C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.
A father of the church said that property was theft, many centuries before Proudhon was born. Bourdaloue reaffirmed it. Montesquieu was the inventor of national workshops and of the theory that the state owed every man a living. Nay, was not the church herself the first organized democracy?
A great man is made up of qualities that meet or make great occasions.
A great part of human suffering has its root in the nature of man, and not in that of his institutions.
A sneer is the weapon of the weak. Like other devil’s weapons, it is always cunningly ready to our hand, and there is more poison in the handle than in the point.
A stray hair, by its continued irritation, may give more annoyance than a smart blow.
A wise scepticism is the first attribute of a good critic.
A word once vulgarized can never be rehabilitated.
All birds during the pairing season become more or less sentimental, and murmur soft nothings in a tone very unlike the grinding-organ repetition and loudness of their habitual song. The crow is very comical as a lover; and to hear him trying to soften his croak to the proper Saint-Preux standard has something the effect of a Mississippi boatman quoting Tennyson.
All free governments, whatever their name, are in reality governments by public opinion; and it is on the quality of this public opinion that their prosperity depends.
All men who know not where to look for truth, save in the narrow well of self, will find their own image at the bottom, and mistake it for what they are seeking.
All thoughtful men are solitary and original in themselves.
Among the lessons taught by the French revolution, there is none sadder or more striking than this—that you may make everything else out of the passions of men except a political system that will work, and that there is nothing so pitilessly and unconsciously cruel as sincerity formulated into dogma.
And what they dare to dream of, dare to do.
Aspiration sees only one side of every question; possession, many.
Attention is the stuff that memory is made of, and memory is accumulated genius.
Be He nowhere else, God is in all that liberates and lifts, in all that humbles, sweetens, and consoles.
Before man made us citizens, great Nature made us men.
Blessed are the horny hands of toil!
Borrowed garments never keep one warm.
But it was in making education not only common to all, but in some sense compulsory on all, that the destiny of the free republics of America was practically settled.
Children are God’s apostles, day by day sent forth to preach of love and hope and peace.
Christ was the first true democrat that ever breathed, as the old dramatist Dekkar said he was the first true gentleman.
Communism means barbarism.
Comparative criticism teaches us that moral and æsthetic defects are more nearly related than is commonly supposed.
Compromise makes a good umbrella, but a poor roof; it is a temporary expedient, often wise in party politics, almost sure to be unwise in statesmanship.
Console yourself, dear man and brother; whatever you may be sure of, be sure at least of this, that you are dreadfully like other people. Human nature has a much greater genius for sameness than for originality.
Earth’s noblest thing—a woman perfected.
Endurance is the crowning quality.
Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm, eloquence produces conviction for the moment; but it is only by truth to Nature and the everlasting institutions of mankind that those abiding influences are won that enlarge from generation to generation.
Every man feels instinctively that all the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action.
Evil is a far more cunning and persevering propagandist than good, for it has no inward strength, and is driven to seek countenance and sympathy.
Faith in God, faith in man, faith in work: this is the short formula in which we may sum up the teachings of the founders of New England—a creed ample enough for this life and the next.
Fanaticism, or, to call it by its milder name, enthusiasm, is only powerful and active so long as it is aggressive. Establish it firmly in power, and it becomes conservatism, whether it will or no.
Fashion being the art of those who must purchase notice at some cheaper rate than that of being beautiful, loves to do rash and extravagant things. She must be forever new, or she becomes insipid.
Fastidiousness is only another word for egotism; and all men who know not where to look for truth save in the narrow well of self will find their own image at the bottom, and mistake it for what they are seeking.
Flaw-seeing eyes, like needle points.
Fortune is the rod of the weak and the staff of the brave.
Genius is that in whose power a man is.
God does not weigh criminality in our scales. We have one absolute, with the seal of authority upon it; and with us an ounce is an ounce, and a pound a pound. God’s measure is the heart of the offender,—a balance which varies with every one of us, a balance so delicate that a tear cast in the other side may make the weight of error kick the beam.
