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


Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind, which are delivered down from generation to generation, as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn.
Addison—Spectator. No. 166.

That is a good book which is opened with expectation and closed with profit.
Alcott—Table Talk. Bk. I. Learning-Books.

Homo unius libri.
A man of one book.
Thomas Aquinas.

Books are delightful when prosperity happily smiles; when adversity threatens, they are inseparable comforters. They give strength to human compacts, nor are grave opinions brought forward without books. Arts and sciences, the benefits of which no mind can calculate, depend upon books.
Richard Aungervyle (Richard De Bury)—Philobiblon. Ch. I.

You, O Books, are the golden vessels of the temple, the arms of the clerical militia with which the missiles of the most wicked are destroyed; fruitful olives, vines of Engaddi, fig-trees knowing no sterility; burning lamps to be ever held in the hand.
Richard Aungervyle (Richard De Bury)—Philobiblon. Ch. XV.

But the images of men’s wits and knowledges remain in books, exempted from the wrong of time, and capable of perpetual renovation.
Bacon—Advancement of Learning. Bk. I. Advantages of Learning.

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.
Bacon—Essay. Of Studies.

Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
Bacon—Proposition touching Amendment of Laws.

Worthy books
Are not companions—they are solitudes:
We lose ourselves in them and all our cares.
Bailey—Festus. Sc. A Village Feast. Evening.

That place that does contain
My books, the best companions, is to me
A glorious court, where hourly I converse
With the old sages and philosophers;
And sometimes, for variety, I confer
With kings and emperors, and weigh their counsels.
Beaumont and Fletcher—The Elder Brother. Act I. Sc. 2.

We get no good
By being ungenerous, even to a book,
And calculating profits—so much help
By so much reading. It is rather when
We gloriously forget ourselves, and plunge
Soul-forward, headlong, into a book’s profound,
Impassioned for its beauty, and salt of truth—
’Tis then we get the right good from a book.
E. B. Browning—Aurora Leigh. Bk. I. L. 700.

Books, books, books!
I had found the secret of a garret room
Piled high with cases in my father’s name;
Piled high, packed large,—where, creeping in and out
Among the giant fossils of my past,
Like some small nimble mouse between the ribs
Of a mastodon, I nibbled here and there
At this or that box, pulling through the gap,
In heats of terror, haste, victorious joy,
The first book first. And how I felt it beat
Under my pillow, in the morning’s dark,
An hour before the sun would let me read!
My books!
At last, because the time was ripe,
I chanced upon the poets.
E. B. Browning—Aurora Leigh. Bk. I. L. 830.

Laws die, Books never.
Bulwer-Lytton—Richelieu. Act I. Sc. 2.

The Wise
(Minstrel or Sage,) out of their books are clay;
But in their books, as from their graves they rise.
Angels—that, side by side, upon our way,
Walk with and warn us!
Bulwer-Lytton—The Souls of Books. St. 3. L. 9.

Hark, the world so loud,
And they, the movers of the world, so still!
Bulwer-Lytton—The Souls of Books. St. 3. L. 14.

We call some books immortal! Do they live?
If so, believe me, TIME hath made them pure.
In Books, the veriest wicked rest in peace.
Bulwer-Lytton—The Souls of Books. St. 3. L. 22.

All books grow homilies by time; they are
Temples, at once, and Landmarks.
Bulwer-Lytton—The Souls of Books. St. 4. L. 1.

There is no Past, so long as Books shall live!
Bulwer-Lytton—The Souls of Books. St. 4. L. 9.

In you are sent
The types of Truths whose life is THE TO COME;
In you soars up the Adam from the fall;
In you the FUTURE as the PAST is given—
Ev’n in our death ye bid us hail our birth;—
Unfold these pages, and behold the Heaven,
Without one grave-stone left upon the Earth.
Bulwer-Lytton—The Souls of Books. St. 5. L. 11.

Some said, John, print it, others said, Not so;
Some said, It might do good, others said, No.
Bunyan—Apology for his Book. L. 39.

