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


Fame is the perfume of heroic deeds.


The breath of popular applause.


Fame, a flower upon a dead man’s heart.


A woman’s fame is the tomb of her happiness.

L. E. Landon.

The greatest can but blaze and pass away.


Fame, next grandest word to God!

Alexander Smith.

To many fame comes too late.


She comes unlooked for if she comes at all.


Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil.


With fame, in just proportion, envy grows.


Raised by fortune to a ridiculous visibility.


Fame! that common crier.

J. Q. Adams.

Grant me honest fame or grant me none.


Short is my date, but deathless my renown.


Deathless laurel is the victor’s due.


He lives in fame, that died in virtue’s cause.


Fame sometimes hath created something of nothing.

Thomas Fuller.

I awoke one morning and found myself famous.


Fame, the sovereign deity of proud ambition.


To myself alone do I owe my fame.


Song forbids victorious deeds to die.


I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety.


  • Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
  • Live register’d upon our brazen tombs.
  • Shakespeare.

    Fame is the thirst of youth.


    And yet, after all, what is posthumous fame? Altogether vanity.


    Even the best things are not equal to their fame.


    Celebrity sells dearly what we think she gives.

    Emile Souvestre.

    Money will buy money’s worth; but the thing men call fame, what is it?


    Fame has eagle wings, and yet she mounts not so high as man’s desires.


    Fame is but the breath of the people, and that often unwholesome.


    Fame must necessarily be the portion of but few.

    Robert Hall.

    None despise fame more heartily than those who have no possible claim to it.

    J. Petit-Senn.

    How idle a boast, after all, is the immortality of a name!

    Washington Irving.

    Many have lived on a pedestal who will never have a statue when dead.


    Fame can never make us lie down contentedly on a death-bed.


    What is the end of fame? it is but to fill a certain portion of uncertain paper.


    Who despises fame will soon renounce the virtues that deserve it.


    Never get a reputation for a small perfection if you are trying for fame in a loftier area.


    If fame is only to come after death, I am in no hurry for it.


    The way to fame is like the way to heaven, through much tribulation.


    A few words upon a tombstone, and the truth of those not to be depended on.


    No true and permanent fame can be founded, except in labors which promote the happiness of mankind.

    Charles Sumner.

    The love of fame is the last weakness which even the wise resign.


    The love of fame gives an immense stimulus.


    What is fame? a fancied life in others’ breath.


    He that will sell his fame will also sell the public interest.


    To have fame follow us is well, but it is not a desirable avant-courier.


    Rash combat oft immortalizes man. If he should fall, he is renowned in song.


    What a heavy burden is a name that has become too soon famous!


    Though fame is smoke, its fumes are frankincense to human thoughts.


    Better than fame is still the wish for fame, the constant training for a glorious strife.


    It often happens that those of whom we speak least on earth are best known in heaven.

    N. Caussin.

    Unlike the sun, intellectual luminaries shine brightest after they set.


    Celebrity is the chastisement of merit and the punishment of talent.


    Fame is the shame of immortality, and is itself a shadow.


    No one would ever meet death in defence of his country without the hope of immortality.


    Fame comes only when deserved, and then is as inevitable as destiny, for it is destiny.


  • What shall I do to be forever known,
  • And make the age to come my own?
  • Cowley.

  • Seven cities warr’d for Homer being dead,
  • Who living had no roofe to shroud his head.
  • Thos. Heywood.

    He shines in the second rank, who is eclipsed in the first.


    She is best who is least spoken of among men, whether for good or evil.


    Many actions calculated to procure fame are not conducive to ultimate happiness.


    I have learned to prize the quiet, lightning deed, not the applauding thunder at its heels that men call fame.

    A. Smith.

    Men have a solicitude about fame; and the greater share they have of it, the more afraid they are of losing it.


    The temple of fame stands upon the grave; the flame that burns upon its altars is kindled from the ashes of dead men.


    The fame of great men ought always to be estimated by the means used to acquire it.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Naked glory is the true and honorable recompense of gallant actions.

    Le Sage.

    He that would have his virtue published, is not the servant of virtue, but glory.

    Ben Jonson.

    The love of letters is the forlorn hope of the man of letters. His ruling passion is the love of fame.


  • Let humble Allen, with an awkward shame,
  • Do good by stealth, and blush to find it Fame.
  • Pope.

  • I’ll make thee glorious by my pen
  • And famous by my sword.
  • Marquis of Montrose.

