Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Robert Burton

English Clergyman, Writer and Scholar at Oxford University

"Comparisons are odious."

"Compound for sins they are inclined to, By damning those they have no mind to."

"Conscience is a great ledger book in which all our offences are written and registered, and which time reveals to the sense and feeling of the offender."

"Covetous men are fools, miserable wretches, buzzards, madmen who live by themselves, in perpetual slavery, fear, suspicion, sorrow, discontent, with more of gall than honey in their enjoyments; who are rather possessed by their money than possessors of it."

"Conquer thyself. Till thou hast done that thou art a slave; for it is almost as well for thee to be in subjection to another's appetite as thy own."

"Contention is a hydra's head: the more they strive the more they may: and as Praxiteles did by his glass, when he saw a scurvy face in it, brake it in pieces: but for that one he saw many more as bad in a moment."

"Diogenes struck the father when the son swore."

"Every man hath a good and a bad angel attending on him in particular all his life long."

"Every man for himself, his own ends, the devil for all."

"Doth the moon care for the barking of a dog?"

"Every man hath liberty to write, but few ability. Heretofore learning was graced by judicious scholars, but now noble sciences are vilified by base and illiterate scribblers, that either write for vain-glory, need, to get money, or as Parasites to flatter and collogue with some great men, they put out trifles, rubbish and trash. Among so many thousand Authors you shall scarce find one by reading of whom you shall be any whit better, but rather much worse; by which he is rather infected than any way perfected"

"Diseases crucify the soul of man, attenuate our bodies, dry them, wither them, shrivel them up like old apples, make them as so many anatomies."

"Food, improperly taken, not only produces original diseases, but affords those that are already engendered both matter and sustenance; so that, let the father of disease be what it may. Intemperance is certainly its mother."

"For "ignorance is the mother of devotion," as all the world knows."

"For idleness is an appendix to nobility."

"For I light my candle from their torches."

"False friendship, like the ivy, decays and ruins the walls it embraces; but true friendship gives new life and animation to the object it supports."

"For ignorance is the mother of devotion, as all the world knows."

"Go then merrily to Heaven."

"From this it appears how much more cruel the pen may be than the sword."

"Gluttony is the source of all our infirmities, and the fountain of all our diseases. As a lamp is choked by a superabundance of oil, a fire extinguished by excess of fuel, so is the natural health of the body destroyed by intemperate diet."

"Going as if he trod upon eggs."

"Good science requires distinguishing between "felt knowledge" and knowledge arising out of testable observations. "I am sure" is a mental sensation, not a testable conclusion. Put hunches, gut feelings, and intuitions into the suggestion box. Let empiric methods shake out the good from bad suggestions."

"Great actions are not always true sons of great and mighty resolutions."

"Good science is more than the mechanics of research and experimentation. Good science requires that scientists look inward--to contemplate the origin of their thoughts. The failures of science do not begin with flawed evidence or fumbled statistics; they begin with personal self-deception and an unjustified sense of knowing."

"Have not too low thoughts of thyself. The confidence a man hath of his being pleasant in his demeanor is a means whereby he infallibly cometh to be such."

"Hannibal, as he had mighty virtues, so head he many vices; . . . he had two distinct persons in him."

"He loves who advises."

"He is only fantastical that is not in fashion."

"Great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion."

"He is born naked, and falls a whining at the first."

"He that will not when he may, When he will he shall have nay."

"He that comes last is commonly best."

"Health indeed is a precious thing, to recover and preserve which we undergo any misery, drink bitter potions, freely give our goods: restore a man to his health, his purse lies open to thee."

"Hold one another's noses to the grindstone hard."

"He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper."

"Homer himself must beg if he want means, and as by report sometimes he did "go from door to door and sing ballads, with a company of boys about him.""

"Hence it is clear how much more cruel the pen is than the sword."

"Him that makes shoes go barefoot himself."

"I am not now in fortune's power, He that is down can fall no lower."

"I have no wife or children, good or bad, to provide for; a mere spectator of other men's fortunes and adventures, and how they play their parts; which, methinks, are diversely presented unto me, as from, a common theatre or scene."

"I light my candle from their torches."

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

"I may not here omit those two main plagues, and common dotages of human kind, wine and women, which have infatuated and besotted myriads of people: they go commonly together."

"I would help others out of a fellow-feeling."

"Idleness is an appendix to nobility."

"I say to thee be thou satisfied. It is recorded of the hares that with a general consent they went to drown themselves out of a feeling of their misery; but when they saw a company of frogs more fearful than they were, they began to take courage and comfort again. Confer thine estate with others."

"If adversity hath killed his thousands, prosperity hath killed his ten thousands; therefore adversity is to be preferred. The one deceives, the other instructs; the one miserably happy, the other happily miserable."

"Idleness is the nurse of naughtiness."

"Idleness is the badge of the gentry, the bane of body and mind, the nurse of naughtiness, the stepmother of discipline, the chief author of all mischief, one of the seven deadly sins, the cushion upon which the devil chiefly reposes, and a great cause not only of melancholy, but of many other diseases; for the mind is naturally active, and, if it is not occupied about some honest business, it rushes into mischief or sinks into melancholy."