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


Sympathy is especially a Christian duty.


Sympathy is two hearts tugging at one load.

Charles H. Parkhurst.

Of a truth men are mystically united.


A sympathy in choice.


There is in souls a sympathy with sounds.


Kindred weaknesses induce friendships as often as kindred virtues.


What my tongue dares not that my heart shall say.


More helpful than all wisdom is one draught of simple human pity that will not forsake us.

George Eliot.

  • Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul,
  • And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole.
  • Pope.

  • We pine for kindred natures
  • To mingle with our own.
  • Mrs. Hemans.

    If thou art something, bring thy soul and interchange with mine.


  • Never elated while one man’s oppress’d;
  • Never dejected while another’s blessed.
  • Pope.

    The sympathy of sorrow is stronger than the sympathy of prosperity.

    Earl of Beaconsfield.

    It is only kindred griefs that draw forth our tears, and each weeps really for himself.


    Strengthen me by sympathizing with my strength not my weakness.

    Amos Bronson Alcott.

  • Pity and need
  • Make all flesh kin. There is no caste in blood.
  • Edwin Arnold.

    At a certain depth all bosoms communicate, all hearts are one.

    Fredrika Bremer.

    The craving for sympathy is the common boundary-line between joy and sorrow.

    J. C. and A. W. Hare.

  • The human heart
  • Finds nowhere shelter but in human kind.
  • George Eliot.

    Nothing precludes sympathy so much as a perfect indifference to it.


    We are governed by sympathy; and the extent of our sympathy is determined by that of our sensibility.


    True sympathy is beyond what can be seen and touched and reasoned upon.

    Mrs. Campbell Praed.

    Not being untutored in suffering, I learn to pity those in affliction.


    Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound.


    The secret of language is the secret of sympathy, and its full charm is possible only to the gentle.


    We owe to man higher succors than food and fire. We owe to man, man.


    Love and death are the two great hinges on which all human sympathies turn.

    B. R. Haydon.

    He watched and wept and prayed and felt for all.


    One man pins me to the wall, while with another I walk among the stars.


    Sympathy is the golden key that unlocks the hearts of others.

    Samuel Smiles.

    Ah! thank heaven, travelers find Samaritans as well as Levites on life’s hard way.


    Next to love, sympathy is the divinest passion of the human heart.


    And share the inward fragrance of each other’s heart.


    A crowd always thinks with its sympathy, never with its reason.

    W. R. Alger.

    Truth is the root, but human sympathy is the flower of practical life.


    Our own cast-off sorrows are not sufficient to constitute sympathy for others.

    Mme. Necker.

    All sympathy not consistent with acknowledged virtue is but disguised selfishness.


    All powerful souls have kindred with each other.


    A brother’s sufferings claim a brother’s pity.


  • Like will to like; each creature loves his kind.
  • Chaste words proceed still from a bashful mind.
  • Herrick.

  • He who steps on stones is glad to feel
  • The smallest spray of moss beneath his feet.
  • Anna Katharine Green.

  • How in the turmoil of life can love stand,
  • Where there is not one heart, and one mouth and one hand.
  • Longfellow.

    The secrets of life are not shown except to sympathy and likeness.


    The more we know, the better we forgive; whoe’er feels deeply, feels for all who live.

    Mme. de Staël.

    Far better one unpurchased heart than glory’s proudest name.


    The individual soul should seek for an intimate union with the soul of the universe.


    To commiserate is sometimes more than to give; for money is external to a man’s self, but he who bestows compassion communicates his own soul.


    A helping word to one in trouble is often like a switch on a railroad track—but one inch between wreck and smooth-rolling prosperity.


    The greatest pleasures of which the human mind is susceptible are the pleasures of consciousness and sympathy.

    Parke Godwin.

    One of the greatest of all mental pleasures is to have our thoughts often divined: ever entered into with sympathy.

    Miss L. Landon.

    Women have the genius of charity. A man gives but his gold; a woman adds to it her sympathy.

    E. W. Legouvé.

    Nature has concatenated our fortunes and affections together with indissoluble bands of mutual sympathy.


    When a man can look upon the simple wild-rose, and feel no pleasure, his taste has been corrupted.


