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


Speech is but the incorporation of thought.


Speak briefly and to the point.


Speech is the index of the mind.


A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.


Speech is silvern, Silence is golden.

German Proverb.

She speaks poniards, and every word stabs.


Be swift to hear, slow to speak.


Speech is***the art of***stifling and suspending thought.


Hear much; speak little.


In man speaks God.


The silent countenance often speaks.


My voice stuck in my throat.


We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us.


You drown him by your talk.


I will speak daggers to her, but use none.


Speech is reason’s brother, and a kingly prerogative of man.


He mouths a sentence as curs mouth a bone.


In laboring to be concise, I become obscure.


Speeches cannot be made long enough for the speakers, nor short enough for the hearers.


Speak but little and well, if you would be esteemed as a man of merit.


The true use of speech is not so much to express our wants as to conceal them.


All have the gift of speech, but few are possessed of wisdom.


  • Your fair discourse hath been as sugar,
  • Making the hard way sweet and delectable.
  • Shakespeare.

    The heart seldom feels what the mouth expresses.


    Speech is a faculty given to man to conceal his thoughts.


    They only employ words to disguise their thoughts.


  • Speech is but broken light upon the depth
  • Of the unspoken.
  • George Eliot.

    Thou speakest a word of great moment calmly.


    Where Nature’s end of language is declined, and men talk only to conceal the mind.


    It was whispered balm, it was sunshine spoken!


    Speech is better than silence; silence is better than speech.


    He who talks much cannot always talk well.


    The mouth of a wise man is in his heart; the heart of a fool is in his mouth.


    Consider in silence whatever any one says: speech both conceals and reveals the inner soul of man.


  • His speech was a fine sample, on the whole,
  • Of rhetoric, which the learn’d call “rigmarole.”
  • Byron.

    Seldom is there much spoke, but something or other had better not been spoke.


    Let him be sure to leave other men their turn to speak.


    The flowering moments of the mind drop half their petals in our speech.

    O. W. Holmes.

    Speech that leads not to action, still more that hinders it, is a nuisance on the earth.


  • Just at the age ’twixt boy and youth,
  • When thought is speech, and speech is truth.
  • Scott.

    The Chinese have an excellent proverb; “Be modest in speech, but excel in action.”

    Horace Mann.

    Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.


    It is never so difficult to speak as when we are ashamed of our silence.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    The truth thy speech doth show, within my heart reproves the swelling pride.


    I shall make you an impromptu at my leisure.


    A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.


    Conversation is the image of the mind; as the man, so is his speech.


    I have often regretted having spoken, never having kept silent.


    Do you wish people to speak well of you? Then do not speak at all yourself.


    Speech is the golden harvest that followeth the flowering of thought.


    Let no one be willing to speak ill of the absent.


    We rarely repent of speaking little, but often of speaking too much.

    La Bruyère.

    As a vessel is known by the sound, whether it be cracked or not; so men are proved, by their speeches, whether they be wise or foolish.


  • Rude am I in my speech
  • And little bless’d with the soft phrase of peace.
  • Shakespeare.

  • I had a thing to say,
  • But I will fit it with some better time.
  • Shakespeare.

  • For brevity is very good,
  • Where we are or are not understood.
  • Butler.

  • And endless are the modes of speech, and far
  • Extends from side to side the field of words.
  • Homer.

    Concerning the dead nothing but good shall be spoken.


    It is a tiresome way of speaking, when you should despatch the business, to beat about the bush.


    Such as thy words are, such will thy affections be esteemed; and such will thy deeds as thy affections, and such thy life as thy deeds.


    I would be loath to cast away my speech; for, besides that it is excellently well penn’d, I have taken great pains to con it.


    The speech of the tongue is best known to men; God best understands the language of the heart.


    God has given us speech in order that we may say pleasant things to our friends, and tell bitter truths to our enemies.

    Heinrich Heine.

    Man is born with the faculty of speech. Who gives it to him? He who gives the bird its song.


    One learns taciturnity best among people who have none, and loquacity among the taciturn.

    Jean Paul Richter.

  • Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach
  • Of ordinary men.
  • Wordsworth.

    Speech is as a pump, by which we raise and pour out the water from the great lake of Thought,—whither it flows back again.

    John Sterling.

    Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, and ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.


    When we are understood, we always speak well, and then all your fine diction serves no purpose.


  • O that grave speech would cumber our quick souls
  • Like bells that waste the moments with their loudness.
  • George Eliot.

  • When Adam first of men,
  • To first of women Eve, thus moving speech,
  • Turn’d him all ear to hear new utterance flow.
  • Milton.

    Speech was made to open man to man, and not to hide him; to promote commerce, and not betray it.

    David Lloyd.

