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


Necessity, mother of invention.


Invention is totally independent of the will.

B. R. Haydon.

Invention is not so much the result of labor as of judgment.


Invention is the talent of youth, and judgment of age.


Only an inventor knows how to borrow, and every man is or should be an inventor.


Invention is activity of mind, as fire is air in motion; a sharpening of the spiritual sight, to discern hidden aptitudes.


Very learned women are to be found, in the same manner as female warriors; but they are seldom or never inventors.


The introduction of noble inventions seems to hold by far the most excellent place among human actions.


A tool is but the extension of a man’s hand, and a machine is but a complex tool. And he that invents a machine augments the power of a man and the well-being of mankind.

Henry Ward Beecher.

The great inventor is one who has walked forth upon the industrial world, not from universities, but from hovels; not as clad in silks and decked with honors, but as clad in fustian and grimed with soot and oil.

Isaac Taylor.

  • Th’ invention all admir’d, and each, how he
  • To be th’ inventor miss’d; so easy it seem’d,
  • Once found, which yet unfound most would have thought
  • Impossible.
  • Milton.

    Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory. Nothing can be made of nothing; he who has laid up no material can produce no combinations.

    Sir J. Reynolds.

    The golden hour of invention must terminate like other hours; and when the man of genius returns to the cares, the duties, the vexations, and the amusements of life, his companions behold him as one of themselves,—the creature of habits and infirmities.

    Isaac Disraeli.

    It is frivolous to fix pedantically the date of particular inventions. They have all been invented over and over fifty times. Man is the arch machine, of which all these shifts drawn from himself are toy models. He helps himself on each emergency by copying or duplicating his own structure, just so far as the need is.


    Founders and senators of states and cities, lawgivers, extirpers of tyrants, fathers of the people, and other eminent persons in civil government, were honored but with titles of worthies or demigods; whereas such as were inventors and authors of new arts, endowments, and commodities towards man’s life, were ever consecrated among the gods themselves.


  • Electric telegraphs, printing, gas,
  • Tobacco, balloons, and steam,
  • Are little events that have come to pass
  • Since the days of the old régime,
  • And, spite of Lemprière’s dazzling page,
  • I’d give—though it might seem bold—
  • A hundred years of the Golden Age
  • For a year of the Age of Gold.
  • Henry S. Leigh.