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


Labour in vain; or coals to Newcastle.
Anon. In a sermon to the people of Queen-Hith. Advertised in the Daily Courant, Oct. 6, 1709. Published in Paternoster Row, London. “Coals to Newcastle,” or “from Newcastle,” found in Heywood—If you Know Not Me. Pt. II. (1606). Gaunt—Bills of Mortality. (1661). Middleton—Phœnix. Act I. Sc. 5. R. Thoresby—Correspondence. Letter June 29, 1682. Owls to Athens. (Athenian coins were stamped with the owl.) Aristophanes—Aves. 301. Diogenes Laertius—Lives of Eminent Philosophers. Plato. XXXII. You are importing pepper into Hindostan. From the Bustan of Sadi.

Qui laborat, orat.
He who labours, prays.
Attr. to St. Augustine.

Qui orat et laborat, cor levat ad Deum cum manibus.
He who prays and labours lifts his heart to God with his hands.
St. Bernard—Ad sororem. A similar expression is found in the works of Gregory the Great—Moral in Libr. Job. Bk. XVIII. Also in Pseudo-Hieron, in Jerem., Thren. III. 41. See also “What worship, for example, is there not in mere washing!” Carlyle—Past and Present. Ch. XV., referring to “Work is prayer.”

Such hath it been—shall be—beneath the sun
The many still must labour for the one.
Byron—The Corsair. Canto I. St. 8.

Not all the labor of the earth
Is done by hardened hands.
Will Carleton—A Working Woman.

And yet without labour there were no ease, no rest, so much as conceivable.
Carlyle—Essays. Characteristics.

They can expect nothing but their labor for their pains.
Cervantes—Don Quixote. Author’s Preface. Edward Moore—Boy and the Rainbow.

Labor is discovered to be the grand conqueror, enriching and building up nations more surely than the proudest battles.
Wm. Ellery Channing—War.

Vulgo enim dicitur, Jucundi acti labores: nec male Euripides: concludam, si potero, Latine: Græcum enim hunc versum nostis omnes: Suavis laborum est præteritorum memoria.
It is generally said, “Past labors are pleasant,” Euripides says, for you all know the Greek verse, “The recollection of past labors is pleasant.”
Cicero—De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum. II. 32.

A truly American sentiment recognises the dignity of labor and the fact that honor lies in honest toil.
Cleveland—Letter accepting the nomination for President. Aug. 18, 1884.

American labor, which is the capital of our workingmen.
Cleveland—Annual Message. Dec., 1885.

When admirals extoll’d for standing still,
Of doing nothing with a deal of skill.
Cowper—Table Talk. L. 192.

Honest labour bears a lovely face.
Thos. Dekker—Patient Grissell. Act I. Sc. 1.

Labour itself is but a sorrowful song,
The protest of the weak against the strong.
F. W. Faber—The Sorrowful World.

It is so far from being needless pains, that it may bring considerable profit, to carry Charcoals to Newcastle.
Fuller—Pisgah. Sight of Palestine. Ed. 1650. P. 128. Worthies. P. 302. (Ed. 1661).

For as labor cannot produce without the use of land, the denial of the equal right to the use of land is necessarily the denial of the right of labor to its own produce.
Henry George—Progress and Poverty. Bk. VII. Ch. I.

How blest is he who crowns in shades like these,
A youth of labour with an age of ease.
Goldsmith—The Deserted Village. L. 99.

Vitam perdidi laboricose agendo.
I have spent my life laboriously doing nothing.
Quoted by Grotius on his death bed.

If little labour, little are our gaines:
Man’s fortunes are according to his paines.
Herrick—Hesperides. No Paines, No Gaines.

To labour is the lot of man below;
And when Jove gave us life, he gave us woe.
Homer—Iliad. Bk. X. L. 78. Pope’s trans.

Our fruitless labours mourn,
And only rich in barren fame return.
Homer—Odyssey. Bk. X. L. 46. Pope’s trans.

With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread.
Hood—Song of the Shirt.

Qui studet optatam cursu contingere metam
Multa tulit fecitque puer, sudavit et alsit.
He who would reach the desired goal must, while a boy, suffer and labor much and bear both heat and cold.
Horace—Ars Poetica. CCCCXII.

O laborum
Dulce lenimen.
O sweet solace of labors.
Horace—Carmina. I. 32. 14.

In silvam ligna ferre.
To carry timber into the wood.
Horace—Satires. I. 10. 24.

Cur quæris quietem, quam natus sis ad laborem?
Why seekest thou rest, since thou art born to labor?
Thomas á Kempis—De Imitatione Christi. II. 10. 1.

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
Longfellow—Birds of Passage. The Ladder of St. Augustine. St. 10.

Taste the joy
That springs from labor.
Longfellow—Masque of Pandora. Pt. VI. In the Garden. “From labor there shall come forth rest.”–Longfellow—To a Child. L. 162.

Labor est etiam ipsa voluptas.
Labor is itself a pleasure.
Manilius—Astronomica. IV. 155.

Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground,
The emptiness of ages in his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
Edwin Markham—The Man with the Hoe. Written after seeing Millet’s picture “Angelus.”

But now my task is smoothly done,
I can fly, or I can run.
Milton—Comus. L. 1,012.

Lo! all life this truth declares,
Laborare est orare;
And the whole earth rings with prayers.
Miss Mulock—Labour is Prayer. St. 4.

Labor is life! ’Tis the still water faileth;
Idleness ever despaireth, bewaileth;
Keep the watch wound, for the dark rust assaileth.
Frances S. Osgood—To Labor is to Pray.

Labor is rest—from the sorrows that greet us;
Rest from all petty vexations that meet us,
Rest from sin-promptings that ever entreat us,
Rest from the world-sirens that hire us to ill.
Work—and pure slumbers shall wait on thy pillow;
Work—thou shalt ride over Care’s coming billow;
Lie not down wearied ’neath Woe’s weeping willow!
Work with a stout heart and resolute will!
Frances S. Osgood—To Labor is to Pray.

Dum vires annique sinunt, tolerate labores.
Jam veniet tacito curva senecta pede.
While strength and years permit, endure labor; soon bent old age will come with silent foot.
Ovid—Ars Amatoria. II. 669.

And all labor without any play, boys,
Makes Jack a dull boy in the end.
H. A. Page—Vers de Société.

Grex venalium.
The herd of hirelings. (A venal pack.)
Plautus—Cistellaria. IV. 2. 67.

Oleum et operam perdidi.
I have lost my oil and my labor. (Labored in vain.)
Plautus—Pœnulus. I. 2. 119.

The man who by his labour gets
His bread, in independent state,
Who never begs, and seldom eats,
Himself can fix or change his fate.
Prior—The Old Gentry.

Why, Hal, ’tis my vocation. Hal: ’tis no sin for a man to labour in his vocation.
Henry IV. Pt. I. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 116.

The labour we delight in physics pain.
Macbeth. Act II. Sc. 3. L. 55.

I have had my labour for my travail.
Troilus and Cressida. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 72.

Many faint with toil,
That few may know the cares and woe of sloth.
Shelley—Queen Mab. Canto III.

Labour of love.
I Thessalonians. I. 3.

With starving labor pampering idle waste;
To tear at pleasure the defected land.
Thomson—Liberty. Pt. IV. L. 1,160.

The labourer is worthy of his reward.
I Timothy. V. 18; Luke. X. 7. (hire).

Clamorous pauperism feasteth
While honest Labor, pining, hideth his sharp ribs.
Martin Tupper—Of Discretion.

Labor omnia vincit improbus.
Stubborn labor conquers everything.
Vergil—Georgics. I. 145.

Too long, that some may rest,
Tired millions toil unblest.
William Watson—New National Anthem.

Labor in this country is independent and proud. It has not to ask the patronage of capital, but capital solicits the aid of labor.
Daniel Webster—Speech. April, 1824.

Ah, little recks the laborer,
How near his work is holding him to God,
The loving Laborer through space and time.
Walt Whitman—Song of the Exposition. I.

Ah vitam perdidi operse nihil agendo.
Ah, my life is lost in laboriously doing nothing.
Josiah Woodward—Fair Warnings to a Careless World. P. 97. Ed. 1736, quoting Merick Casaubon.