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


Upon the cunning loom of thought
We weave our fancies, so and so.
T. B. Aldrich—Cloth of Gold. Prelude.

Sempre il miglior non è il parer primiero.
First thoughts are not always the best.
Alfieri—Don Garzia. III. 1.

The kings of modern thought are dumb.
Matthew Arnold—Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse.

Great thoughts, like great deeds, need
No trumpet.
Bailey—Festus. Sc. Home.

I’ll put that in my considering cap.
Beaumont and Fletcher—Loyal Subject. Act II. Sc. 1.

Qui sait si l’on ne verra pas que le phosphore et l’esprit vont ensemble?
Who knows whether it is not true that phosphorus and mind are not the same thing?
Henri Beyle (Stendhal)—Histoire de la Peinture en Italie. Ch. XCI. P. 209. (Ed. 1854).

Sow a thought and reap an act.
Quoted by G. D. Boardman.

Thought is valuable in proportion as it is generative.
Bulwer-Lytton—Caxtoniana. Essay XIV.

The first thought is often the best.
Bishop Butler—Sermon on the Character of Balaam. Seventh Sermon.

What exile from himself can flee?
To zones, though more and more remote,
Still, still pursues, where’er I be,
The blight of life—the demon Thought.
Byron—Childe Harold. To Inez. Canto I. St. 84. L. 6.

I stood
Among them, but not of them: in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts.
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto III. St. 113.

Whatsoe’er thy birth,
Thou wert a beautiful thought and softly bodied forth.
Byron—Childe Harold. Canto IV. St. 115.

The power of Thought,—the magic of the Mind!
Byron—Corsair. Canto I. St. 8.

Nay, in every epoch of the world, the great event, parent of all others, is it not the arrival of a Thinker in the world?
Carlyle—Heroes and Hero Worship. Lecture I.

Thought once awakened does not again slumber.
Carlyle—Heroes and Hero Worship. Lecture I.

My thoughts ran a wool-gathering.
Cervantes—Don Quixote. Pt. II. Ch. LVII.

With curious art the brain, too finely wrought,
Preys on herself, and is destroyed by thought.
Churchill—Epistle to Wm. Hogarth. L. 645.

Cujusvis hominis est errare; nullius, nisi insipientis, in errore perseverare. Posteriores enim cogitationes (ut aiunt) sapientiores solent esse.
Any man may make a mistake; none but a fool will stick to it. Second thoughts are best as the proverb says.
Cicero—Philippicæ. XII. 2.

Old things need not be therefore true,
O brother men, nor yet the new;
Ah! still awhile the old thought retain,
And yet consider it again!
Arthur Hugh Clough—Ah, yet Consider it Again.

Perhaps ’tis pretty to force together
Thoughts so all unlike each other;
To mutter and mock a broken charm,
To dally with wrong that does no harm.
Coleridge—Christabel. Conclusion to Part II.

In indolent vacuity of thought.
Cowper—Task. Bk. IV. The Winter Evening. L. 297.

Je pense, done je suis.
I think, therefore I am.
Descartes—Principes de la Philosophie. I. Sec. VII. Cogito, ergo sum. (Latin of same.)

He trudg’d along, unknowing what he sought,
And whistled as he went, for want of thought.
Dryden—Cymon and Iphigenia. L. 84.

Second thoughts, they say, are best.
Dryden—The Spanish Friar. Act II. Sc. 2. Euripides—Hippolytus. 438.

For thoughts are so great—aren’t they, sir?
They seem to lie upon us like a deep flood.
George Eliot—Adam Bede. Ch. VIII.

Our growing thought
Makes growing revelation.
George Eliot—Spanish Gypsy. Bk. II.

The revelation of thought takes men out of servitude into freedom.
Emerson—Conduct of Life. Fate.

Every thought which genius and piety throw into the world, alters the world.
Emerson—Essays. Of Politics.

Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world.
Emerson—Letters and Social Aims. Progress of Culture.

Wer kann was Dummes, wer was Kluges denken,
Das nicht die Vorwelt schon gedacht.
Who can think wise or stupid things at all that were not thought already in the past.
Goethe—Faust. II. 2. 1.

