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


Of two evils, the less is always to be chosen.

Thomas à Kempis.

From seeming evil still educing good.


And out of good still to find means of evil.


A bad heart, bad designs.


Better one thorn pluck’d out than all remain.


None are all evil.


I have wrought great use out of evil tools.


Ill deeds are doubled with an evil word.


Evil events from evil causes spring.


Evil then results from imperfection.


Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water.


Evil often triumphs, but never conquers.

Joseph Roux.

An evil life is one kind of death.


All things can corrupt perverse minds.


The best known evil is the most tolerable.


Desperate evils generally make men safe.


No evil is great if it is the last.


Evil is in antagonism with the entire creation.


Evil comes not amiss if it comes alone.


Evil is fittest to consort with evil.


By the very constitution of our nature moral evil is its own curse.


There is some soul of goodness in things evil, would men observingly distil it out.


We cannot do evil to others without doing it to ourselves.


Evil, be thou my good.


The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.


Be deaf to the quarrelsome, blind to the scorner and dumb to the inquisitive.


  • Still we love
  • The evil we do, until we suffer it.
  • Johnson.

    An evil at its birth is easily crushed, but it grows and strengthens by endurance.


    Inasmuch as ill deeds spring up as a spontaneous crop, they are easy to learn.


  • Nought is so vile that on the earth doth live,
  • But to the earth some special good doth give.
  • Shakespeare.

    The doing an evil to avoid an evil cannot be good.


    This is the curse of every evil deed, that, propagating still, it brings forth evil.


    Evils, like poisons, have their uses, and there are diseases which no other remedy can reach.

    Thomas Paine.

    Three sparks—pride, envy, and avarice—have been kindled in all hearts.


  • Evil is limited. One cannot form
  • A scheme for universal evil.
  • Bailey.

    The fear of one evil often leads us into a worse.


    The first lesson of history is the good of evil.


    Only evil grows of itself, while for goodness we want effort and courage.


    Evil report, like the Italian stiletto, is an assassin’s weapon, worthy only of the bravo.

    Madame de Maintenon.

    Evil and good are everywhere, like shadow and substance; inseparable (for men) yet not hostile, only opposed.


    It is too late to be on our guard when we are in the midst of evils.


    As sure as God is good, so surely there is no such thing as necessary evil.


    There is no evil in human affairs that has not some good mingled with it.


    Evil is merely privative, not absolute: it is like cold, which is the privation of heat.


    The way to wickedness is always through wickedness.


  • Evil is wrought by want of thought
  • As well as want of heart.
  • Thos. Hood.

    There is no evil in the world without a remedy.


    He who does evil that good may come, pays a toll to the devil to let him into heaven.

    J. C. and A. W. Hare.

    Physical evils destroy themselves, or they destroy us.


    There is nothing evil but what is within us; the rest is either natural or accidental.

    Sir P. Sidney.

    Every evil in the bud is easily crushed; as it grows older it becomes stronger.


    If there be no enemy, no fight; if no fight, no victory; if no victory, no crown.


    Not one false man but doth uncountable evil.


    Wherever the speech is corrupted the mind is also.


    Of the origin of evil no universal solution has been discovered.


    An evil intention perverts the best actions, and makes them sins.


    Bad conduct soils the finest ornament more than filth.


    Life is not the supreme good, but the supreme evil is to realize one’s guilt.


    An evil-speaker differs from an evil-doer only in the want of opportunity.


    What has this unfeeling age of ours left untried, what wickedness has it shunned?


    There are thousands hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.


    It is some compensation for great evils that they enforce great lessons.


    He who is in evil is also in the punishment of evil.


    So far as any one shuns evil, so far he does good.


    The very curse of an evil deed is that it must always continue to engender evil.


    Never throw mud. You may miss your mark; but you must have dirty hands.

    Joseph Parker.

    Slander is a poison which extinguishes charity, both in the slanderer and in the persons who listen to it.

    St. Bernard.

    If there is any person to whom you feel a dislike, that is the person of whom you ought never to speak.

    Richard Cecil.

    Nothing is to be esteemed evil which God and nature have fixed with eternal sanction.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    He who will fight the devil at his own weapon, must not wonder if he finds him an overmatch.


    To overcome evil with good is good, to resist evil with evil is evil.


    There are only two bad things in this world, sin and bile.

    Hannah More.

    The cardinal method with faults is to overgrow them and choke them out with virtues.

    John Bascom.

    If you do what you should not, you must bear what you would not.


    In the history of man it has been very generally the case that when evils have grown insufferable they have touched the point of cure.


    Multitudes think they like to do evil; yet no man ever really enjoyed doing evil since God made the world.


    If thou wishest to get rid of thy evil propensities, thou must keep far from evil companions.


    To escape from evil we must be made as far as possible like God; and the resemblance consists in becoming just and holy and wise.


    After some account of good, evil will be known by consequence, as being only a privation, or absence of good.


    Evil into the mind of god or man may come and go, so unapproved, and leave no spot or blame behind.


    There is evil in every human heart which may remain latent, perhaps, through the whole of life; but circumstances may rouse it to activity.


  • The sins we do, people behold with optics,
  • Which shew them ten times more than common vices,
  • And often multiply them.
  • Fletcher.

    If we will rightly estimate what we call good and evil, we shall find it lies much in comparison.


    A man has no more right to say an uncivil thing than to act one; no more right to say a rude thing to another than to knock him down.


    A good word is an easy obligation; but not to speak ill requires only our silence, which costs us nothing.


  • Evil springs up, and flowers, and bears no seed,
  • And feeds the green earth with its swift decay,
  • Leaving it richer for the growth of truth.
  • James Russell Lowell.

    Many have puzzled themselves about the origin of evil; I observe that there is evil, and that there is a way to escape it, and with this I begin and end.

    John Newton.

    There are times when it would seem as if God fished with a line, and the devil with a net.

    Madame Swetchine.

    Nothing can work me damage except myself. The harm that I sustain I carry about with me, and never am a real sufferer but by my own fault.

    St. Bernard.

    Philosophy triumphs easily over past and future evils, but present evils triumph over philosophy.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Where evil may be done, it is right to ponder; where only suffered, know the shortest pause is much too long.

    Hannah More.

    The dread of evil is a much more forcible principle of human actions than the prospect of good.


    No propagation or multiplication is more rapid that that of evil, unless it be checked; no growth more certain.


  • Nor all that heralds rake from coffin’d clay,
  • Nor florid prose, nor honied lies of rhyme,
  • Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime.
  • Byron.

    Is the scrupulous attention I am paying to the government of my tongue at all proportioned to that tremendous truth revealed through St. James, that if I do not bridle my tongue, all my religion is vain?

    F. W. Faber.

    There is this of good in real evils, they deliver us while they last from the petty despotism of all that were imaginary.


    As there is much beast and some devil in man, so is there some angel and some God in him. The beast and the devil may be conquered, but in this life never destroyed.


    Evil, once manfully fronted, ceases to be evil; there is generous battle-hope in place of dead, passive misery; the evil itself has become a kind of good.


    It is a proof of our natural bias to evil, that gain is slower and harder than loss in all things good; but in all things bad getting is quicker and easier than getting rid of.


    If evil is inevitable, how are the wicked accountable? Nay, why do we call men wicked at all? Evil is inevitable, but it is also remediable.

    Horace Mann.

    Never let man imagine that he can pursue a good end by evil means, without sinning against his own soul! Any other issue is doubtful; the evil effect on himself is certain.


    With every exertion, the best of men can do but a moderate amount of good; but it seems in the power of the most contemptible individual to do incalculable mischief.

    Washington Irving.

    Evil is a far more cunning and persevering propagandist than good, for it has no inward strength, and is driven to seek countenance and sympathy.


    We sometimes learn more from the sight of evil than from an example of good; and it is well to accustom ourselves to profit by the evil which is so common, while that which is good is so rare.


    The aphorism “Whatever is, is right,” would be as final as it is lazy, did it not include the troublesome consequence that nothing that ever was, was wrong.

    Charles Dickens.

    To great evils we submit; we resent little provocations. I have before now been disappointed of a hundred-pound job and lost half a crown at rackets on the same day, and been more mortified at the latter than the former.


    Evils in the journey of life are like the hills which alarm travelers upon their road; they both appear great at a distance, but when we approach them we find that they are far less insurmountable than we had conceived.


    Every evil to which we do not succumb is a benefactor. As the Sandwich islander believes that the strength and valor of the enemy he kills passes into himself, so we gain the strength of the temptations we resist.


