Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

William Gilmore Simms

American Author

"Better that we should err in action than wholly refuse to perform. The storm is so much better than the calm, as it declares the presence of a living principle. Stagnation is something worse than death. It is corruption also."

"Have I done anything for society? I have then done more for myself. Let that truth be always present to thy mind, and work without cessation."

"Most men remember obligations, but not often to be grateful; the proud are made sour by the remembrance and the vain silent."

"Our true acquisitions lie only in our charities, we gain only as we give."

"Stagnation is something worse than death; it is corruption also."

"Strong passions are the life of manly virtues. But they need not necessarily be evil because they are passions, and because they are strong. They may be likened to blood horses, that need training and the curb only, to enable those whom they carry to achieve the most glorious triumphs."

"The only true source of politeness is consideration, that vigilant moral sense which never loses sight of the rights, the claims, and the sensibilities of others."

"Vanity is so constantly solicitous of self, that even where its own claims are not interested, it indirectly seeks the aliment which it loves by showing how little is deserved by others."

"Solitude bears the same relation to the mind that sleep does to the body. It affords it the necessary opportunities for repose and recovery."

"Tact is one of the first of mental virtues, the absence of which is frequently fatal to the best of talents. Without denying that it is a talent o itself, it will suffice if we admit that it supplies the place of many talents."

"No doubt solitude is wholesome, but so is abstinence after a surfeit. The true life of man is in society."

"Not to sorrow freely is never to open the bosom to the sweets of the sunshine."

"To feel oppressed by obligation is only to prove that we are incapable of a proper sentiment of gratitude. To receive favors from the unworthy is to admit that our selfishness is superior to our pride."

"To make punishments efficacious, two things are necessary; they must never be disproportioned to the offense, and they must be certain."

"To confide, even though to be betrayed, is much better than to learn only to conceal. In the one case your neighbor wrongs you; but in the other you are perpetually doing injustice to yourself."

"The death of censure is the death of genius."

"The effect of character is always to command consideration."

"Aye, strike with sacrilegious aim the temple of the living God; hurl iron bolt and seething flame through aisles which holiest feet have trod; tear up the altar, spoil the tomb, and, raging with demoniac ire, send down, in sudden crash of doom, that grand, old, sky-sustaining spire. That spire, for full a hundred years, hath been a people's point of sight; that shrine hath warmed their souls to tears, with strains well worthy Salem's height; the sweet, clear music of its bells, made liquid soft in southern air, Still through the heart of memory swells, And wakes the hopeful soul to prayer. Along the shores for many a mile, Long ere they owned a beacon-mark, It caught arid kept the Day-God's smile, the guide for every wandering bark; averting from our homes the scaith of fiery bolt, in storm-cloud driven, the pharos to the wandering faith, it pointed every prayer to heaven! Well may ye, felons of the time, still loathing all that's pure and free, add this to many a thousand crime 'gainst peace and sweet humanity: ye, who have wrapped our towns in flame, defiled our shrines, befouled our homes, but fitly turn your murderous aim against Jehovah's ancient domes. Yet, though the grand old temple falls, and downward sinks the lofty spire, our faith is stronger than our walls, and soars above the storm and fire. Ye shake no faith in souls made free to tread the paths their fathers trod; to fight and die for liberty, believing in the avenging god! Think not, though long his anger stays, His justice sleeps--His wrath is spent; The arm of vengeance but delays, To make more dread the punishment! Each impious hand that lights the torch shall wither ere the bolt shall fall; And the bright Angel of the Church, With seraph shield avert the ball! For still we deem, as taught of old, That where the faith the altar builds, God sends an angel from his fold, Whose sleepless watch the temple shields, And to his flock, with sweet accord, Yields their fond choice, from THRONES and POWERS; Thus, Michael, with his fiery sword And golden shield, still champions ours! And he who smote the dragon down, and chained him thousand years of time, Need never fear the boa's frown, though loathsome in his spite and slime. He, from the topmost height, surveys and guards the shrines our fathers gave; And we, who sleep beneath his gaze, May well believe his power to save! Yet, if it be that for our sin Our angel's term of watch is o'er, with proper prayer, true faith must win The guardian watcher back once more Faith, brethren of the Church, and prayer-- In blood and sackcloth, if it need; And still our spire shall rise in air, our temple, though our people bleed!"

