Great Throughts Treasury

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


"I recall how miserable I was, and how one day you brought me to a realization of my miserable state. I was preparing to deliver a eulogy upon the emperor in which I would tell plenty of lies with the object of winning favor with the well-informed by my lying; so my heart was panting with anxiety and seething with feverish, corruptive thoughts. As I passed through a certain district in Milan I noticed a poor beggar, drunk, as I believe, and making merry. I groaned and pointed out to the friends who were with me how many hardships our idiotic enterprises entailed. Goaded by greed, I was dragging my load of unhappiness along, and feeling it all the heavier for being dragged. Yet while all our efforts were directed solely to the attainment of unclouded joy, it appeared that this beggar had already beaten us to the goal, a goal which we would perhaps never reach ourselves. With the help of the few paltry coins he had collected by begging this man was enjoying the temporal happiness for which I strove by so bitter, devious and roundabout a contrivance. His joy was no true joy, to be sure, but what I was seeking in my ambition was a joy far more unreal; and he was undeniably happy while I was full of foreboding; he was carefree, I apprehensive. If anyone had questioned me as to whether I would rather be exhilarated or afraid, I would of course have replied, Exhilarated; but if the questioner had pressed me further, asking whether I preferred to be like the beggar, or to be as I was then, I would have chosen to be myself, laden with anxieties and fears. Surely that would have been no right choice, but a perverse one? I could not have preferred my condition to his on the grounds that I was better educated, because that fact was not for me a source of joy but only the means by which I sought to curry favor with human beings: I was not aiming to teach them but only to win their favor." - Saint Augustine, aka Augustine of Hippo, St. Austin, Bishop of Hippo NULL

"I do not know whether anyone has ever succeeded in not enjoying praise. And, if he enjoys it, he naturally wants to receive it. And if he wants to receive it, he cannot help but being distraught at losing it. Those who are in love with applause have their spirits starved not only when they are blamed off-hand, but even when they fail to be constantly praised." - John Chrysostom, fully Saint John Chrysostom

"Back then, the reputation of the detective William A. Pinkerton and his inquiry offices has been very valuable. The man was with a series of vicissitudes of poverty had risen to a high reputation in his strange and repulsive to some people work, but for all who need them to be unhappy services, his well-known and patriotic role was in the Civil War and to Abraham Lincoln's person a recommendation. He, or rather his organization had these protected during the entire duration of his stormy tenure in the government palace. His company had offices in Philadelphia, Washington and New York, just to name the most important places." - Theodore Dreiser, fully Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser

"They were in the world and not of it--not because they were saints, but in a different way: because they were artists. The integrity of an artist lifts a man above the level of the world without delivering him from it." - Thomas Merton

"When the light of God's truth begins to find its way through the mists of illusion and self-deception with which we have unconsciously surrounded ourselves, and when the image of God within us begins to return to itself, the false self which we inherited from Adam begins to experience the strange panic that Adam felt when, after his sin, he hid in the trees of the garden because he heard the voice of the Lord God in the afternoon." - Thomas Merton

"An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot. Neither the Channel nor the Rhine will arrest its progress. It will march on the horizon of the world and it will conquer." - Thomas Paine

"A Poetical Epistle To Lady Austen - Dear Anna, -- Between friend and friend, Prose answers every common end; Serves, in a plain and homely way, To express the occurrence of the day; Our health, the weather, and the news, What walks we take, what books we choose, And all the floating thoughts we find Upon the surface of the mind. But when a poet takes the pen, Far more alive than other men, He feels a gentle tingling come Down to his finger and his thumb, Derived from nature's noblest part, The centre of a glowing heart: And this is what the world, who knows No flights above the pitch of prose, His more sublime vagaries slighting, Denominates an itch for writing. No wonder I, who scribble rhyme To catch the triflers of the time, And tell them truths divine and clear, Which, couched in prose, they will not hear; Who laboured hard to allure and draw The loiterers I never saw, Should feel that itching and that tingling With all my purpose intermingling, To your intrinsic merit true, When called to address myself to you. Mysterious are His ways, whose power Brings forth that unexpected hour, When minds, that never met before, Shall meet, unite, and part no more; It is the allotment of the skies, The hand of the Supremely Wise, That guides and governs our affections, And plans and orders our connections: Directs us in our distant road, And marks the bounds of our abode. Thus we were settled when you found us, Peasants and children all around us, Not dreaming of so dear a friend, Deep in the abyss of Silver-End. Thus Martha, even against her will, Perched on the top of yonder hill; And you, though you must needs prefer The fairer scenes of sweet Sancerre, Are come from distant Loire, to choose A cottage on the banks of Ouse. This page of Providence quite new, And now just opening to our view, Employs our present thoughts and pains To guess, and spell, what it contains: But day by day, and year by year, Will make the dark enigma clear; And furnish us, perhaps, at last, Like other scenes already past, With proof, that we, and our affairs, Are part of a Jehovah's cares: For God unfolds, by slow degrees, The purport of his deep decrees, Sheds every hour a clearer light In aid of our defective sight; And spreads, at length, before the soul A beautiful and perfect whole, Which busy man's inventive brain Toils to anticipate, in vain. Say, Anna, had you never grown The beauties of a rose full blown, Could you, though luminous your eye, By looking on the bud descry, Or guess, with a prophetic power, The future splendour of the flower? Just so, the Omnipotent, who turns The system of a world's concerns, From mere minutiae can educe Events of most important use, And bid a dawning sky display The blaze of a meridian day. The works of man tend, one and all, As needs they must, from great to small; And vanity absorbs at length The monuments of human strength. But who can tell how vast the plan Which this day's incident began? Too small, perhaps, the slight occasion For our dim-sighted observation; It passed unnoticed, as the bird That cleaves the yielding air unheard, And yet may prove, when understood, A harbinger of endless good. Not that I deem, or mean to call Friendship a blessing cheap or small; But merely to remark, that ours, Like some of nature's sweetest flowers, Rose from a seed of tiny size, That seemed to promise no such prize; A transient visit intervening, And made almost without a meaning, (Hardly the effect of inclination), Produced a friendship, then begun, That has cemented us in one; And placed it in our power to prove, By long fidelity and love, That Solomon has wisely spoken,-- 'A threefold cord is not soon broken.' " - William Cowper

