Home  »  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical  »  Sir Philip Sidney

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

Sir Philip Sidney

  • And thou my minde aspire to higher things;
  • Grow rich in that which never taketh rust.
  • If I could think how these my thoughts to leave,
  • Or thinking still, my thoughts might have good end:
  • If rebel sense would reason’s law receive;
  • Or reason foil’d would not in vain contend:
  • Then might I think what thoughts were best to think:
  • Then might I wisely swim, or gladly sink.
  • Sweet pillows, sweetest bed;
  • A chamber deaf to noise, and blind to light;
  • A rosy garland, and a weary head.
  • Take thou of me, sweet pillowes, sweetest bed;
  • A chamber deafe of noise, and blind of light,
  • A rosie garland and a weary hed.
  • The common ingredients of health and long life are:
  • Great temp’rance, open air,
  • Easy labor, little care.
  • Thou blind man’s mark; thou fool’s self-chosen snare,
  • Fond fancy’s scum, and dregs of scatter’d thoughts;
  • Band of all evils; cradle of causeless care;
  • Thou web of ill, whose end is never wrought;
  • Desire! Desire! I have too dearly bought
  • With price of mangled mind thy worthless ware,
  • Too long, too long, asleep thou hast me brought,
  • Who shouldst my mind to higher things prepare.
  • Yet sighes, deare sighes, indeede true friends you are
  • That do not leave your left friend at the wurst,
  • But, as you with my breast, I oft have nurst
  • So, gratefull now, you waite upon my care.
  • A brave captain is as a root, out of which (as branches) the courage of his soldiers doth spring.

    A churlish courtesy rarely comes but either for gain or falsehood.

    A dull head thinks of no better way to show himself wise, than by suspecting everything in his way.

    A fair woman shall not only command without authority, but persuade without speaking.

    A just cause and a zealous defender make an imperious resolution cut off the tediousness of cautious discussions.

    A noble cause doth ease much a grievous case.

    A noble heart, like the sun, showeth its greatest countenance in its lowest estate.

    A popular license is indeed the many-headed tyrant.

    A tale which holdeth children from play, and old men from the chimney-corner.

    A true knight is fuller of gay bravery in the midst than in the beginning of danger.

    All is but lip wisdom which wants experience.

    Ambition thinks no face so beautiful as that which looks from under a crown.

    Ambition, like love, can abide no lingering; and ever urgeth on his own successes, hating nothing but what may stop them.

    Approved valor is made precious by natural courtesy.

    As in labor, the more one doth exercise, the more one is enabled to do, strength growing upon work; so, with the use of suffering, men’s minds get the habit of suffering, and all fears and terrors are to them but as a summons to battle, whereof they know beforehand they shall come off victorious.

    As the fertilest ground must be manured, so must the highest flying wit have a Dædalus to guide him.

    As the love of the heavens makes us heavenly, the love of virtue virtuous, so doth the love of the world make one become worldly.

    As well the soldier dieth who standeth still, as he that gives the bravest onset.

    Beauty can give an edge to the bluntest sword.

    Blasphemous words betray the vain foolishness of the speaker.

    Commonly they use their feet for defence, whose tongue is their weapon.

    Confidence in one’s self is the chief nurse of magnanimity, which confidence, notwithstanding, doth not leave the care of necessary furniture for it; and therefore, of all the Grecians, Homer doth ever make Achilles the best armed.

    Contentions for trifles can get but a trifling victory.

    Courage ought to be guided by skill, and skill armed by courage. Neither should hardiness darken wit, nor wit cool hardiness. Be valiant as men despising death, but confident as unwonted to be overcome.

    Courage without discipline is nearer beastliness than manhood.

    Cupid makes it his sport to pull the warrior’s plum.

    Doing good is the only certainly happy action of a man’s life.

    Each excellent thing, once well learned, serves for a measure of all other knowledge.

    Eagles we see fly alone; and they are but sheep which always herd together.

    Every base occupation makes one sharp in its practice, and dull in every other.

    Every present occasion will catch the senses of the vain man; and with that bridle and saddle you may ride him.

    Fear is far more painful to cowardice than death to true courage.

    Fear is the underminer of all determinations; and necessity, the victorious rebel of all laws.

    Fearfulness, contrary to all other vices, maketh a man think the better of another, the worse of himself.

    For as much as to understand and to be mighty are great qualities, the higher that they be, they are so much the less to be esteemed if goodness also abound not in the possessor.

    Fortify courage with the true rampart of patience.

    Friendship is made fast by interwoven benefits.

    Give tribute, but not oblation, to human wisdom.

    God has appointed us captains of this our bodily fort, which, without treason to that majesty, are never to be delivered over till they are demanded.

    Gold can gild a rotten stick, and dirt sully an ingot.

    Great captains do never use long orations when it comes to the point of execution.

    Great is not great to the greater.

    Happiness is a sunbeam, which may pass through a thousand bosoms without losing a particle of its original ray.

    He cometh unto you with a tale which holdeth children from play, and old men from the chimney corner.

    He sought to have that by practice which he could not by prayer.

    He travels safe and not unpleasantly who is guarded by poverty and guided by love.

