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- How happy is he born and taught,
That serveth not another's will;
Whose armor is his honest thought,
And simple truth his utmost skill!
- The Character of a Happy Life (1614), stanza 1.
- Who God doth late and early pray,
More of his grace than gifts to send,
And entertains the harmless day
With a well-chosen book or friend.
- The Character of a Happy Life (1614), stanza 5.
- Lord of himself, though not of lands;
And having nothing, yet hath all.
- The Character of a Happy Life (1614), stanza 6. Compare: "As having nothing, and yet possessing all things", 2 Corinthians vi. 10.
- You meaner beauties of the night,
That poorly satisfy our eyes
More by your number than your light;
You common people of the skies,
What are you when the sun shall rise?
- On His Mistress, the Queen of Bohemia, stanza 1 (1624). In some versions "moon" replaces "sun". This was printed with music as early as 1624, in Est's "Sixth Set of Books", for example.
- I am but a gatherer and disposer of other men's stuff.
- Preface to the Elements of Architecture (1624).
- Love lodged in a woman's breast
Is but a guest.
- A Woman's Heart (1651).
- He first deceased; she for a little tried
To live without him, liked it not, and died.
- Upon the Death of Sir Albert Morton's Wife (1651).
- Hanging was the worst use a man could be put to.
- The Disparity Between Buckingham and Essex (1651).
- An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the commonwealth.
- Reliquiae Wottonainae (1651). In a letter to Velserus, 1612, Wotton says, "This merry definition of an ambassador I had chanced to set down at my friend's, Mr. Christopher Fleckamore, in his Album".
- The itch of disputing will prove the scab of churches.
- A Panegyric to King Charles (1651).
- Hic jacet hujus sententiæ primus author:
DISPUTANDI PRURITUS ECCLESIARUM SCABIES.
Nomen alias quære.
- Translation: Here lies the author of this phrase: "The itch for disputing is the sore of churches." Seek his name elsewhere.
- Inscription on Wotton's gravestone, so placed at his direction.
- Advised a young diplomat "to tell the truth, and so puzzle and confound his enemies."
- Attributed. E.g., Vol 24, Encyclopedia Britannica of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature, page 721 (9th Ed. 1894).
- Compare Mark Twain who, in Following the Equator, said "When in doubt, tell the truth" (which is often mis-quoted as containing an additional clause providing "it will confound your enemies and astound your friends").