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


O pilot! ’tis a fearful night,
There’s danger on the deep.
Thomas Haynes Bayly—The Pilot.

How Bishop Aidan foretold to certain seamen a storm that would happen, and gave them some holy oil to lay it.
Bede—Heading of Chapter in his Ecclesiastical History. III. 15.

O’er the glad waters of the dark blue sea,
Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free,
Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam,
Survey our empire, and behold our home!
Byron—The Corsair. Canto I. St. 1.

Here’s to the pilot that weathered the storm.
Canning—The Pilot that Weathered the Storm.

And as great seamen, using all their wealth
And skills in Neptune’s deep invisible paths,
In tall ships richly built and ribbed with brass,
To put a girdle round about the world.
Geo. Chapman—Bussy d’Ambois. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 20.

A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast
And fills the white and rustling sails,
And bends the gallant mast!
And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
While, like the eagle free,
Away the good ship flies, and leaves
Old England in the lee.
Allan Cunningham—Songs of Scotland. A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea.

Soon shall thy arm, unconquered steam, afar
Drag the slow barge, or drive the rapid car;
Or on wide waving wings expanded bear
The flying chariot through the fields of air.
Erasmus Darwin—The Botanic Garden. Pt. I. 1. 289.

For they say there’s a Providence sits up aloft
To keep watch for the life of poor Jack.
Charles Dibden—Poor Jack.

There’s a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft,
To keep watch for the life of poor Jack.
Charles Dibden—Poor Jack.

Skill’d in the globe and sphere, he gravely stands,
And, with his compass, measures seas and lands.
Dryden—Sixth Satire of Juvenal. L. 760.

The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.
Gibbon—Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Ch. LXVIII.

Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo’sun tight and a midshipmite
And the crew of the captain’s gig.
W. S. Gilbert—Yarn of the “Nancy Bell.”

Thus, I steer my bark, and sail
On even keel, with gentle gale.
Matthew Green—Spleen. L. 814.

Though pleas’d to see the dolphins play,
I mind my compass and my way.
Matthew Green—Spleen. L. 826.

What though the sea be calm? trust to the shore,
Ships have been drown’d, where late they danc’d before.
Herrick—Safety on the Shore.

Yet the best pilots have need of mariners, besides sails, anchor and other tackle.
Ben Jonson—Discoveries. Illiteratus Princeps.

—They write here one Cornelius—Son
Hath made the Hollanders an invisible eel
To swim the haven at Dunkirk, and sink all
The shipping there.
—But how is’t done?
—I’ll show you, sir.
It is automa, runs under water
With a snug nose, and has a nimble tail
Made like an auger, with which tail she wriggles
Betwixt the costs of a ship and sinks it straight.
Ben Jonson—Staple of News. Act III. Sc. 1.

Some love to roam o’er the dark sea’s foam,
Where the shrill winds whistle free.
Charles Mackay—Some Love to Roam.

Thus far we run before the wind.
Arthur Murphy—The Apprentice. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 344.

Nos fragili vastum ligno sulcavimus æquor.
We have ploughed the vast ocean in a fragile bark.
Ovid—Epistolæ ex Pont. I. 14. 35.

Ye gentlemen of England
That live at home at ease,
Ah! little do you think upon
The dangers of the seas.
Martyn Parker—Ye Gentlemen of England.

A strong nor’wester’s blowing, Bill!
Hark! don’t ye hear it roar now?
Lord help ’em, how I pities them
Unhappy folks on shore now!
The Sailor’s Consolation. Attributed to Billy Pitt, Colman.

And that all seas are made calme and still with oile; and therefore the Divers under the water doe spirt and sprinkle it aboard with their mouthes because it dulceth and allaieth the unpleasant nature thereof, and carrieth a light with it.
Pliny—Natural History. Bk. II. Ch. CIII. Holland’s trans.

Why does pouring Oil on the Sea make it Clear and Calm? Is it for that the winds, slipping the smooth oil, have no force, nor cause any waves?
Plutarch—Morals. Natural Questions. XII.

Well, then—our course is chosen—spread the sail—
Heave oft the lead, and mark the soundings well—
Look to the helm, good master—many a shoal
Marks this stern coast, and rocks, where sits the Siren
Who, like ambition, lures men to their ruin.
Scott—Kenilworth. Ch. XVII. Verses at head of Chapter.

Merrily, merrily goes the bark
On a breeze from the northward free,
So shoots through the morning sky the lark,
Or the swan through the summer sea.
Scott—Lord of the Isles. Canto IV. St. 10.

Upon the gale she stoop’d her side,
And bounded o’er the swelling tide,
As she were dancing home;
The merry seamen laugh’d to see
Their gallant ship so lustily
Furrow the green sea-foam.
Scott—Marmion. Canto II. St. 1.

Behold the threaden sails,
Borne with the invisible and creeping wind,
Draw the huge bottomes through the furrow’d sea,
Breasting the lofty surge.
Henry V. Act III. Chorus. L. 10.

Ye who dwell at home,
Ye do not know the terrors of the main.
Southey—Madoc in Wales. Pt. IV.

Cease, rude Boreas, blustering railer!
List, ye landsmen all, to me:
Messmates, hear a brother sailor
Sing the dangers of the sea.
George A. Stevens—The Storm.

Thou bringest the sailor to his wife,
And travell’d men from foreign lands,
And letters unto trembling hands;
And, thy dark freight, a vanish’d life.
Tennyson—In Memoriam. Pt. X.

There were three sailors of Bristol City
Who took a boat and went to sea.
But first with beef and captain’s biscuits
And pickled pork they loaded she.
There was gorging Jack and guzzling Jimmy,
And the youngest he was little Billee.
Now when they got as far as the Equator
They’d nothing left but one split pea.
Thackeray—Little Billee.

On deck beneath the awning,
I dozing lay and yawning;
It was the gray of dawning,
Ere yet the Sun arose;
And above the funnel’s roaring,
And the fitful wind’s deploring,
I heard the cabin snoring
With universal noise.
Thackeray—The White Squall.

He hath put a girdle ’bout the world
And sounded all her quicksands.
Webster—Duchess of Malfi. Act II. Sc. 1.