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


Fortune favors the bold.


Fortune, not wisdom, human life doth sway.


Fortune favors fools.


That strumpet—Fortune.


Every man is the architect of his own fortune.


Lucky men are favorites of Heaven.


O Fortune, Fortune! all men call thee fickle.


Lucky people are her favorites.

Mme. de Genlis.

Fortune is not content to do a man one ill turn.


A good man’s fortune may grow out at heels.


Ill fortune seldom comes alone.


No man has perpetual good fortune.


Fortune makes him fool, whom she makes her darling.


The bitter dregs of Fortune’s cup to drain.


The mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands.


It is the fortunate who should extol fortune.


The prudent man really frames his own fortunes for himself.


A just fortune awaits the deserving.


The less we deserve good fortune, the more we hope for it.


  • When Fortune means to men most good,
  • She looks upon them with a threatening eye.
  • Shakespeare.

    The good or the bad fortune of men depends not less upon their own dispositions than upon fortune.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.


    Man’s fortune is usually changed at once; life is changeable.


    Fortune never seems so blind as to those upon whom she confers no favors.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Blind fortune pursues inconsiderate rashness.

    La Fontaine.

    Men are seldom blessed with good fortune and good sense at the same time.


    Fortune is gentle to the lowly, and heaven strikes the humble with a light hand.


    It is doubtful what fortune to-morrow will bring.


    The least reliance can be placed even on the most exalted fortune.


    Fortune! There is no fortune; all is trial, or punishment, or recompense, or foresight.


    The moderation of fortunate people comes from the calm which good fortune gives to their tempers.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    If fortune favors you do not be elated; if she frowns do not despond.


    It is fortune, not wisdom, that rules man’s life.


    The most wretched fortune is safe; for there is no fear of anything worse.


    We treat fortune like a mistress—the more she yields, the more we demand.

    Mme. Roland.

    Fortune molds and circumscribes human affairs as she pleases.


    Fortune gives too much to many, enough to none.


    They make their fortune who are stout and wise.


    Men may second fortune, but they cannot thwart her.


    Fortune does not change men; it only unmasks them.

    Mme. Riccoboni.

    We make our fortunes, and we call them “fate.”


    We rise to fortune by successive steps; we descend by only one.


    We are sure to get the better of fortune if we do but grapple with her.


    We do not know what is really good or bad fortune.


    We do not commonly find men of superior sense amongst those of the highest fortune.


    Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered.


    Many fortunes, like rivers, have a pure source, but grow muddy as they grow large.

    J. Petit-Senn.

    Those who lament for fortune do not often lament for themselves.


    Fortune is like a market, where many times if you wait a little the price will fall.


    Our probity is not less at the mercy of fortune than our property.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Fortune is the rod of the weak and the staff of the brave.


  • Fortune is merry,
  • And in this mood will give us anything.
  • Shakespeare.

    The good, we do it; the evil, that is fortune; man is always right, and destiny always wrong.

    La Fontaine.

    Fortune dreads the brave, and is only terrible to the coward.


    Whatever fortune has raised to a height, she has raised only that it may fall.


    Fortune is like a coquette; if you don’t run after her, she will run after you.

    H. W. Shaw.

    Ill-fortune never crushed that man whom good fortune deceived not.

    Ben Jonson.

    Fortune is but a synonymous word for nature and necessity.


    Fickle Fortune reigns, and, undiscerning, scatters crowns and chains.


  • Fortune, that arrant whore,
  • Ne’er turns the key to the poor.
  • Shakespeare.

    Fortune turns everything to the advantage of her favorites.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    Let not one look of Fortune cast you down; she were not Fortune if she did not frown.

    Earl of Orrery.

    Fortune is like glass; when she shines, she is broken.


    Fortune cannot take away what she did not give.


    How Fortune piles her sports when she begins to practise them!

    Ben Jonson.

    Many dream not to find, neither deserve, and yet are steeped in favors.


  • For fortune’s wheel is on the turn,
  • And some go up and some go down.
  • Mary F. Tucker.

    Receive the gifts of fortune without pride, and part with them without reluctance.


