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


Politics is the science of exigencies.

Theodore Parker.

In politics nothing is contemptible.


The right divine of kings to govern wrong.


The many-headed monster of the pit.


Vain hope, to make people happy by politics!


In politics nothing is so absurd as rancor.

Count Cavour.

Party honesty is party expediency.

Grover Cleveland.

The multitude is always in the wrong.

Earl of Roscommon.

Party is the madness of many for the gain of a few.


In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly.


Wise men and gods, are on the strongest side.

Sir Charles Sedley.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.


Protection and patriotism are reciprocal.


There is no perfecter endowment in man than political virtue.


There is no gambling like politics.

Earl of Beaconsfield.

Politics is a deleterious profession, like some poisonous handicrafts.


A statesman makes the occasion, but the occasion makes the politician.

George S. Hillard.

He serves his party best, who serves the country best.

Rutherford B. Hayes.

The greatest powers cannot injure a man’s character whose reputation is unblemished among his party.

Lord Chesterfield.

Of all sciences there is none where first appearances are more deceitful than in politics.


Whatever I may believe in theology, I do not believe in the doctrine of vicarious atonement in politics.


There is nothing in which the power of circumstances is more evident than in politics.

Earl of Beaconsfield.

Good humor and generosity carry the day with the popular heart all the world over.

Alexander Smith.

Watch thou, and wake when others be asleep, to pry into the secrets of the state.


There is no republican road to safety but in constant distrust.

Wendell Phillips.

Oh that eternal want of peace which vexes public men!


If you do not know how to lie, cheat, and steal, turn your attention to politics and learn.

H. W. Shaw.

This bodes some strange eruption to our state.


Those who think must govern those who toil.


Nothing is so uncertain as the minds of the multitude.


As long as I count the votes what are you going to do about it? Say.

Wm. M. Tweed.

There is an infinity of political errors which, being once adopted, become principles.

Abbé Raynal.

It is a condition which confronts us—not a theory.

Grover Cleveland.

  • Old politicians chew on wisdom past,
  • And totter on in business to the last.
  • Pope.

    A mugwump is a person educated beyond his intellect.

    Horace Porter.

    Politics, as a trade, finds most and leaves nearly all dishonest.

    Abraham Lincoln.

    People who declare that they belong to no party certainly do not belong to ours.

    J. Petit-Senn.

    Political men, like goats, usually thrive best among inequalities.


    I have doubtless erred more or less in politics, but a crime I never committed.

    Napoleon I.

    Jarring interests of themselves create the according music of a well-mixed state.


    Where vice prevails, and impious men bear sway, the post of honor is a private station.


    The tendency of party spirit has ever been to disguise and propagate and support error.


    Measures, not men, have always been my mark.


    Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong.

    Daniel O’Connell.

    If you do anything above party, the true-hearted ones of all parties sympathize with you.

    Charles Kingsley.

  • Where village statesmen talk’d with looks profound,
  • And news much older than their ale went round.
  • Goldsmith.

    A great many political speeches are literary parricides; they kill their fathers.

    G. D. Prentice.

    A thousand years scarce serve to form a state; an hour may lay it in the dust.


    A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman, of the next generation.

    James Freeman Clarke.

    In politics, merit is rewarded by the possessor being raised, like a target, to a position to be fired at.


    I will say positively and resolutely that is it impossible an elective monarchy should be so free and absolute as an hereditary.


    He knows very little of mankind who expects, by any facts or reasoning, to convince a determined party man.


    A politician weakly and amiably in the right is no match for a politician tenaciously in the wrong.


    There is an indissoluble union between a magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity.


    This gives force to the strong—that the multitude have no habit of self-reliance or original action.


    There are occasions when the general belief of the people, even though it be groundless, works its effect as sure as truth itself.


    In a free country there is much clamor, with little suffering; in a despotic state there is little complaint, but much suffering.


    Where the people are well educated, the art of piloting a state is best learned from the writings of Plato.

    Bishop Berkeley.

  • Get thee glass eyes;
  • And, like a scurvy politician, seem
  • To see the things thou dost not.
  • Shakespeare.

    Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular.


  • The freeman casting, with unpurchased hand,
  • The vote that shakes the turrets of the land.
  • O. W. Holmes.

    Great political questions stir the deepest nature of one-half the nation; but they pass far above and over the heads of the other half.

    Wendell Phillips.

  • What is a Communist? One who has yearnings
  • For equal division of unequal earnings.
  • Ebenezer Elliot.

  • A politician must like lightning melt
  • The very marrow, and not taint the skin;
  • His ways must not be seen.
  • Chapman.

    I consider biennial elections as a security that the sober, second thought of the people shall be law.

    Fisher Ames.

    Politics resemble religion; attempting to divest either of ceremony is the most certain mode of bringing either into contempt.


    The conduct of a wise politician is ever suited to the present posture of affairs. Often by foregoing a part he saves the whole, and by yielding in a small matter secures a greater.


    Political freedom is, or ought to be, the best guaranty for the safety and continuance of spiritual, mental, and civil freedom. It is the combination of numbers to secure the liberty to each one.


    Every political sect has its esoteric and its exoteric school—its abstract doctrines for the initiated; its visible symbols, its imposing forms, its mythological fables, for the vulgar.


    There are countries in which it would be as absurd to establish popular governments as to abolish all the restraints in a school or to unite all the strait-waistcoats in a madhouse.


    The very name of a politician, a statesman, is sure to cause terror and hatred; it has always connected with it the ideas of treachery, cruelty, fraud, and tyranny.


    In politics, it is almost a commonplace, that a party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life.

    J. Stuart Mill.

    Every great political party that has done this country any good has given to it some immortal ideas that have outlived the members of that party.

    James A. Garfield.

  • Who, born for the universe, narrow’d his mind,
  • And to party gave up what was meant for mankind.
  • Goldsmith.

  • O, that estates, degrees, and offices
  • Were not deriv’d corruptly, and that clear honour
  • Were purchased by the merit of the wearer!
  • Shakespeare.

  • Your politicians
  • Have evermore a taint of vanity,
  • As hasty still to show, and boast a plot
  • As they are greedy to contrive it.
  • Sir W. Davenant.

    We are Republicans, and don’t propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been, Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion.

    Samuel D. Burchard.

    I hate all bungling as I do sin, but particularly bungling in politics, which leads to the misery and ruin of many thousands and millions of people.


    The violation of party faith is of itself too common to excite surprise or indignation. Political friendships are so well understood that we can hardly pity the simplicity they deceive.


    Responsibility educates, and politics is but another name for God’s way of teaching the masses ethics, under the responsibility of great present interests.

    Wendell Phillips.

    There is no Canaan in politics. As health lies in labor, and there is no royal road to it but through toil, so there is no republican road to safety but in constant distrust.

    Wendell Phillips.

    There is scarcely anything more harmless than political or party malice. It is best to leave it to itself. Opposition and contradiction are the only means of giving it life or duration.


    If we mean to support the liberty and independence which has cost us so much blood and treasure to establish, we must drive far away the demon of party spirit and local reproach.


    A statesman, we are told, should follow public opinion. Doubtless, as a coachman follows his horses; having firm hold on the reins, and guiding them.


    The politics of courts are so mean that private people would be ashamed to act in the same way; all is trick and finesse, to which the common cause is sacrificed.


    Men naturally sympathize with the calamities of individuals; but they are inclined to look on a fallen party with contempt rather than with pity.


    The man who can make two ears of corn or two blades of grass grow on the spot where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind and render more essential service to the country than the whole race of politicians put together.


    A politician must often talk and act before he has thought and read. He may be very ill informed respecting a question: all his notions about it may be vague and inaccurate; but speak he must. And if he is a man of ability, of tact, and of intrepidity, he soon finds that, even under such circumstances, it is possible to speak successfully.


    It is very rare, indeed, for men to be wrong in their feelings concerning public misconduct; as rare to be right in their speculations upon the cause of it. I have constantly observed that the generality of people are fifty years, at least, behind in their politics.


    Politicians think that by stopping up the chimney they can stop its smoking. They try the experiment, they drive the smoke back, and there is more smoke than ever; but they do not see that their want of common-sense has increased the evil they would have prevented.


    The amelioration of the condition of mankind, and the increase of human happiness ought to be the leading objects of every political institution, and the aim of every individual, according to the measure of his power, in the situation he occupies.


