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


Tools were made and born were hands,
Every farmer understands.
Wm. Blake—Proverbs.

Hâtez-vous lentement; et, sans perdre courage,
Vingt fois sur le métier remettez votre ouvrage.
Hasten slowly, and without losing heart, put your work twenty times upon the anvil.
Boileau—L’Art Poétique. I. 171.

The dog that trots about finds a bone.
Borrow—Bible in Spain. Ch. XLVII. (Cited as a gipsy saying.)

The best verse hasn’t been rhymed yet,
The best house hasn’t been planned,
The highest peak hasn’t been climbed yet,
The mightiest rivers aren’t spanned;
Don’t worry and fret, faint-hearted,
The chances have just begun
For the best jobs haven’t been started,
The best work hasn’t been done.
Berton Braley—No Chance.

By the way,
The works of women are symbolical.
We sew, sew, prick our fingers, dull our sight,
Producing what? A pair of slippers, sir,
To put on when you’re weary—or a stool
To tumble over and vex you***curse that stool!
Or else at best, a cushion where you lean
And sleep, and dream of something we are not,
But would be for your sake. Alas, alas!
This hurts most, this***that, after all, we are paid
The worth of our work, perhaps.
E. B. Browning—Aurora Leigh. Bk. I. L. 465.

Get leave to work
In this world,—’tis the best you get at all.
E. B. Browning—Aurora Leigh. Bk. III. L. 164.

Let no one till his death
Be called unhappy. Measure not the work
Until the day’s out and the labour done.
E. B. Browning—Aurora Leigh. Bk. V. L. 78.

Free men freely work:
Whoever fears God, fears to sit at ease.
E. B. Browning—Aurora Leigh. Bk. VIII. L. 784.

And still be doing, never done.
Butler—Hudibras. Pt. I. Canto I. L. 204.

It is the first of all problems for a man to find out what kind of work he is to do in this universe.
Carlyle—Address at Edinburgh. (1866).

Genuine Work alone, what thou workest faithfully, that is eternal, as the Almighty Founder and World-Builder himself.
Carlyle—Past and Present. Bk. II. Ch. XVII.

All work, even cotton-spinning, is noble; work is alone noble.
Carlyle—Past and Present. Bk. III. Ch. IV.

With hand on the spade and heart in the sky
Dress the ground and till it;
Turn in the little seed, brown and dry,
Turn out the golden millet.
Work, and your house shall be duly fed:
Work, and rest shall be won;
I hold that a man had better be dead
Than alive when his work is done.
Alice Cary—Work.

Earned with the sweat of my brows.
Cervantes—Don Quixote. Pt. I. Bk. I. Ch. 4.

Quanto mas que cada uno es hijo de sus obras.
The rather since every man is the son of his own works.
Cervantes—Don Quixote. Bk. I. Ch. 4.

Each natural agent works but to this end,—
To render that it works on like itself.
George Chapman—Bussy d’Ambois. Act III. Sc. 1.

Ther n’ is no werkman whatever he be,
That may both werken wel and hastily.
This wol be done at leisure parfitly.
Chaucer—Canterbury Tales. The Merchantes Tale. L. 585.

Nowher so besy a man as he ther was,
And yet he semed bisier than he was.
Chaucer—Canterbury Tales. Prologue. L. 321.

Let us take to our hearts a lesson—
No lesson could braver be—
From the ways of the tapestry weavers
On the other side of the sea.
Anson G. Chester—Tapestry Weavers.

Penelopæ telam retexens.
Unravelling the web of Penelope.
Cicero—Acad. Quæst. Bk. IV. 29. 95.

All Nature seems at work, slugs leave their lair—
The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing—
And Winter, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.
Coleridge—Work Without Hope. St. 1.

Every man’s work shall be made manifest.
I Corinthians. III. 13.

Work thou for pleasure—paint or sing or carve
The thing thou lovest, though the body starve—
Who works for glory misses oft the goal;
Who works for money coins his very soul.
Work for the work’s sake, then, and it may be
That these things shall be added unto thee.
Kenyon Cox—Our Motto.

