Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


’Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we’ll do more, Sempronius,—
We’ll deserve it.
Addison—Cato. Act I. Sc. 2.

Médiocre et rampant, et l’on arrive à tout.
Be commonplace and creeping, and you attain all things.
Beaumarchais—Barbier de Seville. III. 7.

That low man seeks a little thing to do,
Sees it and does it:
This high man with a great thing to pursue,
Dies ere he knows it.
That low man goes on adding one to one,
His hundred’s soon hit:
This high man, aiming at a million,
Misses an unit.
Robert Browning—Grammarian’s Funeral.

Better have failed in the high aim, as I,
Than vulgarly in the low aim succeed
As, God be thanked! I do not.
Robert Browning—The Inn Album. IV.

We are the doubles of those whose way
Was festal with fruits and flowers;
Body and brain we were sound as they,
But the prizes were not ours.
Richard Burton—Song of the Unsuccessful.

They never fail who die
In a great cause.
Byron—Marino Faliero. Act II. Sc. 2.

Be it jewel or toy,
Not the prize gives the joy,
But the striving to win the prize.
Pisistratus Caxton (First Earl Lytton)—The Boatman.

These poor mistaken people think they shine, and they do indeed, but it is as putrefaction shines,—in the dark.
Chesterfield—Letters. Compare Cowper—Conversation. 675.

Now, by St. Paul, the work goes bravely on.
Colley Cibber—Richard III. Act III. Sc. 1.

Hast thou not learn’d what thou art often told,
A truth still sacred, and believed of old,
That no success attends on spears and swords
Unblest, and that the battle is the Lord’s?
Cowper—Expostulation. L. 350.

One never rises so high as when one does not know where one is going.
Cromwell to M. Bellièvre. Found in Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz.

Th’ aspirer, once attain’d unto the top,
Cuts off those means by which himself got up.
Samuel Daniel—Civil War. Bk. II.

Three men, together riding,
Can win new worlds at their will;
Resolute, ne’er dividing,
Lead, and be victors still.
Three can laugh and doom a king,
Three can make the planets sing.
Mary Caroline Davies—Three. Pub. in American Mag. July, 1914.

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
Emily Dickinson—Success. (Ed. 1891).

Rien ne réussit comme le succès.
Nothing succeeds like success.
Dumas—Ange Pitou. Vol. I. P. 72.

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.
Ecclesiastes. IX. 11.

If the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him.
Emerson—Of the American Scholar. In Nature Addresses and Lectures.

If a man has good corn, or wood, or boards, or pigs to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles, or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad, hard-beaten road to his house, tho it be in the woods. And if a man knows the law, people will find it out, tho he live in a pine shanty, and resort to him. And if a man can pipe or sing, so as to wrap the prisoned soul in an elysium; or can paint landscape, and convey into oils and ochers all the enchantments of spring or autumn; or can liberate or intoxicate all people who hear him with delicious songs and verses, ’tis certain that the secret can not be kept: the first witness tells it to a second, and men go by fives and tens and fifties to his door.
Emerson—Works. Vol. VIII. In his Journal. (1855). P. 528. (Ed. 1912).

If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbor, tho he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.
Mrs. Sarah S. B. Yule credits the quotation to Emerson in her Borrowings (1889), asserting that she copied this in her handbook from a lecture delivered by Emerson. The “mouse-trap” quotation was the occasion of a long controversy, owing to Elbert Hubbard’s claim to its authorship. This was asserted by him in a conversation with S. Wilbur Corman, of N. W. Ayer & Son, Philadelphia, and in a letter to Dr. Frank H. Vizetelly, Managing Editor of the Standard Dictionary. In The Literary Digest for May 15, 1915, “The Lexicographer” reaffirmed his earlier finding, “Mr. Hubbard is the author.”

One thing is forever good;
That one thing is Success.

Born for success, he seemed
With grace to win, with heart to hold,
With shining gifts that took all eyes.
Emerson—In Memoriam. L. 60.

