Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Robert Burton

English Clergyman, Writer and Scholar at Oxford University

"Many men are melancholy by hearing music, but it is a pleasing melancholy that it causeth; and therefore to such as are discontent, in woe, fear, sorrow, or dejected, it is a most present remedy"

"Machiavel says virtue and riches seldom settle on one man."

"Melancholy and despair, though often, do not always concur; there is much difference: melancholy fears without a cause, this upon great occasion; melancholy is caused by fear and grief, but this torment procures them and all extremity of bitterness."

"Most part of a lover's life is full of agony, anxiety, fear and grief, complaints, sighs, suspicions, and cares (heigh-ho my heart is woe), full of silence and irksome solitariness."

"No cord nor cable can so forcibly draw, or hold so fast, as love can do with a twined thread."

"One religion is as true as another."

"One was never married and that's his hell; another is, and that's his plague"

"Our conscience, which is a great ledger book, wherein are written all our offenses... grinds our souls with the remembrance of some precedent sins, makes us reflect upon, accuse and condemn ourselves."

"Rob Peter, and pay Paul."

"See one promontory (said Socrates of old), one mountain, one sea, one river, and see all."

"Scoffs, calumnies, and jests are frequently the causes of melancholy. It is said that ?a blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword;? and certainly there are many men whose feelings are more galled by a calumny, a bitter jest, a libel, a pasquil, a squib, a satire, or an epigram, than by any misfortune whatsoever."

"Seneca thinks the gods are well pleased when they see great men contending with adversity."

"Smile with an intent to do mischief, or cozen him whom he salutes."

"The attachments of mirth are but the shadows of that true friendship of which the sincere affections of the heart are the substance."

"That is not long a-doing."

"That which is a law today is none tomorrow"

"That which others hear or read of, I felt and practised myself; they get their knowledge by books, I mine by melancholizing."

"The commonwealth of Venice in their armory have this inscription: "Happy is that city which in time of peace thinks of war.""

"The eyes are the harbingers of love, and the first step of love is sight."

"The rich are indeed rather possessed by their money than possessors."

"The devil [is] best able to work upon [melancholy persons], but whether by obsession or possession I will not determine."

"The rich Physician, honor'd Lawyers ride, whilst the poor Scholar foots it by their side."

"There is something in a woman beyond all human delight; a magnetic virtue, a charming quality, an occult and powerful motive."

"They lard their lean books with the fat of others' works"

"They do not live but linger."

"They are proud in humility, proud in that they are not proud."

"This spring has been great for Kmart and other retailers. Hopefully, the consumer will continue to come out, the weather will continue to remain warm and we will go right into summer without missing a step."

"Thou canst not think worse of me than I do of myself."

"Though it rain daggers with their points downward."

"Those impious epicures, libertines, atheists, hypocrites, infidels, worldly, secure, impenitent, unthankful, and carnal-minded men, that attribute all to natural causes, that will acknowledge no supreme power; that have cauterized consciences, or live in a reprobate sense; or such desperate persons as are too distrustful of his mercies."

"Though they [philosophers] write contemptu glori‘, yet as Hieron observes, they will put their names to their books."

"To enlarge or illustrate this power of the effects of love is to set a candle in the sun."

"Tobacco, divine, rare, superexcellent tobacco, which goes far beyond all the panaceas, potable gold, and philosopher's stones, a sovereign remedy to all diseases...but as it is commonly abused by most men, which take it as tinkers do ale, 'tis a plague, a mischief, a violent purger of goods, lands, health, hellish, devilish and damned tobacco, the ruin and overthrow of body and soul."

"Truth is the shattered mirror strewn in myriad bits; while each believes his little bit the whole to own"

"To these crocodile tears they will add sobs, fiery sighs, and sorrowful countenance."

"To The Reader Who Employs His Leisure Ill - Whoever you may be, I caution you against rashly defaming the author of this work, or cavilling in jest against him. Nay, do not silently reproach him in consequence of others' censure, nor employ your wit in foolish disapproval or false accusation. For, should Democritus Junior prove to be what he professes, even a kinsman of his elder namesake, or be ever so little of the same kidney, it is all up with you: he will become both accuser and judge of you in his petulant spleen, will dissipate you in jest, pulverize you with witticisms, and sacrifice you, I can promise you, to the God of Mirth. Again I warn you against cavilling, lest, while you culumniate or disgracefully disparage Decmocritus Junior, who has no animosity against you, you should hear from some judicious friend the very words the people of Abdera heard of old from Hippocrates, when they held their well-deserving and popular fellow-citizen to be a madman: Truly, it is you, Democritus, that are wise, while the people of Abdera are fools and madmen. You have no more sense than the people of Abdera. Having given you this warning in a few words, O reader who employ your liesure ill, farewell."

"Virtue, wisdom, goodness and real worth; like the loadstone, never lose their power. These are the true graces, which are linked hand in hand, because it is by their influence that human hearts are so firmly united to each other."

"We can say nothing but what hath been said. Our poets steal from Homer... Our story-dressers do as much; he that comes last is commonly best."

"We love neither God nor our neighbor as we should. Our love in spiritual things is too defective, in worldly things too excessive, there is a jar in both. We love the world too much; God too little; our neighbor not at all, or for our own ends."

"We've got to have something in place."

"Were it not that they are loath to lay out money on a rope, they would be hanged forthwith, and sometimes die to save charges."

"What physic, what chirurgery, what wealth, favor, authority can relieve, bear out, assuage, or expel a troubled conscience? A quiet mind cureth all them, but all they cannot comfort a distressed soul: who can put to silence the voice of desperation?"

"What cannot be cured must be endured."

"What is a ship but a prison?"

"Where God hath a temple, the Devil will have a chapel"

"When I lie waking all alone, recounting what I have ill done, my thoughts on me then tyrannize, fear and sorrow me surprise, whether I tarry still or go, methinks the time moves very slow, all my griefs to this are jolly, naught so sad as melancholy. 'Tis my sole plague to be alone, I am a beast, a monster grown, I will no light nor company, I find it now my misery. The scene is turn'd, my joys are gone, fear, discontent, and sorrows come. All my griefs to this are folly, naught so fierce as melancholy."

"Who cannot give good counsel? 'Tis cheap, it costs them nothing."

"Who is he that is now wholly overcome with idleness, or otherwise involved in a labyrinth of worldly care, troubles, and discontents, that will not be much lightened in his mind by reading of some enticing story, true or feigned, where, as in a glass, he shall observe what our forefathers have done; the beginnings, ruins, falls, periods of commonwealths, private men?s actions, displayed to the life, &c. Plutarch therefore calls them, secundas mensas et bellaria, the second course and junkets, because they were usually read at noblemen?s feasts."

"Why are Italians at this day generally so good poets and painters? Because every man of any fashion amongst them hath his mistress"

"Wine is strong, the king is strong, women are strong, but truth overcometh all things."