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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

1149 William Shakespeare 1564-1616 John Bartlett

AUTHOR:William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
QUOTATION:Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues
We write in water. 1
ATTRIBUTION:King Henry VIII. Act iv. Sc. 2.  [text]
WORKS:William Shakespeare Collection.
Note 1.
For men use, if they have an evil tourne, to write it in marble; and whoso doth us a good tourne we write it in duste.—Sir Thomas More: Richard III. and his miserable End.

All your better deeds
Shall be in water writ, but this in marble.
Beaumont and Fletcher: Philaster, act v. sc. 3.

L’injure se grave en métal; et le bienfait s’escrit en l’onde.
(An injury graves itself in metal, but a benefit writes itself in water.)
Jean Bertaut. Circa 1611. [back]