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


Extremes meet.


Perfect reason avoids all extremes.


No violent extreme endures.


There is danger in all extremes.

James Ellis.

Extremity is the trier of spirits.


Women are ever in extremes; they are either better or worse than men.

La Bruyère.

Extremes are vicious, and proceed from men; compensation is just, and proceeds from God.

La Bruyère.

Men are as much blinded by the extremes of misery as by the extremes of prosperity.


Extremes are ever neighbors; ’tis a step from one to the other.

Sheridan Knowles.

  • Extremes in nature equal good produce,
  • Extremes in man concur to general use.
  • Pope.

  • Thus each extreme to equal danger tends,
  • Plenty, as well as Want, can separate friends.
  • Cowley.

  • Avoid Extremes; and shun the fault of such
  • Who still are pleas’d too little or too much.
  • Pope.

    Shun equally a sombre air and vivacious sallies.

    Marcus Antoninus.

    Mistrust the man who finds everything good, the man who finds everything evil, and still more, the man who is indifferent to everything.


    In everything the middle course is best; all things in excess bring trouble.


    Our age knows nothing but reactions, and leaps from one extreme to another.


    Extreme views are never just; something always turns up which disturbs the calculations formed upon their data.


  • Those edges soonest turn, that are most keen;
  • A sober moderation stands secure,
  • No violent extremes endure.
  • Aleyn.

    All extremes are error. The reverse of error is not truth, but error still. Truth lies between these extremes.


    That extremes beget extremes is an apothegm built on the most profound observation of the human mind.


    There is a mean in all things. Even virtue itself hath its stated limits; which not being strictly observed it ceases to be virtue.


    Extremes are for us as if they were not, and as if we were not in regard to them; they escape from us, or we from them.


    We must remember how apt man is to extremes—rushing from credulity and weakness to suspicion and distrust.


  • Like to the time o’ the year between the extremes
  • Of hot and cold, he was nor sad nor merry.
  • Shakespeare.

    Cruel men are the greatest lovers of mercy, avaricious men of generosity, and proud men of humility; that is to say, in others, not in themselves.


    Everything runs to excess; every good quality is noxious, if unmixed; and, to carry the danger to the edge of ruin, nature causes each man’s peculiarity to superabound.


    It is a hard but good law of fate, that as every evil, so every excessive power, wears itself out.


    Too austere a philosophy makes few wise men; too rigorous politics, few good subjects; too hard a religion, few religious persons whose devotion is of long continuance.

    St. Evremond.

    The greatest flood has the soonest ebb; the sorest tempest the most sudden calm; the hottest love the coldest end; and from the deepest desire oftentimes ensues the deadliest hate.


    Extremes, though contrary, have the like effect; extreme heat mortifies, like extreme cold; extreme love breeds satiety, as well as extreme hatred.


    Pleasure and pain, though directly opposite, are yet so contrived by nature as to be constant companions; and it is a fact that the same motions and muscles of the face are employed both in laughing and crying.


    As great enmities spring from great friendships, and mortal distempers from vigorous health, so do the most surprising and the wildest frenzies from the high and lively agitations of our souls.


    He that had never seen a river imagined the first he met with to be the sea; and the greatest things that have fallen within our knowledge we conclude the extremes that nature makes of the kind.


    Both in individuals and in masses violent excitement is always followed by remission, and often by reaction. We are all inclined to depreciate whatever we have overpraised, and, on the other hand, to show undue indulgence where we have shown undue rigor.


    Extremes are dangerous: a middle estate is safest; as a middle temper of the sea, between a still calm and a violent tempest, is most helpful to convey the mariner to his haven.


    We feel neither extreme heat nor extreme cold; qualities that are in excess are so much at variance with our feelings that they are impalpable; we do not feel them, though we suffer from their effects.


    Extremes touch: he who wants no favors from Fortune may be said to have obtained the very greatest that she can bestow, in realizing an independence which no changes can diminish.


    Our senses will not admit anything extreme. Too much noise confuses us, too much light dazzles us, too great distance or nearness prevents vision, too great prolixity or brevity weakens an argument, too much pleasure gives pain, too much accordance annoys.


    So near are the boundaries of panegyric and invective, that a worn-out sinner is sometimes found to make the best declaimer against sin. The same high-seasoned descriptions which in his unregenerate state served to inflame his appetites, in his new province of a moralist will serve him (a little turned) to expose the enormity of those appetites in other men.


  • ’T is in worldly accidents,
  • As in the world itself, where things most distant
  • Meet one another: Thus the east and west,
  • Upon the globe a mathematical point
  • Only divides: Thus happiness and misery,
  • And all extremes, are still contiguous.
  • Denham.

  • Let wealth come in by comely thrift,
  • And not by any sordid shift;
  • ’T is haste
  • Make waste;
  • Extremes have still their fault.
  • Who gripes too hard the dry and slipp’ry sand,
  • Holds none at all, or little, in his hand.
  • Herrick.

    Extreme old age is childhood; extreme wisdom is ignorance, for so it may be called, since the man whom the oracle pronounced the wisest of men professed that he knew nothing; yea, push a coward to the extreme and he will show courage; oppress a man to the last, and he will rise above oppression.

    J. Beaumont.