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


Mediocrity is beneath a brave soul.

Lady Blessington.

Half talent is no talent.


I find that most people are made only for the common uses of life.

John Foster.

Nothing is thoroughly approved but mediocrity. The majority have established this.


Mediocrity makes the most of its native possessions.


Mediocrity is excellence to the eyes of mediocre people.


Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not troubled with great ambitions.


Mediocrity can talk; but it is for genius to observe.


Mediocrity is less sensitive than genius, and therefore suffers less under nearly any possible exigency.

William Winter.

A quiet mediocrity is still to be preferred before a troubled superfluity.


The art of putting well into play mediocre qualities often begets more reputation than true merit achieves.

La Rochefoucauld.

Mediocrity is not allowed to poets, either by the gods or men.


Minds of moderate calibre ordinarily condemn everything which is beyond their range.

La Rochefoucauld.

Persevering mediocrity is much more respectable, and unspeakably more useful, than talented inconstancy.

Dr. James Hamilton.

The virtue of the soul does not consist in flying high, but walking orderly; its grandeur does not exercise itself in grandeur, but in mediocrity.


Mediocrity is now, as formerly, dangerous, commonly fatal, to the poet; but among even the successful writers of prose, those who rise sensibly above it are the very rarest exceptions.


How many of these minds are there to whom scarcely any good can be done! They have no excitability. You are attempting to kindle a fire of stone. You must leave them as you find them, in permanent mediocrity.

John Foster.

Among many parallels which men of imagination have drawn between the natural and moral state of the world, it has been observed that happiness as well as virtue consists in mediocrity.

Dr. Johnson.

The highest order of mind is accused of folly, as well as the lowest. Nothing is thoroughly approved but mediocrity. The majority has established this, and it fixes its fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way.


We meet with few utterly dull and stupid souls: the sublime and transcendent are still fewer; the generality of mankind stand between these two extremes: the interval is filled with multitudes of ordinary geniuses, but all very useful, and the ornaments and supports of the commonwealth.

La Bruyère.

There are circumstances of peculiar difficulty and danger, where a mediocrity of talent is the most fatal quantum that a man can possibly possess. Had Charles the First and Louis the Sixteenth been more wise or more weak, more firm or more yielding, in either case they had both of them saved their heads.


The maxim of Cleobulus, “Mediocrity is best,” has been long considered a universal principle, extending through the whole compass of life and nature. The experience of every age seems to have given it new confirmation, and to show that nothing, however specious or alluring, is pursued with propriety or enjoyed with safety beyond certain limits.

Dr. Johnson.