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Proverbs
[ Also see Anecdotes Aphorisms Apothegms Catchphrases Epigrams Maxims Old Sayings Precepts Proverbial Phrases Proverbs Quotations ]

I'll tell the names and sayings and the places of their birth,
  Of the seven great ancient sages so renowned on Grecian earth,
    The Lindian Cleobulus said, "The mean was still the best";
      The Spartan Chilo said, "Know thyself," a heaven-born phrase confessed.
        Corinthian Periander taught "Our anger to command,"
          "Too much of nothing," Pittacus, from Mitylene's strand;
            Athenian Solon this advised, "Look to the end of life,"
              And Bias from Priene showed, "Bad men are the most rife";
                Milesian Thales uregd that "None should e'er a surety be";
                  Few were their words, but if you look, you'll much in little see.
      - Unattributed Author, From the Greek

The proverbial wisdom of the populace in the streets, on the roads, and in the markets, instructs the ear of him who studies man more fully than a thousand rules ostentatiously arranged.
      - Unattributed Author,
        Proverbs, or the Manual of Wisdom,
        on the title page, printed for Tabart & Co., London (1804)

Proverbs are mental gems gathered in the diamond districts of the mind.
      - William R. Alger

The genius, wit, and spirit of a nation are discovered in its proverbs.
      - Francis Bacon

But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:
  Then I will cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:
    And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house?
      - Bible, I Kings (ch. IX, v. 6-8)

As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
      - Bible, I Samuel (ch. XXIV, v. 13)

Proverbs are for the most part rules of moral, or, still more properly, of prudential conduct.
      - Dorothea Brande

How many of us have been attracted to reason; first learned to think, to draw conclusions, to extract a moral from the follies of life, by some dazzling aphorism!
      - Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton

I do not say a proverb is amiss when aptly and seasonably applied; but to be forever discharging them, right or wrong, hit or miss, renders conversation insipid and vulgar.
      - Cervantes (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra)

Short sentences drawn from a long experience.
      - Cervantes (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra)

Proverbs are short sentences drawn from long and wise experience.
      - Cervantes (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra),
        Don Quixote   BUY VARYING HARE USED BOOK  

There is no proverb which is not true.
  [Sp., No hay refran que no sea verdadero.]
      - Cervantes (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra),
        Don Quixote   BUY VARYING HARE USED BOOK  

Proverbs were anterior to boots, and formed the wisdom of the vulgar, and in the earliest ages were the unwritten laws of morality.
      - Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield

Proverbs were bright shafts in the Greek and Latin quivers.
      - Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield

As Love and I late harbour'd in one inn,
  With proverbs thus each other entertain;
    "In love there is no lack," thus I begin;
      "Fair words make fools," replieth he again;
        "Who spares to speak doth spare to speed," quoth I;
          "As well," saith he, "too forward as too slow";
            "Fortune assists the boldest," I reply;
              "A hasty man," quote he, "ne'er wanted woe";
                "Labour is light where love," quote I, "doth pay";
                  "Light burden's heavy, if far borne";
                    Quoth I, "The main lost, cast the by away";
                      "Y'have spun a fair thread," he replies in scorn.
                        And having thus awhile each other thwarted
                          Fools as we met, so fools again we parted.
      - Michael Drayton, Proverbs

Proverbs like the sacred books of each nation, are the sanctuary of the intuitions.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Compensation

Proverbs embody the current and practical philosophy of an age or nation.
      - William Fleming

Much matter decocted into few words.
      - Thomas Fuller (1),
        Definition of a proverb--Worthies
         (ch. II)

The proverbs of a nation, furnish the index to its spirit, and the results of its civilization.
      - Josiah Gilbert Holland (used pseudonym Timothy Titcomb)

Sense, shortness, and salt.
      - James Howell (Howel)

We frequently fall into error and folly, not because the true principles of action are not known, but because for a time they are not remembered; he may, therefore, justly be numbered among the benefactors of mankind who contracts the great rules of life into short sentences that may early be impressed on the memory, and taught by frequent recollection to occur habitually to the mind.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

The abridgments of wisdom.
      - Joseph Joubert

A proverb is no proverb to you until life has illustrated it.
      - John Keats (1)

The proverbial wisdom of the populace at gates, on roads, and in markets instructs the attentive ear of him who studies man more fully than a thousand rules ostentatiously arranged.
      - Johann Kaspar Lavater (John Caspar Lavater)

Maxims are the condensed good sense of nations.
      - Sir James Mackintosh,
        quoted on the title page of Broom's "Legal Maxims"

The study of proverbs may be more instructive and comprehensive than the most elaborate scheme of philosophy.
      - William Motherwell

For this reason, if you believe in proverbs, let me tell you the
  common one: "It is unlucky to marry in May."
    [Lat., Hac quoque de causa, si te proverbia tangunt,
      Mense malos Maio nubere vulfus ait.]
      - Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)

This formal fool, your man, speaks naught but proverbs,
  And speak men what they can to him he'll answer
    With some rhyme, rotten sentence, or old saying,
      Such spokes as ye ancient of ye parish use.
      - Henry Porter, The Proverb,
        from "Two Angry Women of Abindon"

A proverb is one man's wit and all men's wisdom.
      - John Russell (1),
        in Notes to Roger's "Italy", claimed by him as his original definition of a proverb

The wit of one man, and the wisdom of many.
      - Lord John Russell, 1st Earl Russell of Kingston (3)

For I am proverbed with a grandsire phrase.
      - William Shakespeare

Have at you with a proverb.
      - William Shakespeare

I can tell thee where that saying was born, of 'I fear no colors.'
      - William Shakespeare,
        Twelfth Night, or, What You Will
         (Maria at I, v)

If you hear a wise sentence or an apt phrase, commit it to your memory.
      - Sir Henry Sidney (1)

The proverb answers where the sermon fails, as a well-charged pistol will do more execution than a whole barrel of gunpowder idly exploded.
      - William Gilmore Simms

The Scripture vouches Solomon for the wisest of men; and they are his proverbs that prove him so. The seven wise men of Greece, so famous for their wisdom all the world over, acquired all that fame each of them by a single sentence consisting of two or three words.
      - Bishop Robert South

Scroundrel maxim.
      - James Thomson (1), The Castle of Indolence
         (canto I, st. 50)

The maxims of men reveal their characters.
  [Fr., Les maximes des hommes decelent leur coeur.]
      - Luc de Clapier de Vauvanargues, Reflexions
         (CVII)

Proverbs are somewhat analogous to those medical formulas which, being in frequent use, are kept ready made up in the chemists' shops, and which often save the framing of a distinct prescription.
      - Archbishop Richard Whately


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