C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


Ability is of little account without opportunity.

Napoleon I.

Ability is a poor man’s wealth.

Matthew Wren.

Ability in a man is knowledge which emanates from divine light.


Ability involves responsibility. Power to its last particle is duty.


The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.


Consider well what your strength is equal to, and what exceeds your ability.


Ability wins us the esteem of the true men; luck that of the people.

La Rochefoucauld.

Exigencies create the necessary ability to meet and to conquer them.

Wendell Phillips.

An able man shows his spirit by gentle words and resolute actions.


Every person is responsible for all the good within the scope of his abilities, and for no more.

Gail Hamilton.

The art of using moderate abilities to advantage wins praise, and often acquires more reputation than actual brilliancy.

La Rochefoucauld.

As we advance in life we learn the limits of our abilities.


The wicked are always surprised to find ability in the good.


Men, like bullets, go farthest when they are smoothest.

Jean Paul Richter.

I pride myself in recognizing and upholding ability in every party and wherever I meet it.


To become an able man in any profession, there are three things necessary,—nature, study, and practice.


We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.


You are a devil at everything, and there is no kind of thing in the ’versal world but what you can turn your hand to.


Who does the best his circumstance allows, Does well, acts nobly; angels could no more.


Men who undertake considerable things, even in a regular way, ought to give us ground to presume ability.


The measure of capacity is the measure of sphere to either man or woman.

Elizabeth Oakes Smith.

The possession of great powers no doubt carries with it a contempt for mere external show.

James A. Garfield.

Natural ability can almost compensate for the want of every kind of cultivation; but no cultivation of the mind can make up for the want of natural ability.


  • Read my little fable:
  • He that runs may read.
  • Most can raise the flowers now,
  • For all have got the seed.
  • Tennyson.

    To the very last, he [Napoleon] had a kind of idea; that, namely, of la carriere ouverte aux talent—the tools to him that can handle them.

    Sir Walter Scott.

    No man is without some quality, by the due application of which he might deserve well of the world; and whoever he be that has but little in his power should be in haste to do that little, lest he be confounded with him that can do nothing.

    Dr. Johnson.

  • He could raise scruples dark and nice,
  • And after solve ’em in a trice;
  • As if Divinity had catch’d
  • The itch, on purpose to be scratch’d.
  • Butler.

  • There’s in him stuff that puts him to these ends;
  • For being not propped up by ancestry whose grace
  • Chalks successors their way; nor called upon
  • For high feats done to the crown; neither allied
  • To eminent assistants; but, spider-like,
  • Out of his self-drawing web, he gives us note;
  • The force of his own merit makes his way;
  • A gift that heaven gives for him, which buys
  • A place next to a king.
  • Shakespeare.