Great Throughts Treasury

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


"Let honesty and industry be thy constant companions, and spend one penny less than thy clear gains; then shall thy pocket begin to thrive; creditors will not insult, nor want oppress, nor hunger bite, nor nakedness freeze thee." - Benjamin Franklin

"The only graceful way to accept an insult is to ignore it; if you can't ignore it, top it; if you can't top it, laugh at it; if you can't laugh at it, it's probably deserved." - J. Russell Lynes

"Moral contempt is a far greater indignity and insult than any kind of crime." -

"The goal to strive for is that it should be equal in your eyes if others happen to praise or insult you." - Bachya Ibn Pekudah

"The noble mind does not admit an insult." - Publius Syrus

"Perpetual aiming at wit is a very bad part of conversation. It is done to support a character: it generally fails; it is a sort of insult on the company, and a restraint upon the speaker." - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"He who wishes to exert a useful influence must be careful to insult nothing. Let him not be troubled by what seems absurd, but concentrate his energies to the creation of what is good. He must not demolish, but build. He must raise temples where mankind may come and partake of the purest pleasure." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"To limit the press is to insult a nation; to prohibit reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves." - Claude-Adrien Helvétius

"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.

"The worst insult I can inflict on life is that I do not reflect on its meaning." - Kedar Joshi

"Being bored is an insult to oneself." - Jules Renard, aka Pierre-Jules Renard

"The cruelest insult… which can be offered to the unfortunate, is to appear to make light of their calamities." - Adam Smith

"I once met a man who had forgiven an injury. I hope some day to meet the man who has forgiven an insult." - Charles Buxton

"Endure a small insult and be safe from a big insult; suffer some small loss and be safe from a big loss. When you miss an advantage in a deal, you gain an advantage." - Chinese Proverbs

"The stronger one’s real position, the less one needs to rub in the other side’s discomfiture. It is rarely wise to inflame a setback with an insult. An important aspect of the art of diplomacy consists of doing what is necessary without producing extraneous motives for retaliation, leaving open the option of later cooperation on other issues." - Henry Kissinger, fully Henry Alfred Kissinger

"Our charitable institutions are an insult to humanity. A charity which dispenses the crumbs that fall from its overloaded tables, which are left after its feasts." - Henry David Thoreau, born David Henry Thoreau

"There is nothing so small but that we may honor God by asking His guidance of it, or insult Him by taking it into our own hands; and what is true of the Deity is equally true of His revelation." - John Ruskin

"Anti-Semitism in any form is a barbaric insult to our culture and our civilization, which have been moulded by Christianity, and as a breakdown of Christian values, which have become confused and lacking in humanity." - Karl Barth

"An injury is much sooner forgotten than an insult." - Lord Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

"A righteous person once asked, “On which day of your life did you experience the greatest amount of joy?” The righteous man replied, “It was the day when I traveled on a ship and someone greatly humiliated me. He treated me with ultimate disgrace. Nevertheless I did not feel even a drop of resentment. I experienced great joy that I reached such a level that no insult could cause me any pain.”" - Maimonides, given name Moses ben Maimon or Moshe ben Maimon, known as "Rambam" NULL

"The institution of Royalty in any form is an insult to the human race." -

"The greater part of mankind are more sensitive to contemptuous language, than to unjust acts; they can less easily bear insult than wrong." - Plutarch, named Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus after becoming Roman citizen NULL

"The most common-place people become highly imaginative when they are in a passion. Whole dramas of insult, injury and wrong pass before their minds, efforts of creative genius, for there is sometimes not a fact to go upon." - Arthur Helps, fully Sir Arthur Helps

"Serve, love, meditate, purify, be good, do good, be kind, be compassionate, adapt, adjust accommodate, bear insult, bear injury, highest sadhana [spiritual path]." -

"If there is a God, atheism must strike Him as less of an insult than religion." - Edmund (Louis Antoine Huot) de Goncourt (1822-1896) and Jules (Alfred Huot) de Goncourt

"Moral contempt is a far greater indignity and insult than any kind of crime. " - Friedrich Nietzsche, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist." -

"Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist. " - G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"To insult someone we call him "bestial." For deliberate cruelty and nature, "human" might be the greater insult. " - Isaac Asimov, born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov

"There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god." - J. B. S. Haldane, fully John Burdon Sanderson Haldane

"I am never bored; to be bored is an insult to one's self." - Jules Renard, aka Pierre-Jules Renard

"If there is a God, atheism must strike Him as less of an insult than religion." - Jules de Goncourt, fully Jules Huot de Goncourt

"The institution of Royalty in any form is an insult to the human race." - Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

"People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It's not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past." - Milan Kundera

"It is beyond my power to induce in you a belief in God. There are certain things which are self proved and certain which are not proved at all. The existence of God is like a geometrical axiom. It may be beyond our heart grasp. I shall not talk of an intellectual grasp. Intellectual attempts are more or less failures, as a rational explanation cannot give you the faith in a living God. For it is a thing beyond the grasp of reason. It transcends reason. There are numerous phenomena from which you can reason out the existence of God, but I shall not insult your intelligence by offering you a rational explanation of that type. I would have you brush aside all rational explanations and begin with a simple childlike faith in God. If I exist, God exists. With me it is a necessity of my being as it is with millions. They may not be able to talk about it, but from their life you can see that it is a part of their life. I am only asking you to restore the belief that has been undermined. In order to do so, you have to unlearn a lot of literature that dazzles your intelligence and throws you off your feet. Start with the faith which is also a token of humility and an admission that we know nothing, that we are less than atoms in this universe. We are less than atoms, I say, because the atom obeys the law of its being, whereas we in the insolence of our ignorance deny the law of nature. But I have no argument to address to those who have no faith." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"Not to be loved is a misfortune, but it is an insult to be loved no longer." - Charles De Montesquieu, formally Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu

"I don't think you should ever insult people unintentionally: if you're doing it, you ought to mean it." - Neil Gaiman, fully Neil Richard Gaiman

"Happy the writer who, passing by characters that are boring, disgusting, shocking in their mournful reality, approaches characters that manifest the lofty dignity of man, who from the great pool of daily whirling images has chosen only the rare exceptions, who has never once betrayed the exalted turning of his lyre, nor descended from his height to his poor, insignificant brethren, and, without touching the ground, has given the whole of himself to his elevated images so far removed from it. Twice enviable is his beautiful lot: he is among them as in his own family; and meanwhile his fame spreads loud and far. With entrancing smoke he has clouded people's eyes; he has flattered them wondrously, concealing what is mournful in life, showing them a beautiful man. Everything rushes after him, applauding, and flies off following his triumphal chariot. Great world poet they name him, soaring high above all other geniuses in the world, as the eagle soars above the other high fliers. At the mere mention of his name, young ardent hearts are filled with trembling, responsive tears shine in all eyes...No one equals him in power--he is God! But such is not the lot, and other is the destiny of the writer who has dared to call forth all that is before our eyes every moment and which our indifferent eyes do not see--all the stupendous mire of trivia in which our life in entangled, the whole depth of cold, fragmented, everyday characters that swarm over our often bitter and boring earthly path, and with the firm strength of his implacable chisel dares to present them roundly and vividly before the eyes of all people! It is not for him to win people's applause, not for him to behold the grateful tears and unanimous rapture of the souls he has stirred; no sixteen-year-old girl will come flying to meet him with her head in a whirl and heroic enthusiasm; it is not for him to forget himself in the sweet enchantment of sounds he himself has evoked; it is not for him, finally, to escape contemporary judgment, hypocritically callous contemporary judgment, which will call insignificant and mean the creations he has fostered, will allot him a contemptible corner in the ranks of writers who insult mankind, will ascribe to him the quality of the heroes he has portrayed, will deny him heart, and soul, and the divine flame of talent. For contemporary judgment does not recognize that equally wondrous are the glasses that observe the sun and those that look at the movement of inconspicuous insect; for contemporary judgment does not recognize that much depth of soul is needed to light up the picture drawn from contemptible life and elevate it into a pearl of creation; for contemporary judgment does not recognize that lofty ecstatic laughter is worthy to stand beside the lofty lyrical impulse, and that a whole abyss separates it from the antics of the street-fair clown! This contemporary judgment does not recognize; and will turn it all into a reproach and abuse of the unrecognized writer; with no sharing, no response, no sympathy, like a familyless wayfarer, he will be left alone in the middle of the road. Grim is his path, and bitterly he will feel his solitude." - Nikolai Gogol, fully Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol or Nikolay Vasilyevich Gogol

"Playing the part of a charitable soul was only for those who were afraid of taking a stand in life. It is always far easier to have faith in your own goodness than to confront others and fight for your rights. It is always easier to hear an insult and not retaliate than have the courage to fight back against someone stronger than yourself; we can always say we're not hurt by the stones others throw at us, and it's only at night - when we're alone and our wife or our husband or our school friend is asleep - that we can silently grieve over our own cowardice… That's the way the human heart. People are afraid to pursue their dreams, most importantly, because they feel they are not entitled to receive it, or that they were unable to reach it. We, their hearts, to be daunted just by thinking about loved ones who would go on forever, or about the moments that should be good but it was not, or of treasures that probably should have found but buried in the ground forever. Because, when these things happen, we are suffering. " -

"To say she had a face that would have stopped a clock would have been to insult her.It would have stopped a runaway horse." - Raymond Chandler, fully Raymond Thornton Chandler

"I was reminded of a quotation by the famous American physicist Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist. Weinberg said: Religion is an insult to human dignity. Without it, you'd have good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it takes religion." - Richard Dawkins

"The pencil moved prophetic: together now men read In the fair book of nature, and find the hope they need. The wreath woven by the river is by the seaside worn, And one of fate's best arrows to its due mark is borne." - Margaret Fuller, fully Sara Margaret Fuller, Marchese Ossoli

"Patience in the home, with one’s family, requires a separate and unique treatment. The closer the relationship is, the more patience that relationship demands. We come into contact with our friends from time to time, and even when we do, we rarely will quarrel or become angry. In contrast, we come into contact with our neighbors all the time and thus struggle through many instances requiring patience. Indeed, it is more difficult to be a good neighbor than a good friend. However, it is most difficult to maintain our patience when it comes to our family, with whom we spend our days and nights, through all types of situations. It is fair to say that the middah which sustains a proper household is patience." - Shlomo Wolbe, aka Wilhelm Wolbe

"The shaping of taste is essentially the science of merchandising, whether of detergents or cars or books or objects of fine and decorative art." - Russell Lynes, fully Joseph Russell Lynes, Jr.

"Without firmness I see the majority of Communities that are lax reach that state because of the excessive leniency of Superiors. So, be firm, Monsieur." - Saint Vincent de Paul

"When ignorant and reckless plutocratic sheets denounce the sympathetic strike as immoral, un-American, dangerous to social order and stability, and intolerable in a civilized society, the intelligent unionist contemptuously shrugs his shoulders and passes over the rant without a word of comment. You cannot reason with malignant stupidity." - Samuel Gompers

"Fear is implanted in us as a preservative from evil; but its duty, like that of other passions, is not to overbear reason, but to assist it. - It should not be suffered to tyrannize in the imagination, to raise phantoms of horror, or to beset life with supernumerary distresses." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"Of him that hopes to be forgiven it is required that he forgive. - On this great duty eternity is suspended; and to him that refuses to practice it the throne of mercy is inaccessible, and the Saviour of the world has been born in vain." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"The first request of civilization ... is that of justice." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud