Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Folly

"Incredulity is not wisdom, but the worst kind of folly. It is folly, because it causes ignorance and mistake, with all the consequents of these; and it is very bad, as being accompanied with disingenuity, obstinacy, rudeness, uncharitableness, and the like, bad dispositions; from which credulity itself, the other extreme sort of folly, is exempt." - Isaac Barrow

"If a fool would persist in his folly he would become wise." - William Blake

"Hypocrisy is folly. It is much easier, safer, and pleasanter to be the thing which a man aims to appear, than to keep up the appearance of what he is not." - Richard Cecil

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." -

"Prudence is the necessary ingredient in all the virtues, without which they degenerate into folly and excess." - Jeremy Collier

"Uncertainty and expectation are the joyous of life. Security is an insipid thing, and the overtaking and possessing or a wish discovers the folly of the chase." - William Congreve

"All human wisdom, to divine, is folly." - John Denham, fully Sir John Denham

"The taxes were indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us, by allowing an abatement." - Benjamin Franklin

"There is nothing in life so irrational, that good sense and chance may not set it to rights; nothing so rational, that folly and chance may not utterly confound it." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"It is virtue, to fly vice; and the highest wisdom to have lived free from folly." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"Health is so necessary to all the duties as well as pleasures of life that the crime of squandering it is equal to the folly." -

"We frequently fall into error and folly, not because the true principles of action are not known, but because for a time they are not remembered; he may, therefore, justly be numbered among the benefactors of mankind who contracts the great rules of life into short sentences that may early be impressed on the memory, and taught by frequent recollection to occur habitually to the mind." -

"It is characteristic of our age to endeavour to replace virtues by technology. That is to say, wherever possible we strive to use methods of physical or social engineering to achieve goals which our ancestors thought attainable only by the training of character. Thus we try so far as possible to make contraception take the place of chastity, and anesthetics to take the place of fortitude; we replace resignation by insurance policies and munificence by the Welfare state. It would be idle romanticism to deny that such techniques and institutions are often less painful and more efficient methods of achieving the goods and preventing the evils which unaided virtue once sought to achieve and avoid. But it would be an equal and opposite folly to hope that the take-over of virtue by technology may one day be complete." - Anthony Kenny, fully Sir Anthony John Patrick Kenny

"Politeness is not always a sign of wisdom. but the want of it always leaves room for a suspicion of folly, if folly and imprudence are the same." - Walter Savage Landor

"There is no outward sign of politeness which has not a deep, moral reason. Behavior is a mirror in which every one shows his own image. There is a politeness of the heart akin to love, from which springs the easiest politeness of outward behavior... Politeness is not always a sign of wisdom, but the want of it always leaves room for the suspicion of folly." - Walter Savage Landor

"Obstinacy and heat in argument are surest proofs of folly. Is there anything so stubborn, obstinate, disdainful, contemplative, grave, or serious, as an ass?" - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Every man’s vanity ought to be his greatest shame; and every man’s folly ought to be his greatest secret." - Francis Quarles

"Men are contented to be laughed at for their wit, but not for their folly." - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"There is no vice or folly that requires so much nicety and skill to manage as vanity; nor any which by ill management makes so contemptible a figure." - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"Wit implies hatred or contempt of folly and crime, produces its effects by brisk shocks of surprise, uses the whip of scorpions and the branding iron, stabs, stings, pinches, tortures, goads, teases, corrodes, undermines." - Edwin Percy Whipple

"As learned men grow older, they increase their wisdom; As ignorant men grow older, they increase in folly." - Babylonian Talmud

"If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise." - William Blake

"Trust not any man with thy life, credit, or estate. For it is mere folly for a man to enthrall himself to his friend, as though, occasion being offered, he should not dare to become an enemy." - William Cecil, Lord Burghley, 1st Baron Burghley, also Lord William Cecil Burleigh

"Most of the troubles of humanity are imaginary and should be laughed out of court. It is folly to cross a bridge until you come to it, or to bid the Devil good-morning until you meet him - perfect folly. All is well until the stroke falls, and even then, nine times out of ten, it is not so bad as anticipated. A wise man is the confirmed optimist." - Andrew Carnegie

"Taste is the good sense of genius; without taste genius is only sublime folly." - François-René de Chateaubriand, fully François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand

"And all your dreams and other such like folly, to deep oblivion let them be consigned; for they arise but from your melancholy, by which your health is being undermined. A straw for all the meaning you can find in dreams! They aren’t worth a hill of beans, for no one knows what dreaming really means." - Geoffrey Chaucer

"The art of meditation may be exercised at all hours, and in all places; and men of genius, in their walks at table, and amidst assemblies, turning the eye of the mind inwards, can form an artificial solitude; retired amidst a crowd, calm amidst distraction, and wise amidst folly." - Isaac D'Israeli

"“Knowledge, without common sense," says Lee, "is folly; without method, it is waste; without kindness, is it death." But with common sense, it is wisdom; with method, it is power; with charity, it is beneficence; with religion, it is virtue and life and peace." - Austin Madsen Farrer

"Those who are versed in the history of their country, in the history of the human race, must know that rigorous state prosecutions have always preceded the era of convulsion; and this era, I fear, will be accelerated by the folly and madness of our rulers. If the people are discontented, the proper mode of quieting their discontent is, not by instituting rigorous and sanguinary prosecutions, but by redressing their wrongs and conciliating their affections. Courts of justice, indeed, may be called in to the aid of ministerial vengeance; but if once the purity of their proceedings is suspected, they will cease to be objects of reverence to the nation; they will degenerate into empty and expensive pageantry, and become the partial instruments of vexatious oppression. Whatever may become of me, my principles will last forever. Individuals may perish; but truth is eternal. The rude blasts of tyranny may blow from every quarter; but freedom is that hardy plant which will survive the tempest and strike an everlasting root into the most unfavorable soil." - Joseph Gerrald

"Pleasures, riches, honor, and joy are sure to have care, disgrace, adversity, and affliction in their train. There is no pleasure without pain, no joy without sorrow. Oh, the folly of expecting lasting felicity in a vale of tears, or a paradise in a ruined world!" -

"To keep your secret is wisdom; but to expect others to keep it is folly." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"Mingle a little folly with your wisdom; a little nonsense now and then is pleasant." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"Nothing is too high for the daring of mortals: we storm heaven itself in our folly." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure. They are necessary symbols. They protect what we cherish. But they are witness to human folly." - Lyndon Johnson, fully Lyndon Baines Johnson, aka LBJ

"All unnecessary vows are folly, because they suppose a prescience of the future, which has not been given us." -

"Happiness is enjoyed only in proportion as it is known; and such is the state or folly of man, that it is known only by experiencing its contrary." -

"Health is so necessary to all the duties, as well as pleasures of life, that the crime of squandering it is equal to the folly." -

"He is no true man who ever treats women with anything but the profoundest respect. She is no true woman who cannot inspire and does not take care to enforce this. Any real rivalry of the sexes is the sheerest folly and most unnatural nonsense." - Alphonse de Lamartine, fully Alphonse Marie Louis de Lamartine

"Wisdom has its excesses, and is in no less need of moderation than folly." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"Public opinion is compounded by folly, weakness, prejudice, wrong feeling, right feeling, obstinacy, and newspaper paragraphs." - Robert Peel, fully Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet

"True silence is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. It is a great virtue: it covers folly, keeps secrets, avoids disputes, and prevents sin." - William Penn

"To build Utopias in defiance of scientific principles is only a fool's errand. If false hopes are momentarily good for morale, we must ultimately pay for such folly in episodes of disillusionment, cynicism and despair." - Merryle Stanley Rukeyser

"Much of the wisdom of one age is the folly of the next." - Charles Simmons

"Wit gives to life one of its best flavors; common-sense leads to immediate action, and gives society its daily motion; large and comprehensive views, its annual rotation; ridicule chastises folly and imprudence, and keeps men in their proper sphere; subtlety seizes hold of the find threads of truth; analogy darts away in the most sublime discoveries; feeling paints all the exquisite passions of man’s soul, and rewards him by a thousand inward visitations for the sorrows that come from without." - Sydney Smith

"What can be more foolish than to think that all this rare fabric of heaven and earth could come by chance, when all the skill of art is not able to make an oyster? To see rare effects, and no cause; a motion, without a mover; a circle, without a centre; a time, without an eternity; a second, without a first: these are things so against philosophy and natural reason, that he must be a beast in understanding who can believe in them. The thing formed, says that nothing formed it; and that which is made, is, while that which made it is not! This folly is infinite!" - Jeremy Taylor

"Man has the capacity of almost complete control of fate. It he fails it will be by the ignorance or folly of men." -

"In war, as in life, it is often necessary, when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might." - Winston Churchill, fully Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill

"Congreve, William Congreve - Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life. Security is an insipid thing and the overtaking and possessing of a wish, discovers the folly of the chase." - Yves Congar, fully Yves Marie-Joseph Congar

"There is no fire like passion, no shark like hatred, no snare like folly, and no torrent like greed." - Dhammapada NULL