Home  »  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical  »  Content—Contentment

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


The harvest song of inward peace.


Our content is our best having.


Contentment opes the source of every joy.


Contentment, parent of delight.


The noblest mind the best contentment has.


The fewer desires, the more peace.

Thomas Wilson.

Contentment is natural wealth; luxury, artificial poverty.


He is well paid that is well satisfied.


Contentment is better than divinations or visions.


Contentment, as it is a short road and pleasant, has great delight and little trouble.


A contented heart is an even sea in the midst of all storms.

William Secker.

Contentment gives a crown where fortune hath denied it.


I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.


Fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress.


We only see in a lifetime a dozen faces marked with the peace of a contented spirit.

Henry Ward Beecher.

Mutual content is like a river, which must have its banks on either side.

Le Sage.

Contentment with to-day’s lot makes candidacy for a better lot to-morrow.

Charles H. Parkhurst.

The great quality of Dulness is to be unalterably contented with itself.


O Contentment, make me rich! for without thee there is no wealth.


Show me a thoroughly contented person, and I will show you a useless one.

H. W. Shaw.

Naught is had, all is spent, where our desire is got without content.


Without content, we shall find it almost as difficult to please others as ourselves.


May I always have a heart superior, with economy suitable, to my fortune.


Content is to the mind like moss to a tree; it bindeth it up so as to stop its growth.


That is true plenty, not to have, but not to want riches.

St. Chrysostom.

It is right to be contented with what we have, but never with what we are.

Sir James Mackintosh.

He is richest who is content with the least; for content is the wealth of nature.


The rarest feeling that ever lights a human face is the contentment of a loving soul.

Henry Ward Beecher.

A man who finds no satisfaction in himself seeks for it in vain elsewhere.

La Rochefoucauld.

  • He that commends me to mine own content
  • Commends me to the thing I cannot get.
  • Shakespeare.

    Unless we find repose within ourselves, it is vain to seek it elsewhere.

    Hosea Ballou.

    Contentment is, after all, simply refined indolence.


    Contentment consisteth not in adding more fuel, but in taking away some fire.


    A mind content both crown and kingdom is.

    Robert Greene.

    It is not for man to rest in absolute contentment.


    To be content with little is difficult; to be content with much, impossible.

    Marie Ebner-Eschenbach.

    When the best things are not possible, the best may be made of those that are.


    Let him who has enough ask for nothing more.


    If you are content, you have enough to live comfortably.


    Be happy ye, whose fortunes are already completed.


  • Learn this of me, where’er thy lot doth fall,
  • Short lot, or not, to be content with all.
  • Herrick.

  • Content dwells with him, for his mind is fed,
  • And temperance has driven out unrest.
  • Willis.

  • Each good mind doubles his own free content,
  • When in another’s use they give it vent.
  • Sir Giles Goosecap.

    Contentment travels rarely with fortune, but follows virtue even in misfortune.

    Marie Leszczinski.

    Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.


    To be content with what we possess is the greatest and most secure of riches.


  • Contentment, rosy, dimpled maid,
  • Thou brightest daughter of the sky.
  • Lady Manners.

  • All things on earth thus change, some up, some down;
  • Content’s a kingdom, and I wear that crown.
  • Heywood.

  • Lord of himself, though not of lands;
  • And having nothing, yet hath all.
  • Sir Henry Wotton.

  • A Man he seems of cheerful yesterdays
  • And confident to-morrows.
  • Wordsworth.

    If we are at peace with God and our own conscience, what enemy among men need we fear?

    Hosea Ballou.

    There are two sorts of content; one is connected with exertion, the other with habits of indolence. The first is a virtue; the other, a vice.

    Mrs. Maria Edgeworth.

    To secure a contented spirit, measure your desires by your fortune, and not your fortune by your desires.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    True contentment depends not upon what we have; a tub was large enough for Diogenes, but a world was too little for Alexander.

    C. C. Colton.

    I have often said that all the unhappiness of men comes from not knowing how to remain quiet in a chamber.


    What is the highest secret of victory and peace? To will what God wills, and strike a league with destiny.

    W. R. Alger.

    I earn that I eat, get that I wear; owe no man hate, envy no man’s happiness; glad of other men’s good, content with my harm.


    Poor and content is rich, and rich enough; but riches, fineless, is as poor as winter to him that ever fears he shall be poor.


    Contentment is not happiness. An oyster may be contented. Happiness is compounded of richer elements.


    Take the good with the evil, for ye all are the pensioners of God, and none may choose or refuse the cup His wisdom mixeth.


