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

Madame Swetchine

A malicious enemy is better than a clumsy friend.

All the joys of earth will not assuage our thirst for happiness; while a single grief suffices to shroud life in a sombre veil, and smite it with nothingness at all points.

America has begun her career at the culminating point of life, as Adam did at the age of thirty.

Antiquity is a species of aristocracy with which it is not easy to be on visiting terms.

As we advance in life the circle of our pains enlarges, while that of our pleasures contracts.

Conscience is, at once, the sweetest and most troublesome of guests. It is the voice which demanded Abel of his brother, or that celestial harmony which vibrated in the ears of the martyrs, and soothed their sufferings.

Consolation heals without contact; somewhat like the blessed air which we need but to breathe.

Death is the justification of all the ways of the Christian, the last end of all his sacrifices, the touch of the Great Master which completes the picture.

Everybody has enemies. To have an enemy is quite another thing. One must be somebody in order to have an enemy. One must be a force before he can be resisted by another force.

Faith, amid the disorders of a sinful life, is like the lamp burning in an ancient tomb.

Feeling loves a subdued light.

Friendship is like those ancient altars where the unhappy, and even the guilty, found a sure asylum.

God has prohibited despair.

God Himself allows certain faults; and often we say, “I have deserved to err; I have deserved to be ignorant.”

He who has ceased to enjoy his friend’s superiority has ceased to love him.

He who has never denied himself for the sake of giving has but glanced at the joys of charity. We owe our superfluity, and to be happy in the performance of our duty we must exceed it.

How can that gift leave a trace which has left no void?

How easy it is to be amiable in the midst of happiness and success!

I can understand the things that afflict mankind, but I often marvel at those which console. An atom may wound, but God alone can heal.

I like people to be saints; but I want them to be first and superlatively honest men.

I love victory, but I love not triumph.

I study much, and the more I study, the oftener I go back to those first principles which are so simple that childhood itself can lisp them.

If grief is to be mitigated, it must either wear itself out or be shared.

If it were ever allowable to forget what is due to superiority of rank, it would be when the privileged themselves remember it.

If we look closely at this earth, where God seems so utterly forgotten, we shall find that it is He, after all, who commands the most fidelity and the most love.

In a healthy state of the organism all wounds have a tendency to heal.

In the opinion of the world, marriage ends all; as it does in a comedy. The truth is precisely the reverse. It begins all. So they say of death, “It is the end of all things.” Yes, just as much as marriage.

In this world of change, nought which comes stays, and nought which goes is last.

In youth we feel richer for every new illusion; in maturer years, for every one we lose.

In youth, grief comes with a rush and overflow, but it dries up, too, like the torrent. In the winter of life it remains a miserable pool, resisting all evaporation.

Indifferent souls never part. Impassioned souls part, and return to one another, because they can do no better.

Indulgence is lovely in the sinless; toleration, adorable in the pious and believing heart.

It is a little stream, which flows softly, but freshens everything along its course.

It is the enemy who keep the sentinel watchful.

It must be conceded that, after affection, habit has its peculiar value. It is a little stream which flows softly, but freshens everything along its course.

It would seem that by our sorrows only we are called to a knowledge of the Infinite. Are we happy? The limits of life constrain us on all sides.

Let our lives be pure as snow-fields, where our footsteps leave a mark, but not a stain.

Let us shun everything which might tend to efface the primitive lineaments of our individuality. Let us reflect that each one of us is a thought of God.

Liberty must be a mighty thing; for by it God punishes and rewards nations.

Life grows darker as we go on, till only one pure light is left shining on it; and that is faith. Old age, like solitude and sorrow, has its revelations.

Loving souls are like paupers. They live on what is given them.

Men are always invoking justice; yet it is justice which should make them tremble.

Men do not go out to meet misfortune as we do. They learn it; and we—we divine it.

My sole defense against the natural horror which death inspires is to love beyond it.

Old age is not one of the beauties of creation, but it is one of its harmonies. The law of contrasts is one of the laws of beauty. Under the conditions of our climate, shadow gives light its worth; sternness enhances mildness; solemnity, splendor. Varying proportions of size support and subserve one another.

Only those faults which we encounter in ourselves are insufferable to us in others.

Our faults afflict us more than our good deeds console. Pain is ever uppermost in the conscience as in the heart.

Our vanity is the constant enemy of our dignity.

Piety softens all that courage bears.

Poor humanity!—so dependent, so insignificant, and yet so great.

Prayer has a right to the word “ineffable.” It is an hour of outpourings which words cannot express,—of that interior speech which we do not articulate, even when we employ it.

“Prayer,” says St. Jerome, “is a groan.” Ah! our groans are prayers as well. The very cry of distress is an involuntary appeal to that invisible Power whose aid the soul invokes.