"Blessings on the blessing children, sweetest gifts of heaven to earth, filling all the heart with gladness, filling all the house with mirth; bringing with them native sweetness, pictures of the primal bloom, which the bliss forever gladdens, of the region whence they come; bringing with them joyous impulse of a state with outen care, and a buoyant faith in being, which makes all in nature fair; not a doubt to dim the distance, not a grief to vex thee, nigh, and a hope that in existence finds each hour a luxury; going singing, bounding, brightening--never fearing as they go, that the innocent shall tremble, and the loving find a foe; in the daylight, in the starlight, still with thought that freely flies, prompt and joyous, with no question of the beauty in the skies; genial fancies winning raptures, as the bee still sucks her store, all the present still a garden gleaned a thousand times before; all the future, but a region, where the happy serving thought, still depicts a thousand blessings, by the winged hunter caught; life a chase where blushing pleasures only seem to strive in flight, lingering to be caught, and yielding gladly to the proud delight; as the maiden, through the alleys, looking backward as she flies, woos the fond pursuer onward, with the love-light in her eyes. Oh! The happy life in children, still restoring joy to ours, making for the forest music, planting for the way-side flowers; back recalling all the sweetness, in a pleasure pure as rare, back the past of hope and rapture bringing to the heart of care. How, as swell the happy voices, bursting through the shady grove, memories take the place of sorrows, time restores the sway to love! We are in the shouting comrades, shaking off the load of years, thought forgetting strifes and trials, doubts and agonies and tears; we are in the bounding urchin, as o'er hill and plain he darts, share the struggle and the triumph, gladdening in his heart of hearts; what an image of the vigor and the glorious grace we knew, when to eager youth from boyhood, at a single bound we grew! Even such our slender beauty, such upon our cheek the glow, in our eyes the life and gladness--of our blood the overflow. Bless the mother of the urchin! In his form we see her truth: he is now the very picture of the memories in our youth; never can we doubt the forehead, nor the sunny flowing hair, nor the smiling in the dimple speaking chin and cheek so fair: bless the mother of the young one, he hath blended in his grace, all the hope and joy and beauty, kindling once in either face. Oh! The happy faith of children! That is glad in all it sees, and with never need of thinking, pierces still its mysteries, in simplicity profoundest, in their soul abundance blest, wise in value of the sportive, and in restlessness at rest, lacking every creed, yet having faith so large in all they see, that to know is still to gladden, and 'tis rapture but to be. What trim fancies bring them flowers; what rare spirits walk their wood, what a wondrous world the moonlight harbors of the gay and good! Unto them the very tempest walks in glories grateful still, and the lightning gleams, a seraph, to persuade them to the hill: 'tis a sweet and loving spirit, that throughout the midnight rains, broods beside the shuttered windows, and with gentle love complains; and how wooing, how exalting, with the richness of her dyes, spans the painter of the rainbow, her bright arch along the skies, with a dream like Jacob's ladder, showing to the fancy's sight, how 'twere easy for the sad one to escape to worlds of light! Ah! The wisdom of such fancies, and the truth in every dream, that to faith confiding offers, cheering every gloom, a gleam! Happy hearts, still cherish fondly each delusion of your youth, joy is born of well believing, and the fiction wraps the truth."

"But for that blindness which is inseparable from malice, what terrible powers of evil would it possess! Fortunately for the world, its venom, like that of the rattlesnake, when most poisonous, clouds the eye of the reptile, and defeats its aim."

"Distinction is an eminence that is attained but too frequently at the expense of a fireside."

"Genius is the very eye of intellect and the wing of thought; it is always in advance of its time, and is the pioneer for the generation which it precedes."

"He who would acquire fame must not show himself afraid of censure. The dread of censure is the death of genius."

"I believe that economists put decimal points in their forecasts to show they have a sense of humor."

"Ambition is frequently the only refuge which life has left to the denied or mortified affections. We chide at the grasping eye, the daring wing, the soul that seems to thirst for sovereignty only, and know not that the flight of this ambitious bird has been from a bosom or home that is filled with ashes."

"I know not that there is anything in nature more soothing to the mind than the contemplation of the moon, sailing, like some planetary bark, amidst a sea of bright azure. The subject is certainly hackneyed; the moon has been sung by poet and poetaster. Is there any marvel that it should be so?"

