Great Throughts Treasury

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


"All unnecessary vows are folly, because they suppose a prescience of the future, which has not been given us." -

"Hasty resolutions are of the nature of vows; and to be equally avoided." - William Penn

"Greatness is a matter not of size but of quality, and it is within the reach of every one of us. Greatness lies in the faithful performance of whatever duties life places upon us and in the generous performance of the small acts of kindness that God has made possible for us. There is greatness in patient endurance; in unyielding loyalty to a goal; in resistance to the temptation to betray the best we know; in speaking up for the truth when it is assailed; in steadfast adherence to vows given and promises made. God does not ask us to do extraordinary things. He asks us to do ordinary things extraordinarily well." - Sidney Greenberg

"Make no vows to perform this or that; it shows not great strength, and makes thee ride behind thyself." - Thomas Fuller

"Men's vows are women's traitors." - William Shakespeare

"Once a woman parts with her virtue, she loses the esteem even of the man whose vows and tears won her to abandon it." - Miguel de Cervantes, fully Miguel de Cervantes Saaversa

"The vows of love-passion are like confessions obtained under torture. Erotic love is a madness... state of mental imbalance." - Muriel Spark, fully Dame Muriel Sarah Camberg Spark

"Rabbi Akiva said: “Jesting and frivolity lead a man towards promiscuity. Tradition is a safeguarding fence around the Torah. Tithes are a fence to wealth. Vows a fence to abstinence. Silence is a fence to wisdom.”" - Pirke Avot, "Verses of the Fathers" or "Ethics of the Fathers" NULL

"You will reciprocally promise love, loyalty and matrimonial honesty. We only want for you this day that these words constitute the principle of your entire life and that with the help of divine grace you will observe these solemn vows that today, before God, you formulate." - Pope John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła, aka Saint John Paul the Great NULL

"My heart craves to praise Thee, But I am unable. Would my understanding Were as spacious as Solomon’s. Without it my wisdom As yet ill suffices For expounding Thy wonders And Thy deeds of beneficence Wrought for me and all mankind. Without Thee all’s hopeless, And where is the rock Sustaining, suspending The weight of the world? I am as one orphaned; Nay, on Thee I am cast. What then can I do But look to Thee, wait on Thee, In whose hand is the spirit Of all that is living, In whose hand is the breath Of all the creation?" - Salomon ibn Gabirol, aka Solomon ben Judah or Avicebron

"On the boundless plain careering By an unseen compass steering, Wildly flying, reappearing, — With untamed fire their broad eyes glowing In every step a grand pride showing, Of no servile moment knowing, — Happy as the trees and flowers, In their instinct cradled hours, Happier in fuller powers, — See the wild herd nobly ranging, Nature varying, not changing, Lawful in their lawless ranging. Wouldst have the princely spirit bowed? Whisper only, speak not loud, Mark and leave him in the crowd. Thou need'st not spies nor jailers have; The free will serve thee like the slave, Coward shrinking from the brave." - Margaret Fuller, fully Sara Margaret Fuller, Marchese Ossoli

"A happy family is but an earlier heaven. " - John Bowring, fully Sir John Bowring

"I hope that this man can be won over by your bearing charitably with him, advising him prudently, and praying for him. This is what I do for your family in general and for you in particular." - Saint Vincent de Paul

"Our Sages were enemies of ignorance. They regarded education, intellectual enlightenment, and the acquisition of knowledge as the first of all moral commandments. They viewed the dissemination of intellectual enlightenment among all classes of the population as the prime concern of the nation, and the training of a child's mind as the first and most sacred duty of fatherhood. They considered it a matter of conscience for every Jewish father to see that his child should not remain a boor and am ha'arets; no Jewish child must be allowed to grow up as an ignorant, uneducated person." - Samson Raphael Hirsch

"All wonder is the effect of novelty on ignorance." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"The Chatty Man is one who will say to those whom he meets, if they speak a word to him, that they are quite wrong, and that he knows all about it, and that, if they listen to him, they will learn; then, while one is answering him, he will put in, ‘Do you tell me so? — don’t forget what you are going to say’ [...]" - Theophrastus NULL

"It is not merely our own desire but the desire of Christ in His Spirit that drives us to grow in love. Those who seldom or never feel in their hearts the desire for the love of God and other men, and who do not thirst for the pure waters of desire which are poured out in us by the strong, living God, are usually those who have drunk from other rivers or have dug for themselves broken cisterns." - Thomas Merton

"Fredericksburg - The increasing moonlight drifts across my bed, And on the churchyard by the road, I know It falls as white and noiselessly as snow. . . . 'T was such a night two weary summers fled; The stars, as now, were waning overhead. Listen! Again the shrill-lipped bugles blow Where the swift currents of the river flow Past Fredericksburg; far off the heavens are red With sudden conflagration; on yon height, Linstock in hand, the gunners hold their breath; A signal rocket pierces the dense night, Flings its spent stars upon the town beneath: Hark!--the artillery massing on the right, Hark!--the black squadrons wheeling down to Death!" - Thomas Bailey Aldrich

"Marriage has now taken the form of divorce: a prolonged and impassioned negotiation as to how things shall be divided." - Wendell Berry

"Your Majesty may think me an impatient sick man, and that the Turks are even sicker." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies in plants, herbs, stones, and their true quantities; for naught so vile that on the earth doth live but to the earth some special good doth give; nor aught so good but, strained from that fair use, revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse." -

"But he [Depression] just gives me that dark smile, settles into my favorite chair, puts his feet on my table and lights a cigar, filling the place with his awful smoke. Loneliness watches and sighs, then climbs into my bed and pulls the covers over himself, fully dressed, shoes and all. He's going to make me sleep with him again tonight, I just know it." - Elizabeth Gilbert