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


The best preparation for the future is the present well seen to, the last duty done.

George MacDonald.

Futurity is the great concern of mankind.


The future is purchased by the present.


Belief in a future life is the appetite of reason.


You can never plan the future by the past.


But there’s a gude time coming.


It is easy to see, hard to foresee.


The curtain of the future is always drawn.

John Bigelow.

Oh, could we lift the future’s sable shroud.


The glories of the possible are ours.

Bayard Taylor.

Coming events cast their shadows before.


The present is great with the future.


Boast not thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.


The mind that is anxious about the future is miserable.


A wise God shrouds the future in obscure darkness.


  • Trust no future, howe’er pleasant!
  • Let the dead Past bury its dead!
  • Longfellow.

    No one sees what is before his feet: we all gaze at the stars.


    Man must have some fears, hopes, and cares, for the coming morrow.


  • O Death, O Beyond,
  • Thou act sweet, thou art strange!
  • Browning.

    We know what we are, but know not what we may be.


    It is vain to be always looking toward the future and never acting toward it.

    J. F. Boyes.

    If there was no future life, our souls would not thirst for it.


    We are always looking into the future, but we see only the past.

    Madame Swetchine.

    Locked up from mortal eye in shady leaves of destiny.


    Another life, if it were not better than this, would be less a promise than a threat.

    J. Petit-Senn.

    We always live prospectively, never retrospectively, and there is no abiding moment.


    When all else is lost, the future still remains.


    Who knows whether the gods will add to-morrow to the present hour?


    O heaven! that one might read the book of fate, and see the revolution of the times.


    Age and sorrow have the gift of reading the future by the sad past.

    Rev. J. Farrar.

  • Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
  • To lie in cold obstruction and to rot.
  • Shakespeare.

  • The great world’s altar-stairs
  • That slope thro’ darkness up to God.
  • Tennyson.

  • It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
  • And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
  • Tennyson.

    It is heaven itself that points out an hereafter, and intimates eternity to man.


    After us the deluge.

    Mme. Pompadour.

    The earth with its scarred face is the symbol of the past; the air and heaven, of futurity.


    The veil which covers the face of futurity is woven by the hand of mercy.


  • There is no hope—the future will but turn
  • The old sand in the falling glass of time.
  • R. H. Stoddard.

    The state of that man’s mind who feels too intense an interest as to future events, must be most deplorable.


    The future does not come from before to meet us, but comes streaming up from behind over our heads.


    It ever is the marked propensity of restless and aspiring minds to look into the stretch of dark futurity.

    Joanna Baillie.

    There is no divining-rod whose dip shall tell us at twenty what we shall most relish at thirty.

    N. P. Willis.

    How narrow our souls become when absorbed in any present good or ill! It is only the thought of the future that makes them great.


    No soul is bad enough for a fixed “hell,” or good enough for a fixed “heaven,” however useful the words may be as pointing to opposite states.

    Hugh R. Haweis.

  • Sure there is none but fears a future state
  • And when the most obdurate swear they do not,
  • Their trembling hearts belie their boasting tongues.
  • Dryden.

  • Oh, blindness to the future! kindly giv’n,
  • That each may fill the circle marked by Heaven.
  • Pope.

    We may believe that we shall know each other’s forms hereafter; and in the bright fields of the better land call the lost dead to us.


    There was a wise man in the East whose constant prayer was that he might see to-day with the eyes of to-morrow.

    Alfred Mercier.

    Nothing can be reckoned good or bad to us in this life, any further than it indisposes us for the enjoyment of another.


    It has been well observed that we should treat futurity as an aged friend from whom we expect a rich legacy.


    Cease to inquire what the future has in store, and to take as a gift whatever the day brings forth.


    The spirit of man, which God inspired, cannot together perish with this corporeal clod.


    Whatever improvement we make in ourselves, we are thereby sure to meliorate our future condition.


    Everything that looks to the future elevates human nature; for never is life so low or so little as when occupied with the present.


    May you live unenvied, and pass many pleasant years unknown to fame; and also have congenial friends.


    God will not suffer man to have the knowledge of things to come; for if he had prescience of his prosperity, he would be careless; and, understanding of his adversity, he would be senseless.

    St. Augustine.

  • Trust no future, howe’er pleasant;
  • Let the dead past bury its dead;
  • Act,—act in the living present,
  • Heart within, and God o’erhead!
  • Longfellow.

  • When the world dissolves,
  • And every creature shall be purified,
  • All places shall be hell that are not heaven.
  • Marlowe.

