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


Ten poor men sleep in peace on one straw heap, as Saadi sings,
But the immensest empire is too narrow for two kings.
Wm. R. Alger—Oriental Poetry. Elbow Room.

Princes are like to heavenly bodies, which cause good or evil times; and which have much veneration, but no rest.
Bacon—Essays. Of Empire.

Malheureuse France! Malheureux roi!
Unhappy France! Unhappy king!
Étienne Béquet. Heading in the Journal des Débats, when Charles X. was driven from the throne.

Ce n’est que lorsqu’il expira
Que le peuple, qui l’enterra, pleura.
And in the years he reigned; through all the country wide,
There was no cause for weeping, save when the good man died.
Beranger—Le Roi Yvetot. Rendering of Thackeray—King of Brentford.

Der König herrscht aber regiert nicht.
The king reigns but does not govern.
Bismarck—In a debate in the Reichstag. Jan. 24, 1882. He denied the application of this maxim to Germany.

The Prussian Sovereigns are in possession of a crown not by the grace of the people, but by God’s grace.
Bismarck—Speech in the Prussian Parliament. (1847).

St. George he was for England; St. Dennis was for France.
Sing, “Honi soit qui mal y pense.”
Black-letter Ballad. London. (1512).

That the king can do no wrong is a necessary and fundamental principle of the English constitution.
Blackstone. Bk. III. Ch. XVII.

The king never dies.
Blackstone—Commentaries. IV. 249.

Many a crown
Covers bald foreheads.
E. B. Browning—Aurora Leigh. Bk. I. L. 754.

I loved no King since Forty One
When Prelacy went down,
A Cloak and Band I then put on,
And preached against the Crown.
Samuel Butler—The Turn-Coat. In Posthumous Works.

Whatever I can say or do,
I’m sure not much avails;
I shall still Vicar be of Bray,
Whichever side prevails.
Samuel Butler—Tale of the Cobbler and the Vicar of Bray. In Posthumous Works.

I dare be bold, you’re one of those
Have took the covenant,
With cavaliers are cavaliers
And with the saints, a saint.
Samuel Butler—Tale of the Cobbler and the Vicar of Bray.

In good King Charles’s golden days
When royalty no harm meant,
A zealous high-churchman was I,
And so I got preferment.
Vicar of Bray. English song. Written before 1710. Also said to have been written by an officer in George the First’s army, Col. Fuller’s regiment. The Vicar of Bray was said to be Rev. Symon Symonds; also Dr. Francis Caswell. A Vicar of Bray, in Berkshire, Eng., was alternately Catholic and Protestant under Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth. See Fuller—Worthies of Berkshire. Simon Aleyn (Allen) named in Brom’s Letters from the Bodleian. Vol. II. Pt. I. P. 100.

God bless the King—I mean the faith’s defender;
God bless (no harm in blessing) the pretender;
But who the pretender is, or who is King—
God bless us all—that’s quite another thing.
John Byrom—Miscellaneous Pieces.

Every noble crown is, and on Earth will forever be, a crown of thorns.
Carlyle—Past and Present. Bk. III. Ch. VIII.

Fallitur egregio quisquis sub principe credet
Servitutem. Nunquam libertas gratior extat
Quam sub rege pio.
That man is deceived who thinks it slavery to live under an excellent prince. Never does liberty appear in a more gracious form than under a pious king.
Claudianus—De Laudibus Stilichonis. III. 113.

’Tis a very fine thing to be father-in-law
To a very magnificent three-tailed bashaw.
George Colman (The Younger)—Blue Beard. Act III. Sc. 4.

La clémence est la plus belle marque
Qui fasse à l’univers connaître un vrai monarque.
Clemency is the surest proof of a true monarch.
Corneille—Cinna. IV. 4.

I am monarch of all I survey,
My right there is none to dispute,
From the centre all round to the sea,
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.
Cowper—Verses supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk.

Now let us sing, long live the king.
Cowper—History of John Gilpin.

And kind as kings upon their coronation day.
Dryden—Fables. The Hind and the Panther. Pt. I. L. 271.

A man’s a man,
But when you see a king, you see the work
Of many thousand men.
George Eliot—Spanish Gypsy. Bk. I.

Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?
Exodus. II. 14.

Tout citoyen est roi sous un roi citoyen.
Every citizen is king under a citizen king.
Favart—Les Trois Sultanes. II. 3.