If you wish in this world to advance,
Your merits you’re bound to enhance;
You must stir it and stump it,
And blow your own trumpet,
Or trust me, you haven’t a chance.
W. S. Gilbert—Ruddigore.

Successfully to accomplish any task it is necessary not only that you should give it the best there is in you, but that you should obtain for it the best there is in those under your guidance.
George W. Goethals. In the Nat. Assoc. of Corporation Schools Bulletin. Feb., 1918.

Die That ist alles, nichts der Ruhm.
The deed is everything, the glory naught.
Goethe—Faust. Pt. II. Act IV. Sc. 1. Bayard Taylor’s trans.

Ja, meine Liebe, wer lebt, verliert***aber er gewinnt auch.
Yes, my love, who soever lives, loses,***but he also wins.
Goethe—Stella. I.

Somebody said it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
Edgar A. Guest—It Couldn’t be Done.

Ha sempre dimostrato l’esperienza, e lo dimostra la ragione, che mai succedono bene le cose che dipendono da molti.
Experience has always shown, and reason also, that affairs which depend on many seldom succeed.
Guicciardini—Storia d’Italia.

Like the British Constitution, she owes her success in practice to her inconsistencies in principle.
Thos. Hardy—Hand of Ethelberta. Ch. IX.

Sink not in spirit; who aimeth at the sky
Shoots higher much than he that means a tree.
Herbert—The Church Porch.

Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci.
He has carried every point, who has mingled the useful with the agreeable.
Horace—Ars Poetica. 343.

Quid te exempta juvat spinis e pluribus una.
What does it avail you, if of many thorns only one be removed?
Horace—Epistles. II. 2. 212.

Peace courts his hand, but spreads her charms in vain;
“Think nothing gain’d,” he cries, “till naught remain.”
Samuel Johnson—The Vanity of Human Wishes. L. 201.

When the shore is won at last,
Who will count the billows past?
Keble—Christian Year. St. John the Evangelist’s Day. St. 5.

Il n’y a au monde que deux manières de s’élever, ou par sa propre industrie, ou par l’imbécilitè des autres.
There are but two ways of rising in the world: either by one’s own industry or profiting by the foolishness of others.
La Bruyère—Les Caractères. VI.

Rien ne sert de courir: il faut partir à point.
To win a race, the swiftness of a dart
Availeth not without a timely start.
La Fontaine—Fables. VI. 10.

Facile est ventis dare vela secundis,
Fecundumque solum varias agitare per artes,
Auroque atque ebori decus addere, cum rudis ipsa
Materies niteat.
It is easy to spread the sails to propitious winds, and to cultivate in different ways a rich soil, and to give lustre to gold and ivory, when the very raw material itself shines.
Manilius—Astronomica. 3.

Tametsi prosperitas simul utilitasque consultorum non obique concordent, quoniam captorum eventus superæ sibi vindicant potestates.
Yet the success of plans and the advantage to be derived from them do not at all times agree, seeing the gods claim to themselves the right to decide as to the final result.
Ammianus Marcellinus—Annales. XXV. 3.

In tauros Libyci ruunt leones;
Non sunt papilionibus molesti.
The African lions rush to attack bulls; they do not attack butterflies.
Martial—Epigrams. Bk. XII. 62. 5.

The virtue lies
In the struggle, not the prize.
Richard Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton)—The World to the Soul. 9. 1.

J’ai toujours vu que, pour réussir dans le monde, il fallait avoir l’air fou et être sage.
I have always observed that to succeed in the world one should appear like a fool but be wise.
Montesquieu—Pensées Diverses.

Le succès de la plupart des choses dépend de savoir combien il faut de temps pour réussir.
The success of most things depends upon knowing how long it will take to succeed.
Montesquieu—Pensées Diverses.

How far high failure overleaps the bound
Of low successes.
Lewis Morris—Epic of Hades. Story of Marsyasy.

Aut non tentaris, aut perfice.
Either do not attempt at all, or go through with it.
Ovid—Ars Amatoria. Bk. I. 389.

