Great Throughts Treasury

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

Thomas Love Peacock

English Novelist, Poet and Official of the East India Company

"There is no worth nor beauty but in the mind's idea."

"A book that furnishes no quotations is no book — it is a plaything."

"Clouds on clouds, in volumes driven, curtain round the vault of heaven."

"But still my fancy wanders free through that which might have been."

"Day is ended, Darkness shrouds The shoreless seas and lowering clouds."

"Death comes to all. His cold and sapless hand Waves o'er the world, and beckons us away. Who shall resist the summons?"

"He bore a simple wild-flower wreath: Narcissus, and the sweet brier rose; Vervain, and flexible thyme, that breathe Rich fragrance; modest heath, that glows With purple bells; the amaranth bright, That no decay, no fading knows, Like true love's holiest, rarest light; And every purest flower, that blows In that sweet time, which Love most blesses, When spring on summer's confines presses."

"Dreams, which, beneath the hov’ring shades of night, sport with the ever-restless minds of men, descend not from the gods. Each busy brain creates its own."

"He had some taste for romance reading before he went to the university, where, we must confess, in justice to his college, he was cured of the love of reading in all its shapes; and the cure would have been radical, if disappointment in love, and total solitude, had not conspired to bring on a relapse."

"How troublesome is day! It calls us from our sleep away; It bids us from our pleasant dreams awake, And sends us forth to keep or break Our promises to pay. How troublesome is day!"

"I almost think it is the ultimate destiny of science to exterminate the human race."

"He kept at true good humour''s mark The social flow of pleasure''s tide: He never made a brow look dark, Nor caused a tear, but when he died."

"I like the immaterial world. I like to live among thoughts and images of the past and the possible, and even of the impossible, now and then."

"In a bowl to sea went wise men three, On a brilliant night in June: They carried a net, and their hearts were set On fishing up the moon."

"I never failed to convince an audience that the best thing they could do was to go away."

"In his last binn Sir Peter lies. He kept at true humour's mark the social flow of pleasure's tide: he never made a brow look dark, nor caused a tear, but when he died."

"Man yields to death; and man’s sublimest works must yield at length to Time."

"In one of those beautiful valleys, through which the Thames (not yet polluted by the tide, the scouring of cities, or even the minor defilement of the sandy streams of Surrey), rolls a clear flood through flowery meadows, under the shade of old beech woods, and the smooth glossy greensward of the chalk hills (which pour into it their tributary rivulets, as pure and pellucid as the fountain of Bandusium, or the wells of Scamander, by which the wives and daughters of the Trojans washed their splendid garments in the days of peace, before the coming of the Greeks); in one of those beautiful valleys, on a bold round-surfaced lawn, spotted with junipers, that opened itself in the bosom of an old wood, which rose with a steep, but not precipitous ascent, from the river to the summit of the hill, stood the castellated villa of a retired citizen."

"Marriage may often be a stormy lake, but celibacy is almost always a muddy horse pond."

"My thoughts by night are often filled With visions false as fair: For in the past alone, I build My castles in the air."

"Names are changed more readily than doctrines, and doctrines more readily than ceremonies."

"My steps have pressed the flowers, That to the Muses' bowers The eternal dews of Helicon have given: And trod the mountain height, Where Science, young and bright, Scans with poetic gaze the midnight-heaven. Yet have I found no power to vie With thine, severe necessity!"

"Not drunk is he who from the floor - Can rise alone and still drink more; But drunk is They, who prostrate lies, Without the power to drink or rise."

"Nothing can be more obvious than that all animals were created solely and exclusively for the use of man."

"Now I should rather suppose there is no reason for it: it is the fashion to be unhappy. To have a reason for being so would be exceedingly commonplace: to be so without any is the province of genius."

"Respectable means rich, and decent means poor. I should die if I heard my family called decent."

"Surely not without reason, when pirates, highwaymen, and other varieties of the extensive genus Marauder, are the only beau ideal of the active, as splenetic and railing misanthropy is of the speculative energy."

"Tea, late dinners and the French Revolution. I cannot exactly see the connection of ideas."

"Oh! Who art thou so fast proceeding, Ne'er glancing back thine eyes of flame? Mark'd but by few, through earth I'm speeding, And Opportunity's my name. What form is that which scowls beside thee? Repentance is the form you see: Learn then, the fate may yet betide thee. She seizes them who seize not me."

"Sir, I have quarrelled with my wife; and a man who has quarrelled with his wife is absolved from all duty to his country."

"The mountain sheep are sweeter, but the valley sheep are fatter.We therefore deemed it meter to carry off the latter."

"The present is our own; but while we speak, We cease from its possession, and resign The stage we tread on, to another race, As vain, and gay, and mortal as ourselves."

