Quotations about   chance

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You can have the other words — chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I’ll take grace. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll take it.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“Sand Dabs, Five,” Winter Hours (1999)
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Added on 17-Mar-20 | Last updated 20-Mar-20
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Convinced that character is all and circumstances nothing, [the Puritan] sees in the poverty of those who fall by the way, not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved, but a moral failing to be condemned, and in riches, not an object of suspicion but the blessing which rewards the triumph of energy and will.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, ch. 4 (1926)
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Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 17-Apr-20
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Chance generally favors the prudent.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées, # 147 (1838) [tr. Atwell]

Variant: "Chance generally favors the prudent man."
Added on 13-May-16 | Last updated 13-May-16
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A consecutive series of great actions never is the result of chance and luck; it is always the product of planning and genius. … Is it because they are lucky that they have become great? No, but by being great, they have been able to master luck.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) French emperor, military leader
Remarks to Emanuel Las Cases (14 Nov 1816)

In The Mind of Napoleon: A Selection from His Written and Spoken Words, ch. 56 [ed. J. Herold (1955)]
Added on 2-Dec-15 | Last updated 2-Dec-15
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The power of fortune is confessed only by the miserable; for the happy impute all their success to prudence or merit.
Jonathan Swift - fortune - wist_info

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
“Thoughts on Various Subjects” (1706)
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Added on 15-Oct-15 | Last updated 15-Oct-15
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Scientists have calculated that the chances of something so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one. But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Mort (1987)
Added on 19-Aug-15 | Last updated 19-Aug-15
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Man — who is he? Too bad, to be the work of God: Too good for the work of chance!

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramiturg, writer
(Attributed)

In James Wood, Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern English and Foreign Sources (1899).
Added on 25-Mar-15 | Last updated 25-Mar-15
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Only when man’s life comes to its end in prosperity can one call that man happy.

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
Agamemnon, l. 928

Alt trans.:
  • "Call no man happy till he is dead."
  • "Hold him alone truly fortunate who has ended his life in happy well-being."
Compare to Sophocles.
Added on 18-Aug-09 | Last updated 6-Jul-20
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Nought venter nought have.

John Heywood (1497?-1580?) English playwright and epigrammist
Proverbes, Part 1, ch. 11 (1564)
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More commonly rendered, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
Added on 27-Apr-09 | Last updated 13-Jul-20
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When playing Russian roulette the fact that the first shot got off safely is little comfort for the next.

Richard Feynman (1918-1988) American physicist
Rogers Commission Report into the Challenger Crash, Appendix F “Personal Observations on Reliability of Shuttle” (Jun 1986)

Full report
Added on 19-Feb-08 | Last updated 10-Jan-20
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It may be that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong — but that’s the way to bet.

Hugh E. Keough (1864-1912) Canadian-American sports journalist
(Attributed)

Variants:
  • "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but the betting is best that way."
  • "To be sure the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but it is ninety-nine times in a hundred."
Also attributed to Damon Runyon, Franklin Pierce Adams, Grantland Rice, and Burns Mantle, all of of whom in turn credited Keough. The saying itself, a take-off on Ecclesiastes 9:11, has a number of antecedents: see here for more background.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Aug-15
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And, to conclude, he that leaveth nothing to Chance will do few things ill, but he will do very few things.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Of Caution and Suspicion,” Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
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Sometimes incorrectly attributed to Edward Wood, Earl of Halifax (1881-1959).
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 30-Jan-20
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