Silence never shows itself to so great an advantage as when it is made the reply to calumny and defamation.
—Joseph Addison (1672–1719) English Essayist, Poet, Playwright, Politician
A person that would secure to himself great deference will, perhaps, gain his point by silence as effectually as by anything he can say.
—William Shenstone (1714–63) British Poet, Landscape Gardener
And silence, like a poultice, comes to heal the blows of sound.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94) American Physician, Essayist
The cruelest lies are often told in silence. A man may have sat in a room for hours and not opened his mouth, and yet come out of that room a disloyal friend or a vile calumniator.
—Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94) Scottish Novelist
A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw the less he spoke; The less he spoke the more he heard; Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?
Silence often expresses ‘more powerfully than speech the verdict and judgment of society.
—Benjamin Franklin (1706–90) American Political Leader, Inventor, Diplomat
Silence is the door of consent.
Silence in woman is like speech in men; deny it who can.
—Ben Jonson (1572–1637) English Dramatist, Poet, Actor
Nowadays most men lead lives of noisy desperation.
Talkers and futile persons are commonly vain and credulous withal, for he that talketh what he knoweth will also talk what he knoweth not; therefore set it down that a habit of secrecy is both politic and moral.
—Francis Bacon (1561–1626) English Philosopher
Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.
—Cicero (106BCE–43BCE) Roman Philosopher, Orator, Politician, Lawyer
Silence is music to a wise man.
Silence is the safest course for any man to adopt who distrusts himself.
—Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613–80) French Writer
‘Tis best to be silent in a bad cause.
—Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) (c.43 BCE–c.18 CE) Roman Poet
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that really matter.
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–68) American Civil Rights Leader, Clergyman
Silence is a true friend who never betrays.
—Confucius (551–479 BCE) Chinese Philosopher
Silence may be golden, but can you think of a better way to entertain someone than to listen to him?
—Brigham Young (1801–77) American Mormon Leader
The silent dog is the first to bite.
His enemies might have said before that he talked rather too much; but now he has occasional flashes of silence, that make his conversation perfectly delightful.
—Sydney Smith (1771–1845) English Clergyman, Essayist, Wit
The holiest of all holidays are those kept by ourselves in silence and apart, the secret anniversaries of the heart, when the full tide of feeling overflows.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–82) American Poet, Educator, Academic
A judicious reticence is hard to learn, but it is one of the great lessons of life.
—Earl of Chesterfield (1694–1773) English Statesman, Man of Letters
The man who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.
—Elbert Hubbard (1856–1915) American Writer, Publisher, Artist, Philosopher
Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure we may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail, no personality can disturb us.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) American Philosopher
Sticks and stones may break your bones when there’s anger to impart. Spiteful words can hurt your feelings but silence breaks your heart. Anger is as a stone cast into a wasp’s nest.
To me so deep a silence portends some dread event; a clamorous sorrow wastes itself in sound.
—Sophocles (495–405 BCE) Ancient Greek Dramatist
Silence makes no mistakes.
Still waters run deep.
An inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind.
—Walter Bagehot (1826–77) English Economist, Journalist
To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
—Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) American Head of State
Silence is the soul of all things.