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


Away, ye imitators, servile herd!


Our best thought comes from others.


To steal his sweet and honeyed sentences.


Borrowed garments never keep one warm.


I am but a gatherer and disposer of other men’s stuff.

Sir Henry Wotton.

Borrowed thoughts, like borrowed money, only show the poverty of the borrower.

Lady Blessington.

Plagiarists are always suspicious of being stolen from.


They lard their lean books with the fat of other’s works.


Plagiarists, at least, have the merit of preservation.


For such kind of borrowing as this, if it be not bettered by the borrower, among good authors is accounted Plagiary.


Goethe said there would be little left of him if he were to discard what he owed to others.

Charlotte Cushman.

Is the painter a plagiarist because he sets his palette to nature?

Benjamin West.

There is nothing original; all is reflected light.


Honest thinkers are always stealing from each other.

O. W. Holmes.

Literature is full of coincidences which some love to believe plagiarisms.

O. W. Holmes.

Thought is the property of him who can entertain it, and of him who can adequately place it.


Amongst so many borrowed things am glad if I can steal one, disguising and altering it for some new service.


Steal! to be sure they may, and, egad, serve your best thoughts as gypsies do stolen children,—disfigure them to make ’em pass for their own.


Plagiarists are purloiners who filch the fruit that others have gathered, and then throw away the basket.


We can say nothing but what hath been said,***Our poets steal from Homer***Our story-dressers do as much; he that comes last is commonly best.


No earnest thinker is a plagiarist pure and simple. He will never borrow from others that which he has not already, more or less, thought out for himself.

Charles Kingsley.

Most plagiarists, like the drone, have neither taste to select, industry to acquire, nor skill to improve, but impudently pilfer the honey ready prepared, from the hive.


  • Next, o’er his books his eyes began to roll,
  • In pleasing memory of all he stole,
  • How here he sipp’d, how there he plunder’d snug,
  • And suck’d all o’er, like an industrious bug.
  • Pope.

    It has come to be practically a sort of rule in literature, that a man, having once shown himself capable of original writing, is entitled thenceforth to steal from the writings of others at discretion.


    All the makers of dictionaries, all compilers who do nothing else than repeat backwards and forwards the opinions, the errors, the impostures, and the truths already printed, we may term plagiarists; but honest plagiarists, who arrogate not the merit of invention.


    If we steal thoughts from the moderns, it will be cried down as plagiarism; if from the ancients, it will be cried up as erudition. But in this respect every author is a Spartan, being more ashamed of the discovery than of the depredation.


    All men who have sense and feeling are being continually helped; they are taught by every person they meet, and enriched by everything that falls in their way. The greatest is he who has been oftenest aided. Originality is the observing eye.


    Nothing is sillier than this charge of plagiarism. There is no sixth commandment in art. The poet dare help himself wherever he lists, wherever he finds material suited to his work. He may even appropriate entire columns with their carved capitals, if the temple he thus supports be a beautiful one. Goethe understood this very well, and so did Shakespeare before him.

    Heinrich Heine.

    All the poets are indebted more or less to those who have gone before them; even Homer’s originality has been questioned, and Virgil owes almost as much to Theocritus, in his Pastorals, as to Homer, in his Heroics; and if our own countryman, Milton, has soared above both Homer and Virgil, it is because he has stolen some feathers from their wings.


    As monarchs have a right to call in the specie of a state, and raise its value, by their own impression; so are there certain prerogative geniuses, who are above plagiaries, who cannot be said to steal, but, from their improvement of a thought, rather to borrow it, and repay the commonwealth of letters with interest again; and may more properly be said to adopt, than to kidnap a sentiment, by leaving it heir to their own fame.