Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Since Time is not a person we can overtake when he is gone, let us honor him with mirth and cheerfulness of heart while he is passing." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"We love a girl for very different qualities than understanding. We love her for her beauty, her youth, her mirth, her confidingness, her character, with its faults, caprices and God knows what other inexpressible charms; but we do not love her understanding." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"The contemplation of the Divine Being, and the exercise of virtue, are in their nature so far from excluding all gladness of heart, that they are perpetual sources of it. In a word, the true spirit of religion cheers as well as composes the soul. It banishes, indeed, all levity of behavior, all vicious and dissolute mirth, but in exchange fills the mind with a perpetual serenity, uninterrupted cheerfulness, and an habitual inclination to please others as well as to be pleased in itself." -

"If you suppress the exorbitant love of pleasure and money, idle curiosity, iniquitous pursuits and wanton mirth, what a stillness would there be in the great cities! The necessaries of life do not occasion at most a third part of the hurry." - Jean de La Bruyère

"Mirth is the onelie instrument to prolong mannes life." - Stefano Guazzo

"There is not a string attuned to mirth but has its chord of melancholy." - Thomas Hood

"God made both tears and laughter, and both for kind purposes; for as laughter enables mirth and surprise to breathe freely, so tears enable sorrow to vent itself patiently. Tears hinder sorrow from becoming despair and madness; and laughter is on top of the very privileges of reason, being confined to the human species." - James Henry Leigh Hunt

"Mirth itself is too often but melancholy in disguise." - James Henry Leigh Hunt

"O ye princes and rulers, how exceeding strong is wine! It causeth all men to err that drink it; it maketh the mind of the king and the beggar to be all one, of the bondsman and the freeman, of the poor man and of the rich; it turneth also every thought into jollity and mirth, so that a man remembereth neither sorrow nor debt; it changeth and elevateth the spirits and enliventh the heavy hearts of the miserable; it maketh a man forget his brethren, and draw his sword against his best friends." - Masonic Manual NULL

"I live in a constant endeavor to fence against the infirmities of ill-health, and other evils of life, by mirth. I am persuaded that every time a man smiles - but much more so when he laughs - it adds something to this fragment of life." - Lawrence Sterne, alternatively Laurence Sterne

"Mirth is God’s medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it. Grim care, moroseness, anxiety, all this rust of life, ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth." - Henry Ward Beecher

"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

"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

"Harmless mirth is the best cordial against the consumption of the spirit." - Thomas Fuller

"Frame your mind to mirth and merriment, which bar a thousand harms and lengthen life." -

"As for the passions and studies of the mind: avoid envy; anxious fears; anger fretting inwards; subtle and knotty inquisitions; joys and exhilarations in excess; sadness not communicated. Entertain hopes; mirth rather than joy; variety of delights, rather than surfeit of them; wonder and admiration, and therefore novelties; studies that fill the mind with splendid and illustrious objects, as histories, fables, and contemplations of nature." - Francis Bacon

"God made both tears and laughter, and both for kind purposes; for as laughter enables mirth and surprise to breathe freely, so tears enable sorrow to vent itself patiently. Tears hinder sorrow from becoming despair and madness." - James Henry Leigh Hunt

"I, the ocean of mind, drink all creation’s waves. The four veils of solid, liquid, vapor, light, Lift aright. Myself, in everything, Enters the Great Myself. Gone forever, The fitful, flickering shadows of a mortal memory. Spotless is my mental sky, Below, ahead, and high above. Eternity and I, one united ray. I, a tiny bubble of laughter, Have become the Sea of Mirth Itself." - Paramahansa Yogananda, born Mukunda Lal Ghosh

"An ounce of mirth is worth a pound of sorrow." - Richard Baxter

"The joy of religion is an exorcist to the mind; it expels the demons of carnal mirth and madness." - Richard Cecil

"Only in the theatre was it possible to see the performers and to be warmed by their personal charm, to respond to their efforts and to feel their response to the applause and appreciative laughter of the audience. It had an intimate quality; audience and actors conspired to make a little oasis of happiness and mirth within the walls of the theatre. Try as we will, we cannot be intimate with a shadow on a screen, nor a voice from a box." - Robertson Davies

"The world produces for every pint of honey a gallon of gall, for every dram of pleasure a pound of pain, for every inch of mirth an ell of moan; and as the ivy twines around the oak, so does misery and misfortune encompass the happy man. Felicity, pure and unalloyed felicity, is not a plant of earthly growth; her gardens are the skies." - Robert Burton

