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


Example is more forcible than precept. People look at my six days in the week to see what I mean on the seventh.

Rev. R. Cecil.

Examples hasten deeds to good effects.

Mirror for Magistrates.

Much more profitable and gracious is doctrine by example than by rule.


A true life is at once interpreter and proof of the gospel.


The best teachers of humanity are the lives of great men.

C. H. Fowler.

Example is more efficacious than precept.


We can do more good by being good than in any other way.

Rowland Hill.

Children have more need of models than of critics.


Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.


Content to follow when we lead the way.


Advice may be wrong, but examples prove themselves.

H. W. Shaw.

Ill patterns are sure to be followed more than odd rules.


People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy after.


No reproof or denunciation is so potent as the silent influence of a good example.

Hosea Ballou.

Man is an imitative creature, and whoever is foremost leads the herd.


I am satisfied that we are less convinced by what we hear than by what we see.


No man is so insignificant as to be sure his example can do no hurt.

Lord Clarendon.

  • How far that little candle throws his beams!
  • So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
  • Shakespeare.

    None preaches better than the ant, and she says nothing.


    Example is contagious behavior.

    Charles Reade.

  • By his life alone,
  • Gracious and sweet, the better way was shown.
  • Whittier.

    Thieves for their robbery have authority, when judges steal themselves,


    The road by precepts is tedious, by example, short and efficacious.


    Children will imitate their fathers in their vices, seldom in their repentance.


    We live in an age that hath more need of good example than precepts.

    George Herbert.

    Example is a dangerous lure; where the wasp got through the gnat sticks fast.

    La Fontaine.

    There are follies which are caught like contagious diseases.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Other men are lenses through which we read our own minds.


    Example acquires tenfold authority when it speaks from the grave.

    Wendell Phillips.

    Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.


    Every man is bound to tolerate the act of which he himself has set the example.


    He who should teach men to die, would at the same time teach them to live.


    I do not give you to posterity as a pattern to imitate, but as an example to deter.


    Why doth one man’s yawning make another yawn?


    It is a world of mischief that may be done by a single example of avarice or luxury. One voluptuous palate makes many more.


    First find the man in yourself if you will inspire manliness in others.

    A. Bronson Alcott.

    Example is a motive of very prevailing force on the actions of men.


    They asked Lucman the fabulist, From whom did you learn manners? He answered, From the unmannerly.


    “Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck,” says a Chinese author, “leads the flock to fly and follow.”


    Examples would indeed be excellent things were not people so modest that none will set, and so vain that none will follow them.


    My advice is to consult the lives of other men, as we would a looking-glass, and from thence fetch examples for our own imitation.


    Alexander received more bravery of mind by the pattern of Achilles than by hearing the definition of fortitude.

    P. Sidney.

  • He was indeed the glass
  • Wherein the noble youth did dress themselves.
  • Shakespeare.

  • This noble ensample to his sheepe he gaf,—
  • That firste he wroughte and afterwarde he taughte.
  • Chaucer.

    Happy thou that learnest from another’s griefs, not to subject thyself to the same.


    I shall tread in the footsteps of my illustrious predecessor.

    Martin Van Buren, Complimenting Gen. Jackson.

    It is well to learn from the misfortunes of others what should be avoided.


    Preaching is of much avail, but practice is far more effective. A godly life is the strongest argument that you can offer to the skeptic.

    Hosea Ballou.

    Whence do you derive the power and privilege of a parent, when you, though an old man, do worse things (than your child)?


    The people are fashioned according to the example of their kings; and edicts are of less power than the life of the ruler.


    A man improves more by reading the story of a person eminent for prudence and virtue, than by the finest rules and precepts of morality.


    There is a transcendent power in example. We reform others unconsciously when we walk uprightly.

    Madame Swetchine.

    So work the honey-bees—creatures that, by a rule in nature, teach the art of order to a peopled kingdom.


    What you learn from bad habits and in bad society you will never forget, and it will be a lasting pang to you.

    John B. Gough.

    The corruption of the positively wicked is often less sad and fatal to society than the irregularities of a virtuous man who yields and falls.


    Be a pattern to others, and then all will go well; for as a whole city is infected by the licentious passions and vices of great men, so it is likewise reformed by their moderation.


    Examples of vicious courses practiced in a domestic circle corrupt more readily and more deeply when we behold them in persons in authority.


    It is certain that either wise bearing or ignorant carriage is caught, as men take disease, one of another; therefore let me take heed of their company.


    No man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle, pure, and good, without the world being the better for it, without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness.

    Phillips Brooks.

    There are bad examples which are worse than crimes; and more states have perished from the violation of morality than from the violation of law.


