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


Each one sees what he carries in his heart.


Only so much do I know as I have lived.


The hearing ear and the seeing eye.


Keep your eyes and ears open, if you desire to get on in the world.

Douglas Jerrold.

Objects imperfectly discerned take forms from the hope or fear of the beholder.


Those who cannot themselves observe can at least acquire the observation of others.


The eyes of a man are of no use without the observing power.

Paxton Hood.

Observation—activity of both eyes and ears.

Horace Mann.

  • How hast thou purchased this experience?
  • By my penny of observation.
  • Shakespeare.

    He alone is an acute observer who can observe minutely without being observed.


    Swift defined observation to be an old man’s memory.

    James A. Garfield.

    To learn by observation is traveling, people must also bring knowledge with them.

    Bayard Taylor.

    We pass by common objects or persons without noticing them; but the keen eye detects and notes types everywhere and among all classes.


    When general observations are drawn from so many particulars as to become certain and indisputable, these are jewels of knowledge.

    Dr. Watts.

    Observation made in the cloister or in the desert will generally be as obscure as the one and as barren as the other; but he that would paint with his pencil must study originals, and not be over-fearful of a little dust.


  • Let Observation, with extensive view,
  • Survey mankind from China to Peru;
  • Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife,
  • And watch the busy scenes of crowded life.
  • Dr. Johnson.

    How little of our knowledge of mankind is derived from intentional accurate observation! Most of it has, unsought, found its way into the mind from the continual presentations of the objects to our unthinking view. It is a knowledge of sensation more than of reflection.

    John Foster.

    You should not only have attention to everything, but a quickness of attention, so as to observe at once all the people in the room—their motions, their looks and their words—and yet without staring at them and seeming to be an observer.


    To behold, is not necessary to observe, and the power of comparing and combining is only to be obtained by education. It is much to be regretted that habits of exact observation are not cultivated in our schools; to this deficiency may be traced much of the fallacious reasoning, the false philosophy which prevails.


    It is the close observation of little things which is the secret of success in business, in art, in science, and in every pursuit in life. Human knowledge is but an accumulation of small facts made by successive generations of men—the little bits of knowledge and experience carefully treasured up by them growing at length into a mighty pyramid.

    Samuel Smiles.

    An observant man, in all his intercourse with society and the world, carries a pencil constantly in his hand, and, unperceived, marks on every person and thing the figure expressive of its value, and therefore instantly on meeting that person or thing again, knows what kind and degree of attention to give it. This is to make something of experience.

    John Foster.