Better to wear out than to rust out.
Bishop Cumberland, to one who urged him not to wear himself out with work. See Horne—Sermon on the Duty of Contending for the Truth. Boswell—Tour to the Hebrides. P. 18. Note. Said by George Whitefield, according to Southey—Life of Wesley. II. p. 170. (Ed. 1858).

The Lord had a job for me, but I had so much to do,
I said, “You get somebody else—or wait till I get through.”
I don’t know how the Lord came out, but He seemed to get along:
But I felt kinda sneakin’ like, ’cause I know’d I done Him wrong.
One day I needed the Lord—needed Him myself—needed Him right away,
And He never answered me at all, but I could hear Him say
Down in my accusin’ heart, “Nigger, I’se got too much to do,
You get somebody else or wait till I get through.”
Paul Laurence Dunbar—The Lord had a Job.

All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
Ecclesiastes. I. 8.

The grinders cease because they are few.
Ecclesiastes. XII. 3.

All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.
Quoted by Maria Edgeworth—Henry and Lucy. Vol. II.

’Tis toil’s reward, that sweetens industry,
As love inspires with strength the enraptur’d thrush.
Ebenezer Elliot—Corn Law Rhymes. No. 7.

Too busy with the crowded hour to fear to live or die.
Emerson—Quatrains. Nature.

A woman’s work, grave sirs, is never done.
Mr. Eusden—Poem. Spoken at a Cambridge Commencement.

Chacun son métier;
Les vaches seront bien gardées.
Each one to his own trade; then would the cows be well cared for.
Florian—Le Vacher et le Garde-chasse.

A ploughman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees.
Franklin—Poor Richard. Preface. (1758).

Handle your tools without mittens.
Franklin—Poor Richard. Preface. (1758).

Plough deep while sluggards sleep.
Franklin—Poor Richard. Preface. (1758).

“Men work together,” I told him from the heart,
“Whether they work together or apart.”
Robert Frost—Tuft of Flowers.

In every rank, or great or small,
’Tis industry supports us all.
Gay—Man, Cat, Dog, and Fly. L. 63.

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.
Genesis. III. 19.

So eine Arbeit wird eigentlich nie fertig; man muss sie für fertig erklären, wenn man nach Zeit und Umstand das Möglichste getan hat.
Properly speaking, such work is never finished; one must declare it so when, according to time and circumstances, one has done one’s best.
Goethe—Italienische Reise. March 16, 1787.

He that well his warke beginneth
The rather a good ende he winneth.
Gower—Confessio Amantis.

A warke it ys as easie to be done
As tys to saye Jacke! robys on.
Halliwell—Archæological Dictionary. Quoted from an old Play. See Grose—Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar tongue. Hudson, the English singer, made popular the refrain, “Before ye could cry ‘Jack Robinson.’”

Joy to the Toiler!—him that tills
The fields with Plenty crowned;
Him with the woodman’s axe that thrills
The wilderness profound.
Benjamin Hathaway—Songs of the Toiler.

Haste makes waste.
Heywood—Proverbs. Pt. I. Ch. II.

The “value” or “worth” of a man is, as of all other things, his price; that is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his power.
Hobbes—Leviathan. Ch. X.

Light is the task when many share the toil.
Homer—Iliad. Bk. XII. L. 493. Bryant’s trans.

The fiction pleased; our generous train complies,
Nor fraud mistrusts in virtue’s fair disguise.
The work she plyed, but, studious of delay,
Each following night reversed the toils of day.
Homer—Odyssey. Bk. XXIV. L. 164. Pope’s trans.

When Darby saw the setting sun
He swung his scythe, and home he run,
Sat down, drank off his quart and said,
“My work is done, I’ll go to bed.”
“My work is done!” retorted Joan,
“My work is done! Your constant tone,
But hapless woman ne’er can say
‘My work is done’ till judgment day.”
St. John Honeywood—Darby and Joan.

Facito aliquid operis, ut semper te diabolus inveniat occupatum.
Keep doing some kind of work, that the devil may always find you employed.
St. Jerome.

