Home  »  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical  »  Coward—Cowardice

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


Cowards die many times before their death.


All men would be cowards if they durst.

Earl of Rochester.

Cowards have no luck.

Elizabeth Kulman.

Cruel people are ever cowards in emergency.


To wish for death is a coward’s part.


Cowardice, the dread of what will happen.


A plague of all cowards, I say.


A coward’s fear can make a coward valiant.

Owen Feltham.

It is the misfortune of worthy people that they are cowards.


What masks are these uniforms to hide cowards!

Duke of Wellington.

The craven’s fear is but selfishness, like his merriment.


A cowardly cur barks more fiercely than it bites.

Quintus Curtius Rufus.

A coward; a most devout coward; religious in it.


It is only in little matters that men are cowards.

W. H. Herbert.

The native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.


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

Sir P. Sidney.

To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.


Fear is the virtue of slaves; but the heart that loveth is willing.


Mankind are dastardly when they meet with opposition.


  • The coward never on himself relies,
  • But to an equal for assistance flies.
  • Crabbe.

    Cowards falter, but danger is often overcome by those who nobly dare.

    Queen Elizabeth.

    Strange that cowards cannot see that their greatest safety lies in dauntless courage.


    Plenty and peace breed cowards; hardness ever of hardiness is mother.


  • Cowards fear to die; but courage stout,
  • Rather than live in snuff, will be put out.
  • Sir Walter Raleigh.

  • A coward is the kindest animal;
  • ’Tis the most forgiving creature in a fight.
  • Dryden.

  • That same man that rennith awaie,
  • Maie again fight, an other daie.
  • Erasmus.

    I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety.


  • When all the blandishments of life are gone,
  • The coward sneaks to death, the brave live on.
  • Dr. Sewell.

  • Cowards are cruel, but the brave
  • Love mercy, and delight to save.
  • Gay.

  • Fear is my vassal, when I frown he flies;
  • A hundred times in life a coward dies.
  • Marston.

  • But look for ruin when a coward wins;
  • For fear and cruelty are ever twins.
  • Aleyn.

    When desperate ills demand a speedy cure, distrust is cowardice, and prudence folly.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Men lie, who lack courage to tell truth—the cowards!

    Joaquin Miller.

    My valor is certainly going!—it is sneaking off!—I feel it oozing out, as it were, at the palms of my hands.


  • Go—let thy less than woman’s hand
  • Assume the distaff—not the brand.
  • Byron.

    He who fears to venture as far as his heart urges and his reason permits, is a coward; he who ventures further than he intended to go, is a slave.


  • The man that lays his hand on woman,
  • Save in the way of kindness, is a wretch
  • Whom ’twere gross flattery to name a coward.
  • Tobin.

    All mankind is one of these two cowards—either to wish to die when he should live, or live when he should die.

    Sir Robert Howard.

    It is the coward who fawns upon those above him. It is the coward that is insolent whenever he dares be so.


    It is vain for the coward to fly; death follows close behind; it is by defying it that the brave escape.


    For cowards the road of desertion should be left open. They will carry over to the enemy nothing but their fears.


    Dangers are light, if they seem light; and more dangers have deceived men than forced them.


    Some are brave men one day and cowards another, as great captains have often told me, from their own experience and observation.

    Sir W. Temple.

  • Dost thou now fall over to my foes?
  • Thou wear a lion’s hide! doff it for shame,
  • And hang a calf’s skin on those recreant limbs.
  • Shakespeare.

    To be afraid is the miserable condition of a coward. To do wrong, or omit to do right from fear, is to superadd delinquency to cowardice.

    David Dudley Field.

    Cowardice encroaches fast upon such as spend their lives in company of persons higher than themselves.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Cowardice is not synonymous with prudence. It often happens that the better part of discretion is valor.


  • The coward wretch whose hand and heart
  • Can bear to torture aught below,
  • Is ever first to quail and start
  • From slightest pain or equal foe.
  • Eliza Cook.

  • He who fights and runs away
  • May live to fight another day.
  • But he who is in battle slain,
  • Can never rise to fight again.
  • Goldsmith.

    If cowardice were not so completely a coward as to be unable to look steadily upon the effects of courage, he would find that there is no refuge so sure as dauntless valor.

    Jane Porter.

    Lie not, neither to thyself, nor man, nor God. Let mouth and heart be one; beat and speak together, and make both felt in action. It is for cowards to lie.

    George Herbert.

    It is a law of nature that faint-hearted men should be the fruit of luxurious countries, for we never find that the same soil produces delicacies and heroes.


    To die, and thus avoid poverty or love, or anything painful, is not the part of a brave man, but rather of a coward; for it is cowardice to avoid trouble, and the suicide does not undergo death because it is honorable, but in order to avoid evil.


    What is in reality cowardice and faithlessness, we call charity, and consider it the part of benevolence sometimes to forgive men’s evil practice for the sake of their accurate faith, and sometimes to forgive their confessed heresy for the sake of their admirable practice.


    The fact is, that to do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.

    Sydney Smith.

    The courage that grows from constitution very often forsakes a man when he has occasion for it; and when it is only a kind of instinct in the soul, it breaks out on all occasions, without judgment or discretion.


  • How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false
  • As stairs of sand, wear yet upon their chins
  • The beards of Hercules and frowning Mars,
  • Who, inward search’d, have livers white as milk.
  • Shakespeare.

    When the passengers gallop by as if fear made them speedy, the cur follows them with an open mouth; let them walk by in confident neglect, and the dog will not stir at all; it is a weakness that every creature takes advantage of.

    J. Beaumont.

  • Cowards die many times before their deaths:
  • The valiant never taste of death but once.
  • Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
  • It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
  • Seeing that death, a necessary end,
  • Will come when it will come.
  • Shakespeare.

  • He
  • That kills himself to avoid misery, fears it,
  • And, at the best, shows but a bastard valor.
  • This life’s a fort committed to my trust,
  • Which I must not yield up, till it be forced:
  • Nor will I. He’s not valiant that dares die,
  • But he that boldly bears calamity.
  • Massinger.

  • Thou slave, thou wretch, thou coward!
  • Thou little valiant, great in villainy!
  • Thou ever strong upon the stronger side!
  • Thou Fortune’s champion, that dost never fight
  • But when her humorous ladyship is by
  • To teach thee safety.
  • Shakespeare.

    The reign of terror to which France submitted has been more justly termed “the reign of cowardice.” One knows not which most to execrate,—the nation that could submit to suffer such atrocities, or that low and blood-thirsty demagogue that could inflict them. France, in succumbing to such a wretch as Robespierre, exhibited, not her patience, but her pusillanimity.


    A great deal of talent is lost in the world for want of a little courage. Every day sends to their graves a number of obscure men who have only remained in obscurity because their timidity has prevented them from making a first effort.

    Sydney Smith.