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


Taste is the next gift to genius.


Bad taste is a species of bad morals.


Good taste rejects excessive nicety.


Taste has never been corrupted by simplicity.


The finer impulse of our nature.


All our tastes are but reminiscences.


Good taste is the flower of good sense.


A person is well dressed when dressed in good taste.

Mme. de Sartory.

Taste is to literature what bon ton is in society.

Mme. de Staël.

A taste which plenty does deprave loathes lawful goods, and lawless ill does crave.


We taste the fragrance of the rose.


For age but tastes of pleasures youth devours.


Taste is improved by cultivation.


Taste is often one of the aspects of fashion.


Taste is the mind’s tact.

De Boufflers.

Good taste consists first upon fitness.

George William Curtis.

Taste and good-nature are universally connected.


The cause of a wrong taste is a defect of judgment.


Taste is pursued at a less expense than fashion.


Mock jewelry on a woman is tangible vulgarity.

Bayard Taylor.

My tastes are aristocratic; my actions democratic.

Victor Hugo.

A good taste is often unconscious; a just taste is always conscious.

Mrs. Jameson.

Taste is something quite different from fashion, superior to fashion.


Talk what you will of taste, my friend, you’ll find two of a face as soon as of a mind.


Mistaking taste for genius is the rock on which thousands have split.

J. T. Headley.

Good taste comes more from the judgment than from the mind.

La Rochefoucauld.

I wish you all sorts of prosperity, with a little more taste.

Le Sage.

A truly elegant taste is generally accompanied with an excellency of heart.


Taste is, so to speak, the microscope of judgment.


Taste consists in the power of judging; genius, in the power of executing.


A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.


The instability of our tastes is the occasion of the irregularity of our lives.


  • They never taste who always drink;
  • They always talk who never think.
  • Prior.

    Taste depends upon those finer emotions which make the organisation of the soul.

    Sir J. Reynolds.

    A well-dressed woman in a room should fill it with poetic sense, like the perfume of flowers.

    Miss Oakey.

    Men more easily renounce their interests than their tastes.

    La Rochefoucauld.

  • Taste, that eternal wanderer, which flies
  • From head to ears, and now from ears to eyes.
  • Pope.

    Perfect taste is the faculty of receiving the greatest possible pleasure from those material sources which are attractive to our moral nature in its purity and perfection.


    It seems with wit and good-nature, Utrum horum mavis accipe. Taste and good-nature are universally connected.


    Taste is the power of relishing or rejecting whatever is offered for the entertainment of the imagination.


    Our purity of taste is best tested by its universality, for if we can only admire this thing or that, we may be sure that our cause for liking is of a finite and false nature.


    I have heard of some kind of men that put quarrels purposely on others, to taste their valor.


    Nothing is so improving to the temper as the study of the beauties either of poetry, eloquence, music, or painting.


    Fine taste is an aspect of genius itself, and is the faculty of delicate appreciation, which makes the best effects of art our own.

    N. P. Willis.

    Delicacy of taste has the same effect as delicacy of passion; it enlarges the sphere both of our happiness and our misery.


    It is genius that brings into being, and it is taste that preserves. Without taste genius is nought but sublime folly.


    Good taste cannot supply the place of genius in literature, for the best proof of taste, when there is no genius, would be, not to write at all.

    Mme. de Staël.

    For the perception of the beautiful we have the term “taste”—a metaphor taken from that which is passive in the body and transferred to that which is active in the mind.

    Thomas Reid.

    A cultivated taste increases sensibility to all the tender and humane passions by giving them frequent exercise, while it tends to weaken the more violent and fierce emotions.


    It is not strange to me that persons of the fair sex should like, in all things about them, the handsomeness for which they find themselves most liked.


    Few women have both taste and truth; and indeed, this special bit of moral mosaic is just the most difficult piece of carpentry in the whole of the human workshop.

    E. Lynn Linton.

    Women always show more taste in adorning others than themselves; and the reason is that their persons are like their hearts—they read another’s better than they can their own.


    A lady of genius will give a genteel air to her whole dress by a well-fancied suit of knots, as a judicious writer gives a spirit to a whole sentence by a single expression.


    I think I may define it to be that faculty of the soul which discerns the beauties of an author with pleasure, and the imperfections with dislike.


    A fastidious taste is like a squeamish appetite; the one has its origin in some disease of the mind, as the other has in some ailment of the stomach.


    Taste is, in general, considered as that faculty of the human mind by which we perceive and enjoy whatever is beautiful or sublime in the works of nature or art.

    Sir A. Alison.

    There may be something petty in a refined taste; it easily degenerates into effeminacy. It does not consider the broadest use. It is not content with simple good and bad, and so is fastidious and curious or nice only.


    A delicacy of taste is favorable to love and friendship, by confining our choice to few people, and making us indifferent to the company and conversation of the greater part of men.


  • For what has Virro painted, built, and planted?
  • Only to show how many tastes he wanted.
  • What brought Sir Visto’s ill-got wealth to waste?
  • Some demon whispered, “Visto! have a taste.”
  • Pope.

    We imperatively require a perception of and a homage to beauty in our companions. Other virtues are in request in the field and workyard, but a certain degree of taste is not to be spared in those we sit with.


    May not taste be compared to that exquisite sense of the bee, which instantly discovers and extracts the quintessence of every flower, and disregards all the rest of it?

    Lord Greville.

    It is known that the taste—whatever it is—is improved exactly as we improve our judgment, by extending our knowledge, by a steady attention to our object, and by frequent exercise.


  • Good native Taste, tho’ rude, is seldom wrong,
  • Be it in music, painting, or in song:
  • But this, as well as other faculties,
  • Improves with age and ripens by degrees.
  • Armstrong.

    True taste is forever growing, learning, reading, worshipping, laying its hand upon its mouth because it is astonished, casting its shoes from off its feet because it finds all ground holy.


    In art there is a point of perfection, as of goodness or maturity in nature: he who is able to perceive it, and who loves it, has perfect taste; he who does not feel it, or loves on this side or that, has an imperfect taste.

    La Bruyère.

    It is for the most part in our skill in manners, and in the observations of time and place and of decency in general, that what is called taste by way of distinction consists; and which is in reality no other than a more refined judgment.


  • ’Tis chiefly taste, or blunt, or gross, or fine,
  • Makes life insipid, bestial, or divine.
  • Better be born with taste to little rent
  • Than the dull monarch of a continent;
  • Without this bounty which the gods bestow,
  • Can Fortune make one favorite happy? No.
  • Armstrong.

    Taste and elegance, though they are reckoned only among the smaller and secondary morals, yet are of no mean importance in the regulation of life. A moral taste is not of force to turn vice into virtue; but it recommends virtue with something like the blandishments of pleasure.


    There are some readers who have never read an essay on taste; and if they take my advice they never will, for they can no more improve their taste by so doing than they could improve their appetite or digestion by studying a cookery-book.


    Talent, taste, wit, good sense, are very different things, but by no means incompatible. Between good sense and good taste there exists the same difference as between cause and effect, and between wit and talent there is the same proportion as between a whole and its parts.

    La Bruyère.

    If it were only that people have diversities of taste, that is reason enough for not attempting to shape them all after one model. But different persons also require different conditions for their spiritual development, and can no more exist healthily in the same moral, than all the varieties of plants can in the same physical, atmosphere and climate.

    J. Stuart Mill.

    A good taste in art feels the presence or the absence of merit; a just taste discriminates the degree—the poco più and the poco meno. A good taste rejects faults; a just taste selects excellences. A good taste is often unconscious; a just taste is always conscious. A good taste may be lowered or spoilt; a just taste can only go on refining more and more.

    Mrs. Jameson.

    What, then, is taste, but those internal powers, active and strong, and feelingly alive to each fine impulse? a discerning sense of decent and sublime, with quick disgust from things deformed, or disarranged, or gross in species? This, nor gems, nor stores of gold, nor purple state, nor culture, can bestow, but God alone when first his sacred hand imprints the secret bias of the soul.


    It is that faculty by which we discover and enjoy the beautiful, the picturesque, and the sublime in literature, art, and nature; which recognizes a noble thought, as a virtuous mind welcomes a pure sentiment by an involuntary glow of satisfaction. But while the principle of perception is inherent in the soul, it requires a certain amount of knowledge to draw out and direct it.


    Taste, when once obtained, may be said to be no acquiring faculty, and must remain stationary; but knowledge is of perpetual growth and has infinite demands. Taste, like an artificial canal, winds through a beautiful country, but its borders are confined and its term is limited. Knowledge navigates the ocean, and is perpetually on voyages of discovery.


    Taste is not stationary. It grows every day, and is improved by cultivation, as a good temper is refined by religion. In its most advanced state it takes the title of judgment. Hume quotes Fontenelle’s ingenious distinction between the common watch that tells the hours, and the delicately constructed one that marks the seconds and smallest differences of time.


    True purity of taste is a quality of the mind; it is a feeling which can, with little difficulty, be acquired by the refinement of intelligence; whereas purity of manners is the result of wise habits, in which all the interests of the soul are mingled and in harmony with the progress of intelligence. That is why the harmony of good taste and of good manners is more common than the existence of taste without manners, or of manners without taste.


    Taste, if it mean anything but a paltry connoisseurship, must mean a general susceptibility to truth and nobleness, a sense to discern, and a heart to love and reverence all beauty, order, goodness, wheresoever, or in whatsoever forms and accompaniments they are to be seen. This surely implies, as its chief condition, not any given external rank or situation, but a finely-gifted mind, purified into harmony with itself, into keenness and justness of vision; above all, kindled into love and generous admiration.