Great Throughts Treasury

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


"Slander is perhaps the only vice which no circumstance can palliate, as well as being one which we are most ingenious in concealing form ourselves." - Jean Baptiste Massillon

"It is a notable circumstance that mothers who are themselves open to severe comments as to their moral character, are generally most solicitous as to the virtuous behavior of their daughters." -

"Where there is a bad conscience, some circumstance or other may provide one with impunity, but never with freedom from anxiety." -

"Let's learn and label properly Disappointment and Discouragement for what they are - two completely different states of mind. Disappointment can be a spur to improvement that will contribute to success. But Discouragement is a mortal enemy that destroys courage and robs one of the will to fight. It is not circumstance that causes Discouragement, but one's own reaction to that circumstance. Everyone must meet Disappointment, many times; it is simply a part of life. When it is met, we may resign ourselves to Discouragement and failure. Or we may recognize each Disappointment as an asset by which we can profit, and take new strength from a lesson learned. The choice is ours, each time, to make." - John M. Wilson, fully John Moulder Wilson

"Art and Religion are, then, two roads by which men escape from circumstance to ecstasy. Between aesthetic and religious rapture there is a family alliance. Art and Religion are means similar states of mind." - Clive Bell, fully Arthur Clive Heward Bell

"We are weak today in ideal matters because intelligence is divorced from aspiration. The bare force of circumstance compels us onwards in the daily detail of our beliefs and acts, but our deeper thoughts and desires turn backwards. When philosophy shall have co-operated with the course of events and made clear and coherent the meaning of the daily detail, science and emotion will interpenetrate, practice and imagination will embrace. Poetry and religious feeling will be the unforced flowers of life. To further this articulation and revelation of the meanings of the current course of events is the task and problem of philosophy in days of transition." - John Dewey

"The only true knowledge of our fellowman is that which enables us to feel with him - which gives us a fine ear for the heart-pulses that are beating under the mere clothes of circumstance and opinion." - George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

"When a pump is frequently used, the water pours out at the first stroke, because it is high; but, if the pump has not been used for a long time, the water gets low, and when you want it you must pump a long while; and the water comes only after great efforts. It is so with prayer. If we are instant in prayer, every little circumstance awakens the disposition to pray, and desire and words are always ready; but, if we neglect prayer, it is difficult for us to pray, for the water in the well gets low." - Felix Neff

"The works of a person that builds begin immediately to decay, while those of him who plants begin directly to improve. In this, planting promises a more lasting pleasure than building; which, were it to remain in equal perfection, would at best begin to moulder and want repairs in imagination. Now trees have a circumstance that suits our taste and that is annual variety." - William Shenstone

"Among the humble and great alike, those who achieve success do so not because fate and circumstance are especially kind to them. Often the reverse is true. They succeed because they do not whine over their fate but take whatever has been given to them and go on to make the most of their best." - Sidney Greenberg

"on mere circumstance." - Alan Wolfe

"The massive gates of Circumstance are turned upon the smallest hinge." - Author Unknown NULL

"The essence of superior leadership is the inspired application of principle to circumstance." - Author Unknown NULL

"The teacher must step back and review each day as a student, always feeling that there is more and more to learn, love appreciate. -- Be in this world, but not of it... Everything comes back on the Universal clock of time... everything. Memorize the aphorism that irrelevancy of circumstance is the highest wisdom of life... Your 'balance' is your ammunition; one should not fire it, but rather maintain it." - Blanche DeVries Bernard

"I call that mind free which is not passively framed by outward circumstance and is not the creature of accidental impulse, and which discovers everywhere the radiant signatures of the Infinite Spirit, and in them finds help to its own spiritual enlargement." - Chuang Tzu, also spelled Chuang-tsze, Chuang Chou, Zhuangzi, Zhuang Tze, Zhuang Zhou, Chuang Tsu, Chouang-Dsi, Chuang Tse, or Chuangtze

"Youth is a circumstance you can't do anything about. The trick is to grow up without getting old." - Frank Lloyd Wright, born Frank Lincoln Wright

"In the concentration camp every circumstance conspires to make the prisoner lose his hold. All the familiar goals in life are snatched away. What alone remains is "the last of human freedoms" - the ability to "choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances."" - Gordon Willard Allport

"We have employment assigned to us for every circumstance in life. When we are alone, we have our thoughts to watch; in the family, our tempers; and in company, our tongues." - Hannah More

"All arts acknowledge that then only we know certainly, when we can define; for definition is that which refines the pure essence of things from the circumstance." - John Milton

"The longer I live the more I am convinced that neither age nor circumstance need to deprive us of energy and vitality." - Norman Vincent Peale

