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


The circumstance which gives authors an advantage above all these great masters, is this, that they can multiply their originals; or rather, can make copies of their works, to what number they please, which shall be as valuable as the originals themselves.
Addison—The Spectator. No. 166.

Write to the mind and heart, and let the ear
Glean after what it can.
Bailey—Festus. Sc. Home.

Indeed, unless a man can link his written thoughts with the everlasting wants of men, so that they shall draw from them as from wells, there is no more immortality to the thoughts and feelings of the soul than to the muscles and the bones.
Henry Ward Beecher—Star Papers. Oxford. Bodleian Library.

There is probably no hell for authors in the next world—they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this.
Bovee—Summaries of Thought. Authors.

A man of moderate Understanding, thinks he writes divinely: A man of good Understanding, thinks he writes reasonably.
La Bruyère—The Characters or Manners of the Present Age. Ch. I.

A man starts upon a sudden, takes Pen, Ink, and Paper, and without ever having had a thought of it before, resolves within himself he will write a Book; he has no Talent at Writing, but he wants fifty Guineas.
La Bruyère—The Characters or Manners of the Present Age. Ch. XV.

And so I penned
It down, until at last it came to be,
For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.
Bunyan—Pilgrim’s Progress. Apology for his Book.

Writers, especially when they act in a body and with one direction, have great influence on the public mind.
Burke—Reflections on the Revolution in France.

The book that he has made renders its author this service in return, that so long as the book survives, its author remains immortal and cannot die.
Richard de Bury—Philobiblon. Ch. I. 21. E. C. Thomas’ trans.

And force them, though it was in spite
Of Nature and their stars, to write.
Butler—Hudibras. Pt. I. Canto I. L. 647.

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling, like dew, upon a thought produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions think.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto III. St. 88.

But every fool describes, in these bright days,
His wondrous journey to some foreign court,
And spawns his quarto, and demands your praise,—
Death to his publisher, to him ’tis sport.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto V. St. 52.

And hold up to the sun my little taper.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto XII. St. 21.

Dear authors! suit your topics to your strength,
And ponder well your subject, and its length;
Nor lift your load, before you’re quite aware
What weight your shoulders will, or will not, bear.
Byron—Hints from Horace. L. 59.

La pluma es lengua del alma.
The pen is the tongue of the mind.
Cervantes—Don Quixote. V. 16.

Apt Alliteration’s artful aid.
Churchill—The Prophecy of Famine. L. 86.

That writer does the most, who gives his reader the most knowledge, and takes from him the least time.
C. C. Colton—Lacon. Preface.

Habits of close attention, thinking heads,
Become more rare as dissipation spreads,
Till authors hear at length one general cry
Tickle and entertain us, or we die!
Cowper—Retirement. L. 707.

None but an author knows an author’s cares,
Or Fancy’s fondness for the child she bears.
Cowper—The Progress of Error. L. 518.

So that the jest is clearly to be seen,
Not in the words—but in the gap between;
Manner is all in all, whate’er is writ,
The substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
Cowper—Table Talk. L. 540.

Oh! rather give me commentators plain,
Who with no deep researches vex the brain;
Who from the dark and doubtful love to run,
And hold their glimmering tapers to the sun.
Crabbe—The Parish Register. Pt. I. Introduction.

Aucun fiel n’a jamais empoisonné ma plume.
No gall has ever poisoned my pen.
Crébillon—Discours de Réception.

Smelling of the lamp.

“Gracious heavens!” he cries out, leaping up and catching hold of his hair, “whats this? Print!”
Dickens—Christmas Stories. Somebody’s Luggage. Ch. III.

And choose an author as you choose a friend.
Wentworth Dillon—Essay on Translated Verse. L. 96.

The men, who labour and digest things most,
Will be much apter to despond than boast;
For if your author be profoundly good,
’Twill cost you dear before he’s understood.
Wentworth Dillon—Essay on Translated Verse. L. 163.

When I want to read a book I write one.
Attributed to Benj. Disraeli in a review of Lothair in Blackwood’s Magazine.

