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


Brevity is the soul of wit.


Concentration alone conquers.

Charles Buxton.

A downright fact may be briefly told.


I will be brief.


A verse may find him whom a sermon flies.

George Herbert.

Brevity is a great praise of eloquence.


The one prudence in life is concentration.


Whatever precepts you give, be short.


Aiming at brevity, I become obscure.


The fewer words, the better prayer.


A parsimony of words prodigal of sense.


Brevity is the child of silence, and is a credit to its parentage.

H. W. Shaw.

Brevity never fatigues; therefore, brevity is always a welcome guest.

Théophile Gautier.

We must be brief when traitors brave the field.


Rather to excite your judgment briefly than to inform it tediously.


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

Sir P. Sidney.

Cervantes speaks of potted wisdom of “short sentences drawn long experience.”

Charles Buxton.

It is safe to make a choice of your thoughts, scarcely ever safe to express them all.


Brevity is very good, when we are, or are not, understood.


You may get a large amount of truth into a brief space.


The wisdom of nations lies in their proverbs, which are brief and pithy.

William Penn.

  • My tongue within my lips I rein,
  • For who talks much must talk in vain.
  • Gay.

    The more you say, the less people remember. The fewer the words, the greater the profit.


    The more an idea is developed, the more concise becomes its expression; the more a tree is pruned, the better is the fruit.

    Alfred Bougeart.

    Generally, downright fact may be told in a plain way; and we want downright facts, at the present, more than anything else.


    If you would be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as with sunbeams—the more they are condensed the deeper they burn.


    General observations drawn from particulars are the jewels of knowledge, comprehending great store in a little room.


    A little plot of ground thick sown is better than a great field which, for the most part of it, lies fallow.

    Bishop Norris.

    Brevity is the best recommendation of a speech, not only in the case of a senator, but in that, too, of an orator.


    I saw one excellency was within my reach—it was brevity; and I determined to obtain it.


    Since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes—I will be brief.


    Brevity and conciseness are the parents of conviction. The leaden bullet is more fatal than when multiplied into shot.

    Hosea Ballou.

    Brevity in writing is what charity is to all other virtues—righteousness is nothing without the one, nor authorship without the other.

    Sydney Smith.

    I would fain coin wisdom—mould it, I mean, into maxims, proverbs, sentences, that can easily be retained and transmitted.


    When a man has no design but to speak plain truth, he may say a great deal in a very narrow compass.


    It is not a great Xerxes army of words, but a compact Greek ten thousand that march safely down to posterity.


    Brevity is the body and soul of wit. It is wit itself, for it alone isolates sufficiently for contrasts; because redundancy or diffuseness produces no distinctions.

    Jean Paul Richter.

  • And there’s one rare strange virtue in their speeches,
  • The secret of their mastery—they are short.
  • Halleck.

    A sentence well couched takes both the sense and understanding. I love not those cart-rope speeches that are longer than the memory of man can fathom.


    Was there ever anything written by mere man that was wished longer by its readers, excepting Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe and the Pilgrim’s Progress?

    Dr. Johnson.

  • With vivid words your just conceptions grace,
  • Much truth compressing in a narrow space;
  • Then many shall peruse, but few complain,
  • And envy frown, and critics snarl in vain.
  • Pindar.

    The seven wise men of Greece, so famous for their wisdom all the world over, acquired all that fame, each of them, by a single sentence consisting of two or three words.


    The Grecian’s maxim would indeed be a sweeping clause in literature; it would reduce many a giant to a pygmy, many a speech to a sentence, and many a folio to a primer.


    It is the work of fancy to enlarge, but of judgment to shorten and contract; and therefore this must be as far above the other as judgment is a greater and nobler faculty than fancy or imagination.


    Talk to the point, and stop when you have reached it. The faculty some possess of making one idea cover a quire of paper is not good for much. Be comprehensive in all you say or write. To fill a volume upon nothing is a credit to nobody; though Lord Chesterfield wrote a very clever poem upon nothing.

    John Neal.

    It is excellent discipline for an author to feel that he must say all he has to say in the fewest possible words, or his reader is sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words, or his reader will certainly misunderstand them. Generally, also, a downright fact may be told in a plain way; and we want downright facts at present more than anything else.