Reference > Quotations > C.N. Douglas, comp. > Forty Thousand Quotations > Primary Author Index
C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
  A certain class of novels may with propriety be called fables.  1
  A fanatic, either religious or political, is the subject of strong delusions.  2
  A man who gives his children habits of industry provides for them better than by giving them a fortune.  3
  A mother once asked a clergyman when she should begin the education of her child, which she told him was then four years old. “Madam,” was the reply, “you have lost three years already. From the very first smile that gleams over an infant’s cheek, your opportunity begins.”  4
  All gaming, since it implies a desire to profit at the expense of another, involves a breach of the tenth commandment.  5
  An instinct is a blind tendency to some mode of action, independent of any consideration, on the part of the agent, of the end to which the action leads.  6
  An old Spanish writer says, “To return evil for good is devilish; to return good for good is human; but to return good for evil is godlike.”  7
  Anger requires that the offender should not only be made to grieve in his turn, but to grieve for that particular wrong which has been done by him.  8
  Any who says (with Mandeville in his treatise against charity schools), “If a horse knew as much as a man, I should not like to be his rider,” ought to add, “If a man knew as little as a horse, I should not like to trust him to ride.”  9
  As an exercise of the reasoning faculties, pure mathematics is an admirable exercise, because it consists of reasoning alone, and does not encumber the student with any exercise of judgment.  10
  As hardly anything can accidentally touch the soft clay without stamping its mark on it, so hardly any reading can interest a child, without contributing in some degree, though the book itself be afterwards totally forgotten, to form the character.  11
  As the flower is before the fruit, so is faith before good works.  12
  As the telescope is not a substitute for, but an aid to, our sight, so revelation is not designed to supersede the use of reason, but to supply its deficiencies.  13
  As there are dim-sighted people who live in a sort of perpetual twilight, so there are some who, having neither much clearness of head nor a very elevated tone of morality, are perpetually haunted by suspicions of everybody and everything.  14
  Bacon is throughout, and especially in his essays, one of the most suggestive authors who ever wrote.  15
  Better too much form than too little.  16
  Children are the to-morrow of society.  17
  Christianity, contrasted with the Jewish system of emblems, is truth in the sense of reality, as substance is opposed to shadows, and, contrasted with heathen mythology, is truth as opposed to falsehood.  18
  Controversy, though always an evil in itself, is sometimes a necessary evil.  19
  Curiosity is as much the parent of attention as attention is of memory; therefore the first business of a teacher—first not only in point of time, but of importance—should be to excite not merely a general curiosity on the subject of the study, but a particular curiosity on particular points in that subject. To teach one who has no curiosity to learn, is to sow a field without ploughing it.  20
  Do you want to know the man against whom you have most reason to guard yourself? Your looking-glass will give you a very fair likeness of his face.  21
  Eloquence is relative. One can no more pronounce on the eloquence of any composition than the wholesomeness of a medicine, without knowing for whom it is intended.  22
  Even supposing there were some spiritual advantage in celibacy, it ought to be completely voluntary.  23
  Every instance of a man’s suffering the penalty of the law is an instance of the failure of that penalty in effecting its purpose, which is to deter.  24
  Falsehood is difficult to be maintained. When the materials of a building are solid blocks of stone, very rude architecture will suffice; but a structure of rotten materials needs the most careful adjustment to make it stand at all.  25
  Falsehood, like poison, will generally be rejected when administered alone; but when blended with wholesome ingredients, may be swallowed unperceived.  26
  Falsehood, like the dry-rot, flourishes the more in proportion as air and light are excluded.  27
  Fancy, when once brought into religion, knows not where to stop. It is like one of those fiends in old stories which any one could raise, but which, when raised, could never be kept within the magic circle.  28
  Galileo probably would have escaped persecution if his discoveries could have been disproved.  29
  Geologists complain that when they want specimens of the common rocks of a country, they receive curious spars; just so, historians give us the extraordinary events and omit just what we want,—the every-day life of each particular time and country.  30
  Good manners are a part of good morals.  31