"Behold the father is his daughter's son, The bird that built the nest is hatched therein, The old of years an hour hath not outrun, Eternal life to live doth now begin, The Word is dumb, the mirth of heaven doth weep, Might feeble is, and force doth faintly creep. O dying souls, behold your living spring; O dazzled eyes, behold your sun of grace; Dull ears, attend what word this Word doth bring; Up, heavy hearts, with joy your joy embrace. From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs This life, this light, this Word, this joy repairs. Gift better than himself God doth not know; Gift better than his God no man can see. This gift doth here the giver given bestow; Gift to this gift let each receiver be. God is my gift, himself he freely gave me; God's gift am I, and none but God shall have me. Man altered was by sin from man to beast; Beast's food is hay, hay is all mortal flesh. Now God is flesh and lies in manger pressed As hay, the brutest sinner to refresh. O happy field wherein that fodder grew, Whose taste doth us from beasts to men renew. " - Robert Southwell, also Saint Robert Southwell

"Teach us to delight in simple things; And mirth that has no bitter springs; Forgiveness free of evil done, And love to all men 'neath the sun." - Rudyard Kipling

"That's the secret. 'Tisn't beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It's just It. Some women'll stay in a man's memory if they once walk down a street." - Rudyard Kipling

"Generations are as the days of toilsome mankind; death and birth are the vesper and the matin bells that summon mankind to sleep and to rise refreshed for new advancement. What the father has made, the son can make and enjoy; but has also work of his own appointed him. Thus all things wax and roll onwards: arts, establishments, opinions, nothing is ever completed, but ever completing." - Thomas Carlyle

"And ye, who have met with Adversity's blast, And been bow'd to the earth by its fury; To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass'd Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury — Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime, The regrets of remembrance to cozen, And having obtained a New Trial of Time, Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen." - Thomas Hood

"Fresh from the dewy hill, the merry year Smiles on my head and mounts his flaming car; Round my young brows the laurel wreathes a shade, And rising glories beam around my head. My feet are wing’d, while o’er the dewy lawn, I meet my maiden risen like the morn: O bless those holy feet, like angels’ feet; O bless those limbs, beaming with heav’nly light. Like as an angel glitt’ring in the sky In times of innocence and holy joy; The joyful shepherd stops his grateful song To hear the music of an angel’s tongue. So when she speaks, the voice of Heaven I hear; So when we walk, nothing impure comes near; Each field seems Eden, and each calm retreat; Each village seems the haunt of holy feet. But that sweet village where my black-eyed maid Closes her eyes in sleep beneath night’s shade, Whene’er I enter, more than mortal fire Burns in my soul, and does my song inspire." - William Blake

