Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"There is an ill-breeding to which, whatever our rank and nature, we are almost equally sensitive, the ill-breeding that comes from want of consideration for others." -

"Envy is a week that grows in all soils and climates, and is no less luxuriant in the country than in the court; is not confined to any rank of men or extent of fortune, but rages in the breasts of all degrees." - Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, aka Lord Clarendon

"The best ground untilled, soonest runs out into rank weeds. A man of knowledge that is negligent or uncorrected, cannot but grow wild and godless." - Robert Hall

""Every fault of the mind becomes more conspicuous and more guilty in proportion to the rank of the offender" - Persons in high station are not only answerable for their own conduct, but for the example they may hold out to others. This, joined to their advantages of education, aggravates their vices and loads them with a greater share of responsibility." - Juvenal, fully Decimus Junius Juvenalis NULL

"Every error of the mind is the more conspicuous and culpable in proportion to the rank of the person who commits it." - Juvenal, fully Decimus Junius Juvenalis NULL

"The crown and glory of life is character. It is the noblest possession of a man, constituting a rank in itself, and estate in the general good will; dignifying every station, and exacting every position in society. It exercises a greater power than wealth and secures all the honor without the jealousies of fame. It carries with it an influence which always tells; for it is the result of proved honor, rectitude and consistency - qualities which, perhaps more than any others, command the general confidence and respect of mankind." - Samuel Smiles

"To hold the same views at forty as we held at twenty is to have been stupefied for a score of years and to take rank, not as a prophet, but as an unteachable brat, well birched and none the wiser." - Robert Louis Stevenson, fully Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson

"He who thinks no man above him but for his virtue, and none below him but for his vice, can never be obsequious or assuming in a wrong place, but will frequently emulate men in rank below him, and pity those above him." -

"A time will come when the science of destruction shall bend before the arts of peace; when the genius which multiplies our powers, which creates new products, which diffuses comfort and happiness among the great mass of the people, shall occupy in the general estimation of mankind that rank which reason and common sense now assign to it." - François Arago, fully François Jean Dominique Arago

"There is no man in any rank who is always at liberty to act as he would incline. In some quarter or other he is limited by circumstances." - Hugh Blair

"A rank soil, nay, a dunghill, will produce beautiful flowers." - James Boswell

"A man unattached and without wife, if he have any genius at all, may raise himself above his original position, may mingle with the world of fashion, and hold himself on a level with the highest; this is less easy for him who is engaged; it seems as if marriage put the whole world in their proper rank." - Jean de La Bruyère

"No matter what his rank or position may be, the lover of books is the richest and the happiest of children of men." - James Alfred Langford

"What to one man is food to another is rank poison." - Lucretius, fully Titus Lucretius Carus NULL

"That man is to be accounted poor, of whatever rank he be, and suffers the pains of poverty, whose expenses exceed his resources; and no man is, properly speaking, poor, but he." - William Paley, Archdeacon of Saragossa

"Let us do our duty in our shop or our kitchen, the market, the street, the office, the school, the home, just as faithfully as if we stood in the front rank of some great battle and we knew that victory for mankind depended upon our bravery, strength, and skill. When we do that the humblest of us will be serving in that great army which achieves the welfare of the world." - Joseph Parker

"There are no persons more solicitous about the preservation of rank, than those who have no rank at all." - William Shenstone

"The noblest quality and highest in rank of all human activities is philosophy… The philosopher’s aim is his theoretical studies is to ascertain the truth; in his practical knowledge, to conduct himself in accordance with that truth." - Rasa’il al-Kindi

"Hatred… requires respect for one’s opponent; acknowledgment of equal rank is a part of it. One despises beings of lower rank." - Oswald Spengler, fully Oswald Manuel Arnold Gottfried Spengler

"[Plato's ideal society] guarantees to all people the right to an education that diagnoses and perfects their unique talents, plus a work role that conveys a sense of self-esteem, saving them from the neuroses of megalomania and the lust for power. It forbids privilege and sexism and all other criteria irrelevant to merit. It eliminates conflict of interest from those who hold office and gives the masses a potent checklist they can use to hold their rulers to account. Best of all, it eliminates all traces of "might makes right" and serves as a pattern laid up in heaven to rank actual societies in terms of what corrupts them. Society becomes more corrupt as the struggle for power becomes more brutal." - James R. Flynn, aka Jim Flynn

