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


In excessive altercation, truth is lost.


Religious contention is the devil’s harvest.

La Fontaine.

Great contests generally excite great animosities.


He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.


Contention is a hydra’s head; the more they strive the more they may: and as Praxiteles did by his glass, when he saw a scurvy face in it, brake it in pieces: but for that one he saw many more as bad in a moment.


  • When two discourse, if the one’s anger rise,
  • The man who lets the contest fall is wise.
  • Plutarch.

  • Contentions fierce,
  • Ardent, and dire, spring from no petty cause.
  • Scott.

  • Great contest follows, and much learned dust
  • Involves the combatants; each claiming truth,
  • And truth disclaiming both.
  • Cowper.

    A quarrel is quickly settled when deserted by one party; there is no battle unless there be two.


  • Birds in their little nests agree:
  • And ’tis a shameful sight,
  • When children of one family
  • Fall out, and chide, and fight.
  • Isaac Watts.

  • Contention, like a horse
  • Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose,
  • And bears down all before him.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Even as a broken mirror, which the glass
  • In every fragment multiplies, and makes
  • A thousand images of one that was
  • The same, and still the more, the more it breaks.
  • Byron.

  • Some say, compared to Bononcini,
  • That Mynheer Handel’s but a ninny;
  • Others aver,—that he to Handel
  • Is scarcely fit to hold a candle:
  • Strange all this difference should be,
  • ’Twixt tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee?
  • John Byrom.

  • Thus when a barber and collier fight,
  • The barber beats the luckless collier—white;
  • The dusty collier heaves his ponderous sack,
  • And, big with vengeance, beats the barber—black.
  • In comes the brick-dust man, with grime o’erspread,
  • And beats the collier and the barber—red;
  • Black, red, and white, in various clouds are toss’d,
  • And in the dust they raise the combatants are lost.
  • Christopher Smart.