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


Honesty is the best policy.


An honest man’s the noblest work of God.


No legacy is so rich as honesty.


Honest minds are pleased with honest things.

Beaumont and Fletcher.

An honest heart possesses a kingdom.


An honest man is respected by all parties.


An honest man’s word is as good as his bond.


Honest men are the gentlemen of nature.


An honest man is always a child.


The badge of honesty is simplicity.


Honesty needs no disguise or ornament.


Honesty needs no pains to set itself off.

Edward Moore.

Honesty is a warrant of far more safety than fame.

Owen Feltham.

Integrity gains strength by use.


For honesty coupled to beauty, is to have honey a sauce to sugar.


An honest man, sir, is able to speak for himself, when a knave is not.


“Honesty is the best policy;” but he who acts on that principle is not an honest man.


All other knowledge is hurtful to him who has not honesty and good-nature.


Friends, if we be honest with ourselves, we shall be honest with each other.

George MacDonald.

What is becoming is honest, and whatever is honest must always be becoming.


I like people to be saints; but I want them to be first and superlatively honest men.

Madame Swetchine.

Honesty is good sense, politeness, amiableness,—all in one.


Rich honesty dwells like a miser, in a poor house, as your pearl in your foul oyster.


To be honest as this world goes is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.


The more honesty a man has, the less he affects the air of a saint.


Be true, and thou shalt fetter time with everlasting chain.


After all, the most natural beauty in the world is honesty and moral truth; for all beauty is truth.


It is necessary in this life,—at first honesty; then usefulness, which follows nearly always, for they cannot be separated.


There is no terror in your threats; for I am armed so strong in honesty that they pass by me as the idle wind which I respect not.


I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain, what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an “honest man.”

George Washington.

A rich man is an honest man, no thanks to him, for he would be a double knave to cheat mankind when he had no need of it.

Daniel De Foe.

  • Lands mortgaged may return, and more esteem’d,
  • But honesty once pawn’d, is ne’er redeem’d.
  • Middleton.

    Money dishonestly acquired is never worth its cost, while a good conscience never costs as much as it is worth.

    J. Petit-Senn.

    When men cease to be faithful to their God, he who expects to find them so to each other will be much disappointed.

    Bishop Horne.

    If he does really think that there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why, sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.

    Dr. Johnson.

    He who freely praises what he means to purchase, and he who enumerates the faults of what he means to sell, may set up a partnership with honesty.


    Honest and courageous people have very little to say about either their courage or their honesty. The sun has no need to boast of his brightness, nor the moon of her effulgence.

    Hosea Ballou.

    It would be an unspeakable advantage, both to the public and private, if men would consider that great truth, that no man is wise or safe but he that is honest.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    It should seem that indolence itself would incline a person to be honest, as it requires infinitely greater pains and contrivance to be a knave.


  • What’s the news?
  • None, my lord, but that the world’s grown honest,
  • Then is doomsday near.
  • Shakespeare.

    The first step toward greatness is to be honest, says the proverb; but the proverb fails to state the case strong enough. Honesty is not only “the first step toward greatness,” it is greatness itself.


  • A prince can mak a belted knight,
  • A marquis, duke, and a’ that;
  • But an honest man’s aboon his might,
  • Guid faith, he maunna fa’ that.
  • Burns.

    It is much easier to ruin a man of principle than a man of none, for he may be ruined through his scruples. Knavery is supple and can bend; but honesty is firm and upright, and yields not.


    Nothing really succeeds which is not based on reality; sham, in a large sense, is never successful. In the life of the individual, as in the more comprehensive life of the State, pretension is nothing and power is everything.


  • Who is the honest man?
  • He that doth still and strongly good pursue,
  • To God, his neighbor, and himself most true:
  • Whom neither force nor fawning can
  • Unpin, or wrench from giving all their due.
  • Herbert.

    Nothing more completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity himself than straightforward and simple integrity in another. A knave would rather quarrel with a brother-knave than with a fool, but he would rather avoid a quarrel with one honest man than with both.


    A right mind and generous affection hath more beauty and charms than all other symmetries in the world besides; and a grain of honesty and native worth is of more value than all the adventitious ornaments, estates, or preferments; for the sake of which some of the better sort so oft turn knaves.


    It is with honesty in one particular as with wealth,—those that have the thing care less about the credit of it than those who have it not. No poor man can well afford to be thought so, and the less of honesty a finished rogue possesses the less he can afford to be supposed to want it.


    Put it out of the power of truth to give you an ill character; and, if anybody reports you not to be an honest man, let your practice give him the lie; and to make all sure, you should resolve to live no longer than you can live honestly; for it is better to be nothing than a knave.

    Marcus Antoninus.

    Honesty is not only the deepest policy, but the highest wisdom; since, however difficult it may be for integrity to get on, it is a thousand times more difficult for knavery to get off; and no error is more fatal than that of those who think that Virtue has no other reward because they have heard that she is her own.


    The man who is so conscious of the rectitude of his intentions as to be willing to open his bosom to the inspection of the world is in possession of one of the strongest pillars of a decided character. The course of such a man will be firm and steady, because he has nothing to fear from the world, and is sure of the approbation and support of heaven.


    The root of honesty is an honest intention, the distinct and deliberate purpose to be true, to handle facts as they are, and not as we wish them to be. Facts lend themselves to manipulation. Many a butcher’s hand is worth more than its weight in gold. What we want things to be, we come to see them to be; and the tailor pulls the coat and the truth into a perfect fit from his point of view.

    Maltbie Babcock.

    There is no man but for his own interest hath an obligation to be honest. There may be sometimes temptations to be otherwise; but, all cards cast up, he shall find it the greatest ease, the highest profit, the best pleasure, the most safety, and the noblest fame, to hold the horns of this altar, which, in all assays, can in himself protect him.


    An entirely honest man, in the severe sense of the word, exists no more than an entirely dishonest knave; the best and the worst are only approximations to those qualities. Who are those that never contradict themselves? yet honesty never contradicts itself. Who are they that always contradict themselves? yet knavery is mere self-contradiction. Thus the knowledge of man determines not the things themselves, but their proportions, the quantum of congruities and incongruities.


    Let honesty be as the breath of thy soul, and never forget to have a penny, when all thy expenses are enumerated and paid: then shalt thou reach the point of happiness and independence shall be thy shield and buckler, thy helmet and crown; then shall thy soul walk upright nor stoop to the silken wretch because he hath riches, nor pocket an abuse because the hand which offers it wears a ring set with diamonds.