"It is adverse to talent to be consorted and trained up with inferior minds and inferior companions, however high they may rank. The foal of the racer neither finds out his speed nor calls out his powers if pastured out with the common herd, that are destined for the collar and the yoke." - Charles Caleb Colton

"To rank the effort above the prize - is not this the way to exalt virtue?" - Confucius, aka Kong Qiu, Zhongni, K'ung Fu-tzu or Kong Fuzi NULL

"There is a kind of greatness which does not depend upon fortune; it is a certain manner that distinguishes us, and which seems to destine us for great things; it is the value we insensibly set upon ourselves; it is by this quality that we gain the deference of other men, and it is this which commonly raises us more above them, than birth, rank, or even merit itself." - François de La Rochefoucauld, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, Francois A. F. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

"Man's rank is his power to uplift." - George MacDonald

"Man seeks to acquire a rank among his fellow men, whom he detests, but without whom he cannot live." - Immanuel Kant

"Poetry (which owes its origin almost entirely to genius and is least willing to be led by precepts or example) holds the first rank among all the arts. It expands the mind by giving freedom to the boundless multiplicity of possible forms accordant with the given concept, to whose bounds it is restricted, that one which couples with the presentation of the concept a wealth of thought to which no verbal expression is completely adequate, and by thus rises aesthetically to ideas." - Immanuel Kant

"In every rank, both great and small, it is industry that supports us all." - John Gay

"Eyes are bold as lions, roving, running, leaping, here and there, far and near. They speak all languages; they wait for no introduction; they are no Englishmen; ask no leave of age or rank; they respect neither poverty nor riches, neither learning nor power, nor virtue, nor sex, but intrude, and come again, and go through and through you in a moment of time. What inundation of life and thought is discharged from one soul into another through them!" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"When a man is in the plains, he sees the lowly grass and the mighty pine tree and says how big is the tree and how small is the grass? But when he ascends the mountain and looks from its high peak to the plain below, the mighty pine tree and the lowly grass blend into one indistinct mass of green. So in the sight of the worldly man there are differences of rank and position, but when the divine sight is opened, there remains no distinction of high and low." -

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"Those who enjoy their own emotionally bad health and who habitually fill their own minds with the rank poisons of suspicion, jealousy and hatred, as a rule take umbrage at those who refuse to do likewise, and they find a perverted relief in trying to denigrate them." - Johannes Brahms

"In the democracy of the dead all men at last are equal. There is neither rank nor station nor prerogative in the republic of the grave. " - John James Ingalls

"[Comedies], in the ancient world, were regarded as of a higher rank than tragedy, of a deeper truth, of a more difficult realization, of a sounder structure, and of a revelation more complete. The happy ending of the fairy tale, the myth, and the divine comedy of the soul, is to be read, not as a contradiction, but as a transcendence of the universal tragedy of man…. Tragedy is the shattering of the forms and of our attachments to the forms; comedy, the wild and careless, inexhaustible joy of life invincible." - Joseph Campbell

"Religious rights, and religious liberty, are things of inestimable value. For these have many of our ancestors suffered and died; and shall we, in the sunshine of prosperity, desert that glorious cause, from which no storms of adversity or persecution could make them swerve? Let us consider if as a duty of the first rank with respect to moral obligation, to transmit to our posterity, and provide, as far as we can, for transmitting, unimpaired, to the latest generations, that generous zeal for religion and liberty, which makes the memory of our forefathers so truly illustrious." - Joseph Priestley

"There is an ill-breeding to which, whatever our rank and nature, we are almost equally sensitive, the ill-breeding that comes from want of consideration for others. " - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"When soldiers have been baptized in the fire of a battle-field, they have all one rank in my eyes." - Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon I

"For any man to match above his rank is but to sell his liberty." - Philip Massinger