Es war ein König in Tule
Gar treu bis an das Grab,
Dem sterbend seine Buhle
Einen gold’nen Becher gab.
There was a king of Thule,
Was faithful till the grave,
To whom his mistress dying,
A golden goblet gave.
Goethe—Faust. The King of Thule. Bayard Taylor’s trans.

Der Kaiser of dis Faderland,
Und Gott on high all dings commands,
We two—ach! Don’t you understand?
Myself—und Gott.
A. M. R. Gordon (McGregor Rose)—Kaiser & Co. Later called Hoch der Kaiser. Pub. in Montreal Herald, Oct., 1897, after the Kaiser’s Speech on the Divine Right of Kings. Recited by Captain Coghlan at a banquet.

As yourselves your empires fall,
And every kingdom hath a grave.
William Habington—Night.

Elle gouvernait, mais elle ne régnait pas.
She governs but she does not reign.
Hénault—Memoirs. 161. Said of Mme. des Ursins, favorite of Philip V. of Spain.

The Royal Crown cures not the headache.
Herbert—Jacula Prudentum.

The rule
Of the many is not well. One must be chief
In war and one the king.
Homer—Iliad. Bk. II. L. 253. Bryant’s trans.

Quidquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi.
Whenever monarchs err, the people are punished.
Horace—Epistles. I. 2. 14.

On the king’s gate the moss grew gray;
The king came not. They call’d him dead;
And made his eldest son, one day,
Slave in his father’s stead.
Helen Hunt Jackson—Coronation.

God gives not kings the stile of Gods in vaine,
For on his throne his sceptre do they sway;
And as their subjects ought them to obey,
So kings should feare and serve their God againe.
King James—Sonnet Addressed to his son, Prince Henry.

Si la bonne foi était bannie du reste du monde, il faudrait qu’on la trouvât dans la bouche des rois.
Though good faith should be banished from the rest of the world, it should be found in the mouths of kings.
Jean II. See Biographie Universelle.

The trappings of a monarchy would set up an ordinary commonwealth.
Samuel Johnson—Life of Milton.

Princes that would their people should do well
Must at themselves begin, as at the head;
For men, by their example, pattern out
Their imitations, and regard of laws:
A virtuous court a world to virtue draws.
Ben Jonson—Cynthia’s Revels. Act V. Sc. 3.

A prince without letters is a Pilot without eyes. All his government is groping.
Ben Jonson—Discoveries. Illiteratus. Princeps.

They say Princes learn no art truly, but the art of horsemanship. The reason is, the brave beast is no flatterer. He will throw a Prince as soon as his groom.
Ben Jonson—Discoveries. Illiteratus. Princeps.

Over all things certain, this is sure indeed,
Suffer not the old King, for we know the breed.
Kipling—The Old Issue. In the Five Nations.

’Ave you ’eard o’ the Widow at Windsor
With a hairy old crown on ’er ’ead?
She ’as ships on the foam—she ’as millions at ’ome.
An’ she pays us poor beggars in red.
Kipling—The Widow at Windsor.

La cour est comme un édifice bâti de marbre; je veux dire qu’elle est composée d’hommes fort durs mais fort polis.
The court is like a palace built of marble; I mean that it is made up of very hard but very polished people.
La Bruyère—Les Caractères. VIII.

Ah! vainest of all things
Is the gratitude of kings.
Longfellow—Belisarius. St. 8.

Qui ne sait dissimuler, ne sait régner.
He who knows not how to dissimulate, can not reign.
Louis XI. See Roche et Chasles—Hist. de France. Vol. II. P. 30.

L’état c’est moi.
I am the State.
Attributed to Louis XIV of France. Probably taken from a phrase of Bossuet’s referring to the King: “tout l’état est en lui”; which may be freely translated: “he embodies the State.”

Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit regnare.
He who knows how to dissimulate knows how to reign.
Vicentius Lupanus—De Magistrat. Franc. Lib. I. See Lipsius—Politica sive Civilis Doctrina. Lib. IV. Cap. 14. Conrad Lycosthenes—Apopothegmata. De Simulatione & Dissimulatione. Burton—Anatomy of Melancholy. Pt. I. Sect. II. Mem. III. Subsec. 15. Palingenius—Zodiacus Vitæ. Lib. IV. 684. Also given as a saying of Emperor Frederick I., (Barbarossa), Louis XI, and Philip II. of Spain. Tacitus—Annales. IV. 71.

