Bartlett's Shakespeare Quotations


Foreword by Justin Kaplan

By John Bartlett

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From the quote afficionado to the historical researcher, fans of Bartlett’s will be thrilled to see this edition of quotations from the great William Shakespeare. Collecting quotes from his many works into one beautiful volume, Bartlett’s Shakespeare Quotations is essential as a reference tool and makes for some wonderful browsing.

Quotes culled from Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations are organised by play or sonnet in chronological order and capture a unique view of Shakespeare’s life and work. From King Henry VI to The Tempest (and even the epitaph on his grave) this volume will delight both researchers and casual readers as it highlights one of the most beguiling and beloved playwrights in history.



Copyright © 2005 by Little, Brown and Company

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

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New York, NY 10017

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First eBook Edition: October 2009

The quotations in this book are from Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, Seventeenth Edition, Justin Kaplan, General Editor.

ISBN: 978-0-316-08666-0


Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night! Act I, sc. i, l. 1

Fight till the last gasp. I, ii, 127

Expect Saint Martin's summer, halcyon days. I, ii, 134

Glory is like a circle in the water,
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself,
Till by broad spreading it disperse to nought. I, ii, 133

Unbidden guests
Are often welcomest when they are gone. II, ii, 55

Between two hawks, which flies the higher pitch;
Between two dogs, which hath the deeper mouth;
Between two blades, which bears the better temper;
Between two horses, which doth bear him best;
Between two girls, which hath the merriest eye;
I have perhaps, some shallow spirit of judgment;
But in these nice sharp quillets of the law,
Good faith, I am no wiser than a daw. II, iv, 12

I'll note you in my book of memory. II, iv, 101

Just death, kind umpire of men's miseries. II, v, 29

Chok'd with ambition of the meaner sort. II, v, 123

Delays have dangerous ends. III, ii, 33

Of all base passions, fear is most accurs'd. V, ii, 18

She's beautiful and therefore to be woo'd,
She is a woman, therefore to be won. V, iii, 78

For what is wedlock forced, but a hell,
An age of discord and continual strife?
Whereas the contrary bringeth bliss,
And is a pattern of celestial peace. V, v, 62


'Tis not my speeches that you do mislike,
But 'tis my presence that doth trouble ye.
Rancor will out. Act I, sc. i, l. 141

Could I come near your beauty with my nails
I'd set my ten commandments in your face. I, iii, 144

Blessed are the peacemakers on earth. II, i, 34

Now, God be prais'd, that to believing souls
Gives light in darkness, comfort in despair! II, i, 66

God defend the right! II, iii, 55

Sometimes hath the brightest day a cloud;
And after summer evermore succeeds
Barren winter, with his wrathful nipping cold:
So cares and joys abound, as seasons fleet. II, iv, 1

Now 'tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;
Suffer them now and they'll o'ergrow the garden. III, i, 34

In thy face I see
The map of honor, truth, and loyalty. III, i, 202

What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted!
Thrice is he arm'd that hath his quarrel just,
And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel,
Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. III, ii, 232

He dies, and makes no sign. III, iii, 29

Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all.
Close up his eyes, and draw the curtain close;
And let us all to meditation. III, iii, 31

The gaudy, blabbing, and remorseful day
Is crept into the bosom of the sea. IV, i, 1

Small things make base men proud. IV, i, 106

True nobility is exempt from fear. IV, i, 129

I will make it felony to drink small beer. IV, ii, 75

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. IV, ii, 86

Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled o'er, should undo a man? IV, ii, 88

Adam was a gardener. IV, ii, 146

Thou hast most traitorously corrupted the youth of the realm in erecting a grammar-school; and whereas, before, our forefathers had no other books but the score and the tally, thou hast caused printing to be used; and, contrary to the king, his crown, and dignity, thou hast built a paper-mill. IV, vii, 35


Beggars mounted run their horse to death. Act I, sc. iv, l. 127

O tiger's heart wrapp'd in a woman's hide! I, iv, 137

To weep is to make less the depth of grief. II, i, 85

The smallest worm will turn being trodden on. II, ii, 17

Didst thou never hear
That things ill got had ever bad success? II, ii, 45

Thou [Death] setter up and plucker down of kings. II, iii, 37

And what makes robbers bold but too much lenity? II, vi, 22

My crown is in my heart, not on my head;
Not deck'd with diamonds and Indian stones,
Nor to be seen: my crown is call'd content;
A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy. III, i, 62

'Tis a happy thing
To be the father unto many sons. III, ii, 104

Like one that stands upon a promontory,
And spies a far-off shore where he would tread,
Wishing his foot were equal with his eye. III, ii, 135

Yield not thy neck
To fortune's yoke, but let thy dauntless mind
Still ride in triumph over all mischance. III, iii, 16

For how can tyrants safely govern home,
Unless abroad they purchase great alliance? III, iii, 69

