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James Wood, comp. Dictionary of Quotations. 1899.


A life that is worth writing at all is worth writing minutely.

All that is best in the great poets of all countries is not what is national in them, but what is universal.

Art is long and time is fleeting, / And our hearts, though stout and brave, / Still, like muffled drums, are beating / Funeral marches to the grave.

Contrivances of the time / For sowing broadcast the seeds of crime.

Critics are sentinels in the grand army of letters, stationed at the corners of newspapers and reviews to challenge every new author.

Each man’s chimney is his golden milestone, is the central point from which he measures every distance through the gateways of the world around him.

Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm.

Every great poem is in itself limited by necessity, but in its suggestions unlimited and infinite.

Fame comes only when deserved, and then it is as inevitable as destiny, for it is destiny.

Fear is the virtue of slaves; but the heart that loveth is willing.

Great men stand like solitary towers in the city of God, and secret passages running deep beneath external Nature give their thoughts intercourse with higher intelligences, which strengthens and consoles them, and of which the labourers on the surface do not even dream.

He is a little chimney, and heated hot in a moment!

He is a little man; let him go and work with the women!

He looks the whole world in the face, / For he owes not any man.

How beautiful is youth! how bright it gleams, / With its allusions, aspirations, dreams! / Book of beginnings, story without end, / Each maid a heroine, and each man a friend.

If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning.

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

In character, in manner, in style, in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity.

In the wreck of noble lives / Something immortal still survives.

Inspirations that we deem our own are our divine foreshadowing and foreseeing of things beyond our reason and control.

Into each life some rain must fall, / Some days must be dark and dreary.

It is a beautiful trait in the lover’s character, that he thinks no evil of the object loved.

It is difficult to know at what moment love begins; it is less difficult to know that it has begun.

It is folly to pretend that one ever wholly recovers from a disappointed passion. Such wounds always leave a scar.

It is the fate of a woman / Long to be patient and silent, to wait like a ghost that is speechless, / Till some questioning voice dissolves the spell of its silence.

Know how sublime a thing it is to suffer and be strong.

Labour with what zeal we will, / Something still remains undone, / Something uncompleted still / Waits the rising of the sun.

Learn to labour and to wait.

Led by illusions romantic and subtle deceptions of fancy, / Pleasure disguised as duty, and love in the semblance of friendship.

Let us, then, be up and doing, / With a heart for every fate; / Still achieving, still pursuing, / Learn to labour and to wait.

Let us, then, be what we are, and speak what we think, and in all things / Keep ourselves loyal to truth and the sacred professions of friendship.

Life is real, life is earnest.

Little waves with their soft white bands efface the footprints in the sands.

Lives of great men all remind us, / We can make our lives sublime; / And departing leave behind us / Footprints on the sands of time.

Look not mournfully into the past—it comes not back again; wisely improve the present—it is thine; go forth to meet the shadowy future without fear and with a manly heart.

Love gives itself, and is not bought.

Love is ever busy with his shuttle, is ever wearing into life’s dull warp bright gorgeous flowers and scenes Arcadian.

Many have genius, / But, wanting art, are for ever dumb.

Many readers judge of the power of a book by the shock it gives their feelings.

Men of genius are dull and inert in society; as the blazing meteor, when it descends to the earth, is only a stone.

Nature alone is permanent.

No literature is complete until the language in which it is written is dead.

Nor deem the irrevocable past / As wholly wasted, wholly vain, / If, rising on its wrecks, at last / To something nobler we attain.

Not as a vulture, but a dove, / The Holy Ghost came from above.After Fuller.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, / Is our destined end or way; / But to act that each to-morrow / May find us farther than to-day.

One half of the world must sweat and groan that the other half may dream.

Short allowance of victual, and plenty of nothing but Gospel!

Simplicity in character, in manners, in style: in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity.

Something attempted, something done, / Has earned a night’s repose.

Standing on what too long we bore / With shoulders bent and downcast eyes, / We may discern—unseen before— / A path to higher destinies.

Strange is the life of man, and fatal or fated are moments, / Whereupon turn, as on hinges, the gates of the wall adamantine!

Stronger than steel / Is the sword of the spirit; / Swifter than arrows / The life of the truth is; / Greater than anger / Is love, and subdueth.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers, / “Life is but an empty dream,” / For the soul is dead that slumbers, / And things are not what they seem.

The heights by great men reached and kept / Were not attained by sudden flight, / But they, while their companions slept, / Were toiling upward in the night.

The laws of nature are just, but terrible. There is no weak mercy in them.

The present time is not priest-ridden, but press-ridden.

The soul reveals itself in the voice only…. It is audible, not visible.

There are moments in life when the heart is so full of emotion, / That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like a pebble / Drops some careless word, it overflows; and its secret, / Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together.

There is no flock, however watched and tended, / But one dead lamb is there; / There is no fireside, howsoe’er defended, / But has one vacant chair.

There is nothing holier in this life of ours than the first consciousness of love, the first fluttering of its silken wings.

There’s a brave fellow! There’s a man of pluck! / A man who is not afraid to say his say, / Though a whole town’s against him.

Those only are beautiful which, like the planets, have a steady, lambent light—are luminous, not sparkling.

Time is the life of the soul. If not this, then tell me what is time?

Trust no future, howe’er pleasant; / Let the dead past bury its dead. / Act, act in the living present; / Heart within, and God o’erhead!

War is a terrible trade; but in the cause that is righteous, / Sweet is the smell of powder.

We have not wings, we cannot soar; / But we have feet to scale and climb / By slow degrees, by more and more, / The cloudy summits of our time.

We may build more splendid habitations, / Fill our rooms with paintings and with sculptures, / But we cannot / Buy with gold the old associations!

We waste our best years in distilling the sweetest flowers of life into potions which, after all, do not immortalise, but only intoxicate.

When one is truly in love, one not only says it, but shows it.

Whene’er a noble deed is wrought, / Whene’er is spoken a noble thought, / Our hearts, in glad surprise, / To higher levels rise.

Where the heart goes before, like a lamp, and illumines the pathway, many things are made clear that else lie hidden in darkness.

“Wouldst thou,” so the helmsman answered, / “Learn the secret of the sea? / Only those who brave its dangers / Comprehend its mystery!”