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


Talkers are no good doers.


Error is always talkative.


Brisk talkers are generally slow thinkers.


Who talks much, must talk in vain.


What a spendthrift he is of his tongue!


Men of few words are the best men.


Alas for the folly of the loquacious!


We talk little if we do not talk about ourselves.


Madame de Staël talks herself into a beauty.


Even wit is a burden when it talks too long.


Men talk only to conceal the mind.


They always talk who never think.


They only babble who practice not reflection.


Intemperance in talk makes a dreadful havoc in the heart.

Thomas Wilson.

The inexhaustible talk that was the flow of a golden sea of eloquence and wisdom.

William Winter.

We speak little if not egged on by vanity.

La Rochefoucauld.

No season now for calm, familiar talk.


The tongue of a fool is the key of his counsel.


Things are often spoke and seldom meant.


With vollies of eternal babble.


Fie, fie, how frantically I square my talk!


Evil tongues never want a whet.

Le Sage.

Consider, I’m a peer of the realm, and I shall die if I don’t talk.


Long talking begets short hearing, for people go away.


Length of saying makes languor of hearing.

Joseph Roux.

A person who talks with equal vivacity on every subject excites no interest in any.


Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.

George Eliot.

  • But far more numerous was the herd of such,
  • Who think too little, and who talk too much.
  • Dryden.

    Those who have few affairs to attend to are great speakers. The less men think, the more they talk.


    Much tongue and much judgment seldom go together.


    No one would talk much in society if he only knew how often he misunderstands others.


  • A merrier man,
  • Within the limit of becoming mirth,
  • I never spent an hour’s talk withal.
  • Shakespeare.

  • What you keep by you, you may change and mend;
  • But words once spoken can never be recalled.
  • Roscommon.

    Nor is drunkenness censured for anything so much as its intemperate and endless talk.


    He who indulges in liberty of speech will hear things in return which he will not like.


    To talk without effort is, after all, the great charm of talking.

    J. C. and A. W. Hare.

    She stammers; oh, what grace in lisping lies!


    Whether one talks well depends very much upon whom he has to talk to.


    A wise man reflects before he speaks; a fool speaks, and then reflects on what he has uttered.

    From the French.

    Less pains in the world a man cannot take than to hold his tongue.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    However irregular and desultory his talk, there is method in the fragments,


    If I were queen, I would order Madame de Staël to talk to me all day.

    Mme. de Tessé.

    But still his tongue ran on, the less of weight it bore, with greater ease.


    People who have nothing to say are never at a loss in talking.

    H. W. Shaw.

    The vanity of shining in conversation is usually subversive of its own desires.

    Mrs. Sigourney.

    I think the first wisdom is to restrain the tongue.


    In after-dinner talk, across the walnuts and the wine.


    No great talker ever did any great thing yet in this world.


    In general, those who have nothing to say contrive to spend the longest time in doing it.


    Learn to hold thy tongue. Five words cost Zacharias forty weeks’ silence.

    Thomas Fuller.

    If I chance to talk a little wild, forgive me: I had it from my father.


    The tongue is the instrument of the greatest good and the greatest evil that is done in the world.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    Speaking much is a sign of vanity; for he that is lavish in words is a niggard in deed.

    Sir Walter Raleigh.

    I prefer the wisdom of the uneducated to the folly of the loquacious.


    Every absurdity has a champion to defend it; for error is always talkative.


    Though we have two eyes, we are supplied with but one tongue. Draw your own moral.

    Alphonse Karr.

    Those whose tongues are gentlemen ushers to their wit, and still go before it.

    Ben Jonson.

    Talking and eloquence are not the same; and to speak well are two things.

    Ben Jonson.

  • Thy talk is the sweet extract of all speech,
  • And holds mine ear in blissful slavery.
  • Bailey.

    A good talker, even more than a good orator, implies a good audience.

    Leslie Stephen.

    The pleasure of talking is the inextinguishable passion of woman, coeval with the act of breathing.

    Le Sage.

    Drawing is speaking to the eye, talking is painting to the ear.


    We seldom repent talking too little, but very often talking too much.

    La Bruyère.

    It is not of so much consequence what you say, as how you say it.

    Alexander Smith.

  • What cracker is this same that deafs our ears
  • With this abundance of superfluous breath?
  • Shakespeare.

    I prythee, take the cork out of thy mouth that I may drink thy tidings.


    It is a sad thing when men have neither wit to speak well nor judgment to hold their tongues.

    La Bruyère.

    He hath a heart as sound as a bell, and his tongue is the clapper; for what his heart thinks his tongue speaks.


    Butler compared the tongues of these eternal talkers to race-horses, which go the faster the less weight they carry.


    The greatest talkers in the days of peace have been the most pusillanimous in the day of temptation.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    A talkative person runs himself upon great inconvenience by blabbing out his own and others’ secrets.

    John Ray.

    Whom the disease of talking still once possesseth, he can never hold his peace. Nay, rather than he will not discourse he will hire men to hear him.

    Ben Jonson.

    Talking is like playing on the harp; there is as much in laying the hands on the strings to stop their vibrations as in twanging them to bring out their music.


    It is a difficult task to talk to the purpose, and to put life and perspicuity into our discourse.

    Jeremy Collier.

    The honorablest part of talk is to give the occasion, and again to moderate and pass to somewhat else; for then a man leads the dance.


    Talking over the things which you have read with your companions fixes them on the mind.

    Dr. Watts.

    Talking is one of the fine arts—the noblest, the most important, the most difficult—and its fluent harmonies may be spoiled by the intrusion of a single harsh note.


  • Why, what a wasp-tongued and impatient fool
  • Art thou, to break into this woman’s mood;
  • Tying thine ear to no tongue but thine own!
  • Shakespeare.

    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.


    He must be little skilled in the world who thinks that men’s talking much or little shall hold proportion only to their knowledge.


    He who seldom speaks, and with one calm well-timed word can strike dumb the loquacious, is a genius or a hero.


    We oftener say things because we can say them well than because they are sound and reasonable.


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


    If you light upon an impertinent talker, that sticks to you like a burr, to the disappointment of your important occasions, deal freely with him, break off the discourse, and pursue your business.


    There are many who talk on from ignorance rather than from knowledge, and who find the former an inexhaustible fund of conversation.


    A man who always talks for fame never can be pleasing. The man who talks to unburthen his mind is the man to delight you.


    In great families, some one false, paltry, tale-bearer, by carrying stories from one to another, shall inflame the minds and discompose the quiet of the whole family.


  • But still his tongue ran on, the less
  • Of weight it bore, with greater ease;
  • And with its everlasting clack,
  • Set all men’s ears upon the rack.
  • Butler.

  • She sits tormenting every guest,
  • Nor gives her tongue one moment’s rest,
  • In phrases batter’d, stale, and trite,
  • Which modern ladies call polite.
  • Swift.

    There are prating coxcombs in the world who would rather talk than listen, although Shakespeare himself were the orator, and human nature the theme!


    A gentleman that loves to hear himself talk, and will speak more in a minute than he will stand to in a month.


  • She spake,
  • And his love-wilder’d and idolatrous soul
  • Clung to the airy music of her words,
  • Like a bird on a bough, high swaying in the wind.
  • Bailey.

  • Nor did we fail to see within ourselves
  • What need there is to be reserved in speech,
  • And temper all our thoughts with charity.
  • Wordsworth.

  • My lord shall never rest:
  • I’ll watch him, tame and talk him out of patience:
  • His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift.
  • Shakespeare.

    Talking is a digestive process which is absolutely essential to the mental constitution of the man who devours many books.

    William Matthews.

    As empty vessels make the loudest sound, so they that have the least wit are the greatest babblers.


    If you don’t wish a man to do a thing you had better get him to talk about it; for the more men talk, the more likely they are to do nothing else.


  • Stop not, unthinking, every friend you meet
  • To spin your wordy fabric in the street;
  • While you are emptying your colloquial pack,
  • The fiend Lumbago jumps upon his back.
  • O. W. Holmes.

  • Words learn’d by rote, a parrot may rehearse,
  • But talking is not always to converse;
  • Not more distinct from harmony divine,
  • The constant creaking of a country sign.
  • Cowper.

  • Where village statesmen talk’d with looks profound,
  • And news much older than their ale went round.
  • Goldsmith.

    Talk without truth is the hollow brass; talk without love is like the tinkling cymbal, and when it does not tinkle it jingles, and when it does not jingle, it jars.

    Mrs. Jameson.

    The talkative listen to no one, for they are ever speaking. And the first evil that attends those who know not to be silent is that they hear nothing.


    There is the same difference between their tongues as between the hour and the minute-hand; one goes ten times as fast, and the other signifies ten times as much.

    Sydney Smith.

  • I cannot tell thee, hour by hour,
  • That I adore thee dearly;
  • I cannot talk of passion’s power—
  • But oh! I feel sincerely!
  • Mrs. Osgood.

    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.


  • Speak gently! ’Tis a little thing
  • Dropp’d in the heart’s deep well;
  • The good, the joy which it may bring
  • Eternity shall tell.
  • David Bates.

    They who are great talkers in company have never been any talkers by themselves, nor used to private discussions of our home regimen.


    Let your words be few and digested; it is a shame for the tongue to cry the heart mercy, much more to cast itself upon the uncertain pardon of others’ ears.

    Bishop Hall.

    There are braying men in the world as well as braying asses; for what’s loud and senseless talking and swearing, any other than braying?

    Sir Roger L’Estrange.

    Cautiously avoid talking of the domestic affairs either of yourself or of other people. Yours are nothing to them but tedious gossip, theirs are nothing to you.


  • A dearth of words a woman need not fear,
  • But ’t is a task indeed to learn—to hear;
  • In that the skill of conversation lies;
  • That shows or makes you both polite and wise.
  • Young.

  • He gives the bastinado with his tongue;
  • Our ears are cudgell’d; not a word of his,
  • But buffets better than a fist of France:
  • Zounds! I was never so bethump’d with words,
  • Since I first called my brother’s father, dad.
  • Shakespeare.

    This great author (Horace), who had the nicest taste of conversation, and was himself a most agreeable companion, had so strong an antipathy to a great talker, that he was afraid, some time or other, it would be mortal to him.


  • The fool hath planted in his memory
  • An army of good words; and I do know
  • A many fools that stand in better place,
  • Garnish’d like him, that for a tricksy word
  • Defy the matter.
  • Shakespeare.

    Philosophy finds talkativeness a disease very difficult and hard to cure. For its remedy, conversation, requires hearers: but talkative people hear nobody, for they are ever prating. And the first evil this inability to keep silence produces is an inability to listen.


    When I think of talking, it is of course with a woman; for, talking at its best being an inspiration, it wants a corresponding divine quality of receptiveness, and where will you find this but in woman?

    O. W. Holmes.

    Give not thy tongue too great liberty, lest it take thee prisoner. A word unspoken is like a sword in the scabbard, thine; if vented, thy sword is in another’s hand. If thou desire to be held wise, be so wise as to hold thy tongue.


    Depend on it, if a man talks of his misfortunes, there is something in that is not disagreeable to him; for where there is nothing but pure misery, there never is any recourse to the mention of it.


    There is such a torture, happily unknown to ancient tyranny, as talking a man to death. Marcus Aurelius advises to assent readily to great talkers—in hopes, I suppose, to put an end to the argument.


    Does a man speak foolishly?—suffer him gladly, for you are wise. Does he speak erroneously?—stop such a man’s mouth with sound words that cannot be gainsaid. Does he speak truly?—rejoice in the truth.

    Oliver Cromwell.

    The man who talks everlastingly and promiscuously, who seems to have an exhaustless magazine of sound, crowds so many words into his thoughts that he always obscures, and very frequently conceals them.

    Washington Irving.

    If thy words be too luxuriant, confine them, lest they confine thee; he that thinks he never can speak enough may easily speak too much. A full tongue and an empty brain are seldom parted.


    It has been well observed that the tongue discovers the state of the mind no less than that of the body; but in either case, before the philosopher or the physician can judge, the patient must open his mouth.


    The ear and the eye are the mind’s receivers; but the tongue is only busy in expending the treasures received. If, therefore, the revenues of the mind be uttered as fast or faster than they are received, it must needs be bare, and can never lay up for purchase.

    Bishop Hall.

    If any man think it a small matter, or of mean concernment, to bridle his tongue, he is much mistaken; for it is a point to be silent when occasion requires, and better than to speak, though never so well.


    This I always religiously observed, as a rule, never to chide my husband before company nor to prattle abroad of miscarriages at home. What passes between two people is much easier made up than when once it has taken air.


    Brisk talkers are usually slow thinkers. There is, indeed, no wild beast more to be dreaded than a communicative man having nothing to communicate. If you are civil to the voluble they will abuse your patience; if brusque, your character.


    To hear him (Emerson) talk was like watching one crossing a brook on stepping-stones. His noun had to wait for its verb or its adjective until he was ready; then his speech would come down upon the word he wanted, and not Worcester nor Webster could better it from all the wealth of their huge vocabularies.

    O. W. Holmes.

    Talk often, but never long; in that case, if you do not please, at least you are sure not to tire your hearers. Pay your own reckoning, but do not treat the whole company; this being one of the few cases in which people do not care to be treated, every one being fully convinced that he has wherewithal to pay.

    Lord Chesterfield.

    The common fluency of speech in many men, and most women, is owing to a scarcity of matter and a scarcity of words; for whosoever is a master of language, and hath a mind full of ideas, will be apt, in speaking, to hesitate upon the choice of both.


    Writing or printing is like shooting with a rifle; you may hit your reader’s mind, or miss it—but talking is like playing at a mark with the pipe of an engine; if it is within reach, and you have time enough, you can’t help hitting it.


    Think you a little din can daunt mine ears? Have I not in my time heard lions roar?***Have I not heard great ordnance in the field, and heaven’s artillery thunder in the skies?***And do you tell me of a woman’s tongue, that gives not half so great a blow to hear as will a chestnut in a farmer’s fire?


    Great knowledge, if it be without vanity, is the most severe bridle of the tongue. For so have I heard that all the noises and prating of the pool, the croaking of frogs and toads, is hushed and appeased upon the instant of bringing upon them the light of a candle or torch. Every beam of reason and ray of knowledge checks the dissolutions of the tongue.

    Jeremy Taylor.

  • His talk was like a stream which runs
  • With rapid change from rock to roses;
  • It slipped from politics to puns;
  • It passed from Mahomet to Moses;
  • Beginning with the laws that keep
  • The planets in their radiant courses,
  • And ending with some precept deep
  • For dressing eels or shoeing horses.
  • Praed.

  • It may be glorious to write
  • Thoughts that shall glad the two or three
  • High souls, like those far stars that come in sight
  • Once in a century;—
  • But better far it is to speak
  • One simple word, which now and then
  • Shall waken their free nature in the weak
  • And friendless sons of men.
  • James Russell Lowell.

    It has been said in praise of some men, that they could talk whole hours together upon anything; but it must be owned to the honor of the other sex that there are many among them who can talk whole hours together upon nothing. I have known a woman branch out into a long extempore dissertation on the edging of a petticoat, and chide her servant for breaking a china cup, in all the figures of rhetoric.


  • And we talk’d—oh, how we talk’d! her voice so cadenc’d in the talking,
  • Made another singing—of the soul! a music without bars—
  • While the leafy sounds of woodlands, humming round where we were walking,
  • Brought interposition worthy—sweet,—as skies about the stars,
  • And she spake such good thoughts natural, as if she always thought them.
  • Miss Barrett.

    Talkers and futile persons are commonly vain and credulous withal, for he that talketh what he knoweth will also talk what he knoweth not; therefore set it down that a habit of secrecy is both politic and moral; and in this part it is good, that a man’s face gives his tongue leave to speak; for the discovery of a man’s self by the tracts of his countenance is a great weakness, and betraying by how much it is many times more marked and believed than a man’s words.