Reference > Quotations > C.N. Douglas, comp. > Forty Thousand Quotations > Primary Author Index
C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
  A critic is never too severe when he only detects the faults of an author. But he is worse than too severe when, in consequence of this detection, he presumes to place himself on a level with genius.  1
  A great man knows the value of greatness; he dares not hazard it, he will not squander it.  2
  A little praise is good for a shy temper; it teaches it to rely on the kindness of others.  3
  A mercantile democracy may govern long and widely; a mercantile aristocracy cannot stand.  4
  A smile is ever the most bright and beautiful with a tear upon it. What is the dawn without the dew? The tear is rendered by the smile precious above the smile itself.  5
  A true philosopher is beyond the reach of fortune.  6
  A wise man will always be a Christian, because the perfection of wisdom is to know where lies tranquillity of mind and how to attain it, which Christianity teaches.  7
  Absurdities are great or small in proportion to custom or insuetude.  8
  Ambition is but avarice on stilts, and masked. God sometimes sends a famine, sometimes a pestilence, and sometimes a hero, for the chastisement of mankind; none of them surely for our admiration.  9
  An ingenuous mind feels in unmerited praise the bitterest reproof. If you reject it, you are unhappy; if you accept it, you are undone.  10
  As the pearl ripens in the obscurity of its shell, so ripens in the tomb all the fame that is truly precious.  11
  As there are some flowers which you should smell but slightly to extract all that is pleasant in them, and which, if you do otherwise, emit what is unpleasant and noxious, so there are some men with whom a slight acquaintance is quite sufficient to draw out all that is agreeable; a more intimate one would be unsatisfactory and unsafe.  12
  Be assured that, although men of eminent genius have been guilty of all other vices, none worthy of more than a secondary name has ever been a gamester. Either an excess of avarice or a deficiency of what, in physics, is called excitability, is the cause of it; neither of which can exist in the same bosom with genius, with patriotism, or with virtue.  13
  Belief in a future life is the appetite of reason.  14
  Children are what the mothers are.  15
  Circumstances form the character; but, like petrifying matters, they harden while they form.  16
  Clear writers, like clear fountains, do not seem so deep as they are; the turbid looks most profound.  17
  Consciousness of error is, to a certain extent, a consciousness of understanding; and correction of error is the plainest proof of energy and mastery.  18
  Contentment is better than divinations or visions.  19
  Cruelty in all countries is the companion of anger; but there is only one, and never was another on the globe, where she coquets both with anger and mirth.  20
  Cruelty is no more the cure of crimes than it is the cure of sufferings. Compassion, in the first instance, is good for both; I have known it to bring compunction when nothing else would.  21
  Cruelty is the highest pleasure to the cruel man; it is his love.  22
  Cruelty, if we consider it as a crime, is the greatest of all; if we consider it as a madness, we are equally justifiable in applying to it the readiest and the surest means of oppression.  23
  Delay of justice is injustice.  24
  Democracy is always the work of kings. Ashes, which in themselves are sterile, fertilize the land they are cast upon.  25
  Despotism sits nowhere so secure as under the effigy and ensigns of freedom.  26
  Every good writer has much idiom; it is the life and spirit of language.  27
  Every great writer is a writer of history, let him treat on almost any subject he may.  28
  Everything that looks to the future elevates human nature; for never is life so low or so little as when occupied with the present.  29
  Experience is our only teacher both in war and peace.  30
  Falsehood is for a season.  31
  Fame often rests at first upon something accidental, and often, too, is swept away, or for a time removed; but neither genius nor glory is conferred at once, nor do they glimmer and fall, like drops in a grotto, at a shout.  32
  Fame, they tell you, is air; but without air there is no life for any; without fame there is none for the best.  33
  Familiarities are the aphides that imperceptibly suck out the juice intended for the germ of love.  34
  Fancy is imagination in her youth and adolescence. Fancy is always excursive; imagination, not seldom, is sedate.  35
  Friendships are the purer and the more ardent, the nearer they come to the presence of God, the Sun not only of righteousness but of love.  36
  Goodness does not more certainly make men happy, than happiness makes them good. We must distinguish between felicity and prosperity; for prosperity leads often to ambition, and ambition to disappointment; the course is then over, the wheel turns round but once; while the reaction of goodness and happiness is perpetual.  37
  Great men lose somewhat of their greatness by being near us; ordinary men gain much.  38
  Greatness, as we daily see it, is unsociable.  39
  Harmonious words render ordinary ideas acceptable; less ordinary, pleasant; novel and ingenious ones, delightful. As pictures and statues, and living beauty, too, show better, by music-light, so is poetry irradiated, vivified, glorified, and raised into immortal life by harmony.  40
