C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


A companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs xiii. 20.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise.


Frequent the company of your betters.


Friends are good,—good, if well chosen.

De Foe.

My friends! There are no friends.


We encourage one another in mediocrity.


For my own part, I shall be glad to learn of noble men.


Company, villainous company, hath been the spoil of me.


It is a true proverb that if you live with a lame man you will learn to halt.


It is best to be with those in time that we hope to be with in eternity.


Keep good company, and you shall be of the number.

George Herbert.

A man—be the heavens ever praised!—is sufficient for himself.


He that walketh with wise men shall be wise.


We are far more liable to catch the vices than the virtues of our associates.


The company in which you will improve most will be least expensive to you.


There are like to be short graces where the devil plays host.


Choose the company of your superiors whenever you can have it.

Lord Chesterfield.

Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners.


No man can be provident of his time, who is not prudent in the choice of his company.

Jeremy Taylor.

You may depend upon it that he is a good man whose intimate friends are all good.


We make others’ judgment our own by frequenting their society.

Thomas Fuller.

If you always live with those who are lame, you will yourself learn to limp.

From the Latin.

If men wish to be held in esteem, they must associate with those only who are estimable.

La Bruyère.

I set it down as a maxim, that it is good for a man to live where he can meet his betters, intellectual and social.


Costly followers are not to be liked; lest while a man maketh his train longer, he makes his wings shorter.


It is meet that noble minds keep ever with their likes; for who so firm, that cannot be seduced?


A man should live with his superiors as he does with his fire,—not too near, lest he burn; nor too far off, lest he freeze.


Those who are unacquainted with the world take pleasure in the intimacy of great men; those who are wiser dread the consequences.


It is good discretion not to make too much of any man at the first; because one cannot hold out that proportion.


No man can possibly improve in any company for which he has not respect enough to be under some degree of restraint.


What is companionship where nothing that improves the intellect is communicated, and where the larger heart contracts itself to the model and dimension of the smaller?


No company is far preferable to bad, because we are more apt to catch the vices of others than their virtues, as disease is far more contagious than health.


Nothing is more deeply punished than the neglect of the affinities by which alone society should be formed, and the insane levity of choosing associates by others’ eyes.


Constant companionship is not enjoyable, any more than constant eating. We sit too long at the table of friendship, when we outsit our appetites for each other’s thoughts.


We gain nothing by being with such as ourselves. We encourage one another in mediocrity. I am always longing to be with men more excellent than myself.


He who comes from the kitchen, smells of its smoke; and he who adheres to a sect, has something of its cant; the college air pursues the student; and dry inhumanity him who herds with literary pedants.


It is expedient to have an acquaintance with those who have looked into the world; who know men, understand business, and can give you good intelligence and good advice when they are wanted.

Bishop Horne.

Associate with men of judgment, for judgment is found in conversation, and we make another man’s judgment ours by frequenting his company.

Thomas Fuller.

It is certain that either wise bearing or ignorant carriage is caught, as men take disease, one of another; therefore let men take heed of their company.


A frequent intercourse and intimate connection between two persons make them so like, that not only their dispositions are moulded like each other, but their very face and tone of voice contract a certain analogy.


When we live habitually with the wicked, we become necessarily either their victim or their disciple; when we associate, on the contrary, with virtuous men, we form ourselves in imitation of their virtues, or, at least, lose every day something of our faults.


In all societies, it is advisable to associate if possible with the highest; not that the highest are always the best, but because, if disgusted there, we can at any time descend; but if we begin with the lowest, to ascend is impossible.


A companion that feasts the company with wit and mirth, and leaves out the sin which is usually mixed with them, he is the man; and let me tell you, good company and good discourse are the very sinews of virtue.

Izaak Walton.

He that can enjoy the intimacy of the great, and on no occasion disgust them by familiarity, or disgrace himself by servility, proves that he is as perfect a gentleman by nature as his companions are by rank.


It is hard to mesmerize ourselves, to whip our own top; but through sympathy we are capable of energy and endurance. Concert fires people to a certain fury of performance they can rarely reach alone.


Bad company is like a nail driven into a post, which, after the first and second blow, may be drawn out with little difficulty; but being once driven up to the head, the pincers cannot take hold to draw it out, but which can only be done by the destruction of the wood.

St. Augustine.

Be very circumspect in the choice of thy company. In the society of thine equals thou shalt enjoy more pleasure; in the society of thy superiors thou shalt find more profit. To be the best in the company is the way to grow worse; the best means to grow better is to be the worst there.


It is adverse to talent to be consorted and trained up with inferior minds and inferior companions, however high they may rank. The foal of the racer neither finds out his speed nor calls out his powers if pastured out with the common herd, that are destined for the collar and the yoke.


Might I give counsel to any young hearer, I would say to him, try to frequent the company of your betters. In books and life is the most wholesome society; learn to admire rightly; the great pleasure of life is that. Note what the great men admire,—they admired great things; narrow spirits admire basely, and worship meanly.


As there are some flowers which you should smell but slightly to extract all that is pleasant in them, and which, if you do otherwise, emit what is unpleasant and noxious, so there are some men with whom a slight acquaintance is quite sufficient to draw out all that is agreeable; a more intimate one would be unsatisfactory and unsafe.