Go now, my little book, to every place
Where my first pilgrim has but shown his face.
Call at their door: if any say “Who’s there?”
Then answer thou “Christiana is here.”
Bunyan—Pilgrim’s Progress. Pt. II.

Some books are lies frae end to end.
Burns—Death and Dr. Hornbook.

’Tis pleasant, sure, to see one’s name in print;
A book’s a book, although there’s nothing in’t.
Byron—English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. L. 51.

In the poorest cottage are Books: is one Book, wherein for several thousands of years the spirit of man has found light, and nourishment, and an interpreting response to whatever is Deepest in him.
Carlyle—Essays. Corn-Law Rhymes.

If a book come from the heart, it will contrive to reach other hearts; all art and authorcraft are of small amount to that.
Carlyle—Heroes and Hero Worship. Lecture II.

All that Mankind has done, thought, gained or been it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of Books. They are the chosen possession of men.
Carlyle—Heroes and Hero Worship. Lecture V.

In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time; the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream.
Carlyle—Heroes and Hero Worship. The Hero as a Man of Letters.

The true University of these days is a collection of Books.
Carlyle—Heroes and Hero Worship. The Hero as a Man of Letters.

“There is no book so bad,” said the bachelor, “but something good may be found in it.”
Cervantes—Don Quixote. Pt. II. Ch. III.

It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds, and these invaluable means of communication are in the reach of all. In the best books, great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts, and pour their souls into ours.
Channing—On Self-Culture.

Go, litel boke! go litel myn tregedie!
Chaucer—Canterbury Tales. Troilus and Crescide. Bk. V. L. 1,800.

O little booke, thou art so unconning,
How darst thou put thyself in prees for dred?
Chaucer—Flower and the Leaf. L. 591.

And as for me, though than I konne but lyte,
On bokes for to rede I me delyte,
And to hem yeve I feyth and ful credence,
And in myn herte have hem in reverence
So hertely, that ther is game noon.
That fro my bokes maketh me to goon,
But yt be seldome on the holy day.
Save, certeynly, when that the monthe of May
Is comen, and that I here the foules synge,
And that the floures gynnen for to sprynge,
Farwel my boke, and my devocion.
Chaucer—Legende of Goode Women. Prologue. L. 29.

It is saying less than the truth to affirm that an excellent book (and the remark holds almost equally good of a Raphael as of a Milton) is like a well-chosen and well-tended fruit tree. Its fruits are not of one season only. With the due and natural intervals, we may recur to it year after year, and it will supply the same nourishment and the same gratification, if only we ourselves return to it with the same healthful appetite.
Coleridge—Literary Remains. Prospectus of Lectures.

Books should, not Business, entertain the Light;
And Sleep, as undisturb’d as Death, the Night.
Cowley—Of Myself.

Books cannot always please, however good;
Minds are not ever craving for their food.
Crabbe—The Borough. Letter XXIV. Schools. L. 402.

The monument of vanished mindes.
Sir Wm. Davenant—Gondibert. Bk. II. Canto V.

Give me a book that does my soul embrace
And makes simplicity a grace—
Language freely flowing, thoughts as free—
Such pleasing books more taketh me
Than all the modern works of art
That please mine eyes and not my heart.
Margaret Denbo. Suggested by “Give me a look, give me a face, / That makes simplicity a grace.” Ben Jonson—Silent Woman. Act I. Sc. 1.

Books should to one of these four ends conduce,
For wisdom, piety, delight, or use.
Sir John Denham—Of Prudence.

He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings!
Emily Dickinson—A Book.

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul.
Emily Dickinson—A Book.

Golden volumes! richest treasures,
Objects of delicious pleasures!
You my eyes rejoicing please,
You my hands in rapture seize!
Brilliant wits and musing sages,
Lights who beam’d through many ages!
Left to your conscious leaves their story,
And dared to trust you with their glory;
And now their hope of fame achiev’d,
Dear volumes! you have not deceived!
Isaac D’Israeli—Curiosities of Literature. Libraries.