    He that aspires to be the head of a party will find it more difficult to please his friends than to perplex his foes. He must often act from false reasons which are weak, because he dares not avow the true reasons which are strong.


    Perhaps I do not know what I was made for; but one thing I certainly never was made for, and that is to put principles on and off at the dictation of a party, as a lackey changes his livery at his master’s command.

    Horace Mann.

    Listen! John A. Logan is the Head Center, the Hub, the King Pin, the Main Spring, Mogul, and Mugwump of the final plot by which partisanship was installed in the Commission.

    Isaac H. Bromley.

    The proverbial wisdom of the populace at gates, on roads, and in markets instructs the attentive ear of him who studies man more fully than a thousand rules ostentatiously arranged.


    Such, for wise purposes it is presumed, is the turbulence of human passions in party disputes, when victory, more than truth, is the palm contended for, that “the post of honor is a private station.”


    In such a government as ours no man is appointed to an office because he is the fittest for it—nor hardly in any other government—because there are so many connections and dependencies to be studied.

    Dr. Johnson.

    I accept your nomination in the confident trust that the masses of our countrymen, north and south, are eager to clasp hands across the bloody chasm which has so long divided them.

    Horace Greeley.

    The strife of politics tends to unsettle the calmest understanding, and ulcerate the most benevolent heart. There are no bigotries or absurdities too gross for parties to create or adopt under the stimulus of political passions.


    Real political issues cannot be manufactured by the leaders of political parties, and real ones cannot be evaded by political parties. The real political issues of the day declare themselves, and come out of the depths of that deep which we call public opinion.


    Among the lessons taught by the French revolution, there is none sadder or more striking than this—that you may make everything else out of the passions of men except a political system that will work, and that there is nothing so pitilessly and unconsciously cruel as sincerity formulated into dogma.


    Popularity disarms envy in well-disposed minds. Those are ever the most ready to do justice to others who feel that the world has done them justice. When success has not this effect in opening the mind, it is a sign that it has been ill deserved.


    In our country and in our times no man is worthy the honored name of statesman who does not include the highest practicable education of the people in all his plans of administration. He may have eloquence, he may have a knowledge of all history, diplomacy, jurisprudence; and by these he might claim, in other countries, the elevated rank of a statesman: but unless he speaks, plans, labors, at all times and in all places, for the culture and edification of the whole people, he is not, he cannot be, an American statesman.

    Horace Mann.

  • A weapon that comes down as still
  • As snowflakes fall upon the sod;
  • But executes a freeman’s will,
  • As lightning does the will of God;
  • And from its force, nor doors nor locks
  • Can shield you; ’tis the ballot-box.
  • Pierpont.

  • Who’s in or out, who moves the grand machine,
  • Nor stirs my curiosity, or spleen;
  • Secrets of state no more I wish to know
  • Than secret movements of a puppet-show;
  • Let but the puppets move, I’ve my desire,
  • Unseen the hand which guides the master wire.
  • Churchill.

    A politician weakly and amiably in the right is no match for a politician tenaciously and pugnaciously in the wrong. You cannot, by tying an opinion, to a man’s tongue, make him the representative of that opinion; and at the close of any battle for principles, his name will be found neither among the dead nor among the wounded, but among the missing.


  • Nothing’s more dull and negligent
  • Than an old lazy government,
  • That knows no interest of state,
  • But such as serves a present strait,
  • And, to patch up, or shift, will close
  • Or break alike with friends or foes;
  • That runs behindhand, and has spent
  • Its credit to the last extent;
  • And, the first time ’tis at a loss,
  • Has not one true friend, nor one cross.
  • Butler.

    Some have said that it is not the business of private men to meddle with government—a bold and dishonest saying, which is fit to come from no mouth but that of a tyrant or a slave. To say that private men have nothing to do with government is to say that private men have nothing to do with their own happiness or misery; that people ought not to concern themselves whether they be naked or clothed, fed or starved, deceived or instructed, protected or destroyed.


    The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day, or it is rotten. The living sap of to-day outgrows the dead rind of yesterday. The hand intrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continual oversight can a Democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be kept sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.

    Wendell Phillips.