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James Wood, comp. Dictionary of Quotations. 1899.


A book should be luminous, but not voluminous.

A good thought is a great boon.

As many suffer from too much as too little.

Beauty can afford to laugh at distinctions; it is itself the greatest distinction.

Books are embalmed minds.

Can that which is the greatest virtue in philosophy, doubt, be in religion, what we priests term it, the greatest of sins?

Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities.

Dignity of position adds to dignity of character, as well as dignity of carriage.

Discretion is the salt, and fancy the sugar, of life; the one preserves, the other sweetens it.

Dishonest men conceal their faults from themselves as well as others; honest men know and confess them.

Dishonesty is the forsaking of permanent for temporary advantages.

Earnestness is the cause of patience; it gives endurance, overcomes pain, strengthens weakness, braves dangers, sustains hope, makes light of difficulties, and lessens the sense of weariness in overcoming them.

Earnestness is the devotion of all the faculties.

Example has more followers than reason.

False friends are like our shadow, close to us while we walk in the sunshine, but leaving us the instant we cross into the shade.

Few minds wear out; more rust out.

For cowards the road of desertion should be left open; they will carry over to the enemy nothing but their fears.

Formerly when great fortunes were only made in war, war was business; but now when great fortunes are only made by business, business is war.

Genius makes its observations in shorthand; talent writes them out at length.

Genuine religion is matter of feeling rather than matter of opinion.

Gravity is twin brother to stupidity.

Great warriors, like great earthquakes, are principally remembered for the mischief they have done.

Haste turns usually on a matter of ten minutes too late.

He presents me with what is always an acceptable gift who brings me news of a great thought before unknown.

Hope is the best part of our riches.

I believe in great men, but not in demigods.

If a man is not virtuous, he becomes vicious.

In politics, merit is rewarded by the possessor being raised, like a target, to a position to be fired at.

It is not the number of facts he knows, but how much of a fact he is himself, that proves the man.

It is our relation to circumstances that determines their influence over us. The same wind that carries one vessel into port may blow another off shore.

Kindred weaknesses induce friendship as often as kindred virtues.

Life, like some cities, is full of blind alleys, leading nowhere; the great art is to keep out of them.

Love delights in paradoxes. Saddest when it has most reason to be gay, sighs are the signs of its deepest joy, and silence the expression of its yearning tenderness.

Love’s sweetest meanings are unspoken; the full heart knows no rhetoric of words, and resorts to the pantomime of sighs and glances.

Many children, many cares; no children, no felicity.

Marriage, by making us more contented, causes us often to be less enterprising.

Men, like musical instruments, seem made to be played upon.

Merit is never so conspicuous as when coupled with an obscure origin, just as the moon never appears so lustrous as when it emerges from a cloud.

Mind unemployed is mind unenjoyed.

Motives are better than actions.

Music is our fourth great material want—first food, then raiment, then shelter, then music.

Partial culture runs to the ornate; extreme culture to simplicity.

Passion looks not beyond the moment of its existence.

Rejecting the miracles of Christ, we still have the miracle of Christ himself.

Repose without stagnation is the state most favourable to happiness. “The great felicity of life,” says Seneca, “is to be without perturbation.

Self-distrust is the cause of most of our failures. In the assurance of strength there is strength, and they are the weakest, however strong, who have no faith in themselves or their powers.

Sensitiveness is closely allied to egotism; and excessive sensibility is only another name for morbid self-consciousness. The cure for tender sensibilities is to make more of our objects and less of ourselves.

Shakespeare must have seemed a dull man at times, he was so flashingly brilliant at others.

Something of a person’s character may be discovered by observing when and how he smiles. Some people never smile. They only grin.

Successful love takes a load off our hearts and puts it on our shoulders.

Tearless grief bleeds inwardly.

That is a treacherous friend against whom you must always be on your guard. Such a friend is wine.

The body of a sensualist is the coffin of a dead soul.

The busiest of living agents are certain dead men’s thoughts.

The glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.

The great artist is the slave of his ideal.

The greatest events of an age are its best thoughts. It is the nature of thought to find its way into action.

The highest virtue of the tropics is chastity; of colder regions, temperance.

The most brilliant flashes of wit come from a clouded mind, as lightning leaps only from an obscure firmament.

The small courtesies sweeten life; the greater ennoble it.

The worst deluded are the self-deluded.

There are few wild beasts more to be dreaded than a communicative man having nothing to communicate.

Time’s best gift to us is serenity.

Tranquil pleasures last the longest. We are not fitted to bear long the burden of great joys.

Truth, like the sun, submits to be obscured; but, like the sun, only for a time.

Vanity in an old man is charming. It is a proof of an open nature. Eighty winters have not frozen him up or taught him concealments. In a young person it is simply allowable; we do not expect him to be above it.

We make way for the man who boldly pushes past us.

We should round every day of stirring action with an evening of thought. We learn nothing of our experience except we muse upon it.

We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and insensibly approximate to the characters we most admire. In this way, a generous habit of thought and of action carries with it an incalculable influence.

What I object to is, not the poetry of sadness, but the sadness of poetry. Many of the poets make out the fountain of poetry to be only a fountain of tears.

What we call conscience, in many instances, is only a wholesome fear of the constable.

When all else is lost, the future still remains.

Woman’s love, like lichens upon a rock, will still grow where even charity can find no soil to nurture itself.

Woman’s power is over the affections. A beautiful dominion is hers, but she risks its forfeiture when she seeks to extend it.

Youth is too tumultuous for felicity; old age too insecure for happiness. The period most favourable to enjoyment, in a vigorous, fortunate, and generous life, is that between forty and sixty. Life culminates at sixty.