Reference > Quotations > C.N. Douglas, comp. > Forty Thousand Quotations > Primary Author Index
C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
        So here hath been dawning
  Another blue day.
Think wilt thou let it
  Slip useless away?
Out of eternity
  This new day is born;
Into eternity
  At night will return.
Behold it aforetime
  No eye ever did;
So soon it for ever
  From all eyes is hid.
  A dandy is a clothes-wearing man—a man whose trade, office, and existence consist in the wearing of clothes. Every faculty of his soul, spirit, person and purse is heroically consecrated to this one object—the wearing of clothes wisely and well; so that, as others dress to live, he lives to dress.  2
  A heavenly awe overshadowed and encompassed, as it still ought, and must, all earthly business whatsoever.  3
  A lie should be trampled on and extinguished wherever found. I am for fumigating the atmosphere when I suspect that falsehood, like pestilence, breathes around me.  4
  A man ought to inquire and find out what he really and truly has an appetite for; what suits his constitution; and that, doctors tell him, is the very thing he ought to have in general. And so with books.  5
  A man protecting against error is on the way towards uniting himself with all men that believe to truth.  6
  A man’s religion consists, not of the many things he is in doubt of and tries to believe, but of the few he is assured of and has no need of effort for believing.  7
  A man—be the heavens ever praised!—is sufficient for himself.  8
  A noble book! All men’s book! It is our first, oldest statement of the never-ending problem,—man’s destiny, and God’s ways with him here on earth; and all in such free-flowing outlines,—grand in its sincerity, in its simplicity, in its epic melody, and repose of reconcilement.  9
  A poet without love were a physical and metaphysical impossibility.  10
  A pygmy standing on the outward crust of this small planet, his far-reaching spirit stretches outward to the infinite, and there alone finds rest.  11
  A silent, great soul; he was one of those who cannot but be in earnest; whom Nature herself has appointed to be sincere.  12
  A star is beautiful; it affords pleasure, not from what it is to do, or to give, but simply by being what it is. It befits the heavens; it has congruity with the mighty space in which it dwells. It has repose; no force disturbs its eternal peace. It has freedom; no obstruction lies between it and infinity.  13
  A thinking man is the worst enemy the Prince of Darkness can have; every time such a one announces himself, I doubt not there runs a shudder through the nether empire; and new emissaries are trained with new tactics, to, if possible, entrap him, and hoodwink and handcuff him.  14
  A true delineation of the smallest man is capable of interesting the greatest man.  15
  A very sea of thought; neither calm nor clear, if you will, yet wherein the toughest pearl-diver may dive to his utmost depth, and return not only with sea-wreck but with true orients.  16
  A word spoken in season, at the right moment, is the mother of ages.  17
  Action hangs, as it were, “dissolved” in speech, in thoughts whereof speech is the shadow; and precipitates itself therefrom. The kind of speech in a man betokens the kind of action you will get from him.  18
  Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.  19
  Affectation is the product of falsehood.  20
  Alas! we know that ideals can never be completely embodied in practice. Ideals must ever lie a great way off—and we will thankfully content ourselves with any not intolerable approximation thereto! Let no man, as Schiller says, too querulously “measure by a scale of perfection the meager product of reality” in this poor world of ours.  21
  Alas! while the body stands so broad and brawny, must the soul lie blinded, dwarfed, stupefied, almost annihilated? Alas! this was, too, a breath of God, bestowed in heaven, but on earth never to be unfolded!  22
  All are born to observe laws; few are born to establish them.  23
  All human souls, never so bedarkened, love light; light once kindled, spreads till all is luminous.  24
  All that a university or final highest school can do for us is still but what the first school began doing—teach us to read. We learn to read in various languages, in various sciences; we learn the alphabet and letters of all manner of books. But the place where we are to get knowledge, even theoretic knowledge, is the books themselves. It depends on what we read, after all manner of professors have done their best for us. The true university of these days is a collection of books.  25
  All that mankind has done, thought, gained, or been,—it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.  26
  All true work is sacred.  27
  An everlasting lodestar, that beams the brighter in the heavens the darker here on earth grows the night.  28
  At the bottom there is no perfect history; there is none such conceivable. All past centuries have rotted down, and gone confusedly dumb and quiet.  29
  Authors are the vanguard in the march of mind, the intellectual backwoodsmen, reclaiming from the idle wilderness new territories for the thought and activity of their happier brethren.  30
  Beautiful it is, and a gleam from the same eternal pole-star visible amid the destinies of men, that all talent, all intellect, is in the first place moral. What a world were this otherwise!  31
  Biography is the only true history.  32
  Blessed be the God’s voice; for it is true, and falsehoods have to cease before it!  33
  Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness. He has a work, a life purpose. Labor is life.  34
  Blessed is the man who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness. Know thy work, and do it: and work at it like Hercules. One monster there is in the world, the idle man.  35
  Caution is the lower story of prudence.  36
