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


The poetry of speech.


Eloquence is the language of Nature.


Eloquence is to the sublime what the whole is to its part.

La Bruyère.

Eloquence is the poetry of prose.


Silence is more eloquent than words.


The glorious burst of winged words!


Thoughts that breathe and words that burn.


Eloquence is vehement simplicity.


Eloquence the soul, song charms the senses.


Continued eloquence wearies.


Action is eloquence.


Brevity is a great praise of eloquence.


Words sweetly placed and modestly directed.


True eloquence scorns eloquence.


Silence that spoke, and eloquence of eyes.


There is no eloquence which does not agitate the soul.


Eloquence must be grounded on the plainest narrative.


Great eloquence we cannot get, except from human genius.

Thomas Starr King.

That besotting intoxication which verbal magic brings upon the mind.


  • Ev’ry word he speaks is a syren’s note
  • To draw the careless hearer.
  • Beaumont.

    Silence that wins, where eloquence is vain.

    William Hayley.

    Eloquence shows the power and possibility of man.


    Honesty is one part of eloquence. We persuade others by being in earnest ourselves.


    The art of clothing the thought in apt, significant and sounding words.


    Her tears her only eloquence.


    There was speech in their dumbness, language in their very gesture.


    Eloquence is the power to translate a truth into language perfectly intelligible to the person to whom you speak.


    True eloquence consists in saying all that is necessary, and nothing but what is necessary.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Verily, O man, with truth for thy theme, eloquence shall throne thee with archangels.


    In an easy cause any man may be eloquent.


  • Your Words are like the notes of dying swans,
  • Too sweet to last!
  • Dryden.

    False eloquence is exaggeration, true eloquence is emphasis.

    W. R. Alger.

    He has oratory who ravishes his hearers while he forgets himself.


    Those who would make us feel must feel themselves.


    Eloquence is the appropriate organ of the highest personal energy.


    It is but poor eloquence which only shows that the orator can talk.

    Sir Joshua Reynolds.

    Eloquence is in the assembly, not in the speaker.

    William Pitt.

    Manner, as much as matter, constitutes eloquence.

    François Delsarte.

    Eloquence, when in its highest pitch, leaves little room for reason or reflection.


  • Pour the full tide of eloquence along,
  • Serenely pure, and yet divinely strong.
  • Pope.

  • Words are like leaves, and where they most abound,
  • Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.
  • Pope.

  • O! as a bee upon the flower, I hang
  • Upon the honey of thy eloquent tongue.
  • Bulwer.

    Were we as eloquent as angels, we should please some more by listening than by talking.


    There is no talent so pernicious as eloquence to those who have it under command.


    But for your words, they rob the Hybla bees, and leave them honeyless.


    Eloquence dwells quite as much in the hearts of the hearers as on the lips of the orator.


    Such was the force of his eloquence, to make the hearers more concerned than he that spake.


  • Here rills of oily eloquence in soft
  • Meanders lubricate the course they take.
  • Cowper.

    Men are more eloquent than women made; but women are more powerful to persuade.

    Thomas Randolph.

    As the grace of man is in the mind, so the beauty of the mind is eloquence.


    The manner of your speaking is full as important as the matter, as more people have ears to be tickled than understandings to judge.


    The nature of our constitution makes eloquence more useful and more necessary in this country than in any other in Europe.


    There is as much eloquence in the tone of the voice, in the eyes, and in the air of a speaker as in his choice of words.

    La Rochefoucauld.

  • Every tongue that speaks
  • But Romeo’s name speaks heavenly eloquence.
  • Shakespeare.

    Many are ambitious of saying grand things, that is, of being grandiloquent. Eloquence is speaking out***a quality few esteem, and fewer aim at.


    It is of eloquence as of a flame; it requires matter to feed it, motion to excite it, and it brightens as it burns.


    An orator of past times declared that his calling was to make small things appear to be grand.


    There should be in eloquence that which is pleasing and that which is real; but that which is pleasing should itself be real.


    Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak and to speak well are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks.

    Ben Jonson.

    Eloquence is the child of knowledge. When a mind is full, like a wholesome river, it is also clear.


    Copiousness of words is always false eloquence, though it will ever impose on some sort of understandings.


    Eloquence may be found in conversation and all kinds of writings; ’tis rarely where we seek it, and sometimes where ’tis least expected.

    La Bruyère.

    Profane eloquence is transferred from the bar, where it formerly reigned, to the pulpit, where it ought to come.

    La Bruyère.

    O Eloquence! thou violated fair, how thou art wooed and won to either bed of right or wrong!


    Eloquence is a painting of thought; and thus, those who, after having painted it, still add to it, make a picture instead of a portrait.


    He is an eloquent man who can speak of low things acutely, and of great things with dignity, and of moderate things with temper.


