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Failures don't plan to fail; they fail to plan.
- Harvey MacKay
You may boldly say, you did not plough
Or trust the barren and ungrateful sands
With the fruitful grain of your religious counsels.
- Philip Massinger, The Renegado
What keeps persons down in the world, besides lack of capacity, is not a philosophical contempt of riches or honors, but thoughtlessness and improvidence, a love of sluggish torpor, and of present gratification. It is not from preferring virtue to wealth--the goods of the mind to those of fortune--that they take no thought for the morrow; but from want of forethought and stern self-command. The restless, ambitious man too often directs these qualities to an unworthy object; the contented man is generally deficient in the qualities themselves. The one is a stream that flows too often in a wrong channel, and needs to have its course altered, the other is a stagnant pool.
- William Matthews
"All honor to him who shall win the prize,"
The world has cried for a thousand years;
But to him who tries and fails and dies,
I give great honor and glory and tears.
- Joaquin Miller (pseudonym of Cincinnatus Hiner Miller),
For Those Who Fail
If this fail,
The pillar'd firmament is rottenness,
And earth's base built on stubble.
- John Milton, Comus (l. 597)
My life has been nothing but a failure.
- Claude Monet
What we got here is a failure to communicate.
[Alt., What we've got here is . . .failure to communicate.]
- Paul Newman, Cool Hand Luke,
spoken by the movie chararcter Luke alternative spoken earlier by Strother Martin playing the Captain
What is failure except feebleness? And what is it to miss one's mark except to aim widely and weakly?
- Ouida (pseudonym of Marie Louise de la Ramee)
If he did not succeed, he at least failed in a glorious undertaking.
[Lat., Quem si non tenuit magnis tamen excidit ausis.]
- Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)
Why, like the hindmost chariot wheels, art curst
Still to be near but ne'er to reach the first.
[Lat., Nam quamvis prope to, quamvis temone sub uno
Verentem sese, frustra sectabere cantum
Cum rota posterior curras et in axe secundo.]
- Persius (Aulus Persius Flaccus), Satires
(Dryden's translation) one of the mottoes of the "Spectator", "Tatler", "Guardian"
Although strength should fail, the effort will deserve praise. In great enterprises the attempt is enough.
[Lat., Quod si deficiant vires, audacia certe
Laus erit: in magnis et voluisse sat est.]
- Sextus Aurelius Propertius, Elegioe
(II, 10, 5)
Allow me to offer my congratulations on the truly admirable skill you have shown in keeping clear of the mark. Not to have hit once in so many trials, argues the most splendid talents for missing.
- Thomas De Quincey ("The Opium Eater"),
Works (vol. XIV, p. 161),
quoting the Emperor Galerius to a soldier who missed the target many times in succession
He beat the bushes without taking the birds.
[Fr., [Il] battoit les buissons sans predre les ozillons.]
- Francois Rabelais, Gargantua (ch. II)
Here's to the men who lose!
What though their work be e'er so nobly plann'd
And watched with zealous care;
No glorious halo crowns their efforts grand--
Contempt is Failure's share!
- G.L. Scarborough, To the Vanquished
And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.
- Robert William Service,
The Men That Don't Fit In
We have scorched the snake, not killed it.
She'll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice
Remains in danger of her former tooth.
- William Shakespeare, Macbeth
(Macbeth at III, ii)
You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try.
- Beverly Sills
Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.
Not all who seem to fail have failed indeed,
Not all who fail have therefor worked in vain.
There is no failure for the good and brave.
- attributed to Archbishop Richard Chenevix Trench
In the end, the only people who fail are those who do not try.
- David S. Viscott
Failure is more frequently from want of energy than want of capital.
- Daniel Webster
He is only exempt from failures who makes no effort.
- Archbishop Richard Whately
He only is exempt from failures who makes no efforts.
- Archbishop Richard Whately
Every failure is a step to success; every detection of what is false directs us toward what is true; every trial exhausts some tempting form of error. Not only so, but scarcely any attempt is entirely a failure; scarcely any theory, the result of steady thought, is altogether false; no tempting form of error is without some latent charm derived from truth.
- William Whewell
It is the empiric who never fails.
- Robert Aris Willmott
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