Having nothing, nothing can he lose. III, iii, 152

Hasty marriage seldom proveth well. IV, i, 18

What fates impose, that men must needs abide;
It boots not to resist both wind and tide. IV, iii, 57

Now join your hands, and with your hands your hearts. IV, vi, 39

For many men that stumble at the threshold
Are well foretold that danger lurks within. IV, vii, 11

A little fire is quickly trodden out,
Which, being suffer'd, rivers cannot quench. IV, viii, 7

When the lion fawns upon the lamb,
The lamb will never cease to follow him. IV, viii, 49

What is pomp, rule, reign, but earth and dust?
And, live we how we can, yet die we must. V, ii, 27

For every cloud engenders not a storm. V, iii, 13

What though the mast be now blown overboard,
The cable broke, the holding anchor lost,
And half our sailors swallow'd in the flood?
Yet lives our pilot still. V, iv, 3

So part we sadly in this troublous world,
To meet with joy in sweet Jerusalem. V, v, 7

Men ne'er spend their fury on a child. V, v, 57

He's sudden if a thing comes in his head. V, v, 86

Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind;
The thief doth fear each bush an officer. V, vi, 11

This word "love," which greybeards call divine. V, vi, 81


Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear. l. 145

Love is a spirit all compact of fire,
Not gross to sink, but light, and will aspire. l. 149

"Fondling," she saith, "since I have hemm'd thee here
Within the circuit of this ivory pale,
I'll be a park, and thou shalt be my deer;
Feed where thou wilt, on mountain, or in dale:
Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry,
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie." l. 229

O! what a war of looks was then between them. l. 355

Like a red morn, that ever yet betoken'd
Wrack to the seaman, tempest to the field. l. 453

The owl, night's herald. l. 531

Love comforteth like sunshine after rain. l. 799

The text is old, the orator too green. l. 806

For he being dead, with him is beauty slain,
And, beauty dead, black chaos comes again. l. 1019

The grass stoops not, she treads on it so light. l. 1028


Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York. Act I, sc. i, l. 1

Grim-visag'd war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front. I, i, 9

He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute. I, i, 12

This weak piping time of peace. I, i, 24

No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. I, ii, 71

Look, how my ring encompasseth thy finger,
Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart;
Wear both of them, for both of them are thine. l, ii, 204

Was ever woman in this humor woo'd?
Was ever woman in this humor won? I, ii, 229

The world is grown so bad
That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch. I, iii, 70

The day will come that thou shalt wish for me
To help thee curse this pois'nous bunch-back'd toad. I, iii, 245

And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends stol'n forth of holy writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil. I, iii, 336

Talkers are no good doers. I, iii, 351

O, I have pass'd a miserable night,
So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,
That, as I am a Christian faithful man,
I would not spend another such a night,
Though 'twere to buy a world of happy days. I, iv, 2

Lord, Lord! methought what pain it was to drown:
What dreadful noise of water in mine ears!
What sights of ugly death within mine eyes!
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wracks;
A thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon. I, iv, 21

The kingdom of perpetual night. I, iv, 47

Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours,
Makes the night morning, and the noontide night. I, iv, 76

A parlous boy. II, iv, 35

So wise so young, they say, do never live long. III, i, 79

Off with his head! III, iv, 75

Lives like a drunken sailor on a mast;
Ready with every nod to tumble down
Into the fatal bowels of the deep. III, iv, 98

I am not in the giving vein today. IV, ii, 115

The sons of Edward sleep in Abraham's bosom. IV, iii, 38

A grievous burden was thy birth to me;
Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy. IV, iv, 168

An honest tale speeds best being plainly told. IV, iv, 359

Harp not on that string. IV, iv, 365

Relenting fool, and shallow changing woman! IV, iv, 432

Is the chair empty? is the sword unsway'd?
Is the king dead? the empire unpossess'd? IV, iv, 470

True hope is swift, and flies with swallow's wings;
Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings. V, ii, 23

The king's name is a tower of strength. V, iii, 12

Give me another horse! bind up my wounds! V, iii, 178

O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me! V, iii, 180

My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain. V, iii, 194

Conscience is but a word that cowards use,
Devis'd at first to keep the strong in awe. V, iii, 310

A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse! V, iv, 7

I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die.
I think there be six Richmonds in the field. V, iv, 9


The pleasing punishment that women bear. Act I, sc. i, l. 46

For we may pity, though not pardon thee. I, i, 97

Why, headstrong liberty is lash'd with woe.
There's nothing situate under heaven's eye
But hath his bound, in earth, in sea, in sky. II, i, 15

Every why hath a wherefore. II, ii, 45

There's no time for a man to recover his hair that grows bald by nature. II, ii, 74

What he hath scanted men in hair, he hath given them in wit. II, ii, 83

Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast. III, i, 26

There is something in the wind. III, i, 69

We'll pluck a crow together. III, i, 83

For slander lives upon succession,
Forever housed where it gets possession. III, i, 105