God is not dumb that He should speak no more; if thou hast wanderings in the wilderness and find’st no Sinai, ’tis thy soul is poor.
God is the only being who has time enough; but a prudent man, who knows how to seize occasion, can commonly make a shift to find as much as he needs.
God’s livery is a very plain one; but its wearers have good reason to be content. If it have not so much gold-lace about it as Satan’s, it keeps out foul weather better, and is besides a great deal cheaper.
Good luck is the willing handmaid of upright, energetic character, and conscientious observance of duty.
Got the ill name of augurs because they were bores.
Have you ever rightly considered what the mere ability to read means? That it is the key which admits us to the whole world of thought and fancy and imagination? to the company of saint and sage, of the wisest and the wittiest at their wisest and wittiest moment? That it enables us to see with the keenest eyes, hear with the finest ears, and listen to the sweetest voices of all time? More than that, it annihilates time and space for us.
Her hair was not more sunny than her heart, though like a natural golden coronet it circled her dear head with careless art.
History is clarified experience.
Humbleness is always grace, always dignity.
I would hardly change the sorrowful words of the poets for their glad ones. Tears dampen the strings of the lyre, but they grow the tenser for it, and ring even the clearer and more ravishingly.
If he had sorrows, he has made them the woof of everlasting consolation to his kind; and if, as poets are wont to whine, the outward world was cold to him, its biting air did but trace itself in loveliest frostwork of fancy on the many windows of that self-centred and cheerful soul.
If the devil take a less hateful shape to us than to our fathers, he is as busy with us as with them.
If youth be a defect, it is one that we outgrow only too soon.
Imagination, where it is truly creative, is a faculty, and not a quality; it looks before and after, it gives the form that makes all the parts work together harmoniously toward a given end, its seat is in the higher reason, and it is efficient only as a servant of the will. Imagination, as it is too often misunderstood, is mere fantasy, the image-making power, common to all who have the gift of dreams.
In general, those who have nothing to say contrive to spend the longest time in doing it.
In the earliest ages science was poetry, as in the latter poetry has become science.
In the parliament of the present every man represents a constituency of the past.
In the scale of the destinies, brawn will never weigh so much as brain.
Incredulity robs us of many pleasures, and gives us nothing in return.
It is beginning to be doubtful whether Parliament and Congress sit in Westminster and Washington, or in the editorial rooms of the leading journals,—so thoroughly is everything debated before the authorized and responsible debaters get on their legs.
It is by presence of mind in untried emergencies that the native metal of a man is tested.
It is curious for one who studies the action and reaction of national literature on each other, to see the humor of Swift and Sterne and Fielding, after filtering through Richter, reappear in Carlyle with a tinge of Germanism that makes it novel, alien, or even displeasing, as the case may be, to the English mind.
It is curious how tyrannical the habit of reading is, and what shifts we make to escape thinking. There is no bore we dread being left alone with so much as our own minds.
It is not a great Xerxes army of words, but a compact Greek ten thousand that march safely down to posterity.
It is not the insurrections of ignorance that are dangerous, but the revolts of intelligence.
It is not without reason that fame is awarded only after death. The cloud-dust of notoriety which follows and envelops the men who drive with the wind bewilders contemporary judgment.
It is only by instigation of the wrongs of men that what we call the rights of men become turbulent and dangerous.
It is only the intellect that can be thoroughly and hideously wicked. It can forget everything in the attainment of its ends. The heart recoils; in its retired places some drops of childhood’s dew still linger, defying manhood’s fiery noon.
It is singular how impatient men are with overpraise of others, how patient of overpraise of themselves, and yet the one does them no injury, while the other may be their ruin.
It is the privilege of genius that to it life never grows commonplace as to the rest of us.
It is the vain endeavor to make ourselves what we are not that has strewn history with so many broken purposes and lives left in the rough.
It may be conjectured that it is cheaper in the long run to lift men up than to hold them down, and that the ballot in their hands is less dangerous to society than a sense of wrong is in their heads.
Large charity doth never soil, but only whitens soft white hands.
Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never happen.
Life is constantly weighing us in very sensitive scales, and telling every one of us precisely what his real weight is to the last grain of dust.
Life is the jailer, death the angel sent to draw the unwilling bolts and set us free.
Life may be given in many ways, and loyalty to truth be sealed as bravely in the closet as the field.
Light is the symbol of truth.
Literature, properly so called, draws its sap from the deep soil of human nature’s common and everlasting sympathies, the gathered leal-mould of countless generations, and not from any top dressing capriciously scattered over the surface.
Love lives on, and hath a power to bless when they who loved are hidden in the grave.
Maiden, when such a soul as thine is born, the morning stars their ancient music make.
Making one object, in outward or inward nature, more holy to a single heart is reward enough for a life; for the more sympathies we gain or awaken for what is beautiful, by so much deeper will be our sympathy for that which is most beautiful,—the human soul!
Many-sidedness of culture makes our vision clearer and keener in particulars.
Men have their intellectual ancestry, and the likeness of some one of them is forever unexpectedly flashing out in the features of a descendant, it may be after a gap of several centuries. In the parliament of the present every man represents a constituency of the past.
Men’s thoughts and opinions are in a great degree vassals of him who invents a new phrase or re-applies an old epithet. The thought or feeling a thousand times repeated becomes his at last who utters it best.
Metaphor is no argument, though it be sometimes the gunpowder to drive one home, and imbed it in the memory.
Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle.
Moral supremacy is the only one that leaves monuments, and not ruins, behind it.
Most long lives resemble those threads of gossamer, the nearest approach to nothing unmeaningly prolonged, scarce visible pathways of some worm from his cradle to his grave.
Most men make the voyage of life as if they carried sealed orders which they were not to open till they were fairly in mid-ocean.
Most religion-mongers have bated their paradises with a bit of toasted cheese. They have tempted the body with large promises of possessions in their transmortal El Dorado. Sancho Panza will not quit his chimney-corner, but under promise of imaginary islands to govern.
Nature fits all her children with something to do.
Never did poesy appear so full of heaven to me as when I saw how it pierced through pride and fear to the lives of coarsest men.
New occasions teach new duties.
No man can produce great things who is not thoroughly sincere in dealing with himself, who would not exchange the finest show for the poorest reality, who does not so love his work that he is not only glad to give himself for it, but finds rather a gain than a sacrifice in the surrender.
No man is born into the world whose work is not born with him; there is always work, and tools to work withal, for those who will; and blessed are the horny hands of toil!
No sincere desire of doing good need make an enemy of a single human being; that philanthropy has surely a flaw in it which cannot sympathize with the oppressor equally as with the oppressed.
Not suffering, but faint heart, is worst of woes.
O reputation! dearer far than life.
Old gold has a civilizing virtue which new gold must grow old to be capable of secreting.
One learns more metaphysics from a single temptation than from all the philosophers.
One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.
Over all life broods Poesy, like the calm blue sky with its motherly, rebuking face. She is the great reformer, and where the love of her is strong and healthy, wickedness and wrong cannot long prevail.
Piety is indifferent whether she enters at the eye or at the ear. There is none of the senses at which she does not knock one day or other. The Puritans forgot this, and thrust Beauty out of the meeting-house and slammed the door in her face.
Practical application is the only mordant which will set things in the memory. Study without it is gymnastics, and not work, which alone will get intellectual bread.
Praise follows Truth afar off; and only overtakes her at the grave; Plausibility clings to her skirts and holds her back till then.
Pride and weakness are Siamese twins.
Pride of origin, whether high or low, springs from the same principle in human nature; one is but the positive, the other the negative, pole of a single weakness.
Puritanism, believing itself quick with the seed of religious liberty, laid, without knowing it, the egg of democracy.
Reading Chaucer is like brushing through the dewy grass at sunrise.
Reputation is in itself only a farthing-candle, of wavering and uncertain flame, and easily blown out, but it is the light by which the world looks for and finds merit.
Scepticism commonly takes up the room left by defect of imagination, and is the very quality of mind most likely to seek for sensual proof of supersensual things. If one came from the dead it could not believe; and yet it longs for such a witness, and will put up with a very dubious one.
Sentiment is intellectualized emotion, emotion precipitated, as it were, in pretty crystals by the fancy.
She hath a natural wise sincerity, a simple truthfulness, and these have lent her a dignity as moveless as the centre.
Sincerity is impossible unless it pervade the whole being; and the pretence of it saps the very foundation of character.
Slow are the steps of freedom, but her feet turn never backward.
Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.
Some kind of pace may be got out of the veriest jade by the near prospect of oats; but the thoroughbred has the spur in his blood.
Sorrow, the great idealizer.
Stern men with empires in their brains.
Take winter as you find him, and he turns out to be a thoroughly honest fellow with no nonsense in him, and tolerating none in you, which is a great comfort in the long run.
Talent is that which is in a man’s power.
Taste is the next gift to genius.
The devil loves nothing better than the intolerance of reformers, and dreads nothing so much as their charity and patience.
The discontent with the existing order of things pervaded the atmosphere, wherever the conditions were favorable, long before Columbus, seeding the back door of Asia, found himself knocking at the front door of America.
The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion.
The greater your real strength and power, the quieter it will be exercised.
The idol is the measure of the worshipper.
The intellect has only one failing, which, to be sure, is a very considerable one. It has no conscience.
The making one object, in outward or inward nature, more holy to a single heart, is reward enough for a life; for the more sympathies we gain or awaken for what is beautiful, by so much deeper will be our sympathy for that which is most beautiful, the human soul.
The material of thought re-acts upon the thought itself.
The nunneries of silent nooks, the murmured longing of the wood.
The only conclusive evidence of a man’s sincerity is that he gives himself for a principle. Words, money, all things else, are comparatively easy to give away; but when a man makes a gift of his daily life and practice, it is plain that the truth whatever it may be, has taken possession of him.
The only faith that wears well and holds its color in all weathers is that which is woven of conviction and set with the sharp mordant of experience.
The opening of the first grammar-school was the opening of the first trench against monopoly in church and state; the first row of trammels and pothooks which the little Shearjashubs and Elkanahs blotted and blubbered across their copy-books was the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
The path of nature is, indeed, a narrow one, and it is only the immortals that seek it, and, when they find it, do not find themselves cramped therein.
The pine is the mother of legends.
The plump swain at evening bringing home four months’ sunshine bound in sheaves.
The quiet tenderness of Chaucer, where you almost seem to hear the hot tears falling, and the simple choking words sobbed out.
The realm of death seems an enemy’s country to most men, on whose shores they are loathly driven by stress of weather; to the wise man it is the desired port where he moors his bark gladly, as in some quiet haven of the Fortunate Isles; it is the golden west into which his sun sinks, and, sinking, casts back a glory upon the leaden cloud-tack which had darkly besieged his day.
The riches of scholarship, the benignities of literature, defy fortune and outlive calamity. They are beyond the reach of thief or moth or rust. As they cannot be inherited, so they cannot be alienated.
The right of individual property is no doubt the very corner-stone of civilization, as hitherto understood; but I am a little impatient of being told that property is entitled to exceptional consideration because it bears all the burdens of the state. It bears those, indeed, which can be most easily borne, but poverty pays with its person the chief expenses of war, pestilence, and famine.
The secret of force in writing lies not so much in the pedigree of nouns and adjectives and verbs, as in having something that you believe in to say, and making the parts of speech vividly conscious of it.
The soil out of which such men as he are made is good to be born on, good to live on, good to die for and to be buried in.
The stiff rails were softened to swan’s-down, and still fluttered down the snow.
The true historical genius, to our thinking, is that which can see the nobler meaning of events that are near him, as the true poet is he who detects the divine in the casual; and we somewhat suspect the depth of his insight into the past, who cannot recognize the godlike of to-day under that disguise in which it always visits us.