The author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.
Benj. Disraeli—Speech. Nov. 19, 1870.

The unhappy man, who once has trail’d a pen,
Lives not to please himself, but other men;
Is always drudging, wastes his life and blood,
Yet only eats and drinks what you think good.
Dryden—Prologue to Lee’s Cæsar Borgia.

All writing comes by the grace of God, and all doing and having.
Emerson—Essays. Of Experience.

For no man can write anything who does not think that what he writes is, for the time, the history of the world.
Emerson—Essays. Of Nature.

The lover of letters loves power too.
Emerson—Society and Solitude. Clubs.

The writer, like a priest, must be exempted from secular labor. His work needs a frolic health; he must be at the top of his condition.
Emerson—Poetry and Imagination. Creation.

Like his that lights a candle to the sun.
Fletcher—Letter to Sir Walter Aston.

Les sots font le texte, et les hommes d’esprit les commentaires.
Fools make the text, and men of wit the commentaries.
Abbé Galiani—Of Politics.

Envy’s a sharper spur than pay:
No author ever spar’d a brother;
Wits are gamecocks to one another.
Gay—The Elephant and the Bookseller. L. 74.

The most original modern authors are not so because they advance what is new, but simply because they know how to put what they have to say, as if it had never been said before.

One writer, for instance, excels at a plan, or a title-page, another works away the body of the book, and a third is a dab at an index.
Goldsmith—The Bee. No. 1. Oct. 6, 1759.

“The Republic of Letters” is a very common expression among the Europeans.
Goldsmith—Citizen of the World. 20.

Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered Muse.
Gray—Elegy. 20.

His [Burke’s] imperial fancy has laid all nature under tribute, and has collected riches from every scene of the creation and every walk of art.
Robert Hall—Apology for the Freedom of the Press. Sec. IV.

Whatever an author puts between the two covers of his book is public property; whatever of himself he does not put there is his private property, as much as if he had never written a word.
Gail Hamilton—Country Living and Country Thinking. Preface.

Sumite materiam vestris, qui scribitis, æquam Viribus.
Ye who write, choose a subject suited to your abilities.
Horace—Ars Poetica. 38.

Tantum series juncturaque pollet.
Of so much force are system and connection.
Horace—Ars Poetica. 242.

Scribendi recte sapere est et principium et fons.
Knowledge is the foundation and source of good writing.
Horace—Ars Poetica. 309.

Nonumque prematur in annum.
Let it (what you have written) be kept back until the ninth year.
Horace—Ars Poetica. 388.

But every little busy scribbler now
Swells with the praises which he gives himself;
And, taking sanctuary in the crowd,
Brags of his impudence, and scorns to mend.
Horace—Of the Art of Poetry. 475. Wentworth Dillon’s trans.

Deferar in vicum vendentem thus et odores,
Et piper, et quicquid chartis amicitur ineptis.
I (i.e. my writings) shall be consigned to that part of the town where they sell incense, and scents, and pepper, and whatever is wrapped up in worthless paper.
Horace—Epistles. Bk. II. I. 269.

Piger scribendi ferre laborem;
Scribendi recte, nam ut multum nil moror.
Too indolent to bear the toil of writing; I mean of writing well; I say nothing about quantity.
Horace—Satires. I. 4. 12.

Sæpe stilum vertas, iterum quæ digna legi sint Scripturus.
Often turn the stile [correct with care], if you expect to write anything worthy of being read twice.
Horace—Satires. I. 10. 72.

Written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond.
Jeremiah. XVII. 1.

He [Milton] was a Phidias that could cut a Colossus out of a rock, but could not cut heads out of cherry stones.
Samuel Johnson, according to Hannah More. (1781).

Each change of many-coloured life he drew,
Exhausted worlds and then imagined new:
Existence saw him spurn her bounded reign,
And panting Time toil’d after him in vain.
Samuel Johnson—Prologue on the Opening of the Drury Lane Theatre.

