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


But silence never shows itself to so great an advantage, as when it is made the reply to calumny and defamation, provided that we give no just occasion for them.
Addison—The Tatler. No. 133.

Alta vendetta
D’alto silenzio è figlia.
Deep vengeance is the daughter of deep silence.
Alfieri—La Congiura de’ Pazzi. I. 1.

Qui tacet, consentire videtur.
Silence gives consent.
Pope Boniface VIII. Taken from the Canon Law. Decretals. Bk. V. 12. 43. Fuller—Wise Sentences. Goldsmith—The Good-Natured Man. Act II.

Le silence est l’esprit das sots,
Et l’une des vertus du sage.
Silence is the genius of fools and one of the virtues of the wise.

Three things are ever silent—Thought, Destiny, and the Grave.
Bulwer-Lytton—Harold. Bk. X. Ch. II.

All Heaven and Earth are still, though not in sleep,
But breathless, as we grow when feeling most.
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto III. St. 89.

There was silence deep as death;
And the boldest held his breath,
For a time.
Campbell—Battle of the Baltic.

Speech is great; but silence is greater.
Carlyle—Essays. Characteristics of Shakespeare.

Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time.
Carlyle—Essays. Memoir of the Life of Scott.

Silence is more eloquent than words.
Carlyle—Heroes and Hero Worship. Lecture II.

Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule.
Carlyle—Sartor Resartus. Bk. III. Ch. III.

There are haunters of the silence, ghosts that hold the heart and brain.
Madison Cawein—Haunters of the Silence.

Cum tacent clamant.
When they hold their tongues they cry out.
Cicero—In Catilinam. 1. 8.

And they three passed over the white sands, between the rocks, silent as the shadows.
Coleridge—The Wanderings of Cain.

Striving to tell his woes, words would not come;
For light cares speak, when mighty griefs are dumb.
Samuel Daniel—Complaint of Rosamond. St. 114.

Il ne voit que la nuit, n’entend que le silence.
He sees only night, and hears only silence.
Delille—Imagination. IV.

Silence is the mother of Truth.
Benj. Disraeli—Tancred. Bk. IV. Ch. IV.

A horrid stillness first invades the ear,
And in that silence we the tempest fear.
Dryden—Astræa Redux. L. 7.

Stillborn silence! thou that art
Flood-gate of the deeper heart!
Richard Fleckno—Silence.

Take heed of still waters, they quick pass away.
Herbert—Jacula Prudentum.

Small griefs find tongues: full casques are ever found
To give, if any, yet but little sound.
Deep waters noyselesse are; and this we know,
That chiding streams betray small depth below.
Herrick—Hesperides. To His Mistresse Objecting to Him Neither Toying or Talking.

And silence, like a poultice, comes
To heal the blows of sound.
Holmes—The Music Grinder.

There is a silence where hath been no sound,
There is a silence where no sound may be,
In the cold grave—under the deep, deep sea,
Or in wide desert where no life is found,
Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound.
Hood—Sonnets. Silence.

Est et fideli tuta silentio merces.
There is likewise a reward for faithful silence.
Horace—Carmina. III. 2. 25.

Not much talk—a great, sweet silence.
Henry James, Jr.—A Bundle of Letters. Letter IV.

Vessels never give so great a sound as when they are empty.
Bishop John Jewell—Defense of the Apology for the Church of England.

Rarus sermo illis et magna libido tacendi.
Their conversation was brief, and their desire was to be silent.
Juvenal—Satires. II. 14.

Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time.
Keats—Ode on a Grecian Urn.

Les gens sans bruit sont dangereux;
Il n’en est pas ainsi des autres.
Silent people are dangerous; others are not so.
La Fontaine—Fables. VIII. 23.

Some sipping punch, some sipping tea,
But as you by their faces see
All silent and all damned.
Lamb—Lines made up from a stanza in Wordsworth’s Peter Bell.

All was silent as before—
All silent save the dripping rain.
Longfellow—A Rainy Day.

What shall I say to you? What can I say
Better than silence is?
Longfellow—Morituri Solutamus. L. 128.

Three Silences there are: the first of speech,
The second of desire, the third of thought.
Longfellow—The Three Silences of Molinos.

Where the streame runneth smoothest, the water is deepest.
Lyly—Euphues and His England. P. 287.

I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man and a maid,
And the silence for which music alone finds the word.
Edgar Lee Masters—Silence.

Dixisse me, inquit, aliquando pœnituit, tacuisse nunquam.
He [Xenocrates] said that he had often repented speaking, but never of holding his tongue.
Valerius Maximus. Bk. VII. 2, Ext. 7.

Nothing is more useful than silence.
Menander—Ex Incert. Comœd. P. 216.

You know
There are moments when silence, prolong’d and unbroken,
More expressive may be than all words ever spoken,
It is when the heart has an instinct of what
In the heart of another is passing.
Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton)—Lucile. Pt. II. Canto I. St. 20.

That silence is one of the great arts of conversation is allowed by Cicero himself, who says, there is not only an art, but even an eloquence in it.
Hannah More—Essays on Various Subjects. Thoughts on Conversation.

Silence sweeter is than speech.
D. M. Mulock—Magnus and Morna. Sc. 3.