A crown
Golden in show, is but a wreath of thorns.
Brings dangers, troubles, cares, and sleepless nights
To him who wears the regal diadem.
Milton—Paradise Regained. Bk. II. L. 458.

His fair large front and eye sublime declared
Absolute rule; and hyacinthine locks
Round from his parted forelock manly hung
Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. IV. L. 300.

’Tis so much to be a king, that he only is so by being so.
Montaigne—Essays. Of the Inconveniences of Greatness.

A crown! what is it?
It is to bear the miseries of a people!
To hear their murmurs, feel their discontents,
And sink beneath a load of splendid care!
Hannah More—Daniel. Pt. VI.

An nescis longos regibus esse manus?
Knowest thou not that kings have long hands?
Ovid—Heroides. XVII. 166.

Est aliquid valida sceptra tenere manu.
It is something to hold the scepter with a firm hand.
Ovid—Remedia Amoris. 480.

The King is dead! Long live the King!
Pardoe—Life of Louis XIV. Vol. III. P. 457.

But all’s to no end, for the times will not mend
Till the King enjoys his own again.
Martin Parker. Upon Defacing of White-Hall. (1645).

What is a king? a man condemn’d to bear
The public burthen of the nation’s care.
Prior—Solomon. Bk. III. L. 275.

Put not your trust in princes.
Psalms. CXLVI. 3.

Savoir dissimuler est le savoir des rois.
To know how to dissemble is the knowledge of kings.

A merry monarch, scandalous and poor.
Earl of Rochester—On the King.

Here lies our sovereign lord, the king,
Whose word no man relies on,
Who never said a foolish thing,
And never did a wise one.
Rochester. To Charles II. “That is very true, for my words are my own. My actions are my minister’s.” Answer of Charles II, according to the account in Hume’s History of England. VIII. P. 312.

Here lies our mutton-looking king,
Whose word no man relied on,
Who never said a foolish thing,
Nor ever did a wise one.
Another version of Rochester’s Epitaph on Charles II, included in works of Quarles.

Wenn die Könige bau’n, haben die Kärmer zu thun.
When kings are building, draymen have something to do.
Schiller—Kant und Seine Ausleger.

For monarchs seldom sigh in vain.
Scott—Marmion. Canto V. St. 9.

O Richard! O my king!
The universe forsakes thee!
Michel Jean Sedaine—Richard Cœur de Lion. Blondel’s Song.

Alieno in loco
Haud stabile regnum est.
The throne of another is not stable for thee.
Seneca—Hercules Furens. CCCXLIV.

Ars prima regni posse te invidiam pati.
The first art to be learned by a ruler is to endure envy.
Seneca—Hercules Furens. CCCLIII.

Omnes sub regno graviore regnum est.
Every monarch is subject to a mightier one.
Seneca—Hercules Furens. DCXIV.

His legs bestrid the ocean; his rear’d arm
Crested the world: his voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder.
Antony and Cleopatra. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 28.

The gates of monarchs
Are arch’d so high that giants may jet through
And keep their impious turbans on.
Cymbeline. Act III. Sc. 3. L. 4.

There’s such divinity doth hedge a king,
That treason can but peep to what it would.
Hamlet. Act IV. Sc. 5. L. 123.

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 31.

Every subject’s duty is the king’s; but every subject’s soul is his own.
Henry V. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 186.

And fearless minds climb soonest unto crowns.
Henry VI. Pt. III. Act IV. Sc. 7. L. 63.

O, how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favors!
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars and women have;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.
Henry VIII. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 366.

She had all the royal makings of a queen;
As holy oil, Edward Confessor’s crown,
The rod, and bird of peace, and all such emblems
Laid nobly on her.
Henry VIII. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 87.

Ay, every inch a king.
King Lear. Act IV. Sc. 6. L. 109.

The king-becoming graces,
As justice, verity, temperance, stableness,
Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness,
Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude,
I have no relish of them.
Macbeth. Act IV. Sc. 3. L. 91.

A substitute shines brightly as a king
Until a king be by, and then his state
Empties itself, as doth an inland brook
Into the main waters.
Merchant of Venice. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 94.

We are enforc’d to farm our royal realm;
The revenue whereof shall furnish us
For our affairs in hand.
Richard II. Act I. Sc. 4. L. 45.