  • Fame lulls the fever of the soul, and makes
  • Us feel that we have grasp’d an immortality.
  • Joaquin Miller.

    Fame! it is the flower of a day, that dies when the next sun rises.


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


    Only the actions of the just smell sweet and blossom in the dust.

    James Shirley.

  • Death makes no conquest of this conqueror;
  • For now he lives in Fame, though not in life.
  • Shakespeare.

  • The drying up a single tear has more
  • Of honest fame than shedding seas of gore.
  • Byron.

    Mere family never made a man great. Thought and deed, not pedigree, are the passports to enduring fame.


    Avoid shame, but do not seek glory: nothing so expensive as glory.

    Sydney Smith.

  • What rage for fame attends both great and small!
  • Better be d—n’d than mentioned not at all.
  • John Wolcott.

    An enduring fame is one stamped by the judgment of the future,—that future which dispels illusions, and smashes idols into dust.


    The way to fame is like the way to heaven—through much tribulation.


    No true and permanent Fame can be founded except in labors which promote the happiness of mankind.

    Charles Sumner.

  • Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
  • The steep where Fame’s proud temple shines afar?
  • Beattie.

  • Sloth views the towers of fame with envious eyes,
  • Desirous still, still impotent to rise.
  • Shenstone.

  • Go where glory waits thee;
  • But while fame elates thee,
  • Oh! still remember me.
  • Moore.

    In fame’s temple there is always a niche to be found for rich dunces, importunate scoundrels, or successful butchers of the human race.


  • It deserves with characters of brass,
  • A forted residence, ’gainst the tooth of time
  • And razure of oblivion.
  • Shakespeare.

  • He left a name at which the world grew pale,
  • To point a moral, or adorn a tale.
  • Dr. Johnson.

    If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.


    Men’s fate is like their hair, which grows after they are dead, and with just as little use to them.

    George Villiers.

    Of all the rewards of virtue,… the most splendid is fame, for it is fame alone that can offer us the memory of posterity.


    He who would acquire fame must not show himself afraid of censure. The dread of censure is the death of genius.


    As the pearl ripens in the obscurity of its shell, so ripens in the tomb all the fame that is truly precious.


    Men think highly of those who rise rapidly in the world; whereas nothing rises quicker than dust, straw, and feathers.


    Fame and admiration weigh not a feather in the scale against friendship and love, for the heart languishes all the same.

    George Sand.

    The thirst after fame is greater than that after virtue; for who embraces virtue if you take away its rewards?


    It is pleasing to be pointed at with the finger and to have it said, “There goes the man.”


    What is fame? The advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little.


    Time magnifies everything after death; a man’s fame is increased as it passes from mouth to mouth after his burial.


    The splendors that belong unto the fame of earth are but a wind, that in the same direction lasts not long.


    Fame is the echo of actions, resounding them to the world, save that the echo repeats only the last part; but fame relates all, and often more than all.

    Thomas Fuller.

    The aspiring youth that fired the Ephesian dome outlives in fame the pious fool that raised it.

    Colley Cibber.

    Fame, they tell you, is air; but without air there is no life for any; without fame there is none for the best.


    Fame usually comes to those who are thinking about something else,—very rarely to those who say to themselves, “Go to, now let us be a celebrated individual!”


    Your fame is as the grass, whose hue comes and goes, and His might withers it by whose power it sprang from the lap of the earth.


    Fame, we may understand, is no sure test of merit, but only a probability of such: it is an accident, not a property of a man.


    Were not this desire of fame very strong, the difficulty of obtaining it, and the danger of losing it when obtained, would be sufficient to deter a man from so vain a pursuit.


  • Then shall our names
  • Familiar in his mouth as household words,
  • *****
  • Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
  • Shakespeare.

    Scarcely two hundred years back can Fame recollect articulately at all; and there she but maunders and mumbles.


  • If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined,
  • The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind;
  • Or, ravished with the whistling of a name,
  • See Cromwell, damned to everlasting fame!
  • Pope.

  • What of them is left, to tell
  • Where they lie, and how they fell?
  • Not a stone on their turf, nor a bone in their graves:
  • But they live in the Verse that immortally saves.
  • Byron.

  • And glory long has made the sages smile;
  • ’Tis something, nothing, words, illusion, wind—
  • Depending more upon the historian’s style
  • Than on the name a person leaves behind.
  • Byron.

