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


The creed of diplomats.

Horace Greeley.

Assume a virtue if you have it not.


Like Æsop’s fox, when he had lost his tail, would have all his fellow foxes cut off theirs.


Keep a good table and don’t forget the ladies.

Napoleon I.

Kings will be tyrants from policy, when subjects are rebels from principle.


They had best not stir the rice, though it sticks to the pot.


The publick weal requires that a man should betray, and lye, and massacre.


I make presents to the mother, but think of the daughter.


He has mastered all points who has combined the useful with the agreeable.


Measures, not men, have always been my mark.


The policy of adapting one’s self to circumstances makes all ways smooth.


Cervantes shrewdly advises to lay a bridge of silver for a flying enemy.


The devil knew what he did when he made men politic; he crossed himself by it.


To manage men one ought to have a sharp mind in a velvet sheath.

George Eliot.

It is easiest to “be all things to all men,” but it is not honest. Self-respect must be sacrificed every hour in the day.

Abraham Lincoln.

At court one becomes a sort of human ant-eater, and learns to catch one’s prey by one’s tongue.


Honesty is the best policy, says the familiar axiom; but people who are honest on that principle defraud no one but themselves.

James A. Garfield.

  • Turn him to any cause of policy,
  • The Gordian knot of it he will unloose,
  • Familiar as his garter: that, when he speaks,
  • The air, a charter’d libertine, is still.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Factions among yourselves; preferring such
  • To offices and honors, as ne’er read
  • The elements of saving policy;
  • But deeply skilled in all the principles
  • That usher to destruction.
  • Massinger.

    When I see a merchant over-polite to his customers, begging them to taste a little brandy and throwing half his goods on the counter,—thinks I, that man has an axe to grind.

    Charles Miner.

  • To beguile the time,
  • Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
  • Your hand, your tongue; look like the innocent flower,
  • But be the serpent under ’t.
  • Shakespeare.

    One of the old philosophers says that it is the part of wisdom to sometimes seem a fool; but in our day there are too many ready-made ones to render this a desirable policy.


    In a troubled state we must do as in foul weather upon a river, not think to cut directly through, for the boat may be filled with water; but rise and fall as the waves do, and give way as much as we conveniently can.


    Mahomet made the people believe that he would call a hill to him, and from the top of it offer up his prayers for the observers of his law. The people assembled; Mahomet called the hill to come to him, again and again; and when the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, but said, “If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill.”