W. Gurney (William Gurney) Benham.

Cassell's book of quotations, proverbs and household words .. online

. (page 70 of 198)
Online LibraryW. Gurney (William Gurney) BenhamCassell's book of quotations, proverbs and household words .. → online text (page 70 of 198)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


(B.C. 0. 612-C. 449).

The day after the fair.

This seems connected with the fkble of
Themistocles, who silenced an officer who
desired to claim superi \r fame for his exploits,


zed by Google



hy telling a fkble of a dispnte between the
Fraat and the Day after the Feast The
latter claimed to be more important as being
"full of bustle and trouble." "You say
right,** said the Feast, " but if it had not been
for me where would you have been?"

The wildest colts make the best horses.

Plutarch : lift of Themiitoeles,

Teach me the art of forgetting ; for I
often remember what I would not, and
cannot forget what I would.

Saifirtff of ThemistoeleSf aa recorded by


I never learned how to tune a harp, or

play upon a lute ; but I know how to raise

a small and inconsiderable city to glory and

On being taunted with hie want of social
aeeompliehtnentt. {Plutarch' » Life.)

Themistodes told the Adrians that he
brought two gods with him, Persuasion and
Force. They replied: ** We also, have two
gods on our side, Poverty and Despair.**


We should have been undone, but for our

Saving, when in exile, to hit children.
{Plutarch's Life.)

Strike, but hear.
Saying of Themistoeles when Eurybiades,
commander of the Spartan fieet, raisea
his ataj^ to strike him, {Ih.)

Wooden walls.

Themistoeles, in explanation of an oracle.
reoelved by the Athenian deputies, declared
that by "wooden walls" nothing could be
meant but ships. — Comelitu Nepos: Themis^

Themistoeles said, ** The Athenians govern
the Greeks ; I govern the Athenians ; you,
my wife, govern me; your son governs
you." Plutarch : Life of Cato the Censor,

SAYINGS OF PLATO (b.c. e. 430-

c. 851).

Plato*s definition of a man as «a two
legged animal without feathers *' was ridi-
cmed by Diogenes, who produced a plucked
oook, saying, ** Here is Plato*s man.**

Diogenes Laertius {d, ▲.d. Hi), Book

Overbearing austerity is always the com-
panion of solitude.

Plato (cited by Plutarch: Life of

To sacrifice to the Ghracee.

riato used to say to Xenocrates the philoso
pher, who was rongh and morose, "Good
Aenocrates, sacriflce to the Graces. "—
H%knth : Life qf Uarius,

Rhetoric is the art of ruling the miuds of

Plato as cited by Plutarch: Life oj

Custom is not a small thing.

Plato reproved a child for a small mis*
behaviour. " You reprove me for a small
thing," said the child. "Custom is not a
small thing," replied Plato.— Se« Montaigne :
" Bssais," Book 1. chap. TL—{Su also Latin,
" Consnetudinis magna vis est. )

Michael Angelo [1475-1646] was explaining
to a visitor a number of additions and altera-
tions which he had made to a statue. "These
are trifles," said his fHend. " It may be so,"
said the sculptor, " but recollect that trifles
make perfection, and perfection is no trifle."

Pleasure is the greatest incentive to evil.
Plato (ouotedby Plutarch : Life of Cato
the Censor),

[Other Quotations from Plato will be found
under " Greek Quotations."]


(B.a e. 260-160).

A young man that blushes is better than
one who turns pale.

Saying of Cato, (Plutarch : Life oJ

I had rather it should be asked why I had
not a statue, than why I had one. lb,

Sdpio is the soul of the ooundl ; the rest
are vain shadows. lb.

It is absurd for a man either to commend
or to depreciate himself. lb.

Wise men learn more from fools than
fools from the wise. lb,

PLUTARCH (a.d. 70 7-a.d. 140 7).

Pla3rinff the Cretan with the Cretans {i,e,
lying to Oars).

Greek prov, used by Paultis ^milius.

This is not the son of Achilles, but
Achillefl himself.

Gruk prov, {Life of Aleibiades,)

We ought not to treat living creatures
like shoes or household belongings, which
when worn with use we throw away.

Life of Cato the Censor,

The richest soil, if uncultivated, produces
the rankest weeds.

