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


Society is the master, and man is the servant.

G. A. Sala.

Society is no comfort to one not sociable.


Society does not love its unmaskers.


Society is as ancient as the world.


Society rests upon conscience and not upon science.


Intercourse is the soul of progress.

Charles Buxton.

People are to be taken in very small doses.


Society is ever ready to worship success, but rarely forgives failure.

Mme. Roland.

Society is composed of slow Christians and wide-awake sinners.

H. W. Shaw.

  • Among unequals what society
  • Can sort, what harmony or true delight?
  • Milton.

    Cursed be the social lies that warp us from the living truth!


    I never mingled with men, but I came home less of a man than I went out.


    Society is a troop of thinkers and the best heads among them take the best places.


    A man’s reception depends upon his coat; his dismissal upon the wit he shows.


    Man is a social animal formed to please in society.


    Men would not live long in society if they were not the dupes of each other.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    We mingle in society not so much to meet others as to escape ourselves.

    H. W. Shaw.

    Society becomes my glittering bride, and airy hopes my children.


    In society mediocrity is not alone dangerous, it is fatal.

    Mme. de Maintenon.

    The world either breaks or hardens the heart.


    We take our colors, chameleon-like, from each other.


    Society is like a large piece of frozen water; and skating well is the great art of social life.

    L. E. Landon.

    The virtue most in request in society is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion.


    Formed of two mighty tribes, the bores and bored.


    Society develops wit, but its contemplation alone forms genius.

    Mme. de Staël.

    Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.


    An artist should be fit for the best society, and keep out of it.


    The state is the association of men, and not men themselves; the citizen may perish, and the man remain.


    Society is the union of men and not the men themselves.


    Society is, and must be, based upon appearances, and not upon the deepest realities.


    Sweet reader! you know what a toady is?—that agreeable animal which you meet every day in civilized society.

    Earl of Beaconsfield.

    The wise man sometimes flees from society from fear of being bored.

    La Bruyère.

    The upper current of society presents no certain criterion by which we can judge of the direction in which the under current flows.


    Society is the atmosphere of souls; and we necessarily imbibe from it something which is either infectious or healthful.

    Bishop Hall.

    Too elevated qualities often unfit a man for society. We do not go to market with ingots, but with silver and small change.


    It has been said that society is for the happy, the rich; we should rather say the happy have no need of it.

    Madame de Girardin.

    If you wish to appear agreeable in society, you must consent to be taught many things which you know already.


    Without good company, all dainties lose their true relish, and, like painted grapes, are only seen, not tasted.


    There are four varieties in society—the lovers, the ambitious, observers, and fools. The fools are the happiest.


    Society is composed of two great classes—those who have more dinners than appetite, and those who have more appetite than dinners.


    Society does not exist for itself, but for the individual; and man goes into it, not to lose, but to find himself.

    Phillips Brooks.

    Man perfected by society is the best of all animals; he is the most terrible of all when he lives without law and without justice.


    Society having ordained certain customs, men are bound to obey the law of society, and conform to its harmless orders.


    Man, like the generous vine, supported lives; the strength he gains is from the embrace he gives.


    Society is like a lawn where roughness is smoothed, every bramble eradicated, and where the eye is delighted by the smiling verdure of a velvet surface.

    Washington Irving.

    Human society is made up of partialities. Each citizen has an interest and a view of his own, which, if followed out to the extreme, would leave no room for any other citizen.


    It is with a company as it is with a punch, everything depends upon the ingredients of which it is composed.


    It is most true that a natural and secret hatred and aversation towards society, in any man, hath somewhat of the savage beast.


    Society is divided into two classes: the shearers and the shorn. We should always be with the former against the latter.


  • Unhappy he! who from the first of joys,
  • Society, cut off, is left alone
  • Amid this world of death.
  • Thomson.

    The eyes of the social herd, who always observe little things, and generally form from them their opinions of great affairs.

    Earl of Beaconsfield.

    There is a sort of economy in Providence that one shall excel where another is defective, in order to make men more useful to each other, and mix them in society.


    Besides the general infusion of wit to heighten civility, the direct splendor of intellectual power is ever welcome in fine society, as the costliest addition to its rule and its credit.


  • Man in society is like a flow’r,
  • Blown in its native bed. ’Tis there alone
  • His faculties expanded in full bloom
  • Shine out, there only reach their proper use.
  • Cowper.

    Society will pardon much to genius and special gifts; but, being in its nature conventional, it loves what is conventional, or what belongs to coming together.


    In this great society wide lying around us, a critical analysis would find very few spontaneous actions. It is almost all custom and gross sense.


    Society is a strong solution of books. It draws the virtue out of what is best worth reading, as hot water draws the strength of tea-leaves.

    O. W. Holmes.

    Society is the offspring of leisure; and to acquire this forms the only rational motive for accumulating wealth, notwithstanding the cant that prevails on the subject of labor.


    It is the fine souls who serve us, and not what is called fine society. Fine society is only a self-protection against the vulgarities of the street and the tavern.


    God having designed man for a sociable creature, furnished him with language, which was to be the great instrument and cementer of society.


    Society will be obeyed; if you refuse obedience, you must take the consequences. Society has only one law, and that is custom. Even religion itself is socially powerful only just so far as it has custom on its side.


    Popular privileges are consistent with a state of society in which there is great inequality of position. Democratic rights, on the contrary, demand that there should be equality of condition as the fundamental basis of the society they regulate.

    Earl of Beaconsfield.

