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


Genius is only great patience.


Genius is universal.

David Dudley Field.

Genius does not herd with genius.

O. W. Holmes.

Genius is independent of situation.


Genius involves both envy and calumny.


Genius speaks only to genius.


A happy genius is the gift of nature.


No enemy is so terrible as a man of genius.


Genius is intensity.


Genius, even, as it is the greatest good, is the greatest harm.


Genius can never despise labor.

Abel Stevens.

Genius, like humanity, rusts for want of use.


Genius has no brother.


Genius must be born, and never can be taught.


The faculty of growth.


Genius points the way; talent pursues it.

Marie Ebner-Eschenbach.

Genius is ever a riddle to itself.


All great men are in some degree inspired.


One genius has made many clever artists.


Genius is clairvoyant.

Abel Stevens.

The freemasonry of genius.

Moses Harvey.

To do what is impossible for talent is the mark of genius.


Genius is that in whose power a man is.


Genius only leaves behind it the monuments of its strength.


Genius can only breathe freely in an atmosphere of freedom.

John Stuart Mill.

Great geniuses have the shortest biographies.


The lamp of genius burns quicker than the lamp of life.


The honors of genius are eternal.


We measure genius by quality, not by quantity.

Wendell Phillips.

Courage of soul is necessary for the triumphs of genius.

Mme. de Staël.

No age is shut against great genius.


Genius is mainly an affair of energy.

Matthew Arnold.

Genius is always more suggestive than expressive.

Abel Stevens.

Talent should minister to genius.

Robert Browning.

Patience is a necessary ingredient of genius.


Genius, in one respect, is like gold—numbers of persons are constantly writing about both, who have neither.


A woman must be a genius to create a good husband.


Taste consists in the power of judging; genius in the power of executing.


There are no laws by which we can write Iliads.


Genius is not a single power, but a combination of great powers.


Genius does what it must; and talent does what it can.

Owen Meredith.

The path of genius is not less obstructed with disappointment than that of ambition.


One science only will one genius fit, so vast is art, so narrow human wit.


Genius of the highest kind implies an unusual intensity of the modifying power.


There is no great genius free from some tincture of madness.


Genius, thou gift of Heaven! thou light divine!


The proportion of genius to the vulgar is like one to a million.


Nature is the master of talent; genius is the master of nature.

J. G. Holland.

Genius is the highest type of reason—talent the highest type of the understanding.


Genius, the Pythian of the beautiful, leaves its large truths a riddle to the dull.


Genius is an immense capacity for taking trouble.


Genius is the gold in the mine, talent is the miner who works and brings it out.

Lady Blessington.

The first and last thing which is required of genius is the love of truth.


Genius always gives its best at first, prudence at last.


The life of great geniuses is nothing but a sublime storm.

George Sand.

I know no such thing as genius—genius is nothing but labor and diligence.


Philosophy becomes poetry, and science imagination, in the enthusiasm of genius.

Isaac Disraeli.

Genius unexerted is no more genius than a bushel of acorns is a forest of oaks.


Many men of genius must arise before a particular man of genius can appear.

Isaac Disraeli.

Fortune has rarely condescended to be the companion of genius.

Isaac Disraeli.

Genius in poverty is never feared, because nature, though liberal in her gifts in one instance, is forgetful in another.

B. R. Haydon.

Every man who observes vigilantly and resolves steadfastly, grows unconsciously into genius.


A man of genius is inexhaustible only in proportion as he is always re-nourishing his genius.


  • He alone can claim this name, who writes
  • With fancy high, and bold and daring Flights.
  • Horace.

    Intelligence is to genius as the whole is in proportion to its part.

    De La Bruyère.

    Genius is essentially creative; it bears the stamp of the individual who possesses it.

    Mme. de Staël.

    Wit is the god of moments, but Genius is the god of ages.

    La Bruyère.

    Steady work turns genius to a loom.

    George Eliot.

    It is the privilege of genius that to it life never grows commonplace as to the rest of us.


    Genius—the free and harmonious play of all the faculties of a human being.


    Genius does not care much for a set of explicit regulations, but that does not mean that genius is lawless.

    Charles H. Parkhurst.

    Many a genius has been slow of growth. Oaks that flourish for a thousand years do not spring up into beauty like a reed.