  • O if this were seen!
  • The happiest youth—viewing his progress through
  • What perils past, what crosses to ensue—
  • Would shut the book, and sit him down and die.
  • Shakespeare.

    The golden age is not in the past, but in the future; not in the origin of human experience, but in its consummate flower; not opening in Eden, but out from Gethsemane.


    There is, I know not how, in the minds of men, a certain presage, as it were, of a future existence, and this takes the deepest root, and is most discoverable, in the greatest geniuses and most exalted souls.


  • Beyond this vale of tears
  • There is a life above,
  • Unmeasured by the flight of years;
  • And all that life is love.
  • Montgomery.

  • Dear Land to which Desire forever flees;
  • Time doth no present to our grasp allow,
  • Say in the fixed Eternal shall we seize
  • At last the fleeting Now?
  • Bulwer-Lytton.

  • The year goes wrong, and tares grow strong.
  • Hope starves without a crumb;
  • But God’s time is our harvest time,
  • And that is sure to come.
  • Lewis J. Bates.

  • But ask not bodies (doomed to die),
  • To what abode they go;
  • Since knowledge is but sorrow’s spy,
  • It is not safe to know.
  • Davenant.

  • What a world were this
  • How unendurable its weight, if they
  • Whom Death hath sundered did not meet again!
  • Southey.

    We bewail our friends as if there were no better futurity yonder, and bewail ourselves as if there were no better futurity here; for all our passions are born atheists and infidels.


    Look not mournfully into the past,—it comes not back again; wisely improve the present,—it is thine; go forth to meet the shadowy future without fear, and with a manly heart.


    My mind can take no hold on the present world, nor rest in it a moment, but my whole nature rushes onward with irresistible force towards a future and better state of being.


    There is something beyond the grave; death does not put an end to everything, the dark shade escapes from the consumed pile.


    The things of another world being distant, operate but faintly upon us: to remedy this inconvenience, we must frequently revolve their certainty and importance.


  • Some day Love shall claim his own,
  • Some day Right ascend his throne,
  • Some day hidden Truth be known;
  • Some day—some sweet day.
  • Lewis J. Bates.

    A. N. hopes in the next world for his felicity to live with Raphael, Mozart, and Goethe. But how can they be happy if they must live with him?


    We live in the future. Even the happiness of the present is made up mostly of that delightful discontent which the hope of better things inspires.

    J. G. Holland.

    The present is never the mark of our designs. We use both past and present as our means and instruments, but the future only as our object and aim.


    The search of our future being is but a needless, anxious, and uncertain haste to be knowing, sooner than we can, what, without all this solicitude, we shall know a little later.


  • Ah Christ, that it were possible
  • For one short hour to see
  • The souls we loved, that they might tell us
  • What and where they be.
  • Tennyson.

  • What after all remains, when life is sped,
  • And man is gathered to the silent dead?
  • Home to the narrow house, the long, long sleep,
  • Where pain is stilled, and sorrow doth not weep.
  • William Winter.

  • O, that a man might know
  • The end of this day’s business, ere it come!
  • But it sufficeth that the day will end,
  • And then the end is known.
  • Shakespeare.

    To me there is something thrilling and exalting in the thought that we are drifting forward into a splendid mystery,—into something that no mortal eye has yet sees, no intelligence has yet declared.


  • There’s nae sorrow there, John,
  • There’s neither cauld nor care, John,
  • The day is aye fair,
  • In the land o’ the leal.
  • Lady Nairne.

  • O heavens! that one might read the book of fate,
  • And see the revolutions of the times
  • Make mountains level, and the continent,
  • (Weary of solid firmness,) melt itself
  • Into the sea.
  • Shakespeare.

  • If you can look into the seeds of time,
  • And say which grain will grow, and which will not;
  • Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear
  • Your favors nor your hate.
  • Shakespeare.

    What cities, as great as this, have***promised themselves immortality! posterity can hardly trace the situation of some. The sorrowful traveler wanders over the awful ruins of others.


  • For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
  • The flood may bear me far,
  • I hope to see my Pilot face to face
  • When I have crossed the bar.
  • Tennyson.

    Divine wisdom, intending to detain us some time on earth, has done well to cover with a veil the prospect of life to come; for if our sight could clearly distinguish the opposite bank, who would remain on this tempestuous coast?

    Madame de Staël.

    It is one of God’s blessings that we cannot foreknow the hour of our death; for a time fixed, even beyond the possibility of living, would trouble us more than doth this uncertainty.

    James the Sixth.

    The future is lighted for us with the radiant colors of hope. Strife and sorrow shall disappear. Peace and love shall reign supreme. The dream of poets, the lesson of priest and prophet, the inspiration of the great musician, is confirmed in the light of modern knowledge.

    John Fiske.

    One might as well attempt to calculate mathematically the contingent forms of the tinkling bits of glass in a kaleidoscope as to look through the tube of the future and foretell its pattern.


  • The dread of something after death,
  • The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
  • No traveller returns, puzzles the will;
  • And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
  • Than fly to others that we know not of.
  • Shakespeare.

    Why will any man be so impertinently officious as to tell me all prospect of a future state is only fancy and delusion? Is there any merit in being the messenger of ill news? If it is a dream, let me enjoy it, since it makes me both the happier and better man.


    The grand difficulty is to feel the reality of both worlds, so as to give each its due place in our thoughts and feelings, to keep our mind’s eye and our heart’s eye ever fixed on the land of promise, without looking away from the road along which we are to travel toward it.


    The dead carry our thoughts to another and a nobler existence. They teach us, and especially by all the strange and seemingly untoward circumstances of their departure from this life, that they and we shall live in a future state forever.

    Orville Dewey.

    We are born for a higher destiny than that of earth; there is a realm where the rainbow never fades, where the stars will be spread before us like islands that slumber on the ocean, and where the beings that pass before us like shadows will stay in our presence forever.


    We are led to the belief of a future state, not only by the weaknesses, by the hopes and fears of human nature, but by the noblest and best principles which belong to it,—by the love of virtue, and by the abhorrence of vice and injustice.

    Adam Smith.

    Futurity is impregnable to mortal ken: no prayer pierces through heaven’s adamantine walls. Whether the birds fly right or left, whatever be the aspect of the stars, the book of nature is a maze, dreams are a lie, and every sign a falsehood.


    While a man is stringing a harp, he tries the strings, not for music, but for construction. When it is finished it shall be played for melodies. God is fashioning the human heart for future joy. He only sounds a string here and there to see how far His work has progressed.


    Since we stay not here, being people but of a day’s abode, and our age is like that of a fly, and contemporary with that of a gourd, we must look somewhere else for an abiding city, a place in another country, to fix our house in, whose walls and foundation is God, where we must rest, or else be restless forever.

    Jeremy Taylor.

  • God keeps a niche
  • In Heaven, to hold our idols; and albeit
  • He brake them to our faces, and denied
  • That our close kisses should impair their white,—
  • I know we shall behold them raised complete,
  • The dust swept from their beauty, glorified,
  • New Memnons singing in the great Godlight.
  • E. B. Browning.

    If that marvellous microcosm, man, with all the costly cargo of his faculties and powers, were indeed a rich argosy, fitted out and freighted only for shipwreck and destruction, who amongst us that tolerate the present only from the hope of the future, who that have any aspirings of a high and intellectual nature about them, could be brought to submit to the disgusting mortifications of the voyage?


    The future is always fairyland to the young. Life is like a beautiful and winding lane, on either side bright flowers, and beautiful butterflies and tempting fruits, which we scarcely pause to admire and to taste, so eager are we to hasten to an opening which we imagine will be more beautiful still. But by degrees, as we advance, the trees grow bleak; the flowers and butterflies fail, the fruits disappear, and we find we have arrived to reach a desert waste.

    G. A. Sala.

  • There’s a good time coming, boys;
  • A good time coming:
  • We may not live to see the day,
  • But earth shall glisten in the ray
  • Of the good time coming.
  • Cannon-balls may aid the truth,
  • But thought’s a weapon stronger;
  • We’ll win our battle by its aid,
  • Wait a little longer.
  • Chas. Mackay.

  • Is there a rarer being,
  • Is there a fairer sphere
  • Where the strong are not unseeing,
  • And the harvests are not sere;
  • Where, ere the seasons dwindle
  • They yield their due return;
  • Where the lamps of knowledge kindle
  • While the flames of youth still burn?
  • E. C. Stedman.

    It is the “where I am” that makes heaven. The life after death might become through its very endlessness a burden to our spirits, if it were not to be filled with the infinite variety and freshness of God’s love. Some have shrunk from its very infinitude, because they have not realized what God’s love can make of it. Human love helps us to understand this. When we have come to love any one with all our power of affection, then there is no monotony or weariness in the days and hours we spend with them.

    Maltbie Babcock.