Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Robert Southey

English Poet Laureate of the Romantic school tradition

"A good man and a wise man may, at times, be angry with the world, and at times grieved for it; but no man was ever discontented with the world if he did his duty in it."

"A stubborn mind conduces as little to wisdom or even to knowledge as stubborn temper to happiness."

"It is not for man to rest in absolute contentment. He is born to hopes and aspirations as the sparks fly upward, unless he has brutified his nature and quenched the spirit of immortality which is his portion."

"Man hath a weary pilgrimage, as through the world he wends; on every stage, from youth to age, still discontent attends."

"Never let man imagine that he can pursue a good end by evil means, without sinning against his own soul! Any other issue is doubtful; the evil effect on himself is certain."

"Opportunity, which makes thieves, makes lovers also."

"That charity is bad which takes from independence its proper pride, from mendacity its salutary shame."

"The disappointed man turns his thoughts toward a state of existence where his wiser desires may be fixed with the certainty of faith; the successful man feels that the objects which he has ardently pursued fail to satisfy the cravings of an immortal spirit; the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, that he may save his soul alive."

"Man creates the evil he endures."

"There are three things that ought to be considered before some things are spoken - the manner, the place, and the time."

"Of all the sights which can soften and humanize the heart of men, there is none that ought so surely to reach it as that of innocent children, enjoying the happiness which is their proper and natural portion."

"A man falls in love just as he falls down stairs. It is an accident... But when he runs in love it is as when he runs in debt; it is done knowingly and intentionally... Both are common enough; and yet less so than what I call catching love."

"Beware of those who are homeless by choice! You have no hold on a human being whose affections are without a taproot!"

"Order is the sanity of the mind, the health of the body, the peace of the city, the security of the state. As the beams to a house, as the bones to the microcosm of man, so is order to all things."

"The loss of a friend is like that of a limb; time may heal the anguish of the wound, but the loss cannot be repaired."

"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth."

"You are old, Father William, the young man cried, The few locks which are left you are grey; You are hale, Father William, a hearty old man, Now tell me the reason I pray. In the days of my youth, Father William replied, I remember'd that youth would fly fast, And abused not my health and my vigour at first That I never might need them at last. You are old, Father William, the young man cried, And pleasures with youth pass away, And yet you lament not the days that are gone, Now tell me the reason I pray. In the days of my youth, Father William replied, I remember'd that youth could not last; I thought of the future whatever I did, That I never might grieve for the past. You are old, Father William, the young man cried, And life must be hastening away; You are chearful, and love to converse upon death! Now tell me the reason I pray. I am chearful, young man, Father William replied, Let the cause thy attention engage; In the days of my youth I remember'd my God! And He hath not forgotten my age. "

"My days among the Dead are past; Around me I behold, Where'er these casual eyes are cast, The mighty minds of old; My never-failing friends are they, With whom I converse day by day. With them I take delight in weal, And seek relief in woe; And while I understand and feel How much to them I owe, My cheeks have often been bedew'd With tears of thoughtful gratitude. My thoughts are with the Dead, with them I live in long-past years, Their virtues love, their faults condemn, Partake their hopes and fears, And from their lessons seek and find Instruction with an humble mind. My hopes are with the Dead, anon My place with them will be, And I with them shall travel on Through all Futurity; Yet leaving here a name, I trust, That will not perish in the dust. "

"A kitten is in the animal world what a rosebud is in the garden."

"A man may be cheerful and contented in celibacy, but I do not think he can ever be happy; it is an unnatural state, and the best feelings of his nature are never called into action."

"A wise judge, by the craft of the law, was never seduced from its purpose."

"Affliction is not sent in vain, young man, from that good God, who chastens whom he loves."

"Agreed to differ."

"All deception in the course of life is indeed nothing else but a lie reduced to practice, and falsehood passing from words into things."

"A house is never perfectly furnished for enjoyment unless there is a child in it rising three years old, and a kitten rising three weeks."

"A fastidious taste is like a squeamish appetite; the one has its origin in some disease of the mind, as the other has in some ailment of the stomach."

