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


Custom is the law of fools.


Custom does often reason overrule.


Custom doth make dotards of us all.


Custom is the best interpreter of laws.

Law Maxim.

Custom is held to be as a law.

Law Maxim.

Experience is the mother of custom.

Henry Ward Beecher.

Ancient custom is always held or regarded as law.

Law Maxim.

Custom reconciles to everything.


How use doth breed a habit in a man!


As the world leads we follow.


A deep meaning often lies in old customs.


Custom, though never so ancient, without truth, is but an old error.


  • Custom calls me to ’t—
  • What custom wills, in all things should we do ’t?
  • Shakespeare.

    There is nothing more nearly permanent in human life than a well-established custom.

    Joseph Anderson.

    Be not so bigoted to any custom as to worship at the expense of truth.


    Great things astonish us, and small dishearten us. Custom makes both familiar.

    De La Bruyère.

  • To follow foolish precedents, and wink
  • With both our eyes, is easier than to think.
  • Cowper.

  • Habit with him was all the test of truth,
  • “It must be right: I’ve done it from my youth.”
  • Crabbe.

    There is no tyrant like custom, and no freedom where its edicts are not resisted.


    The ancients tell us what is best; but we must learn of the moderns what is fittest.


    Custom may lead a man into many errors; but it justifies none.


    Custom is the tyranny of the lower human faculties over the higher.

    Mme. Necker.

    The way of the world is to make laws, but follow customs.


    Strange customs do not thrive in foreign soil.


  • It is a custom,
  • More honor’d in the breach than the observance.
  • Shakespeare.

  • The breach of custom
  • Is breach of all.
  • Shakespeare.

    Custom, which diminishes the intense, increases the moderate, pleasures.


    The custom of the manor and the place must be observed.

    Law Maxim.

  • Custom, ’tis true, a venerable tyrant
  • O’er servile man extends her blind dominion.
  • Thomson.

    There are not unfrequently substantial reasons underneath for customs that appear to us absurd.

    Charlotte Brontë.

  • The tyrant custom, most grave senators,
  • Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war
  • My thrice-driven bed of down.
  • Shakespeare.

  • New customs,
  • Though they be never so ridiculous,
  • Nay, let ’em be unmanly, yet are followed.
  • Shakespeare.

    The laws of conscience, which we pretend to be derived from nature, proceed from custom.


    The influence of custom is incalculable; dress a boy as a man and he will at once change his own conception of himself.

    Bayle St. John.

    Choose always the way that seems the best, however rough it may be. Custom will render it easy and agreeable.


    The custom and fashion of to-day will be the awkwardness and outrage of to-morrow. So arbitrary are these transient laws.


    The customs and fashions of men change like leaves on the bough, some of which go and others come.


    Can there be any greater dotage in the world than for one to guide and direct his courses by the sound of a bell, and not by his own judgment.


  • Man yields to custom as he bows to fate.
  • In all things ruled—mind, body and estate;
  • In pain or sickness, we for cure apply
  • To them we know not, and we know not why.
  • Crabbe.

  • Custom forms us all.
  • Our thoughts, our morals, our most fix’d belief
  • Are consequences of our place of birth.
  • Hill.

  • The slaves of custom and established mode,
  • With pack-horse constancy, we keep the road
  • Crooked or straight, through quags or thorny dells,
  • True to the jingling of our leader’s bells.
  • Cowper.

    Men commonly think according to their inclinations, speak according to their learning and imbibed opinions; but generally act according to custom.


    Custom is the great leveller. It corrects the inequality of fortune by lessening equally the pleasures of the prince and the pains of the peasant.

    Henry Home.

    Their origin is commonly unknown; for the practice often continues when the cause has ceased, and concerning superstitious ceremonies it is in vain to conjecture; for what reason did not dictate, reason cannot explain.

    Dr. Johnson.

  • Such dupes are men to custom, and so prone
  • To rev’rence what is ancient, and can plead
  • A course of long observance for its use,
  • That even servitude, the worst of ills,
  • Because deliver’d down from sire to son,
  • Is kept and guarded as a sacred thing!
  • Cowper.

    Be not too rash in the breaking of an inconvenient custom; as it was gotten, so leave it by degrees. Danger attends upon too sudden alterations; he that pulls down a bad building by the great may be ruined by the fall, but he that takes it down brick by brick may live to build a better.


    Custom is the law of one description of fools, and fashion of another; but the two parties often clash—for precedent is the legislator of the first, and novelty of the last. Custom, therefore, looks to things that are past, and fashion to things that are present.


    When all moves equally (says Pascal), nothing seems to move, as in a vessel under sail; and when all run by common consent into vice, none appear to do so. He that stops first, views as from a fixed point the horrible extravagance that transports the rest.


    Parents fear the destruction of natural affection in their children. What is this natural principle so liable to decay? Habit is a second nature, which destroys the first. Why is not custom nature? I suspect that this nature itself is but a first custom, as custom is a second nature.


    Custom is a violent and treacherous school mistress. She, by little and little, slyly and unperceived, slips in the foot of her authority; but having by this gentle and humble beginning, with the benefit of time, fixed and established it, she then unmasks a furious and tyrannic countenance, against which we have no more the courage or the power so much as to lift up our eyes.