Great Throughts Treasury

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


"The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas - uncertainty, progress, change - into crimes." - Salman Rushdie, fully Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie

"Every man’s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself, and the more he tries to conceal himself the more clearly will his character appear in spite of him." - Samuel Butler

"Before dinner, men meet with great inequality of understanding, and those who are conscious of their inferiority have the modesty not to talk: when they have drunk wine, every man feels himself happy, and loses that modesty, and grows impudent and vociferous; but he is not improved; he is only not sensible of his defects." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"From the middle of life onward, only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"Her cuisine is limited but she has as good an idea of breakfast as a Scotchwoman." - Arthur Conan Doyle, fully Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle

"We are not justified by our works but by faith, since our fleshly weakness is an impediment to our works, but the clarity of faith which merits the forgiveness of sins overcomes the error of our works." - Ambrose, aka Saint Ambrose, fully Aurelius Ambrosius NULL

"What is evil unless it is the absence of good?" - Ambrose, aka Saint Ambrose, fully Aurelius Ambrosius NULL

"I consider those fallen mourners more blessed than those who have not fallen and are not mourning over themselves; because as a result of their fall, they have risen by a sure resurrection." - John Climacus, fully Saint John Climacus, aka John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus and John Sinaites

"If there is a time for everything under heaven, as Ecclesiastes says, and by the word ‘everything’ must be understood what concerns our holy life, then if you please, let us look into it and let us seek to do at each time what is proper for that occasion. For it is certain that, for those who enter the lists, there is a time for dispassion and a time for passion (I say this for the combatants who are serving their apprenticeship); there is a time for tears, and a time for hardness of heart; there is a time for obedience, and there is a time to command; there is a time to fast, and a time to partake; there is a time for battle with our enemy the body, and a time when the fire is dead; a time of storm in the soul, and a time of calm in the mind; a time for heartfelt sorrow, and a time for spiritual joy; a time for teaching, and a time for listening; a time of pollutions, perhaps on account of conceit, and a time for cleansing by humility; a time for struggle, and a time for safe relaxation; a time for stillness, and a time for undistracted distraction; a time for unceasing prayer, and a time for sincere service. So let us not be deceived by proud zeal, and seek prematurely what will come in its own good time; that is, we should not seek in winter what comes in summer, or at seed time what comes at harvest; because there is a time to sow labors, and a time to reap the unspeakable gifts of grace. Otherwise, we shall not receive even in season what is proper to that season." - John Climacus, fully Saint John Climacus, aka John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus and John Sinaites

"Evolution has encountered no intellectual trouble; no new arguments have been offered. Creationism is a home-grown phenomenon of American sociocultural history-- a splinter movement . . . who believe that every word in the Bible must be literally true, whatever such a claim might mean." - Stephan Jay Gould

"If you are worthy of its affection, a cat will be your friend but never your slave." - Théophile Gautier, fully Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier, aka Le Bon Theo

"The word poet literally means maker: anything which is not well made doesn't exist." - Théophile Gautier, fully Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier, aka Le Bon Theo

"Cease, every joy, to glimmer in my mind, but leave,--oh! leave the light of Hope behind!" - Thomas Campbell

"Were there no women, men might live like gods." - Thomas Dekker

"Speeches that are measured by the hour will die with the hour." - Thomas Jefferson

"The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men! A weird life it is, indeed, to be living always in somebody else's imagination, as if that were the only place in which one could at last become real!" - Thomas Merton

"O woman, woman! when to ill thy mind Is bent, all hell contains no fouler fiend." - Thomas Otway

"Shining through tears, like April suns in showers, that labor to overcome the cloud that loads em." - Thomas Otway

"We understand much of what is involved in leadership -- vision, strategy, cooperation, integrity, trust, intuition, goal-setting, motivation, mobilization, productivity, and renewal. Yet paradoxically, however much we admire, appreciate, and recognize it, precise definitions remain elusive. Yet we do know that leadership is all about making things (good and bad) happen that might not otherwise happen and preventing things from happening that ordinarily would happen. It is the process of getting people to work together to achieve common goals and aspirations. Leadership is a process that helps people transform intentions into positive action, visions into reality. Leadership involves the infusion of vision, direction, and purpose into an enterprise and entails mobilizing both people and resources to undertake and achieve shared ends." - Thomas Cronin, fully Thomas Edward Cronin

"Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, Creator of light and darkness, who make peace and fashions all things. In mercy, You illuminate the world and those who live upon it. In Your goodness You daily renew creation. How numerous are You works, Adonai! In wisdom, You formed them all, filling the earth with Your creatures. Be praised, Adonai our God, for the excellent work of your hands, And for the lights You created; may they glorify You. Shine a new light upon Zion, that we may swiftly merit its radiance. Praised are You Adonai, Creator of heavenly lights." - Union Prayer Book NULL

"Every man dies - Not every man really lives. " - William Ross Wallace

"The Angel at the Ford - I sought to hold her, but within her eyes I read a new strange meaning; faint they prayed, “Oh, let me pass and taste the great surprise; Behold me not reluctant nor afraid!” “Nay, I will strive with God for this!” I cried, “As man with man, like Jacob at the brook, Only be thou, dear heart, upon my side!” “Be still,” she answered, “very still, and look!” And straightway I discerned with inward dread The multitudinous passing of white souls, Who paused, each one with sad averted head, And flashing of indignant aureoles." - W. J. Dawson. fully William James Dawson

"Song of an Old General - When he was a youth of fifteen or twenty, He chased a wild horse, he caught him and rode him, He shot the white-browed mountain tiger, He defied the yellow-bristled Horseman of Ye. Fighting single- handed for a thousand miles, With his naked dagger he could hold a multitude. ...Granted that the troops of China were as swift as heaven's thunder And that Tartar soldiers perished in pitfalls fanged with iron, General Wei Qing's victory was only a thing of chance. And General Li Guang's thwarted effort was his fate, not his fault. Since this man's retirement he is looking old and worn: Experience of the world has hastened his white hairs. Though once his quick dart never missed the right eye of a bird, Now knotted veins and tendons make his left arm like an osier. He is sometimes at the road-side selling melons from his garden, He is sometimes planting willows round his hermitage. His lonely lane is shut away by a dense grove, His vacant window looks upon the far cold mountains But, if he prayed, the waters would come gushing for his men And never would he wanton his cause away with wine. ...War-clouds are spreading, under the Helan Range; Back and forth, day and night, go feathered messages; In the three River Provinces, the governors call young men -- And five imperial edicts have summoned the old general. So he dusts his iron coat and shines it like snow- Waves his dagger from its jade hilt in a dance of starry steel. He is ready with his strong northern bow to smite the Tartar chieftain -- That never a foreign war-dress may affront the Emperor. ...There once was an aged Prefect, forgotten and far away, Who still could manage triumph with a single stroke." - Wang Wei, aka Wang Youcheng

"In the fourth petition (which is, Give us this day our daily bread) we pray, That of God's free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them." - Westminster Shorter Catechism, aka Shorter Catechism or Westminster Shorter Catechism of the Presbyterian NULL

"Know then, as women owe a duty--so do men. Men must be like the branch and bark to trees, which doth defend them from tempestuous rage;-- clothe them in winter, tender them in age, or as ewes' love unto their eanlings lives; such should be husbands' custom to their wives. If it appears to them they've stray'd amiss, they only must rebuke them with a kiss; or cluck them as hens' chickens, with kind call, cover them under their wing, and pardon all." - John Wilkins

"Reeds of Innocence - Piing down the valleys wild, Piping songs of pleasant glee, On a cloud I saw a child, And he laughing said to me: 'Pipe a song about a Lamb!' So I piped with merry cheer. 'Piper, pipe that song again;' So I piped: he wept to hear. 'Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe; Sing thy songs of happy cheer!' So I sung the same again, While he wept with joy to hear. 'Piper, sit thee down and write In a book that all may read.' So he vanish'd from my sight; And I pluck'd a hollow reed, And I made a rural pen, And I stain'd the water clear, And I wrote my happy songs Every child may joy to hear. " - William Blake

"Songs of Innocence (Introduction) - Piping down the valleys wild, Piping songs of pleasant glee, On a cloud I saw a child, And he laughing said to me: ‘Pipe a song about a Lamb!’ So I piped with merry cheer. ‘Piper, pipe that song again;’ So I piped; he wept to hear. ‘Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe; Sing thy songs of happy cheer:’ So I sang the same again, While he wept with joy to hear. ‘Piper, sit thee down and write In a book, that all may read.’ So he vanish’d from my sight, And I pluck’d a hollow reed, And I made a rural pen, And I stain’d the water clear, And I wrote my happy songs Every child may joy to hear." - William Blake