Let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
How some have been depos’d, some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have depos’d,
Some poison’d by their wives, some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d.
Richard II. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 155.

Yet looks he like a king; behold, his eye,
As bright as is the eagle’s, lightens forth
Controlling majesty.
Richard II. Act III. Sc. 3. L. 68.

I give this heavy weight from off my head,
And this unwieldy sceptre from my hand,
The pride of kingly sway from out my heart;
With mine own tears I wash away my value,
With mine own hands I give away my crown,
With mine own tongue deny my sacred state,
With mine own breath release all duteous oaths.
Richard II. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 204.

The king’s name is a tower of strength,
Which they upon the adverse party want.
Richard III. Act V. Sc. 3. L. 12.

Kings are like stars—they rise and set, they have
The worship of the world, but no repose.
Shelley—Hellas. Mahmud to Hassan. L. 195.

Hail, glorious edifice, stupendous work!
God bless the Regent, and the Duke of York!
Horace and James Smith—Rejected Addresses. Loyal Effusion. L. 1.

A prince, the moment he is crown’d,
Inherits every virtue sound,
As emblems of the sovereign power,
Like other baubles in the Tower:
Is generous, valiant, just, and wise,
And so continues till he dies.
Swift—On Poetry. L. 191.

Hener was the hero-king,
Heaven-born, dear to us,
Showing his shield
A shelter for peace.
Esais Tegnér—Fridthjof’s Saga. Canto XXI. St. 7.

Broad-based upon her people’s will,
And compassed by the inviolate sea.
Tennyson—To the Queen. St. 9.

In that fierce light which beats upon a throne.
Tennyson—Idylls of the King. Dedication. L. 26.

Titles are abolished; and the American Republic swarms with men claiming and bearing them.
Thackeray—Round Head Papers. On Ribbons.

Le roi règne, il ne gouverne pas.
The king reigns but does not govern.
Thiers. In an early number of the National, a newspaper under the direction of himself and his political friends six months before the dissolution of the monarchy. July 1, 1830. Jan Zamoyski, in the Polish and Hungarian Diets.

Le premier qui fut roi, fut un soldat heureux;
Qui sert bien son pays, n’a pas besoin d’aïeux.
The first king was a successful soldier;
He who serves well his country has no need of ancestors.
Voltaire—Mérope. I. 3.

Hail to the crown by Freedom shaped—to gird
An English sovereign’s brow! and to the throne
Whereon he sits! whose deep foundations lie
In veneration and the people’s love.
Wordsworth—Excursion. Bk. IV.

A partial world will listen to my lays,
While Anna reigns, and sets a female name
Unrival’d in the glorious lists of fame.
Young—Force of Religion. Bk. I. L. 6.

Should the whole frame of nature round him break
In ruin and confusion hurled,
He, unconcerned, would hear the mighty crack,
And stand secure amidst a falling world.
Addison—Horace. Ode III. Bk. III.

And when ’midst fallen London they survey
The stone where Alexander’s ashes lay,
Shall own with humble pride the lesson just
By Time’s slow finger written in the dust.
Mrs. Barbauld—Eighteen Hundred and Eleven.

There is a temple in ruin stands,
Fashion’d by long forgotten hands:
Two or three columns, and many a stone,
Marble and granite, with grass o’ergrown!
Byron—Siege of Corinth. St. 18.

While in the progress of their long decay,
Thrones sink to dust, and nations pass away.
Earl of Carlisle—On the Ruins of Pæstum. Same idea in Pope’s Messiah.

What cities, as great as this, have … promised themselves immortality! Posterity can hardly trace the situation of some. The sorrowful traveller wanders over the awful ruins of others…. Here stood their citadel, but now grown over with weeds; there their senate-house, but now the haunt of every noxious reptile; temples and theatres stood here, now only an undistinguished heap of ruins.
Goldsmith—The Bee. No. IV. A City Night-Piece. (1759).

The ruins of himself! now worn away
With age, yet still majestic in decay.
Homer—Odyssey. Bk. XXIV. L. 271. Pope’s trans.

For, to make deserts, God, who rules mankind,
Begins with kings, and ends the work by wind.
Victor Hugo—The Vanished City.

History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription moulders from the tablet: the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand; and their epitaphs, but characters written in the dust?
Irving—The Sketch Book. Westminster Abbey.

