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


All-potent flattery, universal lord!


Flatterers are the worst kind of enemies.


Flatterers are the bosom enemies of princes.


Oh, flatter me; for love delights in praises.


Knavery and flattery are blood relations.

Abraham Lincoln.

Flattery is the handmaid of the vices.


Self-love is the greatest of flatterers.

La Rochefoucauld.

Flattery, the dangerous nurse of vice.


No man flatters the woman he truly loves.


He that is much flattered soon learns to flatter himself.


Parent of wicked, bane of honest deeds.


The lie that flatters I abhor the most.


A flatterer is the shadow of a fool.

Sir Thomas Overbury.

Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.


It is easy to flatter; it is harder to praise.


If you mean to profit, learn to praise.


See how they beg an alms of flattery!


Lay not that flattering unction to your soul.


Just praise is only a debt, but flattery is a present.


Flattery labors under the odious charge of servility.


Nothing is so great an instance of ill-manners as flattery.


The most subtle flattery that a woman can receive is by actions, not by words.

Mme. Necker.

Those are generally good at flattering who are good for nothing else.


When flatterers meet the devil goes to dinner.

De Foe.

  • Of all wild beasts preserve me from a tyrant;
  • Of all tame—a flatterer.
  • Johnson.

    Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver; and adulation is not of more service to the people than to kings.


    The firmest purpose of a woman’s heart to well-timed, artful flattery may yield.


    He that loves to be flattered is worthy o’ the flatterer.


    Meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.


    Flattery is like a painted armor; only for show.


    The most dangerous of all flattery is the inferiority of those about us.

    Mme. Swetchine.

    A man who flatters a woman hopes either to find her a fool or to make her one.


    People flatter us because they can depend upon our credulity.


  • But when I tell him he hates flatterers,
  • He says he does, being then most flattered.
  • Shakespeare.

    No visor does become black villainy so well as soft and tender flattery.


    A man finds no sweeter voice in all the world than that which chants his praise.


    O that men’s ears should be to counsel deaf, but not to flattery!


    Gallantry of mind consists in saying flattering things in an agreeable manner.

    La Rochefoucauld.

  • Sirs, adulation is a fatal thing—
  • Rank poison for a subject, or a king.
  • Dr. Wolcot.

    Men are like stone jugs—you may lug them where you like by the ears.


    When the world frowns, we can face it; but let it smile, and we are undone.


    Flattery is a sort of bad money, to which our vanity gives currency.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    A fool flatters himself, a wise man flatters the fool.


    If we would not flatter ourselves, the flattery of others could not harm us.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Not kings alone—the people, too, have their flatterers.


    The most skillful flattery is to let a person talk on, and be a listener.


  • Alas! the praise given to the ear
  • Ne’er was nor ne’er can be sincere.
  • Miss Landon.

    If any man flatters me, I’ll flatter him again, though he were my best friend.


    Flattery, which was formerly a vice, is now grown into a custom.

    Publius Syrus.

    Flattery is like base coin; it impoverishes him who receives it.

    Madame Voillez.

    There is no flattery so adroit or effectual as that of implicit assent.


  • This barren verbiage current among men,
  • Light coin, the tinsel clink of compliment.
  • Tennyson.

  • Who flatters is of all mankind the lowest,
  • Save he who courts the flattery.
  • Hannah More.

    He does me double wrong, that wounds me with the flatteries of his tongue.


    If we never flattered ourselves we should have but scant pleasure.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    It is better to fall among crows than flatterers; for those devour the dead only, these the living.


    The flatterer easily insinuates himself into the closet, while honest merit stands shivering in the hall or antechamber.

    Jane Porter.

  • You play the spaniel,
  • And think with wagging of your tongue to win me.
  • Shakespeare.

    Applause is of too coarse a nature to be swallowed in the gross, though the extract or tincture be ever so agreeable.


    Flatterers are but the shadows of princes’ bodies; the least thick cloud makes them invisible.

    John Webster.

    Though flattery blossoms like friendship, yet there is a vast difference in the fruit.


  • O flatt’ry!
  • How soon thy smooth insinuating oil
  • Supples the toughest fool!
  • Fenton.

    We sometimes think we hate flattery, when we only hate the manner in which we have been flattered.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Flattery is no more than what raises in a man’s mind an idea of a preference which he has not.


    There is nothing which so poisons princes as flattery, nor anything whereby wicked men more easily obtain credit and favor with them.


    It hath been well said that the arch-flatterer, with whom all the petty flatterers have intelligence, is a man’s self.


    People generally despise where they flatter, and cringe to those they would gladly overtop; so that truth and ceremony are two things.

    Marcus Antoninus.

    Give me flattery—flattery, the food of courts, that I may rock him, and lull him in the down of his desires.


