Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"I believe there is no source of deception in the investigation of nature which can compare with a fixed belief that certain kinds of phenomena are impossible." - William James

"I do not see how it is possible that creatures in such different positions and with such different powers as human individuals are should have exactly the same functions nor should we be expected to work out identical solutions. Each, from his peculiar angle of observation, takes in a certain sphere of fact and trouble, which each must deal with in a unique manner." - William James

"I have often thought that the best way to define a man's character would be to seek out the particular mental or moral attitude in which, when it came upon him, he felt himself most deeply and intensely active and alive. At such moments there is a voice inside which speaks and says: "This is the real me!"" - William James

"It is well for the world that in most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has been set like plaster, and will never soften again." - William James

"Much of what we call evil is due entirely to the way men take the phenomenon. It can so often be converted into a bracing and tonic good by a simple change of the sufferer's inner attitude from one of fear to one of fight; its string can so often depart and turn into a relish when, after vainly seeking to shun it, we agree to face about and bear it . . ." - William James

"My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will." - William James

"The prince of darkness may be a gentleman, as we are told he is, but whatever the God of earth and heaven is, He can surely be no gentleman. His menial services are needed in the dust of our human trials, even more than his dignity is needed in the empyrean." - William James

"There are moments of sentimental and mystical experience . . . that carry an enormous sense of inner authority and illumination with them when they come. But they come seldom, and they do not come to everyone; and the rest of life makes either no connection with them, or tends to contradict them more than it confirms them. Some persons follow more the voice of the moment in these cases, some prefer to be guided by the average results. Hence the sad discordancy of so many of the spiritual judgments of human beings; a discordancy which will be brought home to us acutely enough before these lectures end." - William James

"There can be no existence of evil as a force to the healthy-minded individual." - William James

"There is little of the grand style about these new prism, pendulum and chronograph philosophers. They mean business, not chivalry. . . . the experimental method has quite changed the face of science so far as the latter is a record of mere work done." - William James

"To plead the organic causation of a religious state of mind, then, in refutation of its claim to possess superior spiritual value, is quite illogical and arbitrary, unless one have already worked out in advance some psycho-physical theory connecting spiritual values in general with determinate sorts of physiological change. Otherwise none of our thoughts and feelings, not even our scientific doctrines, not even our dis-beliefs, could retain any value as revelations of the truth, for every one of them without exception flows from the state of their possessor's body at the time." - William James

"What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man, in fact) craves most is praise although the philosophers generally call it recognition!" - William James

"Ah, what shall we say then, but that earth threatened often shall live on for ever that such things may be, that the dry seed shall quicken, the hard earth shall soften, and the spring-bearing birds flutter north o'er the sea, that earth's garden may bloom round my love's feet and me?" - William Morris

"And the clouds fade above. Loved lips are thine as i tremble and hearken; bright thine eyes shine, though the leaves thy brow darken. O love, kiss me into silence, lest no word avail me, stay my head with thy bosom lest breath and life fail me! O sweet day, o rich day, made long for our love!" - William Morris

"By God I will not tell you more to-day, judge any way you will -- what matters it" - William Morris

"Cricket, following the Ashes success, has proven to be one of the major drivers of inbound tourism in the sports and leisure sector." - William Morris

"Folk say, a wizard to a northern king at Christmas-tide such wondrous things did show, that through one window men beheld the spring, and through another saw the summer glow, and through a third the fruited vines a-row, while still, unheard, but in its wonted way, piped the drear wind of that December day. So with this Earthly Paradise it is, if ye will read aright, and pardon me, who strive to build a shadowy isle of bliss midmost the beating of the steely sea, where tossed about all hearts of men must be; whose ravening monsters mighty men shall slay, not the poor singer of an empty day." - William Morris

"God grant indeed thy words are not for nought! Then shalt thou save me, since for many a day to such a dreadful life I have been brought: nor will I spare with all my heart to pay what man soever takes my grief away; ah! I will love thee, if thou lovest me but well enough my saviour now to be." - William Morris

"If others can see it as I have seen it, then it may be called a vision rather than a dream." - William Morris

"Love is enough: cherish life that abideth, lest ye die ere ye know him, and curse and misname him; for who knows in what ruin of all hope he hideth, on what wings of the terror of darkness he rideth? And what is the joy of man's life that ye blame him for his bliss grown a sword, and his rest grown a fire?" - William Morris