    Speak not at all, in any wise, till you have somewhat to speak; care not for the reward of your speaking, but simply and with undivided mind for the truth of your speaking.


    A sentence well couched takes both the sense and the understanding. I love not those cart-rope speeches that are longer than the memory of man can fathom.


    Lovers are apt to hear through their eyes, but the safest way is to see through their ears. Who was it that said, “Speak, that I may see you?”


    Speech is like cloth of Arras opened and put abroad, whereby the imagery doth appear in figure; whereas in thoughts they lie but as in packs.


  • Speak gently! ’tis a little thing
  • Dropp’d in the heart’s deep well;
  • The good, the joy, that it may bring
  • Eternity shall tell.
  • G. W. Langford.

    He who does not make his words rather serve to conceal than discover the sense of his heart deserves to have it pulled out like a traitor’s and shown publicly to the rabble.


    Discretion of speech is more than eloquence; and to speak agreeably to him with whom we deal is more than to speak in good words or in good order.


    Depend upon it, sir, it is when you come close to a man in conservation that you discover what his real abilities are; to make a speech in a public assembly is a knack.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Half the sorrows of women would be averted if they could repress the speech they know to be useless,—nay, the speech they have resolved not to utter.

    George Eliot.

    Speech is too often not, as the Frenchman defined it, the art of concealing thought, but of quite stifling and suspending thought, so that there is none to conceal.


    Themistocles replied that a man’s discourse was like to a rich Persian carpet, the beautiful figures and patterns of which can only be shown by spreading and extending it out; when it is contracted and folded up, they are obscured and lost.


    Sheridan once said of some speech, in his acute, sarcastic way, that “it contained a great deal both of what was new and what was true; but that unfortunately what was new was not true, and what was true was not new.


  • Abstruse and mystic thoughts you must express
  • With painful care, but seeming easiness;
  • For truth shines brightest thro’ the plainest dress.
  • Wentworth Dillon.

    God, that all-powerful Creator of nature and Architect of the world, has impressed man with no character so proper to distinguish him from other animals, as by the faculty of speech.


  • Speech is the light, the morning of the mind:
  • It spreads the beauteous images abroad,
  • Which else lie furl’d and shrouded in the soul.
  • Dryden.

    When you speak to any, especially of quality, look them full in the face; other gestures betraying want of breeding, confidence, or honesty; dejected eyes confessing, to most judgments, guilt or folly.

    F. Osborn.

    When speech is given to a soul holy and true, time, and its dome of ages, becomes as a mighty whispering-gallery, round which the imprisoned utterance runs, and reverberates forever.

    James Martineau.

  • Think all you speak; but speak not all you think:
  • Thoughts are your own; your words are so no more.
  • Where Wisdom steers, wind cannot make you sink:
  • Lips never err, when she does keep the door.
  • Delaune.

  • Boys flying kites haul in their white winged birds;
  • You can’t do that way when you’re flying words.
  • “Careful with fire,” is good advice we know.
  • “Careful with words,” is ten times doubly so.
  • Thoughts unexpressed may sometimes fall back dead;
  • But God Himself can’t kill them when they’re said.
  • Will Carleton.

  • Oh, but the heavenly grammar did I hold
  • Of that high speech which angels’ tongues turn gold!
  • So should her deathless beauty take no wrong,
  • Praised in her own great kindred’s fit and cognate tongue.
  • Or if that language yet with us abode
  • Which Adam in the garden talked with God!
  • But our untempered speech descends—poor heirs!
  • Grimy and rough-cast still from Babel’s bricklayers:
  • Curse on the brutish jargon we inherit,
  • Strong but to damn, not memorise, a spirit!
  • A cheek, a lip, a limb, a bosom, they
  • Move with light ease in speech of working-day;
  • And women we do use to praise even so.
  • Francis Thompson.

    According to Solomon, life and death are in the power of the tongue; and as Euripides truly affirmeth, every unbridled tongue in the end shall find itself unfortunate; for in all that ever I observed in the course of worldly things, I ever found that men’s fortunes are oftener made by their tongues than by their virtues, and more men’s fortunes overthrown thereby, also, than by their vices.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

  • Rude am I in my speech,
  • And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace;
  • For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith,
  • Till now some nine moons wasted, they have us’d
  • Their dearest action in the tented field,
  • And little of this great world can I speak,
  • More than pertains to feats of broil and battle,
  • And therefore little shall I grace my cause
  • In speaking for myself.
  • Shakespeare.

    Never is the deep, strong voice of man, or the low, sweet voice of woman, finer than in the earnest but mellow tones of familiar speech, richer than the richest music, which are a delight while they are heard, which linger still upon the ear in softened echoes, and which, when they have ceased, come, long after, back to memory, like the murmurs of a distant hymn.

    Henry Giles.