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


Fools are not mad folks.


None but a fool is always right.


Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.


A fool at forty is a fool indeed.


To the fool-king belongs the world.


No creature smarts so little as a fool.


A fool’s bolt is soon shot.


A rogue is a roundabout fool.


It needs brains to be a real fool.

George MacDonald.

The wise man knows himself to be a fool.


Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit.


Fools are apt to imitate only the defects of their betters.


Men may live fools, but fools they cannot die.


A fool may now and then be right by chance.


The fool doth think he is wise.


Even the fool is wise after the event.


A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge.


Fool beckons fool, and dunce awakens dunce.


Levity of behavior, always a weakness, is far more unbecoming in a woman than a man.

William Penn.

Fools are my theme, let satire be my song.


Too many giddy, foolish hours are gone.


Fortune makes folly her peculiar care.


Folly loves the martyrdom of fame.


Old fools are more foolish than young ones.

La Rochefoucauld.

Mingle a little folly with your wisdom.


Who lives without folly is not so wise as he thinks.

La Rochefoucauld.

  • Fools, to talking ever prone
  • Are sure to make their follies known.
  • Gay.

    A man may be as much a fool from the want of sensibility as the want of sense.

    Mrs. Jameson.

    Women, like men, may be persuaded to confess their faults; but their follies, never.

    Alfred de Musset.

    ’Tis my maxim, he’s a fool that marries; but he’s a greater that does not marry a fool.


  • O noble fool!
  • A worthy fool! Motley’s the only wear.
  • Shakespeare.

    Thou little thinkest what a little foolery governs the whole world.

    John Selden.

  • Leave such to trifle with more grace and ease,
  • Whom Folly pleases, and whose Follies please.
  • Pope.

    Young men think old men are fools; but old men know young men are fools.

    George Chapman.

    There are well-dressed follies, as there are well-clothed fools.


    No one should so act as to take advantage of another’s folly.


    If thou hast never been a fool, be sure thou wilt never be a wise man.


  • By outward show let’s not be cheated;
  • An ass should like an ass be treated.
  • Gay.

    People are never so near playing the fool as when they think themselves wise.

    Lady Montagu.

    Every man’s follies are the caricature resemblances of his wisdom.

    John Sterling.

    Ever since Adam fools have been in the majority.

    Casimir Delavigne.

    It is the peculiar quality of a fool to perceive the faults of others, and to forget his own.


    If the advice of a fool for once happens to be good, it requires a wise man to carry it out.


    I am always afraid of a fool. One cannot be sure that he is not a knave as well.


    A man of wit would often be much embarrassed without the company of fools.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Generally nature hangs out a sign of simplicity in the face of a fool.

    Thomas Fuller.

    Of all thieves, fools are the worst; they rob you of time and temper.


    Surely he is not a fool that hath unwise thoughts, but he that utters them.

    Bishop Hall.

    Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools that have not wit enough to be honest.

    Benjamin Franklin.

    There are follies as catching as contagious disorders.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant fool.


    He mast be a thorough fool who can learn nothing from his own folly.

    J. C. and A. W. Hare.

    It would be easier to endow a fool with intellect than to persuade him that he had none.


    A fool is often as dangerous to deal with as a knave, and always more incorrigible.


    What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue!


    If you wish to avoid seeing a fool you must first break your looking-glass.


    The instruction of the foolish is a waste of knowledge; soap cannot wash charcoal white.


  • What matter though the scorn of fools be given,
  • If the path follow’d lead us on to heaven!
  • Mrs. Hale.

    I am a fool, I know it; and yet, God help me, I’m poor enough to be a wit.


    A fool cannot look, nor stand, nor walk like a man of sense.

    La Bruyère.

    Men are so necessarily fools that it would be being a fool in a higher strain of folly, not to be a fool.


    All men are fools, and with every effort they differ only in the degree.


    He who provides for this life, but takes no care for eternity, is wise for a moment, but a fool forever.


    As riches and honor forsake a man, we discover him to be a fool, but nobody could find it out in his prosperity.

    La Bruyère.

    Oh, brother wearers of motley, are there not moments when one grows sick of grinning and trembling and the jingling of cap and bells?


    How can you make a fool perceive that he is a fool? Such a personage can no more see his own folly than he can see his own ears.


    Fools with bookish knowledge are children with edged weapons; they hurt themselves, and put others in pain.


    There are certain people fated to be fools; they not only commit follies by choice, but are even constrained to do so by fortune.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    A fool who has a flash of wit creates astonishment and scandal, like hack-horses setting out to gallop.


    After a man has sown his wild oats in the years of his youth, he has still every year to get over a few weeks and days of folly.


    He is one of those wise philanthropists who, in a time of famine, would vote for nothing but a supply of toothpicks.