    He whom passion rules, is bent to meet his death.

    Her cheeks blushing, and withal, when she was spoken to, a little smiling, were like roses when their leaves are with a little breath stirred.

    Her lips, though they were kept close with modest silence, yet, with a pretty kind of natural swelling, seemed to invite the guests that looked on them.

    High honor is not only gotten and born by pain and danger, but must be nursed by the like, else it vanisheth as soon as it appears to the world.

    High-erected thoughts, seated in a heart of courtesy.

    Honor, thou strong idol of man’s mind.

    Hope itself is a pain, while it is overmatched by fear.

    How violently do rumors blow the sails of popular judgments! How few there be that can discern between truth and truth-likeness, between shows and substance!

    I am no herald to inquire of men’s pedigrees; it sufficeth me if I know their virtues.

    I never heard the old song of Percy and Douglass, that I found not my heart moved more than with a trumpet.

    I seek no better warrant than my own conscience.

    I willingly confess that it likes me better when I find virtue in a fair lodging than when I am bound to seek it in an ill-favored creature.

    If any sensual weakness arise, we are to yield all our sound forces to the overthrowing of so unnatural a rebellion; wherein how can we want courage, since we are to deal against so feeble an adversary, that in itself is nothing but weakness? Nay, we are to resolve that if reason direct it, we must do it, and if we must do it, we will do it; for to say “I cannot” is childish, and “I will not” is womanish.

    If for anything he loved greatness, it was because therein he might exercise his goodness.

    In forming a judgment, lay your hearts void of fore-taken opinions; else, whatsoever is done or said, will be measured by a wrong rule; like them who have the jaundice, to whom everything appeareth yellow.

    In shame there is no comfort but to be beyond all bounds of shame.

    In the clear mind of virtue treason can find no hiding-place.

    In the truly great, virtue governs with the sceptre of knowledge.

    In victory, the hero seeks the glory, not the prey.

    Inquisitiveness is an uncomely guest.

    It is a great happiness to be praised of them that are most praiseworthy.

    It is a lively spark of nobleness to descend in most favor to one when he is lowest in affliction.

    It is against womanhood to be forward in their own wishes.

    It is cruelty in war that buyeth conquest.

    It is hard, but it is excellent, to find the right knowledge of when correction is necessary and when grace doth most avail.

    It is manifest that all government of action is to be gotten by knowledge, and knowledge best, by gathering many knowledges, which is reading.

    It is no less vain to wish death than it is cowardly to fear it.

    It is the manner which is better than all.

    It many times falls out that we deem ourselves much deceived in others because we first deceived ourselves.

    Laughter almost ever cometh of things most disproportioned to ourselves and nature: delight hath a joy in it either permanent or present; laughter hath only a scornful tickling.

    Laws are not made like lime-twigs or nets, to catch everything that toucheth them; but rather like sea-marks, to guide from shipwreck the ignorant passenger.

    Like the air-invested heron, great persons should conduct themselves; and the higher they be, the less they should show.

    Liking is not always the child of beauty; but whatsoever is liked, to the liker is beautiful.

    Love, one time, layeth burdens; another time, giveth wings.

    Lovely sweetness is the noblest power of woman, and is far fitter to prevail by parley than by battle.

    Malice, in its false witness, promotes its tale with so cunning a confusion; so mingles truths with falsehoods, surmises with certainties, causes of no moment with matters capital, that the accused can absolutely neither grant nor deny, plead innocence nor confess guilt.

    Many delight more in giving of presents than in paying their debts.

    Men are almost always cruel in their neighbors’ faults; and make others’ overthrow the badge of their own ill-masked virtue.

    Misery and misfortune is all one; and of misfortune fortune hath only the gift.

    Much more may a judge overweigh himself in cruelty than in clemency.

    My dear, my better half.

    My thoughts, imprisoned in my secret woes, with flamy breaths do issue oft in sound.

    No decking sets forth anything so much as affection.

    No sword bites so fiercely as an evil tongue.

    Nothing has a better effect upon children than praise.

    Often extraordinary excellence, not being rightly conceived, does rather offend than please.

    Open suspecting of others comes of secretly condemning ourselves.

    Our poor eyes were so enriched as to behold, and our low hearts so exalted as to love, a maid who is such, that as the greatest thing the world can show is her beauty, so the least thing that may be praised in her is her beauty.

    Provision is the foundation of hospitality, and thrift the fuel of magnificence.

    Reason cannot show itself more reasonable than to cease reasoning on things above reason.

    Reason! how many eyes hast thou to see evils, and how dim, nay, blind, thou art in preventing them.

    Remember always, that man is a creature whose reason is often darkened with error.

    Remember that in all miseries lamenting becomes fools, and action, wise folk.

    Self-love is better than any gilding to make that seem gorgeous wherein ourselves be parties.

    Shallow brookes murmur moste, deepe silent slide away.

    Sin is the mother, and shame the daughter of lewdness.

    Since bodily strength is but a servant to the mind, it were very barbarous and preposterous that force should be made judge over reason.

    Solitude, the sly enemy that doth separate a man from well-doing.