    George Henry Lewes.

    The scorn of genius is the most arrogant and the most boundless of all scorn.


    Genius is inconsiderate, self-relying, and, like unconscious beauty, without any intention to please.

    Isaac Mayer Wise.

    Genius is subject to the same laws which regulate the production of cotton and molasses.


    Of the three requisitions of genius, the first is soul, and the second, soul, and the third, soul.

    E. P. Whipple.

    Genius finds its own road and carries its own lamp.


    Heaven and earth, advantages and obstacles, conspire to educate genius.


    Genius may be almost defined as the faculty of acquiring poverty.


    Genius is the power of carrying the feelings of childhood into the powers of manhood.


    Genius makes its observations in shorthand; talent writes them out at length.


    The miracles of genius always rest on profound convictions which refuse to be analyzed.


    How often we see the greatest genius buried in obscurity!


    Genius may at times want the spur, but it stands as often in need of the curb.


    There is genius as well in virtue as in intellect. ’Tis the doctrine of faith over works.


    That genius is feeble which cannot hold its own before the masterpieces of the world.

    T. W. Higginson.

    Genius is always impatient of its harness; its wild blood makes it hard to train.


    The gifts of genius are far greater than the givers themselves venture to suppose.

    Moses Harvey.

    Genius is lonely without the surrounding presence of a people to inspire it.

    T. W. Higginson.

    Men of genius are often dull and inert in society, as the blazing meteor when it descends to the earth is only a stone.


    A man of genius may sometimes suffer a miserable sterility; but at other times he will feel himself the magician of thought.

    John Foster.

    Genius cannot escape the taint of its time more than a child the influence of its begetting.


    Refined taste forms a good critic; but genius is further necessary to form the poet or the orator.


    There is none but he whose being I do fear; and, under him, my genius is rebuked, as it is said Antony’s was by Cæsar.


    It is in the heart that God has placed the genius of women, because the works of this genius are all works of love.


    Genius is rarely found without some mixture of eccentricity, as the strength of spirit is proved by the bubbles on its surface.

    Mrs. Balfour.

  • His genius quite obscured the brightest ray
  • Of human thought, as Sol’s effulgent beams
  • At morn’s approach, extinguished all the stars.
  • R. Wynne.

    The finest flowers of genius have grown in an atmosphere where those of Nature are prone to droop, and difficult to bring to maturity.

    Dr. Guthrie.

    The greatest genius is never so great as when it is chastised and subdued by the highest reason.


    Talent, lying in the understanding, is often inherent; genius, being the action of reason and imagination, rarely or never.


    There is hardly a more common error than that of taking the man who has but one talent for a genius.

    Arthur Helps.

    Some have the temperament and tastes of genius, without its creative power. They feel acutely, but express tamely.


    The true characteristic of genius—without despising rules, it knows when and how to break them.


    Genius has its fatality. Must we not see in its works a manifestation of the will of Providence?

    Arsène Houssaye.

    When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.


    Genius, like a torch, shines less in the broad daylight of the present than in the night of the past.

    J. Petit-Senn.

    Talent wears well, genius wears itself out; talent drives a brougham in fact; genius, a sun-chariot in fancy.


  • Not oft near home does genius brightly shine,
  • No more than precious stones while in the mine.
  • Omar Khayyám.

  • Genius and its rewards are briefly told:
  • A liberal nature and a niggard doom,
  • A difficult journey to a splendid tomb.
  • Forster.

    Genius inspires this thirst for fame: there is no blessing undesired by those to whom Heaven gave the means of winning it.

    Mme. de Staël.

    To think and to feel, constitute the two grand divisions of men of genius—the men of reasoning and the men of imagination.

    Isaac Disraeli.

    Men of humor are always in some degree men of genius; wits are rarely so, although a man of genius may, amongst other gifts, possess wit, as Shakespeare.


    Men of genius are rarely much annoyed by the company of vulgar people, because they have a power of looking at such persons as objects of amusement of another race altogether.


    Latent genius is but a presumption. Everything that can be, is bound to come into being, and what never comes into being is nothing.


    It is the habit of party in England to ask the alliance of a man of genius, but to follow the guidance of a man of character.

    Lord John Russell.

    The very thrills of genius are disorganizing. The body is never quite acclimated to its atmosphere, but how often succumbs and goes into a decline.

    Henry D. Thoreau.

    Eccentricity is not a proof of genius, and even an artist should remember that originality consists not only in doing things differently, but also in “doing things better.”


    This is the highest miracle of genius, that things which are not should be as though they were, that the imaginations of one mind should become the personal recollections of another.


    There is no work of genius which has not been the delight of mankind, no word of genius to which the human heart and soul have not, sooner or later, responded.


    Many have genius, but, wanting art, are forever dumb. The two must go together to form the great poet, painter, or sculptor.


    It is good sense applied with diligence to what was at first a mere accident, and which by great application grew to be called, by the generality of mankind, a particular genius.


    This is the method of genius, to ripen fruit for the crowd by those rays of whose heat they complain.

    Margaret Fuller.

    The greatest geniuses have always attributed everything to God, as if conscious of being possessed of a spark of His divinity.

    B. R. Haydon.

    Men of genius are often considered superstitious, but the fact is, the fineness of their nerve renders them more alive to the supernatural than ordinary men.

    B. R. Haydon.

    Genius is only as rich as it is generous. If it hoards, it impoverishes itself. What the banker sighs for, the meanest clown may have—leisure and a quiet mind.

    Henry D. Thoreau.

    So far from genius discarding law, rather is it the supreme joy of genius to re-enact the eternal and unwritten law in the chamber of its own intellect.

    Charles H. Parkhurst.

    Rising genius always shoots forth its rays from among clouds and vapors, but these will gradually roll away and disappear as it ascends to its steady and meridian lustre.

    Washington Irving.

    Men of genius do not excel in any profession because they labor in it, but they labor in it because they excel.


    Unpretending mediocrity is good, and genius is glorious; but the weak flavor of genius in a person essentially common is detestable.


    Genius, that power which constitutes a poet; that quality without which judgment is cold and knowledge is inert; that energy which collects, combines, amplifies and animates.


    There never appear more than five or six men of genius in an age, but if they were united the world could not stand before them.


    With the offspring of genius, the law of parturition is reversed; the throes are in the conception, the pleasure in the birth.


    A nation does wisely, if not well, in starving her men of genius. Fatten them, and they are done for.

    Charles Buxton.

  • Without a genius, learning soars in vain;
  • And, without learning, genius sinks again;
  • Their force united, crowns the sprightly reign.
  • Elphinston.

    Every age might perhaps produce one or two geniuses, if they were not sunk under the censure and obloquy of plodding, servile, imitating pedants.


    Genius grafted on womanhood is like to overgrow it and break its stem, as you may see a grafted fruit-tree spreading over the stock which cannot keep pace with its evolutions.


    But the sublime, when it is introduced at a seasonable moment, has often carried all before it with the rapidity of lightning, and shown at a glance the mighty power of genius.


    Genius is allied to a warm and inflammable constitution; delicacy of taste, to calmness and sedateness. Hence it is common to find genius in one who is a prey to every passion.

    Lord Kames.

    To be endowed with strength by nature, to be actuated by the powers of the mind, and to have a certain spirit almost divine infused into you.


    Who in the same given time can produce more than many others, has vigor; who can produce more and better, has talents; who can produce what none else can, has genius.


    Genius, without religion, is only a lamp on the outer gate of a palace. It may serve to cast a gleam of light on those that are without while the inhabitant sits in darkness.

    Hannah More.

    Genius is supposed to be a power of producing excellences which are out of the reach of the rules of art: a power which no precepts can teach, and which no industry can acquire.

    Sir J. Reynolds.

    Genius, with all its pride in its own strength, is but a dependent quality, and cannot put forth its whole powers nor claim all its honors without an amount of aid from the talents and labors of others which it is difficult to calculate.


    As what we call genius arises out of the disproportionate power and size of a certain faculty, so the great difficulty lies in harmonizing with it the rest of the character.

    Mrs. Jameson.

    The drafts which true genius draws upon posterity, although they may not always be honored so soon as they are due, are sure to be paid with compound interest in the end.


  • And genius hath electric power,
  • Which earth can never tame;
  • Bright suns may scorch, and dark clouds lower—
  • Its flash is still the same.
  • Lydia M. Child.

