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James Wood, comp. Dictionary of Quotations. 1899.


A crowd is not company.

A little philosophy inclineth a man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion.

A man that is young in years may be old in hours, if he have lost no time.

A pleasing figure is a perpetual letter of recommendation.

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.

All virtue is most rewarded, and all wickedness most punished, in itself.

Antiquitas sæculi juventus mundi—The ancient time of the world was the youth of the world.

Argument is like an arrow from a cross-bow, which has great force though shot by a child.

As for discontentments, they are in the politic body like humours in the natural, which are apt to gather a preternatural heat and inflame.

As for talkers and futile persons, they are commonly vain and credulous withal.

As the births of living creatures at first are ill-shapen, so are all innovations, which are the births of time.

As wholesome meat corrupteth to little worms, so good forms and orders corrupt into a number of petty observances.

Atheism is rather in the life than in the heart of man.

Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation, all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not; but superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men.

Audacter calumniare, semper aliquid hæret—Calumniate boldly, always some of it sticks.

Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt and cannot last.

Being without well-being is a curse; and the greater being, the greater curse.

Children sweeten labours, but they make misfortunes more bitter.

Crafty men contemn studies; simple men admire them; and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use; but that is wisdom without them, and above them won by observation.

Death is a friend of ours, and he who is not ready to entertain him is not at home.

Discretion of speech is more than eloquence, and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal is more than to speak in good words or in good order.

Disgrace consists infinitely more in the crime than in the punishment.

Dissimulation is but faint policy, for it asketh a strong wit and a strong heart to know when to tell the truth and to do it.

Erudition is not like a lark, which flies high and delights in nothing but singing; ’tis rather like a hawk, which soars aloft indeed, but can stoop when she finds it convenient, and seize her prey.

Expert men can execute, but learned men are more fit to judge and censure.

Faces are but a gallery of portraits.

For behaviour, men learn it, as they take diseases, one of another.

For my name and memory I leave to men’s charitable speeches, to foreign nations, and to the next ages.

Fortitude is the marshal of thought, the armour of the will, and the fort of reason.

Fortune is like the market, where many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall.

Fortune is not content to do a man one ill turn.

Fortune makes him a fool whom she makes her darling.

Generally all warlike people are a little idle, and love danger better than travail.

Glorious men are the scorn of wise men, the admiration of fools, the idols of parasites, and the slaves of their own vaunts.

God hangs the greatest weights on the smallest wires.

Great spirits and great business do keep out this weak passion (love).

He that cometh to seek after knowledge with a mind to scorn and censure, shall be sure to find matter for his humour, but none for his instruction.

He that defers his charity until he is dead is, if a man weighs it rightly, rather liberal of another man’s goods than his own.

He that has lost his faith, what staff has he left?

He that hath a satirical vein, as he maketh others afraid of his wit, so he hath need to be afraid of others memory.

He that hath a wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.

He that questioneth much will learn much.

He that studieth revenge keepeth his own wounds green.

Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; morals, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.

Houses are built to live in, and not to look on.

I cannot call riches better than the baggage of virtue…. It cannot be spared or left behind, but it hindereth the march.

I had rather believe all the fables in the legends, the Talmud, and the Koran, than that this universal frame is without a mind.

I hold every man a debtor to his profession.

If a man have not a friend, he may quit the stage.

If a man read little, he had need of much cunning to seem to know that he doth not.

If man is not kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature.

If money be not thy servant, it will be thy master. The covetous man cannot so properly be made to possess wealth as that it may be said to possess him.

If you dissemble sometimes your knowledge of that you are thought to know, you shall be thought, another time, to know that you know not.

If you listen to David’s harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols.

If you would work any man, know his nature and fashions, and so lead him.

In contemplation, if a man begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.

In Nature things move violently to their places, and calmly in their place; so virtue in ambition is violent, in authority settled and calm.

In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior.

In wonder the spirits fly not as in fear, but only settle.

It is a mere and miserable solitude to want true friends, without which the world is but a wilderness.

It is a rare thing, except it be from a perfect and entire friend, to have counsel given us, but such as shall be bowed and crooked to some ends which he hath that giveth it.

It is an assured sign of a worthy and generous spirit whom honour amends; for honour is, or should be, the place of virtue.

It is the nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs.

Judge of the pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of the eye.

Judges ought to be more learned than witty, more reverent than plausible, and more advised than confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue.

Knowledge is more than equivalent to force.

Knowledge is power.

Knowledge may not be as a courtesan for pleasure and vanity only; or as a bondwoman, to acquire and gain for her master’s use; but as a spouse, for generation, fruit, and comfort.

Learning hath its infancy, when it is almost childish; then its youth, when luxurious and juvenile; then its strength of years, when solid; and lastly its old age, when dry and exhaust.