  Cease to brag to me of America, and its model institutions and constitutions. America, too, will have to strain its energies, crack its sinews, and all but break its heart, as the rest of us have had to do, in thousand-fold wrestle with the Pythons and mud-demons, before it can become a habitation for the gods.  37
  Creation is great, and cannot be understood.  38
  Custom doth make dotards of us all.  39
  Debt is a bottomless sea.  40
  Democracy will itself accomplish the salutary universal change from delusive to real, and make a new blessed world of us by and by.  41
  Earnestness alone makes life eternity.  42
  Endurance is patience concentrated.  43
  Eternity looks grander and kinder if Time grow meaner and more hostile.  44
  Ever as before does madness remain, terrific, altogether infernal, boiling up of the nether chaotic deep, through this fair tainted vision of creation, which swims thereon, and which we name the real.  45
  Every noble crown is, and on earth will forever be, a crown of thorns.  46
  Every noble work is at first impossible.  47
  Every poet, be his outward lot what it may, finds himself born in the midst of prose; he has to struggle from the littleness and obstruction of an actual world into the freedom and infinitude of an ideal.  48
  Everywhere in life, the true question is not what we gain, but what we do.  49
  Everywhere the human soul stands between a hemisphere of light and another of darkness; on the confines of two everlasting hostile empires, Necessity and Free Will.  50
  Evil and good are everywhere, like shadow and substance; inseparable (for men) yet not hostile, only opposed.  51
  Evil, once manfully fronted, ceases to be evil; there is generous battle-hope in place of dead, passive misery; the evil itself has become a kind of good.  52
  Experience does take dreadfully high school-wages, but he teaches like no other.  53
  Eyes bright, with many tears behind them.  54
  Fame, we may understand, is no sure test of merit, but only a probability of such: it is an accident, not a property of a man.  55
  Foolish men imagine that because judgment for an evil thing is delayed, there is no justice, but an accident alone, here below. Judgment for an evil thing is many times delayed some day or two, some century or two; but it is sure as life, it is sure as death!  56
  For of a truth stupidity is strong, most strong, as the poet Schiller sings, “Against stupidity the very gods fight invictorious.”  57
  Force, force, everywhere force; we ourselves a mysterious force in the center of that. There is not a leaf rotting on the highway but has force in it; how else could it rot?  58
  Friend, hast thou considered the “rugged, all-nourishing earth,” as Sophocles well names her; how she feeds the sparrow on the housetop, much more her darling man?  59
  Generations are as the days of toilsome mankind; death and birth are the vesper and the matin bells that summon mankind to sleep and to rise refreshed for new advancement. What the father has made, the son can make and enjoy; but has also work of his own appointed him. Thus all things wax and roll onwards: arts, establishments, opinions, nothing is ever completed, but ever completing.  60
  Genius is an immense capacity for taking trouble.  61
  Genuine work alone, what thou workest faithfully, that is eternal as the Almighty Founder and World-Builder Himself.  62
  Give a thing time; if it can succeed it is a right thing. Look now at American Saxondom; and at that little fact of the sailing of the Mayflower two hundred years ago  *  *  *  ! Were we of open sense as the Greeks were, we had found a poem here; one of nature’s own poems, such as she writes in broad facts over great continents. For it was properly the beginning of America. There were straggling settlers in America before, some material as if a body was there; but the soul of it was first this.  *  *  *  They thought the earth would yield them food, if they tilled honestly; the everlasting heaven would stretch there, too, overhead; they should be left in peace to prepare for eternity by living well in this world of time, worshiping in what they thought the true, not the idolatrous, way.  *  *  *  Hah! these men. I think, had a work! The weak thing, weaker than a child, becomes strong in one day, if it be a true thing. Puritanism was only despicable, laughable then, but nobody can manage to laugh at it now.  63
  Give us, O give us, the man who sings at his work! Be his occupation what it may, he is equal to any of those who follow the same pursuit in silent sullenness. He will do more in the same time,—he will do it better,—he will persevere longer. One is scarcely sensible of fatigue whilst he marches to music. The very stars are said to make harmony as they revolve in their spheres. Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, altogether past calculation its powers of endurance. Efforts, to be permanently useful, must be uniformly joyous,—a spirit all sunshine,—graceful from very gladness, beautiful because bright.  64
  God gave you that gifted tongue of yours, and set it between your teeth, to make known your true meaning to us, not to be rattled like a muffin man’s bell.  65
  Good Christian people, here lies for you an inestimable loan;—take all heed thereof, in all carefulness employ it:—with high recompense, or else with heavy penalty will it one day be required back.  66
  Graceful, ingenious, illuminative reading.  67
  Great is self-denial!  *  *  *  Life goes all to ravels and tatters where that enters not.  68
  Great is the tailor, but not the greatest.  69
  Great is wisdom; infinite is the value of wisdom. It cannot be exaggerated; it is the highest achievement of man.  70
  Great souls are always loyally submissive, reverent to what is over them: only small mean souls are otherwise.  71
  Habit and imitation—there is nothing more perennial in us than these two. They are the source of all working, and all apprenticeship, of all practice, and all learning, in this world.  72
  Habit is the deepest law of human nature.  73
