Great Throughts Treasury

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


"A cheerful spirit is one of the most valuable gifts ever bestowed upon humanity by a kind Creator. It is the sweetest and the most fragrant flower of the Spirit, that constantly sends out its beauty and fragrance, and blesses everything within its reach. It will sustain the soul in the darkest and most dreary places of this world. It will hold in check the demons of despair, and stifle the power of discouragement and hopelessness. It is the brightest star that ever cast its radiance over the darkened soul, and one that seldom sets in the gloom of morbid fancies and foreboding imaginations." - Arthur Aughey

"Pain and pleasure, good and evil, come to us from unexpected sources. It is not there where we have gathered up our brightest hopes, that the dawn of happiness breaks. It is not there where we have glanced our eye with affright, that we find the deadliest gloom. What should this teach use? To bow to the great and only Source of light, and live humbly and with confiding resignation." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Gloom and sadness are poison to us, the origin of hysterics, which is a disease of the imagination caused by vexation, and supported by fear." - Madame de Sévigné, Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, marquise de Sévigné

"Gloom obstructs our comprehension of the divine mysteries." - Moses Hasid

"To bear adversity with meek submission to the will of God; to endure chastisement with all long-suffering and joyfulness; to appear cheerful and amid surrounding gloom, hopeful amidst desponding circumstances, happy in God when there is nothing else to make us happy; he who does this has indeed made great advances in the divine life." - John Angell James

"Disease generally begins that equality which death completes; the distinctions which set one man so much above another are very little perceived in the gloom of a sick-chamber, where it will be vain to expect entertainment from the gay, or instruction from the wise; where all human glory is obliterated, the wit is clouded, the reasoner perplexed, and the hero subdued; where the highest and brightest of mortal being finds nothing left behind him but the consciousness of innocence." -

"For an artist to do creative work, he needs at once physical health and some physiomental ill-health. He needs both serenity and gloom." - Yukio Mishima

"Nothing is so intolerable to man as being fully at rest, without passion, without business, without entertainment, without care. It is then that he recognizes that he is empty, insufficient, dependent, ineffectual. From the depths of the soul now comes at once boredom, gloom, sorrow, chagrin, resentment and despair." - Blaise Pascal

"Ye men of gloom and austerity, who paint the face of Infinite Benevolence with an eternal frown, read in the everlasting book, wide open to your view, the lesson it would teach. Its pictures are not in black and somber hues, but bright and glowing tints; its music - save when ye drown it - is not in sights and groans, but songs and cheerful sounds. Listen to the million voices in the summer air, and find one dismal as your own." - Charles Dickens, fully Charles John Huffam Dickens

"I have always preferred cheerfulness to mirth. The former is an act, the latter a habit of the mind. Mirth is short and transient; cheerfulness, fixed and permanent. Mirth is like a flash of lightning, that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment. Cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, filling it with a steady and perpetual serenity." - Joseph Addison

"Laughter, while it lasts, slackens and unbraces the mind, weakens the faculties and causes a kind of remissness and dissolution in all the powers of the soul; and thus it may be looked on as weakness in the composition of human nature. But if we consider the frequent reliefs we receive from it and how often it breaks the gloom which is apt to depress the mind and damp our spirits, with transient, unexpected gleams of joy, one would take care not to grow too wise for so great a pleasure of life." - Joseph Addison

"Mirth is like a flash of lightning that breaks through a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment: cheerfulness keeps up a kind of day-light in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity." - Joseph Addison

"It is so often true that whether a person carries with him an atmosphere of gloom and depression or one of confidence and courage depends on his individual outlook. " - James Keller

"Pure religion may generally be measured by the cheerfulness of its professors, and superstition by the gloom of its victims." - Paul Chatfield, pseudonym for Horace Smith

"Cease, cease, wayward Mortal! I dare not unveil The shadows that float o’er Eternity’s vale; Nought waits for the good but a spirit of Love, That will hail their blest advent to regions above. For Love, Mortal, gleams through the gloom of my sway, And the shades which surround me fly fast at its ray." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"The everlasting universe of things Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves, Now dark--now glittering--now reflecting gloom -- Now lending splendour, where from secret springs The source of human thought its tribute brings. " - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting — no more — and then it motivates one towards originality and instills the desire for truth. Suppose someone were to go and ask his neighbors for fire and find a substantial blaze there, and just stay there continually warming himself: that is no different from someone who goes to someone else to get to some of his rationality, and fails to realize that he ought to ignite his own flame, his own intellect, but is happy to sit entranced by the lecture, and the words trigger only associative thinking and bring, as it were, only a flush to his cheeks and a glow to his limbs; but he has not dispelled or dispersed, in the warm light of philosophy, the internal dank gloom of his mind." - Plutarch, named Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus after becoming Roman citizen NULL