The true ideal is not opposed to the real, nor is it any artificial heightening thereof, but lies in it; and blessed are the eyes that find it.
The very gnarliest and hardest of hearts has some musical strings in it; but they are tuned differently in every one of us.
There are two kinds of genius. The first and highest may be said to speak out of the eternal to the present, and must compel its age to understand it; the second understands its age, and tells it what it wishes to be told.
There are two kinds of weakness, that which breaks and that which bends.
There is a law of neutralization of forces, which hinders bodies from sinking beyond a certain depth in the sea; but in the ocean of baseness, the deeper we get, the easier the sinking.
There is no better ballast for keeping the mind steady on its keel, and saving it from all risk of crankiness, than business.
There is no good in arguing with the inevitable. The only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.
There is no work of genius which has not been the delight of mankind, no word of genius to which the human heart and soul have not, sooner or later, responded.
There is only one thing better than tradition, and that is the original and eternal life out of which all tradition takes its rise.
There is something solid and doughty in the man that can rise from defeat, the stuff of which victories are made in due time, when we are able to choose our position better, and the sun is at our back.
This goin’ ware glory waits ye haint one agreeable feetur.
Three fifths of him genius, and two fifths sheer fudge.
Through aisles of long-drawn centuries my spirit walks in thought.
Through suffering and sorrow thou hast passed, to show us what a woman true can be.
Time is, after all, the greatest of poets; and the sons of Memory stand a better chance of being the heirs of Fame.
’Tis heaven alone that is given away; ’tis only God may be had for the asking.
To be young is surely the best, if the most precarious, gift of life.
To educate the intelligence is to enlarge the horizon of its desires and wants.
To fail at all is to fail utterly.
To have greatly dreamed precludes low ends.
To win the secret of a weed’s plain heart.
Truth always has a bewitching savor of newness in it, and novelty at the first taste recalls that original sweetness to the tongue; but alas for him who would make the one a substitute for the other.
Truth forever on the scaffold. Wrong forever on the throne.
Truth is quite beyond the reach of satire. There is so brave a simplicity in her that she can no more be made ridiculous than an oak or a pine.
Truth only needs to be for once spoken out; and there’s such music in her, such strange rhythm, as makes men’s memories her joyous slaves.
Truth, after all, wears a different face to everybody, and it would be too tedious to wait till all are agreed. She is said to lie at the bottom of a well, for the very reason, perhaps, that whoever looks down in search of her sees his own image at the bottom, and is persuaded not only that he has seen the goddess, but that she is far better-looking than he had imagined.
We cannot but think there is something like a fallacy in Mr. Buckle’s theory that the advance of mankind is necessarily in the direction of science, and not in that of morals.
We kind o’ thought Christ went agin war an’ pillage.
We look at death through the cheap-glazed windows of the flesh, and believe him the monster which the flawed and cracked glass represents him.
Wealth may be an excellent thing, for it means power, it means leisure, it means liberty.
What a man pays for bread and butter is worth its market value, and no more. What he pays for love’s sake is gold indeed, which has a lure for angels’ eyes, and rings well upon God’s touchstone.
What made our revolution a foregone conclusion was the act of the general court, passed in May, 1647, which established the system of common schools.
While tenderness of feeling and susceptibility to generous emotions are accidents of temperament, goodness is an achievement of the will and a quality of the life.
Who is it needs such flawless shafts as fate? What archer of his arrows is so choice, or hits the white so surely?
With every anguish of our earthly part the spirit’s sight grows clearer; this was meant when Jesus touched the blind man’s lids with clay.
With every step of the recent traveler our inheritance of the wonderful is diminished. Those beautiful pictured notes of the possible are redeemed at a ruinous discount in the hard coin of the actual.
Year by year, more and more of the world gets disenchanted. Even the icy privacy of the arctic and antarctic circles is invaded. We have played Jack Horner with our earth, till there is never a plum left in it.