Acer et ad palmæ per se cursurus honores,
Si tamen horteris fortius ibit equus.
The spirited horse, which will of itself strive to beat in the race, will run still more swiftly if encouraged.
Ovid—Epistolæ Ex Ponto. II. 11. 21.

A man can’t be hid. He may be a pedler in the mountains, but the world will find him out to make him a king of finance. He may be carrying cabbages from Long Island, when the world will demand that he shall run the railways of a continent. He may be a groceryman on the canal, when the country shall come to him and put him in his career of usefulness. So that there comes a time finally when all the green barrels of petroleum in the land suggest but two names and one great company.
Dr. John Paxton—Sermon. He Could not be Hid. Aug. 25, 1889. Extract from The Sun. Aug. 26, 1889.

He that will not stoop for a pin will never be worth a pound.
Pepys—Diary. Jan. 3, 1668. Quoted as a proverb by Sir W. Coventry to Charles II.

Successus improborum plures allicit.
The success of the wicked entices many more.
Phædrus—Fables. II. 3. 7.

Sperat quidem animus: quo eveniat, diis in manu est.
The mind is hopeful; success is in God’s hands.
Plautus—Bacchides. I. 2. 36.

It may well be doubted whether human ingenuity can construct an enigma of the kind which human ingenuity may not, by proper application resolve.
Poe—The Gold Bug.

The race by vigour, not by vaunts, is won.
Pope—Dunciad. Bk. II. L. 59.

Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale?
Pope—Essay on Man. Ep. 4. L. 385.

In medio spatio mediocria firma locantur.
It is best for man not to seek to climb too high, lest he fall.
Free rendering of the Latin by Lord Chief Justice Popham in sentencing Raleigh to death, quoting Nicholas Bacon.

Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.
Psalms. LXXV. 6.

Qui bien chante et bien danse fait un métier qui peu avance.
Singing and dancing alone will not advance one in the world.
Rousseau—Confessions. V.

He that climbs the tall tree has won right to the fruit,
He that leaps the wide gulf should prevail in his suit.
Scott—The Talisman. Ch. XXVI.

Honesta quædam scelera successus facit.
Success makes some crimes honorable.
Seneca—Hippolytus. 598.

Such a nature,
Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
Which he treads on at noon.
Coriolanus. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 263.

Didst thou never hear
That things ill-got had ever bad success?
Henry VI. Pt. III. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 45.

To climb steep hills
Requires slow pace at first.
Henry VIII. Act I. Sc. 1. L. 131.

Ye gods, it doth amaze me,
A man of such a feeble temper should
So get the start of the majestic world,
And bear the palm alone.
Julius Cæsar. Act I. Sc. 2. L. 128.

A great devotee of the Gospel of Getting On.
Bernard Shaw—Mrs. Warren’s Profession. Act IV.

Have I caught my heav’nly jewel.
Sir Philip Sidney—Astrophel and Stella. Song II. Merry Wives of Windsor. Act III. Sc. 3. L. 45.

Who shootes at the midday Sunne, though he be sure, he shall never hit the marke; yet as sure he is, he shall shoot higher than who ayms but at a bush.
Sir Philip Sidney—Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia. P. 118. (Ed. 1638).

And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.
Swift—Gulliver’s Travels. Voyage to Brobdingnag. Pt. II. Ch. VII.

There may come a day
Which crowns Desire with gift, and Art with truth,
And Love with bliss, and Life with wiser youth!
Bayard Taylor—The Picture of St. John. Bk. IV. St. 86.

Attain the unattainable.

You might have painted that picture,
I might have written that song;
Not ours, but another’s the triumph,
’Tis done and well done—so ’long!
Edith M. Thomas—Rank-and-File.

Not to the swift, the race:
Not to the strong, the fight:
Not to the righteous, perfect grace:
Not to the wise, the light.
Henry Van Dyke—Reliance.

(He) set his heart upon the goal,
Not on the prize.
William Watson—Tribute to Matthew Arnold. Spectator. Aug. 30, 1890.

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries it shall be done.
Charles Wesley—Hymns.

Others may sing the song,
Others may right the wrong.
Whittier—My Triumph.