  Grace is in a great measure a natural gift; elegance implies cultivation, or something of more artificial character. A rustic, uneducated girl may be graceful, but an elegant woman must be accomplished and well trained. It is the same with things as with persons; we talk of a graceful tree, but of an elegant house or other building. Animals may be graceful, but they cannot be elegant. The movements of a kitten or a young fawn are full of grace; but to call them “elegant” animals would be absurd.  32
  Great affectation and great absence of it are at first sight very similar.  33
  Habits are formed, not at one stroke, but gradually and insensibly; so that, unless vigilant care be employed, a great change may come over the character without our being conscious of any.  34
  Happiness is no laughing matter.  35
  He only is exempt from failures who makes no efforts.  36
  He who is not open to conviction is not qualified for discussion.  37
  “Honesty is the best policy;” but he who acts on that principle is not an honest man.  38
  If all our wishes were gratified, most of our pleasures would be destroyed.  39
  It is a good plan, with a young person of a character to be much affected by ludicrous and absurd representations, to show him plainly by examples that there is nothing which may not be thus represented. He will hardly need to be told that everything is not a mere joke.  40
  It is a remarkable circumstance in reference to cunning persons that they are often deficient not only in comprehensive, far-sighted wisdom, but even in prudent, cautious circumspection.  41
  It is also important to guard against mistaking for good-nature what is properly good-humor,—a cheerful flow of spirits and easy temper not readily annoyed, which is compatible with great selfishness.  42
  It is folly to shiver over last year’s snow.  43
  It is quite possible, and not uncommon, to read most laboriously, even so as to get by heart the words of a book, without really studying it at all,—that is, without employing the thoughts on the subject.  44
  It is worth noticing that those who assume an imposing demeanor and seek to pass themselves off for something beyond what they are, are not unfrequently as much underrated by some they are overrated by others.  45
  It may be said, almost without qualification, that true wisdom consists in the ready and accurate perception of analogies. Without the former quality, knowledge of the past is uninstructive; without the latter it is deceptive.  46
  It may be worth noticing as a curious circumstance, when persons past forty before they were at all acquainted form together a very close intimacy of friendship. For grafts of old wood to take, there must be a wonderful congeniality between the trees.  47
  Knowledge of our duties is the most useful part of philosophy.  48
  Man is naturally more desirous of a quiet and approving, than of a vigilant and tender conscience,—more desirous of security than of safety.  49
  Man, considered not merely as an organized being, but as a rational agent and a member of society, is perhaps the most wonderfully contrived, and to us the most interesting specimen of Divine wisdom that we have any knowledge of.  50
  Many a meandering discourse one hears, in which the preacher aims at nothing, and—hits it.  51
  Men first make up their minds (and the smaller the mind the sooner made up), and then seek for the reasons; and if they chance to stumble upon a good reason, of course they do not reject it. But though they are right, they are only right by chance.  52
  Misgive that you may not mistake.  53
  Most precepts that are given are so general that they cannot be applied, except by an exercise of just as much discretion as would be sufficient to frame them.  54
  Nothing but the right can ever be expedient, since that can never be true expediency which would sacrifice a great good to a less.  55
  Of all hostile feelings, envy is perhaps the hardest to be subdued, because hardly any one owns it even to himself, but looks out for one pretext after another to justify his hostility.  56
  Of metaphors, those generally conduce most to energy or vivacity of style which illustrate an intellectual by a sensible object.  57
  One way in which fools succeed where wise men fail is that through ignorance of the danger they sometimes go coolly about a hazardous business.  58
  Party spirit enlists a man’s virtues in the cause of his vices.  59
  Persecution is not wrong because it is cruel; but it is cruel because it is wrong.  60
  Proverbs are somewhat analogous to those medical formulas which, being in frequent use, are kept ready made up in the chemists’ shops, and which often save the framing of a distinct prescription.  61
  Reason can no more influence the will, and operate as a motive, than the eyes which show a man his road can enable him to move from place to place, or that a ship provided with a compass can sail without a wind.  62
  Some men’s reputation seems like seed-wheat, which thrives best when brought from a distance.  63
  Some persons follow the dictates of their conscience only in the same sense in which a coachman may be said to follow the horses he is driving.  64
