Reference > Quotations > Hoyt & Roberts, comps. > Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations
Hoyt & Roberts, comps.  Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations.  1922.
The massive gates of circumstance
  Are turned upon the smallest hinge,
And thus some seeming pettiest chance
  Oft gives our life its after-tinge.

The trifles of our daily lives,
  The common things, scarce worth recall,
Whereof no visible trace survives,
  These are the mainsprings after all.
        Anon. In Harper’s Weekly, May 30, 1863.
  Epicureans, that ascribed the origin and frame of the world not to the power of God, but to the fortuitous concourse of atoms.
        Bentley—Sermons. II. Preached in 1692. See also Review of Sir Robert Peel’s Address. Attributed later to Sir John Russell. See Croker—Papers. Vol. II. P. 56.
And circumstance, that unspiritual god,
And miscreator, makes and helps along
Our coming evils, with a critch-like rod,
Whose touch turns hope to dust—the dust we all have trod.
        Byron—Childe Harold. Canto IV. St. 125.
Men are the sport of circumstances, when
The circumstances seem the sport of men.
        Byron—Don Juan. Canto V. St. 17.
I am the very slave of circumstance
And impulse—borne away with every breath.
        Byron—Sardanapalus. Act IV. Sc. 1.
Odd instances of strange coincidence.
        Queen Caroline’s Advocate in the House of Lords, referring to her association with Bergami.
The long arm of coincidence.
        Haddon Chambers—Captain Swift.
  Nulla cogente natura, sed concursu quodam fortuito.
        Cicero—De Nat. Deorum. Bk. I. 24. Adapted by him to: “Fortuito quodam concursu atomorum.” (By some fortuitous concourse of atoms.) Same in Quintilian. 7. 2. 2.
Thus neither the praise nor the blame is our own.
        Cowper—Letter to Mr. Newton.
Circumstances beyond my individual control.
        Dickens—David Copperfield. Ch. 20.
Man is not the creature of circumstances,
Circumstances are the creatures of men.
        Benj. Disraeli—Vivian Grey. Vol. II. Bk. VI. Ch. 7.
  It is circumstances (difficulties) which show what men are.
        Epictetus. Ch. XXIV. Quoted from Ovid—Tristia. IV. 3. 79. Sc. 1. Long’s trans.
  To what fortuitous occurrence do we not owe every pleasure and convenience of our lives.
        Goldsmith—Vicar of Wakefield. Ch. XXI.
Circumstances alter cases.
        Haliburton—The Old Judge. Ch. XV.
  Man, without religion, is the creature of circumstances.
        Thos. Hardy—Guesses at Truth. Vol. I.
  Thus we see, too, in the world that some persons assimilate only what is ugly and evil from the same moral circumstances which supply good and beautiful results—the fragrance of celestial flowers—to the daily life of others.
        Hawthorne—Mosses from an Old Manse. The Old Manse.
Et mihi res, non me rebus, subjungere conor.
  And I endeavour to subdue circumstances to myself, and not myself to circumstances.
        Horace—Epistles. I. 1. 191.
Quid velit et possit rerum concordia discors.
  What the discordant harmony of circumstances would and could effect.
        Horace—Epistles. I. 12. 19.
  For these attacks do not contribute to make us frail but rather show us to be what we are.
        Thos. à Kempis—Imitation of Christ. Dibdin’s trans. Bk. I. Ch. XVI.
  Consilia res magis dant hominibus quam homines rebus.
  Men’s plans should be regulated by the circumstances, not circumstances by the plans.
        Livy—Annales. XXII. 39.
Man is the creature of circumstances.
        Robert Owen—The Philanthropist.
Accidental and fortuitous concourse of atoms.
        Lord Palmerston. Of the combination of Parties led by Disraeli and Gladstone, March 5, 1857.
Condition, circumstance is not the thing.
        Pope—Essay on Man. Ep. IV. L. 57.
  The happy combination of fortuitous circumstances.
        Scott—Answer of the Author of Waverly to the Letter of Captain Clutterbuck. The Monastery.
The Lie with Circumstance.
        As You Like It. Act V. Sc. 4. L. 100.
          My circumstances
Being so near the truth as I will make them,
Must first induce you to believe.
        Cymbeline. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 62.
Leave frivolous circumstances.
        Taming of the Shrew. Act V. Sc. 1. L. 27.
  How comes it to pass, if they be only moved by chance and accident, that such regular mutations and generations should be begotten by a fortuitous concourse of atoms.
        J. Smith—Select Discourses. III. P. 48. (Ed. 1660). Same phrase found in Marcus-Minucius Felix his Octavius. Preface. (Pub. 1695).
In all distresses of our friends
We first consult our private ends;
While Nature, kindly bent to ease us,
Points out some circumstance to please us.
        Swift—Paraphrase of Rochefoucauld’s Maxim.
Aliena nobis, nostra plus aliis placent.
  The circumstances of others seem good to us, while ours seem good to others.
Varia sors rerum.
  The changeful chance of circumstances.
        Tacitus—Historiæ. Bk. II. 70.
So runs the round of life from hour to hour.
And grasps the skirts of happy chance,
And breasts the blows of circumstance.
        Tennyson—In Memoriam. Pt. LXIII. St. 2.
This fearful concatenation of circumstances.
        Daniel Webster—Argument. The Murder of Captain Joseph White. (1830). Vol. VI. P. 88.
  F. M. the Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr. —— and declines to interfere in circumstances over which he has no control.
        Wellington. See G. A. Sala—Echoes of the Week in London Illustrated News, Aug. 23, 1884. See Capt. Marryatt—Settlers in Canada. P. 177. Grenville—Memoirs. Ch. II. (1823), gives early use of phrase.
Who does the best that circumstance allows,
Does well, acts nobly, angels could no more.
        Young—Night Thoughts. Night II. L. 90. (Compare Habakkuk. II. 2.)

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