The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.
Samuel Johnson—Preface to Dictionary.

There are two things which I am confident I can do very well; one is an introduction to any literary work, stating what it is to contain, and how it should be executed in the most perfect manner.
Samuel Johnson—Boswell’s Life of Johnson. (1755).

A man may write at any time if he set himself doggedly to it.
Samuel Johnson—Boswell’s Life of Johnson. (1773).

No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.
Samuel Johnson—Boswell’s Life of Johnson. (1776).

Tenet insanabile multo
Scribendi cacoëthes, et ægro in corde senescit.
An incurable itch for scribbling takes possession of many, and grows inveterate in their insane breasts.
Juvenal—Satires. VII. 51.

Damn the age; I will write for Antiquity.
Charles Lamb—Bon Mots by Charles Lamb and Douglas Jerrold. Ed. by Walter Jerrold.

To write much, and to write rapidly, are empty boasts. The world desires to know what you have done, and not how you did it.
George Henry Lewes—The Spanish Drama. Ch. III.

If you once understand an author’s character, the comprehension of his writings becomes easy.
Longfellow—Hyperion. Bk. I. Ch. V.

Perhaps the greatest lesson which the lives of literary men teach us is told in a single word: Wait!
Longfellow—Hyperion. Bk. I. Ch. VIII.

Whatever hath been written shall remain,
Nor be erased nor written o’er again;
The unwritten only still belongs to thee:
Take heed, and ponder well what that shall be.
Longfellow—Morituri Salutamus. L. 168.

Look, then, into thine heart and write!
Longfellow—Voices of the Night. Prelude. St. 19.

It may be glorious to write
Thoughts that shall glad the two or three
High souls, like those far stars that come in sight
Once in a century.
Lowell—An Incident in a Railroad Car.

He that commeth in print because he woulde be knowen, is like the foole that commeth into the Market because he woulde be seen.
Lyly—Euphues. The Anatomy of Wit. To the Gentlemen Readers.

He who writes prose builds his temple to Fame in rubble; he who writes verses builds it in granite.
Bulwer-Lytton—Caxtoniana. Essay XXVII. The Spirit of Conservatism.

No author ever drew a character, consistent to human nature, but what he was forced to ascribe to it many inconsistencies.
Bulwer-Lytton—What Will He Do With It? Bk. IV. Ch. XIV. Heading.

You do not publish your own verses, Lælius; you criticise mine. Pray cease to criticise mine, or else publish your own.
Martial—Epigrams. Bk. I. Ep. 91.

Jack writes severe lampoons on me, ’tis said—
But he writes nothing, who is never read.
Martial—Epigrams. Bk. III. Ep. 9.

He who writes distichs, wishes, I suppose, to please by brevity. But, tell me, of what avail is their brevity, when there is a whole book full of them?
Martial—Epigrams. Bk. VIII. Ep. 29.

The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.
Mohammed—Tribute to Reason.

To write upon all is an author’s sole chance
For attaining, at last, the least knowledge of any.
Moore—Humorous and Satirical Poems. Literary Advertisement.

Præbet mihi littera linguam:
Et, si non liceat scribere, mutus ero.
This letter gives me a tongue; and were I not allowed to write, I should be dumb.
Ovid—Epistolæ Ex Ponto. II. 6. 3.

Scripta ferunt annos; scriptis Agamemnona nosti,
Et quisquis contra vel simul arma tulit.
Writings survive the years; it is by writings that you know Agamemnon, and those who fought for or against him.
Ovid—Epistolæ Ex Ponto. IV. 8. 51.

’Tis hard to say if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But, of the two less dang’rous is th’ offence
To tire our patience than mislead our sense.
Pope—Essay on Criticism. L. 1.

Authors are partial to their wit, ’tis true,
But are not critics to their judgment too?
Pope—Essay on Criticism. L. 17.

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.
Pope—Essay on Criticism. L. 362. Epistles of Horace. II. 178.

In every work regard the writer’s end,
Since none can compass more than they intend.
Pope—Essay on Criticism. Pt. II. L. 55.

