Reference > Quotations > C.N. Douglas, comp. > Forty Thousand Quotations > Primary Author Index
C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
  A better principle than this, that “the majority shall rule,” is this other, that justice shall rule. “Justice,” says the code of Justinian, “is the constant and perpetual desire to render every man his due.”  1
  A book should be luminous, but not voluminous.  2
  A failure establishes only this, that our determination to succeed was not strong enough.  3
  A few words upon a tombstone, and the truth of those not to be depended on.  4
  A genuine passion is like a mountain stream; it admits of no impediment; it cannot go backward; it must go forward.  5
  A good thought is a great boon, for which God is to be first thanked, then he who is the first to utter it, and then, in a lesser, but still in a considerable degree, the man who is the first to quote it to us.  6
  A mother’s love is indeed the golden link that binds youth to age; and he is still but a child, however time may have furrowed his cheek, or silvered his brow, who can yet recall, with a softened heart, the fond devotion or the gentle chidings of the best friend that God ever gives us.  7
  A panic is a sudden desertion of us, and a going over to the enemy, of our imagination.  8
  A pleasant illusion is better than a harsh reality.  9
  A profusion of fancies and quotations is out of place in a love-letter. True feeling is always direct, and never deviates into by-ways to cull flowers of rhetoric.  10
  A sound discretion is not so much indicated by never making a mistake as by never repeating it.  11
  Active natures are rarely melancholy. Activity and melancholy are incompatible.  12
  Address makes opportunities; the want of it gives them.  13
  Adhesion to one idea is monomania; to few, slavery.  14
  Affliction, like the iron-smith, shapes as it smites.  15
  Alas, the transports beauty can inspire!  16
  All men are like in their lower natures; it is in their higher characters that they differ.  17
  An eager pursuit of fortune is inconsistent with a severe devotion to truth. The heart must grow tranquil before the thought can become searching.  18
  As many suffer from too much as too little. A fat body makes a lean mind.  19
  At the best, sarcasms, bitter irony, scathing wit, are a sort of sword-play of the mind. You pink your adversary, and he is forthwith dead; and then you deserve to be hung for it.  20
  Bad taste is a species of bad morals.  21
  Beauty can afford to laugh at distinctions; it is itself the greatest distinction.  22
  Books are embalmed minds.  23
  Bores are not to be got rid of except by rough means. They are to be scraped off like scales from a fish.  24
  Can that which is the greatest virtue in philosophy, doubt (called by Galileo the father of invention), be in religion what the priests term it, the greatest of sins?  25
  Care, admitted as guest, quickly turns to be master.  26
  Character is very much a matter of health.  27
  Cheerfulness is an offshoot of goodness and of wisdom.  28
  Common sense, alas in spite of our educational institutions, is a rare commodity.  29
  Complaint is more contemptible than pitiful.  30
  Constant companionship is not enjoyable, any more than constant eating. We sit too long at the table of friendship, when we outsit our appetites for each other’s thoughts.  31
  Contentment is not happiness. An oyster may be contented. Happiness is compounded of richer elements.  32
  Courage enlarges, cowardice diminishes resources. In desperate straits the fears of the timid aggravate the dangers that imperil the brave. For cowards the road of desertion should be left open. They will carry over to the enemy nothing but their fears. The poltroon, like the scabbard, is an encumbrance when once the sword is drawn.  33
  Difficulties, by bracing the mind to overcome them, assist cheerfulness, as exercise assists digestion.  34
  Dignity of position adds to dignity of character, as well as to dignity of carriage. Give us a proud position, and we are impelled to act up to it.  35
  Discretion is the salt, and fancy the sugar of life; the one preserves, the other sweetens it.  36
  Dishonesty is a forsaking of permanent for temporary advantages.  37
  Doubt whom you will, but never yourself.  38
  Earnestness is the cause of patience; it gives endurance, overcomes pain, strengthens weakness, braves dangers, sustains hope, makes light of difficulties, and lessens the sense of weariness in overcoming them.  39
  Even when we fancy we have grown wiser, it is only, it may be, that new prejudices have displaced old ones.  40
  Every war involves a greater or less relapse into barbarism. War, indeed, in its details, is the essence of inhumanity. It dehumanizes. It may save the state, but it destroys the citizen.  41
  Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and insensibly approximate to the characters we most admire. In this way, a generous habit of thought and of action carries with it an incalculable influence.  42
  Excessive sensibility is only another name for morbid self-consciousness.  43
  False friends are like our shadow, keeping close to us while we walk in the sunshine, but leaving us the instant we cross into the shade.  44
  Few minds wear out; more rust out.  45
  For cowards the road of desertion should be left open. They will carry over to the enemy nothing but their fears.  46
  Formerly when great fortunes were only made in war, war was a business; but now, when great fortunes are only made by business, business is war.  47
  Fortune, like a coy mistress, loves to yield her favors, though she makes us wrest them from her.  48
  Four sweet lips, two pure souls, and one undying affection,—these are love’s pretty ingredients for a kiss.  49
  Galileo called doubt the father of invention; it is certainly the pioneer.  50
  Genius makes its observations in shorthand; talent writes them out at length.  51
  Genuine religion is matter of feeling rather than matter of opinion.  52
  Give me the character and I will forecast the event. Character, it has in substance been said, is “victory organized.”  53
  Good men have the fewest fears. He has but one great fear who fears to do wrong; he has a thousand who has overcome it.  54
  Great warriors, like great earthquakes, are principally remembered for the mischief they have done.  55
  Hard workers are usually honest. Industry lifts them above temptation.  56
  Haste turns usually upon a matter of ten minutes too late, and may be avoided by a habit like that of Lord Nelson, to which he ascribed his success in life, of being ten minutes too early.  57
  He has but one great fear that fears to do wrong.  58
  He presents me with what is always an acceptable gift who brings me news of a great thought before unknown. He enriches me without impoverishing himself.  59
  Hope is the best part of our riches. What sufficeth it that we have the wealth of the Indies in our pockets, if we have not the hope of heaven in our souls?  60
  How like a railway tunnel is the poor man’s life, with the light of childhood at one end, the intermediate gloom, and only the glimmer of a future life at the other extremity!  61
  Hunting is a relic of the barbarous spirit that thirsted formerly for human blood, but is now content with the blood of birds and animals.  62
  I once asked a distinguished artist what place he gave to labor in art. “Labor,” he in effect said, “is the beginning, the middle, and the end of art.” Turning then to another—“And you,” I inquired, “what do you consider as the great force in art?” “Love,” he replied. In their two answers I found but one truth.  63
  Ideas are, like matter, infinitely divisible. It is not given to us to get down, so to speak, to their final atoms, but to their molecular groupings the way is never ending, and the progress infinitely delightful and profitable.  64
  In ambition, as in love, the successful can afford to be indulgent towards their rivals. The prize our own, it is graceful to recognize the merit that vainly aspired to it.  65
  In one important respect a man is fortunate in being poor. His responsibility to God is so much the less.  66
  In politics, merit is rewarded by the possessor being raised, like a target, to a position to be fired at.  67
  Indeed, the grandest of all laws is the law of progressive development. Under it, in the wide sweep of things, men grow wiser as they grow older; societies better.  68
  Intellectually, as politically, the direction of all true progress is towards greater freedom, and along an endless succession of ideas.  69
  It is of very little use in trying to be dignified, if dignity is no part of your character.  70
  It is only an error of judgment to make a mistake, but it argues an infirmity of character to adhere to it when discovered. Or, as the Chinese better say, “The glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.”  71
  It is our relation to circumstances that determines their influence upon us.  72
  It is seldom that we find out how great are our resources until we are thrown upon them.  73
  It is some compensation for great evils that they enforce great lessons.  74
  It is the passion that is in a kiss that gives to it its sweetness; it is the affection in a kiss that sanctifies it.  75
  It is with a company as it is with a punch, everything depends upon the ingredients of which it is composed.  76
  It is with charity as with money—the more we stand in need of it, the less we have to give away.  77
  It may almost be held that the hope of commercial gain has done nearly as much for the cause of truth as even the love of truth.  78
  Justice, not the majority, should rule.  79
  Kindred weaknesses induce friendships as often as kindred virtues.  80