I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me: the idea of getting rid of it nearly breaks my heart.
Jerome K. Jerome—Three Men in a Boat. Ch. XV.

Tho’ we earn our bread, Tom,
By the dirty pen,
What we can we will be,
Honest Englishmen.
Do the work that’s nearest
Though it’s dull at whiles,
Helping, when we meet them,
Lame dogs over stiles.
Charles Kingsley—Letter. To Thomas Hughes (1856), inviting Hughes and Tom Taylor to go fishing. See Memoirs of Kingsley, by his wife. Ch. XV.

For men must work and women must weep,
And the sooner it’s over the sooner to sleep,
And good-bye to the bar and its moaning.
Charles Kingsley—Three Fishers.

But till we are built like angels, with hammer and chisel and pen,
We will work for ourself and a woman, for ever and ever, Amen.
Kipling—Imperial Rescript.

The gull shall whistle in his wake, the blind wave break in fire.
He shall fulfill God’s utmost will, unknowing His desire,
And he shall see old planets pass and alien stars arise,
And give the gale his reckless sail in shadow of new skies.
Strong lust of gear shall drive him out and hunger arm his hand,
To wring his food from a desert nude, his foothold from the sand.
Kipling—The Fareloper (Interloper). Pub. in Century Magazine, April, 1909. First pub. in London Daily Telegraph, Jan. 1, 1909. Title given as Vortrekker in his Songs From Books.

And only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame;
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It, for the God of Things as They Are!
Kipling—L’Envoi. In Seven Seas.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessed—they know the angels are on their side;
They know in them is the Grace confessed, and for them are the Mercies multiplied;
They sit at the Feet, they hear the Word, they see how truly the Promise runs;
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and—the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons!
Kipling—The Sons of Mary.

Who first invented work, and bound the free
And holyday-rejoicing spirit down***
To that dry drudgery at the desk’s dead wood?***
Sabbathless Satan!

The finest eloquence is that which gets things done; the worst is that which delays them.
D. Lloyd George. At the Conference of Paris, Jan., 1919.

Unemployment, with its injustice for the man who seeks and thirsts for employment, who begs for labour and cannot get it, and who is punished for failure he is not responsible for by the starvation of his children—that torture is something that private enterprise ought to remedy for its own sake.
D. Lloyd George—Speech. Dec. 6, 1919.

Never idle a moment, but thrifty and thoughtful of others.
Longfellow—Courtship of Miles Standish. Pt. VIII. L. 46.

No man is born into the world whose work
Is not born with him; there is always work,
And tools to work withal, for those who will;
And blessed are the horny hands of toil!
Lowell—A Glance Behind the Curtain. L. 202. “Horny-handed sons of toil.” Popularized by Denis Kearney (Big Denny), of San Francisco.

Divisum sic breve fiet opus.
Work divided is in that manner shortened.
Martial—Epigrams. Bk. IV. 83. 8.

Why do strong arms fatigue themselves with frivolous dumb-bells? To dig a vineyard is a worthier exercise for men.
Martial—Epigrams. Bk. XIV. Ep. 49.

God be thank’d that the dead have left still
Good undone for the living to do—
Still some aim for the heart and the will
And the soul of a man to pursue.
Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton)—Epilogue.

Man hath his daily work of body or mind
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. IV. L. 618.

The work under our labour grows
Luxurious by restraint.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. IX. L. 208.

I am of nothing and to nothing tend,
On earth I nothing have and nothing claim,
Man’s noblest works must have one common end,
And nothing crown the tablet of his name.
Moore—Ode upon Nothing. Appeared in Saturday Magazine about 1836. Not in Collected Works.

The uselessness of men above sixty years of age and the incalculable benefit it would be in commercial, in political, and in professional life, if as a matter of course, men stopped work at this age.
William Osler—Address, at Johns Hopkins University, Feb. 22, 1905.

Study until twenty-five, investigation until forty, profession until sixty, at which age I would have him retired on a double allowance.
William Osler. The statement made by him which gave rise to the report that he had advised chloroform after sixty. Denied by him in Medical Record, March 4, 1905.

