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


THE MISSION of this work is to supply a universal need, which is felt by the multitude of busy men and women of to-day, who, while eager to be initiated into the society of the great masters of literature, find it impossible to devote the time necessary to such studies as would accomplish that result. One to whom books are as strangers has not yet learned to live. He is a solitary, though he dwell amid a vast population. On the other hand, he to whom books are as friends possesses a Key to the Garden of Delights, where the purest pleasures are open for his entertainment, and where he has for his companions the master minds of all the ages.  1
  Coleridge, writing nearly a century ago, asked: “Why are not more gems from our great authors scattered over the country? Great books are not in everybody’s reach; and though it is better to know them thoroughly than to know them only here and there, yet it is a good work to give a little to those who have neither the time nor the means to get more.”  2
  In Forty Thousand Quotations, the busy man of affairs, the teacher and preacher, the public speaker, lawyer and writer, the man or woman who desires to make a creditable figure in conversation, correspondence or debate, in fact, the reader and student of either sex and any age, may turn at will to the choicest and most striking passages of the illustrious authors, orators and thinkers of all time, from the classic age to the present day. It will open, as with a magic key, the gateways of literature, and the realm of books will no longer be a terra incognita, since here are to be found the literary treasures of the ripest scholarship and the finest culture the world has ever known.  3
  In making a collection of such magnitude, and from so many diverse sources, care has been exercised to render the indices, classification and general arrangement so simple that they can be mastered at a glance. One thousand four hundred topics are treated, covering almost the entire range of thought and emotion.  4
  Famous classic, medieval and modern writers have contributed their quota. Here we have the loftiest strains of the poets, the highest flights of the orators, the keenest logic of the essayists, the strongest situations of the dramatists, the brightest bons mots of the humorists. Here are the flashes of genius that have stirred the souls of men, the famous epigrams, maxims, aphorisms, adages, similes and other utterances that have excited the world’s admiration or amusement. A noted author once remarked that a dozen lines from a writer’s works, familiar to the people after twenty years, constituted literary immortality. This volume is a Pantheon of Immortals in splendid array—rank upon rank of the novelists, poets, orators, philosophers, wits, sages, historians, scientists, statesmen, represented by utterances wherewith they have inspired and delighted men and women of every age.  5
  There are many ways in which a work of this character can be made of great value to the reader and student, whatever may be his or her vocation in life. Take the best thoughts on the topic selected; read them; write them down; repeat them; make them your own, and they will become a part of your life and an influence on your career. You will find unconsciously that your mental horizon will be widened, your address enriched, and even your letters will acquire a polish which would be unattainable through other means. The art of apt quotation, happy simile, and pleasing witticism, is within your reach. Grace and power in writing and speaking do not consist in the employment of commonplace phrase and adjective, but come by studying the best models, and so also do the flexibility, range of expression and felicitous illustration which hold the ear, while they carry force and conviction to the mind.  6
  George Eliot calls such a collection as this “The flowers of all books,” and never was description more felicitous. Joubert, writing on the same subject, said “The coin of wisdom is its great thoughts, its eloquent flights, its proverbs and pithy sentences.” That coin, struck at the mint of genius, is here in abundant measure.  7
  This new and revised edition of Forty Thousand Quotations was first published as Forty Thousand Sublime and Beautiful Thoughts.  8