Reference > Quotations > John Bartlett, comp. > Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. > 5137. Sir Walter Scott
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John Bartlett (1820–1905).  Familiar Quotations, 10th ed.  1919.
 
 
NUMBER:5137
AUTHOR:Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)
QUOTATION:O woman! in our hours of ease
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou! 1
ATTRIBUTION:Marmion. Canto vi. Stanza 30.
WORKS:Sir Walter Scott Collection.
 
Note 1.
See Shakespeare, Hamlet, Quotation 214.

Scott, writing to Southey in 1810, said: “A witty rogue the other day, who sent me a letter signed Detector, proved me guilty of stealing a passage from one of Vida’s Latin poems, which I had never seen or heard of.” The passage alleged to be stolen ends with,—
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!”

which in Vida “ad Eranen,” El. ii. v. 21, ran,—
“Cum dolor atque supercilio gravis imminet angor,
Fungeris angelico sola ministerio.”

“It is almost needless to add,” says Mr. Lockhart, “there are no such lines.”—Life of Scott, vol. iii. p. 294. (American edition.) [back]
 

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