|An ounce of wit is worth a pound of sorrow.|
Richard BaxterOf Self-Denial.
|Que les gens desprit sont bêtes.|
What silly people wits are!
BeaumarchaisBarbier de Séville. I. 1.
|Good wits will jump.|
BuckinghamThe Chances. Act IV. Sc. 1. John ByromThe Winners. L. 39. CervantesDon Quixote. Pt. II. Ch. XXXVIII. SterneTristram Shandy.
| Aristotle said * * * melancholy men of all others are most witty.|
BurtonAnatomy of Melancholy. Pt. I. Sec. III. Memb. 1. Subsect. 3.
|We grant, although he had much wit,|
H was very shy of using it,
As being loth to wear it out,
And therefore bore it not about;
Unless on holy days or so,
As men their best apparel do.
ButlerHudibras. Pt. I. Canto I. L. 45.
|Great wits and valours, like great states,|
Do sometimes sink with their own weights.
ButlerHudibras. Pt. II. Canto I. L. 269.
|Votre esprit en donne aux autres.|
Your wit makes others witty.
Catherine IILetter to Voltaire.
| Dont put too fine a point to your wit for fear it should get blunted.|
CervantesThe Little Gypsy.
| I am a fool, I know it; and yet, Heaven help me, Im poor enough to be a wit.|
CongreveLove for Love. Act I. Sc. 1.
|His wit invites you by his looks to come,|
But when you knock, it never is at home.
CowperConversation. L. 303.
| Wit, now and then, struck smartly, shows a spark.|
CowperTable Talk. L. 665.
|Great wits are sure to madness near allied,|
And thin partitions do their bounds divide.
DrydenAbsalom and Achitophel. Pt. I. L. 163.
|Evn wits a burthen, when it talks too long.|
DrydenSixth Satire of Juvenal. L. 573.
| Wit will shine|
Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.
DrydenTo the Memory of Mr. Oldham.
| Their heads sometimes so little that there is no room for wit; sometimes so long, that there is no wit for so much room.|
FullerThe Holy and Profane States. Bk. IV. Ch. XII. Of Natural Fools. Maxim I.
|Mit wenig Witz und viel Behagen|
Dreht jeder sich im engen Zirkeltanz
Wie junge Katzen mit dem Schwanz.
With little wit and ease to suit them,
They whirl in narrow circling trails,
Like kittens playing with their tails.
GoetheFaust. I. 5. 94.
|As a wit, if not first, in the very first line.|
GoldsmithRetaliation. L. 96.
| Les beaux esprits lernen einander durch dergleichen rencontre erkennen.|
It is by such encounters that wits come to know each other.
Andreas GryphiusHorribilicribfax. Act IV. Sc. 7. VoltaireLetter to Thieriot, June 30, 1760, used the expression. See BüchmannGeflügelte Worte. Ed. 10. P. 123.
|Wit is the salt of conversation, not the food.|
HazlittLectures on the English Comic Writers. Lecture I.
|Wits an unruly engine, wildly striking|
Sometimes a friend, sometimes the engineer:
Hast thou the knack? pamper it not with liking;
But if thou want it, buy it not too deare
Many affecting wit beyond their power,
Have got to be a deare fool for an houre.
HerbertTemple. Church Porch. St. 41.
|At our wittes end.|
HeywoodProverbs. Pt. I. Ch. VIII. Psalms CVII. 27. (Their wits.)
| Wit is the clash and reconcilement of incongruities; the meeting of extremes round a corner.|
Leigh HuntWit and Humour.
| Wit, like money, bears an extra value when rung down immediately it is wanted. Men pay severely who require credit.|
Douglas JerroldSpecimens of Jerrolds Wit. Wit.
| This man [Chesterfield] I thought had been a lord among wits; but I find he is only a wit among lords.|
Samuel JohnsonBoswells Life of Johnson. (1764).
|Je nai jamais desprit quau bas de lescalier.|
I never have wit until I am below stairs.
La Bruyère, according to J. J. Rousseau. Esprit de lescalier, backstair wit, is credited to M. de Treville by Pierre Nicole. For use of this phrase see The Kings English. P. 32. Note.
| He must be a dull Fellow indeed, whom neither Love, Malice, nor Necessity, can inspire with Wit.|
La BruyèreThe Characters or Manners of the Present Age. Ch. IV.
| A man does not please long when he has only one species of wit.|
La RochefoucauldMaxims. No. 438.
| A small degree of wit, accompanied by good sense, is less tiresome in the long run than a great amount of wit without it.|
La RochefoucauldMaxims. No. 529.
| On peut dire que son esprit brille aux dépens de sa mèmoire.|
One may say that his wit shines at the expense of his memory.
Le SageGil Blas. III. XI. Of Carlos Alonso de la Ventoleria.
| Medio de fonte leporum|
Surgit amari aliquid quod in ipsis floribus angat.
In the midst of the fountain of wit there arises something bitter, which stings in the very flowers.
Lucretius. IV. 1,133.
|Mother Wit. (Natures mother wit.)|
MarlowePrologue to Tamerlaine the Great. Pt. I. MiddletonYour five Gallants. Act I. Sc. 1. DrydenOde to St. Cecilia. SpenserFaerie Queene. Bk. IV. Canto X. St. 21. Taming of the Shrew. Act II. Sc. 1.
|Have you summoned your wits from wool-gathering?|
Thos. MiddletonThe Family of Love. Act V. Sc. 3.
|Nul naura de lesprit, hors nous et nos amis.|
No one shall have wit save we and our friends.
MoliéreLet Femmes Savantes. III. 2.
| Limpromptu est justement la pierre de touche de lesprit.|
Repartee is precisely the touchstone of the man of wit.
MoliéreLes Prècieuses Ridicules. X.
| La raillerie est un discours en faveur de son esprit centre son bon naturel.|
Raillery is a mode of speaking in favor of ones wit at the expense of ones better nature.
|Whose wit, in the combat, as gentle as bright,|
Neer carried a heart-stain away on its blade.
MooreLines on the Death of Sheridan. St. 11.
| Wit is the most rascally, contemptible, beggarly thing on the face of the earth.|
PlinyNatural History. 31. 7. 41.
|A wit with dunces, and a dunce with wits.|
PopeDunciad. Bk. IV. L. 92.
|You beat your pate, and fancy wit will come;|
Knock as you please, theres nobody at home.
PopeEpigram. Last phrase in DickensNicholas Nickleby.
|For wit and judgment often are at strife,|
Though meant each others aid, like man and wife.
PopeEssay on Criticism. L. 82.
|So modest plainness sets off sprightly wit,|
For works may have more wit than does em good,
As bodies perish through excess of blood.
PopeEssay on Criticism. L. 302.
|How the wit brightens! how the style refines!|
PopeEssay on Criticism. L. 421.
|If faith itself has different dresses worn,|
What wonder modes in wit should take their turn?
PopeEssay on Criticism. L. 446.
|True wit is nature to advantage dressd,|
What oft was thought, but neer so well expressed.
PopeEssay on Criticism. Pt. II. L. 97. Wit is that which has been often thought, but never before was well expressed. As paraphrased by JohnsonLife of Cowley.
| Some mens wit is like a dark lantern, which serves their own turn and guides them their own way, but is never known (according to the Scripture phrase) either to shine forth before men, or to glorify their Father in heaven.|
PopeThoughts on Various Subjects.
| Generally speaking there is more wit than talent in this world. Society swarms with witty people who lack talent.|
De RivarolOn Mme. de Staël.
| Fine wits destroy themselves with their own plots, in meddling with great affairs of state.|
John SeldenTable Talk. Wit.
| You have a nimble wit; I think it was made of Atalantas heels.|
As You Like It. Act III. Sc. 2. L. 292.
| Make the doors upon a womans wit and it will out at the casement; shut that and twill out at the key-hole; stop that, twill fly with the smoke out at the chimney.|
As You Like It. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 162.
| Since brevity is the soul of wit,|
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.
Hamlet. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 90.
|They have a plentiful lack of wit.|
Hamlet. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 201.
| I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men.|
Henry IV. Pt. II. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 11.
|Rudeness is a sauce to his good wit,|
Which gives men stomach to digest his words,
With better appetite.
Julius Cæsar. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 304.
|His eye begets occasion for his wit;|
For every object that the one doth catch,
The other turns to a mirth-moving jest.
Loves Labours Lost. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 69.
|Your wits too hot, it speeds too fast, twill tire.|
Loves Labours Lost. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 120.
|Great men may jest with saints; tis wit in them;|
But, in the less, foul profanation.
Measure for Measure. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 127.
|He doth, indeed, show some sparks that are like wit.|
Much Ado About Nothing. Act II. Sc. 3. L. 193.
| A good old man, sir: he will be talking, as they say, When the age is in, the wit is out.|
Much Ado About Nothing. Act III. Sc. 5. L. 36.
|Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.|
Much Ado About Nothing. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 159.
| Thy wit is as quick as the greyhounds mouth; it catches.|
Much Ado About Nothing. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 11.
|To leave this keen encounter of our wits,|
And fall somewhat into a slower method.
Richard III. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 115.
| Thy wit is a very bitter sweeting: it is most sharp sauce.|
Romeo and Juliet. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 87.
| Look, hes winding up the watch of his wit; by and by it will strike.|
Tempest. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 12.
| Those wits that think they have thee, do very oft prove fools; and I, that am sure I lack thee, may pass for a wise man; for what says Quinapalus? Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.|
Twelfth Night. Act I. Sc. 5. L. 37.
| Man could direct his ways by plain reason, and support his life by tasteless food; but God has given us wit, and flavour, and brightness, and laughter, and perfumers, to enliven the days of mans pilgrimage, and to charm his pained steps over the burning marle.|
Sydney SmithDangers and Advantages of Wit.
| Surprise is so essential an ingredient of wit that no wit will bear repetition;at least the original electrical feeling produced by any piece of wit can never be renewed.|
Sydney SmithLectures on Moral Philosophy, No. 10.
| One wit, like a knuckle of ham in soup, gives a zest and flavour to the dish, but more than one serves only to spoil the pottage.|
| Wit consists in knowing the resemblance of things which differ, and the difference of things which are alike.|
Madame de StaëlGermany. Pt. III. Ch. VIII.
| It is having in some measure a sort of wit to know how to use the wit of others.|
Stanislaus (King of Poland)Maxims and Moral Sentences.
| It is with wits as with razors, which are never so apt to cut those they are employed on as when they have lost their edge.|
SwiftTale of a Tub: Authors Preface.
|Too much wit makes the world rotten.|
TennysonIdylls of the King. The Last Tournament.
|And wit its honey lent, without the sting.|
TennysonTo the Memory of Lord Talbot.
| He had too thoughtful a wit: like a penknife in too narrow a sheath, too sharp for his body.|
Izaak WaltonLife of George Herbert. Reported as Herberts saying about himself.
|Nae wut without a portion o impertinence.|
John WilsonNoctes Ambrosianæ.
|Though I am young, I scorn to flit|
On the wings of borrowed wit.
George WitherThe Shepherds Hunting.
|Against their wills what numbers ruin shun,|
Purely through want of wit to be undone!
Nature has shown by making it so rare,
That wits a jewel which we need not wear.
YoungEpistle to Mr. Pope. Ep. II. L. 80.
|As in smooth oil the razor best is whet,|
So wit is by politeness sharpest set;
Their want of edge from their offence is seen,
Both pain us least when exquisitely keen.
YoungLove of Fame. Satire II. L. 118.