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


God has prohibited despair.

Mme. Swetchine.

Despair defies even despotism.


Despair is free.


Despair is infidelity and death.


Despair makes victims sometimes victors.


Despair swallows up cowardice.


There is a very life in our despair.


For me—I hold no commerce with despair!


Despair is the greatest of our errors.


That last dignity of the wretched.

Henry Giles.

And doubt, a greater mischief than despair.

Sir J. Denham.

Despair is a dauntless hero.


Despair is the conclusion of fools.


It is late before the brave despair.


Rage is for little wrongs; despair is dumb.

Hannah More.

All hope abandon, ye who enter here.


The mild despairing of a heart resigned.


  • Dreadful is their doom, whom doubt has driven
  • To censure fate, and pious hope forego.
  • Beattie.

    He is the truly courageous man who never desponds.


    He that despairs measures Providence by his own little contracted model.


  • Lean abstinence, pale grief, and haggard care,
  • The dire attendants of forlorn despair.
  • Pattison.

    Religion converts despair, which destroys, into resignation, which submits.

    Lady Blessington.

  • My loss is such as cannot be repair’d,
  • And to the wretched, life can be no mercy.
  • Dryden.

    Despair is the damp of hell; rejoicing is the serenity of heaven.


    When pain can’t bless, heaven quits us in despair.


    Despair is a great incentive to honorable death.

    Quintus Curtius Rufus.

    Even every ray of hope destroyed and not a wish to gild the gloom.


    A speculative despair is unpardonable where it is our duty to act.


    Some noble spirits mistake despair for content.


    Sick in the world’s regard, wretched and low.


    Beware of desperate steps. The darkest day, live till to-morrow, will have passed away.


    No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.


    Despair gives the shocking ease to the mind that a mortification gives to the body.

    Lord Greville.

    Despair doth strike as deep a furrow in the brain as mischief or remorse.

    Barry Cornwall.

  • Hope, withering, fled—and Mercy sighed farewell.
  • Byron.

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


    There are circumstances in which despair does not imply inactivity.


  • O Lucius, I am sick of this bad world!
  • The day-light and the sun grow painful to me.
  • Addison.

    Wouldst thou unlock the door to cold despair and knowing pensiveness?

    George Herbert.

    There’s no dew left on the daisies and clover; there’s no rain left in heaven.

    Jean Ingelow.

    It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    Mr. Fearing had, I think, a slough of despond in his mind, a slough that he carried everywhere with him, or else he could never have been as he was.

    John Bunyan.

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

    Madame Swetchine.

    All hope is lost of my reception into grace; what worse? For where no hope is left, is left no fear.


  • Farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear;
  • Farewell remorse; all good to me is lost;
  • Evil, be thou my good!
  • Milton.

  • Talk not of comfort—’tis for lighter ills,
  • *****
  • I will indulge my sorrow, and give way
  • To all the pangs and fury of despair.
  • Addison.

    I am one whom the vile blows and buffets of the world have so incensed that I am reckless what I do to spite the world.


    O God! O God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!


    Where Christ brings His cross He brings His presence; and where He is none are desolate, and there is no room for despair.

    Mrs. Browning.

    To doubt is worse than to have lost; and to despair is but to antedate those miseries that must fall on us.


    Despair defies even despotism; there is that in my heart would make its way through hosts with leveled spears.


  • Consider how the desperate fight;
  • Despair strikes wild,—but often fatal too—
  • And in the mad encounter wins success.
  • Havard.

    To tell men that they cannot help themselves is to fling them into recklessness and despair.


  • Hark! to the hurried question of Despair:
  • “Where is my child?”—an Echo answers—“Where?”
  • Byron.

    My day is closed! the gloom of night is come! a hopeless darkness settles over my fate.

    Joanna Baillie.

    There are some vile and contemptible men who, allowing themselves to be conquered by misfortune, seek a refuge in death.


    To him whose spirit is bowed down by the weight of piercing sorrow, the day and night are both of the same color.


  • ***then black despair,
  • The shadow of a starless night, was thrown
  • Over the world in which I moved alone.
  • Shelley.

  • Though plunged in ills and exercised in care,
  • Yet never let the noble mind despair.
  • Phillips.

    There is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow, when we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and be healed, to have despaired and have recovered hope.

    George Eliot.

    He that despairs degrades the Deity, and seems to intimate that He is insufficient, or not just to His word; and in vain hath read the scriptures, the world, and man.


    Despair, thou hast the noblest issues of all ill, which frailty brings us to; for to be worse we fear not, and who cannot lose is ever a frank gamester.

