Quotations about   opportunity

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This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d, —
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed,
Shall think themselves accurs’d, they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap, whiles any speaks,
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry V, Act 4, sc. 3 [Henry] (1599)
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Added on 14-May-18 | Last updated 14-May-18
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The deep, deep peace of the double bed after the hurly-burly of the chaise-longue.

Beatrice Campbell (1865-1940) English actress [Mrs. Patrick Campbell, née Beatrice Stella Tanner]
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Describing her recent marriage. Quoted in Alexander Woollcott, "The First Mrs. Tanqueray," While Rome Burns (1934)
Added on 4-Apr-18 | Last updated 4-Apr-18
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From the standpoint of a professional military man there is one good thing about revolutions: the opportunities for swift promotion are excellent . . . even if the pay is inclined to be irregular.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Revolt in 2100, ch. 10 (1953)
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Added on 26-Aug-17 | Last updated 26-Aug-17
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When all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) English clergyman, historian, essayist, novelist (pseud. "Parson Lot")
“Water Babies,” Song 2, st. 1 (1863)
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Added on 16-May-17 | Last updated 16-May-17
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To-morrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
“Lycidas,” l. 193 (1638)
Added on 29-Dec-16 | Last updated 29-Dec-16
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A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.

emerson-rich-realm-abdicates-conformist-wist_info-quote

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (22-25 Mar 1839)
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Added on 14-Nov-16 | Last updated 14-Nov-16
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It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) South African revolutionary, politician, statesman
Long Walk to Freedom (1995)
Added on 12-Sep-16 | Last updated 12-Sep-16
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I will enjoy the pleasure of what I give by giving it alive, and seeing another enjoy it. When I die, I should be ashamed to leave enough to build me a monument if there were a wanting friend above ground.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
Letter to Jonathan Swift (9 Oct 1729)
Added on 2-Sep-16 | Last updated 2-Sep-16
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In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“I Have a Dream,” speech, Washington, DC (28 Aug 1963)
Added on 7-Jul-16 | Last updated 7-Jul-16
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An evil-speaker differs from an evil-doer only in the want of opportunity.

[Maledicus a malefico non distat nisi occasione.]

Quintilian (39-90) Roman orator [Marcus Fabius Quintilianus]
De Institutione Oratorio, Book 12, ch. 9, l. 9
Added on 13-Jun-16 | Last updated 13-Jun-16
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You convey too great a compliment when you say that I have earned the right to the presidential nomination. No man can establish such an obligation upon any part of the American people. My country owes me no debt. It gave me, as it gives every boy and girl, a chance. It gave me schooling, independence of action, opportunity for service and honor. In no other land could a boy from a country village, without inheritance or influential friends, look forward with unbounded hope. My whole life has taught me what America means. I am indebted to my country beyond any human power to repay.

Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) American engineer, bureaucrat, President of the US (1928-32)
Letter to George Moses (14 Jun 1928)

When learning of his nomination for President; Moses was the chairman of the Republican National Convention.
Added on 9-Jun-16 | Last updated 9-Jun-16
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My soul, sit thou a patient looker-on;
Judge not the play before the play is done:
Her plot hath many changes; every day
Speaks a new scene; the last act crowns the play.

Francis Quarles (1592-1644) English poet
Respice Finem, Epigram (1635)
Added on 31-May-16 | Last updated 31-May-16
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Times of general calamity and confusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm.

Colton - brightest thunderbolt - wist_info quote

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words, # 28 (1821 ed.)
Added on 10-Mar-16 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
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Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there … and light the bloody thing yourself.

Sara Henderson (1936-2005) Australian pastoralist and author
The Strength in Us All (1994)
Added on 29-Sep-15 | Last updated 29-Sep-15
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Mary, my sweet, carpe that old diem! — it’s the only game in town.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Methuselah’s Children [Lazarus Long] (1958)
Added on 28-Jul-15 | Last updated 28-Jul-15
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Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.

Henry J. Kaiser (1882-1967) American industrialist
(Attributed)
Added on 16-Mar-15 | Last updated 16-Mar-15
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Success is ten percent opportunity and ninety percent intelligent hustle.

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, businessman, philosopher
An American Bible [ed. Alice Hubbard] (1918)
Added on 20-Feb-15 | Last updated 20-Feb-15
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I’ve always been in the right place at the right time. Of course, I steered myself there.

Bob Hope (1903-2003) American comedian, actor, humanitarian (b. Leslie Townes Hope)
In Merla Zellerbach, “Revealing Secrets of Their Success,” San Francisco Chronicle (11 Jul 1979)
Added on 23-Jan-15 | Last updated 23-Jan-15
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Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history. And everyone here will ultimately be judged — will ultimately judge himself — on the effort he has contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which his ideals and goals have shaped that effort.

