S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.


I have been tired with accounts from sensible men, furnished with matters of fact which have happened within their own knowledge.

Joseph Addison.

Benjamin Busy, of London, merchant, was indicted by Jasper Tattle, Esquire, for having pulled out his watch, and looked upon it thrice, while the said Esquire Tattle was giving him an account of the funeral of the said Esquire Tattle’s first wife. The prisoner alleged in his defence, that he was going to buy stocks at the time when he met the prosecutor; and that, during the story of the prosecutor, the said stocks rose above two per cent., to the great detriment of the prisoner. The prisoner farther brought several witnesses to prove that the said Jasper Tattle, Esquire, was a most notorious story-teller; that, before he met the prisoner, he had hindered one of the prisoner’s acquaintance from the pursuit of his lawful business, with the account of his second marriage; and that he had detained another by the button of his coat that very morning until he had heard several witty sayings and contrivances of the prosecutor’s eldest son, who was a boy of about five years of age.

Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele: Tatler, No. 265.

Never hold any one by the button or the hand in order to be heard out; for if people are unwilling to hear you, you had better hold your tongue than them.

Lord Chesterfield.

If we engage into a large acquaintance and various familiarities, we set open our gates to the invaders of most of our time; we expose our life to a quotidian ague of frigid impertinencies which would make a wise man tremble to think of.

Abraham Cowley.

He is somewhat arrogant at his first entrance, and too inquisitive through the whole; yet these imperfections hinder not our compassion.

These, wanting wit, affect gravity, and go by the name of solid men.

I have no objection whatever to being a bore. My experience of the world has shown me that, upon the whole, a bore gets on much better in it, and is much more respected and permanently popular, than what is called a clever man. A few restless people, with an un-English appetite for perpetual variety, have combined to set up the bore as a species of bugbear to frighten themselves, and have rashly imagined that the large majority of their fellow-creatures could see clearly enough to look at the formidable creature with their eyes. Never did any small minority make any greater mistake as to the real extent of its influence! English society has a placid enjoyment in being bored. If any man tells me that this is a paradox, I, in return, defy him to account on any other theory for three-fourths of the so-called recreations which are accepted as at once useful and amusing by the British nation.

Household Words.

I am constitutionally susceptible of noises. A carpenter’s hammer, in a warm summer’s noon, will fret me into more than midsummer madness. But those unconnected, unset sounds are nothing to the measured malice of music.

It is one of the vexatious mortifications of a studious man to have his thoughts disordered by a tedious visit.

Roger L’Estrange.

It is with some so hard a thing to employ their time, that it is a great good fortune when they have a friend indisposed, that they may be punctual in perplexing him, when he is recovered enough to be in that state which cannot be called sickness or health; when he is too well to deny company, and too ill to receive them. It is no uncommon case, if a man is of any figure or power in the world, to be congratulated into a relapse.

Sir Richard Steele, Tatler, No. 89.

There is a sort of littleness in the minds of men of strong sense, which makes them much more insufferable than mere fools, and has the farther inconvenience of being attended by an endless loquacity; for which reason it would be a very proper work if some well-wisher to human society would consider the terms upon which people meet in public places, in order to prevent the unseasonable declamations which we meet there. I remember, in my youth, it was the humour at the university, when a fellow pretended to be more eloquent than ordinary, and had formed to himself a plot to gain all our admiration, or triumph over us with an argument, to either of which he had no manner of call; I say, in either of these cases, it was the humour to shut one eye. This whimsical way of taking notice to him of his absurdity has prevented many a man from being a coxcomb. If amongst us, on such an occasion, each man offered a voluntary rhetorician some snuff, it would probably produce the same effect.

Sir Richard Steele: Tatler, No. 197.

It is an unreasonable thing some men expect of their acquaintance. They are ever complaining that they are out of order, or displeased, or they know not how, and are so far from letting that be a reason for retiring to their own homes, that they make it their argument for coming into company. What has anybody to do with accounts of a man’s being indisposed but his physician? If a man laments in company, where the rest are in humour to enjoy themselves, he should not take it ill if a servant is ordered to present him with a porringer of caudle or posset-drink, by way of admonition that he go home to bed.

Sir Richard Steele: Spectator, No. 143.