Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Solitude

"Solitude has but one disadvantage - it is apt to give one too high an opinion of one’s self. In the world we are sure to be often reminded of every known or supposed defect we may have." -

"Death is the tyrant of the imagination. His reign is in solitude and darkness, in tombs and prisons, over weak hearts and seething brains. He lives, without shape or sound, a phantasm, inaccessible to sight or touch - a ghastly and terrible apprehension." - Barry Cornwall, pseudonymn for Bryan Waller Procter

"One can be instructed in society; one is inspired only in solitude." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Talents are best nurtured in solitude; character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"To this war of every man, against every man, this is also consequent that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law: where no law, no injustice. Force, and fraud, are in war the two cardinal virtues. Justice, and injustice, are none of the faculties neither of the body, nor mind. If they were, they might be in a man that were alone in the world, as well as his sense, and passions. They are qualities, that relate to men in society, not in solitude. It is consequent also to the same condition, that there be no propriety, no dominion, no mine and thing distinct; but only that to be every man’s, that he can get; and for so long, as he can keep it." - Thomas Hobbes

"The way a man speaks lays bare the texture of his mind, the goodness of his heart, the inner pain or the sweet serenity that are his companions in solitude." - Harriet Van Horne

"If the mind loves solitude, it has thereby acquired a loftier character, and it becomes still more noble when the taste is indulged in." -

"Solitude is dangerous to reason, without being favorable to virtue." -

"Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character." - James Russell Lowell

"In the world a man lives in his own age; in solitude, in all the ages." -

"Men fear silence as they fear solitude, because both give them a glimpse of the terror of life's nothingness." -

"The contemplative life has nothing to tell you except to reassure you and say that if you dare to penetrate your own silence and dare to advance without fear into the solitude of your own heart... you will truly recover the light and capacity to understand what is beyond words and beyond explanation because it is too close to be explained." - Thomas Merton

"Learning, if rightly applied, makes a young man thinking, attentive, industrious, confident and wary; and an old man cheerful and useful. It is an ornament in prosperity, a refuge in adversity, an entertainment at all times; it cheers in solitude, and gives moderation and wisdom in all circumstances." - Thomas W. Palmer

"Solitude is the mother of anxieties." - Publius Syrus

"A good conscience fears no witnesses, but a guilty conscience is solicitous even in solitude. If we do nothing but what is honest, let all the world know it; but if otherwise, what does it signify to have nobody else know it so long as I know it myself? Miserable is he who slights that witness!" -

"Solitude and company may be allowed to take their turns: the one creates in us the love of mankind, the other that of ourselves; solitude relieves us when we are sick of company, and conversation when we are weary of being alone, so that the one cures the other. There is no man so miserable as he that is at a loss how to use his time." -

"Solitude cherishes great virtues and destroys little ones." - Sydney Smith

"Only great minds can afford a simple style...One can acquire everything in solitude-except character." - Stendhal, pen name of Marie Henn Beyle or Marie-Henri Beyle NULL

"A moral decision is the loneliest thing that exists. Knowledge is shed abroad everywhere. Anybody may dip his cup into that great sea and take out what he can. It is a public appropriation from a public store. But what the man himself must do as a moral being, what ordering he shall make of his life, what allegiance he shall choose, what cause he shall cleave to - this is decided in that solitude where his soul in authentic presence lives with no other companion than the Final Authority which he recognizes as supreme." - William L. Sullivan

"Solitary we must be in life's great hours of moral decisions; solitary in pain and sorrow; solitary in old age and in our going forth at death. Fortunate the man who has learned what to do in solitude and brought himself to see what companionship he may discover in it, what fortitude, what content." - William L. Sullivan

"Solitude is a good school, but the world is the best theater; the institution is best there, but the practice here; the wilderness hath the advantage of discipline, and society opportunities of perfection." - Jeremy Taylor

"If you want inner peace find it in solitude... and if you would find yourself, look to the land from which you came and to which you go." - Stewart Udall, Fully Stewart Lee Udall

"Oh! lost to virtue, lost to manly thought, lost to the noble sallies of the soul, who think it solitude to be alone." -