    Sir Robert Howard.

    To despond is to be ungrateful beforehand. Be not looking for evil. Often thou drainest the gall of fear while evil is passing thy dwelling.


    Considering the unforeseen events of this world, we should be taught that no human condition should inspire men with absolute despair.


    No man’s credit can fall so low but that, if he bear his shame as he should do, and profit by it as he ought to do, it is in his own power to redeem his reputation.

    Lord Nottingham.

    I would not despair unless I knew the irrevocable decree was passed; saw my misfortune recorded in the book of fate, and signed and sealed by necessity.

    Jeremy Collier.

  • Now cold despair
  • To livid paleness turns the glowing red;
  • His blood, scarce liquid, creeps within his veins,
  • Like water which the freezing wind constrains.
  • Dryden.

    The passage of Providence lies through many crooked ways; a despairing heart is the true prophet of approaching evil; his actions may weave the webs of fortune, but not break them.


    Despair is like forward children, who, when you take away one of their playthings, throw the rest into the fire for madness. It grows angry with itself, turns its own executioner, and revenges its misfortunes on its own head.


  • Alas for him who never sees
  • The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
  • Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
  • Nor looks to see the breaking day
  • Across the mournful marbles play!
  • Whittier.

    Despair makes a despicable figure, and descends from a mean original. ’Tis the offspring of fear, of laziness and impatience; it argues a defect of spirit and resolution, and oftentimes of honesty, too. I would not despair unless I saw misfortune recorded in the book of fate, and signed and sealed by necessity.


  • The world goes whispering to its own,
  • “This anguish pierces to the bone;”
  • And tender friends go sighing round,
  • “What love can ever cure this wound?”
  • My days go on, my days go on.
  • E. B. Browning.

  • Oh, break, my heart! poor bankrupt, break at once!
  • To prison, eyes, ne’er look on liberty!
  • Vile earth, to earth resign; end motion here;
  • And thou and Romeo press one heavy bier!
  • Shakespeare.

    A broken heart is a distemper which kills many more than is generally imagined, and would have a fair title to a place in the bills of mortality, did it not differ in one instance from all other diseases, namely, that no physicians can cure it.


    Of all faults the greatest is the excess of impious terror, dishonoring divine grace. He who despairs wants love, wants faith; for faith, hope, and love are three torches which blend their light together, nor does the one shine without the other.


  • I am one … whom the foul blows …
  • Have so incensed, that I am reckless what
  • I do to spite the world.
  • And I another,
  • So weary with disaster, tugg’d with fortune,
  • That I would set my life on any chance
  • To mend it, or be rid of it.
  • Shakespeare.

    Despair of ever being saved, “except thou be born again,” or of seeing God “without holiness,” or of having part in Christ except thou “love Him above father, mother, or thy own life.” This kind of despair is one of the first step to heaven.


    Disordered nerves are the origin of much religious despair, when the individual does not suspect it; and then the body and mind have a reciprocal influence upon each other, and it is difficult to tell which influences the other most. The physician is often blamed, when the fault lies with the minister. Depression never benefits body or soul. We are saved by hope.

    Ichabod Spencer.

    Lachrymal counsellors, with one foot in the cave of despair, and the other invading the peace of their friends, are the paralyzers of action, the pests of society, and the subtlest homicides in the world; they poison with a tear; and convey a dagger to the heart while they press you to their bosoms.

    Jane Porter.

  • Look on me in my sleep,
  • Or watch my watchings—come and sit by me!
  • My solitude is solitude no more,
  • But peopled with the furies;—I have gnash’d
  • My teeth in darkness till returning morn,
  • Then cursed myself till sunset;—I have pray’d
  • For madness as a blessing—’tis denied me.
  • Byron.

  • Let her rave,
  • And prophesy ten thousand thousand horrors;
  • I could join with her now, and bid ’em come;
  • They fit the present fury of my soul.
  • The stings of love and rage are fix’d within,
  • And drive me on to madness. Earthquakes, whirlwinds,
  • A general wreck of nature now would please me.
  • Rowe.

    As a general rule, those who are dissatisfied with themselves will seek to go out of themselves into an ideal world. Persons in strong health and spirits, who take plenty of air and exercise, who are “in favor with their stars,” and have a thorough relish of the good things of this life, seldom devote themselves in despair to religion or the muses. Sedentary, nervous, hypochondriacal people, on the contrary, are forced, for want of an appetite for the real and substantial, to look out for a more airy food and speculative comforts.