  Happy season of childhood! Kind Nature, that art to all a bountiful mother; that visitest the poor man’s hut with auroral radiance; and for thy nursling hast provided a soft swathing of love and infinite hope wherein he waxes and slumbers, danced round by sweetest dreams!  74
  Happy season of virtuous youth, when shame is still an impassable barrier, and the sacred air-cities of hope have not shrunk into the mean clay hamlets of reality; and man, by his nature, is yet infinite and free.  75
  “Hast thou hope?” they asked of John Knox, when he lay a-dying. He spoke nothing, but raised his finger and pointed upward, and so died.  76
  Hast thou not Greek enough to understand thus much: the end of man is an action and not a thought, though it were of the noblest.  77
  He is wise who can instruct us and assist us in the business of daily virtuous living.  78
  He walked into Judæa eighteen hundred years ago; His sphere melody, flowing in wild native tones, took captive the ravished souls of men, and, being of a truth sphere melody, still flows and sounds, though now with thousandfold accompaniments and rich symphonies, through all our hearts, and modulates and divinely leads them.  79
  He who cannot withal keep his mind to himself cannot practice any considerable thing whatsoever.  80
  He who talks much about virtue in the abstract, begins to be suspected; it is shrewdly guessed that where there is great preaching there will be little almsgiving.  81
  Hero-worship exists, has existed, and will forever exist, universally, among mankind.  82
  Heroes have gone out; quacks have come in; the reign of quacks has not ended with the nineteenth century. The sceptre is held with a firmer grasp; the empire has a wider boundary. We are all the slaves of quackery in one shape or another. Indeed, one portion of our being is always playing the successful quack to the other.  83
  Heroes, it would seem, exist always and a certain worship of them.  84
  Heroism—the divine relation which in all times unites a great man to other men.  85
  His religion at best is an anxious wish,—like that of Rabelais, a great Perhaps.  86
  His sparkling sallies bubbled up as from areated natural fountains.  87
  Histories are as perfect as the historian is wise, and is gifted with an eye and a soul.  88
  History is a mighty drama, enacted upon the theatre of time, with suns for lamps and eternity for a background.  89
  History is the essence of innumerable biographies.  90
  History, as it lies at the root of all science, is also the first distinct product of man’s spiritual nature; his earliest expression of what can be called thought.  91
  How a thing grows in the human memory, in the human imagination, when love, worship, and all that lies in the human heart, is there to encourage it.  92
  How indestructibly the good grows, and propagates itself, even among the weedy entanglements of evil.  93
  How much lies in laughter: the cipher-key, wherewith we decipher the whole man.  94
  How shall he give kindling in whose own inward man there is no live coal, but all is burnt out to a dead grammatical cinder?  95
  How were friendship possible? In mutual devotedness to the good and true; otherwise impossible, except as armed neutrality or hollow commercial league. A man, be the heavens ever praised, is sufficient for himself; yet were ten men, united in love, capable of being and of doing what ten thousand singly would fail in. Infinite is the help man can yield to man.  96
  How, without clothes, could we possess the master organ, soul’s seat and true pineal gland of the body social—I mean a purse?  97
  Humor has justly been regarded as the finest perfection of poetic genius.  98
  I call the Book of Job, apart from all theories about it, one of the grandest things ever written with pen.  99
  I should say sincerity, a deep, great, genuine sincerity, is the first characteristic of all men in any way heroic.  100
  I too acknowledge the all-but omnipotence of early culture and nurture; hereby we have either a doddered dwarf-bush, or a high-towering, wide-shadowing tree! either a sick yellow cabbage, or an edible luxuriant green one. Of a truth, it is the duty of all men, especially of all philosophers, to note down with accuracy the characteristic circumstances of their education,—what furthered, what hindered, what in any way modified it.  101
  I want to meet my God awake.  102
  If a book come from the heart, it will contrive to reach other hearts; all art and author-craft are of small account to that.  103
  If hero means sincere man, why may not every one of us be a hero.  104
  If I say that Shakespeare is the greatest of intellects, I have said all concerning him. But there is more in Shakespeare’s intellect than we have yet seen. It is what I call an unconscious intellect; there is more virtue in it than he himself is aware of.  105
  “If that is not God,” said Mirabeau, as the sun shone into his death-chamber, “it is at least his cousin-german.”  106
  If there be not a religious element in the relations of men, such relations are miserable and doomed to ruin.  107
  If time is precious, no book that will not improve by repeated readings deserves to be read at all.  108
  If you do not wish a man to da a thing, you had better get him to talk about it; for the more men talk, the more likely they are to do nothing else.  109
  If you don’t wish a man to do a thing you had better get him to talk about it; for the more men talk, the more likely they are to do nothing else.  110
  In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time; the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream.  111
  In every epoch of the world, the great event, parent of all others, is it not the arrival of a Thinker in the world?  112
  In idleness there is perpetual despair.-  113
  In no time whatever can small critics entirely eradicate out of living men’s hearts a certain altogether peculiar reverence for Great Men—genuine admiration, loyalty, adoration.  114
  In our wide world there is but one altogether fatal personage, the dunce,—he that speaks irrationally, that sees not, and yet thinks he sees.  115
