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


What is more miserable than discontent?


Men would be angels; angels would be gods.


Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will.


We love in others what we lack ourselves, and would be everything but what we are.

R. H. Stoddard.

O thoughts of men accurst! Past and to come seems best; things present, worst.


The lazy ox wishes for horse-trappings, and the steed wishes to plough.


’T is not my talent to conceal my thoughts, or carry smiles and sunshine in my face when discontent sits heavy at my heart.


Discontent is the source of all trouble, but also of all progress in individuals and in nations.


That which makes people dissatisfied with their condition is the chimerical idea they form of the happiness of others.


It happens as with cages; the birds without despair to get in, and those within despair of getting out.


  • Man hath a weary pilgrimage,
  • As through the world he wends;
  • On every stage, from youth to age,
  • Still discontent attends.
  • Southey.

    Such is the emptiness of human enjoyment that we are always impatient of the present. Attainment is followed by neglect, and possession by disgust.

    Dr. Johnson.

    How does it happen, Mæcenas, that no one is content with that lot in life which he has chosen, or which chance has thrown in his way, but praises those who follow a different course?


  • There’s discontent from sceptre to the swain
  • And from the peasant to the king again,
  • The whatsoever in thy will afflict thee,
  • Or in thy pleasure seem to contradict thee,
  • Give it a welcome as a wholesome friend
  • That would instruct thee to a better end.
  • Since no condition from defect is free,
  • Think not to find what here can never be.
  • Nicholes.

    Discontents are sometimes the better part of our life. I know not well which is the most useful; joy I may choose for pleasure, but adversities are the best for profit; and sometimes those do so far help me, as I should, without them, want much of the joy I have.


  • It’s hardly in a body’s power
  • To keep at times, frae being sour,
  • To see how things are shar’d;
  • How best o’ chiels are whyles in want,
  • While coofs on countless thousands rant,
  • And ken na how to wear’t.
  • Burns.

  • Against our peace we arm our will;
  • Amidst our plenty something still,
  • For horses, houses, pictures planting,
  • To thee, to me, to him is wanting;
  • That cruel something unpossest
  • Corrodes and leavens all the rest,
  • That something if we could obtain,
  • Would soon create a future pain.
  • Prior.

    The malcontent is neither well, full nor fasting; and though he abounds with complaints, yet nothing dislikes him but the present; for what he condemns while it was, once passed, he magnifies and strives to recall it out of the jaw of time. What he hath he seeth not, his eyes are so taken up with what he wants; and what he sees he careth not for, because he cares so much for that which is not.

    Bishop Hall.

    Men are merely on a lower or higher stage of an eminence, whose summit is God’s throne, infinitely above all; and there is just as much reason for the wisest as for the simplest man being discontent with his position, as respects the real quantity of knowledge he possesses.