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Circumstances are those things that attend, relate to, or in some way affect, a fact or event.


  • And circumstance, that unspiritual god,
    And miscreator, makes and helps along
    Our coming evils, with a critch-like rod,
    Whose touch turns hope to dust—the dust we all have trod.
  • Men are the sport of circumstances, when
    The circumstances seem the sport of men.
  • To what fortuitous occurrence do we not owe every pleasure and convenience of our lives.
  • Man without religion is the creature of circumstances. Religion is above all circumstances, and will lift him up above them.
  • Condition, circumstance is not the thing.
  • My circumstances
    Being so near the truth as I will make them,
    Must first induce you to believe.
  • Who does the best that circumstance allows,
    Does well, acts nobly, angels could no more.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night II, line 90. (Compare Habakkuk, II. 2)

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 119-120.
  • The massive gates of circumstance
    Are turned upon the smallest hinge,
    And thus some seeming pettiest chance
    Oft gives our life its after-tinge.

    The trifles of our daily lives,
    The common things, scarce worth recall,
    Whereof no visible trace survives,
    These are the mainsprings after all.
    • Anon. in Harper's Weekly (May 30, 1863)
  • Epicureans, that ascribed the origin and frame of the world not to the power of God, but to the fortuitous concourse of atoms.
    • Richard Bentley, Sermons, II. Preached in 1692. See also Review of Sir Robert Peel's Address. Attributed later to Sir John Russell. See Croker, Papers, Volume II, p. 56
  • I am the very slave of circumstance
    And impulse—borne away with every breath.
  • Odd instances of strange coincidence.
    • Queen Caroline's Advocate in the House of Lords, referring to her association with Bergami
  • Nulla cogente natura, sed concursu quodam fortuito.
    • Cicero, De Nat. Deorum, Book I. 24. Adapted by him to: "Fortuito quodam concursu atomorum." (By some fortuitous concourse of atoms.) Same in Quintilian. 7. 2. 2.
  • Thus neither the praise nor the blame is our own.
  • Man is not the creature of circumstances,
    Circumstances are the creatures of men.
  • It is circumstances (difficulties) which show what men are.
    • Epictetus, Chapter XXIV. Quoted from Ovid, Tristia, IV. 3. 79, scene 1; Long's translation
  • Man, without religion, is the creature of circumstances.
  • Thus we see, too, in the world that some persons assimilate only what is ugly and evil from the same moral circumstances which supply good and beautiful results—the fragrance of celestial flowers—to the daily life of others.
  • Et mihi res, non me rebus, subjungere conor.
    • And I endeavour to subdue circumstances to myself, and not myself to circumstances.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 1. 191
  • Quid velit et possit rerum concordia discors.
    • What the discordant harmony of circumstances would and could effect.
    • Horace, Epistles, I. 12. 19
  • For these attacks do not contribute to make us frail but rather show us to be what we are.
    • Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ. Dibdin's translation, Book I, Chapter XVI
  • Consilia res magis dant hominibus quam homines rebus.
    • Men's plans should be regulated by the circumstances, not circumstances by the plans.
    • Livy, Annales, XXII. 39
  • Man is the creature of circumstances.
  • The happy combination of fortuitous circumstances.
    • Walter Scott, Answer of the Author of Waverly to the Letter of Captain Clutterbuck, The Monastery
  • How comes it to pass, if they be only moved by chance and accident, that such regular mutations and generations should be begotten by a fortuitous concourse of atoms.
    • John Smith of Cambridge, Select Discourses, III, p. 48. (Ed. 1660). Same phrase found in Marcus, Minucius Felix his Octavius, preface (Pub. 1695)
  • In all distresses of our friends
    We first consult our private ends;
    While Nature, kindly bent to ease us,
    Points out some circumstance to please us.
  • Aliena nobis, nostra plus aliis placent.
    • The circumstances of others seem good to us, while ours seem good to others.
    • Syrus, Maxims
  • Varia sors rerum.
    • The changeful chance of circumstances.
    • Tacitus, Historiæ, Book II. 70
  • This fearful concatenation of circumstances.
    • Daniel Webster, argument in the Murder of Captain Joseph White (1830), Volume VI, p. 88
  • F. M. the Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr. —— and declines to interfere in circumstances over which he has no control.
    • Wellington. See G. A. Sala, Echoes of the Week in London Illustrated News, Aug. 23, 1884. See Capt. Marryatt—Settlers in Canada, p. 177. Grenville—Memoirs, Chapter II. (1823), gives early use of phrase.
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