  In the poorest cottage are Books: is one Book, wherein for several thousands of years the spirit of man has found light, and nourishment, and an interpreting response to whatever is Deepest in him.  116
  In the true literary man there is thus ever, acknowledged or not by the world, a sacredness; he is the light of the world; the world’s priest—guiding it, like a sacred pillar of fire, in its dark pilgrimage through the waste of time.  117
  In this world there is one godlike thing, the essence of all that ever was or ever will be of godlike in this world,—the veneration done to human worth by the hearts of men.  118
  Incipient beings.  119
  Infinite is the help man can yield to man.  120
  Instead of saying that man is the creature of circumstance, it would be nearer the mark to say that man is the architect of circumstance. It is character which builds an existence out of circumstance. Our strength is measured by our plastic power. From the same materials one man builds palaces, another hovels; one warehouses, another villas; bricks and mortar are mortar and bricks until the architect can make them something else.  121
  Insurrection, never so necessary, is a most sad necessity; and governors who wait for that to instruct them are surely getting into the fatalest course.  122
  Intellect is the soul of man, the only immortal part of him.  123
  Is not cant the materia prima of the devil, from which all falsehoods, imbecilities, abominations, body themselves, from which no true thing can come? For cant is itself properly a double-distilled lie, the second power of a lie.  124
  Is not light grander than fire?  125
  It is a fact which escapes no one, that, generally speaking, whoso is acquainted with his worth has but a little stock to cultivate acquaintance with.  126
  It is not a lucky word, this same impossible; no good comes of those that have it so often in their mouth.  127
  It is not to taste sweet things, but to do noble and true things, and vindicate himself under God’s heaven as a God-mad man, that the poorest son of Adam dimly longs. Show him the way of doing that, the dullest day-drudge kindles into a hero. They wrong man greatly who say he is to be seduced by ease. Difficulty, abnegation, martyrdom, death, are the allurements that act on the heart of man. Kindle the inner genial life of him, you have a flame that burns up all lower considerations.  128
  It is well said, in every sense, that a man’s religion is the chief fact with regard to him.  129
  It seems to me a great truth that human things cannot stand on selfishness, mechanical utilities, economies and law courts; that if there be not a religious element in the relations of men, such relations are miserable, and doomed to ruin.  130
  It’s a man’s sincerity and depth of vision that makes him a poet.  131
  Labor is life: from the inmost heart of the worker rises his God-given force, the sacred celestial life-essence breathed into him by Almighty God!  132
  Labor, wide as the earth, has its summit in heaven.  133
  Laughter means sympathy.  134
  Learn to be good readers, which is perhaps a more difficult thing than you imagine. Learn to be discriminative in your reading; to read faithfully, and with your best attention, all kinds of things which you have a real interest in,—a real, not an imaginary,—and which you find to be really fit for what you are engaged in.  135
  Let him who gropes painfully in darkness or uncertain light, and prays vehemently that the dawn may ripen into day, lay this precept well to heart: “Do the duty which lies nearest to thee,” which thou knowest to be a duty! Thy second duty will already have become clearer.  136
  Lies exist only to be extinguished.  137
  Literature is the fruit of thinking souls.  138
  Little dew-drops of celestial melody.  139
  Living movement.  140
  Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure that there is one rascal less in the world.  141
  Man is, properly speaking, based upon hope, he has no other possession but hope; this world of his is emphatically the place of hope.  142
  Man, it is not thy works, which are mortal, infinitely little, and the greatest no greater than the least, but only the spirit thou workest in, that can have worth or continuance.  143
  Man’s unhappiness, as I construe, comes of his greatness; it is because there is an Infinite in him, which with all his cunning he cannot quite bury under the Finite.  144
  Manhood begins when we have, in a way, made truce with necessity; begins, at all events, when we have surrendered to necessity, as the most part only do; but begins joyfully and hopefully only when we have reconciled ourselves to necessity, and thus, in reality, triumphed over it, and felt that in necessity we are free.  145
  Men always worships something; always he sees the infinite shadowed forth in something finite.  146
  Men do less than they ought unless they do all that they can.  147
  Men seldom, or rather never for a length of time and deliberately, rebel against anything that does not deserve rebelling against.  148
  Men’s hearts ought not to be set against one another, but set with one another, and all against the evil thing only.  149
  Midas longed for gold, and insulted the Olympians. He got gold, so that whatever he touched became gold, and he, with his long ears, was little the better for it. Midas had insulted Apollo and the gods; the gods gave him his wish, and a pair of long ears, which also were a good appendage to it. What a truth in these old fables!  150
  Money will buy money’s worth; but the thing men call fame, what is it?  151
  Money, in truth, can do much, but it cannot do all. We must know the province of it, and confine it there, and even spurn it back when it wishes to get farther.  152
  Music is a kind of inarticulate unfathomable speech, which leads us to the edge of the infinite, and lets us for moments gaze into that.  153
  Music is well said to be the speech of angels.  154
  Nature, after all, is still the grand agent in making poets.  155