Pride dries the tears of anger and vexation; humility, those of grief. The one is indignant that we should suffer; the other calms us by the reminder that we deserve nothing else.

Providence has hidden a charm in difficult undertakings which is appreciated only by those who dare to grapple with them.

Real sorrow is almost as difficult to discover as real poverty. An instinctive delicacy hides the rays of the one and the wounds of the other.

Repentance is accepted remorse.

Resignation is, to some extent, spoiled for me by the fact that it is so entirely conformable to the laws of common-sense. I should like just a little more of the supernatural in the practice of my favorite virtue.

Respect is a serious thing in him who feels it, and the height of honor for him who inspires the feeling.

Silence is like nightfall; objects are lost in it insensibly.

Strength alone knows conflict; weakness is below even defeat, and is born vanquished.

Suspicion has its dupes, as well as credulity.

The beings who appear cold, but are only timid, adore where they dare to love.

The best of lessons, for a good many people, would be to listen at a keyhole. It is a pity for such that the practice is dishonorable.

The chains which cramp us most are those which weigh on us least.

The fact that God has prohibited despair gives misfortune the right to hope all things, and leaves hope free to dare all things.

The heart has always the pardoning power.

The ideal of friendship is to feel as one while remaining two.

The injustice of men subserves the justice of God, and often His mercy.

The inventory of my faith for this lower world is soon made out. I believe in Him who made it.

The law of common sense.

The mind wears the colors of the soul, as a valet those of his master.

The most dangerous of all flattery is the inferiority of those about us.

The only true method of action in this world is to be in it, but not of it.

The root of sanctity is sanity. A man must be healthy before he can be holy. We bathe first, and then perfume.

The smile upon the old man’s lip, like the last rays of the setting sun, pierces the heart with a sweet and sad emotion. There is still a ray, there is still a smile; but they may be the last.

The symptoms of compassion and benevolence in some people are like those minute-guns which warn you that you are in deadly peril.

The very might of the human intellect reveals its limits.

The world has no sympathy with any but positive griefs. It will pity you for what you lose; never for what you lack.

There are but two future verbs which man may appropriate confidently and without pride: “I shall suffer,” and “I shall die.”

There are not good things enough in life to indemnify us for the neglect of a single duty.

There are times when it would seem as if God fished with a line, and the devil with a net.

There are two ways of attaining an important end—force and perseverance. Force falls to the lot only of the privileged few, but austere and sustained perseverance can be practiced by the most insignificant. Its silent power grows irresistible with time.

There is a transcendent power in example. We reform others unconsciously when we walk uprightly.

There is an English song beginning, “Love knocks at the door.” He knocks less often than he finds it open.

There is nothing at all in life except what we put there.

There is nothing steadfast in life but our memories. We are sure of keeping intact only that which we have lost.

There is, by God’s grace, an immeasurable distance between late and too late.

Those who have suffered much are like those who know many languages; they have learned to understand and be understood by all.

Those who make us happy are always thankful to us for being so. Their gratitude is the reward of their own benefits.

Time is a wave which never murmurs, because there is no obstacle to its flow.

Time is the shower of Danae; each drop is golden.

To have ideas is to gather flowers. To think is to weave them into garlands.

To reveal imprudently the spot where we are most sensitive and vulnerable is to invite a blow. The demigod Achilles admitted no one to his confidence.

True poets, like great artists, have scarcely any childhood, and no old age.

Truth only is prolific. Error, sterile in itself, produces only by means of the portion of truth which it contains. It may have offspring, but the life which it gives, like that of the hybrid races, cannot be transmitted.

Virtue is the daughter of Religion; Repentance, her adopted child,—a poor orphan who, without the asylum which she offers, would not know where to hide her sole treasure, her tears!

We are all of us, in this world, more or less like St. January, whom the inhabitants of Naples worship one day, and pelt with baked apples the next.

We are always looking into the future, but we see only the past.

We are amused through the intellect, but it is the heart that saves us from ennui.

We are often prophets to others only because we are our own historians.

We are rich only through what we give, and poor only through what we refuse.

We deceive ourselves when we fancy that only weakness needs support. Strength needs it far more. A straw or a feather sustains itself long in the air.

We do not judge men by what they are in themselves, but by what they are relatively to us.

We expect everything, and are prepared for nothing.

We forgive too little, forget too much.

We must labor unceasingly to render our piety reasonable, and our reason pious.

Weakness is born vanquished.

What is resignation? It is putting God between one’s self and one’s grief.

When fresh sorrows have caused us to take some steps in the right way, we may not complain. We have invested in a life annuity, but the income remains.

When we see the shameful fortunes amassed in all quarters of the globe, are we not impelled to exclaim that Judas’ thirty pieces of silver have fructified across the centuries?

Where there is a question of economy, I prefer privation.

Years do not make sages; they only make old men.

Youth should be a savings-bank.