Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Discourtesy does not spring merely from one bad quality, but from several - from foolish vanity, from ignorance of what is due to others, from indolence, from stupidity, from the distraction of thought, from contempt of others, from jealousy." - Jean de La Bruyère

"The human mind feels restless and dissatisfied under the anxieties of ignorance. It longs for the repose of conviction; and to gain this repose it will often rather precipitate its conclusions than wait for the tardy lights of observation and experiment. There is such a thing, too, as the love of simplicity and system, a prejudice of the understanding which disposes it to include al the phenomena of nature under a few sweeping generalities, and indolence which loves to repose on the beauties of a theory rather than encounter the fatiguing detail of its evidences." - Thomas Chalmers

"There are two sorts of content; one is connected with exertion, the other with habits of indolence. The first is virtue; the other, a vice." - Maria Edgeworth

"Give work rather than alms to the poor. The former drives out indolence, the latter industry. There are two kinds of charity, remedial and preventative. The former is often injurious in its tendency; the latter is always praiseworthy and beneficial." - Tyron Edwards

"Indolence is the dry rot of even a good mind and a good character; the practical uselessness of both. It is the waste of what might be a happy and useful life." - Tyron Edwards

"Hidden worth differs little from buried indolence." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"Human happiness seems to consists in three ingredients: action, pleasure and indolence. And though these ingredients ought to be mixed in different proportions, according to the disposition of the person, yet no one ingredient can be entirely wanting without destroying in some measure the relish of the whole composition." - David Hume

"To do nothing is in every man’s power; we can never want an opportunity of omitting duties. The lapse to indolence is soft and imperceptible, because it is only a mere cessation of activity; but the return to diligence is difficult, because it implies a change from rest to motion, from privation to reality." -

"Fear is not the cause of indolence, but indolence is the cause of fear." - Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, also Moses Hayyim Luzzato, known by Hebrew acronym RaMCHal

"They set the slave free, striking off his chains. Then he was as much of a slave as ever. He was still chained to servility. He was still manacled to indolence and sloth, he was still bound by fear and superstition, by ignorance suspicion and savagery. His slavery was not in the chains, but in himself. They can only set free men free. And there is no need of that. Free men set themselves free." - José Joaquín de Olmedo, fully José Joaquín de Olmedo y Maruri

"Indolence is stagnation; employment is life." -

"Employment, which Galen calls, "Nature's physician," is so essential to human happiness that indolence is justly considered as the mother of misery." - Richard Francis Burton, fully Sir Richard Francis Burton

"There is no moment like the present. The man who will not execute his resolutions when they are fresh upon him can have no hope from them afterwards; they will be dissipated, lost and perish in the hurry and scurry of the world, or sunk in the slough of indolence." - Maria Edgeworth

"Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy. Action is no less necessary than thought to the instinctive tendencies of the human frame." -

"Given a man full of faith, you will have a man tenacious in purpose, absorbed in one grand object, simple in his motives, in whom selfishness has been driven out by the power of a mightier love, and indolence stirred into unwearied energy." - Alexander Maclaren

"Indolence is the sleep of the mind." -

"The celebrated Galen said that employment was nature's physician. It is indeed so important to happiness that indolence is justly considered the parent of misery." - Charles Caleb Colton

"Of all our faults, that which we most readily admit is indolence. We persuade ourselves that it cherishes all the peaceful virtues, and that without destroying the others it merely suspends their functions." - François de La Rochefoucauld, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, Francois A. F. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

"Though indolence and timidity keep us to the path of duty, virtue often gets all the credit... Virtues lose themselves in self-interest, as rivers lose themselves in the sea." - François de La Rochefoucauld, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, Francois A. F. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

"There are two main human sins from which all others derive: impatience and indolence. Because of impatience they were expelled from Paradise, because of indolence they don't return." - Franz Kafka

"Thus it is - that, by the comparative blindness of man in each preceding period, the like blindness in each succeeding period is secured: without the trouble or need of reflection, men, by opulence rendered indolent, and by indolence and self-indulgence doomed to ignorance, follow their leaders - as sheep follow sheep, and geese geese." - Jeremy Bentham