Many hands make light work.
William Patten—Expedition into Scotland. (1547). In Arber’s Reprint of 1880.

Nothing is impossible to industry.
Periander of Corinth.

Ease and speed in doing a thing do not give the work lasting solidity or exactness of beauty.
Plutarch—Life of Pericles.

Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.
Psalms. CIV. 23.

When Adam dalfe and Eve spane
So spire if thou may spede,
Where was then the pride of man,
That nowe merres his mede?
Richard Rolle de Hampole—Early English Text Society Reprints. No. 26. P. 79.

How bething the, gentliman,
How Adam dalf, and Eve span.
MS. of the Fifteenth Century. British Museum.

When Adam dolve, and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?
Lines used by John Ball in Wat Tyler’s Rebellion. See Hume—History of England. Vol. I. Ch. XVII. Note 8. So Adam reutte, und Eva span, Wer war da ein eddelman? (Old German saying.)

Der Mohr hat seine Arbeit gethan, der Mohr kann gehen.
The Moor has done his work, the Moor may go.
Schiller—Fiesco. III. 4.

Hard toil can roughen form and face,
And want can quench the eye’s bright grace.
Scott—Marmion. Canto I. St. 28.

What work’s, my countrymen, in hand? where go you
With bats and clubs? The matter? speak, I pray you.
Coriolanus. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 55.

Another lean, unwashed artificer.
King John. Act IV. Sc. 2. L. 201.

Why, universal plodding poisons up
The nimble spirits in the arteries,
As motion and long-during action tires
The sinewy vigour of the traveller.
Love’s Labour’s Lost. Act IV. Sc. 3. L. 305.

A man who has no office to go to—I don’t care who he is—is a trial of which you can have no conception.
Bernard Shaw—Irrational Knot. Ch. XVIII.

I am giving you examples of the fact that this creature man, who in his own selfish affairs is a coward to the backbone, will fight for an idea like a hero…. I tell you, gentlemen, if you can shew a man a piece of what he now calls God’s work to do, and what he will later call by many new names, you can make him entirely reckless of the consequences to himself personally.
Bernard Shaw—Man and Superman. Act III.

A day’s work is a day’s work, neither more nor less, and the man who does it needs a day’s sustenance, a night’s repose, and due leisure, whether he be painter or ploughman.
Bernard Shaw—Unsocial Socialist. Ch. V.

How many a rustic Milton has passed by,
Stifling the speechless longings of his heart,
In unremitting drudgery and care!
How many a vulgar Cato has compelled
His energies, no longer tameless then,
To mould a pin, or fabricate a nail!
Shelley—Queen Mab. Pt. V. St. 9.

Nothing can be done at once hastily and prudently.
Syrus—Maxims. 357.

Ne laterum laves.
Do not wash bricks. (Waste your labor.)
Terence—Phormio. I. IV. 9. A Greek proverb.

A workman that needeth not to be ashamed.
II Timothy. II. 15.

Heaven is blessed with perfect rest but the blessing of earth is toil.
Henry Van Dyke—Toiling of Felix. Last line.

Le fruit du travail est le plus doux des plaisirs.
The fruit derived from labor is the sweetest of pleasures.
Vauvenargues—Réflexions. 200.

Too long, that some may rest,
Tired millions toil unblest.
Wm. Watson—New National Anthem.

But when dread Sloth, the Mother of Doom, steals in,
And reigns where Labour’s glory was to serve,
Then is the day of crumbling not far off.
Wm. Watson—The Mother of Doom. August 28, 1919.

In books, or work, or healthful play.
Isaac Watts—Divine Songs. XX.

There will be little drudgery in this better ordered world. Natural power harnessed in machines will be the general drudge. What drudgery is inevitable will be done as a service and duty for a few years or months out of each life; it will not consume nor degrade the whole life of anyone.
H. G. Wells—Outline of History. Ch. XLI. Par. 4.

Thine to work as well as pray,
Clearing thorny wrongs away;
Plucking up the weeds of sin,
Letting heaven’s warm sunshine in.
Whittier—The Curse of the Charter-Breakers. St. 21.