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


The bounds of a man’s knowledge are easily concealed, if he has but prudence.


The prudence of the best heads is often defeated by the tenderness of the best of hearts.


Prudence is the virtue of the senses.


I love prudence very little, if it is not moral.


It is prudence that first forsakes the wretched.


It seems as if prudence exhaled a perfume.

Achilles Poincelot.

In everything the middle course is best.


Prudence, like experience, must be paid for.


According to her cloth she cut her coat.


There must be in prudence also some master virtue.


Dine on little, and sup on less.


At a great pennyworth pause a while.

Benjamin Franklin.

If thou art terrible to many, then beware of many.


  • When any great design thou dost intend,
  • Think on the means, the manner, and the end.
  • Sir J. Denham.

    No god is absent where prudence dwells.


  • Beware of desperate steps. The darkest day,
  • Live till to-morrow, will have pass’d away.
  • Cowper.

    That should be long considered which can be decided but once.

    Publius Syrus.

    A man exercising no forethought will soon experience present sorrow.


    A woman’s best qualities are harmful if undiluted with prudence.

    Victor Hugo.

    Prudence is one of the virtues which were called cardinal by the ancient ethical writers.

    William Fleming.

    Prudence is the knowledge of things to be sought, and those to be shunned.


    No other protection is wanting, provided you are under the guidance of prudence.


    It becomes a wise man to try negotiation before arms.


    An army abroad is of little use unless there are prudent counsels at home.


    Prudence and love are inconsistent; in proportion as the last increases, the other decreases.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Put your trust in God, my boys, and keep your powder dry.

    Col. Blacker.

    When we are young we lay up for old age; when we are old we save for death.

    La Bruyère.

    The first years of man must make provision for the last.

    Samuel Johnson.

    Prudence is not poverty; it is the thorny road to wealth.

    Charles Reade.

    I recommend you to take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.

    Lord Chesterfield.

    We accomplish more by prudence than by force.


    There is no praise we have not lavished upon prudence; and yet she cannot assure to us the most trifling event.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Prudence is that virtue by which we discern what is proper to be done under the various circumstances of time and place.


    Prudence is a necessary ingredient in all the virtues, without which they degenerate into folly and excess.

    Jeremy Collier.

    Forethought and prudence are the proper qualities of a leader.


    The rules of prudence, like the laws of the stone tables, are for the most part prohibitive. “Thou shalt not” is their characteristic formula.


    I knew once a very covetous, sordid fellow, who used to say, Take care of the pence; for the pounds will take care of themselves.

    Lord Chesterfield.

    Prudence is the virtue of the senses. It is the science of appearances. It is the outmost action of the inward life.


    Prudence is not only the first in rank of the virtues political and moral, but she is the director and regulator, the standard of them all.


    Men are born with two eyes, but with one tongue, in order that they should see twice as much as they say.


    The virtuous woman flees from danger; she trusts more to her prudence in shunning it than in her strength to overcome it.

    J. Petit-Senn.

    Prudent and active men, who know their strength and use it with limit and circumspection, alone go far in the affairs of the world.


    Prudence is a quality incompatible with vice, and can never be effectively enlisted in its cause.


    Be prudent, and if you hear***some insult or some threat***have the appearance of not hearing it.

    George Sand.

  • In ancient times all things were cheape,
  • ’Tis good to looke before thou leape,
  • When corne is ripe ’tis time to reape.
  • Martyn Parker.

    The great end of prudence is to give cheerfulness to those hours which splendor cannot gild, and acclamation cannot exhilarate.


    Be circumspect in your dealings, and let the seed you plant be the offspring of prudence and care; thus fruit follows the fair blossom, as honor follows a good life.

    Hosea Ballou.

    Prudence supposes the value of the end to be assumed, and refers only to the adaptation of the means. It is the relation of right means for given ends.


    If the prudence of reserve and decorum dictates silence in some circumstances, in others prudence of a higher order may justify us in speaking our thoughts.


  • And by a prudent flight and cunning save
  • A life which valour could not, from the grave.
  • A better buckler I can soon regain,
  • But who can get another life again?
  • Archilochus.

  • For oaths are straws, men’s faiths are wafer-cakes,
  • And hold-fast is the only dog.
  • Shakespeare.

    Remember that nothing will supply the want of prudence, and that negligence and irregularity long continued will make knowledge useless, wit ridiculous, and genius contemptible.

    Dr. Johnson.

  • Be advis’d;
  • Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot
  • That it do singe yourself; we may outrun,
  • By violent swiftness, that which we run at,
  • And lose by over-running.
  • Shakespeare.

    The richest endowments of the mind are temperance, prudence, and fortitude. Prudence is a universal virtue, which enters into the composition of all the rest; and where she is not, fortitude loses its name and nature.


  • Love all, trust a few,
  • Do wrong to none; be able for thine enemy
  • Rather in power than use, and keep thy friend
  • Under thy own life’s key: be check’d for silence,
  • But never tax’d for speech.
  • Shakespeare.

    Spurious prudence, making the senses final, is the god of sots and cowards, and is the subject of all comedy. It is nature’s joke, and therefore literature’s. True prudence limits this sensualism by admitting the knowledge of an internal and real world.


  • Have more than thou showest,
  • Speak less than thou knowest,
  • Lend less than thou owest,
  • Ride more than thou goest,
  • Learn more than thou trowest,
  • Set less than thou throwest.
  • Shakespeare.

  • In the embers shining bright
  • A garden grows for thy delight,
  • With roses yellow, red, and white.
  • But, O my child, beware, beware!
  • Touch not the roses growing there,
  • For every rose a thorn doth bear.
  • R. W. Gilder.

    Prudence is a duty which we owe ourselves, and if we will be so much our own enemies as to neglect it, we are not to wonder if the world is deficient in discharging their duty to us; for when a man lays the foundation of his own ruin, others too often are apt to build upon it.


    In Virgil’s account of the good housewife, who rises early in order to measure out the work of the household, and in Solomon’s description of the thrifty woman of his time, one sees the value set upon feminine industry and economy in times far removed from our own.

    Julia Ward Howe.

    All these you may avoid but the Lie Direct; and you may avoid that too, with an If. I knew when seven justices could not take up a quarrel, but when the parties were met themselves, one of them thought but of an If, as “If you said so, then I said so;” and they shook hands and swore brothers. Your If is the only peace-maker; much virtue in If.


    Those who, in the confidence of superior capacities or attainments, neglect the common maxims of life, should be reminded that nothing will supply the want of prudence; but that negligence and irregularity, long continued, will make knowledge useless, wit ridiculous, and genius contemptible.