    The truly virtuous do not easily credit evil that is told them of their neighbors; for if others may do amiss then may these also speak amiss. Man is frail, and prone to evil, and therefore may soon fail in words.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    Even in evil, that dark cloud which hangs over the creation, we discern rays of light and hope, and gradually come to see in suffering and temptation proofs and instruments of the sublimest purposes of wisdom and love.


    No man, perhaps, is so wicked as to commit evil for its own sake. Evil is generally committed under the hope of some advantage the pursuit of virtue seldom obtains. Yet the most successful result of the most virtuous heroism is never without its alloy.

    B. R. Haydon.

    Imaginary evils soon become real ones by indulging our reflections on them; as he who in a melancholy fancy sees something like a face on the wall or the wainscot can, by two or three touches with a lead pencil, make it look visible, and agreeing with what he fancied.


    Evil is easily discovered; there is an infinite variety; good is almost unique. But some kinds of evil are almost as difficult to discover as that which we call good; and often particular evil of this class passes for good. It needs even a certain greatness of soul to attain to this, as to that which is good.


    All evil, in fact the very existence of evil, is inexplicable until we refer to the paternity of God. It hangs a huge blot in the universe until the orb of divine love rises behind it. In that apposition we detect its meaning. It appears to us but a finite shadow as it passes across the disk of infinite light.


    All animals are more happy than man. Look, for instance, on yonder ass; all allow him to be miserable; his evils, however, are not brought on by himself and his own fault; he feels only those which nature has inflicted. We, on the contrary, besides our necessary ills, draw upon ourselves a multitude of others.


    When will talkers refrain from evil speaking? When listeners refrain from evil hearing. At present there are many so credulous of evil, they will receive suspicions and impressions against persons whom they don’t know, from a person whom they do know—an authority good for nothing.


    The best antidote against evils of all kinds, against the evil thoughts that haunt the soul, against the needless perplexities which distract the conscience, is to keep hold of the good we have. Impure thoughts will not stand against pure words and prayers and deeds. Little doubts will not avail against great certainties. Fix your affections on things above, and then you will less and less be troubled by the cares, the temptations, the troubles of things on earth.

    Dean Stanley.

    That which the French proverb hath of sickness is true of all evils, that they come on horseback, and go away on foot; we have often seen a sudden fall or one meal’s surfeit hath stuck by many to their graves; whereas pleasures come like oxen, slow and heavily, and go away like post-horses, upon the spur.

    Bishop Hall.

    Evils***can never pass away; for there must always remain something which is antagonistic to good. Having no place among the Gods in heaven, of necessity they hover around the earthly nature and this mortal sphere. Wherefore we ought to fly away from earth to heaven as quickly as we can; and to fly away is to become like God, as far as this is possible; and to become like Him is to become holy and just and wise.


    The truest definition of evil is that which represents it as something contrary to nature; evil is evil because it is unnatural; a vine which should bear olive-berries, an eye to which blue seems yellow, would be diseased; an unnatural mother, an unnatural son, an unnatural act, are the strongest terms of condemnation.

    F. W. Robertson.

    It is not good to speak evil of all whom we know bad; it is worse to judge evil of any who may prove good. To speak ill upon knowledge shows a want of charity; to speak ill upon suspicion shows a want of honesty. I will not speak so bad as I know of many; I will not speak worse than I know of any. To know evil of others and not speak it, is sometimes discretion; to speak evil of others and not know it, is always dishonesty. He may be evil himself who speaks good of others upon knowledge, but he can never be good himself who speaks evil of others upon suspicion.

    Arthur Warwick.

    We are neither obstinately nor wilfully to oppose evils, nor truckle under them for want of courage, but that we are naturally to give way to them, according to their condition and our own, we ought to grant free passage to diseases; and I find they stay less with me who let them alone. And I have lost those which are reputed the most tenacious and obstinate of their own defervescence, without any help or art, and contrary to their rules. Let us a little permit nature to take her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we.


    Keep clear of personalities in conversation. Talk of things, objects, thoughts. The smallest minds occupy themselves with persons. Do not needlessly report ill of others. As far as possible, dwell on the good side of human beings. There are family boards where a constant process of depreciating, assigning motives, and cutting up character goes forward. They are not pleasant places. One who is healthy does not wish to dine at a dissecting table. There is evil enough in man, God knows. But it is not the mission of every young man and woman to detail and report it all. Keep the atmosphere as pure as possible, and fragrant with gentleness and charity.

    John Hall.