"It is beyond a doubt that during the sixteenth century, and the years immediately preceding and following it, poisoning had been brought to a pitch of perfection which remains unknown to modern chemistry, but which is indisputably proved by history. Italy, the cradle of modern science, was at that time, the inventor and mistress of these secrets, many of which are lost."
"In France, and at the most important period of our history, Catherine de' Medici has suffered more from popular error than any other woman, unless it be Brunehaut or Frédégonde; while Marie de' Medici, whose every action was prejudicial to France, has escaped the disgrace that should cover her name.... Catherine de' Medici ... saved the throne of France, she maintained [the] Royal authority under circumstances to which more than one great prince would have succumbed. Face to face with such leaders of the factions and ambitions of the houses of Guise and of Bourbon as the two Cardinals de Lorraine and the two "Balafrès," the two Princes de Condé, Queen Jeanne d'Albret, Henri IV, the Connétable de Montmorency, Calvin, the Colignys and Théodore de Bèze, she was forced to put forth the rarest fine qualities, the most essential gifts of statesmanship, under the fire of the Calvinist press."
"If you are to judge a man, you must know his secret thoughts, sorrows, and feelings; to know merely the outward events of a man's life would only serve to make a chronological table--a fool's notion of history."
"By contrast with history, evolution is an unconscious process. Another, and perhaps a better way of putting it would be to say that evolution is a natural process, history a human one.... Insofar as we treat man as a part of nature--for instance in a biological survey of evolution--we are precisely not treating him as a historical being. As a historically developing being, he is set over against nature, both as a knower and as a doer."
"Woman's success in lifting men out of their way of life nearly resembling that of the beasts--who merely hunted and fished for food, who found shelter where they could in jungles, in trees, and caves--was a civilizing triumph."
"... the history of the race, from infancy through its stages of barbarism, heathenism, civilization, and Christianity, is a process of suffering, as the lower principles of humanity are gradually subjected to the higher."
"Miss C_____'s father," says Betty, "had much better have bred his daughter a housewife, and then, mayhap, she might have got her a husband, which with all her fine learning she has not yet been able to do. And no wonder, for what man would be plagued with a slattern?"
"The female part of the Cry (who had many of them often experienced a joyful self- approbation on being told by their admirers that all their perfection lay in folly and that to prove their wisdom they must shun, as poison, every offered instruction for fear of becoming disagreeable to their lovers) now felt rolling in their bosoms the highest anger and disdain. Not against their adorers for so preposterous a method of flattery, much less against themselves for receiving and being pleased with such absurd adulation: but all their indignation was pointed against Portia for daring to bring into open light the true meaning of such paradoxical stuff."
"Thus the reader who hath most truly considered and digested the sentiments which he reads must be a man of the best taste and must find most pleasure in the perusal of authors worth the reading. It is but to preserve candor enough to keep up an impartial attention and, instead of being actuated by a false shame of ignorance, to know when properly to confess myself a learner, and I have it in my power (as far as my capacity will reach) to command any knowledge that is extant in the whole universe."