  He who brings ridicule to bear against truth finds in his hand a blade without a hilt.  41
  Hope is the mother of faith.  42
  How sweet and sacred idleness is!  43
  I feel I am growing old for want of somebody to tell me that I am looking as young as ever. Charming falsehood! There is a vast deal of vial air in loving words.  44
  I would recommend a free commerce both of matter and mind. I would let men enter their own churches with the same freedom as their own houses; and I would do it without a homily or graciousness or favor, for tyranny itself is to me a word less odious than toleration.  45
  If there were no falsehood in the world, there would be no doubt; if there were no doubt, there would be no inquiry; if no inquiry, no wisdom, no knowledge, no genius.  46
  In church they are taught to love God; after church they are practised to love their neighbor.  47
  In honest truth, a name given to a man is no better than a skin given to him; what is not natively his own falls off and comes to nothing.  48
  In our road through life we may happen to meet with a man casting a stone reverentially to enlarge the cairn of another which stone he has carried in his bosom to sling against that very other’s head.  49
  It appears to be among the laws of nature, that the mighty of intellect should be pursued and carped by the little, as the solitary flight of one great bird is followed by the twittering petulance of many smaller.  50
  It is as wise to moderate our belief as our desires.  51
  It is delightful to kiss the eyelashes of the beloved—is it not? But never so delightful as when fresh tears are on them.  52
  It is easy to look down on others; to look down on ourselves is the difficulty.  53
  Justice is often pale and melancholy; but Gratitude, her daughter, is constantly in the flow of spirits and the bloom of loveliness.  54
  Kings play at war unfairly with republics; they can only lose some earth, and some creatures they value as little, while republics lose in every soldier a part of themselves.  55
  Let me take up your metaphor. Friendship is a vase, which, when it is flawed by heat or violence or accident, may as well be broken at once; it can never be trusted after. The more graceful and ornamental it was, the more clearly do we discern the hopelessness of restoring it to its former state. Coarse stones, if they are fractured, may be cemented again; precious stones, never.  56
  Little men build up great ones, but the snow colossus soon melts; the good stand under the eye of God, and therefore stand.  57
  Merit has rarely risen of itself, but a pebble or a twig is often quite sufficient for it to spring from to the highest ascent. There is usually some baseness before there is any elevation.  58
  Moroseness is the evening of turbulence.  59
  Nations, like individuals, interest us in their growth.  60
  No friendship is so cordial or so delicious as that of girl for girl; no hatred so intense and immovable as that of woman for woman.  61
  No good writer was ever long neglected; no great man overlooked by men equally great. Impatience is a proof of inferior strength, and a destroyer of what little there may be.  62
  No thoroughly occupied man was ever yet very miserable.  63
  O Music! how it grieves me that imprudence, intemperance, gluttony, should open their channels into thy sacred stream.  64
  Of all studies, the most delightful and the most useful is biography. The seeds of great events lie near the surface; historians delve too deep for them. No history was ever true. Lives I have read which, if they were not, had the appearance, the interest, and the utility of truth.  65
  Old trees in their living state are the only things that money cannot command.  66
  Politeness is not always a sign of wisdom; but the want of it always leaves room for a suspicion of folly, if folly and imprudence are the same.  67
  Political men, like goats, usually thrive best among inequalities.  68
  Religion is the eldest sister of philosophy: on whatever subjects they may differ, it is unbecoming in either to quarrel, and most so about their inheritance.  69
  Ridicule has followed the vestiges of truth, but never usurped her place.  70
  Solicitude is the audience-chamber of God.  71
  Something of the severe hath always been appertaining to order and to grace; and the beauty that is not too liberal is sought the most ardently, and loved the longest.  72
  Study is the bane of boyhood, the aliment of youth, the indulgence of manhood, and the restorative of age.  73
  Such is our impatience, such our hatred of procrastination, in everything but the amendment of our practices and the adornment of our nature, one would imagine we were dragging Time along by force, and not he us.  74
  Teach him to live unto God and unto thee; and he will discover that women, like the plants in woods, derive their softness and tenderness from the shade.  75
  Tears, O Aspasia, do not dwell long upon the cheeks of youth. Rain drops easily from the bud, rests on the bosom of the maturer flower, and breaks down that one only which hath lived its day.  76
  That which moveth the heart most is the best poetry; it comes nearest unto God, the source of all power.  77
  The damps of autumn sink into the leaves and prepare them for the necessity of their fall; and thus insensibly are we, as years close round us, detached from our tenacity of life by the gentle pressure of recorded sorrow.  78
  The eyes of critics, whether in commending or carping, are both on one side, like a turbot’s.  79
  The foundation of domestic happiness is faith in the virtue of woman.  80
  The happiest of pillows is not that which love first presses! it is that which death has frowned on and passed over.  81
  The happy never say, and never hear said, farewell.  82
  The heart that has once been bathed in love’s pure fountain retains the pulse of youth forever.  83
  The only effect of public punishment is to show the rabble how bravely it can be borne; and that every one who hath lost a toe-nail hath suffered worse.  84
  The religion of Christ is peace and good-will,—the religion of Christendom is war and ill-will.  85
  The sublime is contained in a grain of dust.  86
  The tomb is the pedestal of greatness. I make a distinction between God’s great and the king’s great.  87
  The very beautiful rarely love at all. Those precious images are placed above the reach of the passions.  88
  The worst of ingratitude lies not in the ossified heart of him who commits it, but we find it in the effect it produces on him against whom it was committed.  89
  The writings of the wise are the only riches our posterity cannot squander.  90
  There are proud men of so much delicacy that it almost conceals their pride, and perfectly excuses it.  91
  There is a gravity which is not austere nor captious, which belongs not to melancholy nor dwells in contraction of heart; but arises from tenderness and hangs upon reflection.  92
  There is a vast deal of vital air in loving words.  93
  There is no eloquence which does not agitate the soul.  94
  Truth sometimes comes unawares upon Caution, and sometimes speaks in public as unconsciously as in a dream.  95
  Truth, like the juice of the poppy, in small quantities, calms men; in large, heats and irritates them, and is attended by fatal consequences in excess.  96
  Vast objects of remote altitude must be looked at a long while before they are ascertained. Ages are the telescope tubes that must be lengthened out for Shakespeare; and generations of men serve but a single witness to his claims.  97
  Virtue is presupposed in friendship.  98
  Was genius ever ungrateful? Mere talents are dry leaves, tossed up and down by gusts of passion, and scattered and swept away; but Genius lies on the bosom of Memory, and Gratitude at her feet.  99
  We are no longer happy so soon as we wish to be happier.  100
  We are poor, indeed, when we have no half-wishes left us. The heart and the imagination close the shutters the instant they are gone.  101
  We cannot conquer fate and necessity, yet we can yield to them in such a manner as to be greater than if we could.  102
  We care not how many see us in choler, when we rave and bluster, and make as much noise and bustle as we can; but if the kindest and most generous affection comes across us, we suppress every sign of it, and hide ourselves in nooks and covert.  103
  We enter our studies, and enjoy a society which we alone can bring together. We raise no jealousy by conversing with one in preference to another; we give no offence to the most illustrious by questioning him as long as we will, and leaving him as abruptly. Diversity of opinion raises no tumult in our presence: each interlocutor stands before us, speaks or is silent, and we adjourn or decide the business at our leisure.  104
  We fancy that our afflictions are sent us directly from above; sometimes we think it in piety and contrition, but oftener in moroseness and discontent.  105
  We must distinguish between felicity and prosperity; for prosperity leads often to ambition, and ambition to disappointment; the course is then over, the wheel turns round but once, while the reaction of goodness and happiness is perpetual.  106
  We oftener say things because we can say them well than because they are sound and reasonable.  107
  What is companionship where nothing that improves the intellect is communicated, and where the larger heart contracts itself to the model and dimension of the smaller?  108
  Whatever is worthy to be loved for anything is worthy of preservation. A wise and dispassionate legislator, if any such should ever arise among men, will not condemn to death him who has done or is likely to do more service than injury to society. Blocks and gibbets are the nearest objects with legislators, and their business is never with hopes or with virtues.  109
  When a woman hath ceased to be quite the same to us, it matters little how different she becomes.  110
  When the mind loses its feeling for elegance, it grows corrupt and groveling, and seeks in the crowd what ought to be found at home.  111
  Where power is absent we may find the robe of genius, but we miss the throne.  112
  Wherever there is excessive wealth, there is also in the train of it excessive poverty; as where the sun is brightest the shade is deepest.  113
  Wisdom consisteth not in knowing many things, nor even in knowing them thoroughly; but in choosing and in following what conduces the most certainly to our lasting happiness and true glory.  114
  Women commiserate the brave, and men the beautiful.  115
  Wrong is but falsehood put in practice.  116

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