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


Solitude is sometimes best society.


In solitude, where we are least alone.


Solitude’s the nurse of woe.


The thought, the deadly feel, of solitude.


He makes a solitude, and calls it peace.


There is a society in the deepest solitude.

Isaac Disraeli.

Until I truly loved, I was alone.

Mrs. Norton.

Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife.


The secret of solitude is that there is no solitude.

Joseph Cook.

Then never less alone than when alone.

Samuel Rogers.

Few are the faults we flatter when alone.


Among them, but not of them.


Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow.


Solitude is the audience-chamber of God.

Anne C. Lynch.

Wholesome solitude, the nurse of sense!


Sorrow’s faded form, and solitude behind.


I was never less alone than when by myself.


Nothing is achieved without solitude.


Only the bad man is alone.


We enter the world alone, we leave it alone.


It is solitude should teach us how to die.


Solitude vivifies; isolation kills.

Joseph Roux.

Solitude has a healing consoler, friend, companion: it is work.


Solitude, the sly enemy that doth separate a man from well-doing.

Sir P. Sidney.

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


  • Prison’d in a parlour snug and small,
  • Like bottled wasps upon a southern wall.
  • Cowper.

    Solitude is the home of the strong; silence, their prayer.


    Solitude cherishes great virtues, and destroys little ones.

    Sydney Smith.

    That inward eye which is the bliss of solitude.


    So lonely ’twas that God himself scarce seemed there to be.


    Eagles we see fly alone; and they are but sheep which always herd together.

    Sir P. Sidney.

    O solitude! where are the charms that sages have seen in thy face?


    One can be instructed in society; one is inspired only in solitude.


    Solitude is the worst of all companions when we seek comfort and oblivion.


    Constant quiet fills my peaceful breast with unmixed joy.


    Alone each heart must cover up its dead; alone, through bitter toil, achieve its rest.

    Bayard Taylor.

    Ah! wretched and too solitary he who loves not his own company!


    Where musing Solitude might love to lift her soul above this sphere of earthliness.


    Through the wide world he only is alone who lives not for another.


  • So vain is the belief
  • That the sequestered path has fewest flowers.
  • Thomas Doubleday.

    They are never alone who are accompanied with noble thoughts.

    Sir P. Sidney.

    I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.


    Man forms himself in his own interior, and nowhere else.


  • Through the lone groves would pace in solemn mood,
  • Wooing the pensive charms of solitude.
  • Pye.

    Haughtiness lives under the same roof with solitude.


    Loneliness is the first thing which God’s eye named not good.


    Those beings only are fit for solitude who are like nobody, and are liked by nobody.


    In the world a man lives in his own age; in solitude, in all the ages.

    William Matthews.

    Solitude either develops the mental powers, or renders men dull and vicious.

    Victor Hugo.

    Woe unto him that is never alone, and cannot bear to be alone.


    Him who lonely loves to seek the distant hills, and there converse with nature.


    He that lives alone lives in danger; society avoids many dangers.

    Marcus Antoninus.

    Solitude shows us what we should be; society shows us what we are.


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


    He is never less at leisure than when at leisure, nor less alone than when he is alone.


  • Shall I, like an hermit, dwell
  • On a rock or in a cell?
  • Sir Walter Raleigh.

    The life of a solitary man will be certainly miserable, but not certainly devout.


  • How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude;
  • But grant me still a friend in my retreat,
  • Whom I may whisper—solitude it sweet.
  • Cowper.

  • When, musing on companions gone,
  • We doubly feel ourselves alone.
  • Scott.

    A hermit who has been shut up in his cell in a college has contracted a sort of mould and rust upon his soul.

    Dr. Watts.

    The city does not take away, neither does the country give, solitude; solitude is within us.

    Joseph Roux.

    Converse with men makes sharp the glittering wit; but God to man doth speak in solitude.

    John Stuart Blackie.

  • Oh, lost to virtue—lost to manly thought,
  • Lost to the noble sallies of the soul!
  • Who think it solitude to be alone.
  • Young.

    I am persuaded there is no such thing after all as a perfect enjoyment of solitude; for the more delicious the solitude the more one wants a companion.

    Leigh Hunt.

    Oh, the solitariness of sin! There is nothing like it, except, perhaps, the solitariness of death. In that isolation none can reach you, none can feed you.

    Hugh R. Haweis.

    There is always a part of our being into which those who are dearer to us far than our own lives are yet unable to enter.


    Heaven often protects valuable souls charged with great secrets, great ideas, by long shutting them up with their own thoughts.


    To be exempt from the passions with which others are tormented is the only pleasing solitude.


