"A Woman's Whole Life Is A History Of The Affections"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Washington Irving has his persona, Geoffrey Crayon, say that he believes in the existence of broken hearts, that they are not unknown in men and occur with some frequency in women, that often a broken heart sends "a lovely woman into an early grave." In this matter, says Geoffrey Crayon, he recognizes that he will face disagreement, for it is common-place that persons who have passed the age of youth and feeling, or who have been brought up in the heartlessness of a dissipated life, laugh at stories of romantic passion as the product of the imaginations of the poets and novelists. Crayon goes on, in the second paragraph of the essay, to compare the man and the woman:

Man is the creature of interest and ambition. His nature leads him forth into the struggle and bustle of the world. Love is but the embellishment of his early life, or a song piped in the intervals of the acts. He seeks for fame, for fortune, for space in the world's thought, and dominion over his fellow-men. But a woman's whole life is a history of the affections. The heart is her world; it is there her ambition strives for empire; it is there her avarice seeks for hidden treasures. She sends forth her sympathies on adventure; she embarks her whole soul in the traffic of affection; and if shipwrecked, her case is hopeless–for it is a bankruptcy of the heart.