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


Habit is ten times nature.


Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity.

St. Augustine.

Habit is the nursery of errors.

Victor Hugo.

Habit is necessary to give power.


Habit is the most imperious of all masters.


Habit is stronger than nature.

Quintus Curtius Rufus.

Habit is, as it were, a second nature.


Nothing is stronger than habit.


How use doth breed a habit in a man!


Pursuits become habits.


The power of habit is very strong.


A large part of Christian virtue consists in right habits.


Beware of fixing habits in a child.

Robert Hall.

All habits gather by unseen degrees.


Habit is a cable. We weave a thread of it every day, and at last we cannot break it.

Horace Mann.

Our second mother, habit, is also a good mother.


In the great majority of things habit is a greater plague than ever afflicted Egypt.

John Foster.

The chain of habit coils itself around the heart like a serpent, to gnaw and stifle it.


Ill habits gather by unseen degrees,—as brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas.


For use almost can change the stamp of nature.


Man yields to custom as he bows to fate,—in all things ruled, mind, body, and estate.


Unless the habit leads to happiness the best habit is to contract none.


Habit is altogether too arbitrary a master for me to submit to.


It is easy to assume a habit; but when you try to cast it off, it will take skin and all.

H. W. Shaw.

Habits are soon assumed; but when we strive to strip them off, ’tis being flayed alive.


It is almost as difficult to make a man unlearn his errors as his knowledge.


The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt till they are too strong to be broken.


Habit is the deepest law of human nature.


Habit, to which all of us are more or less slaves.

La Fontaine.

Every base occupation makes one sharp in its practice and dull in every other.

Sir P. Sidney.

How many unjust and wicked things are done from mere habit.


Habit gives endurance, and fatigue is the best night cap.


  • Small habits well pursued, betimes,
  • May reach the dignity of crimes.
  • Hannah More.

    I will be a slave to no habit; therefore farewell tobacco.

    Hosea Ballou.

    To learn new habits is everything, for it is to reach the substance of life. Life is but a tissue of habits.


    Long customs are not easily broken; he that attempts to change the course of his own life very often labors in vain.


    Nothing really pleasant or unpleasant subsists by nature, but all things become so by habit.


    Lord Tenterden, the celebrated judge, expired with these words on his lips, “Gentlemen of the jury, you will now consider your verdict.”

    Lord Campbell.

    If an idiot were to tell you the same story every day for a year, you would end by believing him.


    Are we not like the actor of old times, who wore his mask so long his face took its likeness?

    L. E. Landon.

    Vicious habits are so odious and degrading that they transform the individual who practices them into an incarnate demon.


    Habits, soft and pliant at first, are like some coral stones, which are easily cut when first quarried, but soon become hard as adamant.


    That beneficent harness of routine, which enables silly men to live respectably and happy men to live calmly.

    George Eliot.

    Habit will reconcile us to everything but change, and even to change if it recur not too quickly.


    I have often found a small stream at its fountain-head, that, when followed up, carried away the camel with his load.


    Habits are the daughters of action; but they nurse their mothers, and give birth to daughters after her image, more lovely and prosperous.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    Acts of virtue ripen into habits; and the goodly and permanent result is the formation or establishment of a virtuous character.


    A single bad habit will mar an otherwise faultless character, as an ink-drop soileth the pure white page.

    Hosea Ballou.

    Habits are like the wrinkles on a man’s brow; if you will smooth out the one, I will smooth out the other.

    H. W. Shaw.

    Marriage should combat without respite or mercy that monster which devours everything,—habit.


    To things which you bear with impatience you should accustom yourself, and, by habit you will bear them well.


  • Habit with him was all the test of truth;
  • “It must be right: I’ve done it from my youth.”
  • Crabbe.

  • My very chains and I grew friends,
  • So much a long communion tends
  • To make us what we are; even I
  • Regain’d my freedom with a sigh.
  • Byron.

    Habit and imitation—there is nothing more perennial in us than these two. They are the source of all working, and all apprenticeship, of all practice, and all learning, in this world.

    Thomas Carlyle.

    If thou dost still retain the same ill habits, the same follies, too, still thou art bound to vice, and still a slave.


    The law of the harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit; sow a habit, and you reap a character; sow a character, and you reap a destiny.

    G. D. Boardman.

    It must be conceded that, after affection, habit has its peculiar value. It is a little stream which flows softly, but freshens everything along its course.

    Madame Swetchine.

    Habits, though in their commencement like the filmy line of the spider, trembling at every breeze, may in the end prove as links of tempered steel, binding a deathless being to eternal felicity or woe.

    Mrs. Sigourney.

    The will that yields the first time with some reluctance does so the second time with less hesitation, and the third time with none at all, until presently the habit is adopted.

    Henry Giles.

    For the honest people, relations increase with the years. For the vicious, inconveniences increase. Inconstancy is the defect of vice; the influence of habit is one of the qualities of virtue.

    Madame Necker.

    The habit of virtue cannot be formed in a closet. Habits are formed by acts of reason in a persevering struggle through temptation.


    I perceive that the things that we do are silly; but what can one do? According to men’s habits and dispositions, so one must yield to them.


    Habit in most cases hardens and encrusts by taking away the keener edge of our sensations: but does it not in others quicken and refine, by giving a mechanical facility and by engrafting an acquired sense?


    Habits are formed, not at one stroke, but gradually and insensibly; so that, unless vigilant care be employed, a great change may come over the character without our being conscious of any.


    A young man ought to cross his own rules, to awake his vigor, and to keep it from growing faint and rusty. And there is no course of life so weak and sottish as that which is carried on by rule and discipline.


    Make sobriety a habit, and intemperance will be hateful; make prudence a habit, and reckless profligacy will be as contrary to the nature of the child, grown or adult, as the most atrocious crimes are to any of us.


    To be perpetually longing and impatiently desirous of anything, so that a man cannot abstain from it, is to lose a man’s liberty, and to become a servant of meat and drink, or smoke.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    Habit is the approximation of the animal system to the organic. It is a confession of failure in the highest function of being, which involves a perpetual self-determination, in full view of all existing circumstances.


    I will govern my life and my thoughts as if the whole world were to see the one and to read the other; for what does it signify to make anything a secret to my neighbor, when to God (who is the searcher of our hearts) all our privacies are open?


    Vicious habits are so great a stain to human nature, and so odious in themselves, that every person actuated by right reason would avoid them, though he were sure they would be always concealed both from God and man, and had no future punishment entailed upon them.


    Habit, if wisely and skillfully formed, becomes truly a second nature, as the common saying is; but unskillfully and unmethodically directed, it will be, as it were, the ape of Nature, which imitates nothing to the life, but only clumsily and awkwardly.


    I trust everything, under God, to habit, upon which, in all ages, the lawgiver, as well as the schoolmaster, has mainly placed his reliance,—habit, which makes everything easy, and casts all difficulties upon the deviation from the wonted course.

    Lord Brougham.

    Like flakes of snow that fall unperceived upon the earth, the seemingly unimportant events of life succeed one another. As the snow gathers together, so are our habits formed. No single flake that is added to the pile produces a sensible change; no single action creates, however it may exhibit, a man’s character.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    And it is a singular truth that, though a man may shake off national habits, accent, manner of thinking, style of dress, though he may become perfectly identified with another nation, and speak its language well, perhaps better than his own,—yet never can he succeed in changing his handwriting to a foreign style.


    Habit hath so vast a prevalence over the human mind that there is scarce anything too strange or too strong to be asserted of it. The story of the miser who, from long accustoming to cheat others, came at last to cheat himself, and with great delight and triumph picked his own pocket of a guinea to convey to his hoard, is not impossible or improbable.


    Give a child the habit of sacredly regarding the truth—of carefully respecting the property of others—of scrupulously abstaining from all acts of improvidence which can involve him in distress, and he will just as likely think of rushing into the element in which he cannot breathe, as of lying or cheating or stealing.

    Lord Brougham.

    Centres, or centre-pieces of wood, are put by builders under an arch of stone while it is in the process of construction till the key-stone is put in. Just such is the use Satan makes of pleasures to construct evil habits upon; the pleasure lasts till the habit is fully formed; but that done the habit may stand eternal. The pleasures are sent for firewood, and the hell begins in this life.


    If we look back upon the usual course of our feelings, we shall find that we are more influenced by the frequent recurrence of objects than by their weight and importance; and that habit has more force in forming our characters than our opinions have. The mind naturally takes its tone and complexion from what it habitually contemplates.

    Robert Hall.

    A tendency to resume the same mode of action at stated times is peculiarly the characteristic of the nervous system; and on this account regularity is of great consequence in exercising the moral and intellectual power. All nervous diseases have a marked tendency to observe regular periods; and the natural inclination to sleep at the approach of night is another instance of the same fact.

    Dr. Combe.