    No doubt solitude is wholesome, but so is abstinence after a surfeit. The true life of man is in society.


    What would a man do if he were compelled to live always in the sultry heat of society, and could never better himself in cool solitude?


    There is no man alone, because every man is a microcosm, and carries the whole world about him.

    Sir T. Browne.

    We could not endure solitude were it not for the powerful companionship of hope, or of some unseen one.


    All that poets sing, and grief hath known, of hopes laid waste, knells in that word “alone.”


    As there is no pleasure in military life for a soldier who fears death, so there is no independence in civil existence for the man who has an overpowering dread of solitude.


  • I love tranquil solitude
  • And such society
  • As is quiet, wise, and good.
  • Shelley.

    If the mind loves solitude, it has thereby acquired a loftier character, and it becomes still more noble when the taste is indulged in.

    Wilhelm von Humboldt.

    The great man is he who, in the midst of the crowd, keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.


    An entire life of solitude contradicts the purpose of our being, since death itself is scarcely an idea of more terror.


    It is shameful for a man to live as a stranger in his own country, and to be uninformed of her affairs and interests.


    There is no such thing as solitude, nor anything that can be said to be alone and by itself but God, who is His own circle, and can subsist by Himself.

    Sir T. Browne.

    Solitude holds a cup sparkling with bliss in her right hand, a raging dagger in her left. To the blest she offers her goblet, but stretches towards the wretched the ruthless steel.


    Luther deters me from solitariness; but he does not mean from a sober solitude that rallies our scattered strengths and prepares us against any new encounter from without.


    Solitude, though it may be silent as light, is like light, the mightiest of agencies; for solitude is essential to man. All men come into this world alone; all leave it alone.

    De Quincey.

    It has been from age to age an affectation to love the pleasure of solitude among those who cannot possibly be supposed qualified for passing life in that manner.


    Solitude is the nurse of enthusiasm, and enthusiasm is the true parent of genius. In all ages solitude has been called for, has been flown to.


    What a brave privilege is it to be free from all contentions, from all envying or being envied, from receiving or paying all kinds of ceremonies!


  • I am monarch of all I survey,
  • My right there is none to dispute,
  • From the centre all round to the sea,
  • I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
  • Cowper.

  • How use doth breed a habit in a man!
  • Here can I sit alone, unseen of any,
  • And, to the nightingale’s complaining notes,
  • Tune my distresses, and record my woes.
  • Shakespeare.

  • I could live in the woods with thee in sight,
  • Where never should human foot intrude:
  • Or with thee find light in the darkest night,
  • And a social crowd in solitude.
  • Tibullus.

    It had been hard to have put more truth and untruth together in a few words than in that speech, “Whosoever is delighted with solitude is either a wild beast or a god.”


    Such only can enjoy the country who are capable of thinking when they are there; then they are prepared for solitude, and in that case solitude is prepared for them.


    Solitude bears the same relation to the mind that sleep does to the body. It affords it the necessary opportunities for repose and recovery.


  • Man dwells apart, though not alone,
  • He walks among his peers unread;
  • The best of thoughts which he hath known,
  • For lack of listeners are not said.
  • Jean Ingelow.

    Never does the soul feel so far from human life as when a man finds himself alone in the vistas of the moon, either in the streets of a sleeping city, the avenues of the woods, or by the border of the sea.

    Elizabeth Stoddard.

  • Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
  • Thus unlamented let me die;
  • Steal from the world, and not a stone
  • Tell where I lie.
  • Pope.

    If solitude deprives of the benefit of advice, it also excludes from the mischief of flattery. But the absence of others’ applause is generally supplied by the flattery of one’s own breast.

    W. B. Clulow.

  • Why should we faint and fear to live alone,
  • Since all alone, so Heaven has will’d, we die,
  • Nor even the tenderest heart, and next our own,
  • Knows half the reasons why we smile and sigh.
  • Keble.

    Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge college is as solitary as a dervis in the desert.


  • Thrice happy he, who by some shady grove,
  • Far from the clamorous world, doth live his own;
  • Though solitary, who is not alone,
  • But doth converse with that eternal love.
  • Drummond.

    But little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it extendeth. For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.


    That which happens to the soil when it ceases to be cultivated by the social man happens to man himself when he foolishly forsakes society for solitude; the brambles grow up in his desert heart.


    Solitude is one of the highest enjoyments of which our nature is susceptible. Solitude is also, when too long continued, capable of being made the most severe, indescribable, unendurable source of anguish.


    We must certainly acknowledge that solitude is a fine thing; but it is a pleasure to have some one who can answer, and to whom we can say, from time to time, that solitude is a fine thing.


  • He enter’d in his house—his home no more,
  • For without hearts there is no home;—and felt
  • The solitude of passing his own door
  • Without a welcome.
  • Byron.

    Leisure and solitude are the best effect of riches, because mother of thought. Both are avoided by most rich men, who seek company and business, which are signs of being weary of themselves.

    Sir W. Temple.

  • O for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
  • Some boundless contiguity of shade,
  • Where rumor of oppression and deceit,
  • Of unsuccessful or successful war,
  • Might never reach me more.
  • Cowper.

    Solitude can be well applied and sit right upon but very few persons. They must have knowledge enough of the world to see the follies of it, and virtue enough to despise all vanity.


    Solitude has but one disadvantage—it is apt to give one too high an opinion of one’s self. In the world we are sure to be often reminded of every known or supposed defect we may have.


    Nature has presented us with a large faculty of entertaining ourselves alone, and often calls us to it, to teach us that we owe ourselves in part to society, but chiefly and mostly to ourselves.


    Solitude is a good school, but the world is the best theater; the institution is best there, but the practice here; the wilderness hath the advantage of discipline, and society opportunities of perfection.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    How many have found solitude, not only, as Cicero calls it, the pabulum of the mind, but the nurse of their genius! How many of the world’s most sacred oracles have been uttered, like those of Dodona, from the silence of deep woods!


    The wild bird that flies so lone and far has somewhere its nest and brood. A little fluttering heart of love impels its wings, and points its course. There is nothing so solitary as a solitary man.


    Living a good deal alone will, I believe, correct me of my faults; for a man can do without his own approbation in much society, but he must make great exertions to gain it when he lives alone. Without it I am convinced solitude is not to be endured.

    Sydney Smith.

  • O sacred solitude! divine retreat!
  • Choice of the prudent! envy of the great
  • By thy pure stream, or in thy waving shade,
  • We court fair wisdom, that celestial maid:
  • The genuine offspring of her lov’d embrace,
  • (Strangers on earth!) are innocence and peace.
  • Young.

  • And Wisdom’s self
  • Oft seeks to sweet retired solitude,
  • Where, with her best nurse, Contemplation,
  • She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings,
  • That in the various bustle of resort
  • Were all too ruffled, and sometimes impaired.
  • Milton.

  • ’Tis not for golden eloquence I pray,
  • A godlike tongue to move a stony heart—
  • Methinks it were full well to be apart
  • In solitary uplands far away,
  • Betwixt the blossoms of a rosy spray,
  • Dreaming upon the wonderful sweet face
  • Of Nature, in a wild and pathless place.
  • Frederick Tennyson.

  • The man how bless’d, who, sick of gaudy scenes,
  • (Scenes apt to thrust between us and ourselves,)
  • Is led by choice to take his fav’rite walk
  • Beneath death’s gloomy, silent, cypress shades,
  • Unpierc’d by vanity’s fantastic ray;
  • To read his monuments, to weigh his dust,
  • Visit his vaults, and dwell among the tombs.
  • Young.

    Birds sing in vain to the ear, flowers bloom in vain to the eye, of mortified vanity and galled ambition. He who would know repose in retirement must carry into retirement his destiny, integral and serene, as the Cæsars transported the statue of Fortune into the chamber they chose for their sleep.


    The love of retirement has in all ages adhered closely to those minds which have been most enlarged by knowledge, or elevated by genius. Those who enjoyed everything generally supposed to confer happiness have been forced to seek it in the shades of privacy.


  • The man to solitude accustom’d long,
  • Perceives in everything that lives a tongue;
  • Not animals alone, but shrubs and trees
  • Have speech for him, and understood with ease,
  • After long drought when rains abundant fall,
  • He hears the herbs and flowers rejoicing all.
  • Cowper.

    A certain degree of solitude seems necessary to the full growth and spread of the highest mind; and therefore must a very extensive intercourse with men stifle many a holy germ, and scare away the gods, who shun the restless tumult of noisy companies and the discussion of petty interests.


    One ought to love society, if he wishes to enjoy solitude. It is a social nature that solitude works upon with the most various power. If one is misanthropic, and betakes himself to loneliness that he may get away from hateful things, solitude is a silent emptiness to him.


    All weighty things are done in solitude, that is, without society. The means of improvement consist not in projects, or in any violent designs, for these cool, and cool very soon, but in patient practicing for whole long days, by which I make the thing clear to my highest reason.


    When we withdraw from human intercourse into solitude, we are more peculiarly committed in the presence of the divinity; yet some men retire into solitude to devise or perpetrate crimes. This is like a man going to meet and brave a lion in his own gloomy desert, in the very precincts of his dread abode.

    John Foster.

    There is no such thing as a perfect secrecy to encourage a rational mind to the perpetration of any base action; for a man must first extinguish and put out the great light within him, his conscience; he must get away from himself, and shake off the thousand witnesses which he always carries about him, before he can be alone.


    In solitude the mind gains strength, and learns to lean upon herself; in the world it seeks or accepts of a few treacherous supports—the feigned compassion of one, the flattery of a second, the civilities of a third, the friendship of a fourth—they all deceive, and bring the mind back to retirement, reflection, and books.


  • Still this great solitude is quick with life.
  • Myriads of insects, gaudy as the flowers
  • They flutter over, gentle quadrupeds,
  • And birds, that scarce have learned the fear of man,
  • Are here, and sliding reptiles of the ground,
  • Startlingly beautiful. The graceful deer
  • Bounds to the wood at my approach. The bee
  • *****
  • Fills the savannas with his murmurings.
  • William Cullen Bryant.

    Unsociable humors are contracted in solitude, which will, in the end, not fail of corrupting the understanding as well as the manners, and of utterly disqualifying a man for the satisfactions and duties of life. Men must be taken as they are, and we neither make them or ourselves better by flying from or quarreling with them.


    My retirement was now become solitude; the former is, I believe, the best state for the mind of man, the latter almost the worst. In complete solitude, the eye wants objects, the heart wants attachments, the understanding wants reciprocation. The character loses its tenderness when it has nothing to strengthen it, its sweetness when it has nothing to soothe it.

    Hannah More.

    The love of solitude, when cultivated in the morn of life, elevates the mind to a noble independence, but to acquire the advantages which solitude is capable of affording, the mind must not be impelled to it by melancholy and discontent, but by a real distaste to the idle pleasures of the world, a rational contempt for the deceitful joys of life, and just apprehensions of being corrupted and seduced by its insinuating and destructive gayeties.


    Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend, the cold, obscure shelter where moult the wings which will bear it farther than suns and stars. He who would inspire and lead his race must be defended from traveling with the souls of other men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily time-worn yoke of their opinions.


  • O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
  • Let it not be among the jumbled heap
  • Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,—
  • Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,
  • In flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,
  • May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
  • ’Mongst boughs pavilion’d, where the deer’s swift leap
  • Startles the wild bee from the foxglove bell.
  • Keats.

  • Solitude delighteth well to feed on many thoughts;
  • There as thou sittest peaceful, communing with fancy,
  • The precious poetry of life shall gild its leaden cares;
  • There, as thou walkest by the sea beneath the gentle stars,
  • Many kindling seeds of good will sprout within thy soul;
  • Thou shalt weep in Solitude,—thou shalt pray in Solitude.
  • Thou shalt sing for joy of heart, and praise the grace of Solitude.
  • Tupper.

    In early youth, if we find it difficult to control our feelings, so we find it difficult to vent them in the presence of others. On the spring side of twenty, if anything affects us, we rush to lock ourselves up in our room, or get away into the street or the fields; in our earlier years we are still the savages of nature, and we do as the poor brutes do. The wounded stag leaves the herd; and if there is anything on a dog’s faithful heart, he slinks away into a corner.


  • I am not alone,
  • For solitude like this is populous,
  • And its abundant life of sky and sun,
  • High-floating clouds, low mists, and wheeling birds,
  • And waves that ripple shoreward all day long,
  • Whether the tide is setting in or out,
  • Forever rippling shoreward, dark and bright,
  • As lights and shadows, and the shifting winds
  • Pursue each other in their endless play,
  • Is more than the companionship of man.
  • R. H. Stoddard.

  • But midst the crowd, the hum, the shock of men,
  • To hear, to see, to feel, and to possess,
  • And roam along, the world’s tired denizen,
  • With none who bless us, none whom we can bless:
  • Minions of splendor shrinking from distress!
  • None that, with kindred consciousness endued,
  • If we were not, would seem to smile the less,
  • Of all that flatter’d, follow’d, sought and sued;
  • This is to be alone; this, this is solitude!
  • Byron.

    He who must needs have company must needs have sometimes bad company. Be able to be alone; lose not the advantage of solitude and the society of thyself; nor be only content but delight to be alone and single with Omnipotency. He who is thus prepared, the day is not uneasy, nor the night black unto him. Darkness may bound his eyes, not his imagination. In his bed he may lie, like Pompey and his sons, in all quarters of the earth; may speculate the universe, and enjoy the whole world in the hermitage of himself.

    Sir Thomas Browne.