Why did I write? what sin to me unknown
Dipt me in ink, my parents’, or my own?
As yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,
I lisp’d in numbers, for the numbers came.
Pope—Prologue to Satires. L. 125.

It is the rust we value, not the gold;
Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old.
Pope—Second Book of Horace. Ep. I. L. 35.

E’en copious Dryden wanted, or forgot,
The last and greatest art—the art to blot.
Pope—Second Book of Horace. Ep. I. L. 280.

Whether the darken’d room to muse invite,
Or whiten’d wall provoke the skew’r to write;
In durance, exile, Bedlam, or the Mint,
Like Lee or Budgel I will rhyme and print.
Pope—Second Book of Horace. Satire I. L. 97.

Let him be kept from paper, pen, and ink;
So may he cease to write, and learn to think.
Prior—To a Person who Wrote Ill. On Same Person.

’Tis not how well an author says,
But ’tis how much, that gathers praise.
Prior—Epistle to Fleetwood Shepherd.

As though I lived to write, and wrote to live.
Sam’l Rogers—Italy. A Character. L. 16.

Ils ont les textes pour eux, mais j’en suis faché pour les textes.
They have the texts on their side, but I pity the texts.
Royer-Collard, against the opinions of the Jansenists of Port-Royal on Grace. “So much the worse for the texts.” Phrase attributed to Voltaire.

Devise, wit; write, pen; for I am for whole volumes in folio.
Love’s Labour’s Lost. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 190.

Write till your ink be dry, and with your tears
Moist it again, and frame some feeling line
That may discover such integrity.
Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 74.

Of all those arts in which the wise excel,
Nature’s chief masterpiece is writing well.
John Sheffield (Duke of Buckinghamshire)—Essay on Poetry.

Look in thy heart and write.
Sir Philip Sidney—Wm. Gray’s Life of Sir Philip Sidney.

The great and good do not die even in this world. Embalmed in books, their spirits walk abroad. The book is a living voice. It is an intellect to which one still listens.
Sam’l Smiles—Character. Ch. X.

Ah, ye knights of the pen! May honour be your shield, and truth tip your lances! Be gentle to all gentle people. Be modest to women. Be tender to children. And as for the Ogre Humbug, out sword, and have at him!
Thackeray—Roundabout Papers. Ogres.

What the devil does the plot signify, except to bring in fine things?
George Villiers—The Rehearsal.

In every author let us distinguish the man from his works.
Voltaire—A Philosophical Dictionary. Poets.

But you’re our particular author, you’re our patriot and our friend,
You’re the poet of the cuss-word an’ the swear.
Edgar Wallace—Tommy to his Laureate. (R. Kipling)

So must the writer, whose productions should
Take with the vulgar, be of vulgar mould.
Edmund Waller—Epistle to Mr. Killegrew.

Smooth verse, inspired by no unlettered Muse.
Wordsworth—Excursion. V. 262 (Knight’s ed.).

This dull product of a scoffer’s pen.
Wordsworth—Excursion. Bk. II.

Some write, confin’d by physic; some, by debt;
Some, for ’tis Sunday; some, because ’tis wet;
Another writes because his father writ,
And proves himself a bastard by his wit.
Young—Epistles to Mr. Pope. Ep. I. L. 75.

An author! ’tis a venerable name!
How few deserve it, and what numbers claim!
Unbless’d with sense above their peers refined,
Who shall stand up dictators to mankind?
Nay, who dare shine, if not in virtue’s cause?
That sole proprietor of just applause.
Young—Epistles to Mr. Pope. Ep. II. From Oxford. L. 15.

For who can write so fast as men run mad?
Young—Love of Fame. Satire I. L. 286.

Some future strain, in which the muse shall tell
How science dwindles, and how volumes swell.
How commentators each dark passage shun,
And hold their farthing candle to the sun.
Young—Love of Fame. Satire VII. L. 95.

And then, exulting in their taper, cry, “Behold the Sun;” and, Indian-like, adore.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night II.