    Dame Nature gave him comeliness and health; and Fortune, for a passport, gave him wealth.

    Walter Harte.

    If a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune, for, though she be blind, yet she is not invisible.


  • Fortune makes quick dispatch, and in a day
  • May strip you bare as beggary itself.
  • Cumberland.

  • Fortune in men has some small difference made,
  • One flaunts in rags, one flutters in brocade.
  • Pope.

  • Who thinks that Fortune cannot change her mind,
  • Prepares a dreadful jest for all mankind.
  • Pope.

    Fortune’s unjust; she ruins oft the brave, and him who should be victor, makes the slave.


    Let fortune do her worst, whatever she makes us lose, so long as she never makes us lose our honesty and our independence.


    It is a madness to make fortune the mistress of events, because in herself she is nothing, but is ruled by prudence.


    Men have made of fortune an all-powerful goddess, in order that she may be made responsible for all their blunders.

    Mme. de Staël.

  • Fortune confounds the wise,
  • And when they least expect it turns the dice.
  • Dryden.

    The Spaniards have a saying that there is no man whom Fortune does not visit at least once in his life.

    Ik Marvel.

  • Since you will buckle fortune on thy back,
  • To bear her burden whe’r I will or no,
  • I must have patience to endure the load.
  • Shakespeare.

    The power of fortune is confessed only by the miserable; for the happy impute all their successes to prudence and merit.


    Fortune, to show us her power in all things, and to abate our presumption, seeing she could not make fools wise, has made them fortunate.


    If fortune wishes to make a man estimable she gives him virtues; if she wishes to make him esteemed she gives him success.


    Fortune, like a coy mistress, loves to yield her favors, though she makes us wrest them from her.


    The old saying is expressed with depth and significance: “On the pinnacle of fortune man does not long stand firm.”


    Dame Fortune, like most others of the female sex, is generally most indulgent to the nimble-mettled blockheads.


    Good and bad fortune are found severally to visit those who have the most of the one or the other.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    It is a law of the gods which is never broken, to sell somewhat dearly the great benefits which they confer on us.


    Fortune rules in all things, and advances and depresses things more out of her own will than right and justice.


  • Fortune, my friend, I’ve often thought
  • Is weak, if Art assist her not;
  • So equally all Arts are vain,
  • If Fortune help them not again.
  • Sheridan.

    The wheel of fortune turns incessantly round, and who can say within himself, I shall to-day be uppermost?


    Fortune is ever seen accompanying industry, and is as often trundling in a wheelbarrow as lolling in a coach and six.


    It is a madness to make fortune the mistress of events, because in herself she is nothing, but is ruled by prudence.


    The bad fortune of the good turns their faces up to heaven; and the good fortune of the bad bows their heads down to the earth.


    There are some men who are fortune’s favorites, and who, like cats, light forever on their legs.


    The fortunate circumstances of our lives are generally found at last to be of our own producing.


    Though Fortune’s malice overthrow my state, my mind exceeds the compass of her wheel.


    A broken fortune is like a falling column; the lower it sinks, the greater weight it has to sustain.


    Fortune’s wings are made of Time’s feathers, which stay not whilst one may measure them.


    O Fortune, that enviest the brave, what unequal rewards thou bestowest on the righteous!


    Fortunes made in no time are like shirts made in no time; it’s ten to one if they hang long together.

    Douglas Jerrold.

    I am amazed how men can call her blind, when, by the company she keeps, she seems so very discriminating.


    There is nothing which continues longer than a moderate fortune; nothing of which one sees sooner the end than a large fortune.

    La Bruyère.

    He whom fortune has never deceived rarely considers the uncertainty of human events.


    If a man’s fortune does not fit him, it is like the shoe in the story; if too large it trips him up, if too small it pinches him.


    Luck affects everything; let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it, there will be a fish.


    We should manage our fortune as we do our health—enjoy it when good, be patient when it is bad, and never apply violent remedies except in an extreme necessity.

    La Rochefoucauld.

    As long as you are fortunate you will have many friends, but if the times become cloudy you will be alone.