Life of Caius Marcus Coriolanus,

It afforded no small amusement to the
Rhegians that Phoenicians should complain
of anything effected by guile.

Lift qf TimoleoH,


zed by Google



The man who first ruined the Boman
people was he who first gave them treats
and gratuities.

Life of Coriolanus. (Plutarch quotes it
as** a shrewd remark^ whoever it was
that said it,'')

The greatest of all sacrifices, which is the
sacrifice of time.

Quoted bu Plutarch as from a poet named
Antiphon. {Life of Antony,)

FROM CERVANTES (1547-1616).
Other Quotations from Cervantes will
be found amongst " Spanish Quota'
tions '* and under " Proverbs''
Sloth never arrived at the attainment of a

good wish. Don Quixote.

Women's counsel is not worth much, yet
he that despiseth it is no wiser than he
should be. lb.

Blessed be he who first invented sleep.
It covers a man all over like a cloak.* lb.

The army is a school in which the nig-
gardly become generous, and the generous
prodigal. lb.

Necessity urges desperate measures. lb.

To this burden women are bom; they
must obey their husbands, be they never
such blockheadB. lb.

No fathers or mothers think their own
children ugly. lb.

The knowledge of th3rself will preserve
thee from vanity. lb.

Diligence is the mother of good fortune.


Nothing costs less or is cheaper than

compliments of civility. lb*

Nothing in itself deformed or incongruous
can give us any real satisfaction. lb,

Don*t put too fine a point to your wit for
fear it should get blunted. lb.

Proverbs are short sentences drawn from
long experience. lb.

There is a remedy for everything but
death. lb.

Every one is as Ood made him, and often
a great deal worse. lb.

Sleep is the best cure for waking troubles.


True valour lies half-way between

cowardice and rashness. lb.

Fear has many eyes. Tb,

Unseasonable mirth always turns to
porrow. lb,

• See Sterne (p. 848X

great favours are

From great folks

There are alwavs more tricks in a town
than are talked oif. lb.

It is a fine thing to command though it
wei^ but a herd of cattle. lb.

It requires a long time to know anyone.

There are no proverbial sayings which
are not true. lb,


Liars, cowards,— they are the same thing.

You can do anything with children if you
only play with them.

Universal suffrage is the government of a
house by its nursery.

To vouth I have but three words of
counsel— Work, work, work.

A good speaker must be somewhat of a
poet, and cannot therefore adhere mathe-
matically to the truth.


There are two levers for moving men —
interest and fear.

A faithful friend is a true image of the

The future destiny of the child is always
the work of the mother.

A true man hates no one.

Truth alone wounds.

Men are not so xmgrateful as they are said
to be.

When firmness is sufficient, rashness ii

Bespect the burden.

The contagion of crime is like that of the

Do you wish to find out the really sub-
lime ? Bepeat the Lord's Prayer.

Secrets travel fast in Paris.

When I want any good head-work done,
I always choose a man, if suitable other-
wise, with a long nose.

Everything unnatural is imperfect.

Public instruction should be the fint
object of government.

It ia the cause, not the death, that makes
the martyr.

Four hostfle newspapers are more to be
feared than a thousand bsyonets.

Let the path be open to talent


zed by Google



Water, air, and deanlinefis are the chief
arliclei in my pharmacopoeia.

Greatness is nothing unless it be lasting.

Bevolutions are like nozions dung-heaps
which bring into life the noUest vegetables.

I made all my generals out of mud.

llie worse the man, the better the soldier ;
if soldiers be not corrupt they ought to be
made so.

Imagination roles the world.

Independence, like honour, is a rocky
island without a beach.

Men are led by trifles.

Honour ^our iMtrents ; worship the gods ;
hurt not animals.

From the traditional laws or precepts of
Triptolemut {according to Flutarch).

Written laws are like spiders' webs, and
will like them only entangle and hold the
poor and weak, wmle the nch and powerful
will easily break through them.*

Anaeharsis (J. B.o. 694),
This was the saying of Anaeharsis to Solon
when the latter was modelling his laws.
Solon's reply was : '* Men keep their engage-
ments when it is an adyantage to both parties
not to break them."— PIiOorcA; Li/t qf Solon.

That law of Solon [fl. b.o. 598] is justly

commended which forbids men to speak ill

of the dead. Flutarch : Life of Solon,

This command is also attributed to Chilo.

(S«» Greek, "Tbr rt0yiiK6ra.")

Persons maimed in the wars should be
maintained at the public charge.

One of the laws of Solon (according to
Flutarch: life of Solon).

Call no man happy before his death.
The saving of Solon (*. B.a 6S8),
aceordina to Aristotle {b, b.o. XJ^
d. B.a SiZy

Cf. "Judge none blessed before his death."
— Ecdesiasticus, 11, 28.

Business to-morrow.

Greek proverb founded on the remark of
Archias of Thebes {about B.o. 660).
Archias delayed reading a letter of warning
delivered to him at a banqaet, and was in
consequence assassinated.— PtutorcA ; PelO'

O man ! whosoever thou art, and when-
soever thou comest, for come I know thou
wilt, I am Cyrus, founder of the Persian
empire. Envy me not the little earth that
covers my body.

Epitaph o/Curus {d. b. 0. 6i9). {Flutarch :
Life 0/ Alexander.)

* Set Bacon (p. 12) ; and Swift (p. 868).

Love, as though some day you would hava
to hate; hate, as though some day you
would have to love.

Saying of ChilOy Greek philonopher^ 6th
century B.O.

Whichever you do you will repent.

The advice of Socrates^ when asked
whether it was better to marry or not
to marry,

Thales, one of the Greek sages, when
young, and desired by his mother to marry,
replied, " it was not yet time** ; when he had
come to full age, "that it was no longer
time.*'— Montaigne, Book 2, ch. 8.

Much knowledge of things divine escapes
us through want of faith.

Saying of fferaelitus, Greek philosopher t
c. B.C. 600 {quoted by Plutarch : Life
of Coriolantts.)

Words will build no walls.

Cratinus (b.o. 6t8'4SI) {ouoted by Flut-
arch in his Life of Pericles) ridicul-
ing the long wall proposed to be built
by Fericles.

The first requisite to happiness is that a
man be bom in a famous city.

Plutarch ("Life of Demosthenes") states
this was the remark of "Euripides (b.c 480-
B.O. 406) or some other " in his encomium on
Alcibiades (b.c. 449-b.o. 404X

A bridge for a retreating enemy.

Saying oj Aristides,
Flatarch, in his *'Life of Themistocles."
states that in order to sound Aristides, after
the battle of Salamis^ Themistooles pretended
to think it advisable to go to the Hellespont
and break down Xerxes' bridge of ships. To
which Aristides replied : "Instead of break-
ing that bridge, we should, if possible, provide
another, that he may retire the sooner out of
Europe." (See " Proverbs," " Build a bridge
The Athenians will not sell their liberties
for all the gold either above or under

Jieply of Aristides id, b.o. J^) to the
Lacedaemonians. {Flutarch: Life of
A general should have clean hands.
Saying of Aristides {d. b.o. 4^).
{FlutarehU Life.)
The good man only is free ; all bad men
are slaves.

Quoted by Flutarch as a maxim of the

Stoics {Life of Caio the Younger).

The sentiment is also attributed to

Socrates (b.o. 468-398).

He would soon be delivered from all his


Enigmatic prophecy of the spirit of
dleonice (b.o. 44^ lo Oimony fore-
UUinp his death. {Flutarch: Life
^f Cxmon^


zed by Google



Nothing becomes a king so much as the
distribution of justice. War is a tyrant, as
Hmotheus {c, B.o. 600) expresses it, but
Pindar (b.o. 518-439) says, Justice is the
rightful sovereign of the world.

Flutareh : Life of Bemetriua,

True he can talk, and yet he is no speaker.

£upolut (Greek poet^ e. B.a 4^5) in

reference to a garrulous person who was

no orator, (Cited by Fiutareh : Life

of Aleibiades.)

They love, they hate, but cannot do
without him.»

AristoohaneSf Greek poet^ B.C. 4S4 (as
cited by PltUarch : Life of Aleibiades
— Lang home* s trans.)

Mistress of the seas.