  No country can find eternal peace and comfort where the vote of Judas Iscariot is as good as the vote of the Saviour of mankind.  156
  No good book, or good thing of any sort, shows its best face at first.  157
  No iron chain, or outward force of any kind, could ever compel the soul of man to believe or to disbelieve: it is his own indefeasible light, that judgment of his; he will reign and believe there by the grace of God alone!  158
  No man is born without ambitious worldly desires.  159
  No man lives without jostling and being jostled; in all ways he has to elbow himself through the world, giving and receiving offence.  160
  No nobler feeling than this of admiration for one higher than himself dwells in the breast of man.  161
  No sadder proof can be given by a man of his own littleness than disbelief in great men.  162
  No violent extreme endures.  163
  Not one false man but doth uncountable evil.  164
  Nothing that was worthy in the past departs; no truth or goodness realized by man ever does or can die; but all is still here, and, recognized or not, lives and works through endless changes.  165
  O thou who art able to write a book, which once in the two centuries or oftener there is a man gifted to do, envy not him whom they name city-builder, and inexpressibly pity him whom they name conqueror or city-burner.  166
  O Time! Time! how it brings forth and devours! And the roaring flood of existence rushes on forever similar, forever changing!  167
  Obedience is our universal duty and destiny; wherein whoso will not bend must break; too early and too thoroughly we cannot be trained to know that “would,” in this world of ours, is a mere zero to “should,” and for most part as the smallest of fractions even to “shall.”  168
  Of a truth men are mystically united.  169
  Of all acts is not, for a man, repentance the most divine? The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none.  170
  Of all paths a man could strike into, there is, at any given moment, a best path for every man,—a thing which, here and now, it were of all things wisest for him to do; which, could he but be led or driven to do, he were then doing like a man, as we phrase it. His success, in such a case, were complete, his felicity a maximum.  171
  Of all the things which man can do or make here below, by far the most momentous, wonderful, and worthy are the things we call books.  172
  On the whole we must repeat the often repeated saying, that it is unworthy a religious man to view an irreligious one either with alarm or aversion; or with any other feeling than regret, and hope, and brotherly commiseration.  173
  Our grand business is, not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.  174
  Out of eternity this new day is born; into eternity at night will return.  175
  Over the time thou hast no power; to redeem a world sunk in dishonesty has not been given thee; solely over one man therein thou hast a quite absolute, uncontrollable power; him redeem, him make honest.  176
  Piety does not mean that a man should make a sour face about things, and refuse to enjoy in moderation what his Maker has given.  177
  Pin thy faith to no man’s sleeve. Hast thou not two eyes of thy own?  178
  Poetry is the attempt which man makes to render his existence harmonious.  179
  Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world.  180
  Rare benevolence, the minister of God.  181
  Reform, like charity, must begin at home. Once well at home, how will it radiate outwards, irrepressible, into all that we touch and handle, speak and work,—kindling ever new light by incalculable contagion; spreading, in geometric ratio, far and wide; doing good only, wherever it spreads, and not evil.  182
  Rest is a fine medicine. Let your stomachs rest, ye dyspeptics; let your brain rest, you wearied and worried men of business; let your limbs rest, ye children of toil!  183
  Rich as we are in biography, a well-written life is almost as rare as a well-spent one; and there are certainly many more men whose history deserves to be recorded than persons willing and able to record it.  184
  Roguery is thought by some to be cunning and laughable: it is neither; it is devilish.  185
  Sarcasm, I now see to be, in general, the language of the devil.  186
  Scarcely two hundred years back can Fame recollect articulately at all; and there she but maunders and mumbles.  187
  Secrecy is the element of all goodness; even virtue, even beauty is mysterious.  188
  See deep enough, and you see musically; the heart of nature being everywhere music, if you can only reach it.  189
  Shakespeare says, we are creatures that look before and after; the more surprising that we do not look around a little, and see what is passing under our very eyes.  190
  Silence is deep as eternity; speech is shallow as time.  191
  Silence is more eloquent than words.  192
  Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together, that, at length, they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of life, which they are henceforth to rule.  193
  Silence is the eternal duty of man.  194
  Silence, the great Empire of Silence: higher than all stars; deeper than the Kingdom of Death! It alone is great; all else is small.  195
  Society is founded on hero-worship.  196
  Speak not at all, in any wise, till you have somewhat to speak; care not for the reward of your speaking, but simply and with undivided mind for the truth of your speaking.  197
  Speech is great, but silence is greater.  198
  Speech is of time, silence is of eternity.  199
  Speech is silver, silence is golden.  200
  Speech is too often not, as the Frenchman defined it, the art of concealing thought, but of quite stifling and suspending thought, so that there is none to conceal.  201
  Speech is  *  *  *  the art of  *  *  *  stifling and suspending thought.  202
  Speech that leads not to action, still more that hinders it, is a nuisance on the earth.  203