    Vicissitudes of fortune, which spare neither man nor the proudest of his works, which bury empires and cities in a common grave.


  • Let fortune empty her whole quiver on me.
  • I have a soul that, like an ample shield,
  • Can take in all, and verge enough for more.
  • Dryden.

    Adverse fortune seldom spares men of the noblest virtues. No one can with safety expose himself often to dangers. The man who has often escaped is at last caught.


    Happy the man who can endure the highest and the lowest fortune. He, who has endured such vicissitudes with equanimity, has deprived misfortune of its power.


  • Golden palaces break man’s rest, and purple robes cause watchful nights.
  • Oh, if the breasts of the rich could be seen into, what terrors high fortune places within!
  • Seneca.

    But assuredly fortune rules in all things; she raises to eminence or buries in oblivion everything from caprice rather than from well-regulated principle.


    Whereas they have sacrificed to themselves, they become sacrifices to the inconstancy of fortune, whose wings they thought, by their self-wisdom, to have pinioned.


    Many have been ruined by their fortunes; many have escaped ruin by the want of fortune. To obtain it, the great have become little, and the little great.


    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.


    It is often the easiest move that completes the game. Fortune is like the lady whom a lover carried off from all his rivals by putting an additional lace upon his liveries.


    All our advantages are those of fortune; birth, wealth, health, beauty, are her accidents; and when we cry out against fate, it were well we should remember fortune can take naught save what she gave.


    It cannot be denied but outward accidents conduce much to fortune’s favor,—opportunity, death of others, occasion fitting virtue; but chiefly the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands.


    I have heard Cardinal Imperiali say: “There is no man whom fortune does not visit once in his life; but when she does not find him ready to receive her, she walks in at the door, and flies out at the window.”


    What real good does an addition to a fortune already sufficient procure? Not any. Could the great man, by having his fortune increased, increase also his appetites, then precedence might be attended with real amusement.


    To be thrown on one’s own resources is to be cast on the very lap of fortune; for our faculties undergo a development, and display an energy, of which they were previously unsusceptible.


    The fortunate man is he who, born poor or nobody, works gradually up to wealth and consideration, and, having got them, dies before he finds they were not worth so much trouble.

    Charles Reade.

    The good things of life are not to be had singly, but come to us with a mixture,—like a schoolboy’s holiday, with a task affixed to the tail of it.


    A fortunate shepherd is nursed in a rude cradle in some wild forest, and, if fortune smile, has risen to empire. That other, swathed in purple by the throne, has at last, if fortune frown, gone to feed the herd.


    Fortune is said to be blind, but her favorites never are. Ambition has the eye of the eagle, prudence that of the lynx; the first looks through the air, the last along the ground.


  • So is Hope
  • Changed for Despair—one laid upon the shelf,
  • We take the other. Under heaven’s high cope
  • Fortune is god—all you endure and do
  • Depends on circumstance as much as you.
  • Shelley.

  • Oft, what seems
  • A trifle, a mere nothing, by itself,
  • In some nice situation, turns the scale
  • Of fate, and rules the most important actions.
  • Thomson.

    If fortune has fairly sat on a man, he takes it for granted that life consists in being sat upon; but to be coddled on Fortune’s knee, and then have his ears boxed,—that is aggravating.

    Charles Buxton.

    A man is thirty years old before he has any settled thoughts of his fortune; it is not completed before fifty. He falls to building in his old age, and dies by the time his house is in a condition to be painted and glazed.

    La Bruyère.

  • Alas! the joys that fortune brings
  • Are trifling, and decay,
  • And those who prize the trifling things,
  • More trifling still than they.
  • Goldsmith.

    Fortune, like other females, prefers a lover to a master, and submits with impatience to control; but he that wooes her with opportunity and importunity will seldom court her in vain.


    So quickly sometimes has the wheel turned round that many a man has lived to enjoy the benefit of that charity which his own piety projected.


    The heavens do not send good haps in handfuls; but let us pick out our good by little, and with care, from out much bad, that still our little world may know its king.

