Reference > Quotations > C.N. Douglas, comp. > Forty Thousand Quotations > Primary Author Index
C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
Leigh Hunt
        Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel, writing in a book of gold;
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said—
“What writest thou?” The Vision raised its head,
And, with a look made all of sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
        An exquisite invention this,
Worthy of Love’s most honeyed kiss,—
This art of writing billet-doux—
In buds, and odors, and bright hues!
In saying all one feels and thinks
In clever daffodils and pinks;
In puns of tulips; and in phrases,
Charming for their truth, of daisies.
        Growing one’s own choice words and fancies
In orange tubs, and beds of pansies;
One’s sighs and passionate declarations,
In odorous rhetoric of carnations.
        O scaly, slippery, wet, swift, staring wights,
What is ’t ye do? what life lead? eh, dull goggles?
How do ye vary your vile days and nights?
How pass your Sundays? Are ye still but joggles
In ceaseless wash? Still nought but gapes and bites,
And drinks, and stares, diversified with boggles.
        We are lilies fair,
  The flower of virgin light;
Nature held us forth, and said,
  “Lo! my thoughts of white.”
        We are violets blue,
  For our sweetness found
Careless in the mossy shades,
  Looking on the ground.
Love’s dropp’d eyelids and a kiss,—
Such our breath and blueness is.
  A large bare forehead gives a woman a masculine and defying look. The word “effrontery” comes from it. The hair should be brought over such a forehead as vines are trailed over a wall.  7
  Affection, like melancholy, magnifies trifles.  8
  Beauty too often sacrifices to fashion. The spirit of fashion is not the beautiful, but the wilful; not the graceful, but the fantastic; not the superior in the abstract, but the superior in the worst of all concretes,—the vulgar. The high point of taste and elegance is to be sought for, not in the most fashionable circles, but in the best-bred, and such as can dispense with the eternal necessity of never being twice the same.  9
  Danger for danger’s sake is senseless.  10
  Did you ever observe that immoderate laughter always ends in a sigh?  11
  Doth this soul within me, this spirit of thought, and love, and infinite desire, dissolve as well as the body? Has nature, who quenches our bodily thirst, who rests our weariness, and perpetually encourages us to endeavor onwards, prepared no food for this appetite of immortality?  12
  For the most part, we should pray rather in aspiration than petition, rather by hoping than requesting; in which spirit also we may breathe a devout wish for a blessing on others upon occasions when it might be presumptuous to beg it.  13
  For the qualities of sheer wit and humor, Swift had no superior, ancient or modern.  14
  God made both tears and laughter, and both for kind purposes; for as laughter enables mirth and surprise to breathe freely, so tears enable sorrow to vent itself patiently. Tears hinder sorrow from becoming despair and madness; and laughter is one of the very privileges of reason, being confined to the human species.  15
  Great women belong to history and to self-sacrifice.  16
  Hair is the most delicate and lasting of our materials, and survives us, like love. It is so light, so gentle, so escaping from the idea of death, that, with a lock of hair belonging to a child or friend, we may almost look up to heaven and compare notes with the angelic nature,—may almost say, “I have a piece of thee here not unworthy of thy being now.”  17
  Happy opinions are the wine of the heart.  18
  He (Charles Lamb) had felt, thought, and suffered so much that he literally had intolerance for nothing.  19
  I am persuaded there is no such thing after all as a perfect enjoyment of solitude; for the more delicious the solitude the more one wants a companion.  20
  I entrench myself in my books, equally against sorrow and the weather.  21
  If you are melancholy for the first time, you will find, upon a little inquiry, that others have been melancholy many times, and yet are cheerful now.  22
  Improvement is nature.  23
  It is a delicious moment, certainly, that of being well nestled in bed, and feeling that you shall drop gently to sleep. The good is to come, not past; the limbs have just been tired enough to render the remaining in one posture delightful; the labor of the day is gone. A gentle failure of the perceptions creeps over you; the spirit of consciousness disengages itself once more, and with slow and hushing degrees, like a mother detaching her hand from that of a sleeping child, the mind seems to have a balmy lid closing over it, like the eye—it is closed—the mysterious spirit has gone to take its airy rounds.  24
  It is books that teach us to refine our pleasures when young, and which, having so taught us, enable us to recall them with satisfaction when old.  25
  Large eyes were admired in Greece, where they still prevail. They are the finest of all when they have the internal look, which is not common. The stag or antelope eye of the Orientals is beautiful and lamping, but is accused of looking skittish and indifferent. “The epithet of ‘stag-eyed,’” says Lady Wortley Montagu, speaking of a Turkish love-song, “pleases me extremely; and I think it a very lively image of the fire and indifference in his mistress’ eye.”  26
  Leaves seem light and useless, and idle and wavering, and changeable—they even dance; yet God has made them part of the oak. In so doing, He has given us a lesson, not to deny the stout-heartedness within because we see the lightsomeness without.  27
  Light is, perhaps, the most wonderful of all visible things.  28
  Little eyes must be good-tempered or they are ruined. They have no other resource. But this will beautify them enough. They are made for laughing, and should do their duty.  29
  Mankind are creatures of books, as well as of other circumstances; and such they eternally remain,—proofs, that the race is a noble and believing race, and capable of whatever books can stimulate.  30
  May exalting and humanizing thoughts forever accompany me, making me confident without pride, and modest without servility.  31