  Loss of sincerity is loss of vital power.  81
  Love delights in paradoxes. Saddest when it has most reason to be gay, sighs are the signs of its deepest joy, and silence is the expression of its yearning tenderness.  82
  Love’s sweetest meanings are unspoken.  83
  Luminous quotations atone, by their interest, for the dulness of an inferior book, and add to the value of a superior work by the variety which they lend to its style and treatment.  84
  Many an honest man practices upon himself an amount of deceit sufficient, if practised upon another, and in a little different way, to send him to the state prison.  85
  Many children, many cares; no children, no felicity.  86
  Marriage, by making us more contented, causes us often to be less enterprising.  87
  Melancholy sees the worst of things,—things as they may be, and not as they are. It looks upon a beautiful face, and sees but a grinning skull.  88
  Men, like musical instruments, seem made to be played upon.  89
  Merit is never so conspicuous as when coupled with an obscure origin, just as the moon never appears so lustrous as when it emerges from a cloud.  90
  Mind unemployed is mind unenjoyed.  91
  Mortal beauty stings while it delights.  92
  Most books fail, not so much from a want of ability in their authors, as from an absence in their productions of a thorough development of their ability.  93
  Motives are better than actions. Men drift into crime. Of evil they do more than they contemplate, and of good they contemplate more than they do.  94
  Music is the fourth great material want of our natures,—first food, then raiment, then shelter, then music.  95
  Nations, like individuals, are powerful in the degree that they command the sympathies of their neighbors.  96
  Nature has provided for the exigency of privation, by putting the measure of our necessities far below the measure of our wants. Our necessities are to our wants as Falstaff’s pennyworth of bread to his any quantity of sack.  97
  Neither love nor ambition, as it has often been shown, can brook a division of its empire in the heart.  98
  Next to God, we are indebted to women, first for life itself, and then for making it worth having.  99
  No man is happy without a delusion of some kind. Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities.  100
  No single character is ever so great that a nation can afford to form itself upon it. Imitation belittles. This appears in the instance of the Chinese. The Chinese are so many Confucii, in miniature. And so with the Jews. Moses, the lawgiver, is poorly represented by Moses, the old clothesman; or even by Dives, the banker.  101
  None but those who have loved can be supposed to understand the oratory of the eye, the mute eloquence of a look, or the conversational powers of the face. Love’s sweetest meanings are unspoken; the full heart knows no rhetoric of words, and resorts to the pantomime of sighs and glances.  102
  One who is contented with what he has done will never become famous for what he will do. He has lain down to die. The grass is already growing over him.  103
  Our first and last love is—self-love.  104
  Partial culture runs to the ornate; extreme culture to simplicity.  105
  Passion looks not beyond the moment of its existence. Better, it says, the kisses of love to-day, than the felicities of heaven afar off.  106
  Poverty is only contemptible when it is felt to be so. Doubtless the best way to make our poverty respectable is to seem never to feel it as an evil.  107
  Pride is like the beautiful acacia, that lifts its head proudly above its neighbor plants—forgetting that it too, like them, has its roots in the dirt.  108
  Pure motives do not insure perfect results.  109
  Qualities not regulated run into their opposites. Economy before competence is meanness after it. Therefore economy is for the poor; the rich may dispense with it.  110
  Rejecting the miracles of Christ, we still have the miracle of Christ Himself.  111
  Repose without stagnation is the state most favorable to happiness. “The great felicity of life,” says Seneca, “is to be without perturbations.”  112
  Self-distrust is the cause of most of our failures. In the assurance of strength there is strength, and they are the weakest, however strong, who have no faith in themselves or their powers.  113
  Silence, when nothing need be said, is the eloquence of discretion.  114
  Some one called Sir Richard Steele the “vilest of mankind,” and he retorted with proud humility, “It would be a glorious world if I were.”  115
  Something of a person’s character may be discovered by observing when and how he smiles. Some people never smile; they merely grin.  116
  Successful love takes a load off our hearts, and puts it upon our shoulders.  117
  Successful minds work like a gimlet,—to a single point.  118
  Tearless grief bleeds inwardly.  119
  Tears are nature’s lotion for the eyes. The eyes see better for being washed with them.  120
  That is a treacherous friend against whom you must always be on your guard. Such a friend is wine.  121
  The activity of the young is like that of rail cars in motion,—they tear along with noise and turmoil, and leave peace behind them. The quietest nooks, invaded by them, lose their quietude as they pass, and recover it only on their departure. Time’s best gift to us is serenity.  122
  The beauty seen is partly in him who sees it.  123
  The best evidence of merit is a cordial recognition of it whenever and wherever it may be found.  124
  The body of a sensualist is the coffin of a dead soul.  125
  The busiest of living agents are certain dead men’s thoughts.  126
  The cheerful live longest in life, and after it, in our regards. Cheerfulness is the offshot of goodness.  127
  The extent of poverty in the world is much exaggerated. Our sensitiveness makes half our poverty; our fears—anxieties for ills that never happen—a greater part of the other half.  128
  The first step toward greatness is to be honest, says the proverb; but the proverb fails to state the case strong enough. Honesty is not only “the first step toward greatness,” it is greatness itself.  129
  The full heart knows no rhetoric of words.  130
  The great artist is the slave of his ideal.  131
  The greatest events of an age are its best thoughts. It is the nature of thought to find its way into action.  132
  The heart contracts as the pocket expands.  133
  The heart that is to be filled to the brim with holy joy must be held still.  134
  The highest excellence is seldom attained in more than one vocation. The roads leading to distinction in separate pursuits diverge, and the nearer we approach the one, the farther we recede from the other.  135
  The knowledge beyond all other knowledge is the knowledge how to excuse.  136
  The language denotes the man. A coarse or refined character finds its expression naturally in a coarse or refined phraseology.  137
  The language of the heart—the language which “comes from the heart” and “goes to the heart”—is always simple, always graceful, and always full of power, but no art of rhetoric can teach it. It is at once the easiest and most difficult language—difficult, since it needs a heart to speak it; easy, because its periods though rounded and full of harmony, are still unstudied.  138
  The life even of a just man is a round of petty frauds; that of a knave a series of greater. We degrade life by our follies and vices, and then complain that the unhappiness which is only their accompaniment is inherent in the constitution of things.  139
  The light in the world comes principally from two sources,—the sun, and the student’s lamp.  140
  The lively and mercurial are as open books, with the leaves turned down at the notable passages. Their souls sit at the windows of their eyes, seeing and to be seen.  141
  The loss of a beloved connection awakens an interest in heaven before unfelt.  142
  The loveliest faces are to be seen by moonlight, when one sees half with the eye and half with the fancy.  143
  The method of the enterprising is to plan with audacity and execute with vigor; to sketch out a map of possibilities, and then to treat them as probabilities.  144
  The more gross the fraud, the more glibly will it go down, and the more greedily will it be swallowed, since folly will always find faith wherever impostors will find impudence.  145
  The most brilliant flashes of wit come from a clouded mind, as lightning leaps only from an obscure firmament.  146
  The nearest approximation to an understanding of life is to feel it—to realize it to the full—to be a profound and inscrutable mystery.  147
  The opinions of the misanthropical rest upon this very partial basis, that they adopt the bad faith of a few as evidence of the worthlessness of all.  148
  The passions are like fire, useful in a thousand ways and dangerous only in one, through their excess.  149
  The past is the sepulchre of our dead emotions.  150
  The same wind that carries one vessel into port may blow another off shore.  151
  The scope of an intellect is not to be measured with a tape-string, or a character deciphered from the shape or length of a nose.  152
  The selection of a subject is to the author what choice of position is to the general,—once skilfully determined, the battle is already half won. Of a few writers it may be said that they are popular in despite of their subjects—but of a great many more it may be observed that they are popular because of them.  153
  The small courtesies sweeten life; the greater ennoble it.  154
  The trouble with men of sense is that they are so dreadfully in earnest all the while.  155
  The use we make of our fortune determines its sufficiency. A little is enough if used wisely, and too much if expended foolishly.  156