  Some persons resemble certain trees, such as the nut, which flowers in February and ripens its fruit in September; or the juniper and the arbutus; which take a whole year or more to perfect their fruit; and others, the cherry, which takes between two and three months.  65
  Sophistry, like poison, is at once detected and nauseated, when presented to us in a concentrated form; but a fallacy which, when stated barely in a few sentences, would not deceive a child, may deceive half the world, if diluted in a quarto volume.  66
  Superstition is not, as has been defined, an excess of religious feeling, but a misdirection of it, an exhausting of it on vanities of man’s devising.  67
  That is suitable to a man in point of ornamental expense, not which he can afford to have, but which he can afford to lose.  68
  That is, in a great degree, true of all men, which was said of the Athenians, that they were like sheep, of which a flock is more easily driven than a single one.  69
  The attendant on William Rufus, who discharged at a deer an arrow, which glanced against a tree and killed the king, was no murderer, because he had no such design. And, on the other hand, a man who should lie in wait to assassinate another, and pull the trigger of a gun with that intent, would be morally a murderer, not the less though the gun should chance to miss fire.  70
  The best security against revolution is in constant correction of abuses and introduction of needed improvements. It is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary.  71
  The censure of frequent and long parentheses has led writers into the preposterous expedient of leaving out the marks by which they are indicated. It is no cure to a lame man to take away his crutches.  72
  The depreciation of Christianity by indifference is a more insidious and less curable evil than infidelity itself.  73
  The Eastern monarch who proclaimed a reward to him who should discover a new pleasure, would have deserved well of mankind had he stipulated that it should be blameless.  74
  The first requisite of style, not only in rhetoric, but in all compositions, is perspicuity.  75
  The happiest lot for a man as far as birth is concerned, is that it should be such as to give him but little occasion to think much about it.  76
  The heathen mythology not only was not true, but was not even supported as true; it not only deserved no faith, but it demanded none. The very pretension to truth, the very demand of faith, were characteristic distinctions of Christianity.  77
  The more secure we feel against our liability to any error to which, in fact, we are liable, the greater must be our danger of falling into it.  78
  The power of duly appreciating little things belongs to a great mind; a narrow-minded man has it not, for to him they are great things.  79
  The relief that is afforded to mere want, as want, tends to increase that want.  80
  The tendency of party spirit has ever been to disguise and propagate and support error.  81
  They never reason, or, if they do, they either draw correct inferences from wrong premises or wrong inferences from correct premises; and they always poke the fire from the top.  82
  Those who relish the study of character may profit by the reading of good works of fiction, the product of well-established authors.  83
  Though not always called upon to condemn ourselves, it is always safe to suspect ourselves.  84
  To be always thinking about your manners is not the way to make them good; because the very perfection of manners is not to think about yourself.  85
  Trust, therefore, for the overcoming of a difficulty, not to long-continued study after you have once become bewildered, but to repeated trials at intervals.  86
  Unless the people can be kept in total darkness, it is the wisest way for the advocates of truth to give them full light.  87
  Vices and frailties correct each other, like acids and alkalies. If each vicious man had but one vice, I do not know how the world could go on.  88
  We may print, but not stereotype, our opinions.  89
  Weak arguments are often thrust before my path; but although they are most unsubstantial, it is not easy to destroy them. There is not a more difficult feat known than to cut through a cushion with a sword.  90
  When any person of really eminent virtue becomes the object of envy, the clamor and abuse by which he is assailed is but the sign and accompaniment of his success in doing service to the public. And if he is a truly wise man, he will take no more notice of it than the moon does of the howling of the dogs. Her only answer to them is to shine on.  91
  When men have become heartily wearied of licentious anarchy, their eagerness has been proportionately great to embrace the opposite extreme of rigorous despotism.  92
  Woman is like the reed which bends to every breeze, but breaks not in the tempest.  93
  Women never reason, or, if they do, they either draw correct inferences from wrong premises, or wrong inferences from correct premises; and they always poke the fire from the top.  94

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