  Superstition! that horrid incubus which dwelt in darkness, shunning the light, with all its racks, and poison chalices, and foul sleeping draughts, is passing away without return. Religion cannot pass away. The burning of a little straw may hide the stars of the sky; but the stars are there and will reappear.  204
  Taste, if it mean anything but a paltry connoisseurship, must mean a general susceptibility to truth and nobleness, a sense to discern, and a heart to love and reverence all beauty, order, goodness, wheresoever, or in whatsoever forms and accompaniments they are to be seen. This surely implies, as its chief condition, not any given external rank or situation, but a finely-gifted mind, purified into harmony with itself, into keenness and justness of vision; above all, kindled into love and generous admiration.  205
  Terror itself, when once grown transcendental, becomes a kind of courage; as frost sufficiently intense, according to the poet Milton, will burn.  206
  Thalwell thought it very unfair to influence a child’s mind by inculcating any opinions before it had come to years of discretion to choose for itself. I showed him my garden, and told him it was a botanical garden. “How so?” said he; “it is covered with weeds.” “O,” I replied, “that is only because it has not yet come to its age of discretion and choice. The weeds, you see, have taken the liberty to grow, and thought it unfair in me to prejudice the soil towards roses and strawberries.”  207
  That great mystery of time, were there no other; the illimitable, silent, never-resting thing called time, rolling, rushing on, swift, silent, like an all-embracing ocean-tide, on which we and all the universe swim like exhalations, like apparitions which are, and then are not: this is forever very literally a miracle; a thing to strike us dumb, for we have no word to speak about it.  208
  That there should one man die ignorant who had capacity for knowledge, this I call a tragedy, were it to happen more than twenty times in a minute, as by some computations it does.  209
  The all importance of clothes has sprung up in the intellect of the dandy without effort, like an instinct of genius; he is inspired with clothes, a poet of clothes.  210
  The block of granite, which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, becomes a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.  211
  The chambers of the East are opened in every land, and the sun come forth to sow the earth with orient pearl. Night, the ancient mother, follows him with her diadem of stars.  *  *  *  Bright creatures! how they gleam like spirits through the shadows of innumerable eyes from their thrones in the boundless depths of heaven.  212
  The choking, sweltering, deadly, and killing rule of no rule; the consecration of cupidity and braying of folly, and dim stupidity and baseness, in most of the affairs of men. Slopshirts attainable three-halfpence cheaper by the ruin of living bodies and immortal souls.  213
  The curtains of Yesterday drop down, the curtains of To-morrow roll up; but Yesterday and To-morrow both are.  214
  The deepest depth of vulgarism is that of setting up money as the ark of the covenant.  215
  The devil has his elect.  216
  The difference between Socrates and Jesus Christ? The great Conscious; the immeasurably great Unconscious.  217
  The end of man is an action, and not a thought, though it were the noblest.  218
  The essence of humor is sensibility; warm, tender fellow-feeling with all forms of existence.  219
  The eternal stars shine out as soon as it is dark enough.  220
  The eye sees what it brings the power to see.  221
  The fearful unbelief is unbelief in yourself.  222
  The genuine essence of truth never dies.  223
  The ghostly consciousness of wrong.  224
  The great law of culture is, Let each become all that he was created capable of being; expand, if possible, to his full growth; resisting all impediments, casting off all foreign, especially all noxious adhesions, and show himself at length in his own shape and stature be these what they may.  225
  The great silent man! Looking round on the noisy inanity of the world,—words with little meaning, actions with little worth,—one loves to reflect on the great Empire of Silence.  226
  The great soul of this world is just.  227
  The greatest of all heroes is One—whom we do not name here! Let sacred silence meditate that sacred matter; you will find it the ultimate perfection of a principle extant throughout man’s whole history on earth.  228
  The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.  229
  The healthy know not of their health, but only the sick: this is the physician’s aphorism, and applicable in a far wider sense than he gives it.  230
  The Highest Being reveals himself in man.  231
  The insignificant, the empty, is usually the loud; and after the manner of a drum, is louder even because of its emptiness.  232
  The latest gospel in this world is, know thy work and do it.  233
  The leafy blossoming present time springs from the whole past, remembered and unrememberable.  234
  The man who cannot laugh is not only fit for treasons, strategems, and spoils, but his whole life is already a treason and a strategem.  235
  The merit of originality is not novelty; it is sincerity. The believing man is the original man; whatsoever he believes, he believes it for himself, not for another.  236
  The modern majesty consists in work.  237
  The nobleness of silence. The highest melody dwells only in silence,—the sphere melody, the melody of health.  238
  The older I grow—and I now stand upon the brink of eternity—the more comes back to me that sentence in the Catechism which I learned when a child, and the fuller and deeper its meaning becomes, “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  239
  The philosopher is he to whom the highest has descended, and the lowest has mounted up; who is the equal and kindly brother of all.  240
  The present is the living sum-total of the whole past.  241
  The press is the fourth estate of the realm.  242
