Great Throughts Treasury

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


"Interest makes some people blind and others quick-sided. We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears. Virtues are lost in interest, as rivers are swallowed up in the sea." - J. Beaumont

"To be being fully alive, the future is not ominous but a promise; it surrounds the present like a halo." - John Dewey

"Women never really command until they have given their promise to obey; and they are never in more danger of being made slaves than when the men are at their feet." - George Farquhar

"I can promise to be sincere, but I cannot promise to be impartial." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"The grand difficulty is to feel the reality of both worlds, so as to give each its due place in our thoughts and feelings, to keep our mind’s eye and our heart’s eye ever fixed on the land of promise, without looking away from the road along which we are to travel toward it." - Julius Charles Hare (1795-1855) and his brother Augustus William Hare

"Belief and unbelief never follow men’s commands. Faith is a gift from God which man can neither give nor take away by promise of rewards or menaces of torture." - Thomas Hobbes

"To forgive sin is not an act of injustice, though the punishment have been threatened. Even amongst men, though the promise of good bind the promiser; yet threats, that is to say, promises of evil, bind them not; much less shall they bind God, who is infinitely more merciful than men." - Thomas Hobbes

"Consumption, celebrity and the quest for perfection in this world are all subject to the law of diminishing returns: each successive acquisition and achievement will mean less than the one before. Diminishing returns are finally leading to diminished expectations about the promise of finding happiness without caring for our souls. Perhaps we are now ready to reject the hucksters of materialisms that have lured us down so many dead ends, and start again on the road that will lead us back to God." - Arianna Huffington, born Arianna Stassinopoulos

"We deem those happy who, from the experience of life, have learned to bear its ills, without being overcome by them. A father may turn his back on his child, brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies, husbands may desert their wives, wives their husbands. But a mother’s love endures through all; in good repute, in bad repute, in the face of the world’s condemnation, a mother still loves on and still hopes that her child may turn from his evil ways, and repent; still she remembers the infant smiles that once filled her bosom with rapture, the merry laugh, the joyful shout of his childhood, the opening promise of his youth; and she can never be brought to think him all unworthy." - Juvenal, fully Decimus Junius Juvenalis NULL

"It is a curious paradox that aversion of future harm seems more important than the promise of future benefit. That was not always true. Those who are unwilling to invent in the future haven’t earned one." - Harold Lewis, fully Harold "Hal" Warren Lewis

"The smallest actual good is better than the most magnificent promise of impossibilities." -

"He who is most slow in making a promise is the most faithful in its performance." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

"Beauty is nothing other than the promise of happiness." - Stendhal, pen name of Marie Henn Beyle or Marie-Henri Beyle NULL

"Sincerity is to speak as we think, to do as we pretend and profess, to perform and make good what we promise, and really to be what we would seem and appear to be." - John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury

"Evening is the delight of virtuous age; it seems an emblem of the tranquil close of busy life - serene, placid, and mild, with the impress of its great Creator stamped upon it; it spreads its quiet wings over the grave, and seems to promise that all shall be peace beyond it." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"To keep from gravitating toward genocidal conflict, we must stop demanding perpetual progress. For quiet nonpolitical reasons, governments and politicians cannot achieve the paradise they habitually promise. Political leaders who continue to dangle before their constituents enticing carrots that are becoming unattainable hasten the erosion of faith in political processes. Circumstances have ceased to be what they were when the once-New World’s myth of limitlessness made sense." - William R. Catton, Jr.

"Music is a prophecy of what life is to be; the rainbow of promise translated out of seeing into hearing." -

"When is a man actually sick? He is sick only when his mind is empty of belief and his life is empty of promise." - Sri Chinmoy, born Chinmoy Kumar Ghose

"The pleasures of the world are deceitful; they promise more than they give. They trouble us in seeking them, they do not satisfy us when possessing them and they make us despair in losing them." -

"In the book of nature, where every emotional, mental and spiritual quality of humanity may find its correspondence and illustrations, flowers represent good affections. As the flower precedes the fruit, and gives notice of its coming, so good thoughts, affections and intentions precede and give promise of deeds in love to others." - Homer Everett

"The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments." - Gustave Flaubert

"Girls we love for what they are; young men for what they promise to be." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"In the whole range of human vision nothing is more attractive than to see a young man full of promise and of hope, bending all his energies in the direction of truth and duty and God, his soul pervaded with the loftiest enthusiasm, and his life consecrated to the noblest ends. To be such a young man is to rival the noblest and best of men in heroic valor." -

"In the whole range of human vision nothing is more attractive than to see a young man full of promise and of hope, bending all his energies in the direction of truth and duty and God, his soul pervaded with the loftiest enthusiasm, and his life consecrated to the noblest ends. To be such a young man is to rival the noblest and best of men in heroic valor." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"Submitting to the laws of any country, living quietly and enjoying privileges and protection under them, makes not a man a member of that society... Nothing can make any man so but his actually entering into it by positive engagement and express promise and compact." - John Locke

"Modern technology has lost its magic. No longer do people stand in awe, thrilled by the onward rush of science, the promise of a new day. Instead, the new is suspect. It arouses our hostility as much as it used to excite our fancy. With each breakthrough there are recurrent fears and suspicion. How will the advance further pollute our lives; modern technology is not merely what it first appears to be. Behind the whitecoats, the disarming jargon, the elaborate instrumentation, and a the core of what has often seemed an automatic process, one finds what Dorothy found in Oz: modern technology is human after all." - David Franklin Noble