Those who think must govern those that toil.
Goldsmith—The Traveller. L. 372.

Thoughts that breathe and words that burn.
Gray—Progress of Poesy. III. 3. L. 4.

Their own second and sober thoughts.
Matthew Henry—Exposition. Job VI. 29.

A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times.
Holmes—The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table.

Why can’t somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks?
Holmes—Professor at the Breakfast Table.

Every man who speaks out loud and clear is tinting the “Zeitgeist.” Every man who expresses what he honestly thinks is true is changing the Spirit of the Times. Thinkers help other people to think, for they formulate what others are thinking. No person writes or thinks alone—thought is in the air, but its expression is necessary to create a tangible Spirit of the Times.
Elbert Hubbard—Pig-Pen Pete. The Bee.

That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong one.
Samuel Johnson. Boswell’s Life of Johnson. (1770).

My thoughts and I were of another world.
Ben Jonson—Every Man Out of His Humour. Act III. Sc. 3.

Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose,
Flushing his brow.
Keats—The Eve of St. Agnes. St. 16.

The thoughts that come often unsought, and, as it were, drop into the mind, are commonly the most valuable of any we have, and therefore should be secured, because they seldom return again.
Locke—Letter to Mr. Sam’l Bold, May 16, 1699.

A thought often makes us hotter than a fire.
Longfellow—Drift-Wood. Table-Talk.

The surest pledge of a deathless name
Is the silent homage of thoughts unspoken.
Longfellow—Herons of Elmwood. St. 9.

My own thoughts
Are my companions.
Longfellow—Masque of Pandora. Pt. III. Tower of Prometheus on Mount Caucasus.

Thoughts so sudden, that they seem
The revelations of a dream.
Longfellow—Prelude to Tales of a Wayside Inn. Pt. I. L. 233.

All thoughts that mould the age begin
Deep down within the primitive soul.
Lowell—An Incident in a Railroad Car.

A penny for your thought.
Lyly—Euphues. Swift—Polite Conversation. Introduction.

Annihilating all that’s made
To a green thought in a green shade.
Andrew Marvell—The Garden. Translated.

Grand Thoughts that never can be wearied out,
Showing the unreality of Time.
Richard Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton)—Sonnet To Charles Lamb.

Thoughts that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. III. L. 37.

Ohne Phosphor kein Gedanke.
No thought without phosphorus.
Jacob Moleschott—Lehre der Nahrungsmittel. II. 1. 4.

His thoughts have a high aim, though their dwelling be in the vale of a humble heart.

It is often said that second thoughts are best. So they are in matters of judgment, but not in matters of conscience. In matters of duty, first thoughts are commonly best. They have more in them of the voice of God.
Cardinal Newman.

Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed.
Blaise Pascal—Thoughts. Ch. II. 10.

Thought can wing its way
Swifter than lightning-flashes or the beam
That hastens on the pinions of the morn.

As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
Proverbs. XXIII. 7.

Gaily I lived as ease and nature taught,
And spent my little life without a thought,
And am amazed that Death, that tyrant grim,
Should think of me, who never thought of him.
Abbé Regnier.

Sweetest mother, I can weave no more to-day,
For thoughts of him come thronging,
Him for whom my heart is longing—
For I know not where my weary fingers stray.
Sappho—Fragment. J. S. Easby-Smith’s trans.

At Learning’s fountain it is sweet to drink,
But ’tis a nobler privilege to think.
J. G. Saxe—The Library.

Es lebt ein anders denkendes Geschlecht!
There lives a race which otherwise does think.
Schiller—Wilhelm Tell. II. 1. 206.

Still are the thoughts to memory dear.
Scott—Rokeby. Canto I. St. 33.

Ah! comme vous dites, il faut glisser sur bien des pensées, et ne faire pas semblant de les voir.
Ah! as you say, we should slip over many thoughts and act as though we did not perceive them.
Mme. De Sévigné—Lettres. 70.

But now behold,
In the quick forge and working-house of thought,
How London doth pour out her citizens!
Henry V. Act V. Prologue. L. 22.

My thoughts are whirled like a potter’s wheel.
Henry VI. Pt. I. Act I. Sc. 5. L. 19.

A maiden hath no tongue but thought.
Merchant of Venice. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 8.

Men’s first thoughts in this matter are generally better than their second; their natural notions better than those refin’d by study, or consultation with casuists.
Earl of Shaftesbury—Characteristics. Essay on The Freedom of Wit and Humour. Sect. I.

Strange thoughts beget strange deeds.
Shelley—The Cenci. Act IV. Sc. 4.

A thought by thought is piled, till some great truth
Is loosened, and the nations echo round,
Shaken to their roots, as do the mountains now.
Shelley—Prometheus Unbound. Act II. Sc. 3.

Come near me! I do weave
A chain I cannot break—I am possest
With thoughts too swift and strong for one lone human breast.
Shelley—Revolt of Islam. Canto IX. St. 33.

Second thoughts oftentimes are the very worst of all thoughts.
Shenstone—Detached Thoughts on Men and Manners.

They are never alone that are accompanied with noble thoughts.
Sir Philip Sidney—The Arcadia. Bk. I.

If I could think how these my thoughts to leave,
Or thinking still, my thoughts might have good end:
If rebel sense would reason’s law receive;
Or reason foil’d would not in vain contend:
Then might I think what thoughts were best to think:
Then might I wisely swim, or gladly sink.
Sir Philip Sidney—Sonnet.

Oh, the fetterless mind! how it wandereth free
Through the wildering maze of Eternity!
Henry Smith—Thought.

Thinking is but an idle waste of thought,
And naught is everything, and everything is naught.
Horace and James Smith—Rejected Addresses. Cui Bono? (Imitation of Byron.)

Thought can never be compared with action, but when it awakens in us the image of truth.
Madame de Staël—Germany. Pt. I. Ch. VIII.

Time to me this truth has taught,
(’Tis a treasure worth revealing)
More offend from want of thought
Than from any want of feeling.
Charles Swain—Want of Thought.

What a man thinks in his spirit in the world, that he does after his departure from the world when he becomes a spirit.
Swedenborg—Divine Providence. 101.

Though man a thinking being is defined,
Few use the grand prerogative of mind.
How few think justly of the thinking few!
How many never think, who think they do.
Jane Taylor—Essays in Rhyme. On Morals and Manners. Prejudice. Essay I. St. 45.

In matters of conscience that is the best sense which every wise man takes in before he hath sullied his understanding with the designs of sophisters and interested persons.
Jeremy Taylor—Ductor Dubitantium (Rule of Conscience) Bk. I. Ch. I. Rule VI. (1660).

And Thought leapt out to wed with Thought,
Ere Thought could wed itself with Speech.
Tennyson—In Memoriam. Pt. XXIII. St. 4.

Large elements in order brought,
And tracts of calm from tempest made,
And world-wide fluctuation sway’d,
In vassal tides that follow’d thought.
Tennyson—In Memoriam. CXII. St. 4.

Yet I doubt not thro’ the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.
Tennyson—Locksley Hall. St. 69.

And yet, as angels in some brighter dreams
Call to the soul when man doth sleep,
So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes,
And into glory peep.
Henry Vaughan—They are all gone into the World of Light. St. 7.

Lorsqu’une pensée est trop faible pour porter une expression simple, c’est la marque pour la rejeter.
When a thought is too weak to be expressed simply, it is a proof that it should be rejected.
Vauvenargues—Reflexions. III.

Les grandés pensées viennent du cœur.
Great thoughts come from the heart.
Vauvenargues—Reflexions. CXXVII.

His high-erected thoughts look’d down upon
The smiling valley of his fruitful heart.
Daniel Webster—A Monumental Column.

But hushed be every thought that springs
From out the bitterness of things.
Wordsworth—Elegiac Stanzas. Addressed to Sir G. H. B.

Yet, sometimes, when the secret cup
Of still and serious thought went round,
It seemed as if he drank it up,
He felt with spirit so profound.

Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
That they wore born for immortality.
Wordsworth—Sonnet. On King’s College Chapel, Cambridge.

Knocks at our hearts, and finds our thoughts at home.
Young—Love of Fame. Satire I. L. 99.