    The highest genius never flowers in satire, but culminates in sympathy with that which is best in human nature, and appeals to it.


    Genius is intensity of life; an overflowing vitality which floods and fertilizes a continent or a hemisphere of being; which makes a nature many-sided and whole, while most men remain partial and fragmentary.

    Hamilton W. Mabie.

    There are two kinds of genius. The first and highest may be said to speak out of the eternal to the present, and must compel its age to understand it; the second understands its age, and tells it what it wishes to be told.


    Men of the greatest genius are not always the most prodigal of their encomiums. But then it is when their range of power is confined, and they have in fact little perception, except of their own particular kind of excellence.


    Genius is nothing more than our common faculties refined to a greater intensity. There are no astonishing ways of doing astonishing things. All astonishing things are done by ordinary materials.

    B. R. Haydon.

    Obey thy genius, for a minister it is unto the throne of fate. Draw to thy soul, and centralize the rays which are around of the Divinity.


    The productions of a great genius, with many lapses and inadvertences, are infinitely preferable to the works of an inferior kind of author which are scrupulously exact, and conformable to all the rules of correct writing.


    The effusions of genius, or rather the manifestations of what is called talent, are often the effects of distempered nerves and complexional spleen, as pearls are morbid secretions.

    Robert Walsh.

    The light of genius is sometimes so resplendent as to make a man walk through life amid glory and acclamation; but it burns very dimly and low when carried into “the valley of the shadow of death.”


    Genius does not seem to derive any great support from syllogisms. Its carriage is free; its manner has a touch of inspiration. We see it come, but we never see it walk.

    Count de Maistre.

    It is interesting to notice how some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up under every disadvantage, and working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles.

    Washington Irving.

    The effusions of genius are entitled to admiration rather than applause, as they are chiefly the effect of natural endowment, and sometimes appear to be almost involuntary.

    W. B. Clulow.

    Genius never grows old—young to-day, mature yesterday, vigorous to-morrow, always immortal. It is peculiar to no sex or condition, and is the divine gift to woman no less than to man.

    Juan Lewis.

    We declare to you that the earth has exhausted its contingent of master spirits. Now for decadence and general closing. We must make up our minds to it. We shall have no more men of genius.

    Victor Hugo.

    As diamond cuts diamond, and one hone smooths a second, all the parts of intellect are whetstones to each other; and genius, which is but the result of their mutual sharpening, is character, too.

    C. A. Bartol.

    Genius is to other gifts what the carbuncle is to the precious stones. It sends forth its own light, whereas other stones only reflect borrowed light.

    A. Schopenhauer.

    Some very dull and sad people have genius though the world may not count it as such; a genius for love, or for patience, or for prayer, maybe. We know the divine spark is here and there in the world: who shall say under what manifestations, or humble disguise!

    Anne Isabella Thackeray.

    Genius, indeed, melts many ages into one, and thus effects something permanent, yet still with a similarity of office to that of the more ephemeral writer. A work of genius is but the newspaper of a century, or perchance of a hundred centuries.


    High original genius is always ridiculed on its first appearance; most of all by those who have won themselves the highest reputation in working on the established lines. Genius only commands recognition when it has created the taste which is to appreciate it.


    All the means of action, the shapeless masses—the materials—lie everywhere about us. What we need is the celestial fire to change the flint into transparent crystal, bright and clear. That fire is genius!


    The light of genius never sets, but sheds itself upon other faces, in different hues of splendor. Homer glows in the softened beauty of Virgil, and Spenser revives in the decorated learning of Gray.


    The richest genius, like the most fertile soil, when uncultivated, shoots up into the rankest weeds; and instead of vines and olives for the pleasure and use of man, produces to its slothful owner the most abundant crop of poisons.


    The wild force of genius has often been fated by Nature to be finally overcome by quiet strength. The volcano sends up its red bolt with terrific force, as if it would strike the stars; but the calm, resistless hand of gravitation seizes it and brings it to the earth.


    Was genius ever ungrateful? Mere talents are dry leaves, tossed up and down by gusts of passion, and scattered and swept away; but Genius lies on the bosom of Memory, and Gratitude at her feet.


    The whole genius of an author consists in describing well, and delineating character well. Homer, Plato, Virgil, Horace only excel other writers by their expressions and images; we must indicate what is true if we mean to write naturally, forcibly and delicately.

    La Bruyère.

    Genius, without work, is certainly a dumb oracle; and it is unquestionably true that the men of the highest genius have invariably been found to be amongst the most plodding, hard-working, and intent men—their chief characteristic apparently consisting simply in their power of laboring more intensely and effectively than others.

    Samuel Smiles.

    The very greatest genius, after all, is not the greatest thing in the world, any more than the greatest city in the world is the country or the sky. It is the concentration of some of its greatest powers, but it is not the greatest diffusion of its might. It is not the habit of its success, the stability of its sereneness.

    Leigh Hunt.

    Genius is not a single power, but a combination of great powers. It reasons, but it is not reasoning; it judges, but it is not judgment; it imagines, but it is not imagination; it feels deeply and fiercely, but it is not passion. It is neither, because it is all.


    All are to be men of genius in their degree,—rivulets or rivers, it does not matter, so that the souls be clear and pure; not dead walls encompassing dead heaps of things, known and numbered, but running waters in the sweet wilderness of things unnumbered and unknown, conscious only of the living banks, on which they partly refresh and partly reflect the flowers, and so pass on.


    Neither can we admit that definition of genius that some would propose—“a power to accomplish all that we undertake;” for we might multiply examples to prove that this definition of genius contains more than the thing defined. Cicero failed in poetry, Pope in painting, Addison in oratory; yet it would be harsh to deny genius to these men.


    When the great Kepler had at length discovered the harmonic laws that regulate the motions of the heavenly bodies, he exclaimed: “Whether my discoveries will be read by posterity or by my contemporaries is a matter that concerns them more than me. I may well be contented to wait one century for a reader, when God Himself, during so many thousand years, has waited for an observer like myself.”


    What we call genius may, perhaps, in more strict propriety, be described as the spirit of discovery. Genius is the very eye of intellect and the wing of thought. It is always in advance of its time. It is the pioneer for the generation which it precedes. For this reason it is called a seer—and hence its songs have been prophecies.


    As well might a lovely woman look daily in her mirror, yet not be aware of her beauty, as a great soul be unconscious of the powers with which Heaven has gifted him; not so much for himself, as to enlighten others—a messenger from God Himself, with a high and glorious mission to perform. Woe unto him who abuses that mission!


    There is nothing so remote from vanity as true genius. It is almost as natural for those who are endowed with the highest powers of the human mind to produce the miracles of art, as for other men to breathe or move. Correggio, who is said to have produced some of his divinest works almost without having seen a picture, probably did not know that he had done anything extraordinary.


  • Genius! thou gift of Heav’n! thou Light divine!
  • Amid what dangers art thou doom’d to shine!
  • Oft will the body’s weakness check thy force,
  • Oft damp thy Vigour, and impede thy course;
  • And trembling nerves compel thee to restrain
  • Thy noble efforts, to contend with pain;
  • Or Want (sad guest!) will in thy presence come,
  • And breathe around her melancholy gloom:
  • To Life’s low cares will thy proud thought confine,
  • And make her sufferings, her impatience, thine.
  • Crabbe.

    The whole difference between a man of genius and other men, it has been said a thousand times, and most truly, is that the first remains in great part a child, seeing with the large eyes of children, in perpetual wonder, not conscious of much knowledge—conscious, rather, of infinite ignorance, and yet infinite power; a fountain of eternal admiration, delight, and creative force within him meeting the ocean of visible and governable things around him.


    The only difference between a genius and one of common capacity is that the former anticipates and explores what the latter accidentally hits upon. But even the man of genius himself more frequently employs the advantages that chance presents to him. It is the lapidary that gives value to the diamond, which the peasant has dug up without knowing its worth.

    Abbé Raynal.

    Nature seems to delight in disappointing the assiduities of art, with which it would rear dulness to maturity, and to glory in the vigor and luxuriance of her chance productions. She scatters the seeds of genius to the winds, and though some may perish among the stony places of the world, and some may be choked by the thorns and brambles of early adversity, yet others will now and then strike root even in the clefts of the rock, struggle bravely up into sunshine, and spread over their sterile birthplace all the beauties of vegetation.

    Washington Irving.