"We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears." -

"High theory and mere mind-stimulation are secondary; living itself - in the real world, among people - is the essence... I hereby promise to attempt to be a mensh, a decent, caring human being. Neutrality, noncommitment, indifference have no place in life. To be fully human, we are committed to being caring, sensitive, aggressively compassionate people. Our lives are defined by how we act. We are alive because we perform just and righteous deeds, deeds of gentle loving kindness." - Danny Siegel

"Beauty is nothing other than the promise of happiness." -

"With all its alluring promise that some one else will guarantee for a rainy day, social security can never replace the program that man's future welfare, is after all, a matter of individual responsibility." - Harold J. Stonier

"Life’s meaning has to be found in the living of life itself, and the promise of eventual death is necessary to make any action worthwhile at all." - Julian Baggini

"Reason will find God, but reason will find, too, the need to transcend reason, the promise of more than reason can offer." - George Brantl

"Music being the universal expression of the mysterious and supernatural, the best that man has ever attained to, is capable of uniting in common devotion minds that are only separated by creeds, and it comforts our hope with a brighter promise of unity than any logic offers." - Robert Bridges, fully Robert Seymour Bridges

"For mankind as a whole, a possession infinitely more valuable than individual life is our genetic heritage, our link with past and future. Shaped through long eons of evolution, our genes not only make us what we are, but hold in their minute beings the future – be it one of promise or threat. Yet genetic deterioration through manmade [chemical and radioactive] agents is the menace of our time, “the last and greatest danger to our civilization.”" - Rachel Carson, fully Rachel Louise Carson

"The tight boundaries of rural, neighborhood, family-centered America have burst, breaking the bonds of exclusiveness and duty, freeing people for alternatives that seem to have no end, so much do they promise. And yet - the problem of loneliness. When it is mentioned, even the eyes of those who tend to deny its existence flicker inward for a moment." - Suzanne Gordon

"Every one of us is endowed at birth with all sorts of magnificent possibilities and potentialities. There is a capacity for idealism, a yearning for truth and beauty and nobility, a sensitivity to the hurt of others and to the dreams and needs of our fellow man. In the hopeful dawn of youth we feel these stirrings within us and we promise to bring them to life. And yet so often as the years pass by we permit these promises to be swept under the rug of expediency. We chalk them up to immaturity and we go on to live “more realistically.”" - Sidney Greenberg

"Faith is a gift of God which man can neither give or take away by promise of rewards or menaces of torture." - Thomas Hobbes

"History consists of a series of swindles, in which the masses are first lured into revolt by the promise of Utopia, and then, when they have done their job, enslaved over again by new masters." -

"A contract is a mutual promise." - William Paley, Archdeacon of Saragossa

"A promise is a cloud; fulfillment is rain." - Arab Proverbs

"We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears." -

"Love always creates, it never destroys. In this lie's man's only promise." -

"The truly moral person is the one who does the right thing without any promise of reward or threat of punishment - without engaging in a cost-benefit analysis." - Alan Morton Dershowitz

"All religions promise a reward… for excellences of the will or heart, but none for excellences of the head or understanding." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"Today. Mend a quarrel. Search out a friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a love letter. Share some treasure. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in a word or deed. Keep a promise. Find the time. Forego a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Listen. Apologize if you were wrong. Try to understand. Flout envy. Examine demands on others. Think first of someone else. Appreciate, be kind, be gentle. Laugh a little more. Deserve confidence. Take up arms against malice. Decry complacency. Express your gratitude. Worship your God. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love. Speak it again. Still speak it again. Speak it still once again." - Author Unknown NULL

"No man can promise himself even fifty years of life, but any man may, if he please, live in the proportion of fifty years in forty - let him rise early, that he may have the day before him, and let him make the most of the day, by determining to expend it on two sorts of acquaintance only - those by whom something may be got, and those from whom something may be learnt." - Charles Caleb Colton

"The preservation of peace and the improvement of the lot of all people require us to have faith in the rationality of humans. If we have this faith and if we pursue understanding, we have not the promise but at least the possibility of success. We should not be misled by promises. Humanity in all its history has repeatedly escaped disaster by a hair’s breadth. Total security has never been available to anyone. To expect it is unrealistic; to imagine that it can exist is to invite disaster." - Edward Teller

"Promise is most given when the least is said." - George Chapman

"Love is but a prelude to life, an overture in which the theme of the impending work is exquisitely hinted at, but which remains nevertheless only a symbol and a promise. What is to follow, if all goes well, begins presently to appear. Passion settles down into possession, courtship into partnership, pleasure into habit. A child, half mystery and half plaything, comes to show us what we have done and to make its consequences perpetual. We see that by indulging our inclination we have woven about us a net from which we cannot escape: our choices, bearing fruit, begin to manifest our destiny. That life which once seemed to spread out infinitely before us is narrowed to one mortal career. We learn that in morals the infinite is a chimera, and that in accomplishing anything definite a man renounces everything else. He sails henceforth for one point of the compass." - George Santayana