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


Neither hear nor tell secrets.


Secrecy is the chastity of friendship.

Jeremy Taylor.

Be thine own privy counsellor.


Deep in my shut and silent heart.


Keep your misfortunes to yourself.


Two may keep counsel putting one away!


Fire that is closest kept burns most of all.


What thou seest, speak of with caution.


If you wish to preserve your secret, wrap it up in frankness.

Alexander Smith.

The secret known to two is no longer a secret.

Ninon de Lenclos.

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.

Benjamin Franklin.

Let thy discontents be thy secrets.

Benjamin Franklin.

Two may keep counsel when the third’s away.


Men conceal the past scenes of their lives.


The desert is mute, and dead men tell no tales.


He only is secret who never was trusted.


Conceal thy domestic ills.


A secret at home is like rocks under tide.

D. M. Mulock.

There is a secret drawer in every woman’s heart.

Victor Hugo.

  • And whatsoever else shall hap to-night,
  • Give it an understanding, but no tongue.
  • Shakespeare.

    What thou intendest to do, speak not of before thou doest it.


    To keep your secret is wisdom; but to expect others to keep it is folly.


  • ’Tis in my memory lock’d,
  • And you yourself shall keep the key of it.
  • Shakespeare.

    He who trusts a secret to his servant makes his own man his master.


    I vow and protest there’s more plague than pleasure with a secret.


    A secret is seldom safe in more than one breast.


    We confide our secrets in friendship, but they escape us in love.

    Du Cœur.

    He deserves small trust who is not privy counsellor to himself.


    Know not what you know, and see not what you see.


    He who gives up the smallest part of a secret has the rest no longer in his power.


    Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off.


    Secrecy in suits goes a great way towards success.


    No disguise can long conceal love where it really exists, nor feign it where it is not.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    A secret is too little for one, enough for two, and too much for three.


    Sell your confidence at a high price, if at all; to be strong, keep your own counsel.

    Dumas, Père.

    In that corroding secrecy which gnaws the heart to show the effect, but not the cause.


    When a secret is revealed, it is the fault of the man who has intrusted it.

    La Bruyère.

    The truly wise man should have no keeper of his secret but himself.


    Who shall be true to us, when we are so unsecret to ourselves?


    What is mine, even to my life, is hers I love; but the secret of my friend is not mine!

    Sir P. Sidney.

    It is safer to be silent than to reveal one’s secret to any one, and telling him not to mention it.


    Secrecy is the element of all goodness; even virtue, even beauty is mysterious.


    When we desire to confine our words, we commonly say they are spoken under the rose.


    How can we expect another to keep our secret if we cannot keep it ourselves.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    To whom you betray your secret you sell your liberty.


    Secrecy is best taught by commencing with ourselves.


    It is always a poor way of reading the hearts of others to try to conceal our own.


    Secret enmities are more to be feared than open ones.


    You are in a pitiable condition when you have to conceal what you wish to tell.


    When I am in danger of bursting, I will go and whisper among the reeds.


    Everybody knows worse of himself than he knows of other men.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Thou art sworn as deeply to affect what we intend as closely to conceal what we impart.


    A woman can keep one secret,—the secret of her age.


    Secrets with girls, like guns with boys, are never valued till they make a noise.


    In love we are not only liable to betray ourselves, but also the secrets of others.

    J. Petit-Senn.

    Thou hast betrayed thy secret as a bird betrays her nest, by striving to conceal it.


    The wise main tells not what he knows. It is not prudent to sport with one’s head by revealing the king’s secrets.


  • Be thou assur’d, if words be made of breath,
  • And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
  • What thou hast said to me.
  • Shakespeare.

    Under every guilty secret there is hidden a brood of guilty wishes, whose unwholesome infecting life is cherished by the darkness.

    George Eliot.

  • A secret in his mouth,
  • Is like a wild bird put into a cage;
  • Whose door no sooner opens, but ’tis out.
  • Johnson.

    People addicted to secrecy are so without knowing why; they are not so for cause, but for secrecy’s sake.


    None are so fond of secrets as those who do not mean to keep them; such persons covet secrets as a spendthrift covets money, for the purpose of circulation.


    Women and young men are very apt to tell what secrets they know from the vanity of having been intrusted.


    Constant you are, but yet a woman; and for secrecy, no lady closer; for I well believe thou wilt not utter what thou dost not know.


    I have played the fool, the gross fool, to believe the bosom of a friend would hold a secret mine could not contain.


    Secrecy is for the happy,—misery, hopeless misery, needs no veil; under a thousand suns it dares act openly.


    A secret is like silence: you cannot talk about it, and keep it. It is like money; when once you know there is any concealed, it is half discovered.

    Paul Chatfield.

    A man can keep another person’s secret better than his own; a woman, on the contrary, keeps her secret though she blabs all others.

    La Bruyère.

    There are inscriptions on our hearts which, like that on Dighton rock, are never to be seen except at dead-low tide.

    O. W. Holmes.

  • Then stop if you’re wise, nor the secret let fall,
  • For a secret once told is no secret at all.
  • P. J. Searle.

    Trust him not with your secrets who, when left alone in your room, turns over your papers.


    When two friends part they should lock up one another’s secrets, and interchange their keys.


    God preserve us! If men knew what is done in secret, no one would be free from the interference of others.


    If a fool knows a secret, he tells it because he is a fool; if a knave knows one, he tells it wherever it is his interest to tell it.


    He was a wise fellow, and had good discretion, that, being bid to ask what he would of the king, desired he might know none of his secrets.


  • But that I am forbid,
  • To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
  • I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
  • Would harrow up thy soul.
  • Shakespeare.

    Nothing is so oppressive as a secret; women find it difficult to keep one long; and I know a goodly number of men who are women in this regard.

    La Fontaine.

    Never inquire into another man’s secret; but conceal that which is intrusted to you, though pressed both by wine and anger to reveal it.


    Secrecy is the soul of all great designs. Perhaps more has been effected by concealing our own intentions than by discovering those of our enemy.


    Never confide your secrets to paper; it is like throwing a stone in the air; and if you know who throws the stone, you do not know where it may fall.


    He that discovers himself, till he hath made himself master of his desires, lays himself open to his own ruin, and makes himself prisoner to his own tongue.


    Generally he perceived in men of devout simplicity this opinion: that the secrets of nature were the secrets of God,—part of that glory into which man is not to press too boldly.


    The yearnings of a woman’s solitary spirit, the outgushings of her shrinking sensibility, the cravings of her alienated heart, are indulged only in the quiet loneliness of her solitude.


    Connoisseur says that every secret he tells to one of the fair sex is a sticking-plaster, which attaches him to her, and often begets a second secret.


    To tell your own secrets is generally folly, but that folly is without guilt; to communicate those with which we are intrusted is always treachery, and treachery for the most part combined with folly.

    Dr. Johnson.

    I find she loves him because she hides it. Love teaches cunning even to innocence; and when he gets possession, his first work is to dig deep within a heart, and there lie hid, and like a miser in the dark, feast alone.


    I will govern my life and my thoughts as if all the world were to see the one and to read the other; for what does it signify to make anything a secret to my neighbor, when to God all our privacies are open?


    A resolution that is communicated is no longer within thy power; thy attentions become now the plaything of chance; he who would have his commands certainly carried out must take man by surprise.


    We must regard all matter as an intrusted secret which we believe the person concerned would wish to be considered as such. Nay, further still, we must consider all circumstances as secrets intrusted which would bring scandal upon another if told.

    Leigh Hunt.

    Everyone agrees that a secret should be kept intact, but everyone does not agree as to the nature and importance of secrecy. Too often we consult ourselves as to what we should say, what we should leave unsaid. There are few permanent secrets, and the scruple against revealing them will not last forever.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Secrecy of design, when combined with rapidity of execution, like the column that guided Israel in the deserts, becomes the guardian pillar of light and fire to our friends, a cloud of overwhelming and impenetrable darkness to our enemies.


    You cannot hide any secret. If the artist succor his flagging spirits by opium or wine, his work will characterize itself as the effect of opium or wine. If you make a picture or a statue, it sets the beholder in that state of mind you had when you made it. If you spend for show, on building, or gardening, or on pictures, or on equipages, it will so appear. We are all physiognomists and penetrators of character, and things themselves are detective.


    The rules that I shall propose concerning secrecy, and from which I think it not safe to deviate without long and exact deliberation, are, never to solicit the knowledge of a secret,—not willingly, nor without many limitations, to accept such confidence when it is offered; when a secret is once admitted, to consider the trust as of a very high nature, important as society and sacred as truth, and therefore not to be violated for any incidental convenience, or slight appearance of contrary fitness.