"Employment, which Galen calls "Nature's physician," is so essential to human happiness that indolence is justly considered as the mother of misery." - Robert Burton

"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

"Temperance, that virtue without pride, and fortune without envy, that gives indolence of body with an equality of mind; the best guardian of youth and support of old age; the precept of reason as well as religion, and physician of the soul as well as the body; the tutelary goddess of health and universal medicine of life." - William Temple, fully Sir William Temple, 1st Baronet

"Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy. Action is no less necessary than thought to the instructive tendencies of the human frame." - William Hazlitt

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." - James Madison

"A phlegmatic insensibility is as different from patience, as a pool from a harbor. Into the one, indolence naturally sinks us; but if we arrive at the other it is by encountering many an adverse wind and rough wave, with a more skilful pilot at the helm than self, and a company under better command than the passions." - Lewis W. Dillwyn, fully Lewis Weston Dillwyn

"In existing States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. ... In short, a law everywhere and for everything! A law about fashions, a law about mad dogs, a law about virtue, a law to put a stop to all the vices and all the evils which result from human indolence and cowardice." - Peter Kropotkin, fully Prince Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin

"In our own time the whole of Greece has been subject to a low birth rate and a general decrease of the population, owing to which cities have become deserted and the land has ceased to yield fruit, although there have neither been continuous wars nor epidemics...For as men had fallen into such a state of pretentiousness, avarice, and indolence that they did not wish to marry, or if they married to rear the children born to them, or at most as a rule but one or two of them, so as to leave these in affluence and bring them up to waste their substance, the evil rapidly and insensibly grew." - Polybius NULL

"I will suppose, then, not that Deity, who is sovereignly good and the fountain of truth, but that some malignant demon, who is at once exceedingly potent and deceitful, has employed all his artifice to deceive me; I will suppose that the sky, the air, the earth, colors, figures, sounds, and all external things, are nothing better than the illusions of dreams, by means of which this being has laid snares for my credulity; I will consider myself as without hands, eyes, flesh, blood, or any of the senses, and as falsely believing that I am possessed of these; I will continue resolutely fixed in this belief, and if indeed by this means it be not in my power to arrive at the knowledge of truth, I shall at least do what is in my power, viz, [suspend my judgment ], and guard with settled purpose against giving my assent to what is false, and being imposed upon by this deceiver, whatever be his power and artifice. But this undertaking is arduous, and a certain indolence insensibly leads me back to my ordinary course of life; and just as the captive, who, perchance, was enjoying in his dreams an imaginary liberty, when he begins to suspect that it is but a vision, dreads awakening, and conspires with the agreeable illusions that the deception may be prolonged; so I, of my own accord, fall back into the train of my former beliefs, and fear to arouse myself from my slumber, lest the time of laborious wakefulness that would succeed this quiet rest, in place of bringing any light of day, should prove inadequate to dispel the darkness that will arise from the difficulties that have now been raised." - René Descartes

"To dread no eye and to suspect no tongue is the great prerogative of innocence - an exemption granted only to invariable virtue." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"It is not the office of art to spotlight alternatives, but to resist by its form alone the course of the world, which permanently puts a pistol to men's heads." - Theodor W. Adorno, born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund

"The true gain is always in the struggle, not the prize. What we become must always rank as a far higher question than what we get." - W. J. Dawson. fully William James Dawson

"I tell you there is no such thing as creative hate!" - Willa Cather, fully Willa Sibert Cather

"We have more strength than will; and it is often merely for an excuse we say things are impossible." - François de La Rochefoucauld, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, Francois A. F. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

"When a teacher of the future comes to point out to the youth of America how the highest rewards of intellect and devotion can be gained, he may say to them, not by subtlety and intrigue not by wire pulling and demagoguery not by the arts of popularity not by skill and shiftiness in following expediency but by being firm in devotion to the principles of manhood and the application of morals and the courage of righteousness in the public life of our country by being a man without guile and without fear, without selfishness, and with devotion to duty, devotion to his country." - Elihu Root