  The scandalous bronze-lacquer age of hungry animalisms, spiritual impotences, and mendacities, will have to run its course, till the pit follow it.  243
  The situation that has not its duty, its ideal, was never yet occupied by man. Yes, here, in this poor, miserable, hampered, despicable actual, wherein thou even now standest, here or nowhere is thy ideal; work it put therefrom, and, working, believe, live, be free. Fool! the ideal is in thyself.  244
  The station that has not its duty, its ideal, was never yet occupied by man. Yes, here in this poor, miserable, hampered, despicable actual, wherein thou even now standest,—here or nowhere is thy ideal; work it out therefrom; and working, believe, live, be free.  245
  The stifled hum of midnight, when traffic has lain down to rest, and the chariot, wheels of Vanity, still rolling here and there through distant streets are bearing her to halls roofed in and lighted to the due pitch for her; and only vice and misery, to prowl or to moan like night birds, are abroad.  246
  The thing is not only to avoid error, but to attain immense masses of truth.  247
  The true epic of our times is not “Arms and the Man,” but “Tools and the Man,”—an infinitely wider kind of epic.  248
  The true eye for talent presupposes the true reverence for it.  249
  The true university of these days is a collection of books.  250
  The vulgarity of inanimate things requires time to get accustomed to; but living, breathing, bustling, plotting, planning, human vulgarity is a species of moral ipecacuanha, enough to destroy any comfort.  251
  The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers on a single object, can accomplish something; the strongest, by dispensing his over many, may fail to accomplish anything. The drop, by continually falling, bores its passage through the hardest rock. The hasty torrent rushes over it with hideous uproar, and leaves no trace behind.  252
  The wise man is but a clever infant.  253
  The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green.  254
  The world is a thing that a man must learn to despise, and even to neglect, before he can learn to reverence it, and work in it and for it.  255
  The world is an old woman, that mistakes any gilt farthing for a gold coin; whereby. being often cheated, she will henceforth trust nothing but the common copper.  256
  There are but two ways of paying debt: increase of industry in raising income, increase of thrift in laying out.  257
  There are female dandies as well as clothes-wearing men; and the former are as objectionable as the latter.  258
  There are remedies for all things but death.  259
  There is a majesty and mystery in nature, take her as you will. The essence of poetry comes breathing to a mind that feels from every province of her empire.  260
  There is a perennial nobleness and even sacredness in work. Were he ever so benighted, forgetful of his high calling, there is always hope in a man that actually and earnestly works.  261
  There is but one thing without honor, smitten with eternal barrenness, inability to do or to be—insincerity, unbelief. He who believes nothing, who believes only the shows of things, is not in relation with nature and fact at all.  262
  There is in it a placid inexhaustibility, a calm, vicious infinitude, which will baffle even the gods.  263
  There is in man a higher than love of happiness; he can do without happiness, and instead thereof find blessedness.  264
  There is no heroic poem in the world but is at bottom a biography, the life of a man.  265
  There needs not a great soul to make a hero; there needs a God-created soul which will be true to its origin; that will be a great soul.  266
  These limbs,—whence had we them; this stormy force; this life-blood, with its burning passion? They are dust and shadow—a shadow system gathered round our me; wherein through some moments or years, the divine essence is to be revealed in the flesh.  267
  They wrong man greatly who say he is to be seduced by ease. Difficulty, abnegation, martyrdom, death, are the allurements that act on the heart of man. Kindle the inner genial life of him, you have a flame that burns up all lower considerations. Not happiness, but something higher; one sees this even in the frivolous classes, with their “point of honor” and the like. Not by flattering our appetites—no, by awakening the heroic that slumbers in every heart can any religious gain follow.  268
  Think of “living”! Thy life, wert thou the “pitifullest of all the sons of earth,” is no idle dream, but a solemn reality. It is thy own; it is all thou hast to front eternity with. Work, then, even as He has done, and does, “like a star, unhasting, yet unresting.”  269
  Thou fool! Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom; that idle crag thou sittest on is six thousand years of age.  270
  Thought is parent of the dead.  271
  Thought once awakened does not again slumber.  272
  Thought will not work except in silence.  273
  Time has only a relative existence.  274
  To be true is manly, chivalrous, Christian; to be false is mean, cowardly, devilish.  275
  To him and all of us the expressly appointed schoolmaster and schoolings are as nothing.  276
  To redeem a world sunk in dishonesty has not been given them. Solely over one man therein thou hast quite absolute control. Him redeem, him make honest.  277
  To say that we have a clear conscience is to utter a solecism; had we never sinned we should have had no conscience. Were defeat unknown, neither would victory be celebrated by songs of triumph.  278
  To-day is not yesterday; we ourselves change; how can our works and thoughts if they are always to be the fittest, continue always the same? Change, indeed, is painful; yet ever needful; and if memory have its force and worth, so also has hope.  279
  True humor springs not more from the head than from the heart; it is not contempt; its essence is love: it issues not in laughter, but in still smiles, which lie far deeper. It is a sort of inverse sublimity, exalting, as it were, into our affections what is below us, while sublimity draws down into our affections what is above us.  280
  “Truth,” I cried, “though the heavens crush me for following her; no falsehood, though a whole celestial Lubberland were the price of apostasy!”  281
  Unity, agreement, is always silent or soft-voiced; it is only discord that loudly proclaims itself.  282
  Vain hope, to make people happy by politics!  283
  Venerable to me is the hard hand,—crooked, coarse,—wherein, notwithstanding, lies a cunning virtue, indispensably royal as of the sceptre of the planet.  284
  Violence does even justice unjustly.  285
  Virtue is, like health, the harmony of the whole man.  286
  We are the miracle of miracles, the great inscrutable mystery of God.  287
  We are to take no counsel with flesh and blood; give ear to no vain cavils, vain sorrows and wishes; to know that we know nothing, that the worst and cruelest to our eyes is not what it seems, that we have to receive whatsoever befalls us as sent from God above, and say, “It is good and wise,—God is great! Though He slay me, yet I trust in Him.” Islam means, in its way, denial of self. This is yet the highest wisdom that heaven has revealed to our earth.  288
  We have not read an author till we have seen his object, whatever it may be, as he saw it.  289
  We have not the love of greatness, but the love of the love of greatness.  290
  We have oftener than once endeavored to attach some meaning to that aphorism, vulgarly imputed to Shaftesbury, which however we can find nowhere in his works, that “ridicule is the test of truth.”  291
  “We touch heaven when we lay our hand on a human body!” This sounds much like a mere flourish of rhetoric; but it is not so. If well meditated, it will turn out to be a scientific fact; the expression, in such words as can be had, of the actual truth of the thing. We are the miracle of miracles,—the great inscrutable mystery of God. We cannot understand it, we know not how to speak of it; but we may feel and know, if we like, that it is verily so.  292
  We observe with confidence that the truly strong mind, view it as intellect or morality, or under any other aspect, is nowise the mind acquainted with its strength; that here the sign of health is unconsciousness.  293
  Well might the ancients make silence a god; for it is the element of all godhood, infinitude, or transcendental greatness,—at once the source and the ocean wherein all such begins and ends.  294
  What a wretched thing is all fame! A renown of the highest sort endures, say, for two thousand years. And then? Why, then, a fathomless eternity swallows it. Work for eternity: not the meagre rhetorical eternity of the periodical critics, but for the real eternity, wherein dwelleth the Divine.  295
  What an enormous “camera-obscura” magnifier is tradition! How a thing grows in the human memory, in the human imagination, when love, worship, and all that lies in the human heart, is there to encourage it; and in the darkness in the entire ignorance, without date or document, no book, no Arundel marble, only here and there some dull monumental cairn!  296
  What is all knowledge, too, but recorded experience, and a product of history; of which, therefore, reasoning and belief, no less than action and passion, are essential materials?  297
  What is nature? Art thou not the living government of God? O Heaven, is it in very deed He then that ever speaks through thee,—that lives and loves in thee, that lives and loves in me?  298
  What the light of your mind, which is the direct inspiration of the Almighty, pronounces incredible, that, in God’s name, leave uncredited. At your peril do not try believing that!  299
  What unknown seas of feeling lie in man, and will from time to time break through!  300
  When I gaze into the stars, they look down upon me with pity from their serene and silent spaces, like eyes glistening with tears over the little lot of man. Thousands of generations, all as noisy as our own, have been swallowed up by time, and there remains no record of them any more. Yet Arcturus and Orion, Sirius and Pleiades, are still shining in their courses, clear and young, as when the shepherd first noted them in the plain of Shinar!  301
  Whoever has sixpence is sovereign over all men,—to the extent of the sixpence; commands cooks to feed him, philosophers to teach him, kings to mount guard over him, to the extent of sixpence.  302
  Whose school-hours are all days and nights of our existence.  303
  Wise man was he who counselled that speculation should have free course, and look fearlessly towards all the thirty-two points of the compass, whithersoever and howsoever it listed.  304
  With respect to duels, indeed, I have my own ideas. Few things in this so surprising world strike me with more surprise. Two little visual spectra of men, hovering with insecure enough cohesion in the midst of the unfathomable, and to dissolve therein, at any rate, very soon, make pause at the distance of twelve paces asunder, whirl around, and simultaneously, by the cunningest mechanism, explode one another into dissolution; and, off-hand, become air, and non-extant—the little spitfires!  305
  With union grounded on falsehood and ordering us to speak and act lies, we will not have anything to do. Peace? A brutal lethargy is peaceable; the noisome grave is peaceable. We hope for a living peace, not a dead one!  306
  Without kindness, there can be no true joy.  307
  Without labor there were no ease, no rest, so much as conceivable.  308
  Without oblivion, there is no remembrance possible. When both oblivion and memory are wise, when the general soul of man is clear, melodious, true, there may come a modern Iliad as memorial of the past.  309
  Woe to him,  *  *  *  who has court of appeal against the world’s judgment.  310
  Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, altogether past calculation its powers of entrance.  311
  Work is alone noble.  312
  Worship of a hero is transcendent admiration of a great man.  313

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.