"Solitude has a healing consoler, friend, companion: it is work." - Berthold Auerbach

"The young can bear solitude better than the old, for their passions occupy their thoughts." - Jean de La Bruyère

"If from society we learn to live, it is solitude should teach us how to die." -

"In solitude, when we are least alone." -

"Solitude shows us what should be; society shows us what we are." - Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury

"Books are a guide in youth, and an entertainment for age. They support us under solitude, and keep us from becoming a burden to ourselves. They help us to forget the crossness of men and things, composed our cares and our passions, and lay our disappointments asleep. When we are weary of living, we may repair to the dead, who have nothing of peevishness, pride or design in their conversation." - Jeremy Collier

"The art of meditation may be exercised at all hours, and in all places; and men of genius, in their walks at table, and amidst assemblies, turning the eye of the mind inwards, can form an artificial solitude; retired amidst a crowd, calm amidst distraction, and wise amidst folly." - Isaac D'Israeli

"I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind." - Albert Einstein

"Truth isn’t outside power, or lacking in power: contrary to a myth whose history and functions would repay further study, truth isn’t the reward of free spirits, the child of protracted solitude, nor the privilege of those who have succeeded in liberating themselves. Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power. Each society has its regime of truth, its ‘general politics’ of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctions; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true." - Michel Foucault

"A bore is a man who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company." - Gian Vincenzo Gravina

"As there is no pleasure in military life for a soldier who fears death, so there is no independence in civil existence for the an who has an overpowering dread of solitude." - Philip G. Hamerton, fully Philip Gilbert Hamerton

"In solitude all great thoughts are born." - Moses Harvey

"I am persuaded there is no such thing after all as a perfect enjoyment of solitude; for the more delicious the solitude the more one wants a companion." - James Henry Leigh Hunt

"The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal, every other affliction to forget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open, this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude… The love which survives the tomb is one of the noblest attributes of the soul." - Washington Irving

"Many have no happier moments than those that they pass in solitude, abandoned to their imagination, which sometimes puts scepters in their hands or miters on their heads, shifts the scene of pleasure with endless variety, bids all the forms of beauty sparkle before them, and gluts them with every change of visionary luxury." -

"The seeds of knowledge may be planted in solitude, but must be cultivated in public." -

"All evils stem from this: that men do not know how to handle solitude." - Søren Kierkegaard, fully Søren Aabye Kierkegaard

"The nurse of full-grown souls is solitude." - James Russell Lowell

"The great omission in American life is solitude; not loneliness, for this is an alienation that thrives most in the midst of crowds, but that zone of time and space free from outside pressure which is the incubator of the spirit." - Marya Mannes

"Solitude is the worst of all companions when we seek comfort and oblivion." - Joseph Méry

"Solitude is important to man. It is necessary to his achievement of peace and contentment. It is a well into which he dips for refreshment for his soul. It is his laboratory in which he distills the pure essence of worth from the raw materials of his experiences. It is his refuge when the very foundations of his life are being shaken by disastrous events." - Margaret E. Mulac

"All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence, in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song - but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny." - Pablo Neruda, pen name for Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto

"A certain degree of solitude seems necessary to the full growth and spread of the highest mind; and therefore must a very extensive intercourse with men stifle many a holy germ, and scare away the gods, who shun the restless tumult of noisy companies and the discussion of petty interests." - Novalis, pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg NULL

"All weighty things are done in solitude, that is, without society. The means of improvement consist not in projects, or in any violent designs, for these cool, and cool very soon, but in patient practicing for whole long days, by which I make the thing clear to my highest reason." -

"The contemplation of night should lead to elevating rather than to depressing ideas. Who can fix his mind on transitory and earthly things, in presence of those glittering myriads of worlds; and who can dread death or solitude in the midst of this brillings, animated universe, composed of countless suns and worlds, all full of light and life and motion?" -

"We could not endure solitude were it not for the powerful companionship of hope, or of some unseen one." -

"The want of occupation is no less the plague of society than of solitude." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau