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


He laughs best who laughs last.
Old English Proverb. Better the last smile than the first laughter. Ray—Collection of Old English Proverbs. Il rit bien qui rit le dernier. (French). Rira bien que rira le dernier. (French). Ride bene chi ride l’ultimo. (Italian). Wer zuletzt lacht, lacht am besten. (German). Den leer bedst som leer sidst. (Danish).

Je me hâte de me moquer de tous, de peur d’être obligé d’en pleurer.
I hasten to laugh at everything, for fear of being obliged to weep.
Beaumarchais—Barbier de Séville. Act I. Sc. 2.

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it.
William Blake—Laughing Song.

Truth’s sacred fort th’ exploded laugh shall win,
And coxcombs vanquish Berkeley with a grin.
John Brown—Essay on Satire. Pt. II. V. 224. On the death of Pope. Prefixed to Pope’s Essay on Man, in Warburton’s Ed. of Pope’s Works.

The landlord’s laugh was ready chorus.
Burns—Tam o’ Shanter.

And if I laugh at any mortal thing,
’Tis that I may not weep.
Byron—Don Juan. Canto IV. St. 4.

How much lies in Laughter: the cipher-key, wherewith we decipher the whole man.
Carlyle—Sartor Resartus. Bk. I. Ch. IV.

Nam risu inepto res ineptior nulla est.
Nothing is more silly than silly laughter.
Catullus—Carmina. XXXIX. 16.

La plus perdue de toutes les journées est celle où l’on n’a pas rit.
The most completely lost of all days is that on which one has not laughed.

The vulgar only laugh, but never smile; whereas well-bred people often smile, but seldom laugh.
Chesterfield—Letter to his Son. Feb. 17, 1754.

Loud laughter is the mirth of the mob, who are only pleased with silly things; for true wit or good sense never excited a laugh since the creation of the world.
Chesterfield—Letters. Vol. I. P. 211. Ed. by Mahon.

A gentleman is often seen, but very seldom heard to laugh.
Chesterfield—Letters. Vol. II. P. 164; also 404. Ed. by Mahon.

Cio ch’io vedeva mi sembrava un riso
Dell’ universo.
What I saw was equal ecstasy:
One universal smile it seemed of all things.
Dante—Paradiso. XXVII. 5.

As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool.
Ecclesiastes. VII. 6.

Ce n’est pas être bien aisé que de rire.
He is not always at ease who laughs.
St. Evremond.

I have known sorrow—therefore I
May laugh with you, O friend, more merrily
Than those who never sorrowed upon earth
And know not laughter’s worth.

I have known laughter—therefore I
May sorrow with you far more tenderly
Than those who never guess how sad a thing
Seems merriment to one heart’s suffering.
Theodosia Garrison—Knowledge.

I am the laughter of the new-born child
On whose soft-breathing sleep an angel smiled.
R. W. Gilder—Ode.

Your laugh is of the sardonic kind.
Caius Gracchus. When his adversaries laughed at his defeat.

Low gurgling laughter, as sweet
As the swallow’s song i’ the South,
And a ripple of dimples that, dancing, meet
By the curves of a perfect mouth.
Paul Hamilton Hayne—Ariel.

Laugh not too much; the witty man laughs least:
For wit is news only to ignorance.
Lesse at thine own things laugh; lest in the jest
Thy person share, and the conceit advance.
Herbert—The Temple. Church Porch. St. 39.

And unextinguish’d laughter shakes the skies.
Homer—Iliad. Bk. I. L. 771. Odyssey. Bk. VIII. L. 116. Pope’s trans.

Discit enim citius, meminitque libentius ilud
Quod quis deridet, quam quod probat et veneratur.
For a man learns more quickly and remembers more easily that which he laughs at, than that which he approves and reveres.
Horace—Epistles. Bk. II. 1. 262.

Laugh, and be fat, sir, your penance is known.
They that love mirth, let them heartily drink,
’Tis the only receipt to make sorrow sink.
Ben Jonson—Entertainments. The Penates.

We must laugh before we are happy, for fear we die before we laugh at all.
La Bruyère—The Characters or Manners of the Present Age. Ch. IV.

The sense of humor has other things to do than to make itself conspicuous in the act of laughter.
Alice Meynell—Laughter.

Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
Jest, and youthful Jollity,
Quips, and Cranks, and wanton Wiles,
Nods, and Becks, and wreathed Smiles,
Such as hang on Hebe’s cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek;
Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides.
Milton—L’Allegro. L. 25.

To laugh, if but for an instant only, has never been granted to man before the fortieth day from his birth, and then it is looked upon as a miracle of precocity.
Pliny the Elder—Natural History. Bk. VII. Ch. I. Holland’s trans.

Laugh at your friends, and if your friends are sore;
So much the better, you may laugh the more.
Pope—Epilogue to Satire. Dialogue I. L. 55.

The man that loves and laughs must sure do well.
Pope—Imitations of Horace. Ep. VI. Bk. I. L. 129.

To laugh were want of goodness and of grace;
And to be grave, exceeds all pow’r of face.
Pope—Prologue to Satires. L. 35.

Nimium risus pretium est, si probitatis impendio constat.
A laugh costs too much when bought at the expense of virtue.
Quintilian—De Institutione Oratoria. VI. 3. 5.

One inch of joy surmounts of grief a span,
Because to laugh is proper to the man.
Rabelais—To the Readers.

Tel qui rit vendredi, dimanche pleurera.
He who laughs on Friday will weep on Sunday.
Racine—Plaideurs. I. 1.

Has he gone to the land of no laughter,
The man who made mirth for us all?
James Rhoades—Death of Artemus Ward.

Niemand wird tiefer traurig als wer zu viel lächelt.
No one will be more profoundly sad than he who laughs too much.
Jean Paul Richter—Hesperus. XIX.

Castigat ridendo mores.
He chastizes manners with a laugh.
Santeuil—Motto of the Comédie Italienne, and Opéra Comique. Paris.

With his eyes in flood with laughter.
Cymbeline. Act I. Sc. 6. L. 74.

O, you shall see him laugh till his face be like a wet cloak ill laid up.
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 88.

The brain of this foolish-compounded clay, man, is not able to invent anything that tends to laughter, more than I invent or is invented on me.
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 6.

O, I am stabb’d with laughter.
Love’s Labour’s Lost. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 79.

They laugh that win.
Othello. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 124.

Laughter almost ever cometh of things most disproportioned to ourselves and nature: delight hath a joy in it either permanent or present; laughter hath only a scornful tickling.
Sir Philip Sidney—The Defence of Poesy.

Laugh and be fat.
John Taylor—Title of a Tract. (1615).

For still the World prevail’d, and its dread laugh,
Which scarce the firm Philosopher can scorn.
Thomson—The Seasons. Autumn. L. 233.

Fight Virtue’s cause, stand up in Wit’s defence,
Win us from vice and laugh us into sense.
Tickell—On the Prospect of Peace. St. 38.

Laugh and the world laughs with you,
Weep and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox—Solitude. Claimed by Col. John A. Joyce, who had it engraved on his tombstone.

Care to our coffin adds a nail, no doubt;
And every Grin, so merry, draws one out.
John Wolcot (Peter Pindar)—Expostulatory Odes. Ode 15.

The house of laughter makes a house of woe.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night VIII. L. 757.