Great Throughts Treasury

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


"The curse of the great is ennui." -

"Employment and ennui are simply incompatible." - Madame Deluzy, Luzy Dorothee

"Ennui is the rust of the mind born of idleness. It is unused tools that corrode." - Madame Émile de Girardin, Delphine de Girardin, née Gay

"The secret of all success is to know how to deny yourself. Prove that you can control yourself, and you are an educated man; and without this all other education is good for nothing... To you self-denial may only mean weariness, restraint, ennui; but it means, also, love, perfection, sanctification." - Roswell Dwight Hitchcock

"We are amused through the intellect, but it is the heart that saves us from ennui." - Madame Swetchine, fully Anne Sophie Swetchine née Sophia Petrovna Soïmonov or Soymanof

"Ennui is the desire of activity without the fit means of gratifying the desire." - George Bancroft

"There is no sense of weariness like that which closes a day of eager and unintermitted pursuit of pleasure. The apple is eaten and the core sticks in the throat. Expectation has given way to ennui, and appetite to satiety." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"Ennui, the parent of expensive and ruinous vices." -

"The world? It is a territory under a curse, where even its pleasures carry with them their thorns and their bitterness… A place where hope, regarded as a passion so sweet, renders everybody unhappy; where those who have nothing to hope for, think themselves still more miserable, where all that pleases, pleases never for long; and where ennui is always most the sweetest destiny and the most supportable that one can expect in it." - Jean Baptiste Massillon

"There is nothing so insupportable to man as to be in entire repose, without passion, occupation, amusement, or application. Then it is that he feels his own nothingness, isolations, insignificance, dependent nature, powerlessness, emptiness. Immediately there issue from his soul ennui, sadness, chagrin, vexation, despair." - Blaise Pascal

"Ennui, perhaps, has made more gamblers than avarice, more drunkards than thirst, and perhaps as many; suicides as despair." - Charles Caleb Colton

"Ennui, the parent of expensive and ruinous vices." -

"Ennui shortens life, and bereaves the day of its light." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Our minds are so constructed that we can keep the attention fixed on a particular object until we have, as it were, looked all around it; and the mind that possesses this faculty in the highest degree of perfection will take cognizance of relations of which another mind has no perception. It is this, much more than any difference in the abstract power of reasoning, which constitutes the vast difference between the minds of different individuals. This is the history alike of the poetic genius and of the genius of discovery in science. “I keep the subject,” said Sir Isaac Newton, “constantly before me, and wait until the dawnings open by little and little into a full light.” It was thus that after long meditation he was led to the invention of fluxions, and to the anticipation of the modern discovery of the combustibility of the diamond. It was thus that Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood, and that those views were suggested by Davy which laid the foundation of that grand series of experimental researches which terminated in the decomposition of the earths and alkalies." - Benjamin Collins Brodie, fully Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie, 1st Baronet

"The failure of the mind in old age is often less the results of natural decay, than of disuse. Ambition has ceased to operate; contentment bring indolence, and indolence decay of mental power, ennui, and sometimes death. Men have been known to die, literally speaking, of disease induced by intellectual vacancy." - Benjamin Collins Brodie, fully Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie, 1st Baronet

"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." - William Hazlitt

"But there is only one avenue of access to that higher life. It is through a radical purging of inner unreality and the full and final surrender of one's whole self, all that one is and all that one possesses, to the imperious command of the Living God. From that surrender, when complete and unreserved, will follow release from defeat or ennui and the gift of utterly new joy and strength. The old life will be cast away; the old harrowing problems will dissolve; one will stand free from the shackles of temptation, self-consciousness, selfishness; for the first time in one's life, one will know the meaning of spiritual freedom. All that one has heard with the hearing of the ears about the life of religion, all that one has dismissed as the familiar exaggeration of religious propagandists or naïve faith no longer possible for intelligent moderns — all this will come vividly alive within one's own soul. One now knows, with a certainty for which there is no parallel, the truth of religion's claims — the absolutely unique character of the dedicated life, the vivid and continuous awareness of God's presence, the priceless worth of complete fellowship with Him, the service which is perfect freedom." - Henry P. Van Dusen

"The dead should not rule the living." -

"The office of reformer of the superstitions of a nation is ever dangerous." -