    • The Roman Actor (1626), Act iii. Sc. 2. Compare: "Many-headed multitude", Sir Philip Sidney, Defence of Poesy, Book ii; "Many-headed multitude", William Shakespeare, Coriolanus, act ii, scene 3; "This many-headed monster, Multitude", Daniel, History of the Civil War, book ii, st. 13
  • Grim death.
    • The Roman Actor (1626), Act iv. Sc. 2. Compare: "Grim death, my son and foe", John Milton, Paradise Lost, book ii, line 804
  • But in our Sanazarro 'tis not so,
    He being pure and tried gold; and any stamp
    Of grace, to make him current to the world,
    The duke is pleased to give him, will add honour
    To the great bestower; for he, though allow'd
    Companion to his master, still preserves
    His majesty in full lustre.
    • Great Duke of Florence (1627), Act I, scene 1
  • Like a rough orator, that brings more truth
    Than rhetoric, to make good his accusation.
    • Great Duke of Florence (1627)
  • Quiet night that brings
    Rest to the labourer, is the outlaw's day,
    In which he rises early to do wrong,
    And when his work is ended, dares not sleep.
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