"Love is enough: through the trouble and tangle from yesterday's dawning to yesterday's night I sought through the vales where the prisoned winds wrangle, till, wearied and bleeding, at end of the light I met him, and we wrestled, and great was my might. And the shadow of the night and not love was departed; I was sore, I was weary, yet love lived to seek; so I scaled the dark mountains, and wandered sad-hearted over wearier wastes, where e'en sunlight was bleak, with no rest of the night for my soul waxen weak." - William Morris

"They were a double pair of Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses, which had been specifically designed to help people develop a relaxed attitude to danger. At the first hint of trouble they turn totally black and thus prevent you from seeing anything that might alarm you." - Douglas Adams, fully Douglas Noel Adams

"Yet, dress it as we may, dress and feather it, daub it with gold, huzza it, and sing swaggering songs about it,--what is it, nine times out of ten, but murder in uniform!" - Douglas William Jerrold

"For the credit of virtue it must be admitted that the greatest evils which befall mankind are caused by their crimes." - François de La Rochefoucauld, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, Francois A. F. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

"Those that have had great passions esteem themselves for the rest of their lives fortunate and unfortunate in being cured of them." - François de La Rochefoucauld, François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac, Francois A. F. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt

"O madam, my old heart is cracked, it's cracked!" - William Shakespeare

"O these encounterers, so glib of tongue, that give a coasting welcome ere it comes, and wide unclasp the tables of their thoughts to every ticklish reader! Set them down for sluttish spoils of opportunity and daughters of the game." - William Shakespeare

"O you mighty gods! This world I do renounce, and in your sights shake patiently my great affliction off. If I could bear it longer, and not fall to quarrel with your great opposeless wills, my snuff and loathed part of nature should burn itself out." - William Shakespeare

"Of all base passions, fear is the most accursed." - William Shakespeare

"Of all complexions the culled sovereignty Do meet, as at a fair, in her fair cheek, Where several worthies make one dignity, Where nothing wants that want itself doth seek. Love's Labor's Lost (Berowne at IV, iii)" - William Shakespeare

"Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite by bare imagination of a feast?" - William Shakespeare

"Possessed he is with greatness, and speaks not to himself but with a pride that quarrels at self-breath." - William Shakespeare

"Preferment goes by letter and affection, And not by old gradation, where each second Stood heir to th's first. Othello the Moor of Venice (Iago at I, i)" -

"Mercy among the virtues is like the moon among the stars, - not so sparkling and vivid as many, but dispensing a calm radiance that hallows the whole. It is the bow that rests upon the bosom of the cloud when the storm is past. It is the light that hovers above the judgment seat." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

"He who lives in our mind is near though he may actually be far away; but he who is not in our heart is far though he may really be nearby." - Kautilya, aka Chanakya or Vishnu Gupta NULL

"As the grave grows nearer my theology is growing strangely simple, and it begins and ends with Christ as the only Saviour of the lost." - Edwin Percy Whipple

"The greatness of action includes immoral as well as moral greatness--Cortes and Napoleon, as well as Luther and Washington." - Edwin Percy Whipple

"The only thing that is humiliating is helplessness." - Egyptian Proverbs

"The first effect of adjusting to other people is that one becomes boring." - Elias Canetti

"Human beings tend to discredit the things he cannot understand for some reason." - Elif Safak

"The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space, and they will come back to us in due time." - Elif Safak

"Lunch went through with strands of talk spun out fine till they dwindled to thin little patches of silence." - Elizabeth Bowen, Full name Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen

"There is no doubt that now, more than ever, we must work to end our dependence on foreign oil sources. But we cannot do so by ignoring the wishes of the coastal communities that oppose drilling." - Elizabeth Dole, fully Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford "Liddy" Dole

"SAMPSON: No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you sir; but I bite my thumb, sir. GREGORY: Do you quarrel, sir? ABRAHAM: Quarrel, sir? No, sir. SAMPSON: If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you. ABRAHAM: No better. SAMPSON: Well, sir. GREGORY: (to Sampson) Say 'better'; here comes one of my master's kinsmen. SAMPSON: Yes, better, sir. ABRAHAM: You lie. SAMPSON: Draw, if you be men! Gregory, remember thy swashing blow. (They fight)" -

"Set on your foot, And with a heart new-fired I follow you, To do I know not what; but it sufficeth That Brutus leads me on." -