  Mirth itself is too often but melancholy in disguise.  32
  Nature, at all events, humanly speaking, is manifestly very fond of color; for she has made nothing without it. Her skies are blue; her fields, green; her waters vary with her skies; her animals, vegetables, minerals, are all colored. She paints a great many of them in apparently superfluous hues, as if to show the dullest eye how she loves color.  33
  No wonder is greater than any other wonder, and if once explained ceases to be a wonder.  34
  Occupation is the necessary basis of all enjoyment.  35
  One can love any man that is generous.  36
  Part of our good consists in the endeavor to do sorrows away, and in the power to sustain them when the endeavor fails,—to bear them nobly, and thus help others to bear them as well.  37
  Patience and gentleness are power.  38
  Poetry is the breath of beauty.  39
  Some tears belong to us because we are unfortunate; others, because we are humane; many because we are mortal. But most are caused by our being unwise. It is these last only that of necessity produce more.  40
  Stolen kisses are always sweetest.  41
  Sympathizing and selfish people are alike given to tears.  42
  Table talk, to be perfect, should be sincere without bigotry, differing without discord, sometimes grave, always agreeable, touching on deep points, dwelling most on seasonable ones, and letting everybody speak and be heard.  43
  Tears and sorrows and losses are a part of what must be experienced in this present state of life: some for our manifest good, and all, therefore, it is trusted, for our good concealed; for our final and greatest good.  44
  The beautiful attracts the beautiful.  45
  The drama is not a mere copy of nature, not a facsimile. It is the free running hand of genius, under the impression of its liveliest wit or most passionate impulses, a thousand times adorning or feeling all as it goes; and you must read it, as the healthy instinct of audiences almost always does, if the critics will let them alone, with a grain of allowance, and a tendency to go away with as much of it for use as is necessary, and the rest for the luxury of laughter, pity, or poetical admiration.  46
  The golden line is drawn between winter and summer. Behind all is blackness and darkness and dissolution. Before is hope, and soft airs, and the flowers, and the sweet season of hay; and people will cross the fields, reading or walking with one another; and instead of the rain that soaks death into the heart of green things, will be the rain which they drink with delight; and there will be sleep on the grass at midday, and early rising in the morning, and long moonlight evenings.  47
  The last excessive feelings of delight are always grave.  48
  The loveliest hair is nothing, if the wearer is incapable of a grace.  49
  The more sensible a woman is, supposing her not to be masculine, the more attractive she is in her proportionate power to entertain.  50
  The most fascinating women are those that can most enrich the everyday moments of existence. In a particular and attaching sense, they are those that can partake our pleasures and our pains in the liveliest and most devoted manner. Beauty is little without this; with it she is triumphant.  51
  The most tangible of all visible mysteries fire.  52
  The perfection of conversational intercourse is when the breeding of high life is animated by the fervor of genius.  53
  The same people who can deny others everything are famous for refusing themselves nothing.  54
  The very greatest genius, after all, is not the greatest thing in the world, any more than the greatest city in the world is the country or the sky. It is the concentration of some of its greatest powers, but it is not the greatest diffusion of its might. It is not the habit of its success, the stability of its sereneness.  55
  There is scarcely a single joy or sorrow within the experience of our fellow-creatures which we have not tasted; yet the belief in the good and beautiful has never forsaken us. It has been medicine to us in sickness, richness in poverty, and the best part of all that ever delighted us in health and success.  56
  There seems a life in hair, though it be dead.  57
  Those who have lost an infant are never, as it were, without an infant child. Their other children grow up to manhood and womanhood, and suffer all the changes of mortality; but this one alone is rendered an immortal child; for death has arrested it with his kindly harshness, and blessed it into an eternal image of youth and innocence.  58
  We lose in depth of expression when we go to inferior animals for comparisons with human beauty. Homer calls Juno ox-eyed; and the epithet suits well with the eyes of that goddess, because she may be supposed, with all her beauty, to want a certain humanity. Her large eyes look at you with a royal indifference.  59
  We must regard all matter as an intrusted secret which we believe the person concerned would wish to be considered as such. Nay, further still, we must consider all circumstances as secrets intrusted which would bring scandal upon another if told.  60
  We really cannot see what equanimity there is in jerking a lacerated carp out of the water by the jaws, merely because it has not the power of making a noise; for we presume that the most philosophic of anglers would hardly delight in catching shrieking fish.  61
  What a soul, twenty fathom deep, in her eyes!  62
  When Goethe says that in every human condition foes lie in wait for us, “invincible only by cheerfulness and equanimity,” he does not mean that we can at all times be really cheerful, or at a moment’s notice; but that the endeavor to look at the better side of things will produce the habit, and that this habit is the surest safeguard against the danger of sudden evils.  63
  When moral courage feels that it is in the right, there is no personal daring of which it is incapable.  64
  Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers.  65
  Where the mouth is sweet and the eyes intelligent, there is always the look of beauty, with a right heart.  66
  Words are often things also, and very precious, especially on the gravest occasions. Without “words,” and the truth of things that is in them, what were we?  67

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