Great Throughts Treasury

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

William Congreve

English Playwright, Dramatist and Poet

"Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak. I’ve read that things inanimate have moved, and, as with living souls, have been informed by magic numbers and persuasive sound."

"The essence of all education is self-discovery and self-control. When education helps an individual to discover his own powers and limitations and, shows him how to get out of his heredity its largest and best possibilities, it will fulfill its real function, when children are taught not merely to know things but particularly to know themselves, not merely how to do things but especially how to compel themselves to do things, they may be said to be really educated. For this sort of education there is demanded rigorous discipline of the powers of observation, of the reason, and especially of the will."

"Thought precedes the will to think, and error lives ere reason can be born. Reason, the power to guess at right and wrong, the twinkling lamp of wand'ring life, that winks and wakes by turns fooling the follower 'twixt shade and shining."

"To converse with Scandal is to play at Losing Loadum; you must lose a good name to him, before you can win it for yourself."

"Uncertainty and expectation are the joyous of life. Security is an insipid thing, and the overtaking and possessing or a wish discovers the folly of the chase."

"You read of but one wise man; and all that he knew was - that he knew nothing."

"Even silence may be eloquent in love."

"Guilt is ever at a loss, and confusion waits upon it; when innocence and bold truth are always ready for expression."

"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned."

"Love's but the frailty of the mind, when 'tis not with ambition joined a sickly flame, which, if not fed, expires, and feeding, wastes in self-consuming fires."

"Music hath charm to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak."

"One minute gives invention to destroy; what to rebuild a whole age employ."

"Read, and refine your appetite; learn to live upon instruction; feast your mind and mortify your flesh; read, and take your nourishment in at your eyes, shut up your mouth, and chew the cud of understanding."

"To refuse the sweets of life because they once must leave us, is as preposterous as to wish to have been born old, because we one day must be old."

"A fellow who lives in a windmill has not a more whimsical dwelling than the heart of a man that is lodged in a woman."

"A hungry wolf at all the herd will run, In hopes, through many, to make sure of one."

"A little disdain is not amiss; a little scorn is alluring."

"A little scorn is alluring."

"A wit should no more be sincere, than a woman constant one argues a decay of parts, as t'other of beauty."

"All ambitions are lawful except those which climb upward on the miseries or credulities of mankind."

"Alack, he's gone the way of all flesh."

"And the prettiest foot! Oh, if a man could but fasten his eyes to her feet, as they steal in and out, and play at bo-peep under her petticoats! I am a fool, I know it; and yet, Heaven help me, I'm poor enough to be a wit."

"Ask me questions concerning to-morrow."

"Beauty is the lover's gift"

"Believe it, Men have ever been the same, and all the Golden Age is but a Dream."

"Blessings ever wait on virtuous deeds, and though a late, a sure reward succeeds."

"Born to excel, and to command! As by transcendent beauty to attract all eyes, so by pre-eminence of soul to rule all hearts."

"But say what you will, 'tis better to be left than never to have been loved. To pass our youth in dull indifference, to refuse the sweets of life because they once must leave us, is as preposterous as to wish to have been born old, because we one day must be old."

"By magic numbers and persuasive sound."

"Careless she is with artful care, affecting to seem unaffected."

"Come, come, leave business to idlers, and wisdom to fools they have need of 'em wit be my faculty, and pleasure my occupation, and let father Time shake his glass."

"Courtship is to marriage, as a very witty prologue to a very dull play."

"Critics to plays for the same end resort that surgeons wait on trials in a court; for innocence condemn'd they've no respect, provided they've a body to dissect."

"Defer not till to-morrow to be wise, to-morrow's Sun to thee may never rise; or should to-morrow chance to cheer thy sight with her enlivening and unlook'd for light, how grateful will appear her dawning rays! As favors unexpected doubly please."

"Do not keep the alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness, speak cheering words while their ears can hear, and while their hearts can be thrilled and made happier by them."

"Every man plays the fool once in his life, but to marry is playing the fool all one's life long."

"False though she be to me and Love, I'll ne'er pursue Revenge; for still the Charmer I approve, tho' I deplore her change."

"Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear."

"For blessings ever wait on virtuous deeds, and though a late, a sure reward succeeds."

"For 'tis some virtue, virtue to commend."

"Grief walks upon the heels of pleasure married in haste, we repent at leisure."

"He only is secret who never was trusted."

"He that can't live upon love deserves to die in a ditch."

"He that first cries out stop thief is often he that has stol'n the treasure."

"He that loses hope may part with anything."

"He who closes his ears to the views of others shows little confidence in the integrity of his own views."

"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."

"His pure thoughts were borne like fumes of sacred incense o'er the clouds, and wafted thence on angels' wings, through ways of light, to the bright source of all."

"His wit run him out of his money, and now his poverty has run him out of his wits."

"How rev'rend is the face of this tall pile, whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads, to bear aloft its arch'd and pond'rous roof! By its own weight made steadfast and immovable. Looking tranquillity! It strikes an awe and terror to my aching sight! The tombs and monumental caves of death look cold, and shoot a chillness to my trembling heart."