Great Throughts Treasury

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

Jean Paul, born Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, aka Jean Paul Richter

German Romantic Writer and Novelist

"Mortal man thinks of himself as immortal because his race is immortal: he confuses the drop in the stream with the stream itself."

"Sleep, riches, and health - to be truly enjoyed, must be interrupted."

"The test of pleasure is the memory it leaves behind."

"Character is higher than intellect."

"A man never discloses his own character so clearly as when he describes another's."

"Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness, or else forgiving another."

"Only actions give life its strength, as only moderation gives it its charm."

"It is not the end of joy that makes old age so sad, but the end of hope."

"There are souls in this world which have the gift of finding joy everywhere and of leaving it behind them when they go."

"Sorrows gather around great souls as storms do around mountains; but, like them, they break the storm and purify the air of the plain beneath them."

"Never part without loving words to think of during your absence. It may be that you will not meet again in this life."

"A timid person is frightened before a danger, a coward during the time, and a courageous person afterwards."

"Man's feelings are always purest and most glowing in the hour of meeting and of farewell."

"Fancy rules over two thirds of the universe, the past, and future, while reality is confined to the present."

"Paradise is always where love dwells."

"We learn our virtues from our friends who love us; our faults from the enemy who hates us. We cannot easily discover our real character from a friend. He is a mirror, on which the warmth of our breath impedes the clearness of the reflection."

"Every man regards his own life as the New Year's Eve of time."

"Be great in act, as you have been in thought."

"A small sorrow distracts, a great one makes us collected; as a bell loses its clear tone when slightly cracked, and recovers it if the fissure is enlarged."

"Our memories are the only paradise from which we can never be expelled."

"The conscience of children is formed by the influences that surround them; their notions of good and evil are the result of the moral atmosphere they breathe."

"Brevity is the body and soul of wit. It is wit itself, for it alone isolates sufficiently for contrasts; because redundancy or diffuseness produces no distinctions."

"Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations."

"Begin the education of the heart, not with the cultivation of noble propensities, but with the cutting away of those that are evil. When once the noxious herbs are withered and rooted out, then the more noble plants, strong in themselves, will shoot upwards. The virtuous heart, like the body, becomes strong and healthy more by labor than nourishment."

"Cares are often more difficult to thrown off than sorrows; the latter die with time, the former grow upon it."

"Every man has two educations--that which is given to him, and the other, that which he gives to himself. Of the two kinds, the latter is by far the most valuable. Indeed, all that is most worthy in a man, he must work out and conquer for himself. It is that that constitutes our real and best nourishment. What we are merely taught seldom nourishes the mind like that which we teach ourselves."

"Idleness is many, gathered miseries in one name."

"It is a part of good breeding that a man should be polite even to himself."

"Individuality is everywhere to be guarded and honored as the root of all good."

"Friendship requires deeds."

"If self-knowledge be a path to virtue, virtue is a much better one to self-knowledge. The more pure the soul becomes, it will, like certain precious stones that are sensible to the contact of poison, shrink from the fetid vapors of evil impressions."

"It is only reason that teaches silence. The heart teaches us to speak."

"It is our kindest and tenderest emotion which we screen from the world."

"Letters which are warmly sealed are often but coldly opened."

"Joys are our wings, sorrows are our spurs."

"Long talking begets short hearing, for people go away."

"Never does a man portray his own character more vividly than in his manner of portraying another."

"The clew of our destiny, wander where we will, lies at the cradle foot."

"The grandest of heroic deeds are those which are performed within four walls and in domestic privacy."

"Men ascribe a great value in the sight of God to their barren belief. Why are we so anxious that our neighbor should have our faith and not our practice?"

"Love requires not so much proofs, as expressions, of love. Love demands little else than the power to feel and to requite love."

"There is no calamity like ignorance."

"What is highest and noblest in man conceals itself."

"The happiness life consists, like the day, not in single flashes of light, but in one continuous mild serenity. The most beautiful period of the heart's existence is in this calm, equable light, even although it be only moonshine or twilight. Now the mind alone can obtain for us this heavenly cheerfulness and peace."

"To truth belongs freedom."

"A scholar knows no boredom. "

"All weighty things are done in solitude, that is, without society. The means of improvement consist not in projects, or in any violent designs, for these cool, and cool very soon, but in patient practicing for whole long days, by which I make the thing clear to my highest reason. "

"Death gives us sleep, eternal youth, and immortality. "

"A child’s eye, like the sun, never draws water so readily as in the hot temperature of pleasure. "

"Each departed friend is a magnet that attracts us to the next world. "