    Sir P. Sidney.

    Fortune has rarely condescended to be the companion of Genius; others find a hundred by-roads to her palace; there is but one open, and that a very indifferent one, for men of letters.


    It is we that are blind, not fortune; because our eye is too dim to discern the mystery of her effects, we foolishly paint her blind, and hoodwink the providence of the Almighty.

    Sir Thomas Browne.

    In human life there is a constant change of fortune; and it is unreasonable to expect an exemption from the common fate. Life itself decays, and all things are daily changing.


    The old Scythians painted blind fortune’s powerful hands with wings, to show her gifts come swift and suddenly, which, if her favorite be not swift to take, he loses them forever.


    This is most true, and all history bears testimony to it, that men may second fortune, but they cannot thwart her,—they may weave her web, but they cannot break it.


    It is with fortune as with fantastical mistresses,—she makes sport with those that are ready to die for her, and throws herself at the feet of others that despise her.

    J. Beaumont.

    The way of fortune is like the milky way in the sky, which is a meeting or knot of a number of small stars, not seen asunder, but giving light together; so are there a number of little and scarce discerned virtues, or rather faculties and customs, that make men fortunate.


    Fortune does us neither good not hurt; she only presents us the matter, and the seed, which our soul, more powerfully than she, turns and applies as she best pleases; being the sole cause and sovereign mistress of her own happy or unhappy condition.


    Fortune is painted blind in order to show her impartiality; but when she cheers the needy with hope, and depresses the wealthy with distrust, methinks she confers the richest boon on the poorest man, and injures those on whom she bestows her favors.


  • Will fortune never come with both hands full,
  • But write her fair words still in foulest letters?
  • She either gives a stomach, and no food—
  • Such as are the poor in health; or else a feast,
  • And takes away the stomach—such are the rich,
  • That have abundance, and enjoy it not.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Fortune made up of toys and impudence,
  • That common judge that has not common sense,
  • But fond of business insolently dares
  • Pretend to rule, yet spoils the world’s affairs.
  • Buckingham.

  • Fortune, the great commandress of the world,
  • Hath divers ways t’ enrich her followers:
  • To some she honor gives without deserving;
  • To other some, deserving without honor;
  • Some, wit—some, wealth—and some, wit without wealth;
  • Some, wealth without wit—some, nor wit nor wealth.
  • Chapman.

    It has been remarked that almost every character which has excited either attention or pity has owed part of its success to merit, and part to a happy concurrence of circumstances in its favor. Had Cæsar or Cromwell exchanged countries, the one might have been a sergeant and the other an exciseman.


    What men usually say of misfortunes, that they never come alone, may with equal truth be said of good fortune; nay, of other circumstances which gather round us in a harmonious way, whether it arise from a kind of fatality, or that man has the power of attracting to himself things that are mutually related.


    The Europeans are themselves blind who describe fortune without sight. No first-rate beauty ever had finer eyes, or saw more clearly. They who have no other trade but seeking their fortune need never hope to find her; coquette-like, she flies from her close pursuers, and at last fixes on the plodding mechanic who stays at home and minds his business.


  • To catch Dame Fortune’s golden smile,
  • Assiduous wait upon her;
  • And gather gear by every wile
  • That’s justified by honor.
  • Not for to hide it in a hedge,
  • Nor for a train attendant;
  • But for the glorious privilege
  • Of being independent.
  • Burns.

  • In losing fortune many a lucky elf
  • Has found himself.
  • As all our moral bitters are design’d
  • To brace the mind,
  • And renovate its healthy tone, the wise
  • Their sorest trials hail as blessings in disguise.
  • Horace Smith.

  • Fortunes are made, if I the facts may state—
  • Though poor myself, I know the fortunate;
  • First, there’s a knowledge of the way from whence
  • Good fortune comes—and this is sterling sense:
  • Then perseverance, never to decline
  • The chase of riches till the prey is thine;
  • And firmness never to be drawn away
  • By any passion from that noble prey—
  • By love, ambition, study, travel, fame,
  • Or the vain hope that lives upon a name.
  • Crabbe.