Lysander (d. b.c. 895), vhen handing over
the command of the fleet to Callicratidas the
Spartan (c. B.a 406) said to him, " I deliver
you a fleet that is mistress of the seas." —
Plutarch: Ll/t 0/ Lysander.

Where the lion's skin fails short it must
be eked out with the fox*s.

Lysander's remark upon being told that
he resorted too much to craft, (Flut-
areh : Life of Lysander.)

This saying has become a proverb In
several modem langoages.

Children are to be cheated with knuckle
bones [substitutes for dice], and men with
oaths. Saying of Lysander, lb.

Appealing from Philip drunk to Philip

This is founded on a passage in Valerius
Maximua (fl. a.d. 14), who states that a
certain woman of foreign origin, having bNeen
wrongly condemned by Philip when he was
drunk, exclaimed, "Provocarem ad Philip-
pum, sed sobrium " (I would appeal to Philip,
but when he is sober).— Book 0, 2.

Not Philip, but Philip's gold, took the
cities of Greece.

Flutareh (LifeofFaulus^milius) quotes

this as**a common saying,** It refers

to Philip II, of Macedm Ic. B.o. SSB-


If I were not Alexander, I should wish to

be Diogenes.

Remark of Alexander (b.o. 855-823), after
Diogenes had made his request that the
monarch "would stand a little out of his
8unshlne.''~P{utorcA: Hft <^f Alexander.

I will not steal a victory.

Plutarch describes this as " that celebrated
answer" by Alexander, when advised to
surprise the Persian army In the darkness. —

* See Latin Quotations: "Difflcilis, facllis,"
etc ; also Addison (p. 2) : '* There is no living
with thee or without thee."

Great geniuses are generally melancholy.
Aristotle (b.o. 384'Stl), (Problem,
sect SO,)

Seneca (" De TranquilUtate animi ") quotes :
"Aristoteli, nullum magnum ingenium sine
mixtora dementiae fuit** (The saying of Aris-
totle—no great genius was without an admix-
ture of madness.)
Shame is an ornament to the yoimg ; a
disgrace to the old.

Aristotle, (b.o. S84'3tt.)

Abstruse questions must have abstruse

Saying of the Gymnosophist philosopher,
when Alexander had questioned him and had
received an enigmatic ny\y.— Plutarch: Lift
of Alexander,

Have I inadvertently said some evil thing ?

Remark of Phocion (d. b.c. 817) to a fHend,
upon one of his sentences, in a public debate,
being received with universal applause. —
Plutarch: Life (^Phocion,

A hoarseness caused by swallowing gold
and silver.

Remark made when Demosthenes (aa 882-
822), who had been bribed not to speak
against Harpalus, pretended to have lost his
voice. — Plutarch'i Lives.

Elsewhere Plutarch describes Demos- ^
thenes' throat as *'the silver quinsy."
{See 'jL/tyvpayxny fraaxn, under Greek.)

To smell of the lamp.

Demosthenes when taunted by Pytheas
that all his arguments *' smelled of the lamp,"
replied, " Yes, but your lamp and mine, my
fnend, do not witness the same labours." —
Plutarch : Life of Demostheneg.

In his "Life ofTimoleon," Plutarch quotes
the expression as applying to over-finished
paintings as well as to laboured compositions.

It is said of Horace that his odes smell
more of wine than of oil.

Wliile I am master of my sword, I shall
never think any man greater than m^-self .
Saying of Enmenes (d, B.O. 315) to An-
I igonus, (Plutarch : Life of Eumenes,)

I have heard the nightingale herself.

Reply of King Agesilaus (B.c. c 440-862),
when asked to go to hear a man who imitated
the nightingale to great perfection. —
Plutarch : Life of Agesilaus,

The Kings of Epirus were sworn "to

govern according to law," and the people

" to defend the crown according to law.'*

Plutarch: Life of Pyrrhus, King of


It being reported to Pyrrhus (b.o. 318 c-

B.o. 272), that certain young men had spoken

disrespectfully of him, he asked them, "Did

you really say these things?" **We did.

sir," rephed one, ** and we should have saia

a good aeal more, if we had had more wine."

Whereupon he laughed fmd dismissed them.

Plutarch: Life of Pyrrhuu


zed by Google



He who has the sharpest sword.

