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


Vanity has no sex.


Vanity is the quicksand of reason.

George Sand.

Oh, frail estate of human things!


Vain is the world, but only to the vain.


Not a vanity is given in vain.


Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass, that I may see my shadow as I pass.


One can never outlive one’s vanity.

Lady Montagu.

Vanity and rudeness are seldom seen together.


The soul of this man is in his clothes.


A golden mind stoops not to shows of dross.


Vanity is often the unseen spur.


We say little if not egged on by vanity.

La Rochefoucauld.

Here Vanity assumes her pert grimace.


The knowledge of thyself will preserve thee from vanity.


There is nothing which vanity does not desecrate.

Henry Ward Beecher.

No man sympathizes with the sorrows of vanity.


She neglects her heart who studies her glass.


The vain being is the really solitary being.


Vanity is a strange passion; rather than be out of a job it will brag of its vices.

H. W. Shaw.

It is our own vanity that makes the vanity of others intolerable to us.

La Rochefoucauld.

Vanity keeps persons in favor with themselves who are out of favor with all others.


Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; vanity of vanities; all is vanity.


Extreme vanity sometimes hides under the garb of ultra modesty.

Mrs. Jameson.

Vanity makes men ridiculous, pride odious, and ambition terrible.


Every man has just as much vanity as he wants understanding.


Verily, every man at his best state is altogether vanity.


It is difficult to esteem a man as highly as he would wish.


Those who live on vanity must not unreasonably expect to die of mortification.

Mrs. Ellis.

Mon speak but little when vanity does not induce them to speak.

La Rochefoucauld.

The fool of vanity; for her alone he lives, loves, writes, and dies but to be known.


To be vain is rather a mark of humility than pride.


O, how true it is there can be no tête-à-tête where vanity reigns!

Madame de Girardin.

  • What is your sex’s earliest, latest care,
  • Your heart’s supreme ambition? To be fair.
  • Lord Lyttleton.

    Pampered vanity is a better thing perhaps than starved pride.

    Joanna Baillie.

    Guard against that vanity which courts a compliment, or is fed by it.


  • Where doth the world thrust forth a vanity—
  • *****
  • That is not quickly buzz’d into his ears?
  • Shakespeare.

  • Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,
  • Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Hoy-day, what a sweep of vanity comes this way!
  • Shakespeare.

    To be a man’s own fool is bad enough; but the vain man is everybody’s.

    William Penn.

    Death gives a quietus to all vanity.

    C. N. Douglas.

    Virtue would not go far, if vanity did not keep it company.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Our vanity is the constant enemy of our dignity.

    Madame Swetchine.

    The vain man makes a merit of misfortune, and triumphs in his disgrace.


    Applause which owes to man’s short outlook all its charms.


    A vain man finds his account in speaking good or evil of himself.

    La Bruyère.

    The most violent passions give some respite, but vanity always disturbs us.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    If vanity does not entirely overthrow the virtues, at least it makes them all totter.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    There is no restraining men’s tongues or pens when charged with a little vanity.


    What fervent love of herself would Virtue excite if she could be seen!


    Vanity indeed is a venial error; for it usually carries its own punishment with it.


    When men will not be reasoned out of a vanity, they must be ridiculed out of it.


    There was never yet fair woman but she made mouths in a glass.


    Pride makes us esteem ourselves; vanity makes us desire the esteem of others.


    An egoist will always speak of himself, either in praise or in censure; but a modest man ever shuns making himself the subject of his conversation.

    La Bruyère.

    Vanity is a natural object of temptation to a woman.


    Thy pride is but the prologue of thy shame; where vain-glory commands, there folly counsels; where pride rides, there shame lackeys.


    Vanity is not half a bad principle, if it will but stick to legitimate business.


    All is vanity, look you; and so the preacher is vanity too.


    We have always pretensions to fame which, in our own hearts, we know to be disputable.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Vanity stands at my elbow, and animates me by a thousand agreeable promises.

    Mrs. Pendarves.

    Where would the power of women be, were it not for the vanity of men?

    Marie Ebner-Eschenbach.

    Oh, the cares of men! how much emptiness there is in human concerns!


    Vanity is the foundation of the most ridiculous and contemptible vices—the vices of affectation and common lying.

    Adam Smith.

    There is much money given to be laughed at, though the purchasers don’t know it; witness A.’s fine horse, and B.’s fine house.


    There is no limit to the vanity of this world. Each spoke in the wheel thinks the whole strength of the wheel depends upon it.

    H. W. Shaw.

    Vanity in its idler moments is benevolent, is as willing to give pleasure as to take it, and accepts as sufficient reward for its services a kind word or an approving smile.

    Alexander Smith.

    People who are very vain are usually equally susceptible; and they who feel one thing acutely, will so feel another.


    Vanity is as ill at ease under indifference as tenderness is under a love which it cannot return.

    George Eliot.

    Every present occasion will catch the senses of the vain man; and with that bridle and saddle you may ride him.

    Sir P. Sidney.

    It is difficult to divest one’s self of vanity; because impossible to divest one’s self of self-love.

    Horace Walpole.

    If most married women possessed as much prudence as they do vanity, we should find many husbands far happier.


    The vanity of human life is like a river, constantly passing away, and yet constantly coming on.


    In a vain man, the smallest spark may kindle into the greatest flame, because the materials are always prepared for it.


    A vain man can never be altogether rude. Desirous as he is of pleasing, he fashions his manners after those of others.


    Never expect justice from a vain man; if he has the negative magnanimity not to disparage you, it is the most you can expect.

    Washington Allston.

    Ladies of fashion starve their happiness to feed their vanity, and their love to feed their pride.


    Alas, for human nature that the wounds of vanity should smart and bleed so much longer than the wounds of affection!


    Vanity and pride of nations; vanity is as advantageous to a government as pride is dangerous.


    Since the well-known victory over the hare by the tortoise the descendants of the tortoise think themselves miracles of speed.

    Marie Ebner-Eschenbach.

    Vanity is never at its full growth till it spreadeth into affectation, and then it is complete.


    For let us women be never so ill-favored, I imagine that we are always delighted to hear ourselves called handsome.


    Every man’s vanity ought to be his greatest shame; and every man’s folly ought to be his greatest secret.


    I doubt if there ever was a man who was not gratified by being told that he was liked by the women.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Vanity costs money, labor, horses, men, women, health and peace, and is still nothing at last,—a long way leading nowhere.


    It would be next to impossible to discover a handsome woman who was not also a vain woman.


    Greater mischief happens often from folly, meanness, and vanity than from the greater sins of avarice and ambition.


    If you cannot inspire a woman with love of you, fill her above the brim with love of herself; all that runs over will be yours.


    Imperfections would not be half so much taken notice of, if vanity did not make proclamation of them.


    Vanity and dignity are incompatible with each other; vain women are almost sure to be vulnerable.

    Alfred de Musset.

    In condemning the vanity of women, men complain of the fire they themselves have kindled.


    Should I publish any favors done me by your lordship, I am afraid it would look more like vanity than gratitude.


    Vanity is a strong temptation to lying; it makes people magnify their merit, over flourish their family, and tell strange stories of their interest and acquaintance.

    Jeremy Collier.

    Nature has cast but two men in the mould of statesmen,—myself and Mirabeau. After that she broke the mould.


    Vanity is the natural weakness of an ambitious man, which exposes him to the secret scorn and derision of those he converses with, and ruins the character he is so industrious to advance by it.


    All men are selfish, but the vain man is in love with himself. He admires, like the lover his adored one, everything which to others is indifferent.


  • Vain? Let it be so! Nature was her teacher,
  • What if a lovely and unsistered creature
  • Loved her own harmless gift of pleasing feature.
  • O. W. Holmes.

  • Sooth’d with the sound, the king grew vain:
  • Fought all his battles o’er again;
  • And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew the slain.
  • Dryden.

  • Maud Muller looked and sighed: “Ah me!
  • That I the Judge’s bride might be!
  • He would dress me up in silks so fine,
  • And praise and toast me at his wine.”
  • Whittier.

    There is no vice or folly that requires so much nicety and skill to manage as vanity; nor any which by ill management makes so contemptible a figure.


    Does not vanity itself cease to be blamable, is it not even ennobled, when it is directed to laudable objects, when it confines itself to prompting us to great and generous actions?


    There is more jealousy between rival wits than rival beauties, for vanity has no sex. But in both cases there must be pretensions, or there will be no jealousy.


    Every one at the bottom of his heart cherishes vanity; even the toad thinks himself good-looking,—“rather tawny perhaps, but look at his eye!”


    Tell me not of the pain of falsehood to the slandered! There is nothing so agonizing to the fine skin of vanity as the application of a rough truth.


    Scarcely have I ever heard or read the introductory phrase, “I may say without vanity,” but some striking and characteristic instance of vanity has immediately followed.


    When a man has no longer any conception of excellence above his own, his voyage is done, he is dead,—dead in trespasses and sin of blear-eyed vanity.


    Pride is never more offensive than when it condescends to be civil; whereas vanity, whenever it forgets itself, naturally assumes good-humor.


    There is no folly of which a man who is not a fool cannot get rid except vanity; of this nothing cures a man except experience of its bad consequences, if indeed anything can cure it.


    Vanity, indeed, is the very antidote to conceit; for while the former makes us all nerve to the opinion of others, the latter is perfectly satisfied with its opinion of itself.


    Vanity bids all her sons be brave, and all her daughters chaste and courteous. But why do we need her instructions? Ask the comedian who is taught a part which he does not feel.


    The vainest woman is never thoroughly conscious of her beauty till she is loved by the man who sets her own passion vibrating in return.

    George Eliot.

    Our vanities differ as our noses do: all conceit is not the same conceit, but varies in correspondence with the minutiæ of mental make in which one of us differs from another.

    George Eliot.

    Vanity is the poison of agreeableness; yet as poison, when artfully and properly applied, has a salutary effect in medicine, so has vanity in the commerce and society of the world.


    Vanity is the fruit of ignorance. It thrives most in subterranean places, never reached by the air of heaven and the light of the sun.


    False modesty is the masterpiece of vanity: showing the vain man in such an illusory light that he appears in the reputation of the virtue quite opposite to the vice which constitutes his real character; it is a deceit.

    La Bruyère.

    Extinguish vanity in the mind, and you naturally retrench the little superfluities of garniture and equipage. The blossoms will fall of themselves when the root that nourishes them is destroyed.


    False glory is the rock of vanity; it seduces men to affect esteem by things which they indeed possess, but which are frivolous, and which for a man to value himself on would be a scandalous error.

    La Bruyère.

    It is vanity which makes the rake at twenty, the worldly man at forty, and the retired man at sixty. We are not to think that best in general for which we find ourselves best fitted in particular.


  • Ecclesiastes said that “all is vanity,”
  • Most modern preachers say the same, or show it
  • By their examples of true Christianity.
  • In short, all know, or very soon may know it.
  • Byron.

    When we are conscious of the least comparative merit in ourselves, we should take as much care to conceal the value we set upon it, as if it were a real defect; to be elated or vain upon it is showing your money before people in want.

    Colley Cibber.

    The youth who, like a woman, loves to adorn his person, has renounced all claim to wisdom and to glory; glory is due to those only who dare to associate with pain, and have trampled pleasure under their feet.


    Vanity finds in self-love so powerful an ally that it storms, as it were, by a coup de main, the citadel of our heads, where, having blinded the two watchmen, it readily descends into the heart.


    Vanity is so constantly solicitous of self, that even where its own claims are not interested, it indirectly seeks the aliment which it loves, by showing how little is deserved by others.


    Vanity calculates but poorly on the vanity of others; what a virtue we should distil from frailty, what a world of pain we should save our brethren, if we would suffer our own weakness to be the measure of theirs.


    We are so presumptuous that we wish to be known to all the world, even to those who come after us; and we are so vain that the esteem of five or six persons immediately around us is enough to amuse and satisfy us.


    After all, what is vanity? If it means only a certain wish to look one’s best, is it not another name for self-respect? If it means inordinate self-admiration (very rare among persons with some occupation), it is less wicked than absurd.

    Mrs. H. R. Haweis.

    Vanity may be likened to the smooth-skinned and velvet-footed mouse, nibbling about forever in expectation of a crumb; while self-esteem is too apt to take the likeness of the huge butcher’s dog, who carries off your steaks, and growls at you as he goes.


    A weakness natural to superior and to little men, when they have committed a fault, is to wish to make it pass as a work of genius, a vast combination which the vulgar cannot comprehend. Pride says these things and folly credits them.


    I give vanity fair quarter, wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others who are within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity, among the other comforts of life.


    Vanity is so closely allied to virtue, and to love the fame of laudable actions approaches so near the love of laudable actions for their own sake, that these passions are more capable of mixture than any other kinds of affection; and it is almost impossible to have the latter without some degree of the former.


    It was prettily devised of Æsop, the fly sat upon the axletree of the chariot-wheel, and said, “What a dust do I raise!” So are there some vain persons that, whatsoever goeth alone or moveth upon greater means, if they have never so little hand in it, they think it is they that carry it.


    O vanity, how little is thy force acknowledged or thy operations discerned! How wantonly dost thou deceive mankind under different disguises! Sometimes thou dost wear the face of pity; sometimes of generosity; nay, thou hast the assurance to put on those glorious ornaments which belong only to heroic virtue.


    I would much rather fight pride than vanity, because pride has a stand-up way of fighting. You know where it is. It throws its black shadow on you, and you are not at a loss where to strike. But vanity is that delusive, that insectiferous, that multiplied feeling, and men that fight vanities are like men that fight midges and butterflies. It is easier to chase them than to hit them.


    Let her who is full of beauty and admiration, sitting like the queen of flowers in majesty among the daughters of women, let her watch lest vanity enter her heart, beguiling her to rest proudly upon her own strength; let her remember that she standeth upon slippery places, and be not high-minded but fear.

    Mrs. Sigourney.

    There are women vain of advantages not connected with their persons, such as birth, rank, and fortune; it is difficult to feel less the dignity of the sex. The origin of all women may be called celestial, for their power is the offspring of the gifts of Nature; by yielding to pride and ambition they soon destroy the magic of their charms.

    Mme. de Staël.

    Charms, which, like flowers, lie on the surface and always glitter, easily produce vanity; hence women, wits, players, soldiers, are vain, owing to their presence, figure, and dress. On the contrary, other excellences, which lie down like gold and are discovered with difficulty,—strength, profoundness of intellect, morality,—leave their possessors modest and proud.


    The greatest human virtue bears no proportion to human vanity. We always think ourselves better than we are, and are generally desirous that others should think us still better than we think ourselves. To praise us for actions or dispositions which deserve praise is not to confer a benefit, but to pay a tribute. We have always pretensions to fame which, in our own hearts, we know to be disputable, and which we are desirous to strengthen by a new suffrage; we have always hopes which we suspect to be fallacious, and of which we eagerly snatch at every confirmation.