  • Society itself, which should create
  • Kindness, destroys what little we had got:
  • To feel for none is the true social art
  • Of the world’s stoics—men without a heart.
  • Byron.

  • Heaven forming each on other to depend,
  • A master, or a servant, or a friend,
  • Bids each on other for assistance call,
  • Till one man’s weakness grows the strength of all.
  • Pope.

    A man who has tasted with profound enjoyment the pleasure of agreeable society will eat with a greater appetite than he who rode horseback for two hours. An amusing lecture is as useful for health as the exercise of the body.


    The history of any private family, however humble, could it be fully related for five or six generations, would illustrate the state and progress of society better than the most elaborate dissertation.


    Unless society can effect by education what Lord Monboddo holds man to have done by willing it, and can get rid of her tail, it will be wisest to let the educated classes keep their natural station at the head.


    In all societies it is advisable to associate if possible with the highest; not that the highest are always the best, but because, if disgusted there, we can at any time descend. But if we begin with the lowest, to ascend is impossible.


    Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater.


    It is an aphorism in physic, that unwholesome airs, because perpetually sucked into the lungs, do distemper health more than coarser diet used but at set times. The like may be said of society, which, if good, is a better refiner of the spirits than ordinary books.

    F. Osborn.

    From social intercourse are derived some of the highest enjoyments of life; where there is a free interchange of sentiments, the mind acquires new ideas; and by a frequent exercise of its powers, the understanding gains fresh vigor.


    Those can most easily dispense with society who are the most calculated to adorn it; they only are dependent on it who possess no mental resources, for though they bring nothing to the general mart, like beggars, they are too poor to stay at home.

    Countess of Blessington.

    As we ascend in society, like those who climb a mountain, we shall find that the line of perpetual congelation commences with the higher circles; and the nearer we approach to the grand luminary the court, the more frigidity and apathy shall we experience.


    Society is the true sphere of virtue. In social, active life, difficulties will perpetually be met with, restraints of many kinds will be necessary; and studying to behave right in respect of these is a discipline of the human heart useful to others and improving to itself.

    Elizabeth Carter.

    Society is, indeed, a contract.***It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art, a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.


    Wherever progress ends, decline invariably begins; but remember that the healthful progress of society is like the natural life of man—it consists in the gradual and harmonious development of all its constitutional powers, all its component parts, and you introduce weakness and disease into the whole system whether you attempt to stint or to force its growth.

    Lord Lytton.

    We submit to the society of those that can inform us, but we seek the society of those whom we can inform. And men of genius ought not to be chagrined if they see themselves neglected. For when we communicate knowledge, we are raised in our own estimation; but when we receive it, we are lowered.


    Those who have resources within themselves, who can dare to live alone, want friends the least, but, at the same time, best know how to prize them the most. But no company is far preferable to bad, because we are more apt to catch the vices of others than their virtues, as disease is far more contagious than health.


    Christian society is like a bundle of sticks laid together, whereof one kindles another. Solitary men have fewest provocations to evil, but, again, fewest incitations to good. So much as doing good is better than not doing evil will I account Christian goodfellowship better than an hermitish and melancholy solitariness.

    Bishop Hall.

    Society is the true sphere of human virtue. In social, active life, difficulties will perpetually be met with; restraints of many kinds will be necessary; and studying to behave right in respect of these is a discipline of the human heart useful to others and improving to itself. Suffering is no duty, but where it is necessary to avoid guilt, or to do good; nor pleasure a crime, but where it strengthens the influence of bad inclinations, or lessens the generous activity of nature.

    Elizabeth Carter.

    Society is a long series of uprising ridges, which from the first to the last offer no valley of repose. Whenever you take your stand, you are looked down upon by those above you, and reviled and pelted by those below you. Every creature you see is a farthing Sisyphus, pushing his little stone up some Liliputian mole-hill. This is our world.


    There is no security in evil society, where the good are often made worse, the bad seldom better, for it is the peevish industry of wickedness to find or make a fellow. It is like they will be birds of a feather that use to flock together. For such commonly doth their conversation make us as they are with whom we use to converse.

    Arthur Warwick.

    “It is not safe for man to be alone,” nor can all which the cold-hearted pedant stuns our ears with upon the subject ever give one answer of satisfaction to the mind; in the midst of the loudest vauntings of philosophy, nature will have her yearnings for society and friendship. A good heart wants something to be kind to; and the best parts of our blood, and the purest of our spirits suffer most under the destitution.


    It is in the middle classes of society that all the finest feeling, and the most amiable propensities of our nature do principally flourish and abound. For the good opinion of our fellow-men is the strongest though not the purest motive to virtue. The privations of poverty render us too cold and callous, and the privileges of property too arrogant and confidential, to feel; the first places us beneath the influence of opinion—the second, above it.


    Society is a republic. When an individual endeavors to lift himself above his fellows, he is dragged down by the mass, either by means of ridicule or of calumny. No one shall be more virtuous or more intellectually gifted than others. Whoever, by the irresistible force of genius, rises above the common herd is certain to be ostracised by society, which will pursue him with such merciless derision and detraction that at last he will be compelled to retreat into the solitude of his thoughts.


    Society,—the only field where the sexes have ever met on terms of equality, the arena where character is formed and studied, the cradle and the realm of public opinion, the crucible of ideas, the world’s university, at once a school and a theater, the spur and the crown of ambition, the tribunal which unmasks pretension and stamps real merit, the power that gives government leave to be, and outruns the lazy Church in fixing the moral sense of the eye.

    Wendell Phillips.