    His tongue dropped manna, and could make the worse appear the better reason, to perplex and dash maturest counsels.


  • When he spoke, what tender words he us’d!
  • So softly, that like flakes of feather’d snow,
  • They melted as they fell.
  • Dryden.

    Go on, spare no invectives, but open the spout of your eloquence, and see with what a calm, connubial resignation I will both hear and bow to the chastisement.

    Colley Cibber.

  • Say she be mute and will not speak a word;
  • Then I’ll commend her volubility,
  • And say she uttereth piercing eloquence.
  • Shakespeare.

    No man can make a speech alone. It is the great human power that strikes up from a thousand minds that acts upon him, and makes the speech.

    James A. Garfield.

    Eloquence is an engine invented to manage and wield at will the fierce democracy, and, like medicine to the sick, is only employed in the paroxysms of a disordered state.


  • The spell is thine that reaches
  • The heart, and makes the wisest head its sport;
  • And there’s one rare, strange virtue in thy speeches,
  • The secret of their mastery—they are short.
  • Halleck.

    No man ever did or ever will become truly eloquent without being a constant reader of the Bible, and an admirer of the purity and sublimity of its language.

    Fisher Ames.

    The art of saying well what one thinks is different from the faculty of thinking. The latter may be very deep and lofty and far-reaching, while the former is altogether wanting.


    Great is the power of Eloquence; but never is it so great as when it pleads along with nature, and the culprit is a child strayed from his duty, and returned to it again with tears.


  • Her words were like a stream of honey fleeting,
  • The which doth softly trickle from the hive,
  • Able to melt the hearer’s heart unweeting,
  • And eke to make the dead again alive.
  • Spenser.

    In oratory affectation must be avoided; it being better for a man by a native and clear eloquence to express himself than by those words which may smell either of the lamp or inkhorn.

    Lord Herbert.

    Power above powers! O heavenly eloquence! that, with the strong reign of commanding words, dost manage, guide and master the high eminence of men’s affections!


    The art of declamation has been sinking in value from the moment that speakers were foolish enough to publish, and hearers wise enough to read.


    A cold-blooded learned man might, for anything I know, compose in his closet an eloquent book; but in public discourse, arising out of sudden occasions, he could by no possibility be eloquent.


  • And when she spake,
  • Sweete words, like dropping honey, she did shed;
  • And ’twixt the perles and rubies softly brake
  • A silver sound, that heavenly musicke seem’d to make.
  • Spenser.

    The pleasure of eloquence is in greatest part owing often to the stimulus of the occasion which produces it—to the magic of sympathy, which exalts the feeling of each by radiating on him the feeling of all.


    Eloquence is relative. One can no more pronounce on the eloquence of any composition than the wholesomeness of a medicine, without knowing for whom it is intended.


    God gave you that gifted tongue of yours, and set it between your teeth, to make known your true meaning to us, not to be rattled like a muffin man’s bell.


    True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech. It cannot be brought from far. Labor and learning may toil for it, but they will toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshaled in every way, but they cannot compass it. It must exist in the man, in the subject, and in the occasion.


    I have often heard it said, and I believe it to be true, that even the most eloquent man living, and however deeply impressed with the subject, could scarcely find utterance if he were to be standing up alone, and speaking only against a dead wall.


    Eloquence, when at its highest pitch, leaves little room for reason or reflection, but addresses itself entirely to the fancy or the affections, captivates the willing hearers, and subdues their understanding. Happily, this pitch it seldom attains.


    Eloquence, to produce her full effect, should start from the head of the orator, as Pallas from the brain of Jove, completely armed and equipped. Diffidence, therefore, which is so able a mentor to the writer, would prove a dangerous counsellor for the orator.


    Fine declamation does not consist in flowery periods, delicate allusions or musical cadences, but in a plain, open, loose style, where the periods are long and obvious, where the same thought is often exhibited in several points of view.


    We may put too high a premium on speech from platform and pulpit, at the bar and in the legislative hall, and pay dear for the whistle of our endless harangues. England, and especially Germany, are less loquacious, and attend more to business. We let the eagle, and perhaps too often the peacock, scream.


    By eloquence I understand those appeals to our moral perceptions that produce emotion as soon as they are uttered.***This is the very enthusiasm that is the parent of poetry. Let the same man go to his closet and clothe in numbers conceptions full of the same fire and spirit, and they will be poetry.


  • His words seem’d oracles
  • That pierc’d their bosoms; and each man would turn
  • And gaze in wonder on his neighbour’s face,
  • That with the like dumb wonder answer’d him.
  • You could have heard
  • The beating of your pulses while he spoke.
  • George Croly.

    Extemporaneous and oral harangues will always have this advantage over those that are read from a manuscript: every burst of eloquence or spark of genius they may contain, however studied they may have been beforehand, will appear to the audience to be the effect of the sudden inspiration of talent.


