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


Literature is the immortality of speech.


Literature is the fruit of thinking souls.


Literature is the expression of society.

Charles Nodier.

The classic literature is always modern.


Literature is the garden of wisdom.

James Ellis.

Republic of letters.

Henry Fielding.

Literature is a great staff, but a sorry crutch.

Sir Walter Scott.

It is the life in literature that acts upon life.

J. G. Holland.

No literature is complete until the language in which it is written is dead.


A nation’s literature is always the biography of its humanity.

Robert, Lord Lytton.

It is the glorious doom of literature that the evil perishes and the good remains.


Literature is the daughter of heaven, who has descended upon earth to soften and charm all human ills.

Bernardin St. Pierre.

Literature, taken in all its bearings, forms the grand line of demarcation between the human and the animal kingdoms.

William Godwin.

National literature begins with fables and ends with novels.


Literature, like nobility, runs in the blood.


The great standard of literature as to purity and exactness of style is the Bible.


Literature is so common a luxury that the age has grown fastidious.


Literary history is the great morgue where all seek the dead ones whom they love, or to whom they are related.


Experience enables me to depose to the comfort and blessing that literature can prove in seasons of sickness and sorrow.


If I might control the literature of the household, I would guarantee the well-being of Church and State.


Literature is an avenue to glory, ever open for those ingenious men who are deprived of honors or of wealth.


Women excel more in literary judgment than in literary production,—they are better critics than authors.

Lady Blessington.

The writings of women are always cold and pretty like themselves. There is as much wit as you may desire, but never any soul.


Literature becomes free institutions. It is the graceful ornament of civil liberty, and a happy restraint on the asperities which political controversies sometimes occasion.

Daniel Webster.

The decline of literature indicates the decline of the nation. The two keep pace in their downward tendency.


Literature is a fragment of a fragment. Of all that ever happened, or has been said, but a fraction has been written; and of this but little is extant.


The history of literature is the history of the human mind. It is, as compared with other histories, the intellectual as distinguished from the material, the informing spirit as compared with the outward and visible.

William H. Prescott.

The riches of scholarship, the benignities of literature, defy fortune and outlive calamity. They are beyond the reach of thief or moth or rust. As they cannot be inherited, so they cannot be alienated.


In the modern languages there was not, six hundred years ago, a single volume which is now read. The library of our profound scholar must have consisted entirely of Latin books.


Whatever the skill of any country be in sciences, it is from excellence in polite learning alone that it must expect a character from posterity.


A beautiful literature springs from the depth and fulness of intellectual and moral life, from an energy of thought and feeling, to which nothing, as we believe, ministers so largely as enlightened religion.


Writing is not literature unless it gives to the reader a pleasure which arises not only from the things said, but from the way in which they are said; and that pleasure is only given when the words are carefully or curiously or beautifully put together into sentences.

Stopford Brooke.

From the hour of the invention of printing, books, and not kings, were to rule the world. Weapons forged in the mind, keen-edged, and brighter than a sunbeam, were to supplant the sword and battle-axe.


Literature has her quacks no less than medicine, and they are divided into two classes; those who have erudition without genius, and those who have volubility without depth; we shall get second-hand sense from the one, and original nonsense from the other.


Literature, properly so called, draws its sap from the deep soil of human nature’s common and everlasting sympathies, the gathered leal-mould of countless generations, and not from any top dressing capriciously scattered over the surface.


The selection of a subject is to the author what choice of position is to the general,—once skilfully determined, the battle is already half won. Of a few writers it may be said that they are popular in despite of their subjects—but of a great many more it may be observed that they are popular because of them.


Other relaxations are peculiar to certain times, places and stages of life, but the study of letters is the nourishment of our youth, and the joy of our old age. They throw an additional splendor on prosperity, and are the resource and consolation of adversity; they delight at home, and are no embarrassment abroad; in short, they are company to us at night, our fellow-travellers on a journey, and attendants in our rural recesses.


There is first the literature of knowledge, and secondly, the literature of power. The function of the first is—to teach; the function of the second is—to move; the first is a rudder, the second an oar or a sail. The first speaks to the mere discursive understanding; the second speaks ultimately, it may happen, to the higher understanding or reason, but always through affections of pleasure and sympathy.

Thomas De Quincey.