Be not thy tongue thy own shame's orator. III, ii, 10

Ill deeds are doubled with an evil word. III, ii, 20

A back-friend, a shoulder-clapper. IV, ii, 37

The venom clamors of a jealous woman
Poison more deadly than a mad dog's tooth. V, i, 69

Unquiet meals make ill digestions. V, i, 74

One Pinch, a hungry lean-fac'd villain,
A mere anatomy, a mountebank,
A threadbare juggler, and a fortune-teller,
A needy, hollow-ey'd, sharp-looking wretch,
A living-dead man. V, i, 238


Beauty itself doth of itself persuade
The eyes of men without an orator. l. 29

This silent war of lilies and of roses,
Which Tarquin view'd in her fair face's field. l. 71

One for all, or all for one we gage. l. 144

Who buys a minute's mirth to wail a week?
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy? l. 213

Extreme fear can neither fight nor fly. l. 230

All orators are dumb when beauty pleadeth. l. 268

Time's glory is to calm contending kings,
To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light. l. 939

For greatest scandal waits on greatest state. l. 1006

To see sad sights moves more than hear them told. l. 1324

Cloud-kissing Ilion. l. 1370

Lucrece swears he did her wrong. l. 1462


Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge. Act I, sc. i, l. 1

These words are razors to my wounded heart. I, i, 314

He lives in fame that died in virtue's cause. I, i, 390

These dreary dumps. I, i, 391

The eagle suffers little birds to sing,
And is not careful what they mean thereby. IV, iv, 82

Tut! I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly. V, i, 141


I'll not budge an inch. Induction, sc. i, l. 13

And if the boy have not a woman's gift
To rain a shower of commanded tears,
An onion will do well for such a shift. i, 124

No profit grows where is no pleasure ta'en;
In brief, sir, study what you most affect. Act I, sc. i, l. 39

There's small choice in rotten apples. I, i, 137

To seek their fortunes further than at home,
Where small experience grows. I, ii, 51

I come to wive it wealthily in Padua. I, ii, 75

Nothing comes amiss, so money comes withal. I, ii, 82

And do as adversaries do in law,
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends. I, ii, 281

I must dance barefoot on her wedding day,
And, for your love to her, lead apes in hell. II, i, 33

Asses are made to bear, and so are you. II, i, 200

Kiss me, Kate, we will be married o' Sunday. II, i, 318

Old fashions please me best. III, i, 81

Who woo'd in haste and means to wed at leisure. III, ii, 11

Such an injury would vex a very saint. III, ii, 28

A little pot and soon hot. IV, i, 6

Sits as one new-risen from a dream. IV, i, 189

This is a way to kill a wife with kindness. IV, i, 211

Kindness in women, not their beauteous looks,
Shall win my love. IV, ii, 41

Our purses shall be proud, our garments poor:
For 'tis the mind that makes the body rich;
And as the sun breaks through the darkest clouds,
So honor peereth in the meanest habit. IV, iii, 173

Forward, I pray, since we have come so far,
And be it moon, or sun, or what you please.
An if you please to call it a rush-candle,
Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me. IV, v, 12

He that is giddy thinks the world turns round. V, ii, 20

A woman mov'd is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty. V, ii, 143

Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband. V, ii, 156


Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits. Act I, sc. i, l. 2

I have no other but a woman's reason:
I think him so, because I think him so. I, ii, 23

Julia: They do not love that do not show their love.

Lucetta: O! they love least that let men know their love. I, ii, 31

O! how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day! I, iii, 84

O jest unseen, inscrutable, invisible,
As a nose on a man's face, or a weathercock on a steeple! II, i, 145

He makes sweet music with th' enamell'd stones. II, vii, 28

That man that hath a tongue, I say, is no man,
If with his tongue he cannot win a woman. III, i, 104

Except I be by Silvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale. III, i, 178

Much is the force of heaven-bred poesy. III, ii, 72

Who is Silvia? what is she,
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair, and wise is she;
The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admired be. IV, ii, 40

Alas, how love can trifle with itself! IV, iv, 190

Black men are pearls in beauteous ladies' eyes. V, ii, 12

How use doth breed a habit in a man! V, iv, 1

LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST [1594–1595]

Spite of cormorant devouring Time. Act I, sc. i, l. 4

Make us heirs of all eternity. I, i, 7

Why, all delights are vain; but that most vain


On Sale
Oct 31, 2009
Page Count
288 pages

John Bartlett

About the Author

Geoffrey O'Brien is the editor-in-chief of The Library of America, and author of fifteen books, most recently The Fall of the House of Walworth, and other works including Hardboiled America, Dream Time, The Phantom Empire, The Times Square Story, The Browser's Ecstasy, Castaways of the Image Planet, and Sonata for Jukebox. He has contributed frequently to The New York Review of Books, Artforum, Film Comment, and other publications. He lives in New York City.

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