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


Can one desire too much of a good thing?


Life is a race; desire the goal.


Perish the lore that deadens young desire!


Desires are the pulse of the soul.


Heart’s-ease is a flower which blooms from the grave of desire.

W. R. Alger.

Sordid desires are the children of indulgence.

J. L. Basford.

Happy the man who early learns the wide chasm that lies between his wishes and his powers!


We never desire ardently what we desire rationally.

La Rochefoucauld.

We trifle when we assign limits to our desires, since nature has set none.


Each man has his own desires; all do not possess the same inclinations.


We are always striving for things forbidden, and coveting those denied us.


It is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it.


The desires of man increase with his acquisitions.

Dr. Johnson.

It is much easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy those that follow.

La Rochefoucauld.

It is not wishing and desiring to be saved will bring men to heaven; hell’s mouth is full of good wishes.

Thomas Shepard.

Desire is the uneasiness a man finds in himself upon the absence of anything whose present enjoyment carries the idea of delight with it.


In moderating, not in satisfying desires, lies peace.


What we seek, we shall find; what we flee from, flees from us.


What we wish for in youth comes in heaps to us in old age.


  • But O! for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
  • And the sound of a voice that is still!
  • Tennyson.

  • We grow like flowers, and bear desire,
  • The odor of the human flowers.
  • R. H. Stoddard.

    It is better to desire than to enjoy, to love than to be loved.


    Keep you in the rear of your affection, out of the shot and danger of desire.


    Troubles advance upon us rapidly; our desires travel in the opposite direction.

    Alfred Mercier.

    The shadows of our own desires stand between us and our better angels, and thus their brightness is eclipsed.


    Some desire is necessary to keep life in motion, and he whose real wants are supplied must admit those of fancy.


    As a general thing we obtain very surely and very speedily what we are not too anxious to obtain.


    There is no inborn longing that shall not be fulfilled. I think that is as certain as the forgiveness of sins.

    George MacDonald.

    Ah! Vanitas vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire, or, having it, is satisfied?


    When our desires are fulfilled, we never fail to realize the wealth of imagination and the paucity of reality.

    Ninon de Lenclos.

    O that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for.


    However rich or elevated, a nameless something is always wanting to our imperfect fortune.


  • I have
  • Immortal longings in me.
  • Shakespeare.

    Before we passionately desire anything which another enjoys, we should examine into the happiness of its possessor.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    The reason that many men want their desires is because their desires want reason. He may do what he will that will do but what he may.


    He who desires naught will always be free.


    Unlawful desires are punished after the effect of enjoying; but impossible desires are punished in the desire itself.

    Sir P. Sidney.

    Where necessity ends, curiosity begins; and no sooner are we supplied with everything that Nature can demand than we sit down to contrive artificial appetites.

    Dr. Johnson.

    Our desires always increase with our possessions. The knowledge that something remains yet unenjoyed impairs our enjoyment of the good before us.

    Dr. Johnson.

  • The desire of the moth for the star—
  • Of the night for the morrow—
  • The devotion to something afar
  • From the sphere of our sorrow.
  • Shelley.

  • O fierce desire, the spring of sighs and tears,
  • Reliev’d with want, impoverish’d with store,
  • Nurst with vain hopes, and fed with doubtful fears,
  • Whose force withstood, increaseth more and more!
  • Brandon.

    Every desire is a viper in the bosom, who while he was chill was harmless; but when warmth gave him strength, exerted it in poison.


    As long as the heart preserves desire, the mind preserves illusions.


    Ere yet we yearn for what is out of our reach, we are still in the cradle. When wearied out with our yearnings, desire again falls asleep; we are on the death-bed.


    Our nature is inseparable from desires, and the very word “desire” (the craving for something not possessed) implies that our present felicity is not complete.


    There is nothing capricious in nature. In nature the implanting of a desire indicates that the gratification of that desire is in the constitution of the creature that feels it.


    By annihilating the desires, you annihilate the mind. Every man without passions has within him no principle of action, nor motive to act.


    The passions and desires, like the two twists of a rope, mutually mix one with the other, and twine inextricably round the heart; producing good if moderately indulged; but certain destruction if suffered to become inordinate.


    He who can wait for what he desires takes the course not to be exceedingly grieved if he fails of it; he, on the contrary, who labors after a thing too impatiently thinks the success when it comes is not a recompense equal to all the pains he has been at about it.

    La Bruyère.

  • How large are our desires! and yet how few
  • Events are answerable! So the dew,
  • Which early on the top of mountains stood,
  • Meaning, at least, to imitate a flood;
  • When once the sun appears, appears no more,
  • And leaves that parch’d which was too moist before.
  • Gomersall.

  • Thou blind man’s mark; thou fool’s self-chosen snare,
  • Fond fancy’s scum, and dregs of scatter’d thoughts;
  • Band of all evils; cradle of causeless care;
  • Thou web of ill, whose end is never wrought;
  • Desire! Desire! I have too dearly bought
  • With price of mangled mind thy worthless ware,
  • Too long, too long, asleep thou hast me brought,
  • Who shouldst my mind to higher things prepare.
  • Sir P. Sidney.

    Every desire bears its death in its very gratification. Curiosity languishes under repeated stimulants, and novelties cease to excite and surprise, until at length we cannot wonder even at a miracle.

    Washington Irving.