    Of all the possessions of this life fame is the noblest; when the body has sunk into the dust the great name still lives.


    Fame may be compared to a scold; the best way to silence her is to let her alone, and she will at last be out of breath in blowing her own trumpet.


  • Of all the phantoms fleeting in the mist
  • Of time, though meagre all and ghostly thin;
  • Most unsubstantial, unessential shade
  • Was earthly fame.
  • Pollok.

    Be not liquorish after fame, found by experience to carry a trumpet, that doth for the most part congregate more enemies than friends.


  • Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!
  • To all the sensual world proclaim,
  • One crowded hour of glorious life
  • Is worth an age without a name.
  • Scott.

    Fame, as a river, is narrowest where it is bred, and broadest afar off; so exemplary writers depend not upon the gratitude of the world.

    Sir W. Davenant.

    The love of fame is a passion natural and universal, which no man, however high or mean, however wise or ignorant, was yet able to despise.

    Dr. Johnson.

    None of the projects or designs which exercise the mind of man are equally subject to obstructions and disappointments with the pursuit of fame.

    Dr. Johnson.

    In the career of female fame, there are few prizes to be obtained which can vie with the obscure state of a beloved wife or a happy mother.

    Jane Porter.

    The Duke of Wellington brought to the post of first minister immortal fame; a quality of success which would almost seem to include all others.

    Benj. Disraeli.

    Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck only at one end of a room it will soon fall to the floor. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends.


    Fame is not won on downy plumes nor under canopies; the man who consumes his days without obtaining it leaves such mark of himself on earth as smoke in air or foam on water.


    The fame which bids fair to live the longest resembles that which Horace attributes to Marcellus, whose progress he compares to the silent, imperceptible growth of a tree.

    W. B. Clulow.

    When Fame stands by us all alone, she is an angel clad in light and strength; but when Love touches her she drops her sword, and fades away, ghostlike and ashamed.


    Fame is an undertaker that pays but little attention to the living, but bedizens the dead, furnishes out their funerals, and follows them to the grave.


    Fame is the inheritance not of the dead, but of the living. It is we who look back with lofty pride to the great names of antiquity, who drink of that flood of glory as of a river, and refresh our wings in it for future flight.


    Valor and power may gain a lasting memory, but where are they when the brave and mighty are departed? Their effects may remain, but they live not in them any more than the fire in the work of the potter.

    Hartley Coleridge.

    The only pleasure of fame is that it proves the way to pleasure; and the more intellectual our pleasure, the better for the pleasure and for us too.


    There is no employment in the world so laborious as that of making to one’s self a great name; life ends before one has scarcely made the first rough draught of his work.

    La Bruyère.

    It is more reasonable to wish for reputation while it may be enjoyed, as Anacreon calls upon his companions to give him for present use the wine and garlands which they propose to bestow upon his tomb.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Our admiration of a famous man lessens upon our nearer acquaintance with him; and we seldom hear of a celebrated person without a catalogue of some notorious weaknesses and infirmities.


    It is not without reason that fame is awarded only after death. The cloud-dust of notoriety which follows and envelops the men who drive with the wind bewilders contemporary judgment.


    Fame confers a rank above that of gentleman and of kings. As soon as she issues her patent of nobility, it matters not a straw whether the recipient be the son of a Bourbon or of a tallow-chandler.


    The desire of posthumous fame and the dread of posthumous reproach and execration are feelings from the influence of which scarcely any man is perfectly free, and which in many men are powerful and constant motives of action.


    If opinion hath lighted the lamp of thy name, endeavor to encourage it with thy own oil, lest it go out and stink; the chronical disease of popularity is shame; if thou be once up, beware; from fame to infamy is a beaten road.


    Fame is a good so wholly foreign to our natures that we have no faculty in the soul adapted to it, nor any organ in the body to relish it; an object of desire placed out of the possibility of fruition.


    Those who despise fame seldom deserve it. We are apt to undervalue the purchase we cannot reach, to conceal our poverty the better. It is a spark which kindles upon the best fuel, and burns brightest in the bravest breast.

    Jeremy Collier.

    Fame often rests at first upon something accidental, and often, too, is swept away, or for a time removed; but neither genius nor glory is conferred at once, nor do they glimmer and fall, like drops in a grotto, at a shout.


    Common fame is the only liar that deserveth to have some respect still reserved to it; though she telleth many an untruth, she often hits right, and most especially when she speaketh ill of men.


