Home  »  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical  »  Court—Courtiers

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


A court is an assemblage of noble and distinguished beggars.


The court does not render a man contented, but it prevents his being so elsewhere.


  • The caterpillars of the commonwealth,
  • Which I have sworn to weed and pluck away.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Courts can give nothing to the wise and good,
  • But scorn of pomp, and love of solitude.
  • Young.

  • Poor wretches that depend
  • On greatness’ favor, dream as I have done;
  • Wake, and find nothing.
  • Shakespeare.

    Not a courtier, although they wear their faces to the bent of the king’s looks, hath a heart that is not glad at the thing they scowl at.


  • They smile and bow, and hug, and shake the hand,
  • E’en while they whisper to the next assistant
  • Some curs’d plot to blast its owner’s head.
  • Beller.

  • A lazy, proud, unprofitable crew,
  • The vermin gender’d from the rank corruption
  • Of a luxurious state.
  • Cumberland.

  • Fly from the court’s pernicious neighborhood;
  • Where innocence is sham’d, and blushing modesty
  • Is made the scorner’s jest; where hate, deceit,
  • And deadly ruin wear the mask of beauty,
  • And draw deluded fools with shows of pleasure.
  • Rowe.

    The chief requisites for a courtier are a flexible conscience and an inflexible politeness.

    Lady Blessington.

  • I am no courtier, no fawning dog of state,
  • To lick and kiss the hand that buffets me;
  • Nor can I smile upon my guest and praise
  • His stomach, when I know he feeds on poison,
  • And death disguised sits grinning at my table.
  • Sewell.

  • Live loath’d and long,
  • Most smiling, smooth, detested parasites,
  • Courteous destroyers, affable wolves, meek bears,
  • You fools of fortune, trencher friends, time’s flies,
  • Cap and knee slaves, vapors, and minute jacks.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Men that would blush at being thought sincere,
  • And feign, for glory, the few faults they want;
  • That love a lie, where truth would pay as well;
  • As if to them, vice shone her own reward.
  • Young.

  • How many men
  • Have spent their blood in their dear country’s service,
  • Yet now pine under want; while selfish slaves,
  • That even would cut their throats whom now they fawn on,
  • Like deadly locusts, eat the honey up,
  • Which those industrious bees so hardly toil’d for.
  • Otway.

  • Those that go up hill, use to bow,
  • Their bodies forward, and stoop low
  • To poise themselves, and sometimes creep,
  • When th’ way is difficult and steep:
  • So those at court, that do address,
  • By low ignoble offices,
  • Can stoop at anything that’s base,
  • To wriggle into trust and grace,
  • Are like to rise to greatness sooner,
  • Than those that go by worth and honor.
  • Butler.

  • See there he comes, th’ exalted idol comes!
  • The circle’s form’d, and all his fawning slaves
  • Devoutly bow to earth; from every mouth
  • The nauseous flattery flows, which he returns
  • With promises which die as soon as born.
  • Vile intercourse, where virtue has no place!
  • Frown but the monarch, all his glories fade;
  • He mingles with the throng, outcast, undone,
  • The pageant of a day; without one friend
  • To soothe his tortur’d mind; all, all are fled,
  • For though they bask’d in his meridian ray,
  • The insects vanish as his beams decline.
  • Somerville.