    Sympathetic people are often uncommunicative about themselves; they give back reflected images which hide their own depths.

    George Eliot.

    A face which is always serene possesses a mysterious and powerful attraction; sad hearts come to it as to the sun to warm themselves again.

    Joseph Roux.

  • The man who melts
  • With social sympathy, though not allied,
  • Is than a thousand kinsmen of more worth.
  • Euripides.

  • Thou hast given me, in this beauteous face,
  • A world or earthly blessings to my soul,
  • If sympathy of love unite our thoughts.
  • Shakespeare.

  • Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow
  • For other’s good, and melt at other’s woe.
  • Homer.

    To rejoice in another’s prosperity is to give content to your own lot; to mitigate another’s grief is to alleviate or dispel your own.

    T. Edwards.

    It is certain my belief gains quite infinitely the very moment I can convince another mind thereof.


    The world has no sympathy with any but positive griefs. It will pity you for what you lose; never for what you lack.

    Madame Swetchine.

  • World-wide apart, and yet akin,
  • As showing that the human heart
  • Beats on forever as of old.
  • Longfellow.

  • No one is so accursed by fate,
  • No one so utterly desolate,
  • But some heart, though unknown,
  • Responds unto his own.
  • Longfellow.

    It is an eternal truth in the political as well as the mystical body, that “where one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.”


    There is some danger lest there be no real religion in the heart which craves too much daily sympathy.

    Margaret Fuller Ossoli.

    It is a lively spark of nobleness to descend in most favor to one when he is lowest in affliction.

    Sir P. Sidney.

    A marriage or a refusal or a proposal thrills through a whole household of women, and sets their hysterical sympathies at work.


    Public feeling now is apt to side with the persecuted, and our modern martyr is full as likely to be smothered with roses as with coals.


    True sympathy is putting ourselves in another’s place; and we are moved in proportion to the reality of our imagination.

    Hosea Ballou.

    The sympathy of most people consists of a mixture of good-humor, curiosity, and self-importance.

    Marie Ebner-Eschenbach.

    One common calamity makes men extremely affect each other, though they differ in every other particular.


    It seems to me that we become more dear one to the other, in together admiring works of art, which speak to the soul by their true grandeur.

    Mme. de Staël.

  • There’s nought in this bad world like sympathy:
  • ’Tis so becoming to the soul and face—
  • Sets to soft music the harmonious sigh,
  • And robes sweet friendship in a Brussels lace.
  • Byron.

    Sympathy is in great degree a result of the mood we are in at the moment; anger forbids the emotion. On the other hand, it is easiest taken on when we are in a state of most absolute self-satisfaction.

    Lew Wallace.

    Be willing to pity the misery of the stranger! Thou givest to-day thy bread to the poor; to-morrow the poor may give it to thee.


    Women have a smile for every joy, a tear for every sorrow, a consolation for every grief, an excuse for every fault, a prayer for every misfortune, and encouragement for every hope.


  • Somewhere or other there must surely be
  • The face not seen, the voice not heard,
  • The heart that not yet—never yet—ah me!
  • Made answer to my word.
  • Christina G. Rossetti.

    Outward things don’t give; they draw out. You find in them what you bring to them. A cathedral makes only the devotional feel devotional; scenery refines only the fine-minded.

    Charles Buxton.

  • I live not in myself, but I become
  • Portion of that around me, and to me
  • High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
  • Of human cities torture.
  • Byron.

  • O! ask not, hope thou not too much
  • Of sympathy below;
  • Few are the hearts whence one same touch
  • Bids the sweet fountains flow.
  • Mrs. Hemans.

    The capacity of sorrow belongs to our grandeur, and the loftiest of our race are those who have had the profoundest sympathies, because they have had the profoundest sorrows.

    Henry Giles.

  • Something the heart must have to cherish,
  • Must love, and joy, and sorrow learn;
  • Something with passion clasp or perish,
  • And in itself to ashes burn.
  • Longfellow.

  • Whom the heart of man shuts out,
  • Sometimes the heart of God takes in,
  • And fences them all round about
  • With silence ’mid the world’s loud din.
  • James Russell Lowell.