    It is the penalty of fame that a man must ever keep rising. “Get a reputation and then go to bed,” is the absurdest of all maxims, “Keep up a reputation or go to bed,” would be nearer the truth.


    Among the writers of all ages, some deserve fame, and have it; others neither have nor deserve it; some have it, not deserving it; others, though deserving it, yet totally miss it, or have it not equal to their deserts.


    Time has a doomsday book, upon whose pages he is continually recording illustrious names. But as often as a new name is written there, an old one disappears. Only a few stand in illuminated characters never to be effaced.


  • The best-concerted schemes men lay for fame,
  • Die fast away; only themselves die faster.
  • The far-fam’d sculptor, and the laurell’d bard,
  • Those bold insurancers of deathless fame,
  • Supply their little feeble aids in vain.
  • Blair.

    What a wretched thing is all fame! A renown of the highest sort endures, say, for two thousand years. And then? Why, then, a fathomless eternity swallows it. Work for eternity: not the meagre rhetorical eternity of the periodical critics, but for the real eternity, wherein dwelleth the Divine.


    How idle a boast, after all, is the immortality of a name! Time is ever silently turning over his pages; we are too much engrossed by the story of the present to think of the character and anecdotes that gave interest to the past; and each age is a volume thrown aside and forgotten.

    Washington Irving.

  • Thy fanes, thy temple, to the surface bow,
  • Commingling slowly with heroic earth,
  • Broke by the share of every rustic plough:
  • So perish monuments of mortal Birth,
  • To perish all in turn, save well-recorded Worth.
  • Byron.

    Fame has no necessary conjunction with praise; it may exist without the breath of a word: it is a recognition of excellence which must be felt, but need not be spoken. Even the envious must feel it,—feel it, and hate in silence.

    Washington Allston.

    The love of fame is too high and delicate a feeling in the mind to be mixed up with realities,—it is a solitary abstraction.**A name “fast anchored in the deep abyss of time,” is like a star twinkling in the firmament, cold, silent, distant, but eternal and sublime; and our transmitting one to posterity is as if we should contemplate our translation to the skies.


    Fame is a revenue payable only to our ghosts; and to deny ourselves all present satisfaction, or to expose ourselves to so much hazard for this, were as great madness as to starve ourselves, or fight desperately for food, to be laid on our tombs after our death.


    Fame is like a river, that bareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid; but if persons of quality and judgment concur, then it filleth all round about, and will not easily away; for the odors of ointments are more durable than those of flowers.


    Popular glory is a perfect coquette; her lovers must toil, feel every inquietude, indulge every caprice, and perhaps at last be jilted into the bargain. True glory, on the other hand, resembles a woman of sense; her admirers must play no tricks. They feel no great anxiety, for they are sure in the end of being rewarded in proportion to their merit.


    An earthly immortality belongs to a great and good character. History embalms it; it lives in its moral influence, in its authority, in its example, in the memory of the words and deeds in which it was manifested; and as every age adds to the illustrations of its efficacy, it may chance to be the best understood by a remote posterity.

    Edward Everett.

    To some characters, fame is like an intoxicating cup placed to the lips,—they do well to turn away from it who fear it will turn their heads. But to others fame is “love disguised,” the love that answers to love in its widest, most exalted sense.

    Mrs. Jameson.

    Posthumous fame is a plant of tardy growth, for our body must be the seed of it; or we may liken it to a torch, which nothing but the last spark of life can light up; or we may compare it to the trumpet of the archangel, for it is blown over the dead; but unlike that awful blast, it is of earth, not of heaven, and can neither rouse nor raise us.


    It is a very indiscreet and troublesome ambition which cares so much about fame; about what the world says of us; to be always looking in the faces of others for approval; to be always anxious about the effect of what we do or say; to be always shouting, to hear the echoes of our own voices.


  • What so foolish as the chase of fame?
  • How vain the prize! how impotent our aim!
  • For what are men who grasp at praise sublime,
  • But bubbles on the rapid stream of time,
  • That rise and fall, that swell, and are no more,
  • Born and forgot, ten thousand in an hour.
  • Young.

    Reputation being essentially contemporaneous, is always at the mercy of the Envious and the Ignorant. But Fame, whose very birth is posthumous, and which is only known to exist by the echo of its footsteps through congenial minds, can neither be increased nor diminished by any degree of wilfulness.