"And as, when all the summer trees are seen So bright and green, The Holly leaves a sober hue display Less bright than they, But when the bare and wintry woods we see, What then so cheerful as the Holly-tree?"

"And everybody praised the Duke who this great fight did win. But what good came of it at last? Quoth little Peterkin. Why, that I cannot tell, said he, but 'twas a famous victory."

"And last of all an Admiral came, a terrible man with a terrible name,? a name which you all know by sight very well, but which no one can speak, and no one can spell."

"And so never ending, but always descending, sounds and motions forever and ever are blending all at once and all o'er, with a mighty uproar, - and this way the water comes down at Lodore."

"And then she went to the porridge of the Little, Small, Wee Bear, and tasted that; and that was neither too hot nor too cold, but just right."

"And then they knew the perilous Rock, and blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok."

"And when my own Mark Antony Against young Caesar strove, And Rome's whole world was set in arms, The cause was, ? all for love."

"As surely as God is good, so surely there is no such thing as necessary evil. For by the religious mind, sickness and pain and death are not to be accounted evils. Moral evils are of your own making; and undoubtedly the greater part of them may be prevented. Deformities of mind, as of body, will sometimes occur. Some voluntary castaways there will always be, whom no fostering kindness and no parental care can preserve from self-destruction; but if any are lost for want of care and culture there is a sin of omission in the society to which they belong."

"As the pleasures of the future will be spiritual and pure, the object of a good and wise man in this transitory state of existence should be to fit himself for a better, by controlling the unworthy propensities of his nature, and improving all his better aspirations, to do his duty to his God, then to his neighbour, to promote the happiness and welfare of those who are in any degree dependent upon him, or whom he has the means of assisting, never wantonly to injure the meanest thing that lives, to encourage, as far as he may have the power, whatever is useful and tends to refine and exalt humanity, to store his mind with such knowledge as it is fitted to receive, and he is able to attain; and so to employ the talents committed to his care, that when the account is required, he may hope to have his stewardship approved."

"Ambition is an idol, on whose wings great minds are carried only to extreme; to be sublimely great or to be nothing."

"At this good news, so great the Devil's pleasure grew, that, with a joyful swish, he rent the hole where his tail came through."

"Ay! idleness! the rich folks never fail To find some reason why the poor deserve Their miseries."

"Beasts, birds, and insects, even to the minutest and meanest of their kind, act with the unerring providence of instinct; man, the while, who possesses a higher faculty, abuses it, and therefore goes blundering on. They, by their unconscious and unhesitating obedience to the laws of nature, fulfil the end of their existence; he, in wilful neglect of the laws of God, loses sight of the end of his."

"But what they fought each other for I could not well make out."

"Call not that man wretched who, whatever ills he suffers, has a child to love."

"Cold is thy heart and as frozen as Charity!"

"Curses are like young chickens, they always come home to roost."

"Death! to the happy thou art terrible; But how the wretched love to think of thee, O thou true comforter! the friend of all Who have no friend beside!"

"Earth could not hold us both, nor can one heaven Contain my deadliest enemy and me."

"Easier were it To hurl the rooted mountain from its base, Than force the yoke of slavery upon men Determin'd to be free."

"Faith in the hereafter is as necessary for the intellectual as the moral character; and to the man of letters, as well as to the Christian, the present forms but the slightest portion of his existence."

"For a young and presumptuous poet (and presumptuousness is but too naturally connected with the consciousness of youthful power) a disposition to write satires is one of the most dangerous he can encourage. It tempts him to personalities, which are not always forgiven after he has repented and become ashamed of them; it ministers to his self-conceit; if he takes the tone of invective, it leads him to be uncharitable; and if he takes that of ridicule, one of the most fatal habits which any one can contract is that of looking at all things in a ludicrous point of view."

"For a young and presumptuous poet a disposition to write satires is one of the most dangerous he can encourage. It tempts him to personalities, which are not always forgiven after he has repented and become ashamed of them."

"Four things which are not in thy treasury, I lay before thee, Lord, with this petition:? My nothingness, my wants, My sins, and my contrition."