Robert Francis Kennedy (1925-1968) American politician
“Day of Affirmation,” address, University of Capetown, South Africa (6 Jun 1966)
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Added on 1-Dec-14 | Last updated 1-Dec-14
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Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.

Henry Miller (1891-1980) American novelist
The World of Sex (1940)
Added on 10-Nov-14 | Last updated 10-Nov-14
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In military operations what is done openly and by force is much less than what is done by stratagem and the use of opportunity.

Polybius (203?-120 BC) Greek historian
Histories, 9.12 [tr. Paton (1925)]
Added on 2-Oct-14 | Last updated 2-Oct-14
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Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. I am less chary of the latter than the former. Space we can recover, lost time never.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) French emperor, military leader
Letter to Baron von Stein, Dammartin le St. Père (7 Jan 1814)

Alt. trans.: "One always has a chance of recovering lost ground, but lost time -- never."
Added on 18-Sep-14 | Last updated 23-Apr-19
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I think I don’t regret a single “excess” of my responsive youth — I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
Letter to Hugh Walpole (21 Aug 1913)
Added on 1-Sep-14 | Last updated 1-Sep-14
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Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.

William Buell Sprague (1795-1876) American clergyman, philographer, biographer
(Attributed)
Added on 12-Aug-14 | Last updated 12-Aug-14
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From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Luke 12:48 (NIV)
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Alt. trans.:
  • KJV: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."
  • GNT: "Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given."
  • NRSV: "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded."
Added on 15-Jul-13 | Last updated 14-Oct-19
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A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

First attributed to Twain in 1945, but not found in his works. Earliest appearances of the quote date back to 1910, but are unattributed. It's often attributed to Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby), but she didn't say it until 1966. See here for more information.Variants:
  • "Who can see the barely perceptible line between the man who can not read at all and the man who does not read at all? The literate who can, but does not, read, and the illiterate who neither does nor can? [Original form.]
  • "The person who does not read has no advantage over the person who cannot read." ["Dear Abby", 19 Oct 1966]
  • "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
Added on 13-Dec-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Practical equality of opportunity for all citizens, when we achieve it, will have two great results. First, every man will have a fair chance to make of himself all that in him lies; to reach the highest point to which his capacities, unassisted by special privilege of his own and unhampered by the special privilege of others, can carry him, and to get for himself and his family substantially what he has earned. Second, equality of opportunity means that the commonwealth will get from every citizen the highest service of which he is capable. No man who carries the burden of the special privileges of another can give to the commonwealth that service to which it is fairly entitled.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
“The New Nationalism,” speech, Osawatomie, Kansas (31 Aug 1910)
Added on 3-Jul-12 | Last updated 17-Sep-15
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BRUTUS: There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Julius Caesar, 4.3.218 (1599)
Added on 2-Dec-11 | Last updated 12-Oct-17
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‘What do you fear, lady?’ he asked.
‘A cage,’ she said. ‘To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.’

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Book 5, ch. 2 “The Passing of the Grey Company” [Aragorn and Eowyn] (1954)
Added on 16-Aug-11 | Last updated 3-Sep-15
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When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
We Bereaved (1929)

Also in The Open Door (1957).
Added on 28-Jul-11 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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I wanted the hurtling moons of Barsoom. I wanted Storisende and Poictesme, and Holmes shaking me awake to tell me, “The game’s afoot!” I wanted to float down the Mississippi on a raft and elude a mob in company with the Duke of Bilgewater and the Lost Dauphin.

I wanted Prester John, and Excalibur held by a moon-white arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be what they had promised me it was going to be — instead of the tawdry, lousy fouled-up mess it is.

I had had one chance — for ten minutes yesterday afternoon. Helen of Troy, whatever your true name may be — And I had known it … and I had let it slip away.

Maybe one chance is all you ever get.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Glory Road, ch. 3 (1963)
Added on 12-Sep-08 | Last updated 26-Feb-18
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He who is bent on doing evil can never want occasion.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 459
Added on 14-Aug-08 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) American scientist and writer
“In the Valley of the Shadow,” Parade (10 Mar 1996)
Added on 9-Jun-08 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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Opportunities multiply as they are seized.

Sun-Tzu (fl. 6th C. AD) Chinese general and philosopher [a.k.a. Sun Wu]
(Spurious)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jul-14
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Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
In More Maxims of Mark [ed. M. Johnson (1925)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Ceremonies and Respects,” Essays, No. 3 (1625)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-May-16
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