Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

L. P. Jacks, fully Lawrence Pearsall Jacks

British Unitarian Minister, Educator and Writer

"Eloquent prayers are apt to be addressed, not to God, but to the congregation."

"Spirit is matter seen in a stronger light."

"The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

"Better that the nation grow poor for a cause we can honor, than grow rich for an end that is unknown. Who can regard without deep misgiving the process of accumulating wealth unaccompanied by a corresponding growth of knowledge as to the uses to which wealth must be applied? This is what we see in normal times, and the spectacle is profoundly disturbing. Far less disturbing at all events is that process of spending the wealth which we have now to witness."

"Faith is nothing else than reason grown courageous — reason raised to its highest power, expanded to its widest vision."

"The spirit of fellowship, with its attendant cheerfulness, is in the air. It is comparatively easy to love one's neighbor when we realize that he and we are common servants and common sufferers in the same cause. A deep breath of that spirit has passed into the life of England. No doubt the same thing has happened elsewhere."

"Our intellectual development in the field of science has outstripped our human development in the field of character."

"The human mind loves the bondage of words and is apt, when freed from one form of their tyranny, to set up another more oppressive than the last. The highest function of philosophy is to enforce the attitude of meditation and therewithall restrain the excessive volubility of the tongue. To us it seems that the reflective thinker wins his greatest victories when by what he says he compels us to recognise the relative insignificance of anything he can say. His task is not to capture Reality, but to free it from captivity. "

"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself he always seems to be doing both. Enough for him that he does it well."

"Philosophy resembles poetry in being an art for enforcing meditation, for driving the mind inwards until it sinks into its Object."

"Philosophy has been called the search for the Permanent amid the changing. With this account of philosophy there is no need to quarrel. But having accepted it, a distinction remains to be observed, a distinction of capital importance, which we are in constant danger of forgetting. It is one thing to find the Permanent; it is another thing to find a form of words in which the Permanent shall stand permanently expressed. It is one thing to experience something fixed and changeless; it is another thing to fix this something by a changeless definition. The first may be possible, while the second remains impossible for ever."

"Though science makes no use for poetry, poetry is enriched by science. Poetry “takes up” the scientific vision and re-expresses its truths, but always in forms which compel us to look beyond them to the total object which is telling its own story and standing in its own rights. In this the poet and the philosopher are one. Using language as the lever, they lift thought above the levels where words perplex and retard its flight, and leave it, at last, standing face to face with the object which reveals itself. Would not all we mean by “communication between mind and mind” be provided for if we suppose that common knowledge comes about, not from our explaining things to one another, but from things explaining themselves in the same terms to us all? Accepting the object as its own interpreter, as its own “medium of communication,” do we not begin to understand what is utterly dark on any other view, how it comes to pass that the resulting knowledge is a common possession?"

"The poet takes us straight into the presence of things. Not by explanation, but by indication; not by exhausting its qualities, but by suggesting its value he gives us the object, raising it from the mire where it lies trodden by the concepts of the understanding, freeing it from the entanglements of all that “the intellect perceives as if constituting its essence.” Thus exhibited, the object itself becomes the meeting-ground of the ages, a centre where millions of minds can enter together into possession of the common secret. It is true that language is here the instrument with which the fetters of language are broken. Words are the shifting detritus of the ages; and as glass is made out of the sand, so the poet makes windows for the soul out of the very substance by which it has been blinded and oppressed. In all great poetry there is a kind of “kenosis” of the understanding, a self-emptying of the tongue. Here language points away from itself to something greater than itself."

"Speech is insufficient to utter the last things; and this troubles it not, because the last things may be heard speaking for themselves. At last, after long delay the wondering soul gives form to that which is stirring within it and produces its works art and song and mighty deeds."

"Among the arts of expression one is suited to this purpose, another to that. It is hard to express movement in stone or rest in music. It is harder still to express permanence in speech."