"Florentine Ingratitude: Sir Joshua sent his own portrait to The birthplace of Michael Angelo, And in the hand of the simpering fool He put a dirty paper scroll, And on the paper, to be polite, Did ‘Sketches by Michael Angelo’ write. The Florentines said ‘’Tis a Dutch-English bore, Michael Angelo’s name writ on Rembrandt’s door.’ The Florentines call it an English fetch, For Michael Angelo never did sketch; 10 Every line of his has meaning, And needs neither suckling nor weaning. ’Tis the trading English-Venetian cant To speak Michael Angelo, and act Rembrandt: It will set his Dutch friends all in a roar To write ‘Mich. Ang.’ on Rembrandt’s door; But you must not bring in your hand a lie If you mean that the Florentines should buy. Giotto’s circle or Apelles’ line Were not the work of sketchers drunk with wine; Nor of the city clock’s running … fashion; Nor of Sir Isaac Newton’s calculation." - William Blake

"In the Italian Renaissance… there was no ‘subject-matter’. What we call subject matter now, was then painting itself. Subject matter came later on when parts of those works were taken out arbitrarily, when a man for no reason is sitting, standing or ling down. He became a bather, she became a bather; she was reclining; he just stood there looking ahead. That is when the posing in panting began… For really, when you think of all the life and death problems in the art of Renaissance, who cares if a Chevalier is laughing or that a young girl has a red blouse on." - Willem de Kooning

"As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible." - William Blake

"I will not cease from mental fight nor shall my sword sleep in my hand." - William Blake

"It is right it should be so; man was made for joy and woe; and when this we rightly know, thro' the world we safely go. Joy and woe are woven fine, a clothing for the soul divine. Under every grief and pine runs a joy with silken twine." - William Blake

"The record of one's life must needs prove more interesting to him who writes it than to him who reads what has been written. I have no name: I am but two days old. What shall I call thee? I happy am, joy is my name. Sweet joy befall thee!" - William Blake

"When my mother died, I was very young, and my father sold me while yet my tongue could scarcely cry `'weep! 'Weep! 'Weep! 'Weep!' so your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep." - William Blake

"Where man is not, nature is barren." - William Blake

"Destroy it. There may be a redistribution of the land, but the natural inequality of men soon re-creates an inequality of possessions and privileges, and raises to power a new minority with essentially the same instincts as the old." - Will Durant, fully William James "Will" Durant

"Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. And say I had to read plenty in the paper the other day. There is a paper got out in Detroit, Michigan. It's called the Legal Record. It says it's a paper dedicated to the interests of the legal profession. That dedication that's printed on its front page in big type shows that it's a paper that has nothing to do with news or facts, and I like the honesty of it. It tells you right off we take nothing but the lawyer's side. (For there ain't any other side.) Well the headline as follows to wit, habus corpus, nolle prose, change of venue as follows: The legal profession as a humorist sees it." - Will Rogers, fully William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers

"As the pearl ripens in the obscurity of its shell, so ripens in the tomb all the fame that is truly precious." - Walter Savage Landor

"In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town." - Washington Irving

"Man passes away; his name perishes from record and recollection; his history is as a tale that is told, and his very monument becomes a ruin." - Washington Irving

"We live between two worlds; we soar in the atmosphere; we creep upon the soil; we have the aspirations of creators and the propensities of quadrupeds. There can be but one explanation of this fact. We are passing from the animal into a higher form, and the drama of this planet is in its second act." - W. Winwood Reade, fully William Winwood Reade

"And yet what good were yesterday's devotions? I affirm and then at midnight the great cat leaps quickly from the fireside and is gone." - Wallace Stevens

"Say next to holiness is the will thereto, and next to love is the desire for love, the desire for its celestial ease in the heart, which nothing can frustrate, that most secure, unlike love in possession of that which was to be possessed and is." - Wallace Stevens

"A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual, and only the individual reader is important to me." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"Mnemosyne, one must admit, has shown herself to be a very careless girl." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

"It is not love that should be depicted as blind, but self-love." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"Could loving, as people called it, make her and Mrs. Ramsay one? for it was not knowledge but unity that she desired, not inscription on tablets, nothing that could be written in any language known to men, but intimacy itself, which is knowledge, she had thought, leaning her head on Mrs. Ramsay's knee." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"They all dreamt of each other that night, as was natural, considering how thin the partitions were between them, and how strangely they had been lifted off the earth to sit next each other in mid-ocean, and see every detail of eachothers' faces, and hear whatever they chanced to say." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"After all, man is that being who has invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who has entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or Shema Yisrael on his lips." - Viktor Frankl, fully Viktor Emil Frankl