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


Keep thou the door of my lips.


Silence is a true friend who never betrays.


Give thy thoughts no tongue.


Silence is the sanctuary of prudence.

Balthasar Gracian.

Silence is more eloquent than words.


Silence! the pride of reason.


Great souls suffer in silence.


Speech is great, but silence is greater.


Silence does not always mean wisdom.


Silence is the mother of truth.

Earl of Beaconsfield.

Silence more musical than any song.

Christina G. Rossetti.

Silence in times of suffering is the best.


Silence never yet betrayed any one!


To women silence gives their proper grace.


Silence is the perfect herald of joy.


Not much talk,—a great, sweet silence.

Henry James, Jr.

Speech is of time, silence is of eternity.


Come then, expressive Silence.


Silence is the best resolve for him who distrusts himself.

La Rochefoucauld.

The unspoken word never does harm.


Silence sweeter is than speech.

D. M. Mulock.

There is no diplomacy like silence.


The Muses were dumb while Apollo lectured.


Silence,—the applause of real and durable impressions.


Still people are dangerous.

La Fontaine.

Nothing is more useful than silence.


Silence never makes any blunders.

H. W. Shaw.

Silence that spoke, and eloquence of eyes.


Silence in woman is like speech in man.

Ben Jonson.

Speak fitly, or be silent wisely.

George Herbert.

Silence, beautiful voice.


Let us be silent, so we may hear the whisper of the gods.


Silent anguish is the more dangerous.


I’ll speak to thee in silence.


Be silent and safe—silence never betrays you.

John Boyle O’Reilly.

The silente man still suffers wrong.

J. P. Collier.

Silence is the eternal duty of man.


The silence that is in the starry sky.


Still as the peaceful walks of ancient night; silent as are the lamps that burn on tombs.


Silence is not only never thirsty, but also never brings pain or sorrow.


  • Silently as a dream the fabric rose;
  • No sound of hammer or of saw was there.
  • Cowper.

    Shallow brookes murmur moste, deepe silent slide away.

    Sir Philip Sidney.

    There are some silent people who are more interesting than the best talkers.

    Earl of Beaconsfield.

    And they three passed over the white sands, between the rocks, silent as the shadows.


  • Three Silences there are: the first of speech,
  • The second of desire, the third of thought.
  • Longfellow.

    With silence, nephew, be thou politic.


    Silence holds the door against the strife of tongue and all the impertinences of idle conversation.

    James Hervey.

  • And silence, like a poultice, comes
  • To heal the blows of sound.
  • O. W. Holmes.

    Silence is learned by the many misfortunes of life.


    If a word be worth one shekel, silence is worth two.

    Rabbi Ben Azai.

  • The deepest rivers make least din,
  • The silent soule doth most abound in care.
  • Earl of Stirling.

    By silence, I hear other men’s imperfections and conceal my own.


    Silence has been given to woman the better to express her thoughts.


    To be silent is but a small virtue; but it is a serious fault to reveal secrets.


    Silence is a figure of speech, unanswerable, short, cold, but terribly severe.

    Theodore Parker.

    Silence and simplicity obtrude on no one, but are yet two unequaled attractions in woman.


  • Silence is only commendable
  • In a neat’s tongue dried, and a maid not vendible.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Stillborn silence! thou that art
  • Flood-gate of the deeper heart!
  • Richard Fleckno.

    Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise.


    The nobleness of silence. The highest melody dwells only in silence,—the sphere melody, the melody of health.


    The silence of the people is a lesson for kings.


  • What shall I say to you? What can I say
  • Better than silence is?
  • Longfellow.

    It is only reason that teaches silence. The heart teaches us to speak.


    As we must account for every idle word, so we must for every idle silence.


    We may give more offense by our silence than even by impertinence.


    I regret often that I have spoken, never that I have been silent.

    Publius Syrus.

    Her full heart—its own interpreter—translates itself in silence on her cheek.

    Amelia B. Welby.

    None preaches better than the ant, and she says nothing.


    A judicious silence is always better than truth spoken without charity.

    De Sales.

    If thou desire to be held wise, be so wise as to hold thy tongue.


    What manly eloquence could produce such an effect as woman’s silence?


    There is nothing wherein their womanliness is more honestly garnished than with silence.