    That happy state of mind, so rarely possessed, in which we can say, “I have enough,” is the highest attainment of philosophy.


    He is happy whose circumstances suit his temper; but he is more excellent who can suit his temper to any circumstances.


  • For mine own part, I could be well content
  • To entertain the lag-end of my life
  • With quiet hours.
  • Shakespeare.

    Few things are needed to make a wise man happy; nothing can make a fool content; that is why most men are miserable.

    La Rochefoucauld.

  • Content thyself to be obscurely good;
  • When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
  • The post of honor is a private station.
  • Addison.

  • Let’s live with that small pittance which we have;
  • Who covets more is evermore a slave.
  • Herrick.

    Contentment is a pearl of great price and whoever procures it at the expense of ten thousand desires makes a wise and a happy purchase.


    I am quite my own master, agreeably lodged, perfectly easy in my circumstances. I am contented with my situation, and happy because I think myself so.

    Le Sage.

    My God, give me neither poverty nor riches; but whatsoever it may be Thy will to give, give me with it a heart which knows humbly to acquiesce in what is Thy will.

    Christian Scriver.

    If two angels were sent down from heaven, one to conduct an empire, and the other to sweep a street, they would feel no inclination to change employments.

    John Newton.

    Learn to be pleased with everything, with wealth so far as it makes us beneficial to others; with poverty, for not having much to care for; and with obscurity, for being unenvied.


    The highest point outward things can bring unto, is the contentment of the mind; with which no estate can be poor, without which all estates will be miserable.

    Sir P. Sidney.

    There is some help for all the defects of fortune; for, if a man cannot attain to the length of his wishes, he may have his remedy by cutting of them shorter.


    None is poor but the mean in mind, the timorous, the weak, and unbelieving; none is wealthy but the affluent in soul, who is satisfied and floweth over.


    Happy the heart to whom God has given enough strength and courage to suffer for Him, to find happiness in simplicity and the happiness of others.


    One who is contented with what he has done will never become famous for what he will do. He has lain down to die. The grass is already growing over him.


    “What you demand is here, or at Ulubræ.” You traverse the world in search of happiness, which is within the reach of every man; a contented mind confers it on all.


    We can console ourselves for not having great talents as we console ourselves for not having great places. We can be above both in our hearts.


    Alas! if the principles of contentment are not within us, the height of station and worldly grandeur will as soon add a cubit to a man’s stature as to his happiness.


  • My crown is in my heart, not on my head;
  • Not deck’d with diamonds, and Indian stones,
  • Nor to be seen: my crown is call’d content;
  • A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.
  • Shakespeare.

  • What happiness the rural maid attends,
  • In cheerful labor while each day she spends!
  • She gratefully receives what Heav’n has sent,
  • And, rich in poverty, enjoys content.
  • Gay.

    I do not think that the road to contentment lies in despising what we have not got. Let us acknowledge all good, all delight that the world holds, and be content without it.

    George MacDonald.

    It is not by change of circumstances, but by fitting our spirits to the circumstances in which God has placed us, that we can be reconciled to life and duty.

    F. W. Robertson.

  • An elegant Sufficiency, Content,
  • Retirement, rural Quiet, Friendship, Books,
  • Ease and alternate Labor, useful Life,
  • Progressive Virtue, and approving Heaven!
  • Thomson.

  • Dear little head, that lies in calm content
  • Within the gracious hollow that God made
  • In every human shoulder, where He meant
  • Some tired head for comfort should be laid.
  • Celia Thaxter.

  • I swear, ’t is better to be lowly born,
  • And range with humble livers in content,
  • Than to be perk’d up in a glistering grief,
  • And wear a golden sorrow.
  • Shakespeare.

  • He, fairly looking into life’s account,
  • Saw frowns and favours were of like amount;
  • And viewing all—his perils, prospects, purse;
  • He said, “content;—’t is well it is no worse.”
  • Crabbe.

    Contentment furnishes constant joy. Much covetousness, constant grief. To the contented, even poverty is joy. To the discontented, even wealth is a vexation.

    Ming Sum Paou Keën.

    We shall be made truly wise if we be made content; content, too, not only with what we can understand, but content with what we do not understand,—the habit of mind which theologians call, and rightly, faith in God.

    Charles Kingsley.

  • Yes! in the poor man’s garden grow
  • Far more than herbs and flowers,
  • Kind thoughts, contentment, peace of mind,
  • And joy for weary hours.
  • Mary Howitt.

  • This is the charm, by sages often told,
  • Converting all it touches into gold:
  • Content can soothe, where’er by fortune placed,
  • Can rear a garden in the desert waste.
  • Henry Kirk White.

    I would do what I pleased; and, doing what I pleased, I should have my will; and, having my will, I should be contented; and, content, there is no more to be desired; and when there is no more to desire, there is an end of it.


    Content is the best opulence, because it is the pleasantest, and the surest. The richest man is he who does not want that which is wanting to him; the poorest is the miser, who wants that which he has.

    Paul Chatfield, M.D.

    The chief secret of comfort lies in not suffering trifles to vex us, and in prudently cultivating our undergrowth of small pleasures, since very few great ones, alas! are let on long leases.


    Every one is well or ill at ease, according as he finds himself! not he whom the world believes, but he who believes himself to be so, is content; and in him alone belief gives itself being and reality.


    It conduces much to our content if we pass by those things which happen to our trouble, and consider that which is pleasing and prosperous; that by the representation of the better the worse may be blotted out.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    If we will take the good we find, asking no questions, we shall have heaping measures. The great gifts are not got by analysis. Everything good is on the highway. The middle region of our being is the temperate zone.


    Contentment produces, in some measure, all those effects which the alchemist usually ascribes to what he calls the philosopher’s stone; and if it does not bring riches, it does the same thing by banishing the desire for them.


    A contented mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy in this world; and if in the present life his happiness arises from the subduing of his desires, it will arise in the nest from the gratification of them.


    Seeming contentment is real discontent, combined with indolence or self-indulgence, which, while taking no legitimate means of raising itself, delights in bringing others down to its own level.


    With the civilized man contentment is a myth. From the cradle to the grave he is forever longing and striving after something better, an indefinable something, some new object yet unattained.

    Wm. Matthews.

  • Happy the life, that in a peaceful stream,
  • Obscure, unnoticed through the vale has flow’d;
  • The heart that ne’er was charm’d by fortune’s gleam
  • Is ever sweet contentment’s blest abode.
  • Percival.

    He that troubles not himself with anxious thoughts for more than is necessary, lives little less than the life of angels, whilst by a mind content with little, he imitates their want of nothing.


  • O calm, hush’d, rich content,
  • Is there a being, blessedness, without thee?
  • How soft thou down’st the couch where thou dost rest,
  • Nectar to life thou sweet ambrosian feast.
  • Marston.

    That man lives happy and in command of himself, who from day to day can say I have lived. Whether clouds obscure, or the sun illumines the following day, that which is past is beyond recall.


  • Since every man who lives is born to die,
  • And none can boast sincere felicity,
  • With equal mind what happens let us bear,
  • Nor grieve too much for things beyond our care.
  • Like pilgrims, to th’ appointed place we tend;
  • The world’s an inn, and death the journey’s end.
  • Dryden.

    The point of aim for our vigilance to hold in view is to dwell upon the brightest parts in every prospect, to call off the thoughts when running upon disagreeable objects, and strive to be pleased with the present circumstances surrounding us.

    Rev. J. Tucker.

    A sense of contentment makes us kindly and benevolent to others; we are not chafed and galled by cares which are tyrannical because original. We are fulfilling our proper destiny, and those around us feel the sunshine of our own hearts.


  • With more of thanks and less of thought,
  • I strive to make my matters meet;
  • To seek what ancient sages sought,
  • Physic and food in sour and sweet,
  • To take what passes in good part,
  • And keep the hiccups from the heart.
  • John Byrom.

  • We’ll therefore relish with content,
  • Whate’er kind Providence has sent,
  • Nor aim beyond our pow’r;
  • For, if our stock be very small,
  • ’Tis prudent to enjoy it all,
  • Nor lose the present hour.
  • Nathaniel Cotton.

  • A voice of greeting from the wind was sent,
  • The mists enfolded me with soft white arms,
  • The birds did sing to lap me in content,
  • The rivers wove their charms,
  • And every little daisy in the grass
  • Did look up in my face, and smile to see me pass.
  • R. H. Stoddard.

  • What tho’ we quit all glittering pomp and greatness,
  • The busy noisy flattery of courts,
  • We should enjoy content, in that alone
  • Is greatness, power, wealth, honour, all summ’d up.
  • Powell.

    We cannot be young twice; we cannot turn upon our steps, and go back to gather the garlands we gathered ten years ago. And, therefore, with a gaze over on the cross upon the distant hills, and a remembrance always of the shadow land that lies beyond, let us endeavor to be contented with small things, and to make ourselves happy in the pleasantness of simple pleasures.

    Holme Lee.