Reply of Pyrrhus to one of the princes who
asked which of them shoold be his heir.—
Plutarch: lAJk af Pyrrhws.

A Pyrrhic victory.

Pyrrhos, after the battle of Ascnlum (b.o.
279), where, according to his own account,
he loet 8,&00 men, was congratulated on his
victory. He replied : ** Another such victory
snd we are undone." lb,

(5m a Cadmean Victory under "Greek

The whole is grreater than the part ; we
sre capable of wisdom, and we are part of
^e world. Therefore the world is wise.

Sayxrig of Zeno {d. b.o. 264).
Sh the Greek TLXiov rtiinrv irarrot. '* The
half is greater than the whole."

A wise and good man can sofifer no dis-

Saying of Fabiu* Maximui (d, B.O.
i05). {Flutarch.)

Hannibal knows how to gain a Tictory,
but not how to use it.

Jfemark of Barea, a Carthaginian, to
Hannibal {Flutareh: Life of Fabiu*

The last of the Greeks.

Plutarch says that Philopoemen, a Greek
seneral, who died e. B.a 181, was so called
by "a certain Roman."

This Jupiter of Phidias is the very Jupiter
of Homer.

A ** celebrated eaying^* uttered {accord-
ing to Flutarch) og Faulu* .Mniliue
(a. B.C. 168) on seeing the etatue of
Jupiter at Olympia,

"This is the Jew that Shakespeare drew."
This famous saying uttered by a spectator,
said to be Alexander Pope, on Feb. 14, 1741,
when Macklin was performing the character
of Sbylock, would seem to have been a con-
scious or nnconscious imitation of the
saying of Faulns iSmilius.

Fortune had so f ayoured me in this war
that I feared, the rather, that some tempest
would follow so favourable a gale.

Remark ascribed by Flutarch to Faultte
Where the shoe pinches.

The story of "a certain Roman" who put
away his wife without apparent cause, but
told his frtends, who expostulated, that only
the wearer of the shoe knows where it wringji
him, is told by Plutarch, in the "Life of
Paulus iBmilius." The Roman has been
wrongly assumed to be Paulus iEmilins, but
the context shows that this was not so.

A sardonic laugh.

••Your laugh is of the sardonic kind."
Caius Gracchus [d, B.O. 121], when his adver-
saries hraghad at his def eat>by uniitir means

—when applying for a third tribuneahipw
Plutarch : Li/t o/CaiuM GraochuM.

(The sardonic laugh was an involuntary
distension of the muscles of the mouth,
occasioned by a poisonous plant : thwefore a
forced or unnatural laugh.)

Feasts of Lucullus (c, b.o. 115-«. b.o. 48).
Lucnllns prided himself upon the luxury of
his feasts. On one occasion, when he hap-
pened to sup alone, the meal being less
magnificent than nsual, he rebuked his
servant, saying : " Did you not know Uiafe
this evening Lucullus sups with Lucullus?"
^Plutarch : Ll/e qf LueuUut,

Let us rescue our liberties, or die in their

Cato the Younger (b. b.o. lOA, d, b.o. J(/^
{FlutarehU Life,)

The father of his country.

Title bestowed on Cicero (s.a 64) after his
consulship, "a mark of distinction which
none ever gained before."— PJittarcfc : Li/s oi

Ceesar's wife must he above suspicion.

Julius Cesar (B.a 100-44) divorced his wlte
Pompeia, but declared at the trial that he
knew nothing of what was alleged against
her and (^lodfus. When asked why, in that
case, he had divorced her, he replied :
" Because I would have the chastitv of my
wife clear even of suspicion."— Plutorefc ;
Li/t of Julius CcBsar.

As to Ciesar, when he was called npon. ha
gnve no testimony against Clodius, nor did ha
affirm that he was certain of any injury done
to his bed. He only said, " He had divorced
Pompeia because the wife of Cesar oueht not
only to be clear of such a crime, but of the very
suspicion of it."— Plutarch : lA/e of Cioero,

Passing the Bubicon.

When he arrived at the banks of the
Rubicon, which divides Cisalpine Gaul from
the rest of Italy ... he stopped to delibe-
rate. ... At last he cried out " The die is
cast" and immediately passed the river.—
Plutarch : Lift (^/uliiu Cmar.

