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


  • A crystal river
  • Diaphanous because it travels slowly,
  • Soft is the music that would charm forever;
  • The flower of sweetest smell is shy and lowly.
  • A face with gladness overspread!
  • Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!
  • A Man he seems of cheerful yesterdays
  • And confident to-morrows.
  • A silver line, that from the brew to the crown,
  • And in the middle, parts the braided hair,
  • Just serves to show how delicate a soil
  • The golden harvest grows in.
  • A simple child,
  • That lightly draws its breath,
  • And feels its life in every limb,
  • What should it know of death?
  • A violet by a mossy stone
  • Half hidden from the eye!
  • Fair as a star when only one
  • Is shining in the sky.
  • A youth to whom was given
  • So much of earth, so much of heaven.
  • Action is transitory, a step, a blow,
  • The motion of a muscle—this way or that.
  • And ’tis my faith that every flower
  • Enjoys the air it breathes.
  • And to tired limbs and over-busy thoughts
  • Inviting sleep and soft forgetfulness.
  • And when the stream
  • Which overflowed the soul was passed away
  • A consciousness remained that it had left,
  • Deposited upon the silent shore
  • Of memory, images and precious thoughts,
  • That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed.
  • As a light,
  • And pliant harebell swinging in the breeze
  • On some grey rock—its birth-place—so had I
  • Wanton’d, fast-rooted in the ancient tower
  • Of my beloved country, wishing not
  • A happier fortune, than to wither there.
  • Blessings be with them, and eternal praise
  • Who gave us nobler loves, and nobler cares,
  • The poets, who on earth have made us heirs
  • Of truth and pure delight, by heavenly lays.
  • Books, we know,
  • Are a substantial world, both pure and good;
  • Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
  • Our pastime and our happiness will grow.
  • Brook! whose society the poet seeks,
  • Intent his wasted spirits to renew;
  • And whom the curious painter doth pursue
  • Through rocky passes, among flowery creeks,
  • And tracks thee dancing down thy water-breaks.
  • But hushed be every thought that springs
  • From out the bitterness of things.
  • But shapes that come not at an earthly call,
  • Will not depart when mortal voices bid.
  • But who would force the Soul, tilts with a straw
  • Against a Champion cased in adamant.
  • Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach
  • Of ordinary men.
  • Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
  • Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
  • And, even with something of a mother’s mind,
  • And no unworthy aim,
  • The homely nurse doth all she can
  • To make her foster child, her inmate man,
  • Forget the glories he hath known
  • And that imperial palace whence he came.
  • For all things are less dreadful than they seem.
  • Graceful, when it pleased him, smooth and still
  • As the mute swan that floats adown the stream,
  • And on the waters of th’ unruffled lake,
  • Anchors her quiet beauty.
  • Hope rules a land forever green,
  • All powers that serve the bright-eyed queen
  • And confident and gay;
  • Clouds at her bidding disappear,
  • Points she to aught?—the bliss draws near
  • And fancy smooths the way.
  • Hope smiled when your nativity was cast,
  • Children of Summer!
  • How does the meadow flower its bloom unfold?
  • Because the lovely little flower is free
  • Down to its root, and in that freedom, bold.
  • I dropped my pen; and listened to the wind
  • That sang of trees uptorn and vessels tost;
  • A midnight harmony and wholly lost
  • To the general sense of men by chains confined
  • Of business, care, or pleasure,—or resigned
  • To timely sleep.
  • I’ve heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds
  • With coldness still returning;
  • Alas! the gratitude of men
  • Hath often left me mourning.
  • List—’twas the cuckoo—O with what delight
  • Heard I that voice! and catch it now, though faint,
  • Far off and faint, and melting into air,
  • Yet not to be mistaken. Hark again!
  • Those louder cries give notice that the bird,
  • Although invisible as Echo’s self,
  • Is wheeling hitherward.
  • Minds that have nothing to confer
  • Find little to perceive.
  • Much converse do I find in thee,
  • Historian of my infancy!
  • Float near me; do not yet depart!
  • Dead times, revive in thee:
  • Thou bring’st, gay creatures as thou art!
  • A solemn image to my heart.
  • My heart leaps up when I behold
  • A rainbow in the sky!
  • Myriads of daisies have shown forth in flower
  • Near the lark’s nest, and in their natural hour
  • Have passed away; less happy than the one
  • That, by the unwilling ploughshare, died to prove
  • The tender charm of poetry and love.
  • Nature never did betray
  • The heart that loved her.
  • Nor did we fail to see within ourselves
  • What need there is to be reserved in speech,
  • And temper all our thoughts with charity.
  • O blithe newcomer! I have heard,
  • I hear thee and rejoice;
  • O cuckoo! shall I call thee Bird,
  • Or but a wandering Voice?
  • Oft on the dappled turf at ease
  • I sit, and play with similes,
  • Loose type of things through all degrees.
  • One in whom persuasion and belief
  • Had ripened into faith, and faith become
  • A passionate intuition.
  • Or shipwrecked, kindles on the coast
  • False fires, that others may be lost.
  • Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
  • The soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
  • Hath had elsewhere its setting,
  • And cometh from afar;
  • Not in entire forgetfulness,
  • And not in utter nakedness,
  • But trailing clouds of glory, do we come
  • From God, who is our home.
  • Heaven lies about us in our infancy.
  • *****
  • At length the man perceives it die away,
  • And fade into the light of common day.
  • Scorn not the Sonnet. Critic, you have frowned,
  • Mindless of its just honours; with this key
  • Shakespeare unlocked his heart.
  • See, the Conqueror mounts in triumph,
  • See the King in royal state,
  • Riding on the clouds His chariot
  • To His heavenly palace-gate;
  • Hark, the choirs of angel voices
  • Joyful halleluiahs sing,
  • And the portals high are lifted,
  • To receive their heavenly King.
  • She gave the eyes, she gave me ears;
  • And humble cares, and delicate fears;
  • A heart, the fountain of sweet tears;
  • And love, and thought, and joy.
  • Small service is true service while it lasts:
  • Of humblest friends, bright Creature! scorn not one;
  • The Daisy, by the shadow that it casts,
  • Protects the lingering dew-drop from the Sun.
  • Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
  • That has been and may be again.
  • That best portion of a good man’s life,
  • His little nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.
  • The cattle are grazing,
  • Their heads never raising:
  • There are forty feeding like one!
  • The common growth of Mother Earth
  • Suffices me—her tears, her mirth,
  • Her humblest mirth and tears.
  • The good old rule
  • Sufficeth them, the single plan,
  • That they should take who have the power,
  • And they should keep who can.
  • The harvest of a quiet eye,
  • That broods and sleeps on his own heart.
  • The marble index of a mind forever
  • Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone.
  • The primal duties shine aloft like stars;
  • The charities that soothe, and heal, and bless,
  • Are scattered at the feet of man, like flowers.
  • The soft blue sky did never melt
  • Into his heart; he never felt
  • The witching of the soft blue sky!
  • The stars are mansions built by nature’s hand,
  • And, haply, there the spirits of the blest,
  • Dwell, clothed in radiance, their immortal rest.
  • The sweetest thing that ever grew
  • Beside a human door.
  • The world is too much with us; late and soon,
  • Getting and spending we lay waste our powers;
  • Little we see in Nature that is ours.
  • There bloomed the strawberry of the wilderness;
  • The trembling eyebright showed her sapphire blue,
  • The thyme her purple, like the blush of Even;
  • And if the breath of some to no caress
  • Invited, forth they peeped so fair to view,
  • All kinds alike seemed favorites of heaven.
  • There is a luxury in self-dispraise;
  • And inward self-disparagement affords
  • To meditative spleen a grateful feast.
  • There’s something in a flying horse,
  • There’s something in a huge balloon.
  • They came with banner, spear, and shield;
  • And it was proved in Bosworth field,
  • Not long the Avenger was withstood—
  • Earth help’d him with the cry of blood.
  • Thou unassuming commonplace
  • Of nature.
  • Though inland far we be,
  • Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
  • Which brought us hither.
  • Thus fares it still in our decay,
  • And yet the wiser mind
  • Mourns less for what age takes away
  • Than what it leaves behind.
  • To be a Prodigal’s favourite,—then, worse truth,
  • A Miser’s Pensioner,—behold our lot!
  • To check the erring and reprove;
  • Thou who art victory and law,
  • When empty terrors overawe,
  • Give unto me, made lowly wise,
  • The spirit of self-sacrifice.
  • To me the meanest flower that blows can give
  • Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
  • True beauty dwells in deep retreats,
  • Whose veil is unremoved
  • Till heart with heart in concord beats,
  • And the lover is beloved.
  • Two voices are there; one is of the sea,
  • One of the mountains: each a mighty voice.
  • Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
  • Or surely you’ll grow double:
  • Up! up! my Friend, and clear our looks;
  • Why all this toil and trouble?
  • We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
  • That Shakespeare spake; the faith and morals hold
  • Which Milton held.
  • We sail the sea of life; a calm one finds,
  • And one a tempest; and, the voyage o’er,
  • Death is the quiet haven of us all.
  • What are fears but voices airy?
  • Whispering harm where harm is not,
  • And deluding the unwary
  • Till the fatal bolt is shot!
  • What is pride? a whizzing rocket
  • That would emulate a star.
  • When the fretful stir
  • Unprofitable, and the fever of the world
  • Have hung upon the beatings of my heart.
  • Who swerves from innocence, who makes divorce
  • Of that serene companion—a good name.
  • Recovers not his loss; but walks with shame,
  • With doubt, with fear, and haply with remorse.
  • Why do not words, and kiss, and solemn pledge,
  • And nature that is kind in woman’s breast,
  • And reason that in man is wise and good,
  • And fear of Him who is a righteous Judge,—
  • Why do not these prevail for human life,
  • To keep two hearts together, that began
  • Their spring-time with one love.
  • Why should we crave a hallow’d spot?
  • An altar is in each man’s cot,
  • A church in every grove that spreads
  • Its living roof above our heads.
  • Ye swelling hills and spacious plains!
  • Besprent from shore to shore with steeple towers,
  • And spires whose “silent finger points to heaven.”
  • Yet tears to human suffering are due;
  • And mortal hopes defeated and o’erthrown
  • Are mourned by man, and not by man alone.
  • A brotherhood of venerable trees.

    A man he seems of cheerful yesterdays and confident to-morrows.

    An old age serene and bright, and lovely as a Lapland night, shall lead thee to thy grave.

    And ’tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes.

    And hark, how blithe the throstle sings! He, too, is no mean preacher.

    Balm that tames all anguish, saint that evil thoughts and aims takest away, and into souls dost creep, like to a breeze from heaven.

    Come forth into the light of things; let nature be your teacher.

    Death is the quiet haven of us all.

    Drink, pretty creature, drink!

    Faith is necessary to explain anything, and to reconcile the foreknowledge of God with human evil.

    From the body of one guilty deed a thousand ghostly fears and haunting thoughts proceed.

    God approves the depth, but not the tumult, of the soul.

    Great is the glory, for the strife is hard!

    Hail, twilight! sovereign of one peaceful hour!

    He is oft the wisest man who is not wise at all.

    He murmurs near the running brooks a music sweeter than their own.

    He who feels contempt for any living thing hath faculties that he hath never used, and thought with him is in its infancy.

    Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

    How many undervalue the power of simplicity! But it is the real key to the heart.

    I should dread to disfigure the beautiful ideal of the memories of illustrious persons with incongruous features, and to sully the imaginative purity of classical works with gross and trivial recollections.

    In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts bring sad thoughts to the mind.

    Inviting sleep and soft forgetfulness.

    Look at the fate of summer flowers, which blow at daybreak, droop ere even-song.

    Minds that have nothing to confer find little to perceive.

    Miss not the occasion; by the forelock take that subtle power, the never-halting time.

    My eyes are dim with childish tears.

    Nought but the heaven-directed spire.

    Of friends, however humble, scorn not one.

    Oft in my way have I stood still, though but a casual passenger, so much I felt the awfulness of life.

    One of the heavenly days that cannot die.

    One with more of soul in his face than words on his tongue.

    Plain living and high thinking.

    Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge: it is immortal as the heart of men. If the labors of the men of science should ever create any revolution, direct or indirect, in our condition, and in the impressions which we habitually receive, the poet will then sleep no more than at present; he will be ready to follow the steps of the man of science, not only in those general indirect effects, but he will be at his side, carrying sensation into the midst of the objects of the science itself. The remotest discoveries of the chemist, the botanist, or mineralogist will be as proper objects of the poet’s art as any upon which it can be employed, if the time should ever come when these things shall be familiar to us, and the relations under which they are contemplated by the followers of the respective sciences shall be manifestly and palpably material to us as enjoying and suffering beings. If the time should ever come when what is now called science, thus familiarized to men, shall be ready to put on, as it were, a form of flesh and blood, the poet will lend his divine spirit to aid the transfiguration, and will welcome the being thus produced as a dear and genuine inmate of the household of man.

    Proud be the rose, with rain and dews her head impearling.

    Small service is true service while it lasts.

    Society becomes my glittering bride, and airy hopes my children.

    Spires whose “silent finger points to heaven.”

    Stern daughter of the voice of God!

    Stern winter loves a dirge-like sound.

    Sweetest melodies are those that are by distance made more sweet.

    Take the sweet poetry of life away, and what remains behind?

    That inward eye which is the bliss of solitude.

    The best portion of a good man’s life,—his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.

    The budding rose above the rose full blown.

    The charities that soothe and heal and bless, lie scattered at the feet of men like flowers.

    The child is father of the man.

    The education of circumstances is superior to that of tuition.

    The fear that kills, and hope that is unwilling to be fed.

    The feather whence the pen was shaped that traced the lives of these good men, dropped from an angel’s wing.

    The flower of sweetest smell is shy and lowly.

    The gods approve the depth, and not the tumult of the soul.

    The good die first; and they whose hearts are dry as summer dust burn to the socket.

    The poet’s darling.

    The silence that is in the starry sky.

    The still, sad music of humanity.

    The wind, a sightless laborer, whistles at his task.

    These hoards of wealth you can unlock at will.

    These two things, contradictory as they may seem, must go together,—manly dependence and manly independence, manly reliance and manly self-reliance.

    Those eyes, soft and capricious as a cloudless sky, whose azure depth their color emulates, must needs be conversant with upward looks—prayer’s voiceless service.

    Thought and theory must precede all action that moves to salutary purposes. Yet action is nobler in itself than either thought or theory.

    Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

    To be young was very heaven!

    True dignity abides with him alone who, in the silent hour of inward thought, can still suspect and still revere himself in lowliness of heart.

    Truth takes no account of centuries.

    Truths that wake to perish never.

    We live by admiration, hope, and love.

    Where rivulets dance their wayward round, and beauty born of murmuring sound shall pass into her face.

    Wild is the music of autumnal winds amongst the faded woods.

    Wisdom is ofttimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar.

    Wisdom sits with children round her knees.

    Wrongs unredressed, or insults unavenged.