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


Progress,—the stride of God!

Victor Hugo.

Now by St. Paul the work goes bravely on.

Colley Cibber.

Revolutions never go backwards.


Human improvement is from within outwards.


Living movement.


Row on whatever happens.


All growth that is not towards God is growing to decay.

George MacDonald.

Progress is the law of life,—man is not man as yet.

Robert Browning.

The slowest of us cannot but admit that the world moves.

Wendell Phillips.

All that is human must retrograde if it do not advance.


  • Press on!—“for in the grave there is no work
  • And no device”—Press on! while yet ye may!
  • N. P. Willis.

    I am suffocated and lost when I have not the bright feeling of progression.

    Margaret Fuller.

    A fresh mind keeps the body fresh. Take in the ideas of the day, drain off those of yesterday.


    Humanity, in the aggregate, is progressing, and philanthropy looks forward hopefully.

    Hosea Ballou.

    Cost is the father and compensation is the mother of progress.

    J. G. Holland.

    Look up and not down; look forward and not back; look out and not in; and lend a hand.

    E. E. Hale.

    He who has not the spirit of his age has all the misery of it.


    There is a frightful interval between the seed and the timber.


    Moral excellence is the bright consummate flower of all progress.

    Charles Sumner.

    There is a period of life when we go back as we advance.


    Even Holland and Spain have been positively, though not relatively, advancing.


    Every age has its problem, by solving which humanity is helped forward.

    Heinrich Heine.

    I must do something to keep my thoughts fresh and growing. I dread nothing so much as falling into a rut and feeling myself becoming a fossil.

    James A. Garfield.

    We are never present with, but always beyond ourselves. Fear, desire, and hope are still pushing us on towards the future.


    Not because I raise myself above something but because I raise myself to something, do I approve myself.


    Intellectually, as politically, the direction of all true progress is towards greater freedom, and along an endless succession of ideas.


    The art of nations is to be accumulative, just as science and history are: the work of living men not superseding, but building itself upon the work of the past.


  • Yet I doubt not thro’ the ages one increasing purpose runs,
  • And the thoughts of men are widen’d with the process of the suns.
  • Tennyson.

    We are either progressing or retrograding all the while; there is no such thing as remaining stationary in this life.

    James Freeman Clarke.

    Political convulsions, like geological upheavings, usher in new epochs of the world’s progress.

    Wendell Phillips.

    If a man is not rising upward to be an angel, depend upon it, he is sinking downward to be a devil. He cannot stop at the beast.


    Nature knows no pause in progress and development, and attaches her curse on all inaction.


    Some men so dislike the dust kicked up by the generation they belong to, that, being unable to pass, they lag behind it.


    The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.


    Every step of progress which the world has made has been from scaffold to scaffold, and from stake to stake.

    Wendell Phillips.

    Every man who strikes blows for power, for influence, for institutions, for the right, must be just as good an anvil as he is a hammer.

    J. G. Holland.

    In every department of life—in its business and in its pleasures, in its beliefs and in its theories, in its material developments and in its spiritual connections—we thank God that we are not like our fathers.


    Let us labor for that larger and larger comprehension of truth, that more and more thorough repudiation of error, which shall make the history of mankind a series of ascending developments.

    Horace Mann.

    We should so live and labor in our time that what came to us as seed may go to the next generation as blossom, and that what came to us as blossom may go to them as fruit. This is what we mean by progress.

    Henry Ward Beecher.

    Progress begins with the minority. It is completed by persuading the majority, by showing the reason and the advantage of the step forward, and that is accomplished by appealing to the intelligence of the majority.

    George William Curtis.

    The true law of the race is progress and development. Whenever civilization pauses in the march of conquest, it is overthrown by the barbarian.


    The mind naturally makes progress, and the will naturally clings to objects; so that for want of right objects, it will attach itself to wrong ones.


    The greatest evils of society are goods that have refused to go on, but have sat down on the highway, saying to the world, “We stop here; do you stop also.”

    Julia Ward Howe.

    Society moves slowly towards civilization, but when we compare epochs half a century or even quarter of a century apart, we perceive many signs that progress is made.

    Mrs. L. M. Child.

    Our course heavenward is something like the plan of the zealous pilgrims to Jerusalem of old, who for every three steps forward took one backward.


  • Finds progress, man’s distinctive mark alone,
  • Not God’s, and not the beast’s;
  • God is, they are,
  • Man partly is, and wholly hopes to be.
  • Robert Browning.

  • Westward the course of empire takes its way;
  • The four first acts already past,
  • A fifth shall close the drama with the day;
  • Time’s noblest offspring is the last.
  • Bishop Berkeley.

    Every time that a people which has long crouched in slavery and ignorance is moved to its lowest depths there appear monsters and heroes, prodigies of crime and prodigies of virtue.


    It is curious to note the old sea-margins of human thought. Each subsiding century reveals some new mystery; we build where monsters used to hide themselves.


    Indeed, the grandest of all laws is the law of progressive development. Under it, in the wide sweep of things, men grow wiser as they grow older; societies better.


    Laws and institutions are constantly tending to gravitate. Like clocks, they must be occasionally cleansed, and wound up, and set to true time.

    Henry Ward Beecher.

    The individual and the race are always moving, and as we drift into new latitudes new lights open in the heaven more immediately over us.


    He only is advancing in life whose heart is getting softer, whose blood warmer, whose brain quicker, whose spirit is entering into living peace.


    Modern invention has banished the spinning-wheel, and the same law of progress makes the woman of to-day a different woman from her grandmother.

    Susan B. Anthony.