"To a philosopher no circumstance, however trifling, is too minute." - Oliver Goldsmith

"I’ve learned and unlearned all my life; it’s helped me to survive. There are no constants, nothing is immutable, only random circumstance from which our experience builds a coherent arc of life. And for that arc you have only to be truly done with one thing before moving to another. There’s an art in letting go." - Parke Godwin

"It is circumstance and proper measure that give an action in its character, and make it either good or bad." - Plutarch, named Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus after becoming Roman citizen NULL

"Death is a cessation of motion, also a cessation of time - than it has to do with life, its most complex embodiment. Thinking that time brings death is a less workable assumption than a moral evasion, an example of our chronic tendency to ascribe our woes and weaknesses to external circumstance rather than to living will." - Robert Grudin

"We often choose a friend as we do a mistress - for no particular excellence in themselves, but merely from some circumstance that flatters our self-love." - William Hazlitt

"Slander is perhaps the only vice which no circumstance can palliate, as well as being one which we are most ingenious in concealing from ourselves." - John Baptiste Massillon

"It is my opinion, that this kingdom has no right to lay a tax upon the colonies. At the same time I assert the authority of this kingdom over the colonies to be sovereign and supreme in every circumstance of Government and legislation whatsoever. The colonists are the subjects of this kingdom, equally entitled with yourselves to all the natural rights of mankind and the peculiar privileges of Englishmen...The Americans are the sons, not the bastards, of England. Taxation is no part of the governing or legislative power...When, therefore, in this House we give and grant, we give and grant what is our own. But in an American tax, what do we do? We, your Majesty's Commons for Great Britain, give and grant to your Majesty,—what? Our own property?—No! We give and grant to your Majesty, the property of your Majesty's Commons of America...The distinction between legislation and taxation is essentially necessary to liberty...There is an idea in some, that the colonies are virtually represented in this House...Is he represented by any knight of the shire, in any county in this kingdom?...Or will you tell him that he is represented by any representative of a borough?—a borough which perhaps its own representatives never saw.—This is what is called the rotten part of the constitution. It cannot continue a century. If it does not drop, it must be amputated...I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty, as voluntarily to let themselves be made slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of all the rest...The gentleman asks, When were the colonies emancipated? I desire to know when were they made slaves?" - William Pitt, Lord Chatham or Lord William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, aka The Elder Pitt and The Great Commander

"Character isn't what we think it is or, rather, what we want it to be. It isn't a stable, easily identifiable set of closely related traits, and it only seems that way because of a glitch in the way our brains are organized. Character is more like a bundle of habits and tendencies and interests, loosely bound together and dependent, at certain times, on circumstance and context" - Malcolm Gladwell

"What are the proper grounds for joy? Is it circumstance which will determine the stature of my spirit? Ah, no. It is choice. It is always a choice – in the face of any event – for joy." - Mary Anne Radmacher

"If one awakens in men the idea of freedom then the free men will incessantly go on to free themselves; if on the contrary, one only educates them, then they will at all times accommodate themselves to circumstance in the most highly educated and elegant manner and degenerate into subservient cringing souls." -

"No mistake is more to be deplored than the conception that a system of morals and religion should derive any portion of its authority either from the circumstance of its novelty or its antiquity, that it should be judged excellent, not because it is reasonable or true, but because no person has ever thought of it before, or because it has been thought of from the beginning of time." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"A child too, can never grasp the fact that the same mother who cooks so well, is so concerned about his cough, and helps so kindly with his homework, in some circumstance has no more feeling than a wall of his hidden inner world." - Alice Miller, née Rostovski

"And being such the soul doth recognize The doubleness of nature, that there lies A soul occult in Nature, hidden deep As lies the soul of man in moveless sleep. And like a dream Broken in circumstance and foolish made, Through which howe’er the future world doth gleam, And floats a warning to the gathered thought, Like to a dream, Through sense and all by sense conveyed, Into our soul the shadow of that soul Doth float. Then are we lifted up erect and whole In vast confession to that universe Perceived by us: our soul itself transfers Thither by instinct sure; it swiftly hails The mighty spirit similar; it sails In the divine expansion; it perceives Tendencies glorious, distant; it enweaves Itself with excitations more that thought Unto that soul unveiled and yet unsought." - R. W. Dixon, fully Richard Watson Dixon

"The blues is an art of ambiguity, an assertion of the irrepressibly human over all circumstance whether created by others or by one's own human failings. They are the only consistent art in the United States which constantly remind us of our limitations while encouraging us to see how far we can actually go. When understood in their more profound implication, they are a corrective, an attempt to draw a line upon man's own limitless assertion." - Ralph Ellison, fully Ralph Waldo Ellison

