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


Popularity is power.


Avoid popularity, if you would have peace.

Abraham Lincoln.

Popular applause veers with the wind.

John Bright.

Yet has the popular voice much potency.


To please the many is to displease the wise.


Whatever is popular deserves attention.


The good opinion of the vulgar is injurious.


Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you!


  • Bareheaded, popularly low he bow’d,
  • And paid the salutations of the crowd.
  • Dryden.

  • The ladies call him sweet;
  • The stairs, as he treads on them, kiss his feet.
  • Shakespeare.

    The great secrets of being courted are, to shun others, and seem delighted with yourself.


    As inclination changes, thus ebbs and flows the unstable tide of public judgment.


    They who are pleased themselves must always please.


    There are people who, like new songs, are in vogue only for a time.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world.


    Our merit gains us the esteem of the virtuous; our star, that of the public.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Avoid popularity, it has many snares, and no real benefit.

    William Penn.

    Racine will pass away like the taste for coffee.

    Mme. de Sévigné.

    Popular opinion is oftenest, what Carlyle pronounced it to be, a lie!

    Wendell Phillips.

    A habitation giddy and unsure hath he that buildeth on the vulgar heart.


    Of all the scamps society knows, the traditional good fellow is the most despicable.

    J. G. Holland.

    The actor’s popularity is evanescent; applauded to-day, forgotten to-morrow.

    Edwin Forrest.

    Public opinion is a courtesan, whom we seek to please without respecting.

    J. Petit-Senn.

    Those men who are commended by everybody must be very extraordinary men; or, which is more probable, very inconsiderable men.

    Lord Greville.

  • He who can listen pleas’d to such applause,
  • Buys at a dearer rate than I dare purchase,
  • And pays for idle air with sense and virtue.
  • Mallet.

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

    Alexander Smith.

    There is what is called the highway to posts and honors, and there is a cross and by way, which is much the shortest.

    La Bruyère.

    I put no account on him who esteems himself just as the popular breath may chance to raise him.


    The rude reproaches of the rascal herd for the selfsame actions, if successful, would be as grossly lavish in their praise.


    I do not like the man who squanders life for fame; give me the man who, living, makes a name.


  • O, he sits high in all the people’s hearts:
  • And that, which would appear offence in us,
  • His countenance, like richest alchymy,
  • Will change to virtue and to worthiness.
  • Shakespeare.

    And to some men popularity is always suspicious. Enjoying none themselves, they are prone to suspect the validity of those attainments which command it.

    Geo. Henry Lewis.

    Applause waits on success; the fickle multitude, like the light straw that floats along the stream, glide with the current still, and follow fortune.


    It is not so difficult a task to plant new truths as to root out old errors; for there is this paradox in men—they run after that which is new, but are prejudiced in favor of that which is old.


    The love of popularity seems little else than the love of being beloved; and is only blamable when a person aims at the affections of a people by means in appearance honest, but in their end pernicious and destructive.


    The vulgar and common esteem is seldom happy in hitting right; and I am much mistaken if, amongst the writings of my time, the worst are not those which have most gained the popular applause.


    A generous nation is grateful even for the preservation of its rights, and willingly extends the respect due to the office of a good prince into an affection for his person.


  • Every wretch, pining and pale before
  • Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks:
  • A largess universal, like the sun,
  • His liberal eye doth give to every one,
  • Thawing cold fear.
  • Shakespeare.

    I wish popularity; but it is that popularity which follows, not that which is run after—it is that popularity which sooner or later never fails to do justice to the pursuit of noble ends by noble means.

    Lord Mansfield.

    Could the departed, whoever he may be, return in a week after his decease, he would almost invariably find himself at a higher or a lower point than he had formerly occupied on the scale of public appreciation.


    I have discovered that a famed familiarity in great ones is a note of certain usurpation on the less; for great and popular men feign themselves to be servants to others to make those slaves to them.

    Ben Jonson.

    The truth, the hope, of any time must be sought in the minorities. Michael Angelo was the conscience of Italy. We grow free with his name, and find it ornamental now, but in his own day his friends were few.


    The common people are but ill judges of a man’s merits; they are slaves to fame, and their eyes are dazzled with the pomp of titles and large retinue. No wonder, then, that they bestow their honors on those who least deserve them.


  • Please not thyself the flattering crowd to hear;
  • ’Tis fulsome stuff, to please thy itching ear.
  • Survey thy soul, not what thou does appear,
  • But what thou art.
  • Persius.

    Be as far from desiring the popular love as fearful to deserve the popular hate; ruin dwells in both: the one will hug thee to death; the other will crush thee to destruction: to escape the first, be not ambitious; to avoid the second, be not seditious.


    Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them.


    Popularity is like the brightness of a falling star, the fleeting splendor of a rainbow, the bubble that is sure to burst by its very inflation.


    The world sees only the reflection of merit; therefore when you come to know a really great man intimately, you may as often find him above as below his reputation.


  • His joy concealed, he sets himself to show;
  • On each side bowing popularly low:
  • His looks, his gestures, and his words he frames,
  • And with familiar ease repeats their names,
  • Thus formed by nature, furnished out with arts,
  • He glides unfelt into their secret hearts.
  • Dryden.

  • Some shout him, and some hang upon his car
  • To gaze in his eyes and bless him. Maidens wave
  • Their ’kerchiefs, and old women weep for joy;
  • While others not so satisfied, unhorse
  • The gilded equipage, and turning loose
  • His steeds, usurp a place they well deserve.
  • Cowper.

  • Oh, popular applause! what heart of man
  • Is proof against thy sweet seducing charms?
  • The wisest and the best feel urgent need
  • Of all their caution in thy gentlest gales:
  • But swell’d into a gust—who then, alas!
  • With all his canvas set, and inexpert,
  • And therefore, heedless, can withstand thy power?
  • Cowper.

    The greatness of a popular character is less according to the ratio of his genius than the sympathy he shows with the prejudices and even the absurdities of his time. Fanatics do not select the cleverest, but the most fanatical leaders; as was evidenced in the choice of Robespierre by the French Jacobins, and in that of Cromwell by the English Puritans.


  • They more or less came in with cap and knee,
  • Met him in boroughs, cities, villages;
  • Attended him on bridges, stood on lanes,
  • Laid gifts before him, proffer’d him their oaths,
  • Gave him their heirs: as pages follow’d him,
  • Even at his heels, in golden multitudes.
  • Shakespeare.

  • I have no taste
  • Of popular applause: The noisy praise
  • Of giddy crowds as changeable as winds;
  • Still vehement, and still without a cause;
  • Servants to chance, and blowing in the tide
  • Of swoln success; but veering with the ebb,
  • It leaves the channel dry.
  • Dryden.

  • Your affections are
  • A sick man’s appetite, who desires most that
  • Which would increase his evil. He that depends
  • Upon your favor, swims with fins of lead,
  • And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye?
  • With every minute you do change a mind;
  • And call him noble that was now your hate,
  • Him vile that was your garland.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Their poet, a sad trimmer, but no less
  • In company a very pleasant fellow,
  • Had been the favorite of full many a mess
  • Of men, and made them speeches when half mellow;
  • And though his meaning they could rarely guess,
  • Yet still they deign’d to hiccup or to bellow
  • The glorious meed of popular applause,
  • Of which the first ne’er knows the second cause.
  • Byron.

  • I have seen
  • The dumb men throng to see him, and the blind
  • To hear him speak: the matrons flung their gloves,
  • Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchiefs,
  • Upon him as he pass’d: the nobles bended,
  • As to Jove’s statue; and the commons made
  • A shower and thunder, with their caps and shouts:
  • I never saw the like.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Then, as I said, the duke, great Bolingbroke,
  • Mounted upon a hot and fiery steed,
  • Which his aspiring rider seem’d to know,
  • With slow but stately pace kept on his course;
  • While all tongues cry’d, God save thee, Bolingbroke,
  • You would have thought the very windows spake
  • So many greedy looks of young and old
  • Through casements darted their desiring eyes
  • Upon his visage.
  • Shakespeare.

  • O breath of public praise,
  • Short-liv’d and vain! oft gain’d without desert,
  • As often lost, unmerited; composed
  • But of extremes: Thou first beginn’st with love
  • Enthusiastic, madness of affection; then
  • (Bounding o’er moderation and o’er reason)
  • Thou turn’st to hate, as causeless and as fierce.
  • Havard.

  • All tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights,
  • Are spectacled to see him: your prattling nurse
  • Into a rapture lets her baby cry,
  • While she chats him: the kitchen malkin pins
  • Her richest lockram ’bout her reechy neck,
  • Clambering the walls to eye him. stalls, bulks, windows,
  • Are smother’d up, leads fill’d, and ridges hors’d
  • With variable complexions; all agreeing
  • In earnestness to see him.
  • Shakespeare.