"The truth, I am convinced, is that there is no longer a poetical audience among the higher class of minds, that moral, political, and physical science have entirely withdrawn from poetry the attention of all whose attention is worth having; and that the poetical reading public being composed of the mere dregs of the intellectual community, the most sufficing passport to their favour must rest on the mixture of a little easily-intelligible portion of mawkish sentiment with an absolute negation of reason and knowledge."

"The waste of plenty is the resource of scarcity."

"The rich man goes out yachting, where sanctity can't pursue him; the poor goes afloat in a fourpenny boat, where the bishop groans to view him."

"There are two reasons for drinking: one is, when you are thirsty, to cure it; the other, when you are not thirsty, to prevent it."

"Time is lord of thee: thy wealth, thy glory, and thy name are his."

"Time, the foe of man's dominion, Wheels around in ceaseless flight, Scattering from his hoary pinion Shades of everlasting night."

"The whole party followed, with the exception of Scythrop, who threw himself into his arm-chair, crossed his left foot over his right knee, placed the hollow of his left hand on the interior ancle of his left leg, rested his right elbow on the elbow of the chair, placed the ball of his right thumb against his right temple, curved the forefinger along the upper part of his forehead, rested the point of the middle finger on the bridge of his nose, and the points of the two others on the lower part of the palm, fixed his eyes intently on the veins in the back of his left hand, and sat in this position like the immoveable Theseus, who, as is well known to many who have not been at college, and to some few who have, sedet, oeternumque sedebit. We hope the admirers of the minitiae in poetry and romance will appreciate this accurate description of a pensive attitude."

"To chase the clouds of life’s tempestuous hours, to strew its short but weary way with flow’rs, new hopes to raise, new feelings to impart, and pour celestial balsam on the heart; for this to man was lovely woman giv’n, the last, best work, the noblest gift of Heav’n."

"We there, in strife bewild’ring, Spilt blood enough to swim in: We orphaned many children, And widowed many women. The eagles and the ravens We glutted with our foemen; The heroes and the cravens, The spearmen and the bowmen."

"What do we see by [our enlightened age] which our ancestors saw not, and which at the same time is worth seeing? We see a hundred men hanged, where they saw one. We see five hundred transported, where they saw one. We see five thousand in the workhouse, where they saw one. . . . We see children perishing in manufactories, where they saw them flourishing in the fields. We see prisons, where they saw castles. We see masters, where they saw representatives. In short, they saw true men, where we see false knaves. They saw Milton, and we see Mr. Sackbut."

"A book that furnishes no quotations is no book -- it is a plaything."

"A wise man is he who looks after the one thing needful; and a good man is he who has it. The acme of wisdom and goodness in conjunction consists in appropriating as much as possible of the public money; and saying to those from whose pockets it is taken, 'I am perfectly satisfied with things as they are. Let well alone."

"A mere wilderness, as you see, even now in December; but in summer a complete nursery of briers, a forest of thistles, a plantation of nettles, without any livestock but goats, that have eaten up all the bark of the trees. Here you see is the pedestal of a statue, with only half a leg and four toes remaining: there were many here once. When I was a boy, I used to sit every day on the shoulders of Hercules: what became of him I have never been able to ascertain. Neptune has been lying these seven years in the dust-hole; Atlas had his head knocked off to fit him for propping a shed; and only the day before yesterday we fished Bacchus out of the horse-pond."

"All, which we consider now as most ancient, was new once. This also will grow old: and, what today we defend with precedents, will be among precedents."

"CAPTAIN FITZCHROME: Many decent families are maintained on smaller means. LADY CLARINDA: Decent families: aye, decent is the distinction from respectable. Respectable means rich, and decent means poor. I should die if I heard my family called decent. And then your decent family always lives in a snug little place: I hate a little place; I like large rooms and large looking-glasses, and large parties, and a fine large butler, with a tinge of smooth red in his face; an outward and visible sign that the family he serves is respectable; if not noble, highly respectable."

"At the house of Mr. Hilary, Scythrop first saw the beautiful Miss Emily Girouette. He fell in love; which is nothing new. He was favorably received; which is nothing strange. Mr. Glowry and Mr. Girouette had a meeting on the occasion, and quarrelled about the terms of the bargain; which is neither new nor strange. The lovers were torn asunder, weeping and vowing everlasting constancy; and, in three weeks after this tragical event, the lady was led a smiling bride to the altar, by the Honorable Mr. Lackwit; which is neither strange nor new."

"Anthelia's father, Sir Henry Melincourt, a man of great acquirements, and of a retired disposition, devoted himself in solitude to the cultivation of his daughter's understanding; for he was one of those who maintained the heretical notion that women are, or at least may be, rational beings; though, from the great pains usually taken in what is called education to make them otherwise, there are unfortunately very few examples to warrant the truth of the theory."

"Day is ended, Darkness shrouds the shoreless seas and lowering clouds."