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


Libraries are the wardrobes of literature.

James Dyer.

A library is a land of shadows.


My library was dukedom large enough.


A library is but the soul’s burial ground.


Shelved around us lie the mummied authors.

Bayard Taylor.

The great consulting-room of a wise man is a library.

George Dawson.

The richest minds need not large libraries.


Every library should try to be complete on something, if it were only the history of pin-heads.


A great library contains the diary of the human race.

George Dawson.

The true university of these days is a collection of books.


He that revels in a well-chosen library has innumerable dishes, and all of admirable flavor.

William Godwin.

  • As great a store
  • Have we of books as bees of herbs or more.
  • Henry Vaughan.

  • All round the room my silent servants wait,
  • My friends in every season, bright and dim.
  • Barry Cornwall.

    Errors belong to libraries; truth, to the human mind.


    The ponderous tomes are bales of the mind’s merchandise.


    No place affords a more striking conviction of the vanity of human hopes than a public library.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Let every man, if possible, gather some good books under his roof, and obtain access for himself and family to some social library. Almost any luxury should be sacrificed to this.

    William Ellery Channing.

  • I love vast libraries; yet there is a doubt,
  • If one be better with them or without—
  • Unless he use them wisely, and, indeed,
  • Knows the high art of what and how to read.
  • J. G. Saxe.

    A large library is apt to distract rather than to instruct the learner; it is much better to be confined to a few authors than to wander at random over many.


    Libraries are as the shrines where all the relics of saints full of true virtue, and that without delusion or imposture, are preserved and reposed.


    No possession can surpass, or even equal, a good library to the lover of books. Here are treasured up for his daily use and delectation, riches which increase by being consumed, and pleasures which never cloy.

    John Alfred Langford.

    The first thing naturally when one enters a scholar’s study or library, is to look at his books. One gets a notion very speedily of his tastes and the range of his pursuits by a glance round his book-shelves.

    O. W. Holmes.

    If I were not a king, I would be a university man; and if it were so that I must be a prisoner, if I might have my wish, I would desire to have no other prison than that library [the Bodleian].

    James I.

    He has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world, and the glories of a modern one.


    What laborious days, what watchings by the midnight lamp, what rackings of the brain, what hopes and fears, what long lives of laborious study, are here sublimized into print, and condensed into the narrow compass of these surrounding shelves!

    Horace Smith.

    Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a thousand years, have set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. The men themselves were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, fenced by etiquette; but the thought which they did not uncover to their bosom friend is here written out in transparent words to us, the strangers of another age.


    We enter our studies, and enjoy a society which we alone can bring together. We raise no jealousy by conversing with one in preference to another; we give no offence to the most illustrious by questioning him as long as we will, and leaving him as abruptly. Diversity of opinion raises no tumult in our presence: each interlocutor stands before us, speaks or is silent, and we adjourn or decide the business at our leisure.


    What a place to be in is an old library! It seems as though all the souls of all the writers that have bequeathed their labors to these Bodleians were reposing here as in some dormitory, or middle state. I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their winding-sheets. I could as soon dislodge a shade. I seem to inhale learning, walking amid their foliage; and the odor of their old moth-scented coverings is fragrant as the first bloom of those sciential apples which grew amid the happy orchard.

    Charles Lamb.

  • That place that does contain
  • My books, the best companions, is to me
  • A glorious court, where hourly I converse
  • With the old sages and philosophers;
  • And sometimes, for variety, I confer
  • With kings and emperors, and weigh their counsels;
  • Calling their victories, if unjustly got,
  • Unto a strict account, and, in my fancy,
  • Deface their ill-placed statues.
  • Beaumont and Fletcher.