Grocott & Ward, comps. Grocott’s Familiar Quotations, 6th ed. 189-?.


The web of our life is of a mingled yarn,
Good and ill together.
Shakespeare.—All’s Well that Ends Well, Act IV. Scene 3. (First Lord to Second Lord.)

So that it is never entirely free from calamity.
Plutarch.—Paulus Emilius, 24.

But, looking back, we see the dreadful train
Of woes anew, which were we to sustain,
We should refuse to tread the path again.
Prior.—Solomon, Book III. Line 103.

Comes the blind fury with the abhorred shears,
And slits the thin-spun life.
Milton.—Lycidas, Line 75.

And with unwearied fingers drawing out
The lines of life from living knowledge hid.
Spenser.—Fairy Queen, Book IV. Canto II. Verse 48.

Whose life with care is overcast,
That man’s not said to live, but last;
Nor is’t a life, seven years to tell,
But for to live that half seven well.
Herrick.—Hesp. Pastorals, No. 3.

Thus we live many years in a state of much happiness; not but that we sometimes had those little rubs which Providence sends to enhance the value of its favours.
Goldsmith.—Vicar of Wakefield, Chap. I.

After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well.
Shakespeare.—Macbeth, Act III. Scene 2. (To his Lady.)

O life! how pleasant in thy morning,
Young fancy’s rays the hills adorning!
Cold-pausing caution’s lesson scorning,
We frisk away,
Like schoolboys, at the expected warning,
To joy and play.
Burns.—Epistle to James Smith, Verse 15.

I bear a charmed life.
Shakespeare.—Macbeth, Act V. Scene 7. (To Macduff.)

To husband out life’s taper at the close,
And keep the flames from wasting, by repose.
Goldsmith.—Deserted Village, Line 87.

Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us and to die)
Expatiate free o’er all this scene of man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan.
Pope.—Essay on Man, Epistle I. Line 3.

Men deal with life as children with their play,
Who first misuse, then cast their toys away.
Cowper.—Hope, Line 127.

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
Campbell.—Hallowed Ground, Verse 6.

But he’s short-lived that with his death can do most good.
Donne.—The Progress of the Soul, Verse 17, last line.

Life is a warfare.
Seneca.—Of a Happy Life, Chap. VIII.

Life is a navigation.
Seneca.—Of a Happy Life, Chap. XXI.

Life’s a tragedy.
Sir Walter Raleigh.—Swift to Mrs. Moore, 27th Dec. 1727.

Life is a jest, and all things show it:
I thought so once, but now I know it.
Gay.—“My Own Epitaph.”

Life is but a day at most.
Burns.—Friars’ Carse Hermitage.

Longest life is but a day.
Wordsworth.—Rob Roy’s Grave.

Our whole life is like a play.
Ben Jonson.—Discoveries.

Life is a journey:—on we go
Thro’ many a scene of joy and woe.
William Combe.—Dr. Syntax, Tour to the Lakes, Chap. XII.

Life, sir! no prince fares like him; he breaks his fast with Aristotle, dines with Tully, drinks at Helicon, sups with Seneca; then walks a turn or two in the milky-way, and after six hours’ conference with the stars, sleeps with old Erra Pater.
Colley Cibber.—Love Makes a Man, Act I. Scene 1.

Reason thus with life:
If I lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep: a breath thou art,
(Servile to all the skyey influences,)
That dost this habitation, where thou keepest,
Hourly afflict.
Shakespeare.—Measure for Measure, Act III. Scene 1. (Duke to Claudio.)

When I consider life, ’tis all a cheat;
Yet, fool’d with hope, men favour the deceit.
——None would live past years again,
Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain.
Dryden.—Aurengzebe, Act IV. Scene 1.

That cruel Atropos eftsoons undid,
With cursed knife cutting the twist in twain;
Most wretched men, whose days depend on threads so vain.
Spenser.—Fairy Queen, Book IV. Canto II. Verse 48.

And life at length forsook his heaving heart,
Loth from so sweet a mansion to depart.
Dryden.—The Æneid, Book X. (The death of Laurus.)

’Tis not for nothing that we life pursue;
It pays our hopes with something still that’s new;
Each day’s a mistress, unenjoyed before;
Like travellers we’re pleased with seeing more.
Did you but know what joys your way attend,
You would not hurry to your journey’s end.
Dryden.—Aurengzebe, Act IV. Scene 1.

Reflect that life, like every other blessing,
Derives its value from its use alone;
Not for itself, but for a nobler end,
Th’ Eternal gave it, and that end is virtue.
Dr. Johnson.—Irene, Act III. Scene 8.

Life is not an idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And heated hot with burning fears,
And dipt in baths of hissing tears,
And batter’d with the shocks of doom,
To shape and use.
Tennyson.—In Memoriam, CXVII. Ver. 5.

Thou hast nor youth, nor age;—
But, as it were, an after-dinner’s sleep,
Dreaming on both.——
What’s yet in this,
That bears the name of life? yet in this life
Lie hid more thousand deaths: yet death we fear
That makes these odds all even.
Shakespeare.—Measure for Measure, Act III. Scene 1. (The Duke to Claudio.)

Our life contains a thousand springs,
And dies if one be gone;
Strange that a harp of thousand strings
Should keep in tune so long.
Watts.—Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II. Hymn 19.

Oppress’d with grief, oppress’d with care,
A burden more than I can bear,
I sit me down and sigh:
O Life! thou art a galling load,
Along a rough, a weary road,
To wretches such as I!
Burns.—Despondency, Verse 1.

In life’s last scene what prodigies surprise,
Fears of the brave, and follies of the wise!
From Marlborough’s eyes the streams of dotage flow,
And Swift expires a driveller and a show.
Dr. Johnson.—Vanity of Human Wishes, Line 315.

The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
Is left this vault to brag of.
Shakespeare.—Macbeth, Act II. Scene 3. (To Lennox.)

I will drink life to the lees.

She was a form of life and light,
That, seen, became a part of sight!
And rose, where’er I turn’d mine eye,
The morning-star of Memory.
Byron.—The Giaour.

Take not away the life you cannot give,
For all things have an equal right to live.
Dryden.—Pythagorean Phil.

Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Shakespeare.—Macbeth, Act V. Scene 5. (On hearing of his wife’s death.)

He struts in robes the monarch of an hour.
Tickell.—Prol. 1713, Line 12.