Libraries are as the shrines where all the relics of saints full of true virtue, and that without delusion and imposture, are preserved and reposed.

Lies are sufficient to breed opinion, and opinion brings on substance.

Light gains make heavy purses, because they come thick, whereas the great come but now and then.

Light that a man receiveth by counsel from another is drier and purer than that which cometh from his own understanding and judgment, which is ever in his affections and customs.

Little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it extendeth; for a crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.

Little kingdom is great household, and great household little kingdom.

Man were better relate himself to a statue or picture than to suffer his thoughts to pass in smother.

Many times death passeth with less pain than the torture of a limb; for the most vital parts are not the quickest of sense.

Men commonly think according to their inclinations, speak according to their learning and imbibed opinions, but generally act according to custom.

Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark.

Men in great place are thrice servants—servants of the sovereign or state, servants of fame, and servants of business.

Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.

Men ought to find the difference between saltness and bitterness.

Men’s thoughts are much according to their inclinations; their discourses and speeches, according to their learning and infused opinions.

Merit and good works is the end of man’s motion, and conscience of the same is the accomplishment of man’s rest.

Mysteries are due to secrecy.

Nakedness is uncomely, as well in mind as body; and it addeth no small reverence to men’s manners and actions if they be not altogether open.

Natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience.

Nature is commanded by obeying her.

Nature is sometimes subdued, but seldom extinguished.

Natures that have much heat, and great and violent desires and perturbations, are not ripe for action till they have passed the meridian of their years.

New acquests are more burden than strength.

Next to religion, let your care be to promote justice.

None of the affections have been noted to fascinate and bewitch but envy.

Nothing destroyeth authority so much as the unequal and untimely interchange of power pressed too far and relaxed too much.

Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety.

Nuptial love maketh mankind; friendly love perfecteth it; but wanton love corrupteth and embaseth it.

O Life, an age to the miserable, a moment to the happy.

Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit.

One futile person, that maketh it his glory to tell, will do more hurt than many that know it their duty to conceal.

Our humanity were a poor thing but for the divinity that stirs within us.

Philosophy, when superficially studied, excites doubt; when thoroughly explored, it dispels it.

Physic is of little use to a temperate person, for a man’s own observation on what he finds does him good or what hurts him, is the best physic to preserve health.

Pictures and shapes are but secondary objects, and please or displease but in memory.

Power to do good is the true and lawful end of aspiring.

Praise is the tribute of men, but felicity the gift of God.

Preserve the rights of inferior places, and think it more honour to direct in chief than to be busy in all.

Prosperity doth best discover vice, and adversity doth best discover virtue.

Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes.

Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction and the clearer revelation of God’s favour.

Rather assume thy right in silence and de facto, than voice it with claims and challenges.

Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.

Reading makes a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man. And therefore if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, have a present wit; and if he read little, have much cunning to seem to know that he doth not.

Religion is the spice which is meant to keep life from corruption.

Rest not upon scattered counsels, for they will rather distract and mislead than settle and direct.

Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which, the more man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.

Riches are for spending, and spending for honour and good actions.

Rising to great place is by a winding stair.

Scientia nihil aliud est quam veritatis imago—Science is but an image of the truth.

See how many things there are which a man cannot do himself; and then it will appear that it was a sparing speech of the ancients to say, “that a friend is another himself;” for that a friend is far more than himself.

Seek the good of other men, but be not in bondage to their faces or fancies; for that is but facility or softness, which taketh an honest mind prisoner.

Seek to make thy course regular, that men may know beforehand what they may expect.

Set it down to thyself as well to create good precedents as to follow them.

Severity breedeth fear, but roughness breedeth hate.

Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.

Small draughts of philosophy lead to atheism, but larger bring back to God.

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.

Speech of a man’s self ought to be seldom and well chosen.

Studies perfect nature, and are perfected by experience.

Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability.

Superstition without a veil is a deformed thing.

Suspicions amongst thoughts are like bats amongst birds; they ever fly by twilight; they are to be repressed, or at the least well guarded, for they cloud the mind.

That is the best part of beauty which a picture cannot express.

That man is an ill husband of his honour that entereth into any action, the failing wherein may disgrace him more than the carrying of it through can honour him.

That which is past is gone and irrevocable, and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves that labour in past matters.

The best preservative to keep the mind in health is the faithful admonition of a friend.

The best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from unmarried or childless men, which, both in affection and means, have married and endowed the public.

The calling of a man’s self to a strict account is a medicine sometimes too piercing and corrosive; reading good books of morality is a little flat and dead … but the best receipt (best to work, and best to take) is the admonition of a friend.

The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity there is no excess, neither can man or angel come in danger by it.