"It is a bird-flight of the soul, when the heart declares itself in song. The affections that clothe themselves with wings are passions that have been subdued to virtues."

"It should console us for the fact that sin has not totally disappeared from the world, that the saints are not wholly deprived of employment."

"Let us escape! This is our holiday-- God's day, devote to rest; and through the wood. We'll wander, and perchance find heavenly food, so, profitless it shall not pass away."

"Love is but another name for that inscrutable presence by which the soul is connected with humanity."

"Modesty is policy, no less than virtue."

"Neither praise nor blame is the object of true criticism. Justly to discriminate, firmly to establish, wisely to prescribe and honestly to award--these are the true aims and duties of criticism."

"No errors of opinion can possibly be dangerous in a country where opinion is left free to grapple with them."

"Not in sorrow freely is never to open the bosom to the sweets of the sunshine."

"Not in the sky, where it was seen so long in eminence of light serene,? nor on the white tops of the glistering wave, nor down in mansions of the hidden deep, though beautiful in green and crystal, its great caves of mystery,? shall the bright watcher have her place, and, as of old, high station keep! Gone! Gone! Oh! Nevermore, to cheer the mariner, who holds his course alone on the Atlantic, through the weary night, when the stars turn to watchers, and do sleep, shall it again appear, with the sweet-loving certainty of light, down shining on the shut eyes of the deep! The upward-looking shepherd on the hills of Chaldea, night-returning with his flocks, he wonders why his beauty doth not blaze, gladding his gaze,? and, from his dreary watch along the rocks, guiding him homeward o?er the perilous ways! How stands he waiting still, in a sad maze, much wondering, while the drowsy silence fills the sorrowful vault!?how lingers, in the hope that night may yet renew the expected and sweet light, so natural to his sight! And lone, where, at the first, in smiling love she shone, brood the once happy circle of bright stars: how should they dream, until her fate was known, that they were ever confiscate to death? That dark oblivion the pure beauty mars, and, like the earth, its common bloom and breath, that they should fall from high; their lights grow blasted by a touch, and die, all their concerted springs of harmony snapt rudely, and the generous music gone! Ah! Still the strain of wailing sweetness fills the saddening sky; the sister stars, lamenting in their pain that one of the selectest ones must die,? must vanish, when most lovely, from the rest! Alas! ?T is ever thus the destiny. Even rapture?s song hath evermore a tone of wailing, as for bliss too quickly gone. The hope most precious is the soonest lost, the flower most sweet is first to feel the frost. Are not all short-lived things the loveliest? And, like the pale star, shooting down the sky, look they not ever brightest, as they fly from the lone sphere they blest!"

"Our cares are the mothers, not only of our charities And virtues, but of our best joys and most cheering and enduring pleasures."

"Our possessions are wholly in our performances. He owns nothing to whom the world owes nothing."

"Philosophy is reason with the eyes of the soul."

"Revelation may not need the help of reason, but man does, even when in possession of revelation. Reason may be described as the candle in the man's hand, to which revelation brings the necessary flame."

"Tact is one of the first mental virtues, the absence of it is fatal to the best talent."

"Tears are the natural penalties of pleasure. It is a law that we should pay for all that we enjoy."

"The amiable is a duty most certainly, but must not be exercised at expense of any of the virtues. He seeks to do the amiable always, can only be successful at the frequent expense of his manhood."

"The birth of a child is the imprisonment of a soul."

"The conditions of conquest are always easy. We have but to toil awhile, endure awhile, believe always, and never turn back."

"The fool is willing to pay for anything but wisdom. No man buys that of which he supposes himself to have an abundance already."

"The only rational liberty is that which is born of subjection, reared in the fear of God and the love of man."

"The only true source of politeness is consideration."

"The proverb answers where the sermon fails, as a well-charged pistol will do more execution than a whole barrel of gunpowder idly exploded."

"The true law of the race is progress and development. Whenever civilization pauses in the march of conquest, it is overthrown by the barbarian."

"The wonder is not that the world is so easily governed, but that so small a number of persons will suffice for the purpose. There are dead weights in political and legislative bodies as in clocks, and hundreds answer as pulleys who would never do for politicians."