    Any society which is not improving is deteriorating, and the more so the closer and more familiar it is. Even a really superior man almost always begins to deteriorate when he is habitually king of his company.

    J. Stuart Mill.

    The wisest man may be wiser to-day than he was yesterday, and to-morrow than he is to-day. Total freedom from change would imply total freedom from error; but this is the prerogative of Omniscience alone.


    All our progress is an unfolding, like the vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.


    For my own part I am persuaded that everything advances by an unchangeable law through the eternal constitution and association of latent causes, which have been long before predestinated.

    Quintus Curtius Rufus.

    Progress comes by experiment, and this from ennui that leads to voyages, wars, revolutions, and plainly to change in the arts of expression; that cries out to the imagination, and is the nurse of the invention whereof we term necessity the mother.


    Woman has so long been subject to the disabilities and restrictions with which her progress has been embarrassed that she has become enervated, her mind to some extent paralyzed; and like those still more degraded by personal bondage she hugs her chains.

    Lucretia Mott.

    The progress from infancy to boyhood is imperceptible. In that long dawn of the mind we take but little heed. The years pass by us, one by one, little distinguishable from each other. But when the intellectual sun of our life is risen, we take due note of joy and sorrow.

    Barry Cornwall.

    All attempts to urge men forward, even in the right path, beyond the measure of their light, are impracticable; and unlawful, if they were practicable; augment their light, conciliate their affections, and they will follow of their own accord.

    Robert Hall.

    Mankind never loses any good thing, physical, intellectual, or moral, till it finds a better, and then the loss is a gain. No steps backward is the rule of human history. What is gained by one man is invested in all men, and is a permanent investment for all time.

    Theodore Parker.

    What pains and tears the slightest steps of man’s progress have cost! Every hair-breadth forward has been in the agony of some soul, and humanity has reached blessing after blessing of all its vast achievement of good with bleeding feet.


    All the best things and treasures of this world are not to be produced by each generation for itself; but we are all intended, not to carve our work in snow that will melt, but each and all of us to be continually rolling a great white gathering snow-ball, higher and higher, larger and larger, along the Alps of human power.


    So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings, goes but to build up great fortunes, to increase luxury, and make sharper the contrast between the House of Have and the House of Want, progress is not real and cannot be permanent.

    Henry George.

  • Beneath this starry arch,
  • Naught resteth or is still;
  • But all things hold their march
  • As if by one great will.
  • Move one, move all:
  • Hark to the footfall!
  • On, on, forever.
  • Harriet Martineau.

    It is for us to discharge the high duties that devolve on us, and carry our race onward. To be no better, no wiser, no greater than the past is to be little and foolish and bad; it is to misapply noble means, to sacrifice glorious opportunities for the performance of sublime deeds, to become cumberers of the ground.


    It is always hard to go beyond your public. If they are satisfied with cheap performance, you will not easily arrive at better. If they know what is good, and require it, you will aspire and burn until you achieve it. But from time to time, in history, men are born a whole age too soon.


    By the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young; but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression.


    By a peculiar prerogative, not only each individual is making daily advances in the sciences, and may make advances in morality (which is the science, by way of eminence, of living well and being happy), but all mankind together are making a continual progress in proportion as the universe grows older; so that the whole human race, during the course of so many ages, may be considered as one man, who never ceases to live and learn.


    Generations are as the days of toilsome mankind; death and birth are the vesper and the matin bells that summon mankind to sleep and to rise refreshed for new advancement. What the father has made, the son can make and enjoy; but has also work of his own appointed him. Thus all things wax and roll onwards: arts, establishments, opinions, nothing is ever completed, but ever completing.


    However slow the progress of mankind may be, or however imperceptible the gain in a single generation, the advancement is evident enough in the long run. There was a time when the most part of the inhabitants of Britain would have been as much startled at questioning the truth of the doctrine of transubstantiation as they would in this age at the most sceptical doubts on the being of a God.


    “Can any good come out of Nazareth?” This is always the question of the wiseacres and the knowing ones. But the good, the new, comes from exactly that quarter whence it is not looked for, and is always something different from what is expected. Everything new is received with contempt, for it begins in obscurity. It becomes a power unobserved.


    It is in the stomach of plants that development begins, and ends in the circles of the universe. ’Tis a long scale from the gorilla to the gentleman,—from the gorilla to Plato, Newton, Shakespeare,—to the sanctities of religion, the refinements of legislation, the summit of science, art, and poetry. The beginnings are slow and infirm, but it is an always accelerated march.


    It is wonderful how soon a piano fits into a log-hut on the frontier. You would think they found it under a pine-stump. With it comes a Latin grammar, and one of those tow-head boys has written a hymn on Sunday. Now let colleges, now let senates take heed! for here is one who, opening these fine tastes on the basis of the pioneer’s iron constitution, will gather all their laurels in his strong hands.


    The first party of painted savages who raised a few huts upon the Thames did not dream of the London they were creating, or know that in lighting the fire on their hearth they were kindling one of the great foci of Time.***All the grand agencies which the progress of mankind evolves are formed in the same unconscious way. They are the aggregate result of countless single wills, each of which, thinking merely of its own end, and perhaps fully gaining it, is at the same time enlisted by Providence in the secret service of the world.

    James Martineau.

    We can trace back our existence almost to a point. Former time presents us with trains of thoughts gradually diminishing to nothing. But our ideas of futurity are perpetually expanding. Our desires and our hopes, even when modified by our fears, seem to grasp at immensity. This alone would be sufficient to prove the progressiveness of our nature, and that this little earth is but a point from which we start toward a perfection of being.

    Sir Humphry Davy.