We shall meet at Philippi.

" Thou Shalt see me at Philippi," was the
remark of the spectre which appeared to
Brutus in his tent at Abydos [B.a 42J. Brutus
answered boldly : " I will meet thee there."
At Philippi the spectre reappeared, and
Brutus, after being defeated, died upon his
own §noTd,*— Plutarch : Lift Of Caesar,

Killed by physicians.

Adrian the Emperor (a.iJ. 75-117) ex-
claimed Incessantly, when dving, " That the
crowd of physicians had killed him." (Set
Montaigne, Book 2, chap. 87. Montaigne
alRO cites the statement of a Lacedemonian,
when asked how he had preserved his life so
long : " By my ignorance of medicine.")

• Also in Plutarch's ** Life of Marcus Brntos."


zed by Google



See how these ChriBtiaoB love one

This saying appears first in Tertullian,
" Apol. adv. Gent./' c M : *• Vide, inquiunt,
ut invicem se diligant."

Take, O boatman, thrice thy fee

Take, — I give it willingly ;

For, invisible to thee,

Spirits twain haye crossed with me.

Translation {anon.) of John Louit

Iron hand in a velvet glove.
attributed to Charles F., and used also
by Napoleon. {See CarlyU^s Latter
Day FamphletSy No. £.)

Architecture is frozen music.

Translation from Scheliiug^ Fhilosophie
der Kunst.
Let rae die to the sounds of delidous

Said to be the last words of Mirabeau.

Hie more the marble wastes,
TTie more the statue grows.

Translation from Michael Angela by
Mrs. Henry Hoscoe.
Beauty is the purgation of superfluities.

Michael Angelo,
The greatest virtues are only splendid
■ins. Ascribed to St, Augustine,

Whose words were half battles.

Saying in reference to Luther.
The artist is the son of his time ; but pity
him if he is its pupil or even its favourite.


It is neither safe nor prudent to do aueht

Against conscience. Luther,

The eternal feminine. From the French,

"L'iternel f^minin," expression used by
H. Blaze de Burv, 1847, in a translation of
Goethe's " Faast, the German being " Das
To sleep the sleep of the just.

See French Quotations, ** File s^endor^
mit,'' etc.

Every man has his own style, like his
own nose. Lessing {as quoted by Carlyle),

The style is the man.
From the French. ** Le style est Vhomme
mt'tne,*^ — Comte de Bujfon, Remark
made in his discourse on taking his
seat in the Academy ^ Aug, t6, HSS.
{The style is the very man?)

Defects of his qualities. From the French,
Heureax lliomme qoand il n'a pas lea

d^fauta de ses qnalit^ \— Bishop Dupanloup.

(Happy the man when he has not the defects

of his qualities.)
His very faults smack of the raciness of

his good qualities. — Washington Irving : The

Skstch Book, John BuU (1820J.

The key of the street.
In FYench, " La clefdes champs.'* {The
key of the field.) The Frettch expres*
sion A<M a different meaning frotn the
English, ana refers to aiviug a man
freedom to go where he pleases.

It was worse than a crime; it was a

Fivm the French: (Testoit pire ju'un
crime, c*estoit une faute. — FoucM

War ought to be the only study of a

prince. Machiavelli,

Edmund Burke, quoting this saving (A

vindication of Natural Society, 1766), adds :

"and by a prince he means every sort of

state, however constituted."^

A good man struggling with adversity.
Bcce spectaculum dignum, ad quel respiciat
intentus operi suo Dens. Ecce par Deo dig-
num, vir fortis cum mala fortuna compositus.
—Seneca. ** Lib. cU Divina providentia." (Be-
hold a worthy siKht, to which the God,
turning his attention to his ovm work, may
direct his gaze. Behold an equal Uiing,
worthy of a God, a brave man matched fit
conflict with evil fortune.)

Better than a play.

Plus capio voluptatis inde quam spectandis
in theatre ludis. —f^ro Aretino (1492-1567X
(1 obtain more of pleasure thence than from
seeing plays in theatres.)

The history of every individual man should

Online LibraryW. Gurney (William Gurney) BenhamCassell's book of quotations, proverbs and household words .. → online text (page 70 of 198)