Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Arthur Helps, fully Sir Arthur Helps

English Writer, Historian, Biographer and Dean of the Privy Council

"Experience is the extract of suffering."

"More than half the difficulties of the world would be allayed or removed by the exhibition of good temper."

"Most terrors are but spectral illusions. Only have the courage of the man who could walk up to his spectre seated in the chair before him, and sit down upon it; the horrid thing will not partake the chair with you."

"It is a good thing to believe; it is a good thing to admire. By continually looking upwards; as a man, by indulging in habits of scorn and contempt for others, is sure to descend to the level of those he despises."

"Few persons have tact enough to perceive when to be silent."

"Patience is even more rarely manifested in the intellect than it is in the temper."

"Some persons, instead of making a religion for their God, are content to make a god of their religion."

"The most common-place people become highly imaginative when they are in a passion. Whole dramas of insult, injury and wrong pass before their minds, efforts of creative genius, for there is sometimes not a fact to go upon."

"The most enthusiastic man in a cause is rarely chosen as a leader."

"The world will tolerate many vices, but not their diminutives."

"To hear always, to think always, to learn always, it is thus that we live truly. He who aspires to nothing, who learns nothing, is not worthy of living."

"All other passions condescend at times to accept the inexorable logic of facts; but jealousy looks facts straight in the face, and ignores them utterly, and says she knows a great deal better than they tell her."

"Infinite toil would not enable you to sweep away a mist; but by ascending a little you may often look over it altogether. So it is with our moral improvement; we wrestle fiercely with a vicious habit; which would have no hold upon is if we ascended into a higher moral atmosphere."

"Tolerance is the only real test of civilization."

"Offended vanity is the great separator in social life."

"Reading is sometimes an ingenious device for avoiding thought."

"Any one who is much talked of must be much maligned. This seems to be a harsh conclusion; but when you consider how much more given men are to depreciate than to appreciate, you will acknowledge that there is some truth in the saying."

"Be cheerful: do not brood over fond hopes unrealized until a chain is fastened on each thought and wound around the heart. Nature intended you to be the fountain-spring of cheerfulness and social life, and not the mountain of despair and melancholy"

"There is a gift that is almost a blow, and there is a kind word that is munificence; so much is there in the way of doing things."

"Wisdom is seldom gained without suffering."

"If you understand your own age, read the works of fiction produced in it. People in disguise speak freely."

"It takes a great man to make a good listener."

"Wise sayings often fall on barren ground; but a kind word is never thrown away."

"A great many wise sayings have been uttered about the effects of solitary retirement; but the motives which impel men to seek it are not more various than the effects which it produces on different individuals. One thing is certain, that those who can with truth affirm that they are never less alone than when alone, might generally add that they never feel more lonely than when not alone."

"A great and frequent error in our judgment of human nature is to suppose that those sentiments and feelings have no existence, which may be only for a time concealed. The precious metals are not found at the surface of the earth, except in sandy places."

"A mixture of admiration and pity is one of the surest recipes for affection."

"A man's action is only a picture book of his creed."

"A friend is one who does not laugh when you are in a ridiculous position."

"Almost all human affairs are tedious. Everything is too long. Visits, dinners, concerts, plays, speeches, pleadings, essays, sermons, are too long. Pleasure and business labour equally under this defect, or, as I should rather say, this fatal superabundance."

"Be cheerful, no matter what reverse obstruct your pathway, or what plagues follow you in your trail to annoy you. Ask yourself what is to be gained by looking or feeling sad when troubles throng around you, or how your condition is to be alleviated by abandoning yourself to despondency. If you are a young man, nature designed you to be of good cheer; and should you find your road to fortune, fame, or respectability, or any other boon to which your young heart aspires, a little thorny, consider it all for the best, and that these impediments are only thrown in your way to induce greater efforts and more patient endurance on your part. Far better spend a whole life in diligent, aye, cheerful and unremitting toil, though you never attain the pinnacle of your ambitious desires, than to turn back at the first appearance of misfortune, and allow despair to unnerve your energies, or sour your naturally sweet and cheerful disposition. If you are of the softer, fairer portion of humanity, be cheerful; though we know full well that most affections are sweet to you when compared with disappointment and neglect, yet let hope banish despair and ill forebodings. Be cheerful: do not brood over fond hopes unrealized, until a chain, link after link, is fastened on each thought and wound around the heart. Nature intended you to be the fountain-spring of cheerfulness and social life, and not the travelling monument of despair and melancholy."

"An official man is always an official man, and he has a wild belief in the value of reports"

"Do not mistake energy for enthusiasm; the softest speakers are often the most enthusiastic of men."

"Choose an author as you choose a friend."

"Everywhere I have sought rest and not found it, except sitting in a corner by myself with a little book."

"Every happiness is a hostage to fortune."

"Few have wished for memory so much as they have longed for forgetfulness."

"Extremely foolish advice is likely to be uttered by those who are looking at the laboring vessel from the land."

"How to gain the advantages of society, without at the same time losing ourselves, is a question of no slight difficulty. The wise man often follows the crowd at a little distance, in order that he may not come suddenly upon it, nor become entangled with it, and that he may with some means of amusement maintain a clear and quiet pathway."

"In a balanced organization, working towards a common objective, there is success."

"In a quarrel between two friends, if one of them, even the injured one, were in the retirement of his chamber, to consider himself as the hired advocate of the other at the court of wronged friendship; and were to omit all the facts which told in his own favour, to exaggerate all that could possibly be said against himself, and to conjure up from his imagination a few circumstances of the same tendency; he might with little effort make a good case for his former friend. Let him be assured, that whatever the most skillful advocate could say, his poor friend really believes and feels; and then, instead of wondering at the insolence of such a traitor walking about in open day, he will pity his friend's delusion, have some gentle misgivings as to the exact propriety of his own conduct, and perhaps sue for an immediate reconciliation."

"Having once decided to achieve a certain task, achieve it at all costs of tedium and distaste. The gain in self-confidence of having accomplished a tiresome labor is immense."

"In the world of mind, as in that of matter, we always occupy a position. He who is continually changing his point of view will see more, and that too more clearly, than one who, statue-like, forever stands upon the same pedestal; however lofty and well-placed that pedestal may be."

"I do not know of any sure way of making others happy as being so one's self."

"Irony is contempt disguised as an actor in the ancient tragedy, with the buskin and the mask, at once elevated and concealed. It may give your adversary discomfort, but will never persuade him to alter his opinion; for, in order to convince, we must not only be, but appear in earnest."

"If you would understand your own age, read the works of fiction produced in it. People in disguise speak freely."

"Is boredom anything less than the sense of one's faculties slowly dying?"

"It has always appeared to me, that there is so much to be done in this world, that all self-inflicted suffering which cannot be turned to good account for others, is a loss - a loss, if you may so express it, to the spiritual world."

"It is a weak thing to tell half your story, and then ask your friend's advice--a still weaker thing to take it."

"It is a shallow mind that suspects or rejects an offered kindness because it is unable to discover the motive. It would have been as wise for the Egyptians to have scorned the pure waters of the Nile because they were not quite certain about the source of that mighty river."

"It is an error to suppose that no man understands his own character. Most persons know even their failings very well, only they persist in giving them names different from those usually assigned by the rest of the world; and they compensate for this mistake by naming, at first sight, with singular accuracy, those very same failings in others."