"For deep the cave of human consciousness; The thoughts, like light, upon its depths may press, Seeking and finding wonders numberless; But never may they altogether pierce The hollow gloom so sensitive and fierce Of the deep bosom: far the light may reach, There is a depth unreached; in clearest speech There is an echo from an unknown place: And in the dim, unknown, untrodden space Our life is hidden; were we all self-known, No longer should we live; a wonder shown Is wonderful no more; and being flies For ever from its own self-scrutinies. Here is the very effort of the soul To keep itself unmingled, safe, and whole In changes and the flitting feints of sense: Here essence holds a calm and sure defence; It is a guarded shrine and sacred grove, A fountain hidden where no foot may rove, A further depth within a sounded sea; A mirror ’tis from hour to hour left free By things reflected: and because ’tis so, Therefore the outer world and all its show Is as the music of the upper wave To the deep Ocean in his sunken cave; A part of its own self, yet but its play, Which doth the sunbeam and the cloud convey To central deeps, where in awful shade The stormless heart receives the things conveyed, Knowing the cloud by darkness, and the light By splendours dying through the infinite." - R. W. Dixon, fully Richard Watson Dixon

"It's good the great green earth to roam, Where sights of awe the soul inspire; But oh, it's best, the coming home, The crackle of one's own hearth-fire! You've hob-nobbed with the solemn Past; You've seen the pageantry of kings; Yet oh, how sweet to gain at last The peace and rest of Little Things! Perhaps you're counted with the Great; You strain and strive with mighty men; Your hand is on the helm of State; Colossus-like you stride . . . and then There comes a pause, a shining hour, A dog that leaps, a hand that clings: O Titan, turn from pomp and power; Give all your heart to Little Things. Go couch you childwise in the grass, Believing it's some jungle strange, Where mighty monsters peer and pass, Where beetles roam and spiders range. 'Mid gloom and gleam of leaf and blade, What dragons rasp their painted wings! O magic world of shine and shade! O beauty land of Little Things! I sometimes wonder, after all, Amid this tangled web of fate, If what is great may not be small, And what is small may not be great. So wondering I go my way, Yet in my heart contentment sings . . . O may I ever see, I pray, God's grace and love in Little Things. So give to me, I only beg, A little roof to call my own, A little cider in the keg, A little meat upon the bone; A little garden by the sea, A little boat that dips and swings . . . Take wealth, take fame, but leave to me, O Lord of Life, just Little Things." - Robert Service, fully Robert William Service

"For the most part, the human mind cannot attain to self-knowledge otherwise than by making trial of its powers through temptation, by some kind of experimental and not merely verbal self-interrogation." - Saint Augustine, aka Augustine of Hippo, St. Austin, Bishop of Hippo NULL

"Disease is a physical process that generally begins that equality which death completes." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"Coming up home the other night in my car (the Guy Street car), I heard a man who was hanging onto a strap say: “The drama is just turning into a bunch of talk.” This set me thinking; and I was glad that it did, because I am being paid by this paper to think once a week, and it is wearing. Some days I never think from morning till night." - Stephen Leacock, fully Stephen Butler Leacock

"O God, impress upon me the value of time, and give regulation to all my thoughts and to all my movements." - Thomas Chalmers

"My views and feelings (are) in favor of the abolition of war - and I hope it is practicable, by improving the mind and morals of society, to lessen the disposition to war; but of its abolition I despair." - Thomas Jefferson

"When Old Corruption first begun, Adorn’d in yellow vest, He committed on Flesh a whoredom— O, what a wicked beast! From then a callow babe did spring, And Old Corruption smil’d To think his race should never end, For now he had a child. He call’d him Surgery and fed The babe with his own milk; For Flesh and he could ne’er agree: She would not let him suck. And this he always kept in mind; And form’d a crooked knife, And ran about with bloody hands To seek his mother’s life. And as he ran to seek his mother He met with a dead woman. He fell in love and married her— A deed which is not common! She soon grew pregnant, and brought forth Scurvy and Spotted Fever, The father grinn’d and skipt about, And said ‘I’m made for ever! ‘For now I have procur’d these imps I’ll try experiments.’ With that he tied poor Scurvy down, And stopt up all its vents. And when the child began to swell He shouted out aloud— ‘I’ve found the dropsy out, and soon Shall do the world more good.’ He took up Fever by the neck, And cut out all its spots; And, thro’ the holes which he had made, He first discover’d guts." - William Blake