  The very cunning conceal their cunning; the indifferently shrewd boast of it.  157
  The want of a more copious diction, to borrow a figure from Locke, is caused by our supposing that the mind is like Fortunatus’s purse, and will always supply our wants, without our ever putting anything into it.  158
  The worst deluded are the self-deluded.  159
  The worth of a book is a matter of expressed juices.  160
  There are ceremonious bows that repel one like a cudgel.  161
  There are few wild beasts more to be dreaded than a communicative man having nothing to communicate.  162
  There are none so low but that they have their triumphs. Small successes suffice for small souls.  163
  There are some weaknesses that are peculiar and distinctive to generous characters, as freckles are to a fair skin.  164
  There is a German proverb which says that Take-it-Easy and Live-Long are brothers.  165
  There is great beauty in going through life fearlessly. Half our fears are baseless, the other half discreditable.  166
  There is no sense of weariness like that which closes in a day of eager and unintermittent pursuit of pleasure. The apple is eaten, but “the core sticks in the throat.” Expectation has then given way to ennui, appetite to satiety.  167
  There is no tyrant like custom, and no freedom where its edicts are not resisted.  168
  There will always be romance in the world so long as there are young hearts in it.  169
  There would not be so much harm in the giddy following the fashion, if somehow the wise could always set them.  170
  ’Tis but a short journey across the isthmus of Now.  171
  To cultivate a garden is to walk with God, to go hand in hand with nature in some of her most beautiful processes, to learn something of her choicest secrets, and to have a more intelligent interest awakened in the beautiful order of her works elsewhere.  172
  To cultivate the sense of the beautiful is but one, and the most of effectual, of the ways of cultivating an appreciation of the Divine goodness.  173
  Too much reproach “o’erleaps itself, and falls on t’ other side.” Pricked up too sharply, the delinquent, like a goaded bull, grows sullen and savage, and, the persecution continuing, ends is rushing madly on the spear that wounds him.  174
  Tranquil pleasures last the longest.  175
  Troubles forereckoned are doubly suffered.  176
  Truth comes to us from the past, as gold is washed down from the mountains of Sierra Nevada, in minute but precious particles, and intermixed with infinite alloy, the debris of the centuries.  177
  Truth, like the sun, submits to be obscured; but, like the sun, only for a time.  178
  Vanity in an old man is charming. It is a proof of an open nature. Eighty winters have not frozen him up, or taught him concealments. In a young person it is simply allowable; we do not expect him to be above it.  179
  We give our best affections to the beautiful, only our second best to the useful.  180
  We make way for the man who boldly pushes past us.  181
  We may learn from children how large a part of our grievances is imaginary. But the pain is just as real.  182
  We should not so much esteem our poverty as a misfortune, were it not that the world treats it so much as a crime.  183
  We should round every day of stirring action with an evening of thought. We learn nothing of our experience except we muse upon it.  184
  We trifle when we assign limits to our desires, since nature has set none.  185
  Weakness ineffectually seeks to disguise itself,—like a drunken man trying to show how sober he is.  186
  What a man knows should find its expression in what he does. The value of superior knowledge is chiefly in that it leads to a performing manhood.  187
  What we call conscience, in many instances, is only a wholesome fear of the constable.  188
  When all else is lost, the future still remains.  189
  Whether one talks well depends very much upon whom he has to talk to.  190
  Winter is the night of vegetation.  191
  Wit must be without effort. Wit is play, not work; a nimbleness of the fancy, not a laborious effort of the will; a license, a holiday, a carnival of thought and feeling, not a trifling with speech, a constraint upon language, a duress upon words.  192
  Woman’s power is over the affections. A beautiful dominion is hers, but she risks its forfeiture when she seeks to extend it.  193
  Women seldom forfeit their claims to respect to men whom they respect.  194
  Words of praise, indeed, are almost as necessary to warm a child into a genial life as acts of kindness and affection. Judicious praise is to children what the sun is to flowers.  195
  Youth is too tumultuous for felicity; old age too insecure for happiness. The period most favorable to enjoyment, in a vigorous, fortunate, and generous life, is that between forty and sixty. Life culminates at sixty.  196

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