  • I press to bear no haughty sway;
  • I wish no more than may suffice:
  • I do no more than well I may,
  • Look what I lack, my mind supplies;
  • Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
  • My mind’s content with anything.
  • Byrd.

  • There is a jewel which no Indian mine can buy,
  • No chemic art can counterfeit;
  • It makes men rich in greatest poverty,
  • Makes water wine, turns wooden cups to gold,
  • The homely whistle to sweet music’s strain;
  • Seldom it comes, to few from heaven sent,
  • That much in little—all in naught—content.
  • Wilbye.

  • Think’st thou the man whose mansions hold
  • The wordling’s pomp and miser’s gold,
  • Obtains a richer prize
  • Than he who, in his cot at rest,
  • Finds heavenly peace a willing guest,
  • And bears the promise in his breast
  • Of treasure in the skies?
  • Mrs. Sigourney.

    I say to thee be thou satisfied. It is recorded of the hares that with a general consent they went to drown themselves out of a feeling of their misery; but when they saw a company of frogs more fearful than they were, they began to take courage and comfort again. Confer thine estate with others.


  • Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content;
  • The quiet mind is richer than a crown;
  • Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent;
  • The poor estate scorns fortune’s angry frown;
  • Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss,
  • Beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss.
  • Robert Greene.

    For no chance is evil to him who is content, and to a man nothing is miserable unless it is unreasonable. No man can make another man to be his slave unless he hath first enslaved himself to life and death. No pleasure or pain, to hope or fear; command these passions, and you are freer than the Parthian kings.

    Jeremy Taylor.

  • Happy the man, of mortals happiest he,
  • Whose quiet mind from vain desires is free;
  • Whom neither hopes deceive, nor fears torment,
  • But lives at peace, within himself content;
  • In thought, or act, accountable to none
  • But to himself, and to the gods alone.
  • Geo. Granville.

    If men knew what felicity dwells in the cottage of a godly man, how sound he sleeps, how quiet his rest, how composed his mind, how free from care, how easy his position, how moist his mouth, how joyful his heart, they would never admire the noises, the diseases, the throngs of passions, and the violence of unnatural appetites that fill the house of the luxurious and the heart of the ambitious.

    Jeremy Taylor.

  • Lo now, from idle wishes clear,
  • I make the good I may not find;
  • Adown the stream I gently steer,
  • And shift my sail, with every wind.
  • And half by nature, half by reason,
  • Can still with pliant heart prepare,
  • The mind, attuned to every season,
  • The merry heart that laughs at care.
  • H. M. Milman.

  • In Paris a queer little man you may see,
  • A little man all in gray;
  • Rosy and round as an apple is he,
  • Content with the present whate’er it may be,
  • While from care and from cash he is equally free,
  • And merry both night and day!
  • “Ma foi! I laugh at the world,” says he,
  • “I laugh at the world, and the world laughs at me!”
  • What a gay little man in gray.
  • Béranger.

    Contentment is not satisfaction. It is the grateful, faithful, fruitful use of what we have, little or much. It is to take the cup of Providence, and call upon the name of the Lord. What the cup contains is its contents. To get all there is in the cup is the act and art of contentment. Not to drink because one has but half a cup, or because one does not like its flavor, or because some one else has silver to one’s own glass, is to lose the contents; and that is the penalty, if not the meaning of discontent. No one is discontented who employs and enjoys to the utmost what he has. It is high philosophy to say, we can have just what we like, if we like what we have; but this much at least can be done, and this is contentment, to have the most and best in life, by making the most and best of what we have.

    Maltbie Babcock.

    To be contented,—what, indeed, is it? Is it not to be satisfied,—to hope for nothing, to aspire to nothing, to strive for nothing,—in short to rest in inglorious ease, doing nothing for your country, for your own or others’ material, intellectual, or moral improvement, satisfied with the condition in which you or they are placed? Such a state of feeling may do very well where nature has fixed an inseparable and ascertained barrier,—a “thus far shalt thou go and no farther,”—to our wishes, or where we are troubled by ills past remedy. In such cases it is the highest philosophy not to fret or grumble, when, by all our worrying and self-teasing, we cannot help ourselves a jot or tittle, but only aggravate and intensify an affliction that is incurable. To soothe the mind down into patience is then the only resource left us, and happy is he who has schooled himself thus to meet all reverses and disappointments. But in the ordinary circumstances of life this boasted virtue of contentment, so far from being laudable, would be an evil of the first magnitude. It would be, in fact, nothing less than a trigging of the wheels of all enterprise,—a cry of “Stand still!” to the progress of the whole social world.

    Wm. Matthews.