"It is worthy to note, that the early popularity of Washington was not the result of brilliant achievement nor signal success; on the contrary, it rose among trials and reverses, and may almost be said to have been the fruit of defeat." - Washington Irving

"It is the sun that shares our works. The moon shares nothing. It is a sea." - Wallace Stevens

"But what after all is one night? A short space, especially when the darkness dims so soon, and so soon a bird sings, a cock crows, or a faint green quickens, like a turning leaf, in the hollow of the wave." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"From the oyster to the eagle, from the swine to the tiger, all animals are to be found in men and each of them exists in some man, sometimes several at the time. Animals are nothing but the portrayal of our virtues and vices made manifest to our eyes, the visible reflections of our souls. God displays them to us to give us food for thought." - Victor Hugo

"Every person should listen only to good and should abhor anything that is evil or bad." - Atharva Veda, or Atharvaveda

"This thoroughly 'pragmatic' view of religion has usually been taken as a matter of course by common men. They have interpolated divine miracles into the field of nature, they have built a heaven out beyond the grave. It is only transcendentalist metaphysicians who think that, without adding any concrete details to Nature, or subtracting any, but by simply calling it the expression of absolute spirit, you make it more divine just as it stands. I believe the pragmatic way of taking religion to be the deeper way. It gives it body as well as soul, it makes it claim, as everything real must claim, some characteristic realm of fact as its very own. What the more characteristically divine facts are, apart from the actual inflow of energy in the faith-state and the prayer-state, I know not. But the over-belief on which I am ready to make my personal venture is that they exist. The whole drift of my education goes to persuade me that the world of our present consciousness is only one out of many worlds of consciousness that exist, and that those other worlds must contain experiences which have a meaning for our life also; and that although in the main their experiences and those of this world keep discrete, yet the two become continuous at certain points, and higher energies filter in. By being faithful in my poor measure to this over-belief, I seem to myself to keep more sane and true. I can, of course, put myself into the sectarian scientist's attitude, and imagine vividly that the world of sensations and scientific laws and objects may be all. But whenever I do this, I hear that inward monitor of which W. K. Clifford once wrote, whispering the word 'bosh!' Humbug is humbug, even though it bear the scientific name, and the total expression of human experience, as I view it objectively, invincibly urges me beyond the narrow 'scientific' bounds. Assuredly, the real world is of a different temperament — more intricately built than physical science allows. So my objective and my subjective conscience both hold me to the over-belief which I express. Who knows whether the faithfulness of individuals here below to their own poor over-beliefs may not actually help God in turn to be more effectively faithful to his own greater tasks?" - William James

"Epicurus, we are told, left behind him three hundred volumes of his own works, wherein he had not inserted a single quotation; and we have it upon the authority of Varro’s own words that he himself composed four hundred and ninety books. Seneca assures us that Didymus the grammarian wrote no less than four thousand; but Origen, it seems, was yet more prolific, and extended his performances even to six thousand treatises. It is obvious to imagine with what sort of materials the productions of such expeditious workmen were wrought up: sound thoughts and well-matured reflections could have no share, we may be sure, in these hasty performances. Thus are books multiplied, whilst authors are scarce; and so much easier is it to write than to think! But shall I not myself, Palamedes, prove an instance that it is so, if I suspend any longer your own more important reflections by interrupting you with such as mine?" - William Melmoth, wrote under pseudonym Sir Thomas Fitzosborne

"Therein does the conscious Self (purusha) experience pain caused by decay and death, until dissociation from the subtle body; thus suffering is in the very nature of things." - Ishvarakrishna, aka Iśvarakṛṣṇa NULL

"I have been into many of the ancient cathedrals - grand, wonderful, mysterious. But I always leave them with a feeling of indignation because of the generations of human beings who have struggled in poverty to build these altars to an unknown god." - Elizabeth Cady Stanton

"And I pray one prayer - I repeat it till my tongue stiffens... Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad!" - Emily Brontë, fully Emily Jane Brontë, aka pseudonym Ellis Bell

"I assure you, a tiger, or a venomous serpent could not rouse terror in me equal to that which he wakens." - Emily Brontë, fully Emily Jane Brontë, aka pseudonym Ellis Bell

"I'd be glad of a retaliation that wouldn't recoil on myself; but treachery and violence are spears pointed at both ends: they wound those who resort to them, worse than their enemies." - Emily Brontë, fully Emily Jane Brontë, aka pseudonym Ellis Bell

"Sweet Love of youth, forgive, if I forget thee, while the world's tide is bearing me along; other desires and other hopes beset me, hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong!" - Emily Brontë, fully Emily Jane Brontë, aka pseudonym Ellis Bell

"None so deaf as those who will not hear." -

"Of the wealth of the world each has as much as they take." -