Homo unius libri, or, cave ab homine unius libri.
Beware of the man of one book.
Isaac D’Israeli, quoted in Curiosities of Literature.

Not as ours the books of old—
Things that steam can stamp and fold;
Not as ours the books of yore—
Rows of type, and nothing more.
Austin Dobson—To a Missal of the 13th Century.

The spectacles of books.
Dryden—Essay on Dramatic Poetry.

Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
Ecclesiastes. XII. 12.

Books are the best things, well used: abused, among the worst.
Emerson—American Scholar.

In every man’s memory, with the hours when life culminated are usually associated certain books which met his views.
Emerson—Letters and Social Aims. Quotation and Originality.

There are many virtues in books, but the essential value is the adding of knowledge to our stock by the record of new facts, and, better, by the record of intuitions which distribute facts, and are the formulas which supersede all histories.
Emerson—Letters and Social Aims. Persian Poetry.

We prize books, and they prize them most who are themselves wise.
Emerson—Letters and Social Aims. Quotation and Originality.

The princeps copy, clad in blue and gold.
John Ferriar—Bibliomania.

Now cheaply bought, for thrice their weight in gold.
John Ferriar—Bibliomania.

How pure the joy when first my hands unfold
The small, rare volume, black with tarnished gold.
John Ferriar—Bibliomania.

Learning hath gained most by those books by which the Printers have lost.
Fuller—Holy and the Profane State. Of Books.

Some Books are onely cursorily to be tasted of.
Fuller—Holy and the Profane State. Of Books.

Books are necessary to correct the vices of the polite; but those vices are ever changing, and the antidote should be changed accordingly—should still be new.
Goldsmith—Citizen of the World. Letter LXXII.

In proportion as society refines, new books must ever become more necessary.
Goldsmith—Citizen of the World. Letter LXXII.

I armed her against the censures of the world; showed her that books were sweet unreproaching companions to the miserable, and that if they could not bring us to enjoy life, they would at least teach us to endure it.
Goldsmith—Vicar of Wakefield. Ch. XXII.

I have ever gained the most profit, and the most pleasure also, from the books which have made me think the most: and, when the difficulties have once been overcome, these are the books which have struck the deepest root, not only in my memory and understanding, but likewise in my affections.
J. C. and A. W. Hare—Guesses at Truth. P. 458.

Thou art a plant sprung up to wither never,
But, like a laurell, to grow green forever.
Herrick—Hesperides. To His Booke.

The foolishest book is a kind of leaky boat on a sea of wisdom; some of the wisdom will get in anyhow.
Holmes—The Poet at the Breakfast-Table. XI.

Dear little child, this little book
Is less a primer than a key
To sunder gates where wonder waits
Your “Open Sesame!”
Rupert Hughes—With a First Reader.

Medicine for the soul.
Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes. Diodorus Siculus. I. 49. 3.

Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book.
Isaiah. XXX. 8.

Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
Job. XLX. 23.

My desire is … that mine adversary had written a book.
Job. XXXI. 35.

A man will turn over half a library to make one book.
Samuel Johnson—Boswell’s Life of Johnson. (1775).

Blest be the hour wherein I bought this book;
His studies happy that composed the book,
And the man fortunate that sold the book.
Ben Jonson—Every man out of his Humour. Act I. Sc. 1.

Pray thee, take care, that tak’st my book in hand,
To read it well; that is to understand.
Ben Jonson—Epigram 1.

When I would know thee***my thought looks
Upon thy well-made choice of friends and books;
Then do I love thee, and behold thy ends
In making thy friends books, and thy books friends.
Ben Jonson—Epigram 86.

Quicquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, voluptas, gaudia, discursus, nostri est farrago libelli.
The doings of men, their prayers, fear, wrath, pleasure, delights, and recreations, are the subject of this book.
Juvenal—Satires. I. I. 85.

In omnibus requiem quæsivi
Et non inveni
Nisi seorsim sedans
In angulo cum libello.
Everywhere I have sought rest and found it not except sitting apart in a nook with a little book.
Written in an autograph copy of Thomas à Kempis’s De Imitatione, according to Cornelius A. Lapide (Cornelius van den Steen), a Flemish Jesuit of the 17th century, who says he saw this inscription. At Zwoll is a picture of à Kempis with this inscription, the last clause being “in angello cum libello”—in a little nook with a little book. In angellis et libellis—in little nooks (cells) and little books. Given in King—Classical Quotations as being taken from the preface of De Imitatione.

Every age hath its book.
Koran. Ch. XIII.

Books which are no books.
Lamb—Last Essay of Elia. Detached Thoughts on Books.

A book is a friend whose face is constantly changing. If you read it when you are recovering from an illness, and return to it years after, it is changed surely, with the chance in yourself.
Andrew Lang—The Library. Ch. I.

A wise man will select his books, for he would not wish to class them all under the sacred name of friends. Some can be accepted only as acquaintances. The best books of all kinds are taken to the heart, and cherished as his most precious possessions. Others to be chatted with for a time, to spend a few pleasant hours with, and laid aside, but not forgotten.
Langford—The Praise of Books. Preliminary Essay.

The love of books is a love which requires neither justification, apology, nor defence.
Langford—The Praise of Books. Preliminary Essay.

The pleasant books, that silently among
Our household treasures take familiar places,
And are to us as if a living tongue
Spake from the printed leaves or pictured faces!
Longfellow—Seaside and Fireside. Dedication.

Leaving us heirs to amplest heritages
Of all the best thoughts of the greatest sages,
And giving tongues unto the silent dead!
Longfellow—Sonnet on Mrs. Kemble’s Reading from Shakespeare.

Books are sepulchres of thought.
Longfellow—Wind Over the Chimney. St. 8.

All books are either dreams or swords,
You can cut, or you can drug, with words.
My swords are tempered for every speech,
For fencing wit, or to carve a breach
Through old abuses the world condones.
Amy Lowell—Sword Blades and Poppy Seed.

If I were asked what book is better than a cheap book, I would answer that there is one book better than a cheap book, and that is a book honestly come by.
Lowell—Before the U. S. Senate Committee on Patents, Jan. 29, 1886.

What a sense of security in an old book which
Time has criticised for us!
Lowell—My Study Windows. Library of Old Authors.

Gentlemen use books as Gentlewomen handle their flowers, who in the morning stick them in their heads, and at night strawe them at their heeles.
Lyly—Euphues. To the Gentlemen Readers.

That wonderful book, while it obtains admiration from the most fastidious critics, is loved by those who are too simple to admire it.
Macaulay—On Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. (1831).

As you grow ready for it, somewhere or other you will find what is needful for you in a book.
George MacDonald—The Marquis of Lossie. Ch. XLII.

You importune me, Tucca, to present you with my books. I shall not do so; for you want to sell, not to read, them.
Martial—Epigrams. Bk. VII. Ep. 77.

A good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit imbalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.

As good almost kill a man as kill a good book; who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye.

Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a progeny of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.

Deep vers’d in books, and shallow in himself.
Milton—Paradise Regained. Bk. IV. L. 327.

Un livre est un ami qui ne trompe jamais.
A book is a friend that never deceives.
Ascribed to Guilbert De Pixérécourt. Claimed for Desbarreaux Bernard.

Within that awful volume lies
The mystery of mysteries!
Scott—The Monastery. Vol. I. Ch. XII.

Distrahit animum librorum multitudo.
A multitude of books distracts the mind.
Seneca—Epistolæ Ad Lucilium. II. 3.

That roars so loud and thunders in the index.
Hamlet. Act III. Sc. 4.

Keep***thy pen from lenders’ books, and defy the foul fiend.
King Lear. Act III. Sc. 4. L. 100.

We turn’d o’er many books together.
Merchant of Venice. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 156.

I had rather than forty shillings, I had my Book of Songs and Sonnets here.
Merry Wives of Windsor. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 204.

That book in many’s eyes doth share the glory,
That in gold clasps locks in the golden story.
Romeo and Juliet. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 91.

O, let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast;
Who plead for love and look for recompense
More than that tongue that more hath more express’d.
Sonnet XXIII.

Knowing I lov’d my books, he furnished me
From mine own library with volumes that
I prize above my dukedom.
The Tempest. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 165.

And deeper than did ever plummet sound,
I’ll drown my book.
The Tempest. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 56.

And in such indexes (although small pricks
To their subsequent volumes) there is seen
The baby figure of the giant mass
Of things to come at large.
Troilus and Cressida. Act I. Sc. 3.

Their books of stature small they take in hand,
Which with pellucid horn secured are;
To save from finger wet the letters fair.
Shenstone—The Schoolmistress. St. 18.

You shall see them on a beautiful quarto page, where a neat rivulet of text shall meander through a meadow of margin.
Sheridan—School for Scandal. Act I. Sc. 1.

Nor wyll suffer this boke
By hooke ne by crooke
Printed to be.
Skelton—Duke of Clout.

Some books are drenched sands,
On which a great soul’s wealth lies all in heaps,
Like a wrecked argosy.
Alexander Smith—A Life Drama. Sc. 2.

When St. Thomas Aquinas was asked in what manner a man might best become learned, he answered, “By reading one book.” The homo unius libri is indeed proverbially formidable to all conversational figurantes.
Southey—The Doctor. P. 164.

Go, little Book! From this my solitude
I cast thee on the Waters,—go thy ways:
And if, as I believe, thy vein be good,
The World will find thee after many days.
Be it with thee according to thy worth:
Go, little Book; in faith I send thee forth.
Southey—Lay of the Laureate. L’Envoy.

Books, the children of the brain.
Swift—Tale of a Tub. Sec. I.

Aquinas was once asked, with what compendium a man might become learned? He answered “By reading of one book.”
Jeremy Taylor—Life of Christ. Pt. II. S. XII. 16. He also quotes Acclus. XI. 10. St. Gregory, St. Bernard, Seneca, Quintilian, Juvenal. See British Critic. No. 59. P. 202.

Books, like proverbs, receive their chief value from the stamp and esteem of ages through which they have passed.
Sir Wm. Temple—Ancient and Modern Learning.

But every page having an ample marge,
And every marge enclosing in the midst
A square of text that looks a little blot.
Tennyson—Idylls of the King. Merlin and Vivien. L. 669.

Thee will I sing in comely wainscot bound
And golden verge enclosing thee around;
The faithful horn before, from age to age
Preserving thy invulnerable page.
Behind thy patron saint in armor shines
With sword and lance to guard the sacred lines;
Th’ instructive handle’s at the bottom fixed
Lest wrangling critics should pervert the text.
Tickell—The Hornbook.

They are for company the best friends, in Doubt’s Counsellors, in Damps Comforters, Time’s Prospective the Home Traveller’s Ship or Horse, the busie Man’s best Recreation, the Opiate of idle Weariness, the Mindes best Ordinary, Nature’s Garden and Seed-plot of Immortality.
Bulstrode Whitelock—Zootamia.

O for a Booke and a shadie nooke, eyther in-a-doore or out;
With the grene leaves whisp’ring overhede, or the Streete cries all about.
Where I maie Reade all at my ease, both of the Newe and Olde;
For a jollie goode Booke whereon to looke, is better to me than Golde.
John Wilson. Motto in his second-hand book catalogues. Claimed for him by Austin Dobson. Found in Sir John Lubbock’s Pleasures of Life and Ireland’s Enchiridion, where it is given as an old song. (See Notes and Queries, Nov. 1919, P. 297, for discussion of authorship.)

Books, we know,
Are a substantial world, both pure and good:
Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
Our pastime and our happiness will grow.
Wordsworth—Poetical Works. Personal Talk.

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books,
Or surely you’ll grow double;
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?
Wordsworth—The Tables Turned.

Unlearned men of books assume the care,
As eunuchs are the guardians of the fair.
Young—Love of Fame. Satire II. L. 83.

A dedication is a wooden leg.
Young—Love of Fame. Satire IV. L. 192.