Great Throughts Treasury

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

Frank Crane

Presbyterian Minister, Speaker, and Columnist who wrote ten volumes of "Four Minute Essays"

"The mind is a river; upon its water thoughts float through in a constant procession every conscious moment. It is a narrow river, however, and you stand on a bridge over it and can stop and turn back any thought that comes along, and they can come only single file, one at a time. The art of contentment is to let no thought pass that is going to disturb you."

"Responsibility is the thing people dread the most of all. Yet it is one thing in the world that develops us."

"The Golden Rule is of no use to you whatever unless you realize that it is your move."

"Humility is the wish to be great and the dread of being called great. It is the wish to help and the dread of thanks. It is the love of service and the distaste for rule. It is trying to be good and blushing when caught at it."

"Habits are safer than rules; you don't have to watch them. And you don't have to keep them either. They keep you."

"Unfortunately, it is easy to imagine that anyone hates you, and hard to think anyone loves you. But you must be bold to believe in love if you would be happy."

"You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough."

"You do not succeed because you do not know what you want, or you don't want it intensely enough."

"The art of contentment is to let no thought pass that is going to disturb you."

"Our best friends and our worst enemies are our thoughts."

"The human heart is the throne of God, the council-chamber of the devil, the dwelling of angels, the vile heath of witches' Sabbaths, the nursery of sweet children, the blood-spattered scene of nameless tragedies."

"Nobilities, indecencies, heroic impulses, cowardly ravings, good and bad, white and black — the mystery of mysteries, the central island of nescience in a sea of science, the dark spot in the lighted room of knowledge, the unknown quantity, the X in the universal problem."

"There is a passage of Holy Writ that exhorts us that if there be any good things, such as love, virtue, truth, and so on, we ought to think on these things. The fact that seems to underlie this exhortation is that we become what we think about."

"A friend is someone with whom you dare to be yourself."

"Bend close! You will smell the lily fragrance of love, the stench of lust, now odors as exquisite as the very spirit of violets, and now such nauseous repulsions as words cannot tell."

"Education is the fire-proofer of emotions"

"Go outdoors and get rid of nerves."

"If you would inform, a positive and dogmatic manner in advancing your sentiments may provoke contradiction and prevent a candid attention. If you wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet at the same time express yourself as firmly fixed in your present opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed in the possession of your error."

"A good motto is: use friendliness but do not use your friends."

"It takes so little to make people happy. Just a touch, If we know how to give it, just a word fitly spoken, a slight readjustment of some bolt or pin or bearing in the delicate machinery of a soul."

"Listen! You will hear mothers' lullabies, madmen's shrieks, love-croonings, cries of agonized terror, hymns of Christ, the roaring of lynch mobs, the kisses of lovers, the curses of pirates."

"Better than big business is clean business. To an honest man the most satisfactory reflection after he has amassed his dollars is not that they are many but that they are all clean. What constitutes clean business? The answer is obvious enough, but the obvious needs restating every once in a while. A clean profit is one that has also made a profit for the other fellow. This is fundamental moral axiom in business. Any gain that arises from another's loss is dirty. Any business whose prosperity depends upon damage to any other business is a menace to the general welfare. That is why gambling, direct or indirect, is criminal, why lotteries are prohibited by law, and why even gambling slot-machine devices are not tolerated in civilized countries. When a farmer sells a housekeeper a barrel of apples, when a milkman sells her a quart of milk, or the butcher a pound of steak, or the dry-goods man a yard of muslin, the housekeeper is benefited quite as much as those who get her money. That is the type of honest, clean business, the kind that helps everybody and hurts nobody. Of course as business becomes more complicated it grows more difficult to tell so clearly whether both sides are equally prospered. No principle is automatic. It requires sense, judgment, and conscience to keep clean; but it can be done, nevertheless, if one is determined to maintain his self-respect. A man that makes a habit, every deal he goes into, of asking himself, What is there in it for the other fellow? and who refuses to enter into any transaction where his own gain will mean disaster to some one else, cannot go for wrong. And no matter how many memorial churches he builds, nor how much he gives to charity, or how many monuments he erects in his native town, any man who has made his money by ruining other people is not entitled to be called decent. A factory where many workmen are given employment, paid living wages, and where health and life are conserved, is doing more real good in the world than ten eleemosynary institutions. The only really charitable dollar is the clean dollar. And the nasty dollar, wrung from wronged workmen or gotten by unfair methods from competitors, is never nastier than when it pretends to serve the Lord by being given to the poor, to education, or to religion. In the long run all such dollars tend to corrupt and disrupt society. Of all vile money, that which is the most unspeakably vile is the money spent for war; for war is conceived by the blundering ignorance and selfishness of rulers, is fanned to flame by the very lowest passions of humanity, and prostitutes the highest ideal of men — zeal for the common good — to the business of killing human beings and destroying the results of their collective work."

"May become frustrated if documented in all people, but you will feel miserable true if you do not trust in a never."

"Most of the fear that spoils our life comes from attacking difficulties before we get to them."

"Most of the things we decide are not what we know to be the best. We say yes, merely because we are driven into a corner and must say something."

"Next, in importance to books are their titles."

"The human heart is a band playing in a park at a distance; we see the crowds listening, but we catch but fragments of the music now and again, and cannot make out the tune."

"The human heart is a cup of love, where some find life and zest, and some drunkenness and death."

"The human heart is a great city, teeming with myriad people, full of business and mighty doings, and we wander its crowded streets unutterably alone; we do not know what it is all about."

"The fact that seems to underlie this exhortation is that we become what we think about."

"The human heart is a deep still pool; in it are fishes of gold and silver, darting playfully, and slow-heaving slimy monsters, and tarnished treasure hoards, the infinite animalcular life; but when you look down at it you see but your own reflected face."

"The human heart is a great green tree, and many strange birds come and sing in its branches; a few build nests, but most are from far lands north and south, and never come again."

"The human heart is a garden, wherein grow weeds of memory and blooms of hope, and the snow falls at last and covers all."

"The human heart is a meadow full of fireflies, a summer western sky of shimmering distant lightnings, a shore set round with flashing lighthouses, far-away voices calling that we cannot understand."

"The human heart is a roaring forge where night and day the smiths are busy fashioning swords and silver cups, mitres and engine-wheels, the tools of labor, and the gauds of precedence."

"The human heart is a lonely lane in the evening, and two lovers are walking down it, whispering and lingering."

"The human heart is a tangled wood wherein no man knows his way."

"The human heart is a wide moor under a dull sky, with voices of invisible birds calling in the distance."

"The human heart is an egg; and out of it are hatched this world and heaven and hell."

"The human heart is an undiscovered country; men and women are forever perishing as they explore its wilds."

"The human heart to youth is a fairy-land of adventure, to old age it is a sitting room where one knows his way in the dark."

"Thoughts are given us, not only to chew over for ourselves, but to communicate to others. And if we can find a man that is ready to receive them, and a suitable occasion, there is nothing more pleasurable than giving them."

"What you want to be eventually, that you must be every day; and by and by the quality of your deeds will get down into your soul"

"We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy."

"You are wise, witty and wonderful, but you spend too much time reading this sort of stuff."

"What is a friend? I will tell you... it is someone with whom you dare to be yourself."

"Your sole contribution to the sum of things is yourself."