Babylon is fallen, is fallen.
Isaiah. XXI. 9.

When I have been indulging this thought I have, in imagination, seen the Britons of some future century, walking by the banks of the Thames, then overgrown with weeds and almost impassable with rubbish. The father points to his son where stood St. Paul’s, the Monument, the Bank, the Mansion House, and other places of the first distinction.
London Magazine, 1745. Article, Humorous Thoughts on the Removal of the Seat of Empire and Commerce.

Gaudensque viam fecisse ruina.
And rejoicing that he has made his way by ruin.
Lucanus—Pharsalia. Bk. I. 150. (Referring to Julius Cæsar.)

She [the Roman Catholic Church] may still exist in undiminished vigour, when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.
Macaulay—Ranke’s History of the Popes. Same idea in his Review of Mitford’s Greece. Last Par. (1824). Also in his Review of Mill’s Essay on Government. (1829). Same thought also in Poems of a Young Nobleman lately deceased—supposed to be written by Thomas, second Lord Lyttleton, describing particularly the State of England, and the once flourishing City of London. In a letter from an American Traveller, dated from the Ruinous Portico of St. Paul’s, in the year 2199, to a friend settled in Boston, the Metropolis of the Western Empire. (1771). The original said to be taken from Louis S. Mercier—L’An Deux Mille Quatre Cent-Quarante. Written 1768, pub. 1770. Disowned in part by his executors.

For such a numerous host
Fled not in silence through the frighted deep
With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
Confusion worse confounded.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. II. L. 993.

Prostrate the beauteous ruin lies; and all
That shared its shelter, perish in its fall.
Wm. Pitt—The Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin.

In the firm expectation that when London shall be a habitation of bitterns, when St. Paul and Westminster Abbey shall stand shapeless and nameless ruins in the midst of an unpeopled marsh, when the piers of Waterloo Bridge shall become the nuclei of islets of reeds and osiers, and cost the jagged shadows of their broken arches on the solitary stream, some Transatlantic commentator will be weighing in the scales of some new and now unimagined system of criticism the respective merits of the Bells and the Fudges and their historians.
Shelley—Dedication to Peter Bell the Third.

Red ruin and the breaking-up of all.
Tennyson—Idylls of the King. Guinevere. Fifth line.

Behold this ruin! ’Twas a skull
Once of ethereal spirit full!
This narrow cell was Life’s retreat;
This place was Thought’s mysterious seat!
What beauteous pictures fill’d that spot,
What dreams of pleasure, long forgot!
Nor Love, nor Joy, nor Hope, nor Fear,
Has left one trace, one record here.
Anna Jane Vardill (Mrs. James Niven.) Appeared in European Magazine, Nov., 1816, with signature V. Since said to have been found near a skeleton in the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln’s Inn, London. Falsely claimed for J. D. Gordman. Robert Philip claims it in a newspaper pub. 1826.

Etiam quæ sibi quisque timebat
Unius in miseri exitium conversa tulere.
What each man feared would happen to himself, did not trouble him when he saw that it would ruin another.
Vergil—Æneid. II. 130.

Who knows but that hereafter some traveller like myself will sit down upon the banks of the Seine, the Thames, or the Zuyder Zee, where now, in the tumult of enjoyment, the heart and the eyes are too slow to take in the multitude of sensations? Who knows but he will sit down solitary amid silent ruins, and weep a people inurned and their greatness changed into an empty name?
Volney—Ruins. Ch. II.

The next Augustan age will dawn on the other side of the Atlantic. There will, perhaps, be a Thucydides at Boston, a Xenophon at New York, in time a Vergil at Mexico, and a Newton at Peru. At last some curious traveller from Lima will visit England, and give a description of the ruins of St. Paul’s, like the editions of Balbec and Palmyra.
Horace Walpole—Letter to Horace Mann. Nov. 24, 1774.

I do love these ancient ruins.
We never tread upon them but we set
Our foot upon some reverend history.
John Webster—The Duchess of Malfi. Act V. Sc. 3.

Where now is Britain?
Even as the savage sits upon the stone
That marks where stood her capitols, and hears
The bittern booming in the weeds, he shrinks
From the dismaying solitude.
Henry Kirke White—Time.

Final Ruin fiercely drives
Her ploughshare o’er creation.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night IX. L. 167.