"It is India that gave us the ingenious method of expressing all numbers by means of ten symbols, each symbol receiving a value of position as well as an absolute value a profound and important idea which appears so simple to us now that we ignore its true merit. But its very simplicity and the great ease which it has lent to computations put our arithmetic in the first rank of useful inventions and we shall appreciate the grandeur of the achievement the more when we remember that it escaped the genius of Archimedes and Apollonius, two of the greatest men produced by antiquity." - Pierre-Simon Laplace, Compte de Laplace, Marquis de Laplace

"Perhaps, the good and the beautiful are the same, and must be investigated by one and the same process; and in like manner the base and the evil. And in the first rank we must place the beautiful, and consider it as the same with the good; from which immediately emanates intellect as beautiful. Next to this, we must consider the soul receiving its beauty from intellect, and every inferior beauty deriving its origin from the forming power of the soul, whether conversant in fair actions and offices, or sciences and arts. Lastly, bodies themselves participate of beauty from the soul, which, as something divine, and a portion of the beautiful itself, renders whatever it supervenes and subdues, beautiful as far as its natural capacity will admit." - Plotinus NULL

"Surely we must regard as ‘greatest, divinest,’ those human suns who send out their waves of light and impulse through the longest and widest stretches of time and space, vitalizing most germs; kindling and vivifying most hearts and brains? If the poet type is still to be accepted as the highest type (as I think it will) the boundaries must be enlarged to include Christ who never wrote a line: it must be entirely a question of the thing uttered and not at all of the ‘the mode of utterance;’ and many names that have stood very high on the roll must go down to the rank of ‘sweet singers’ only. " - Anne Gilchrist, née Burrows

"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder. " - Albert Einstein

"For, like almost everyone else in our country, I started out with my share of optimism. I believed in hard work and progress and action, but now, after first being 'for' society and then 'against' it, I assign myself no rank or any limit, and such an attitude is very much against the trend of the times. But my world has become one of infinite possibilities. What a phrase - still it's a good phrase and a good view of life, and a man shouldn't accept any other; that much I've learned underground. Until some gang succeeds in putting the world in a strait jacket, its definition is possibility." - Ralph Ellison, fully Ralph Waldo Ellison

"The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that make life worth living and it does so, if anything, more effectively if it convinces us that the time we have for living is quite finite." - Richard Dawkins

"God's children are neither madmen nor fools; it is but a scandal cast upon them by the madmen of the world. They are the only wise men if it be well considered. First, they make the highest end their aim, which is to be children of God here, and saints hereafter in heaven. Secondly, they aim to be found wise men at their death, and therefore are always making their accounts ready. Thirdly, they labor to live answerable to the rule; they observe the rule of the Word to be governed continually by it. Fourthly, they improve all advantages to advance their grand end; they labor to grow better by blessings and crosses, and to make a sanctified use of all things. Fifthly, they swim against the stream of the times and though they eat and drink and sleep as other men, yet (like the stars) they have a secret settled course of their own which the world cannot discern; therefore a man must be changed and set in a higher rank before he can have a sanctified judgment of the ways of God." - Richard Sibbes (or Sibbs)

"An authority should protect those whom he wants to silence." - Ronald A. Heifetz

"Even if the weight of carrying people’s hopes and pains may fall mainly, for a time, on one person’s shoulders, leadership cannot be exercised alone. The lone-warrior model of leadership is heroic suicide. Each of us had blind spots that require the vision of others. Each of us has passions that need to be contained by others." - Ronald A. Heifetz

"An age that melts with unperceiv'd decay, And glides in modest innocence away." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"It is energy - the central element of which is will - that produces the miracle that is enthusiasm in all ages. Everywhere it is what is called force of character and the sustaining power of all great action." - Samuel Smiles

"The reason why so little is done, is generally because so little is attempted." - Samuel Smiles

"My dear Watson, you as a medical man are continually gaining lights as to the tendencies of a child by the study of the parents. Don't you see that the converse is equally valid? I have frequently gained my first real insight into the character of parents by studying their children." - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle