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


The price of wisdom is above rubies.


Wisdom is the health of the soul.

Victor Hugo.

Wisdom adorns riches, and shadows poverty.


Wisdom is only found in truth.


Be wisely worldly, but not worldly wise.


He is wise that is wise to himself.


The wise man is but a clever infant.


Wisdom is the repose of the mind.


Wisdom,—a man’s best friend.


Wisdom is the abstract of the past.

O. W. Holmes.

Wisdom alone is a science of other sciences and of itself.


Wisdom and eloquence are not always united.

Victor Hugo.

The wisest among us is a fool in some things.


All human wisdom, to divine, is folly.

Sir J. Denham.

Who are a little wise the best fools be.


Wisdom comes to no one by chance.


The heart is wiser than the intellect.

J. G. Holland.

Wisdom is seldom gained without suffering.

Sir Arthur Helps.

He that never thinks can never be wise.


Wisdom sits with children round her knees.


For never, never wicked man was wise.


In youth and beauty wisdom is but rare!


Wisdom is the conqueror of fortune.


Whoever is not too wise, is wise.


Wise men say nothing in dangerous times.

John Selden.

Wisdom is infused into every form.


As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.


No one is wise at all times.

Pliny the Elder.

A word to the wise is sufficient.


’Tis held that sorrow makes us wise.


Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile.


Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.


It is great folly to wish only to be wise.

La Rochefoucauld.

Knowledge is the parent of love; wisdom, love itself.

J. C. and A. W. Hare.

No man is wise enough by himself.


You read of but one wise man; and all that he knew was—that he knew nothing.


Wisdom is to the soul what health is to the body.

La Rochefoucauld.

The wise man is seldom prudent.

Marie Ebner-Eschenbach.

Wisdom is rare, Lorenzo! wit abounds.


Dare to be wise.


Body cannot teach wisdom; God only.


No man can be wise on an empty stomach.

George Eliot.

Wisdom may be the ultimate arbiter, but is seldom the immediate agent in human affairs.

Sir J. Stephen.

Give tribute, but not oblation, to human wisdom.

Sir P. Sidney.

Wisdom views with an indifferent eye all finite joys, all blessings born to die.

Hannah More.

Great is wisdom; infinite is the value of wisdom. It cannot be exaggerated; it is the highest achievement of man.


A man’s wisdom is his best friend; folly, his worst enemy.

Sir W. Temple.

Man’s chief wisdom consists in being sensible of his follies.

La Rochefoucauld.

Call him wise whose actions, words, and steps are all a clear because to a clear why.


The glory and increase of wisdom stands in exercising it.

Sir P. Sidney.

  • But they whom truth and wisdom lead
  • Can gather honey from a weed.
  • Cowper.

    We become wiser by adversity; prosperity destroys our appreciation of the right.


    You will cast away your cards and dice when you find the sweetness of youthful learning.

    Richard Baxter.

    The wisest man is generally he who thinks himself the least so.


    The wisdom of one generation will be folly in the next.


    Who then is free? The wise man who can govern himself.


    It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    It is not wise to be wiser than is necessary.


  • On every thorn, delightful wisdom grows,
  • In every rill a sweet instruction flows.
  • Young.

    It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.


    He who has once been very foolish will at no other time be very wise.


  • Be wise with speed;
  • A fool at forty is a fool indeed.
  • Montaigne.

  • Teach me my days to number, and apply
  • My trembling heart to wisdom.
  • Young.

    He gains wisdom in a happy way who gains it by another’s experience.


    Our wisdom is no less at fortune’s mercy than our wealth.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Nothing can be truer than fairy wisdom. It is as true as sunbeams.

    Douglas Jerrold.

    By wisdom wealth is won; but riches purchased wisdom yet for none.

    Bayard Taylor.

    The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance.


    The wisdom of women comes to them by inspiration, their folly by premeditation.

    Dumas, Père.

    Full oft we see cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.


  • Be wise;
  • Soar not too high to fall; but stoop to rise.
  • Massinger.

    I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.


    How prone to doubt, how cautious are the wise!