Be silent and safe—silence never betrays you.
John Boyle O’Reilly—Rules of the Road. St. 2.

Sed taciti fecere tamen convicia vultus.
But still her silent looks loudly reproached me.
Ovid—Amorum. I. 7. 21.

Sæpe tacens vocem verbaque vultus habet.
The silent countenance often speaks.
Ovid—Ars Amatoria. I. 574.

Exigua est virtus præstare silentia rebus;
At contra, gravis est culpa tacenda loqui.
Slight is the merit of keeping silence on a matter, on the other hand serious is the guilt of talking on things whereon we should be silent.
Ovid—Ars Amatoria. Bk. II. 603.

Silence sleeping on a waste of ocean.
Percy Somers Payne—Rest.

Remember what Simonides said,—that he never repented that he had held his tongue, but often that he had spoken.
Plutarch—Morals. Vol. I. Rules for the Preservation of Health.

Said Periander, “Hesiod might as well have kept his breath to cool his pottage.”
Plutarch—Morals. Vol. II. The Banquet of the Seven Wise Men.

La douleur qui se tait n’en est que plus funeste.
Silent anguish is the more dangerous.
Racine—Andromaque. III. 3.

Silence in love bewrays more woe
Than words, though ne’er so witty;
A beggar that is dumb, you know,
May challenge double pity.
Sir Walter Raleigh—The Silent Lover. St. 9.

The silente man still suffers wrong.
The Rock of Regard. J. P. Collier’s Reprint. (1576).

Silence more musical than any song.
Christina G. Rossetti—Sonnet. Rest.

Altissima quæque flumina minimo sono labuntur.
The deepest rivers flow with the least sound.
Quintus Curtius Rufus—De Rebus Gestis Alexandri Magni. VII. 4. 13.

Doch grosse Seelen dulden still.
Great souls suffer in silence.
Schiller—Don Carlos. I. 4. 52.

Bekker schweigt in sieben Sprachen.
Bekker is silent in seven languages.
Schleiermacher. See Letter of Zelter to Goethe. March 15, 1830.

Wise Men say nothing in dangerous times.
John Selden—Table Talk. Wisdom.

Tacere multis discitur vitæ malis.
Silence is learned by the many misfortunes of life.
Seneca—Thyestes. 319.

Be check’d for silence,
But never tax’d for speech.
All’s Well That Ends Well. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 76.

I’ll speak to thee in silence.
Cymbeline. Act V. Sc. 4. L. 29.

The rest is silence.
Hamlet. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 368.

The saying is true “The empty vessel makes the greatest sound.”
Henry V. Act IV. Sc. 4. L. 72.

Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.
Henry VI. Pt. II. Act III. Sc. 1. L. 58.

Silence is only commendable
In a neat’s tongue dried and a maid not vendible.
Merchant of Venice. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 111.

’Tis old, but true, still swine eat all the draff.
Merry Wives of Windsor. Act IV. Sc. 2. L. 96.

Silence is the perfectest herald of joy:
I were but little happy, if I could say how much.
Much Ado About Nothing. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 317.

What; gone without a word?
Ay, so true love should do: it cannot speak;
For truth hath better deeds than words to grace it.
Two Gentlemen of Verona. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 16.

Silence! Oh, well are Death and Sleep and Thou
Three brethren named, the guardians gloomy-winged,
Of one abyss, where life and truth and joy
Are swallowed up.
Shelley—Fragments. Silence.

Shallow brookes murmur moste, deepe silent slide away.
Sir Philip Sidney—The Arcadia. Thirsis and Dorus.

Macaulay is like a book in breeches***He has occasional flashes of silence, that make his conversation perfectly delightful.
Sydney Smith—Lady Holland’s Memoir. Vol. I. P. 363.

Le silence du peuple est la leçon des rois.
The silence of the people is a lesson for kings.
Soanen, Bishop of Senax; also Abbé de Beauvais—Funeral oration over Louis XV.

Woman, to women silence is the best ornament.
Sophocles—Ajax. 293.

To me so deep a silence portends some dread event; a clamorous sorrow wastes itself in sound.
Sophocles—Antigone. 1251.

The deepest rivers make least din,
The silent soule doth most abound in care.
Earl of Stirling—Aurora. (1604). Song.

But let me silent be:
For silence is the speech of love,
The music of the spheres above.
R. H. Stoddard—Speech of Love. St. 4.

Of every noble work the silent part is best,
Of all expression, that which cannot be expressed.
W. W. Story—The Unexpressed.

Silence, beautiful voice.
Tennyson—Maud. Pt. V. St. 3.

And I too talk, and lose the touch
I talk of. Surely, after all,
The noblest answer unto such
Is kindly silence when they brawl.
Tennyson—The After Thought. In Punch. March 7, 1846. (Altered in the published poems to: “Is perfect stillness when they brawl.”)

Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence.
Wordsworth—Intimations of Immortality. IX.

No sound is uttered,—but a deep
And solemn harmony pervades
The hollow vale from steep to steep,
And penetrates the glades.
Wordsworth—Composed upon an Evening of Extraordinary Splendour and Beauty.

The silence that is in the starry sky.
Wordsworth—Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle.