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


Talents constitute our very essence.

Charles Rollin.

Talent rules without a sceptre.


Talent is always queer-tempered.

Miss Braddon.

Talent is a cistern; genius, a fountain.


Talent is something, but tact is everything.

W. P. Sargill.

Talent without tact is only half talent.

Horace Greeley.

It is unfortunate that superior talent and superior men are so seldom united.

Marie Ebner-Eschenbach.

Great talents have some admirers, but few friends.


Talent is that which is in a man’s power.


To do easily what is difficult for others is the mark of talent.


The true eye for talent presupposes the true reverence for it.


No one shall have wit save we and our friends.


The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms.

O. W. Holmes.

Talent, like beauty, to be pardoned, must be obscure and unostentatious.

Lady Blessington.

Let us not overstrain our talents, lest we do nothing gracefully: a clown, whatever he may do, will never pass for a gentleman.

La Fontaine.

With the talents of an angel a man may be a fool.


It always seemed to me a sort of clever stupidity only to have one sort of talent—almost like a carrier-pigeon.

George Eliot.

Talent of the highest order, and such as is calculated to command admiration, may exist apart from wisdom.

Robert Hall.

It is an uncontrolled truth that no man ever made an ill figure who understood his own talents, nor a good one who mistook them.


Men of great and shining qualities do not always succeed in life, but the fault lies more often in themselves than in others.


It is a great proof of talents to be able to recall the mind from the senses, and to separate thought from habit.


Talents, to strike the eye of posterity, should be concentrated. Rays, powerless while they are scattered, burn in a point.


Talent is some one faculty unusually developed; genius commands all the faculties.

F. H. Hedge.

  • And sure th’ Eternal Master found
  • His single talent well employ’d.
  • Samuel Johnson.

    Talents are best nurtured in solitude; character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.


    It is not always the highest talent that thrives best. Mediocrity, with tact, will outweigh talent oftentimes.

    Joseph Cook.

    Talent, lying in the understanding, is often inherited; genius, being the action of reason or imagination, rarely or never.


    Now this is how I define talent; it is a gift God has given us in secret, which we reveal without knowing it.


    Talent for talents’ sake is a bauble and a show. Talent working with joy in the cause of universal truth lifts the possessor to new power as a benefactor.


  • Talents angel-bright,
  • If wanting worth, are shining instruments
  • In false ambition’s hand, to finish faults
  • Illustrious, and give infamy renown.
  • Young.

  • The talents lost—the moments run
  • To waste—the sins of act, of thought,
  • Ten thousand deeds of folly done,
  • And countless virtues cherish’d not.
  • Bowring.

    A man with great talents, but void of discretion, is like Polyphemus in the fable, strong and blind, endued with an irresistible force, which for want of sight is of no use to him.


    Talent is the capacity of doing anything that depends on application and industry and it is a voluntary power, while genius is involuntary.


    Talents give a man a superiority far more agreeable than that which proceeds from riches, birth, or employments, which are all external. Talents constitute our very essence.


    Have you not observed that there is a lower kind of discretion and regularity, which seldom fails of raising men to the highest station in the court, the church, and the law?


    We must despise no sort of talents; they all have their separate duties and uses, all the happiness of man for their object; they all improve, exalt, and gladden life.

    Sydney Smith.

    Whatever you are from nature, keep to it; never desert your own line of talent. Be what nature intended you for, and you will succeed; be anything else, and you will be ten thousand times worse than nothing.

    Sydney Smith.

    The most fertile soil does not necessarily produce the most abundant harvest. It is the use we make of our faculties which renders them valuable. Talent, like other things, may lie fallow.

    T. W. Higginson.

    Gross and vulgar minds will always pay a higher respect to wealth than to talent; for wealth, although it be a far less efficient source of power than talent, happens to be far more intelligible.


    As to great and commanding talents, they are the gift of Providence in some way unknown to us. They rise where they are least expected. They fail when everything seems disposed to produce them, or at least to call them forth.


    The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what to do with genius. Talent is a docile creature. It bows its head meekly while the world slips the collar over it. It backs into the shafts like a lamb.


    The difference between talent and genius is this: while the former usually develops some special branch of our faculties, the latter commands them all. When the former is combined with tact, it is often more than a match for the latter.


    It seems that nature has concealed at the bottom of our minds, talents and abilities of which we are not aware. The passions alone have the privilege of bringing them to light, and of giving us sometimes views more certain and more perfect than art could possibly produce.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    That talent confers an inequality of a much higher order than rank would appear from various views of the subject, and most particularly from this—many a man may justly thank his talent for his rank; but no man has ever yet been able to return the compliment, by thanking his rank for his talent. When Leonardo da Vinci died, his sovereign exclaimed: “I can make a thousand lords, but not one Leonardo.”


    Men of splendid talents are generally too quick, too volatile, too adventurous, and too unstable to be much relied on; whereas men of common abilities, in a regular, plodding routine of business act with more regularity and greater certainty. Men of the best intellectual abilities are apt to strike off suddenly, like the tangent of a circle, and cannot be brought into their orbits by attraction or gravity—they often act with such eccentricity as to be lost in the vortex of their own reveries. Brilliant talents in general are like the ignes fatui; they excite wonder, but often mislead. They are not, however, without their use; like the fire from the flint, once produced, it may be converted, by solid, thinking men, to very salutary and noble purposes.


    Talent repeats; genius creates. Talent is a cistern; genius a fountain. Talent deals with the actual, with discovered and realized truths, analyzing, arranging, combining, applying positive knowledge, and in action looking to precedents; genius deals with the possible, creates new combinations, discovers new laws, and acts from an insight into principles. Talent jogs to conclusions to which genius takes giant leaps. Talent accumulates knowledge, and has it packed up in the memory; genius assimilates it with its own substance, grows with every new accession, and converts knowledge into power. Talent gives out what it has taken in; genius what has risen from its unsounded wells of living thought. Talent, in difficult situations, strives to untie knots, which genius instantly cuts with one swift decision. Talent is full of thoughts, genius of thought; one has definite acquisitions, the other indefinite power.

    E. P. Whipple.