- When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn't the slightest intention of putting it into practice. 1815–98 German statesman: attributed
- Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field.
Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) 1729–97 Irish-born Whig politician and man of letters:
- The end of man is an action and not a thought, though it were the noblest.
Sartor Resartus (1834) 1795–1881 Scottish historian and political philosopher:
- This is very true: for my words are my own, and my actions are my ministers'.
reply to Lord Rochester's epitaph on him
Thomas Hearne: Remarks and Collections (1885–1921) 17 November 1706; see Rochester 1630–85 British monarch, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1660:
- An ass may bray a good while before he shakes the stars down.
Romola (1863) 1819–80 English novelist:
- It is by acts and not by ideas that people live.
La Vie littéraire (1888) ‘Sérénus’ 1844–1924 French novelist and man of letters:
- Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.
Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin) 15 April 1930 1874–1964 American Republican statesman, 31st President 1929–33: attributed, in
- Considering how foolishly people act and how pleasantly they prattle, perhaps it would be better for the world if they talked more and did less.
A Writer's Notebook (1949) written in 1892 1874–1965 English novelist:
- Here lies a great and mighty king
Whose promise none relies on;
He never said a foolish thing,
Nor ever did a wise one.
of Charles II; an alternative first line reads: ‘Here lies our sovereign lord the King’
Charles II 1647–80 English poet: ‘The King's Epitaph’; see
- Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede.
Hamlet (1601) act 1, sc. 3, l. 47 (Oxford Standard Authors ed.) 1564–1616 English dramatist: