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


O ye powers that search
The heart of man, and weigh his inmost thoughts,
If I have done amiss, impute it not!
The best may err, but you are good.
Addison—Cato. Act V. Sc. 4.

D’uomo è il fallir, ma dal malvagio il buono
Scerne il dolor del fallo.
To err is human; but contrition felt for the crime distinguishes the virtuous from the wicked.
Alfieri—Rosmunda. III. 1.

To sigh, yet not recede; to grieve, yet not repent!
Crabbe—Tales of the Hall. Bk. III. Boys at School. Last line.

When prodigals return great things are done.
A. A. Dowty—The Siliad. In Beeton’s Christmas Annual. 1873.

I do not buy repentance at so heavy a cost as a thousand drachmæ.
Aulus Gellius. Bk. I. Ch. VI. 6. Quoting Demosthenes to Lais.

When iron scourge, and tort’ring hour
The bad affright, afflict the best.
Gray—Ode to Adversity. Same phrase “the torturing hour” in Campbell—Pleasures of Hope. Pt. I. Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act V. Sc. 1.

Restore to God his due in tithe and time:
A tithe purloin’d cankers the whole estate.
Herbert—The Temple. The Church Porch.

Who after his transgression doth repent,
Is halfe, or altogether, innocent.
Herrick—Hesperides. Penitence.

He comes never late who comes repentant.
Juan de Horozco—Manasses, Rey de India. Jorn. III.

Woman, amends may never come too late.
Thos. Lodge and Robt. Greene—A Looking Glass for London and England.

God dropped a spark down into everyone,
And if we find and fan it to a blaze,
It’ll spring up and glow, like—like the sun,
And light the wandering out of stony ways.
Masefield—Widow in the Bye Street. Pt. VI.

When the scourge
Inexorable, and the torturing hour
Calls us to penance.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. II. L. 90.

He [Cato] used to say that in all his life he never repented but of three things. The first was that he had trusted a woman with a secret; the second that he had gone by sea when he might have gone by land; and the third, that he had passed one day without having a will by him.
Plutarch—Life of Cato. Vol. II. P. 495. Langhorne’s trans. Same in Simplicius—Commentary on the Enchiridion of Epictetus. Ch. IX. P. 52. (Ed. 1670).

Der Wahn ist kurtz, die Reu ist lang.
The dream is short, repentance long.
Schiller—Lied von der Glocke.

But with the morning cool repentance came.
Scott—Rob Roy. Ch. XII. The Monastery. Ch. III. Note 11. “But with the morning cool reflection came.” In Chronicles of Canongate. Ch. IV. “Calm” substituted for “cool” in The Antiquary. Ch. V.

Nam sera nunquam est ad bonos mores via.
Quem pœnitet peccasse, pæne est innocens.
It is never too late to turn from the errors of our ways:
He who repents of his sins is almost innocent.
Seneca—Agamemnon. 242.

Nec unquam primi consilii deos pœnitet.
God never repents of what He has first resolved upon.
Seneca—De Beneficiis. VI. 23.

What then? what rests?
Try what repentance can: what can it not?
Yet what can it when one cannot repent?
O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
O limed soul, that struggling to be free
Art more engag’d!
Hamlet. Act III. Sc. 3. L. 64.

Well, I’ll repent, and that suddenly, while I am in some liking; I shall be out of heart shortly, and then I shall have no strength to repent.
Henry IV. Pt. I. Act III. Sc. 3. L. 5.

Under your good correction, I have seen,
When, after execution judgment hath
Repented o’er his doom.
Measure for Measure. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 10.

And wet his grave with my repentant tears.
Richard III. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 216.

Cave ne quidquam incipias, quod post pœniteat.
Take care not to begin anything of which you may repent.

Velox consilium sequitur pœnitentia.
Repentance follows hasty counsels.

Amid the roses, fierce Repentance rears
Her snaky crest; a quick-returning pang
Shoots through the conscious heart.
Thomson—Seasons. Spring. L. 995.

And while the lamp holds out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return.
Isaac Watts—Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Bk. I. Hymn 88.