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


There is a proud modesty in merit.


Merit was ever modest known.


On their own merits modest men are dumb.

George Colman.

Merit challenges envy.


There is merit without elevation, but there is no elevation without some merit.

La Rochefoucauld.

Nature makes merit, and fortune puts it to work.

La Rochefoucauld.

The world more frequently recompenses the appearance of merit, than merit itself.

La Rochefoucauld.

Merit is born with men; happy those with whom it dies!

Queen Christina.

Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.


True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes.

Lord Halifax.

The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient.

St. Augustine.

It never occurs to fools that merit and good fortune are closely united.


  • Be thou the first true merit to befriend,
  • His praise is lost who waits till all commend.
  • Pope.

    The sufficiency of merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient.


    The mark of extraordinary merit is to see those most envious of it constrained to praise.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    I love the lineage of heroes, but I love merit more.

    Frederick the Great.

    Whoever gains the palm by merit, let him hold it.


    Contemporaries appreciate the man rather than his merit; posterity will regard the merit rather than the man.


    The best evidence of merit is a cordial recognition of it whenever and wherever it may be found.


    Oh, that estates, degrees, and offices were not derived corruptly, and that clear honor were purchased by the merit of the wearer!


    The art of being able to make a good use of moderate abilities wins esteem and often confers more reputation than real merit.

    La Bruyère.

    I am told so many ill things of a man, and I see so few in him, that I begin to suspect he has a real but troublesome merit, as being likely to eclipse that of others.

    La Bruyère.

  • Good actions crown themselves with lasting bays
  • Who deserves well, needs not another’s praise.
  • Heath.

  • There’s a proud modesty in merit!
  • Averse from asking, and resolv’d to pay
  • Ten times the gifts it asks.
  • Dryden.

    Merit is never so conspicuous as when coupled with an obscure origin, just as the moon never appears so lustrous as when it emerges from a cloud.


    Merit has rarely risen of itself, but a pebble or a twig is often quite sufficient for it to spring from to the highest ascent. There is usually some baseness before there is any elevation.


    Real merit of any kind cannot long be concealed; it will be discovered, and nothing can depreciate it, but a man’s exhibiting it himself. It may not always be rewarded as it ought; but it will always be known.


    Real merit requires as much labor, to be placed in a true light, as humbug to be elevated to an unworthy eminence; only the success of the false is temporary, that of the true, immortal.

    F. A. Durivage.

    If you wish particularly to gain the good graces and affection of certain people, men or women, try to discover their most striking merit, if they have one, and their dominant weakness, for every one has his own, then do justice to the one, and a little more than justice to the other.


    I know not why we should delay our tokens of respect to those who deserve them, until the heart that our sympathy could have gladdened has ceased to beat. As men cannot read the epitaphs inscribed upon the marble that covers them, so the tombs that we erect to virtue often only prove our repentance that we neglected it when with us.


    Merit is a work for the sake of which Christ gives rewards. But no such work is to be found, for Christ gives by promise. Just as if a prince should say to me, “Come to me in my castle, and I will give you a hundred florins.” I do a work, certainly, in going to the castle, but the gift is not given me as the reward of my work in going, but because the prince promised it to me.

    Martin Luther.

  • O, that estates, degrees, and offices,
  • Were not deriv’d corruptly! and that dear honour
  • Were purchas’d by the merit of the wearer!
  • How many then should cover, that stand bare?
  • How many be commanded, that command?
  • How much low peasantry would then be glean’d
  • From the true seed of honour? and how much honour
  • Pick’d from the chaff and ruin of the times,
  • To be new varnish’d?
  • Shakespeare.

    Distinguished merit will ever rise to oppression, and will draw lustre from reproach. The vapors which gather round the rising sun, and follow him in his course, seldom fail at the close of it to form a magnificent theatre for his reception, and to invest with variegated tints and with a softened effulgence the luminary which they cannot hide.

    Robert Hall.