    Mrs. Jameson.

    A man who cannot win fame in his own age will have a very small chance of winning it from posterity. True, there are some half-dozen exceptions to this truth among millions of myriads that attest it; but what man of common sense would invent any large amount of hope in so unpromising a lottery?


    After upwards of two thousand years Epicurus has been exonerated from the reproach that the doctrines of his philosophy recommended the pleasures of sensuality and voluptuousness as the chief good. Calumny may rest on genius a considerable part of a world’s duration; what then is the value of fame?

    W. B. Clulow.

    Happy indeed the poet of whom, like Orpheus, nothing is known but an immortal name! Happy next, perhaps, the poet of whom, like Homer, nothing is known but the immortal works. The more the merely human part of the poet remains a mystery, the more willing is the reverence given to his divine mission.


    The triumphs of the warrior are bounded by the narrow theater of his own age, but those of a Scott or a Shakespeare will be renewed with greater luster in ages yet unborn, when the victorious chieftain shall be forgotten, or shall live only in the song of the minstrel and the page of the chronicler.


    Milton neither aspired to present fame, nor even expected it; but (to use his own words) his high ambition was “to leave something so written to after ages, that they should not willingly let it die.” And Cato finely observed, he would much rather that posterity should inquire why no statues were erected to him, than why they were.


    To be read by bare inscriptions, like many in Grüter,—to hope for eternity by enigmatical epithets or first letters of our names—to be studied by antiquarians who we were, and have new names given us like many of the mummies, are cold consolation unto the students of perpetuity, even by everlasting languages.

    T. Hughes.

    Live for something! Do good and leave behind you a monument of virtue that the storm of time can never destroy. Write your name in kindness, love, and mercy on the hearts of the thousands you come in contact with, year by year, and you will never be forgotten. Your name, your deeds, will be as legible on the hearts you leave behind, as the stars on the brow of evening. Good deeds will shine as the stars of heaven.


  • Vain empty words
  • Of honour, glory, and immortal fame,
  • Can these recall the spirit from its place,
  • Or re-inspire the breathless clay with life?
  • What tho’ your fame with all its thousand trumpets,
  • Sound o’er the sepulchres, will that awake
  • The sleeping dead.
  • Sewell.

    One might feel indignant at the injustice which deals out what is called fame with so unequal a hand, were it not for the reflection that men who are competent to add to the intellectual wealth of the world, and enlarge the domain of knowledge, have learned to take popular applause at its true value, and to find in the faithful discharge of honorable duty a satisfaction which is its own reward.

    George S. Hillard.

    Of present fame think little and of future less; the praises that we receive after we are buried, like the posies that are strewn over our grave, may be gratifying to the living, but they are nothing to the dead: the dead are gone either to a place where they hear them not, or where, if they do, they will despise them.


  • Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
  • (That last infirmity of noble mind)
  • To scorn delights and live laborious days;
  • But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
  • And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
  • Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears,
  • And slits the thin-spun life.
  • Milton.

    A man’s heart must be very frivolous if the possession of fame rewards the labor to attain it. For the worst of reputation is that it is not palpable or present,—we do not feel or see or taste it. People praise us behind our backs, but we hear them not; few before our faces, and who is not suspicious of the truth of such praise?


  • Lives of great men all remind us
  • We can make our lives sublime,
  • And departing, leave behind us
  • Footprints on the sands of time;—
  • Footprints, that perhaps another,
  • Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
  • A forlorn and shipwreck’d brother,
  • Seeing, shall take heart again.
  • Longfellow.

    The highest greatness, surviving time and stone, is that which proceeds from the soul of man. Monarchs and cabinets, generals and admirals, with the pomp of court and the circumstance of war, in the lapse of time disappear from sight; but the pioneers of truth, though poor and lowly, especially those whose example elevates human nature, and teaches the rights of man, so that “a government of the people, by the people, for the people, may not perish from the earth;” such a harbinger can never be forgotten, and their renown spreads co-extensive with the cause they served so well.

    Charles Sumner.

    To be rich, to be famous? do these profit a year hence, when other names sound louder than yours, when you lie hidden away under ground, along with the idle titles engraven on your coffin? But only true love lives after you, follows your memory with secret blessings or pervades you, and intercedes for you. Non omnis moriar, if, dying, I yet live in a tender heart or two; nor am lost and hopeless, living, if a sainted departed soul still loves and prays for me.