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


Great ability without discretion comes almost invariably to a tragic end.


  • Even in a hero’s heart
  • Discretion is the better part.
  • Churchill.

    Discretion and hard valor are the twins of honor.

    Beaumont and Fletcher.

    To make another person hold his tongue, be you first silent.


    The better part of valor is discretion.


    Discretion in speech is more than eloquence.


    If thou art a master, be sometimes blind; if a servant, sometimes deaf.


    Neither coquetry nor love is imbued with discretion.

    Mme. Sophie Arnould.

    Remember the divine saying, He that keepeth his mouth, keepeth his life.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

  • Let’s teach ourselves that honourable stop,
  • Not to outsport discretion.
  • Shakespeare.

    All persons are not discreet enough to know how to take things by the right handle.


    Partake of love as a temperate man partakes of wine; do not become intoxicated.

    Alfred de Musset.

    Let your own discretion be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the word to the action.


    I have seen the day of wrong through the little hole of discretion.


    A sound discretion is not so much indicated by never making a mistake as by never repeating it.


    In a state where discretion begins, law, liberty, and safety end.


    Discretion is the salt, and fancy the sugar of life; the one preserves, the other sweetens it.


    The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life.


    Discreet women have sometimes neither eyes nor ears.

    Mme. Deluzy.

    There are many more shining qualities in the mind of man, but there is none so useful as discretion.


    What is denominated discretion in man we call cunning in brutes.

    La Fontaine.

    Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to win all the duties of life.


    Never join with your friend when be abuses his horse or his wife, unless the one is about to be sold, and the other to be buried.


    For ’tis not good that children should know any wickedness: old folks, you know, have discretion, as they say, and know the world.


    Discretion is more necessary to women than eloquence, because they have less trouble to speak well than to speak little.

    Father du Bosc.

    There are three things that ought to be considered before some things are spoken,—the manner, the place, and the time.


    Had Windham possessed discretion in debate, or Sheridan in conduct, they might have ruled their age.


    Some delicate matters must be treated like pins, because if they are not seized by the right end, we get pricked.

    J. Petit-Senn.

    Without discretion, people may be overlaid with unreasonable affection, and choked with too much nourishment.

    Jeremy Collier.

    If a cause be good, the most violent attack of its enemies will not injure it so much as an injudicious defence of it by its friends.


    Open your purse and your mouth cautiously; and your stock of wealth and reputation shall, at least in repute, be great.


    Swift calls discretion low prudence; it is high prudence and one of the most important elements entering into either social or political life.


    There is no talent so useful towards rising in the world, or which puts men more out of the reach of fortune, than discretion, a species of lower prudence.


    If we look into communities and divisions of men, we observe that the discreet man, not the witty, nor the learned, nor the brave, guides the conversation, and gives measure to society.


  • Quoth he, That man is sure to lose,
  • That fouls his hands with dirty foes;
  • For where no honor’s to be gain’d,
  • ’Tis thrown away in being maintain’d.
  • Butler.

  • You are old;
  • Nature in you stands on the very verge
  • Of her confine: you should be ruled and led
  • By some discretion, that discerns your state
  • Better than you yourself.
  • Shakespeare.

    I do not contend against the advantages of distrust. In the world we live in, it is but too necessary. Some of old called it the very sinews of discretion.


    The greatest parts, without discretion, as observed by an elegant writer, may be fatal to their owner; as Polyphemus, deprived of his eyes, was only the more exposed on account of His enormous strength and stature.


    Jest not openly at those that are simple, but remember how much thou art bound to God, who hath made thee wiser. Defame not any woman publicly, though thou know her to be evil; for those that are faulty cannot endure to be taxed, but will seek to be avenged of thee; and those that are not guilty cannot endure unjust reproach.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    Always man needs woman for his friend. He needs her clearer vision, her subtler insight, her softer thought, her winged soul, her pure and tender heart. Always woman needs man to be her friend. She needs the vigor of his purpose, the ardor of his will, his calmer judgment, his braver force of action, his reverence and his devotion.

    Mary Clemmer.

    There is no talent so useful towards rising in the world, or which puts men more out of the power of fortune, than that quality generally possessed by the dullest sort of men, and in common speech called “discretion,”—a species of lower prudence, by the assistance of which people of the meanest intellectuals pass through the world in great tranquillity, neither giving nor taking offence. For want of a reasonable infusion of this aldermanly discretion, everything fails.


    Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life; cunning is a kind of instinct, that only looks out after our immediate interests and welfare. Discretion is only found in men of strong sense and good understanding; cunning is often to be met with in brutes themselves, and in persons who are but the fewest removes from them.

    La Bruyère.