Great Throughts Treasury

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


"We can pay our debt to the past by putting the future in debt to ourselves." - John Buchan, Baron Tweedsmuir

"What a noble gift to man are the forests! What a debt of gratitude and admiration we owe to their beauty and their utility! How pleasantly the shadows of the wood fall upon our heads when we turn from the glitter and turmoil of the world of man!" - Susan Fenimore Cooper, fully Susan Augusta Fenimore Cooper

"To the generous mind the heaviest debt is that of gratitude, when it is not in our power to repay it." - Benjamin Franklin

"Debt is bitter slavery to an honorable man." - Publius Syrus

"He that receives a gift with gratitude repays the first installment of his debt." -

"Debt is like any other trap, easy enough to get into, but hard enough to get out of." -

"The men who start out with the notion that the world owes them a living generally find that the world pays its debt in the penitentiary or the poorhouse." - William Graham Sumner

"Debt is the secret foe of thrift, as vice and idleness are its open enemies." - John H. Aughey, fully John Hill Aughey

"Beware of suretyship for thy best friend. He that payeth another man’s debt seeketh his own decay. But if thou canst not otherwise choose, rather lend the money thyself upon good bonds, although thou borrow it; so shalt thou secure thyself, and pleasure thy friend." - William Cecil, Lord Burghley, 1st Baron Burghley, also Lord William Cecil Burleigh

"Debt haunts the mind; a conversation about justice troubles it; the sight of a creditor fills it with confusion; even the sanctuary is not a place of refuge. The borrower is servant to the lender. Independence, so essential to the virtues and pleasures of a man, can only be maintained by setting bounds to our desires and owing no man anything." - Chartery NULL

"To equal justice appertaineth also the equal imposition of taxes; the equality whereof dependeth not on the equality of riches, but on the equality of the debt that every man oweth to the commonwealth for his defense." - Thomas Hobbes

"Armaments, universal debt and planned obsolescence - those are the three pillars of Western prosperity." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"The nations which have put mankind most in their debt have been small states - Israel, Athens, Florence, Elizabethan England." - William Ralph Inge

"This world is so full of care and sorrow that it is a gracious debt we owe to one another to discover the bright crystals of delight hidden in somber circumstances and irksome tasks." -

"Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten... America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness - justice." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"What is an oath? A plaster for a debt." - Laberius, full name Decimus Laberius NULL

"O ye princes and rulers, how exceeding strong is wine! It causeth all men to err that drink it; it maketh the mind of the king and the beggar to be all one, of the bondsman and the freeman, of the poor man and of the rich; it turneth also every thought into jollity and mirth, so that a man remembereth neither sorrow nor debt; it changeth and elevateth the spirits and enliventh the heavy hearts of the miserable; it maketh a man forget his brethren, and draw his sword against his best friends." - Masonic Manual NULL

"When after many battles past, both tir'd with blows, make peace at last, what is it, after all, the people get? Why! taxes, widows, wooden legs and debt." -

"Education: a debt due from the present to the future generations." - George Peabody

"A small loan makes a debt; a great one an enemy." - Publius Syrus

"There is nothing that we an properly call our own but our time, and yet everybody fools us out of it who has a mind to do it. If a man borrows a paltry sum of money, there must needs be bonds and securities, and every common civility is presently charged upon account. But he who has my time thinks he owes me nothing for it, though it be a debt that gratitude itself can never repay." -

"A man falls in love just as he falls down stairs. It is an accident... But when he runs in love it is as when he runs in debt; it is done knowingly and intentionally... Both are common enough; and yet less so than what I call catching love." - Robert Southey

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But here was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that this was my life. This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. " - Alfred D'Souza

"If we meet someone who owes us a debt of gratitude, we remember the fact at once. How often we can meet someone to whom we owe a debt of gratitude without thinking about it at all!" - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Talent is a very common family trait; genius belongs rather to the individuals – just as you find one giant or one dwarf in a family, but rarely a whole brood of either. Talent is often to be envied, and genius very commonly to be pitied. It stands twice the chance of the other of dying in a hospital, in jail, in debt, in bad repute. It is a perpetual insult to mediocrity; its every word is a trespass against somebody’s vested ideas." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money." - George Gordon Liddy

"We have to make sure that a catastrophe of nature does not become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren." - Mike Pence, formally Michael Richard "Mike" Pence

"When death comes, the rich man has no money; the poor man no debt." - Estonian Proverbs

"One can pay back the gift of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind." - Malaysian Proverbs

"Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence – those are the three pillars of Western prosperity." -

"Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence – those are the three pillars of Western prosperity." -

"Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence – those are the three pillars of Western prosperity." -

"Worrying is the interest paid on a debt you may not owe." - Author Unknown NULL

"By paying our other debts, we are equal with all mankind; but in refusing to pay a debt of revenge, we are superior." - Charles Caleb Colton

"If the prodigal quits life in debt to others, the miser quiets is still deeper in debt to himself." - Charles Caleb Colton

"Is not beauty created at every encounter between a man and life, in which he repays his debt by focusing on the living moment all the power which life has given him as an obligation? Beauty - for the one who pays his debt. For others, too, perhaps." - Dag Hammarskjöld

"Equity money is dynamic and debt money is static." - Edmund Burke

"If you help others, you will be helped, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in one hundred years, but you will be helped. Nature must pay off the debt... It is a mathematical law and all life is mathematics." - George Gurdjieff, fully George Ivanovich Gurdjieff

"Everyone must pay his debt to nature." - German Proverbs

"Nature holds an immense uncollected debt over every man’s head." - Henry Ward Beecher

"Why this reluctance to make the change? We fear the process of reeducation! Adults have invested endless hours of learning in growing accustomed to inches and miles; to February’s twenty-eight days; to “night” and “debt” with their silent letters; to qwertyuiop; and to all the rest. To introduce something altogether new would mean to begin all over, to become ignorant again, and to run the old, old risk of failing to learn." - Isaac Asimov, born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov

"Praise in the beginning is agreeable enough; and we receive it as a favor; but when it comes in great quantities, we regard it only as a debt, which nothing but our merit could extort." - James Goldsmith

"We can only pay our debt to the past by putting the future in debt to ourselves." -

"He who has once stood beside the grave, to look back upon the companionship which has been forever closed, feeling how impotent there are the wild love, or the keen sorrow, to give one instant’s pleasure to the measure to the departed spirit for the hour of unkindness, will scarcely for the future incur that debt to the heart which can only be discharged to the dust." - John Ruskin

"Each of us has a responsibility for being alive: one responsibility to creation, of which we are a part, another to the creator - a debt we repay by trying to extend our areas of comprehension." - Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Annie Johnson

"Science does not know its debt to imagination." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"One man's justice is another's injustice; one man's beauty another's ugliness; one man's wisdom, another's folly as one beholds the same objects from a higher point. One man thinks justice consists in paying debts, and has no measure in his abhorrence of another who is very remiss in his duty and makes the creditor wait tediously. But that second man has his own way of looking at things; asks himself, which debt must I pay first, the debt to the rich, or the debt to the poor? The debt of money or the debt of thought to mankind, of genius to nature?" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Pay every debt as if God wrote the bill!" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Our expense is almost all for conformity. It is for cake that we run in debt; `tis not the intellect, not the heart, not beauty, not worship, that costs so much." -

"We cannot overstate our debt to the Past, but the moment has the supreme claim." -