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 Hazlitt

English Writer, Literary and Art Critic, Social Commentator, Philosopher and Author

"A life of action and danger moderates the dread of death. It not only gives us fortitude to bear pain, but teaches us at every step the precarious tenure on which we hold our present being."

"A hypocrite despises those whom he deceives, but has not respect for himself."

"A gentleman is one who understands and shows every mark of deference to the claims of self-love in others, and exacts it in return form them."

"A man’s reputation is not in his own keeping, but lies at the mercy of the profligacy of others. Calumny requires no proof."

"A still tongue makes a wise head."

"A person who talks with equal vivacity on every subject, excites no interest in any. Repose is necessary in conversation."

"As hypocrisy is said to be the highest compliment to virtue, the art of lying is the strongest acknowledgment of the force of truth."

"As in our confidence, so is our capacity."

"An honest man is respected by all parties."

"Cowardice is not synonymous with prudence. It often happens that the better part of discretion is valour."

"Despair swallows up cowardice."

"Envy is a littleness of soul, which cannot see beyond a certain point, and if it does not occupy the whole space feels itself excluded."

"Envy is the most universal passion. We only pride ourselves on the qualities owe possess, or think we possess; but we envy the pretensions we have, and those which we have not, and do not even wish for. We envy the greatest qualities and every trifling advantage. We envy the most ridiculous appearance or affectation of superiority. We envy folly and conceit; nay, we go so far as to envy whatever confers distinction of notoriety, even vice and infamy."

"Friendship is cemented by interest, vanity, or the want of amusement; it seldom implies esteem, or even mutual regard."

"He that thinks too much of his virtues, bids others think of his vices."

"Every man, in judging of himself, is his own contemporary. He may feel the gale of popularity, but he cannot tell how long it will last. His opinion of himself wants distance, wants time, wants numbers, to set it off and confirm it."

"He who undervalues himself is justly undervalued by others."

"He will never have true friends who is afraid of making enemies."

"He who does nothing renders himself incapable of doing any thing; but while we are executing any work, we are preparing and qualifying ourselves to undertake another."

"Honesty is one part of eloquence. We persuade others by being in earnest ourselves."

"Hope is the best possession. None are completely wretched but those who are without hope; and few are reduced so low as that."

"However we may flatter ourselves to the contrary, our friends think no higher of us than the world do. They see us with the jaundiced or distrustful eyes of others. They may know better, but their feelings are governed by popular prejudice. Nay, they are more shy of us (when under a cloud) than even strangers; for we involve them in a common disgrace, or compel them to embroil themselves in continual quarrels and disputes in our defense."

"In love we never think of moral qualities, and scarcely of intellectual ones. Temperament and manner alone, with beauty, excite love."

"It is only those who never think at all, or else who have accustomed themselves to brood invariably on abstract ideas, that ever feel ennui."

"Lying is the strongest acknowledgment of the force of truth."

"It is better to desire than to enjoy, to love than to be loved."

"Mankind are so ready to bestow their admiration on the dead, because the latter do not hear it, or because it gives no pleasure to the objects of it. Even fame is the offspring of envy."

"Life is the art of being well-deceived."

"Let a man’s talents and virtues be what they may, we only feel satisfaction in his society as he is satisfied in himself. We cannot enjoy the good qualities of a friend if he seems to be none the better for them."

"No wise man can have a contempt for prejudices of others; and he should even stand in a certain awe of his own, as if they were aged parents and monitors. They may in the end prove wiser than he."

"Modesty is the lowest of the virtues, and is a confession of the deficiency it indicates. He who understands values himself is justly undervalued by others."

"Nothing gives such a blow to friendship as the detecting another in an untruth. It strikes at the root of our confidence ever after."

"Nothing precludes sympathy so much as a perfect indifference to it."

"Of all virtues, magnanimity is the rarest. There are a hundred persons of merit for one who willingly acknowledges it in another."

"Our opinions are not our own, but in the power of sympathy. If a person tells us a palpable falsehood, we not only dare not to contradict him, but we dare hardly to disbelieve him to his face. a lie boldly uttered has the effect of truth for the instant."

"Popularity disarms envy in well-disposed minds,. Those are ever the most ready to do justice to others who feel that the world has done them justice. When success has not this effect in opening the mind, it is a sign that it has been ill deserved."

"Prosperity is a great teacher; adversity is greater. Possession pampers the mind; privation trains and strengthens it."

"Reflection makes men cowards. There is no object that can be put in competition with life, unless it is viewed through the medium of passion, and we are hurried away by the impulse of the moment."

"Principle is a passion for truth and right."

"Prejudice is never easy unless it can pass itself off for reason."

"People do not persist in their vices because they are not weary of them, but because they cannot leave them off. It is the nature of vice to leave us no resource but itself."

"Religion either makes men wise and virtuous, or it makes them set up false pretenses to both."

"Silence is one great art of conversation. He is not a fool who knows when to hold his tongue; and a person may gain credit for sense, eloquence, wit, who merely says nothing to lessen the opinion which others have of these qualities in themselves."

"Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought."

"The essence of poetry is will and passion."

"The imagination is of so delicate a texture that even words wound it."

"The greatest offence against virtue is to speak ill of it."

"The art of pleasing consists in being pleased."


"The art of will-making chiefly consists in baffling the importunity of expectation."