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


Chance governs all.


Chance is a nickname for Providence.


Time and chance happeneth to them all.


The generality of men have, like plants, latent properties, which chance wrings to light.

La Rochefoucauld.

Chance generally favors the prudent.


Chance is a second master.

Pliny the Elder.

Such is the chance of war.


How slight a chance may raise or sink a soul!


Chance is a word void of sense; nothing can exist without a cause.


Chance is blind and is the sole author of creation.


Chance corrects us of many faults that reason would not know how to correct.

La Rochefoucauld.

Discouragement seizes us only when we can no longer count on chance.

George Sand.

The opposites of apparent chance are constancy and sensible interposition.


Chance often gives us that which we should not have presumed to ask.


Chance never helps those who do not help themselves.


I have set my life upon a cast, and I will stand the hazard of the die.


Chance is a kind of god, for it preserves many things which we do not observe.


Chance happens to all, but to turn chance to account is the gift of few.


The mines of knowledge are oft laid bare through the forked hazel wand of chance.


Chance is but the pseudonyme of God for those particular cases which He does not choose to subscribe openly with His own sign-manual.


Nature goes on her way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order.


To talk of luck and chance only shows how little we really know of the laws which govern cause and effect.

Hosea Ballou.

Many shining actions owe their success to chance, though the general or statesman runs away with the applause.

Lord Kames.

Chance is but a mere name, and really nothing in itself; a conception of our minds, and only a compendious way of speaking.


I do not believe such a quality as chance exists. Every incident that happens must be a link in a chain.


How often events, by chance and unexpectedly, come to pass, which you had not dared even to hope for!


Chance is always powerful; let your hook always be cast. In a pool where you least expect it there will be a fish.


There is no such thing as chance; and what seems to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny.


Although men flatter themselves with their great actions, they are not so often the result of a great design as of chance.

La Rochefoucauld.

There is no doubt such a thing as chance, but I see no reason why Providence should not make use of it.


  • But as the unthought-on accident is guilty
  • To what we wildly do, so we profess
  • Ourselves to be the slaves of chance, and flies
  • Of every wind that blows.
  • Shakespeare.

  • All nature is but art unknown to thee,
  • All chance, direction, which thou canst not see.
  • Pope.

    There must be chance in the midst of design; by which we mean that events which are not designed necessarily arise from the pursuit of events which are designed.


  • As the ancients wisely say
  • Have a care o’ th’ main chance,
  • And look before you ere you leap;
  • For as you sow y’are like to reap.
  • Butler.

    To admit that there is any such thing as chance, in the common acceptation of the term, would be to attempt to establish a power independent of God.


    What can be more foolish than to think that all this rare fabric of heaven and earth could come by chance, when all the skill of art is not able to make an oyster!

    Jeremy Taylor.

    Be not too presumptuously sure in any business; for things of this world depend upon such a train of unseen chances that if it were in man’s hands to set the tables, yet is he not certain to win the game.

    George Herbert.

    Chance never writ a legible book; chance never built a fair house; chance never drew a neat picture; it never did any of these things, nor ever will; nor can it be without absurdity supposed able to do them; which yet are works very gross and rude, very easy and feasible, as it were, in comparison to the production of a flower or a tree.


    It is strictly and philosophically true in Nature and reason that there is no such thing as chance or accident; it being evident that these words do not signify anything really existing, anything that is truly an agent or the cause of any event; but they signify merely men’s ignorance of the real and immediate cause.

    Adam Clarke.

  • Can that which is not shape, shape the things that are?
  • Is chance omnipotent—resolve me why
  • The meanest shellfish, and the noblest brute,
  • Transmit their likeness to the years that come?
  • Dilnot Sladden.

    Chance is a term we apply to events to denote that they happen without any necessary or foreknown cause. When we say a thing happens by chance, we mean no more than that its cause is unknown to us, and not, as some vainly imagine, that chance itself can be the cause of anything.

    C. Buck.

  • Chance will not do the work—Chance sends the breeze;
  • But if the pilot slumber at the helm,
  • The very wind that wafts us towards the port
  • May dash us on the shelves.—The steersman’s part is vigilance,
  • Blow it or rough or smooth.
  • Scott.

    There are chords in the human heart—strange varying strings—which are only struck by accident; which will remain mute and senseless to appeals the most passionate and earnest, and respond at last to the slightest casual touch. In the most insensible or childish minds there is some train of reflection which art can seldom lead or skill assist, but which will reveal itself, as great truths have done, by chance, and when the discoverer has the plainest and simplest end in view.


    Surely no man can reflect, without wonder, upon the vicissitudes of human life arising from causes in the highest degree accidental and trifling. If you trace the necessary concatenation of human events a very little way back, you may perhaps discover that a person’s very going in or out of a door has been the means of coloring with misery or happiness the remaining current of his life.

    Lord Greville.