Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


The folly of one man is the fortune of another.
Bacon—Of Fortune.

Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l’admire.
A fool always finds one still more foolish to admire him.
Boileau—L’Art Poétique. I. 232.

Fool me no fools.
Bulwer-Lytton—Last Days of Pompeii. Bk. III. Ch. 6.

To swallow gudgeons ere they’re catch’d,
And count their chickens ere they’re hatch’d.
Butler—Hudibras. Pt. II. Canto III. L. 923.

Fools are my theme, let satire be my song.
Byron—English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. L. 6.

Folly loves the martyrdom of Fame.
Byron—Monody on the Death of the Right Hon. R. B. Sheridan. L. 68.

More knave than fool.
Cervantes—Don Quixote. Pt. I. Bk. IV. Ch. 2.

Mas acompañados y paniguados debe di tener la locura que la discrecion.
Folly is wont to have more followers and comrades than discretion.
Cervantes—Don Quixote. II. 13.

Young men think old men are fools; but old men know young men are fools.
Geo. Chapman—All Fools. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 292.

Les plus courtes folies sont les meilleures.
The shortest follies are the best.
Charron—Las Sagesse. Bk. I. Ch. 3.

Fool beckons fool, and dunce awakens dunce.
Churchill—Apology. L. 42.

Stultorum plena sunt omnia.
All places are filled with fools.
Cicero—Epistles. IX. 22.

Culpa enim illa, bis ad eundem, vulgari reprehensa proverbio est.
To stumble twice against the same stone, is a proverbial disgrace.
Cicero—Epistles. X. 20.

Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?
S. L. Clemens (Mark Twain)—Huckleberry Finn. Ch. 26.

A fool must now and then be right by chance.
Cowper—Conversation. L. 96.

The solemn fog; significant and budge;
A fool with judges, amongst fools a judge.
Cowper—Conversation. L. 299.

Defend me, therefore, common sense, say
From reveries so airy, from the toil
Of dropping buckets into empty wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing up.
Cowper—Task. Bk. III. L. 187.

L’exactitude est le sublime des sots.
Exactness is the sublimity of fools.
Attributed to Fontenelle, who disclaimed it.

A fool and a wise man are alike both in the starting-place—their birth, and at the post—their death; only they differ in the race of their lives.
Fuller—The Holy and Profane States. Of Natural Fools. Maxim IV.

A rational reaction against irrational excesses and vagaries of skepticism may***readily degenerate into the rival folly of credulity.
Gladstone—Time and Place of Homer. Introductory.

He is a fool
Who only sees the mischiefs that are past.
Homer—Iliad. Bk. XVII. L. 39. Bryant’s trans.

Stultorum incurata malus pudor ulcera celat.
The shame of fools conceals their open wounds.
Horace—Epistles. I. 16. 24.

Adde cruorem
Stultitiæ, atque ignem gladio scrutare.
To your folly add bloodshed, and stir the fire with the sword.
Horace—Satires. II. 3. 275.

A man may be as much a fool from the want of sensibility as the want of sense.
Mrs. Jameson—Studies. Detached Thoughts. P. 122.

Fears of the brave and follies of the wise.
Samuel Johnson.—Vanity of Human Wishes.

Un fat celui que les sots croient un homme de mérite.
A fool is one whom simpletons believe to be a man of merit.
La Bruyère—Les Caractères. XII.

Hélas! on voit que de tout temps
Les Petits ont pâti des sottises des grands.
Alas! we see that the small have always suffered for the follies of the great.
La Fontaine—Fables. II. 4.

Ce livre n’est pas long, on le voit en une heure;
La plus courte folie est toujours la meilleure.
This book is not long, one may run over it in an hour; the shortest folly is always the best.
La Girandière—Le Recueil des Voyeux Epigrammes.

Qui vit sans folie n’est pas si sage qu’il croit.
He who lives without committing any folly is not so wise as he thinks.
La Rochefoucauld—Maximes. 209.

Un sot n’a pas assez d’étoffe pour être bon.
A fool has not material enough to be good.
La Rochefoucauld—Maximes. 387.

The right to be a cussed fool
Is safe from all devices human,
It’s common (ez a gin’l rule)
To every critter born of woman.
Lowell—The Biglow Papers. Second Series. No. 7. St. 16.

A fool! a fool! my coxcomb for a fool!

I have play’d the fool, the gross fool, to believe
The bosom of a friend will hold a secret
Mine own could not contain.
Massinger—Unnatural Combat. Act V. Sc. 2.

Young men think old men fools, and old men know young men to be so.
Quoted by Camden os a saying of Dr. Metcalf.

Quantum est in rebus inane!
How much folly there is in human affairs.
Persius—Satires. I. 1.

An old doting fool, with one foot already in the grave.
Plutarch—Morals. On the Training of Children.

The rest on outside merit but presume,
Or serve (like other fools) to fill a room.
Pope—Dunciad. Bk. I. L. 136.

So by false learning is good sense defac’d;
Some are bewilder’d in the maze of schools,
And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.
Pope—Essay on Criticism. Pt. I. L. 25.

We think our fathers fools, so wise we grow;
Our wiser sons, no doubt, will think us so.
Pope—Essay on Criticism. Pt. II. L. 438.

For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Pope—Essay on Criticism. Pt. III. L. 66.

The fool is happy that he knows no more.
Pope—Essay on Man. Ep. II. L. 264.

Whether the charmer sinner it, or saint it,
If folly grow romantic, I must paint it.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. II. L. 15.

Die and endow a college or a cat.
Pope—Moral Essays. Ep. III. To Bathurst. L. 96.

No creature smarts so little as a fool.
Pope—Prologue to Satires. L. 84.

Leave such to trifle with more grace and ease,
Whom Folly pleases, and whose Follies please.
Pope—Second Book of Horace. Ep. II. L. 326.

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise.
Proverbs. XVII. 28.

Every fool will be meddling.
Proverbs. XX. 3.

Answer a fool according to his folly.
Proverbs. XXVI. 5.

Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
Proverbs. XXVII. 22.

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.
Psalms. XIV. 1; LIII. 1.

Qui stultis videri eruditi volunt, stulti eruditis videntur.
Those who wish to appear wise among fools, among the wise seem foolish.
Quintilian. X. 7. 22.

After a man has sown his wild oats in the years of his youth, he has still every year to get over a few weeks and days of folly.
Richter—Flower, Fruit, and Thorn Pieces. Bk. II. Ch. V.

Stultus est qui fructus magnarum arborum spectat, altitudinem non metitur.
He is a fool who looks at the fruit of lofty trees, but does not measure their height.
Quintus Curtius Rufus—De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni. VII. 8.

Insipientis est dicere, Non putaram.
It is the part of a fool to say, I should not have thought.
Scipio Africanus. See Cicero. De Off. XXIII. 81. Valerius. Bk. VII. 2. 2.

Where lives the man that has not tried,
How mirth can into folly glide,
And folly into sin!
Scott—Bridal of Triermain. Canto I. St. 21.

Inter cætera mala hoc quoque habet
Stultitia semper incipit vivere.
Among other evils folly has also this, that it is always beginning to live.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. 13.

Sir, for a quart d’écu he will sell the fee-simple of his salvation, the inheritance of it; and cut the entail from all remainders.
All’s Well That Ends Well. Act IV. Sc. 3. L. 311.

A fool, a fool! I met a fool i’ the forest,
A motley fool; a miserable world!
As I do live by food, I met a fool;
Who laid him down and bask’d him in the sun.
As You Like It. Act II. Sc. 7. L. 12.

O noble fool!
A worthy fool! Motley’s the only wear.
As You Like It. Act II. Sc. 7. L. 33.

I had rather have a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad: and to travel for it too!
As You Like It. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 26.

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
As You Like It. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 34.

Fools are not mad folks.
Cymbeline. Act II. Sc. 3. L. 105.

Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool nowhere but in ’s own house.
Hamlet. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 134.

Well, thus we play the fools with the time, and the spirits of the wise sit in the clouds and mock us.
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 154.

How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act V. Sc. 5. L. 52.

A fool’s bolt is soon shot.
Henry V. Act III. Sc. 7. L. 132.

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.
Merchant of Venice. Act III. Sc. 5. L. 71.

Lord, what fools these mortals be!
Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 115.

To wisdom he’s a fool that will not yield.
Pericles. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 54.

This fellow is wise enough to play the fool;
And to do that well craves a kind of wit.
Twelfth Night. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 67.

Marry, sir, they praise me and make an ass of me; now my foes tell me plainly I am an ass; so that by my foes, sir, I profit in the knowledge of myself.
Twelfth Night. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 19.

I hold him but a fool that will endanger
His body for a girl that loves him not.
Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act V. Sc. 4. L. 133.

You may as well
Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
As or by oath remove or counsel shake
The fabric of his folly.
Winter’s Tale. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 426.

’Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
’Tis by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.
E. R. Sill—The Fool’s Prayer.

He has spent all his life in letting down empty buckets into empty wells, and he is frittering away his age in trying to draw them up again.
Sydney Smith—Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. I. P. 259.

For take thy ballaunce if thou be so wise,
And weigh the winde that under heaven doth blow;
Or weigh the light that in the east doth rise;
Or weigh the thought that from man’s mind doth flow.
Spenser—Faerie Queene. Bk. V. Canto II. St. 43.

He had been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw, inclement summers.
Swift—Gulliver’s Travels. Pt. III. Ch. V. Voyage to Laputa.

Chi conta i colpi e la dovuta offesa,
Mentr’ arde la tenzon, misura e pesa?
A fool is he that comes to preach or prate,
When men with swords their right and wrong debate.
Tasso—Gerusalemme. V. 57.

Le sot est comme le peuple, qui se croit riche de peu.
The fool is like those people who think themselves rich with little.
Vauvenargues—Réflexions. CCLX.

Qui se croit sage, ô ciel! est un grand fou.
He who thinks himself wise, O heavens! is a great fool.
Voltaire—Le Droit du Seigneur. IV. 1.

The greatest men
May ask a foolish question, now and then.
John Wolcot—The Apple Dumpling and the King.

Be wise with speed;
A fool at forty is a fool indeed.
Young—Love of Fame. Satire II. L. 281.

At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night I. L. 417.

To climb life’s worn, heavy wheel
Which draws up nothing new.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night III.

Men may live fools, but fools they cannot die.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night IV. Last line.

We bleed, we tremble; we forget, we smile—
The mind turns fool, before the cheek is dry.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night V. L. 511.