  • It [true love] is the secret sympathy,
  • The silver link, the silken tie,
  • Which heart to heart, and mind to mind
  • In body and in soul can bind.
  • Scott.

  • For I no sooner in my heart divin’d,
  • My heart, which by a secret harmony
  • Still moves with thine, joined in connection sweet.
  • Milton.

    Helpless mortal! Thine arm can destroy thousands at once, but cannot enclose even two of thy fellow-creatures at once in the embrace of love and sympathy!


    Man is one; and he hath one great heart. It is thus we feel, with a gigantic throb athwart the sea, each other’s rights and wrongs; thus are we men.


  • But better far it is to speak
  • One simple word, which now and then
  • Shall waken their free nature in the weak
  • And friendless sons of men.
  • Lowell.

  • In the desert a fountain is springing,
  • In the wide waste there still is a tree,
  • And a bird in the solitude singing,
  • Which speaks to my spirit of thee.
  • Byron.

    We are accustomed to see men deride what they do not understand, and snarl at the good and beautiful because it lies beyond their sympathies.


    Every man rejoices twice when he has a partner of his joy; a friend shares my sorrow and makes it but a moiety, but he swells my joy and makes it double.

    Jeremy Taylor.

    There is poetry and there is beauty in real sympathy; but there is more—there is action. The noblest and most powerful form of sympathy is not merely the responsive tear, the echoed sigh, the answering look; it is the embodiment of the sentiment in actual help.

    Octavius Winslow.

  • Our souls sit close and silently within,
  • And their own web from their own entrails spin;
  • And when eyes meet far off, our sense is such,
  • That spider like, we feel the tenderest touch.
  • Dryden.

    Sympathy wanting, all is wanting; its personal magnetism is the conductor of the sacred spark that lights our atoms, puts us in human communion, and gives us to company, conversation, and ourselves.


    The most reserved of men, that will not exchange two syllables together in an English coffee-house, should they meet at Ispahan, would drink sherbet and eat a mess of rice together.


    He that sympathizes in all the happiness of others perhaps himself enjoys the safest happiness, and he that is warned by all the folly of others has perhaps attained the soundest wisdom.


  • We are much bound to them that do succeed;
  • But, in a more pathetic sense, are bound
  • To such as fail. They all our loss expound;
  • They comfort us for work that will not speed,
  • And life—itself a failure.
  • Jean Ingelow.

  • What gem hath dropp’d and sparkles o’er his chain?
  • The tear most sacred, shed for other’s pain,
  • That starts at once—bright—pure—from pity’s mine,
  • Already polish’d by the Hand Divine.
  • Byron.

    No man can force the harp of his own individuality into the people’s heart; but every man may play upon the chords of the people’s heart, who draws his inspiration from the people’s instinct.


    It may, indeed, be said that sympathy exists in all minds, as Faraday has discovered that magnetism exists in all metals; but a certain temperature is required to develop the hidden property, whether in the metal or the mind.


    I would go fifty miles on foot to kiss the hand of that man whose generous heart will give up the reins of his imagination into his Author’s hands; be pleased, he knows not why, and cares not wherefore.


    There are secret ties, there are sympathies, by the sweet relationship of which souls that are well matched attach themselves to each other, and are affected by I know not what, which cannot be explained.


  • Our hearts, my love, were form’d to be
  • The genuine twins of sympathy,
  • They live with one sensation:
  • In joy or grief, but most in love,
  • Like chords in unison they move,
  • And thrill with like vibration.
  • Moore.

    Of all the virtues necessary to the completion of the perfect man, there is none to be more delicately implied and less ostentatiously vaunted than that of exquisite feeling, or universal benevolence.


    But there is one thing which we are responsible for, and that is for our sympathies, for the manner in which we regard it, and for the tone in which we discuss it. What shall we say, then, with regard to it? On which side shall we stand?

    John Bright.

  • Whose hearts in every thought are one,
  • Whose voices utter the same wills,
  • Answering, as echo doth, some tone
  • Of fairy music ’mong the hills,
  • So like itself we seek in vain
  • Which is the echo; which the strain.
  • Moore.

    The making one object, in outward or inward nature, more holy to a single heart, is reward enough for a life; for the more sympathies we gain or awaken for what is beautiful, by so much deeper will be our sympathy for that which is most beautiful, the human soul.