"The Couch of Death - The veiled evening walked solitary down the western hills, and Silence reposed in the valley; the birds of day were heard in their nests, rustling in brakes and thickets; and the owl and bat flew round the darkening trees: all is silent when Nature takes her repose.—In former times, on such an evening, when the cold clay breathed with life, and our ancestors, who now sleep in their graves, walked on the steadfast globe, the remains of a family of the tribes of Earth, a mother and a sister, were gathered to the sick bed of a youth. Sorrow linked them together; leaning on one another’s necks alternately—like lilies dropping tears in each other’s bosom—they stood by the bed like reeds bending over a lake, when the evening drops trickle down. His voice was low as the whisperings of the woods when the wind is asleep, and the visions of Heaven unfold their visitation. ‘Parting is hard and death is terrible; I seem to walk through a deep valley, far from the light of day, alone and comfortless! The damps of death fall thick upon me! Horrors stare me in the face! I look behind, there is no returning; Death follows after me; I walk in regions of Death, where no tree is, without a lantern to direct my steps, without a staff to support me.’ Thus he laments through the still evening, till the curtains of darkness were drawn. Like the sound of a broken pipe, the aged woman raised her voice. ‘O my son, my son, I know but little of the path thou goest! But lo! there is a God, who made the world; stretch out thy hand to Him.’ The youth replied, like a voice heard from a sepulchre, ‘My hand is feeble, how should I stretch it out? My ways are sinful, how should I raise mine eyes? My voice hath used deceit, how should I call on Him who is Truth? My breath is loathsome, how should He not be offended? If I lay my face in the dust, the grave opens its mouth for me; if I lift up my head, sin covers me as a cloak. O my dear friends, pray ye for me! Stretch forth your hands that my Helper may come! Through the void space I walk, between the sinful world and eternity! Beneath me burns eternal fire! O for a hand to pluck me forth!’ As the voice of an omen heard in the silent valley, when the few inhabitants cling trembling together; as the voice of the Angel of Death, when the thin beams of the moon give a faint light, such was this young man’s voice to his friends. Like the bubbling waters of the brook in the dead of night, the aged woman raised her cry, and said, ‘O Voice, that dwellest in my breast, can I not cry, and lift my eyes to Heaven? Thinking of this, my spirit is turned within me into confusion! O my child, my child, is thy breath infected? so is mine. As the deer wounded, by the brooks of water, so the arrows of sin stick in my flesh; the poison hath entered into my marrow.’ Like rolling waves upon a desert shore, sighs succeeded sighs; they covered their faces and wept. The youth lay silent, his mother’s arm was under his head; he was like a cloud tossed by the winds, till the sun shine, and the drops of rain glisten, the yellow harvest breathes, and the thankful eyes of the villagers are turned up in smiles. The traveller, that hath taken shelter under an oak, eyes the distant country with joy. Such smiles were seen upon the face of the youth: a visionary hand wiped away his tears, and a ray of light beamed around his head. All was still. The moon hung not out her lamp, and the stars faintly glimmered in the summer sky; the breath of night slept among the leaves of the forest; the bosom of the lofty hill drank in the silent dew, while on his majestic brow the voice of Angels is heard, and stringed sounds ride upon the wings of night. The sorrowful pair lift up their heads, hovering Angels are around them, voices of comfort are heard over the Couch of Death, and the youth breathes out his soul with joy into eternity." - William Blake

"Love-Contradictions - As rare to heare as seldome to be seene, It cannot be nor never yet hathe bene That fire should burne with perfecte heate and flame Without some matter for to yealde the same. A straunger case yet true by profe I knowe A man in joy that livethe still in woe: A harder happ who hathe his love at lyste Yet lives in love as he all love had miste: Whoe hathe enougehe, yet thinkes he lives wthout, Lackinge no love yet still he standes in doubte. What discontente to live in suche desyre, To have his will yet ever to requyre." - Edward Dyer, fully Sir Edward Dyer

"General good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, flatterer." - William Blake

"In conclusion, I have endeavored, with what success has been already determined by the voice of my own country, to give a panorama of Irish life among the people … and in doing this, I can say with solemn truth that I painted them honestly and without reference to the existence of any particular creed or party." - William Carleton

"I understand that in France, though the use of rouge be general, the use of white paint is far from being so. In England, she that uses one commonly uses both. Now, all white paints, or lotions, or whatever they may be called, are mercurial; consequently poisonous, consequently ruinous in time to the constitution. The Miss B—— above mentioned was a miserable witness of the truth, it being certain that her flesh fell from her bones before she died. Lady Coventry was hardly a less melancholy proof of it; and a London physician perhaps, were he at liberty to blab, could publish a bill of female mortality of a length that would astonish us." - William Cowper

"Ah, wretch! Even though one may be able at first to conceal his perjuries, yet punishment creeps on, though late, with noiseless step." - Tibullus, fully Albius Tibullus NULL

"By indulging this fretful temper you alienate those on whose affection much of your comfort depends." - Hugh Blair

"And from each other look thou lead them thus till o'er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep." -

"Architecture would lead us to all the arts, as it did with earlier mean: but if we despise it and take no note of how we are housed, the other arts will have a hard time of it indeed." - William Morris

"O momentary grace of mortal men, which we more hunt for than the grace of God! Who builds his hope in air of your fair looks, lives like a drunken sailor on a mast, ready, with every nod, to tumble down into the fatal bowels of the deep." -

"Preposterous ass! that never read so far to know the cause why music was ordained! was it not to refresh the mind of man, after his studies, or his usual pain?" -

"Press not a falling man too far; 'tis virtue: his faults lie open to the laws; let them, not you, correct him." -

"Weeds grow sometimes very much like flowers, and you can't tell the difference between true and false merely by the shape." - Edwin Paxton Hood

"Humor, warm and all-embracing as the sunshine, bathes its objects in a genial and abiding light." - Edwin Percy Whipple