The errors of young men are the ruin of business; but the errors of aged men amount to but this, that more might have been done, or sooner.

The first creation of God in the works of the days was the light of the sense; the last was the light of the reason; and his Sabbathwork ever since is the illumination of the spirit.

The fortune which nobody sees makes a man happy and unenvied.

The fruit of friendship, in opening the understanding, is not restrained only to such friends as are able to give counsel (they indeed are best), but even without that a man learneth of himself, and bringeth his own thoughts to light, and whetteth his wits as against a stone, which itself cuts not.

The genius, wit, and spirit of a nation are discovered by their proverbs.

The good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished; but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired.From Seneca.

The honourablest part of talk is to give the occasion; and again to moderate and pass to somewhat else, for then a man leads the dance.

The inquiry of truth, which is the love-making or wooing of it; the knowledge of truth, which is the presence of it; and the belief of truth, which is the enjoying of it, is the sovereign good of human nature.

The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears.

The light that a man receiveth by counsel from another is drier and purer than that which cometh from his own understanding and judgment, which is ever infused and drenched in his affections and customs.

The noblest works and foundations have proceeded from childless men, which have sought to express the images of their minds where those of their bodies have failed.

The pencil of the Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon.

The principal point of greatness in any state is to have a race of military men.

The reverence of a man’s self is, next religion, the chiefest bridle of all vices.

The second fruit of friendship is healthful and sovereign for the understanding, as the first is for the affections; for friendship maketh indeed a fair day in the affections from storm and tempests, but it maketh daylight in the understanding out of darkness and confusion of thoughts.

The sun passeth through pollutions, and itself remains as pure as before.

The usurer is the greatest Sabbath-breaker, because his plough goeth every Sunday.

The virtue of prosperity is temperance; the virtue of adversity is fortitude; which in morals is the more heroical virtue.

The wealth of both Indies seems in great part but an accessory to the command of the seas.

The world’s a bubble, and the life of man less than a span.

There be some that think their wits have been asleep, except they dart out somewhat that is piquant, and to the quick; that is a vein which would be bridled.

There is as much difference between the counsel that a friend giveth and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend and of a flatterer.

There is but one case wherein a man may commend himself with good grace, and that is in commending virtue in another, especially if it be such a virtue whereunto himself pretendeth.

There is in human nature generally more of the fool than of the wise, and therefore those faculties by which the foolish part of men’s minds is taken are most potent.

There is no greater wisdom than well to time the beginnings and onset of things.

There is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less.

They that deny a God destroy man’s nobility. For, certainly, man is of kin to the beasts, by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature.

Things are graceful in a friend’s mouth which are blushing in a man’s own.

This communicating of a man’s self to his friend works two contrary effects, for it redoubleth joys and cutteth griefs in halves.

Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable, and should be secured, because they seldom return.

Time is like a river, in which metals and solid substances are sunk, while chaff and straws swim upon the surface.

To spend too much time in studies is sloth.

To try things oft, and never to give over, doth wonders.

To use studies too much for ornament is affectation.

Travel in the younger sort is a part of education; in the older, a part of experience.

Truth may perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that showeth best by day, but it will not rise to the price of a diamond or carbuncle, that showeth best in varied lights.

Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants, but not always best subjects; for they are light to run away, and almost all fugitives are of that condition.

Usury is a “concessum propter duritiam cordis” (a concession on account of hardness of heart); for, since there must be borrowing and lending, and men are so hard of heart as they will not lend freely, usury must be permitted.

Vary and intermingle speech of the present occasion with arguments, tales with reasons, asking of questions with telling of opinions, and jest with earnest; for it is a dull thing to tire, and, as we say now, to jade anything too far.

Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set.

Virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant where they are incensed or crushed.

Want supplieth itself of what is next.

What a man finds good of, and what he finds hurt of, is the best physic to preserve health.

Whatever is new is unlooked for, and ever it mends some and impairs others; and he that is holpen takes it for a fortune, and he that is hurt for a wrong.

When all is done, the help of good counsel is that which setteth business straight.

When things are once come to the execution, there is no secrecy comparable to celerity, like the motion of a bullet in the air, which flieth so swift as it outruns the eye.

Who questioneth much, shall learn much, and content much.

Whoever is out of patience is out of possession of his soul.

Whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and break up, in the communicating and discoursing with another. He tosseth his thoughts more easily, he marshalleth them more orderly, he seeth how they look when they are turned into words; finally, he waxeth wiser than himself.

Whosoever, in the frame of his nature and affections, is unfit for friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and not from humanity.

Wise sayings are not only for ornament, but for action and business, having a point or edge, whereby knots in business are pierced and discovered.

Wives are young men’s mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men’s nurses.

Wounds cannot be cured without searching.

Young men are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and fitter for new projects than for settled business.