    Some are unwisely liberal; and more delight to give presents than to pay debts.

    Sweet food of sweetly uttered knowledge.

    Sweet speaking oft a currish heart reclaims.

    That a scaffold of execution should grow a scaffold of coronation.

    The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe, the poor man’s wealth, the prisoner’s release.

    The day seems long, but night is odious; no sleep, but dreams; no dreams but visions strange.

    The first mark of valor is defence.

    The general goodness which is nourished in noble hearts makes every one think that strength of virtue to be in another whereof they find assured foundation in themselves.

    The glory and increase of wisdom stands in exercising it.

    The great, in affliction, bear a countenance more princely than they are wont; for it is the temper of the highest heart, like the palm-tree, to strive most upward when it is most burdened.

    The heavens do not send good haps in handfuls, but let us pick out our good by little, and with care, from out much bad, that still our little world may know its king.

    The highest point outward things can bring unto, is the contentment of the mind; with which no estate can be poor, without which all estates will be miserable.

    The humor of youth, which ever thinks that good whose goodness it sees not.

    The journey of high honor lies not in smooth ways.

    The judgment of the world stands upon matter of fortune.

    The lightsome countenance of a friend giveth such an inward decking to the house where it lodgeth, as proudest palaces have cause to envy the gilding.

    The many-headed multitude, whom inconstancy only doth by accident guide to well-doing! Who can set confidence there, where company takes away shame, and each may lay the fault upon his fellow?

    The only disadvantage of an honest heart is credulity.

    The only impregnable citadel of virtue is religion; for there is no bulwark of mere morality which some temptation may not overtop, or undermine and destroy.

    The truly great and good, in affliction, bear a countenance more princely than they are wont; for it is the temper of the highest hearts, like the palm-tree, to strive most upwards when it is most burdened.

    The truly great man is as apt to forgive as his power is able to revenge.

    The truly valiant dare everything but doing anybody an injury.

    The violence of sorrow is not at the first to be striven withal; being, like a mighty beast, sooner tamed with following than overthrown by withstanding.

    There is a certain delicacy which in yielding conquers; and with a pitiful look makes one find cause to crave help one’s self.

    There is little hope of equity where rebellion reigns.

    There is no dearth of charity in the world in giving, but there is comparatively little exercised in thinking and speaking.

    There is no man suddenly either excellently good or extremely wicked; but grows so, either as he holds himself up in virtue, or lets himself slide to viciousness.

    There is nothing evil but what is within us; the rest is either natural or accidental.

    There is nothing sooner overthrows a weak head than opinion of authority, like too strong a liquor for a frail glass.

    There needs not strength to be added to inviolate chastity; the excellency of the mind makes the body impregnable.

    They are never alone who are accompanied with noble thoughts.

    Thinking nurseth thinking.

    Thy fair hair my heart enchained.

    To be ambitious of true honor, of the true glory and perfection of our natures, is the very principle and incentive of virtue; but to be ambitious of titles, of place, of ceremonial respects and civil pageantry, is as vain and little as the things are which we court.

    To the disgrace of men it is seen that there are women both more wise to judge what evil is expected, and more constant to bear it when it happens.

    True bravery is quiet, undemonstrative.

    Truth is the ground of science, the centre wherein all things repose, and is the type of eternity.

    Ungratefulness is the very poison of manhood.

    Unlawful desires are punished after the effect of enjoying; but impossible desires are punished in the desire itself.

    Valor is abased by too much loftiness.

    Vice is but a nurse of agonies.

    Victory, with advantage, is rather robbed than purchased.

    We become willing servants to the good by the bonds their virtues lay upon us.

    Weigh not so much what men say, as what they prove; remembering that truth is simple and naked, and needs not invective to apparel her comeliness.

    What doth better become wisdom than to discern what is worthy the living.

    What is birth to a man if it shall be a stain to his dead ancestors to have left such an offspring?

    What is mine, even to my life, is hers I love; but the secret of my friend is not mine!

    Whatever comes out of despair cannot bear the title of valor, which should be lifted up to such a height that holding all things under itself, it should be able to maintain its greatness, even in the midst of miseries.

    When it shall please God to bring thee to man’s estate, use great providence and circumspection in choosing thy wife. For from thence will spring all thy future good or evil; and it is an action of life, like unto a stratagem of war; wherein a man can err but once!

    Whether your time calls you to live or die, do both like a prince.

    Who shoots at the midday sun, though he be sure he shall never hit the mark, yet as sure he is that he shall shoot higher than he who aims but at a bush.

    Who will adhere to him that abandons himself?

    Who will ever give counsel, if the counsel be judged by the event, and if it be not found wise, shall therefore be thought wicked?

    Wickedness may well be compared to a bottomless pit, into which it is easier to keep one’s self from falling, then, being fallen, to give one’s self any stay from falling infinitely.

    Woman was formed to admire; man to be admirable. His are the glories of the sun at noonday; hers the softened splendors of the midnight moon.

    You will never live to my age without you keep yourself in breath with exercise.

    Youth will never live to age unless they keep themselves in breath with exercise, and in heart with joyfulness.