"It is a remarkable circumstance in reference to cunning persons that they are often deficient not only in comprehensive, far-sighted wisdom, but even in prudent, cautious circumspection." - Richard Whately

"The more the Jew is a Jew, the more universalist will his views and aspirations be, the less aloof will he be from anything that is noble and good, true and upright, in art or science, in culture or education; the more joyfully will he applaud whenever he sees truth and justice and peace and the ennoblement of man prevail and become dominant in human society." - Samson Raphael Hirsch

"If a person does good, most people will look for ulterior motives. People by training are very suspicious. Because most of the experiences they have had always had a condition attached, they don't expect others will do something just for the sake of doing it. Their belief systems just cannot accept others are capable of doing so. Our language is full of such sayings such as. One hand washes the other. ---You rub my back, I'll rub yours. In the study of one's personal language and self talk it can be observed that what one thinks and talks about to himself tends to become the deciding influences n his life. For what the mind attends to, the mind considers." - Sidney Madwed

"These gentlemen, although of the highest nobility,' thought Julien, 'are not in the least boring like the people who come to dine with M. de La Mole; and I can see why,' he added a moment later,'they are not ashamed to be indecent." - Stendhal, pen name of Marie Henn Beyle or Marie-Henri Beyle NULL

"I want to argue that the ‘sudden’ appearance of species in the fossil record and our failure to note subsequent evolutionary change within them is the proper prediction of evolutionary theory as we understand it. Evolution usually proceeds by ‘speciation’—the splitting of one lineage from a parental stock—not by the slow and steady transformation of these large parental stocks. Repeated episodes of speciation produce a bush. Evolutionary ‘sequences’ are not rungs on a ladder, but our retrospective reconstruction of a circuitous path running like a labyrinth, branch to branch, from the base of the bush to a lineage now surviving at its top. How does speciation occur? This is a perennial hot topic in evolutionary theory, but most biologist would subscribe to the ‘allopatric theory’ (the debate centers on the admissibility of other modes; nearly everyone agrees that allopatric speciation is the most common mode). Allopatric means ‘in another place.’ In the allopatric theory, popularized by Ernst Mayr, new species arise in in very small populations that become isolated from their parental group at the periphery of the ancestral range. Speciation in these small isolates is very rapid by evolutionary standards—hundreds or thousands of years (a geological microsecond). Major evolutionary change may occur in these small isolated populations. Favorable genetic variation can quickly spread through them. Moreover, natural selection tends to be intense in geographically marginal areas where the species barely maintains a foothold. In large central populations, on the other hand, favorable variations spread very slowly, and most change is steadfastly resisted by the well-adapted population. Small changes occur to meet the requirements of slowly altering climates, but major genetic reorganizations almost always take place in the small, peripherally isolated populations that form new species." - Stephan Jay Gould

"The chambers of the East are opened in every land, and the sun come forth to sow the earth with orient pearl. Night, the ancient mother, follows him with her diadem of stars. * * * Bright creatures! how they gleam like spirits through the shadows of innumerable eyes from their thrones in the boundless depths of heaven." - Thomas Carlyle

"It is a happy truth that man is capable of self-government, and only rendered otherwise by the moral degradation designedly super-induced on him by the wicked acts of his tyrant." - Thomas Jefferson

"Our duty is to act upon things as they are, and to make a reasonable provision for whatever they may be." - Thomas Jefferson

"The great object of my fear is the Federal Judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting with noiseless foot and unalarming advance, gaining ground step by step and holding what it gains, is engulfing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of that which feeds them." - Thomas Jefferson

"The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have past at home in the bosom of my family. Public employment contributes neither to advantage nor happiness. It is but honorable exile from ones family and affairs." - Thomas Jefferson

"Everything that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, 'Tis time to part." - Thomas Paine

"Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry." - Thomas Paine

"Mingling religion with politics may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America." - Thomas Paine

"The danger to which the success of revolutions is most exposed, is that of attempting them before the principles on which they proceed, and the advantages to result from them, are sufficiently seen and understood." - Thomas Paine

"My native place was [alive] with old legends, tales, traditions, customs and superstitions; so that in my early youth, even beyond the walls of my own humble roof, they met me in every direction." - William Carleton

"It is not working too hard that makes us weary. It is rather, I submit, living a life that is against the grain of our true creatureliness, living a ministry that is against the grain of our true vocation, being placed in a false position so that our day-to-day operation requires us to contradict what we know best about ourselves and what we love most about our life as children of God. Exhaustion comes from the demand that we be, in some measure, other than we truly are; such an alienation requires too much energy to navigate." - Walter Brueggemann