    We often do more good by our sympathy than by our labors. A man may lose position, influence, wealth, and even health, and yet live on in comfort, if with resignation; but there is one thing without which life becomes a burden—that is human sympathy.

    Canon Farrar.

    Conversation augments pleasure and diminishes pain by our having shares in either; for silent woes are greatest, as silent satisfaction least; since sometimes our pleasure would be none but for telling of it, and our grief insupportable but for participation.


    Every human feeling is greater and larger than the exciting cause—a proof, I think, that man is designed for a higher state of existence, and this is deeply implied in music, in which there is always something more and beyond the immediate expression.


    A man may be buoyed up by the efflation of his wild desires to brave any imaginable peril; but he cannot calmly see one he loves braving the same peril; simply because he cannot feel within him that which prompts another. He sees the danger, and feels not the power that is to overcome it.

    George Henry Lewes.

  • How bless’d the heart that has a friend
  • A sympathizing ear to lend
  • To troubles too great to smother?
  • For as ale and porter, when flat, are restor’d
  • Till a sparkling, bubbling head they afford,
  • So sorrow is cheer’d by being pour’d
  • From one vessel into another.
  • Hood.

    Sympathy is the first great lesson which man should learn. It will be ill for him if he proceeds no farther; if his emotions are but excited to roll back on his heart, and to be fostered in luxurious quiet. But unless be learns to feel for things in which he has no personal interest he can achieve nothing generous or noble.


    There are eyes which need only to look up, to touch every chord of a breast choked by the stifling atmosphere of stiff and stagnant society, and to call forth tones which might become the accompanying music of a life. This gentle transfusion of mind into mind is the secret of sympathy.


    Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. To a man laboring under calamity the heat of his own fire hath sadness in it. Then there is a kind of contempt of the landscape felt by him who has just lost by death a dear friend. The sky is less grand as it shuts down over less worth in the population.


    The devil himself would be but a contemptible adversary were he not sure of a correspondent, and a party that held intelligence with him in our own breasts. All the blowing of a fire put under a caldron could never make it boil over, were there not a fullness of water within it.


    Let us cherish sympathy. By attention and exercise it may be improved in every man. It prepares the mind for receiving the impressions of virtue; and without it there can be no true politeness. Nothing is more odious than that insensibility which wraps a man up in himself and his own concerns, and prevents his being moved with either the joys or the sorrows of another.


    It is by sympathy we enter into the concerns of others, that we are moved as they are moved, and are never suffered to be indifferent spectators of almost anything which men can do or suffer. For sympathy may be considered as a sort of substitution, by which we are put into the place of another man, and affected in many respects as he is affected.


  • Like warp and woof all destinies
  • Are woven fast,
  • Link’d in sympathy like the keys
  • Of an organ vast;
  • Pluck one thread, and the web ye mar;
  • Break but one
  • Of a thousand keys, and the paining jar
  • Through all will run.
  • Whittier.

    Graceful, particularly in youth, is the tear of sympathy, and the heart that melts at the tale of woe; we should not permit ease and indulgence to contract our affections, and wrap us up in selfish enjoyment. But we should accustom ourselves to think of the distresses of human life, of the solitary cottage, the dying parent, and the weeping orphan. Nor ought we ever to sport with pain and distress in any of our amusements, or treat even the meanest insect with wanton cruelty.


  • No radiant pearl, which crested fortune wears,
  • No gem, that twinkling hangs, from beauty’s ears;
  • Not the bright stars, which night’s blue arch adorn;
  • Nor rising sun, that gilds the vernal morn:
  • Shine with such lustre as the tear that flows
  • Down virtue’s manly cheek for others’ woes.
  • Darwin.

    Happy is the man who has that in his soul which acts upon the dejected as April airs upon violet roots. Gifts from the hand are silver and gold, but the heart gives that which neither silver nor gold can buy. To be full of goodness, full of cheerfulness, full of sympathy, full of helpful hope, causes a man to carry blessings of which he is himself as unconscious as a lamp is of its own shining. Such a one moves on human life as stars move on dark seas to bewildered mariners; as the sun wheels, bringing all the seasons with him from the south.