    Douglas Jerrold.

    People have no right to make fools of themselves, unless they have no relations to blush for them.


    Fools and sensible men are equally innocuous. It is in the half fools and the half wise that the greatest danger lies.


    Well, thus we play the fools with the time, and the spirits of the wise sit in the clouds and mock us.


    Fools are very often united in the strictest intimacies, as the lighter kinds of woods are the most closely glued together.


    There is nothing which one regards so much with an eye of mirth and pity as innocence when it has in it a dash of folly.


    Women are charged with a fondness for nonsense and frivolity. Did not Talleyrand say, “I find nonsense singularly refreshing”?

    Alfred de Musset.

    The multitude of fools is a protection to the wise.

    St. Augustine.

    You pity a man who is lame or blind, but you never pity him for being a fool, which is often a much greater misfortune.

    Sydney Smith.

    Though thou shouldst bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.


    Folly is like the growth of weeds, always luxurious and spontaneous; wisdom, like flowers, requires cultivation.

    Hosea Ballou.

    The compliments of the season to my worthy masters, and a merry first of April to us all. We have all a speck of the motley.


    The greatest of fools is he who imposes on himself, and in his greatest concern thinks certainly he knows that which he has least studied, and of which he is most profoundly ignorant.


    The imputation of being a fool is a thing which mankind, of all others, is the most impatient of, it being a blot upon the prime and specific perfection of human nature.


    To succeed in the world, it is much more necessary to possess the penetration to discover who is a fool than to discover who is a clever man.


    There is in human nature generally more of the fool than of the wise; and therefore those faculties by which the foolish part of men’s minds are taken are more potent.


    Men of all ages have the same inclinations, over which reason exercises no control. Thus, wherever men are found, there are follies, ay, and the same follies.

    La Fontaine.

    Men are so completely fools by necessity that he is but a fool in a higher strain of folly who does not confess his foolishness.


    Some old men, by continually praising the time of their youth, would almost persuade us that there were no fools in those days; but unluckily they are left themselves for examples.


    If a traveler does not meet with one who is his better or his equal, let him firmly keep to his solitary journey; there is no companionship with a fool.

    Max Müller.

    To pardon those absurdities in ourselves which we cannot suffer in others is neither better nor worse than to be more willing to be fools ourselves than to have others so.


  • I have play’d the fool, the gross fool, to believe
  • The bosom of a friend will hold a secret
  • Mine own could not retain.
  • Massinger.

  • The right to be a cussed fool
  • Is safe from all devices human,
  • It’s common (ez a gin’l rule)
  • To every critter born of woman.
  • Lowell.

    A rational reaction against irrational excesses and vagaries of skepticism may***readily degenerate into the rival folly of credulity.


  • Nothing exceeds in ridicule, no doubt,
  • A fool in fashion, but a fool that’s out;
  • His passion for absurdity’s so strong,
  • He cannot bear a rival in the wrong.
  • Young.

  • ’Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
  • Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
  • ’Tis by our follies that so long
  • We hold the earth from heaven away.
  • Sill.

    Always win fools first. They talk much, and what they have once uttered they will stick to; whereas there is always time, up to the last moment, to bring before a wise man arguments that may entirely change his opinion.


    Men, when their actions succeed not as they would, are always ready to impute the blame thereof to heaven, so as to excuse their own follies.


    A fool and a wise man are alike both in the starting-place—their birth, and at the post—their death; only they differ in the race of their lives.


    Folly consists in the drawing of false conclusions from just principles, by which it is distinguished from madness, which draws just conclusions from false principles.


  • At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
  • Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
  • At fifty chides his infamous delay,
  • Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve,
  • Resolves—and re-resolves; then dies the same.
  • Young.

    A harmless hilarity and a buoyant cheerfulness are not infrequent concomitants of genius; and we are never more deceived than when we mistake gravity for greatness, solemnity for science, and pomposity for erudition.


    If men are to be fools, it were better that they were fools in little matters than in great; dullness, turned up with temerity, is a livery all the worse for the facings; and the most tremendous of all things is a magnanimous dunce.

    Sydney Smith.

    The wise man has his follies no less than the fool; but it has been said that herein lies the difference—the follies of the fool are known to the world, but are hidden from himself; the follies of the wise are known to himself, but hidden from the world.


    Were I to be angry at men being fools, I could here find ample room for declamation; but, alas! I have been a fool myself; and why should I be angry with them for being something so natural to every child of humanity?


    For not only is Fortune herself blind, but she generally causes those men to be blind whose interests she has more particularly embraced. Therefore they are often haughty and arrogant; nor is there anything more intolerable than a prosperous fool. And hence we often see that men who were at one time affable and agreeable are completely changed by prosperity, despising their old friends, and clinging to new.