    Nicholas Udall.

    There is likewise a reward for faithful silence.


  • Be silent always, when you doubt your sense,
  • And speak, tho’ sure, with seeming diffidence.
  • Pope.

    True gladness doth not always speak; joy bred and born but in the tongue is weak.

    Ben Jonson.

    To check the starts and sallies of the soul, and break off all its commerce with the tongue.


    After speech, silence is the greatest power in the world.


    Silence is the understanding of fools and one of the virtues of the wise.

    Bernard de Bonnard.

    Silence is like nightfall; objects are lost in it insensibly.

    Madame Swetchine.

    The temple of our purest thoughts is—silence!

    Mrs. Hale.

    A beggar that is dumb, you know, may challenge double pity.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    There is an eloquent silence which serves to approve or to condemn: there is a silence of discretion and of respect.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Silence, when nothing need be said, is the eloquence of discretion.


    Silence is deep as eternity; speech is shallow as time.


    Be checked for silence, but never taxed for speech.


    We can refute assertions, but who can refute silence?


    Learn to hold thy tongue. Five words cost Zacharias forty weeks’ silence.


  • Silence often of pure innocence
  • Persuades, when speaking fails.
  • Shakespeare.

    Nothing at times is more expressive than silence.

    George Eliot.

    Do you think a woman’s silence can be natural?


    Not every one who has the gift of speech understands the value of silence.


    Silence often expresses more powerfully than speech the verdict and judgment of society.

    Earl of Beaconsfield.

    I shall leave the world without regret, for it hardly contains a single good listener.


    Be silent, or say something better than silence.


    Deep vengeance is the daughter of deep silence.


    The great silent man! Looking round on the noisy inanity of the world,—words with little meaning, actions with little worth,—one loves to reflect on the great Empire of Silence.


  • O, my Antonio, I do know of these,
  • That therefore only are reputed wise,
  • For saying nothing.
  • Shakespeare.

    It is always observable that silence propagates itself, and that the longer talk has been suspended the more difficult it is to find anything to say.


  • Let me silent be;
  • For silence is the speech of love,
  • The music of the spheres above.
  • R. H. Stoddard.

    That silence is one of the great arts of conversation is allowed by Cicero himself, who says there is not only an art, but an eloquence in it.

    Hannah More.

    Silence, the great Empire of Silence: higher than all stars; deeper than the Kingdom of Death! It alone is great; all else is small.


    It is better to remain silent than to speak the truth ill-humoredly, and spoil an excellent dish by covering it with bad sauce.

    St. Francis de Sales.

    A person that would secure to himself great deference will, perhaps, gain his point by silence as effectually as by anything he can say.


  • Of every noble work the silent part is best,
  • Of all expression, that which cannot be expressed.
  • W. W. Story.

    It has been said with some meaning that if men would but rest in silence, they might always hear the music of the spheres.

    Arthur Helps.

    The people, doubtless, have the right to murmur, but they have also the right to be silent, and their silence is the lesson of kings.

    Jean de Beauvais.

    He who cannot withal keep his mind to himself cannot practice any considerable thing whatsoever.


    There is a silence which hath been no sound; there is a silence which no sound may be—in the cold grave.


    Silence is the safest response for all the contradiction that arises from impertinence, vulgarity, or envy.


    If the prudence of reserve and decorum sometimes dictates silence, at others prudence of a higher order may justify speaking.


  • When wit and reason both have fail’d to move
  • Kind looks and actions, (from success) do prove
  • Ev’n silence may be eloquent in love.
  • Congreve.

    Silence is a trick when it imposes. Pedants and scholars, churchmen and physicians, abound in silent pride.


    Silence never shows itself to so great an advantage as when it is made the reply to calumny and defamation, provided that we give no just occasion for them.


    Silence is one of the hardest kind of arguments to refute. There is no good substitute for wisdom; but silence is the best that has yet been discovered.

    H. W. Shaw.

    The deepest life of nature is silent and obscure; so often the elements that move and mould society are the results of the sister’s counsel and the mother’s prayer.


    To be silent is sometimes an art, yet not so great a one as certain people would have us believe, who are wisest when they are most silent.


    I think the first virtue is to restrain the tongue; he approaches nearest to the gods who knows how to be silent, even though he is in the right.


    A man’s profundity may keep him from opening on a first interview, and his caution on a second; but I should suspect his emptiness, if he carried on his reserve to a third.


  • God’s poet is silence! His song is unspoken,
  • And yet so profound, so loud, and so far,
  • It fills you, it thrills you with measures unbroken,
  • And as soft, and as fair, and as far as a star.
  • Joaquin Miller.

    No one can take less pains than to hold his tongue. Hear much, and speak little; for the tongue is the instrument of the greatest good and greatest evil that is done in the world.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

  • Striving to tell his woes, words would not come;
  • For light cares speak, when mighty griefs are dumb.
  • Samuel Daniel.

  • What; gone without a word?
  • Ay, so true love should do: it cannot speak;
  • For truth hath better deeds than words to grace it.
  • Shakespeare.

    Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together, that, at length, they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of life, which they are henceforth to rule.


    He knows not how to speak who cannot be silent; still less how to act with vigor and decision. Who hastens to the end is silent; loudness is impotence.


    The more a man desirous to pass at a value above his worth can contrast, by dignified silence, the garrulity of trivial minds, the more the world will give him credit for the wealth which he does not possess.


    I like better for one to say some foolish thing upon important matters than to be silent. That becomes the subject of discussion and dispute, and the truth is discovered.


    Nature, which has given us one organ for speaking, has given us two for hearing, that we may learn that it is better to hear than to speak.

    Nabi Effendi.

    Silence! coeval with eternity! thou wert ere Nature’s self began to be; thine was the sway ere heaven was formed on earth, ere fruitful thought conceived creation’s birth.


    Well might the ancients make silence a god; for it is the element of all godhood, infinitude, or transcendental greatness,—at once the source and the ocean wherein all such begins and ends.


  • You know
  • There are moments when silence, prolonged and unbroken,
  • More expressive may be than all words ever spoken.
  • It is when the heart has an instinct of what
  • In the heart of another is passing.
  • Owen Meredith.

    True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. It is a great virtue; it covers folly, keeps secrets, avoids disputes, and prevents sin.

    William Penn.

  • Of all our loving Father’s gifts,
  • I often wonder which is best,—
  • And cry: Dear God, the one that lifts
  • Our soul from weariness to rest,
  • The rest of Silence,—that is best.
  • Mary Clemmer.

  • Down through the starry intervals,
  • Upon this weary-laden world,
  • How soft the soul of Silence falls!
  • How deep the spell wherewith she thralls,
  • How wide her mantle is unfurled.
  • Mary Clemmer.

    There is a silence, the child of love, which expresses everything, and proclaims more loudly then the tongue is able to do; there are movements that are involuntary proofs of what the soul feels.


    It is better either to be silent, or to say things of more value than silence. Sooner throw a pearl at hazard than an idle or useless word; and do not say a little in many words, but a great deal in a few.


    Speech is often barren; but silence also does not necessarily brood over a full nest. Your still fowl, blinking at you without remark, may all the while be sitting on one addled nest-egg; and when it takes to cackling, will have nothing to announce but that addled delusion.

    George Eliot.

  • Silence! Oh, well are Death and Sleep and Thou
  • Three brethren named, the guardians gloomy-winged,
  • Of one abyss, where life and truth and joy
  • Are swallowed up.
  • Shelley.

    When a woman has the gift of silence she possesses a quality above the vulgar. It is a gift of Heaven seldom bestowed; without a little miracle it cannot be accomplished; and Nature suffers violence when Heaven puts a woman in the humor of observing silence.


    They are the strong ones of the earth, the mighty food for good or evil,—those who know how to keep silence when it is a pain and a grief to them; those who give time to their own souls to wax strong against temptation, or to the powers of wrath to stamp upon them their withering passage.


    Silence is one of the great arts of conversation, as allowed by Cicero himself, who says “there is not only an art, but an eloquence in it”; and this opinion is confirmed by a great modern, Lord Bacon. For a well-bred woman may easily and effectually promote the most useful and elegant conversation without speaking a word. The modes of speech are scarcely more variable than the modes of silence.


    Euripides was wont to say, silence was an answer to a wise man; but we seem to have greater occasion for it in our dealing with fools and unreasonable persons; for men of breeding and sense will be satisfied with reason and fair words.