Great Throughts Treasury

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

Robert Burton

English Clergyman, Writer and Scholar at Oxford University

"Be fearful only of thyself, and stand in awe of none, more than of thine own conscience... And he that reverences this judge will seldom do anything he need repent of."

"A smooth sea never made a skillful mariner; neither do uninterrupted prosperity and success qualify men for usefulness and happiness."

"(The rich) are indeed rather possessed by their money than possessors."

"A good conscience is a continual feast."

"An insatiable paunch is a pernicious sink, and the fountain of all diseases, both of body and mind."

"Hope and patience are two sovereign remedies for all, the surest reposals, the softest cushions to lean on in adversity."

"If there is a hell upon earth it is to be found in a melancholy man's heart."

"Employment, which Galen calls "Nature's physician," is so essential to human happiness that indolence is justly considered as the mother of misery."

"One religion is as good as another... The greatest enemy to man is man... It is believable because it is incredible."

"There is no greater cause of melancholy than idleness."

"Look before you leap."

"There is only one cure for the melancholic sickness of love: enter into it with abandon."

"What physic, what chirurgery, what wealth, favor, authority can relieve, bear out, assuage, or expel a troubled conscience? A quiet mind cureth all."

"Music is a tonic for the saddened soul, a Roaring Meg [cannon] against melancholy, to rear and revive the languishing soul."

"Ambition tyrannizes over our souls."

"They are proud in humility; proud that they are not proud."

"To feel in ourselves the want of grace, and to be grieved for it, is grace itself."

"It is the conscience alone which is a thousand witnesses to accuse us."

"No beauty leaves such an impression, strikes so deep, or links the souls of men closer than virtue."

"He that stabs another can kill his body; but he that stabs himself, kills his own soul."

"A dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself."

"A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword."

"A man alone is either a saint or a devil."

"A man convinced against his will, Is of the some opinion still."

"A deeply felt sense of purpose is as necessary as hunger and thirst--all are universally necessary for survival and homeostasis."

"A faithful friend is better than gold--a medicine for misery, an only possession."

"A mere madness, to live like a wretch, and die rich."

"A mere scholar, a mere ass."

"A nightingale dies for shame if another bird sings better."

"All my joys to this are folly, Naught so sweet as Melancholy."

"A quiet mind cureth all."

"All our geese are swans."

"All places are distant from heaven alike."

"All poets are mad."

"Ambition, that high and glorious passion, which makes such havoc among the sons of men, arises from a proud desire of honor and distinction; and when the splendid trappings in which it is usually caparisoned are removed, will be found to consist of the mean materials of envy, pride, and covetousness."

"Almost in every kingdom the most ancient families have been at first princes' bastards."

"And were it not that they are loath to lay out money on a rope, they would be hanged forthwith, and sometimes die to save charges."

"And this is that Homer's golden chain, which reacheth down from heaven to earth, by which every creature is annexed, and depends on his Creator."

"Aristotle said"

"As amber attracts a straw, so does beauty admiration, which only lasts while the warmth continues."

"As clear and as manifest as the nose in a man's face."

"As much valour is to be found in feasting as in fighting, and some of our city captains and carpet knights will make this good, and prove it."

"Blessed is the wooing"

"Be not solitary, be not idle"

"As the rose-tree is composed of the sweetest flowers and the sharpest thorns,--as the heavens are sometimes overcast, alternately tempestuous and serene; so is the life of man intermingled with hopes and fears, with joy and sorrows, with pleasure and with pains."

"Birds of a feather will gather together."

"Build castles in the air."

"Call a spade a spade."

"Certainty is not biologically possible. We must learn (and teach our children) to tolerate the unpleasantness of uncertainty. Science has given us the language and tools of probabilities. We have methods for analyzing and ranking opinion according to their likelihood of correctness. That is enough."

"Carcasses bleed at the sight of the murderer."