    Men trust rather to their eyes than to their ears; the effect of precepts is therefore slow and tedious, whilst that of examples is summary and effectual.


    Men judge things more fully by the eye than by the ear; consequently a minister’s practice is as much regarded, if not more, than his sermons.


    Precept is instruction written in the sand, the tide flows over it and the record is gone. Example is graven on the rock, and the lesson is not soon lost.


  • Lives of great men all remind us
  • We can make our lives sublime,
  • And, departing, leave behind us
  • Footprints on the sands of time.
  • Longfellow.

  • These taught us how to live; and (oh, too high
  • The price for knowledge!) taught us how to die.
  • Thomas Tickell.

    We are more speedily and fatally corrupted by domestic examples of vice, and particularly when they are impressed on our minds as from authority.


    Nothing enlarges the gulf of atheism more than the wide passage which lies between the faith and lives of men pretending to teach Christianity.


    A wise and good man will turn examples of all sorts to his own advantage. The good he will make his patterns, and strive to equal or excel them. The bad he will by all means avoid.

    Thomas à Kempis.

    When we see men of worth, we should think of becoming like them; when we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inward and examine ourselves.


    The common people do not judge of vice or virtue by morality or immorality, so much as by the stamp that is set upon it by men of figure.


    It is a well-known psychological fact that the conscience of children is formed by the influences that surround them; and that their notions of good and evil are the result of the moral atmosphere they breathe.


    The pulpit only “teaches” to be honest; the market-place “trains” to overreaching and fraud; and teaching has not a tithe of the efficiency of training. Christ never wrote a tract, but He went about doing good.

    Horace Mann.

    Whatever parent gives his children good instruction, and sets them at the same time a bad example, may be considered as bringing them food in one hand and poison in the other.


    Tarquin and Cæsar had each his Brutus—Charles the First his Cromwell—and George the Third—(“Treason!” shouted the speaker)—may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.

    Patrick Henry.

    As a neighboring funeral terrifies sick misers, and fear obliges them to have some regard for themselves; so, the disgrace of others will often deter tender minds from vice.


    Think not, Sultan, that in the sequestered vale alone dwells virtue, and her sweet companion, with attentive eye, mild, affable benevolence! No, the first great gift we can bestow on others is a good example.

    Sir Charles Morell.

    Be more prudent for your children than perhaps you have been for yourself. When they, too, are parents they will imitate you, and each of you will have prepared happy generations, who will transmit, together with your memory, the worship of your wisdom.

    La Beaume.

    Nothing is so contagious as example; never was there any considerable good or ill done that does not produce its like. We imitate good actions through emulation, and bad ones through a malignity in our nature, which shame conceals, and example sets at liberty.

    La Rochefoucauld.

  • For as the light
  • Not only serves to show, but render us
  • Mutually profitable; so our lives,
  • In acts exemplary, not only win
  • Ourselves good names, but do to others give
  • Matter for virtuous deeds, by which we live.
  • Chapman.

    Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and insensibly approximate to the characters we most admire. In this way, a generous habit of thought and of action carries with it an incalculable influence.


    Example comes in by the eyes and ears, and slips insensibly into the heart, and so into the outward practice, by a kind of secret charm, transforming men’s minds and manners into his own likeness.


    I question if Epicurus and Hume have done mankind a greater service by the looseness of their doctrines than by the purity of their lives. Of such men we may more justly exclaim, than of Cæsar, “Confound their virtues, they’ve undone the world!”


    The efficacy of good examples in the formation of public opinion is incalculable. Though men justify their conduct by reasons, and sometimes bring the very rules of virtue to the touchstone of abstraction, yet they principally act from example.

    Robert Hall.

    So admirably hath God disposed of the ways of men, that even the sight of vice in others is like a warning arrow shot for us to take heed. We should correct our own faults by seeing how uncomely they appear in others; who will not abhor a choleric passion, and a saucy pride in himself, that sees how ridiculous and contemptible they render those who are infested with them?

    J. Beaumont.

    The character, the counsels and example of our Washington***they will guide us through the doubts and difficulties that beset us; they will guide our children and our children’s children in the paths of prosperity and peace, while America shall hold her place in the family of nations.

    Edward Everett.

    If thou desire to see thy child virtuous, let him not see his father’s vices; thou canst not rebuke that in children that they behold practiced in thee; till reason be ripe, examples direct more than precepts; such as thy behavior is before thy children’s faces, such commonly is theirs behind their parents’ backs.


    Though “the words of the wise be as nails fastened by the masters of the assemblies,” yet sure their examples are the hammer to drive them in to take the deeper hold. A father that whipped his son for swearing, and swore himself whilst he whipped him, did more harm by his example than good by his correction.