    The love of flattery in most men proceeds from the mean opinion they have of themselves; in women, from the contrary.


    Among all the diseases of the mind, there is not one more epidemical or more pernicious than the love of flattery.


    The rich man despises those who flatter him too much, and hates those who do not flatter him at all.


    The art of flatterers is to take advantage of the foibles of the great, to foster their errors, and never to give advice which may annoy.


    Flattery is often a traffic of mutual meanness, where although both parties intend deception, neither are deceived.


  • Beware of flattery, ’tis a weed
  • Which oft offends the very idol—vice,
  • Whose shrine it would perfume.
  • Fenton.

    There is not one of us that would not be worse than kings, if so continually corrupted as they are with a sort of vermin called flatterers.


    No flattery, boy! an honest man cannot live by it; it is a little, sneaking art, which knaves use to cajole and soften fools withal.


    Very ugly or very beautiful women should be flattered on their understanding, and mediocre ones on their beauty.


    His nature is too noble for the world; he would not flatter Neptune for his trident, or Jove for his power to thunder.


    Because all men are apt to flatter themselves, to entertain the addition of other men’s praises is most perilous.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    Commend a fool for his wit and a knave for his honesty, and they will receive you into their bosoms.


    It is possible to be below flattery as well as above it. One who trusts nobody will not trust sycophants. One who does not value real glory will not value its counterfeit.


    We must define flattery and praise; they are distinct. Trajan was encouraged to virtue by the panegyric Pliny; Tiberius became obstinate in vice from the flattery of his senators.

    Louis the Sixteenth.

    If you had told Sycorax that her son Caliban was as handsome as Apollo, she would have been pleased, witch as she was.


    Some indeed there are, who profess to despise all flattery, but even these are, nevertheless, to be flattered, by being told that they do despise it.


  • Ah! when the means are gone, that buy this praise,
  • The breath is gone whereof this praise is made.
  • Shakespeare.

    If you tell a woman she is beautiful, whisper it softly, for if the devil hears, he will echo it many times.

    F. A. Durivage.

    Women swallow at one mouthful the lie that flatters, and drink drop by drop the truth that is bitter.


    Flatterers of every age resemble those African tribes of which the credulous Pliny speaks, who made men, animals, and even plants perish, while fascinating them with praises.


    Adroit observers will find that some who affect to dislike flattery may yet be flattered, indirectly by a well-seasoned abuse and ridicule of their rivals.


    Flattery is an ensnaring quality, and leaves a very dangerous impression. It swells a man’s imagination, entertains his vanity, and drives him to a doting upon his own person.

    Jeremy Collier.

    There is no detraction worse than to overpraise a man, for if his worth proves short of what report doth speak of him, his own actions are ever giving the lie to his honor.


    Flattery pleases very generally. In the first place, the flatterer may think what he says to be true, but, in the second place, whether he thinks so or not, he certainly thinks those whom he flatters of consequence enough to be flattered.


    An ingenuous mind feels in unmerited praise the bitterest reproof. If you reject it, you are unhappy; if you accept it, you are undone.


  • At the throng’d levee bends the venal tribe:
  • With fair but faithless smiles each varnish’d o’er,
  • Each smooth as those that mutually deceive.
  • Thomson.

  • I would give worlds, could I believe
  • One-half that is profess’d me;
  • Affection! could I think it Thee,
  • When Flattery has caress’d me.
  • Miss Landon.

  • Of praise a mere glutton, he swallow’d what came,
  • And the puff of a dunce he mistook it for fame;
  • Till his relish grown callous, almost to disease,
  • Who pepper’d the highest was surest to please.
  • Goldsmith.

  • For praise too dearly lov’d, or warmly sought,
  • Enfeebles all internal strength of thought;
  • And the weak soul within itself unblest,
  • Leans for all pleasure on another’s breast.
  • Goldsmith.

    Should the poor be flattered? No; let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp, and crook the pregnant hinges of the knee where thrift may follow fawning.


  • ’Tis an old maxim in the schools,
  • That flattery’s the food of fools,
  • Yet now and then you men of wit
  • Will condescend to take a bit.
  • Swift.

  • Of folly, vice, disease, men proud we see,
  • And (stranger still!) of blockhead’s flattery,
  • Whose praise defames; as if a fool should mean,
  • By spitting on your face, to make it clean.
  • Young.

    Fine speeches are the instruments of fools or knaves, who use them when they want good sense; but honesty needs no disguise or ornament.


  • ***for ne’er
  • Was flattery lost on Poet’s ear;
  • A simple race! they waste their toil
  • For the vain tribute of a smile.
  • Scott.

    The mischief of flattery is, not that it persuades any man that he is what he is not, but that it suppresses the influence of honest ambition by raising an opinion that honor may be gained without the toil of merit.


    There is no tongue that flatters like a lover’s; and yet, in the exaggeration of his feelings, flattery seems to him commonplace. Strange and prodigal exuberance, which soon exhausts itself by flowing!


    First we flatter ourselves; and then the flattery of others is sure of success. It awakens our self-love within—a party who is ever ready to revolt from our better judgment, and join the enemy without.


    Christian! thou knowest thou carriest gunpowder about thee. Desire them that carry fire to keep at a distance. It is a dangerous crisis when a proud heart meets with flattering lips.


    Take care how you listen to the voice of the flatterer, who, in return for his little stock, expects to derive from you considerable advantage. If one day you do not comply with his wishes, he imputes to you two hundred defects instead of perfections.


    Let the passion of flattery be ever so inordinate, the supply can keep pace with the demand, and in the world’s great market, in which wit and folly drive their bargains with each other, there are traders of all sorts.


    Flattery, though a base coin, is the necessary pocket money at court; where, by custom and consent, it has obtained such a currency that it is no longer a fraudulent, but a legal payment.


    Flatterers are the worst kind of traitors, for they will strengthen thy imperfections, encourage thee in all evils, correct thee in nothing, but so shadow and paint thy follies and vices as thou shalt never, by their will, discover good from evil, or vice from virtue.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    A flatterer is said to be a beast that biteth smiling. But it is hard to know them from friends, they are so obsequious and full of protestations; for as a wolf resembles a dog, so doth a flatterer a friend.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    Praise not people to their faces, to the end that they may pay thee in the same coin. This is so thin a cobweb that it may with little difficulty be seen through; it is rarely strong enough to catch flies of any considerable magnitude.


    Know thyself, thy evil as thy good, and flattery shall not harm thee; yea, her speech shall be a warning, a humbling, and a guide. For wherein thou lackest most, there chiefly will the sycophant commend thee.


  • By God, I cannot flatter: I do defy
  • The tongues of soothers; but a braver place
  • In my heart’s love, hath no man than yourself;
  • Nay, task me to my word; approve me, lord.
  • Shakespeare.

    Delicious essence! how refreshing art thou to nature! how strongly are all its powers and all its weaknesses on thy side! how sweetly dost thou mix with the blood, and help it through the most difficult and tortuous passages to the heart!


    It requires but little acquaintance with the heart to know that woman’s first wish is to be handsome; and that, consequently, the readiest method of obtaining her kindness is to praise her beauty.


    Blinded as they are to their true character by self-love, every man is his own first and chiefest flatterer, prepared, therefore, to welcome the flatterer from the outside, who only comes confirming the verdict of the flatterer within.


    Nature has hardly formed a woman ugly enough to be insensible to flattery upon her person; if her face is so shocking that she must in some degree be conscious of it, her figure and her air, she trusts, make ample amends for it.


    To be flattered is grateful, even when we know that our praises are not believed by those who pronounce them; for they prove at least our power, and show that our favor is valued, since it is purchased by the meanness of falsehood.


  • Parent of wicked, bane of honest deeds,
  • Pernicious flattery! thy malignant seeds,
  • In an ill hour, and by a fatal hand,
  • Sadly diffus’d o’er virtue’s gleby land,
  • With rising pride amidst the corn appear,
  • And choke the hopes and harvest of the year.
  • Prior.

    It is scarcely credible to what degree discernment may be dazzled by the mist of pride, and wisdom infatuated by the intoxication of flattery; or how low the genius may descend by successive gradations of servility, and how swiftly it may fall down the precipice of falsehood.


    Allow no man to be so free with you as to praise you to your face. Your vanity by this means will want its food. At the same time your passion for esteem will be more fully gratified; men will praise you in their actions; where you now receive one compliment, you will then receive twenty civilities.


    We must be careful how we flatter fools too little, or wise men too much; for the flatterer must act the very reverse of the physician, and administer the strongest dose only to the weakest patient.


  • Take no repulse, whatever she doth say;
  • For, “get you gone,” she doth not mean, “away.”
  • Flatter and praise, commend, extol their graces;
  • Though ne’er so black, say they have angels’ faces.
  • That man that hath a tongue, I say, is no man,
  • If with his tongue he cannot win a woman.
  • Shakespeare.

    We must suit the flattery to the mind and taste of the recipient. We do not put essences into hogsheads, nor porter into phials. Delicate minds may be disgusted by compliments that would please a grosser intellect; as some fine ladies who would be shocked at the idea of a dram will not refuse a liqueur.


    In order that all men may be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it; for no species of falsehood is more frequent than flattery, to which the coward is betrayed by fear, the dependent by interest, and the friend by tenderness. Those who are neither servile nor timorous are yet desirous to bestow pleasure; and while unjust demands of praise continue to be made, there will always be some whom hope, fear, or kindness will dispose to pay them.