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

Story Telling

And thereby hangs a tale.


Soft as some song divine, thy story flows.


He cometh unto you with a tale which holdeth children from play, and old men from the chimney corner.

Sir Philip Sidney.

This story will never go down.

Henry Fielding.

A schoolboy’s tale, the wonder of an hour!


  • For seldom shall she hear a tale
  • So sad, so tender, yet so true.
  • Shenstone.

  • I cannot tell how the truth may be;
  • I say the tale as ’twas said to me.
  • Sir Walter Scott.

  • I hate
  • To tell again a tale once fully told.
  • Homer.

  • Tell me the tales that to me were so dear,
  • Long, long ago, long, long ago.
  • Thomas Haynes Bayly.

  • When thou dost tell another’s jest, therein
  • Omit the oaths, which true wit cannot need;
  • Pick out of tales the mirth, but not the sin.
  • Herbert.

    And what so tedious as a twice-told tale.


  • A story should, to please, at least seem true,
  • Be apropos, well told, concise, and new:
  • And whenso’er it deviates from these rules,
  • The wise will sleep, and leave applause to fools.
  • Stillingfleet.

  • In this our spacious isle I think there is not one
  • But he hath heard some talk of Hood and Little John,
  • Of Tuck, the merry friar, which many a sermon made,
  • In praise of Robin Hood, his outlaws, and their trade.
  • Drayton.

  • A story, in which native humor reigns,
  • Is often useful, always entertains;
  • A graver fact enlisted on your side
  • May furnish illustration, well applied;
  • But sedentary weavers of long tales
  • Give me the fidgets, and my patience fails.
  • ’Tis the most asinine employ on earth,
  • To hear them tell of parentage and birth,
  • And echo conversations dull and dry,
  • Embellish’d with,—He said,—and, So said I.
  • Cowper.

    Story-telling is subject to two unavoidable defects,—frequent repetition and being soon exhausted; so that, whoever values this gift in himself, has need of a good memory, and ought frequently to shift his company.


  • An’ all us other children, when the supper things is done,
  • We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun
  • A-list’nin’ to the witch tales ’at Annie tells about,
  • An’ the gobble-uns ’at gits you
  • Ef you
  • Don’t
  • Watch
  • Out!
  • James Whitcomb Riley.

  • Dear Ellen, your tales are all plenteously stored,
  • With the joy of some bride and the wealth of her lord,
  • Of her chariots and dresses,
  • And worldly caresses,
  • And servants that fly when she’s waited upon:
  • But what can she boast if she weds unbeloved?
  • Can she e’er feel the joy that one morning I proved,
  • When I put on my new gown and waited for John?
  • Bloomfield.