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


Mile-stones on the road of time.


The legendary tablets of the past.

Walter Scott.

The monuments of mutability.


Black-letter record of the ages.


Tully was not so eloquent as thou, thou nameless column with the buried base.


The ruins of a house may be repaired; why cannot those of the face?

La Fontaine.

  • The ruins of himself! now worn away
  • With age, yet still majestic in decay.
  • Homer.

  • Stern Ruin’s ploughshare drives elate,
  • Full on thy bloom.
  • Burns.

    The broken eggshell of a civilization which time has hatched and devoured.

    Julia Ward Howe.

  • Final Ruin fiercely drives
  • Her ploughshare o’er creation.
  • Young.

  • Prostrate the beauteous ruin lies; and all
  • That shared its shelter, perish in its fall.
  • Wm. Pitt.

  • For, to make deserts, God, who rules mankind,
  • Begins with kings, and ends the work by wind.
  • Victor Hugo.

  • There is a temple in ruin stands,
  • Fashion’d by long forgotten hands:
  • Two or three columns, and many a stone,
  • Marble and granite, with grass o’ergrown!
  • Byron.

  • ***For such a numerous host
  • Fled not in silence through the frighted deep
  • With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout,
  • Confusion worse confounded.
  • Milton.

  • All things decay with time; the forest sees
  • The growth and downfall of her aged trees:
  • That timber tall, which threescore lustres stood
  • The proud dictator of the state-like wood—
  • I mean the sov’reign of all plants, the oak,
  • Droops, dies, and falls without the cleaver’s stroke.
  • Herrick.

  • Ye glorious Gothic scenes! how much ye strike
  • All phantasies, not even excepting mine:
  • A gray wall, a green ruin, rusty pike,
  • Make my soul pass the equinoctial line
  • Between the present and past worlds, and hover
  • Upon their airy confines, half-seas over.
  • Byron.

  • There is given
  • Unto the things of earth, which Time hath bent,
  • A spirit’s feeling, and where he hath leant
  • His hand, but broke his scythe, there is a power
  • And magic in the ruined battlement;
  • For which the palace of the present hour
  • Must yield its pomp, and wait till ages are its dower.
  • Byron.

    As I stand here this pleasant afternoon, looking up at the old chapel (the Mission, Dolores), its ragged senility contrasting with the smart spring sunshine, its two gouty pillars with the plaster dropping away like tattered bandages, its rayless windows, its crumbling entrances, the leper spots on its whitewashed wall eating through the dark adobe—I give the poor old mendicant but a year longer to sit by the highway and ask alms in the names of the blessed saints.

    Bret Harte.

  • How rev’rend is the face of this tall pile,
  • Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads,
  • To bear aloft its arch’d and pond’rous roof!
  • By its own weight made steadfast and immovable.
  • Looking tranquillity! It strikes an awe
  • And terror to my aching sight! The tombs
  • And monumental caves of death look cold,
  • And shoot a chillness to my trembling heart.
  • Congreve.

  • I do love these ancient ruins:
  • We never tread upon them, but we set
  • Our foot upon some rev’rend history;
  • And questionless, here in this open court,
  • Which now lies naked to the injuries
  • Of stormy weather, some lie interr’d, who
  • Lov’d the church so well, and gave so largely to’t,
  • They thought it should have canopy’d their bones
  • Till doomsday: but all things have their end;
  • Churches and cities, which have diseases like to men,
  • Must have like death that we have.
  • Webster.

  • ’Tis now the raven’s bleak abode;
  • ’Tis now the apartment of the toad;
  • And there the fox securely feeds;
  • And there the poisonous adder breeds,
  • Conceal’d in ruins, moss and weeds;
  • While, ever and anon, there falls
  • Huge heaps of hoary moulder’d walls.
  • Yet time has seen, which lifts the low,
  • And level lays the lofty brow,
  • Has seen the broken pile complete,
  • Big with the vanity of state;
  • But transient is the smile of fate!
  • A little rule, a little sway,
  • A sunbeam in a winter’s day,
  • Is all the proud and mighty have
  • Between the cradle and the grave.
  • Dyer.

    Ruins in some countries indicate prosperity; in others, decay. In Egypt, Greece and Italy they record the decline and fall of great empires; in England, Scotland and Wales they mark abolition of feudal tyranny, the establishment of popular freedom, and the consolidation of national strength. The lawless power formerly dispersed among petty chiefs is now concentrated in the legal magistrate. The elegant villa has succeeded to the frowning castle. Where the wild deer roamed the corn now waves; the sound of the hammer has drowned the war-cry of the henchman.

    R. Anderson.