"Then dearest child mournest thou only for Jupiter? Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?" - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"For prayer is nothing less than an ascent to the heart of God and its withdrawal from all Earthly thoughts. Therefore prayer is compared with fire, which in its own nature always leaves the Earth and Leaps into the air." - Walter Hilton

"Print culture gave birth to the romantic notions of "originality" and "creativity", which set apart an individual work from other works even more, seeing its origins and meaning as independent of outside influence, at least ideally. When in the past few decades doctrines of intertextuality arose to counteract the isolationist aesthetics of a romantic print culture, they came as a kind of shock." - Walter J. Ong, fully Walter Jackson Ong

"The essential quality for a mathematician is the habit of thinking things out for oneself. That habit is usually acquired in childhood. It is hard to acquire it later." - W. W. Sawyer, fully Walter Warwick Sawyer

"This struggle must be organized, according to “all the rules of the art”, by people who are professionally engaged in revolutionary activity. The fact that the masses are spontaneously being drawn into the movement does not make the organization of this struggle less necessary. On the contrary, it makes it more necessary." - Vladimir Lenin, fully Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

"The beginning is perhaps more difficult than anything else, but keep heart, it will turn out all right." - Vincent van Gogh, fully Vincent Willem van Gogh

"What can we say if once the hidden forces of sympathy and love have been roused in us?" - Vincent van Gogh, fully Vincent Willem van Gogh

"Now tequila may be the favored beverage of outlaws but that doesn't mean it gives them preferential treatment. In fact, tequila probably has betrayed as many outlaws as has the central nervous system and dissatisfied wives. Tequila, scorpion honey, harsh dew of the doglands, essence of Aztec, crema de cacti; tequila, oily and thermal like the sun in solution; tequila, liquid geometry of passion; Tequila, the buzzard god who copulates in midair with the ascending souls of dying virgins; tequila, firebug in the house of good taste; O tequila, savage water of sorcery, what confusion and mischief your sly, rebellious drops do generate!" - Tom Robbins, fully Thomas Eugene "Tom" Robbins

"An attendant came up, bowing deeply. The white flowers far off yonder are known as 'evening faces, he said. A very human sort of name--and what a shabby place they have picked to bloom in.It was as the man said. The neighborhood was a poor one, chiefly of small houses. Some were leaning precariously, and there were evening faces at the sagging eaves. A hapless sort of flower. Pick one off for me, will you? The man went inside the raised gate and broke off a flower. A pretty little girl in long, unlined yellow trousers of raw silk came out through a sliding door that seemed too good for the surroundings. Beckoning to the man, she handed him a heavily scented white fan. Put it on this. It isn't much of a fan, but then it isn't much of a flower either." - Murasaki Shikibu, aka Lady Murasaki

"The hanging gate, of something like trelliswork, was propped on a pole, and he could see that the house was tiny and flimsy. He felt a little sorry for the occupants of such a place--and then asked himself who in this world had a temporary shelter." - Murasaki Shikibu, aka Lady Murasaki

"It is to be observed that every case of war averted is a gain in general, for it helps to form a habit of peace, and community habits long continued become standards of conduct." - Elihu Root

"But never again use another person's body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilling yearnings." - Elizabeth Gilbert

"Silent prayer is more powerful than audible prayer, because by silent prayer the mind comes closer to creative Spirit." - Emmet Fox