    Wisdom is the talent of buying virtuous pleasures at the cheapest rate.


    The weak have remedies, the wise have joys; superior wisdom is superior bliss.


    The bearings of this observation lays in the application on it.


    Wisdom no more consists in science than happiness in wealth.

    De Boufflers.

    Wisdom makes but a slow defence against trouble, though at last a sure one.


    Wisdom is ofttimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar.


    To know that which before us lies in daily life is the prime of wisdom.


    A man must become wise at his own expense.


    Look about, my son, and see how little wisdom it takes to govern the world.


    True wisdom is to know what is best worth knowing, and to do what is best worth doing.


    The end of wisdom is consultation and deliberation.


    As you are old and reverend, you should be wise.


    With wisdom fraught; not such as books, but such as practice taught.


    Common sense is an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom.


    So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.


  • Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much;
  • Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.
  • Cowper.

  • What in me is dark,
  • Illumine, what is low, raise and support.
  • Milton.

    Seize wisdom ere ’tis torment to be wise; that is, seize wisdom ere she seizes thee.


    Go, wiser thou! and in thy scale of sense weigh thy opinion against Providence.


  • In idle wishes fools supinely stay;
  • Be there a will, then wisdom finds a way.
  • Shakespeare.

    So wise, so young, they say, do never live long.


    A man cannot learn to be wise any more than he can learn to be handsome.

    H. W. Shaw.

    Modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise.


    He is oft the wisest man who is not wise at all.


    Wisdom consists not no much in seeing as in foreseeing.

    Hosea Ballou.

    Thank God, men that are greatly guilty are never wise.


    Wisdom and love do not take up their abode in the same breast.

    Emile Souvestre.

    In seeking wisdom thou art wise: in imagining that thou hast attained it, thou art a fool.

    Rabbi Ben Azai.

    Wisdom deprives even poverty of half its power.

    H. W. Shaw.

    Accomplishments have taken virtue’s place, and wisdom falls before exterior grace.


    It is a little learning, and but a little, which makes men conclude hastily.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    Wisdom! I bless thy gentle sway, and ever, ever will obey.

    Mrs. Barbauld.

    What doth better become wisdom than to discern what is worthy the living.

    Sir P. Sidney.

    Preceptive wisdom that has not been vivified by life has in itself no affinity for life.

    J. G. Holland.

    Certainly the greatest scholars are not the wisest men.


    It’s not enough plagues, wars, and famine rise to lash our crimes, but must our wives be wise?


    Wisdom is neither gold, nor silver, nor fame, nor wealth, nor health, nor strength, nor beauty.


    Extremes of fortune are true wisdom’s test, and he’s of men most wise who bears them best.


  • The bearing and the training of a child
  • Is woman’s wisdom.
  • Tennyson.

  • The stream from Wisdom’s well,
  • Which God supplies, is inexhaustible.
  • Bayard Taylor.

  • Wisdom and Goodness are twin born, one heart
  • Most hold both sisters, never seen apart.
  • Cowper.

    Nor is he the wisest man who never proved himself a fool.


    He who exercises wisdom exercises the knowledge which is about God.


    If wisdom was to cease throughout the world, no one would suspect himself of ignorance.


    He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.


    He is wise who can instruct us and assist us in the business of daily virtuous living.


    Wisdom is everlasting; early or late we apprehend her still the same.

    Frederic W. H. Myers.

    A man of virtue, judgment, and prudence speaks not until there is silence.


    The only jewel which you can carry beyond the grave is wisdom.

    James Alfred Langford.

    Wisdom consists not in seeing what is directly before us, but in discerning those things which may come to pass.


    He who learns the rules of wisdom, without conforming to them in his life, is like a man who labored in his fields, but did not sow.


    The fool is willing to pay for anything but wisdom. No man buys that of which he supposes himself to have an abundance already.


    A wise man will always be a Christian, because the perfection of wisdom is to know where lies tranquillity of mind and how to attain it, which Christianity teaches.


    These are the signs of a wise man: to reprove nobody, to praise nobody, to blame nobody, nor even to speak of himself or his own merits.


    If thou kiss Wisdom’s cheek and make her thine, she will breathe into thy lips divinity, and thou, like Phœbus, shalt speak oracle.


    The sublimity of wisdom is to do those things living which are to be desired when dying.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    Wisdom is the olive that springeth from the heart, bloometh on the tongue, and beareth fruit in the actions.


    Wisdom consists in rising superior both to madness and to common sense, and in lending one’s self to the universal delusion without becoming its dupe.


    The highest conceptions of the sages, who, in order to arrive at them, had to live many days, have become the milk for babes.


  • True wisdom, laboring to expound, heareth others readily;
  • False wisdom, sturdy to deny, closeth up her mind to argument.
  • Tupper.

    To be wiser than other men is to be honester than they; and strength of mind is only courage to see and speak the truth.


    Human wisdom is the aggregate of all human experience, constantly accumulating and selecting and reorganizing its own materials.

    Judge Joseph Story.

  • Wisdom and fortune combating together,
  • If that the former dare but what it can,
  • No chance may shake it.
  • Shakespeare.

    Much of this world’s wisdom is still acquired by necromancy,—by consulting the oracular dead.


  • But wisdom, awful wisdom! which inspects,
  • Discerns, compares, weighs, separates, infers,
  • Seizes the right, and holds it to the last.
  • Young.

    The first point of wisdom is to discern that which is false; the second, to know that which is true.


  • But to know
  • That which before us lies in daily life,
  • Is the prime wisdom.
  • Milton.

    In the common run of mankind, for one that is wise and good you find ten of a contrary character.


    Well, God give them wisdom that have it; and those that are fools, let them use their talents.


    Were wisdom to be sold, she would give no price; every man is satisfied with the share he has from nature.

    Henry Home.

    The clouds may drop down titles and estates, wealth may seek us; but wisdom must be sought.


    He who considers himself a paragon of wisdom is sure to commit some superlatively stupid act.

    Ludwig Tieck.

  • What is it to be wise?
  • ’Tis but to know how little can be known,
  • To see all others’ faults, and feel our own.
  • Pope.

    To one it is the mighty heavenly goddess; to another it is an excellent cow that furnishes him with milk.


    We ought not to judge of men’s merits by their qualifications, but by the use they make of them.


  • Socrates***
  • Whom, well inspir’d, the oracle pronounc’d
  • Wisest of men.
  • Milton.

    Teach a man to read and write, and you have put into his hands the great keys of the wisdom-box.


    In strictness of language there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom; wisdom always supposing action, and action directed by it.


    If wisdom were conferred with this proviso, that I must keep it to myself and not communicate it to others, I would have none of it.


    May I deem the wise man rich, and may I have such a portion of gold as none but a prudent man can either bear or employ!


    The wise man is but a clever infant, spelling letters from a hieroglyphical prophetic book, the lexicon of which lies in eternity.

    T. Carlyle.

    Talk not to me of the wisdom of women,—I know my own sex well; the wisest of us all are but little less foolish than the rest.

    Mary, Queen of Scots.

    When a man seems to be wise, it is merely that his follies are proportionate to his age and fortune.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Knowledge is the treasure of the mind, but discretion is the key to it, without which it is useless. The practical part of wisdom is the best.

    Owen Feltham.

    There is this difference between happiness and wisdom: he that thinks himself the happiest man is really so; but he that thinks himself the wisest is generally the greatest fool.


  • Man thinks
  • Brutes have no wisdom, since they know not his:
  • Can we divine their world?
  • George Eliot.

    The god, men, seems to me to be really wise; and by his oracle to mean this, that the wisdom of this world is foolishness and of none effect.


  • Wisdom, though richer than Peruvian mines,
  • And sweeter than the sweet ambrosial hive,
  • What is she, but the means of happiness?
  • That unobtain’d, than folly more a fool.
  • Young.

    The most manifest sign of wisdom is a continual cheerfulness; her state is like that of things in the regions above the moon, always clear and serene.


    The sea does not contain all the pearls, the earth does not enclose all the treasures, and the flint-stone does not inclose all the diamonds, since the head of man encloses wisdom.


    For knowledge to become wisdom, and for the soul to grow, the soul must be rooted in God: and it is through prayer that there comes to us that which is the strength of our strength, and the virtue of our virtue, the Holy Spirit.

    Wm. Mountford.

    No man is the wiser for his learning; it may administer matter to work in, or objects to work upon; but wit and wisdom are born with a man.


    Wisdom and understanding are synonymous words; they consist of two propositions, which are not distinct in sense, but one and the same thing variously expressed.


  • All foreign wisdom doth amount to this,
  • To take all that is given, whether wealth,
  • Or love, or language; nothing comes amiss:
  • A good digestion turneth all to health.
  • Herbert.

    As whole caravans may light their lamps from one candle without exhausting it, so myriads of tribes may gain wisdom from the great Book without impoverishing it.

    Rabbi Ben Azai.

    Be still, then, thou uneasy mortal; know that God is unerringly wise; and be assured that, amidst the greatest multiplicity of beings, He does not overlook thee.

    James Hervey.

    Some men are counted wise from the cunning manner in which they hide their ignorance. In what little they do know such men play the pedant.

    A. Ricard.

    Wisdom consisteth not in knowing many things, nor even in knowing them thoroughly; but in choosing and in following what conduces the most certainly to our lasting happiness and true glory.


    It may be said, almost without qualification, that true wisdom consists in the ready and accurate perception of analogies. Without the former quality, knowledge of the past is uninstructive; without the latter it is deceptive.


    The true greatness and the true happiness of a country consist in wisdom; in that enlarged and comprehensive wisdom which includes education, knowledge, religion, virtue, freedom, with every influence which advances and every institution which supports them.

    Henry Giles.

    Wisdom is the only thing which can relieve us from the sway of the passions and the fear of danger, and which can teach us to bear the injuries of fortune itself with moderation, and which shows us all the ways which lead to tranquillity and peace.


  • Though wisdom wake, suspicion sleeps
  • At wisdom’s gate, and to simplicity
  • Resigns her charge, while goodness thinks no ill
  • Where no ill seems.
  • Milton.

    Wisdom, sits alone, topmost in heaven: she is its light, its God; and in the heart of man she sits as high, though groveling minds forget her oftentimes, seeing but this world’s idols.

    N. P. Willis.

  • Wouldst thou wisely, and with pleasure,
  • Pass the days of life’s short measure,
  • From the slow one counsel take,
  • But a tool of him ne’er make;
  • Ne’er as friend the swift one know,
  • Nor the constant one as foe.
  • Schiller.

    Wisdom is like electricity. There is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses rubbed acquire electric power for a while.


  • Few and precious are the words which the lips of Wisdom utter.
  • To what shall their rarity be likened? What price shall count their worth?
  • Perfect and much to be desired, and giving joy with riches,
  • No lovely thing on earth can picture all their beauty.
  • Tupper.

    The question is, whether, like the Divine Child in the temple, we are turning knowledge into wisdom, and whether, understanding more of the mysteries of life, we are feeling more of its sacred law; and whether, having left behind the priests and the scribes and the doctors and the fathers, we are about our Father’s business, and becoming wise to God.

    F. W. Robertson.

    Whoever is wise is apt to suspect and be diffident of himself, and upon that account is willing to “hearken unto counsel”; whereas the foolish man, being in proportion to his folly full of himself, and swallowed up in conceit, will seldom take any counsel but his own, and for that very reason, because it is his own.


    Wisdom for a man’s self is, in many branches thereof, a depraved thing; it is the wisdom of rats, that will be sure to leave a house somewhat before it fall; it is the wisdom of the fox, that thrusts out the badger who digged and made room for him; it is the wisdom of crocodiles, that shed tears when they would devour.


    Human wisdom makes as ill use of her talent when she exercises it in rescinding from the number and sweetness of those pleasures that are naturally our due, as she employs it favorably and well in artificially disguising and tricking out the ills of life to alleviate the sense of them.


    That man strangely mistakes the manner of spirit he is of who knows not that peaceableness, and gentleness, and mercy, as well as purity, are inseparable characteristics of the wisdom that is from above; and that Christian charity ought never to be sacrificed even for the promotion of evangelical truth.

    Bishop Mant.

    Every moment instructs, and every object; for wisdom is infused into every form. It has been poured into us as blood; it convulsed us as pain; it slid into us as pleasure; it enveloped us in dull, melancholy days, or in days of cheerful labor; we did not guess its essence until after long time.


    Wisdom is a fox who, after long hunting, will at last cost you the pains to dig out; it is a cheese which, by how much the richer, had the thicker, the homlier, and the coarser coat; and whereof to a judicious palate, the maggots are best. It is a sack posset, wherein the deeper you go, you’ll find it the sweeter. Wisdom is a hen, whose cackling we must value and consider, because it is attended with an egg. But lastly, it is a nut, which, unless you choose with judgment, may cost you a tooth, and pay you with nothing but a worm.


    Socrates was pronounced by the Oracle of Delphos to be the wisest man in Greece, which he would turn from himself ironically, saying there could be nothing in him to verify the oracle, except this, that he was not wise and knew it, and others were not wise and knew it not.


  • “The Prophet’s words were true;
  • The mouth of Ali is the golden door
  • Of Wisdom,”
  • When his friends to Ali bore
  • These words, he smiled and said: “And should they ask
  • The same until my dying day, the task
  • Were easy; for the stream from Wisdom’s well,
  • Which God supplies, is inexhaustible.”
  • Bayard Taylor.

  • But these are foolish things to all the wise,
  • And I love wisdom more than she loves me;
  • My tendency is to philosophise
  • On most things, from a tyrant to a tree;
  • But still the spouseless virgin Knowledge flies,
  • What are we? and whence come we? what shall be
  • Our ultimate existence? What’s our present?
  • Are questions answerless, and yet incessant.
  • Byron.

  • Vain man would trace the mystic maze
  • With foolish wisdom, arguing, charge his God,
  • His balance hold, and guide his angry rod,
  • New-mould the spheres, and mend the skies’ design,
  • And sound th’ immense with his short scanty line.
  • Do thou, my soul, the destined period wait,
  • When God shall solve the dark decrees of fate,
  • His now unequal dispensation clear,
  • And make all wise and beautiful appear.
  • Tickell.

    Happy is the man that findest wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding: for the merchandise of it in better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her.


  • Where the eye of pity weeps,
  • And the sway of passion sleeps,
  • Where the lamp of faith is burning,
  • And the ray or hope returning,
  • Where the “still small voice” within
  • Whispers not of wrath or sin,
  • Resting with the righteous dead—
  • Beaming o’er the drooping head—
  • Comforting the lowly mind,
  • Wisdom dwelleth—seek and find.
  • J. F. H.

  • I’ll tell the names and sayings and the places of their birth,
  • Of the seven great ancient sages so renowned on Grecian earth,
  • The Lindian Cleobulus said, “The mean was still the best;”
  • The Spartan Chilo, “Know thyself,” a heaven-born phrase confessed.
  • Corinthian Periander taught “Our anger to command,”
  • “Too much of nothing,” Pittacus, from Mitylenes’ strand;
  • Athenian Solon this advised, “Look to the end of life,”
  • And Bias from Priene showed, “Bad men are the most rife;”
  • Milesian Thales urged that “None should e’er a surety be;”
  • Few were their words, but if you look, you’ll much in little see.
  • From the Greek (author unknown).

    Those things on which philosophy has set its seal are beyond the reach of injury; no age will discard them or lessen their force, each succeeding century will add somewhat to the respect in which they are held; for we look upon what is near us with jealous eyes, but we admire what is further off with less prejudice. The wise man’s life, therefore, includes much; he is not hedged in by the same limits which confine others; he alone is exempt from the laws by which mankind is governed; all ages serve him like a god. If any time be past he recalls it by his memory; if it be present he uses it, if it be future he anticipates it; his life is a long one because he concentrates all times into it.