  • Pow’r above pow’rs! O heavenly eloquence!
  • That with the strong rein of commanding words,
  • Dost manage, guide, and master th’ eminence
  • Of men’s affections, more than all their swords!
  • Daniel.

    How often in the halls of legislation does eloquence unmask corruption, expose intrigue, and overthrow tyranny! In the cause of mercy it is omnipotent. It is bold in the consciousness of its superiority, fearless and unyielding in the purity of its motives. All opposition it destroys; all power it defies.

    Henry Melville.

    This is that eloquence the ancients represented as lightning, bearing down every opposer; this the power which has turned whole assemblies into astonishment, admiration and awe—that is described by the torrent, the flame, and every other instance of irresistible impetuosity.


    Eloquence is the language of nature, and cannot be learned in the schools; the passions are powerful pleaders, and their very silence, like that of Garrick, goes directly to the soul, but rhetoric is the creature of art, which he who feels least will most excel in; it is the quackery of eloquence, and deals in nostrums, not in cures.


    His eloquent tongue so well seconds his fertile invention that no one speaks better when suddenly called forth. His attention never languishes; his mind is always before his words; his memory has all its stock so turned into ready money that, without hesitation or delay, it supplies whatever the occasion may require.


  • The charm of eloquence—the skill
  • To wake each secret string,
  • And from the bosom’s chords at will
  • Life’s mournful music bring;
  • The o’ermast’ring strength of mind, which sways
  • The haughty and the free,
  • Whose might earth’s mightiest ones obey
  • This charm was given to thee.
  • Mrs. Embury.

    Method, we are aware, is an essential ingredient in every discourse designed for the instruction of mankind; but it ought never to force itself on the attention as an object—never appear to be an end instead of an instrument; or beget a suspicion of the sentiments being introduced for the sake of the method, not the method for the sentiments.

    Robert Hall.

  • Whene’er he speaks, Heaven, how the list’ning throng
  • Dwell on the melting music of his tongue!
  • His arguments are emblems of his mien,
  • Mild but not faint, and forcing, though serene:
  • And when the power of eloquence he’d try,
  • Here lightning strikes you, there soft breezes sigh.
  • Garth.

    The clear conception, outrunning the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the dauntless spirit, speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye, informing every feature, and urging the whole man onward, right onward, to his object—this is eloquence, or rather it is something greater and higher than all eloquence—it is action, noble, sublime, godlike action.


    A just and reasonable modesty does not only recommend eloquence, but sets off every great talent which a man can be possessed of. It heightens all the virtues which it accompanies; like the shades of paintings, it raises and rounds every figure, and makes the colors more beautiful, though not so glowing as they would be without it.


  • There’s a charm in delivery, a magical art,
  • That thrills like a kiss from the lip to the heart;
  • ’T is the glance—the expression—the well-chosen word—
  • By whose magic the depths of the spirit are stirr’d.
  • The lip’s soft persuasion—its musical tone:
  • Oh! such were the charms of that eloquent one!
  • Mrs. Welby.

    In eloquence, the great triumphs of the art are when the orator is lifted above himself; when consciously he makes himself the mere tongue of the occasion and the hour, and says what cannot but be said. Hence the term “abandonment,” to describe the self-surrender of the orator. Not his will, but the principle on which he is horsed, the great connection and crisis of events, thunder in the ear of the crowd.


  • His eloquence is classic in its style,
  • Not brilliant with explosive coruscations
  • Of heterogeneous thoughts, at random caught,
  • And scatter’d like a shower of shooting stars,
  • That end in darkness: no;—his noble mind
  • Is clear, and full, and stately, and serene.
  • His earnest and undazzled eye he keeps
  • Fix’d on the sun of Truth, and breathes his words
  • As easily as eagles cleave the air;
  • And never pauses till the height is won;
  • And all who listen follow where he leads.
  • Mrs. Hale.

    The receipt to make a speaker, and an applauded one too, is short and easy. Take common sense quantum sufficit; add a little application to the rules and orders of the House [of Commons], throw obvious thoughts in a new light, and make up the whole with a large quantity of purity, correctness and elegancy of style. Take it for granted that by far the greatest part of mankind neither analyze nor search to the bottom; they are incapable of penetrating deeper than the surface.


    Gentlemen, do you know what is the finest speech that I ever in my life heard or read? It is the address of Garibaldi to his Roman soldiers, when he told them: “Soldiers, what I have to offer you is fatigue, danger, struggle and death; the chill of the cold night in the free air, and heat under the burning sun; no lodgings, no munitions, no provisions, but forced marches, dangerous watchposts and the continual struggle with the bayonet against batteries; those who love freedom and their country may follow me.” That is the most glorious speech I ever heard in my life.