Great Throughts Treasury

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

William Makepeace Thackeray

English Novelist

"A man is seldom more manly than when he is what you called unmanned - the source of his emotion is championship, pity, and courage; the instinctive desire to cherish those who are innocent and unhappy, and defend those who are tender and weak."

"A passion comes to an end; it is carried off in a coffin, or, weeping in a post-chaise; it drops out of life one way or another, and the earth-clods close over it, and we see it no more. But it has been part of our souls, and it is eternal."

"Dependence is a perpetual call upon humanity, and a greater incitement to tenderness and pity than any other motive whatever."

"Benevolent feelings ennobles the most trifling actions."

"It is comparatively easy to leave a mistress, but very hard to be left by one."

"Let us be very gentle with our neighbors’ failings, and forgive our friends their debts as we hope ourselves to be forgiven."

"Life is the soul’s nursery."

"Next to excellence is the appreciation of it."

"Frequent the company of your betters."

"The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face."

"To be rich, to be famous? do these profit a year hence, when other names sound louder than yours, when you lie hidden away under ground, along with the idle titles engraven on your coffin? But only true love lives after you, follows your memory with secret blessings or pervades you, and intercedes for you. Non omnis moriar, if, dying, nor am lost and hopeless living, if a sainted departed soul still loves and prays for me."

"Vanity is often the unseen spur."

"We may be pretty certain that persons whom all the treats ill deserve the treatment they get. The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly, kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice."

"The great moments of life are but moments like the others. Your doom is spoken in a word or two. A single look from the eyes, a mere pressure of the hand, may decide it; or of the lips though they cannot speak."

"Never lose a chance of saying a kind word. As Collingwood never saw a vacant place in his estate but he took an acorn out of his pocket and popped it in, so deal with your compliments through life. An acorn costs nothing; but it may sprout into a prodigious bit of timber."

"A good laugh is sunshine in a house."

"Life is the soul's nursery - its training place for the destinies of eternity."

"Good humor is one of the best articles of dress one can wear in society."

"Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of children."

"`Tis not the dying for a faith that so hard, Master Harry – `tis the living up to it that is difficult."

"The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it in turn will look sourly at you; laugh at it, and with it, and it is a jolly, kind companion."

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart."

"A clever, ugly man every now and then is successful with the ladies, but a handsome fool is irresistible."

"A comfortable career of prosperity, if it does not make people honest, at least keeps them so."

"A crow, who had flown away with a cheese from a dairy window, sate perched on a tree looking down at a great big frog in a pool underneath him."

"A day came - of almost terrified delight and wonder - when the poor widowed girl pressed a child upon her breast.... a little boy, as beautiful as a cherub. What a miracle it was to hear its first cry! How she laughed and wept over it - how love, and hope, and prayer woke again in her bosom as the baby nestled there.... It was her life which the baby drank in from her bosom."

"A fool can no more see his own folly than he can see his ears."

"A gentleman sitting in spectacles before an old ledger, and writing down pitiful remembrances of his own condition, is a quaint and ridiculous object."

"A good woman is the loveliest flower that blooms under heaven; and we look with love and wonder upon its silent grace, its pure fragrance, its delicate bloom of beauty."

"A humble flower long time I pined Upon the solitary plain, And trembled at the angry wind, And shrunk before the bitter rain. And oh! 'twas in a blessed hour A passing wanderer chanced to see, And, pitying the lonely flower, To stoop and gather me."

"A lady who sets her heart upon a lad in uniform must prepare to change lovers pretty quickly, or her life will be but a sad one."

"A man -- I let the truth out -- who's had almost every tooth out, cannot sing as once he sang, when he was young as you are young, when he was young and lutes were strung, and love-lamps in the casement hung."

"A marriage or a refusal or a proposal thrills through a whole household of women, and sets their hysterical sympathies at work."

"A moment yet the actor stops."

"A pair of bright eyes with a dozen glances suffice to subdue a man; to enslave him, and inflame; to make him even forget; they dazzle him so that the past becomes straightway dim to him; and he so prizes them that he would give all his life to possess them. What is the fond love of dearest friends compared to his treasure?"

"A person can't help their birth."

"A snob is that man or woman who is always pretending to be something better ? especially richer or more fashionable ? than he is."

"A Tragic Story - There lived a sage in days of yore, And he a handsome pigtail wore; but wondered much, and sorrowed more, because it hung behind him. He mused upon this curious case, and swore he'd change the pigtail's place, and have it hanging at his face, not dangling there behind him. Says he, Ah, the mystery I've found--I'll turn me round, --he turned him round; but still it hung behind him. Then round and round, and out and in, all day the puzzled sage did spin; in vain--it mattered not a pin--the pigtail hung behind him. And right, and left, and round-about, and up, and down, and in, and out he turned; but still the pigtail stout hung steadily behind him. And though his efforts never slack, and though he twist, and twirl, and tack, Alas! Still faithful to his back, the pigtail hangs behind him."

"A woman may possess the wisdom and chastity of Minerva, and we give no heed to her, if she has a plain face. What folly will not a pair of bright eyes make pardonable? What dullness may not red lips are sweet accents render pleasant? And so, with their usual sense of justice, ladies argue that because a woman is handsome, therefore she is a fool. O ladies, ladies! there are some of you who are neither handsome nor wise."

"A woman with fair opportunities, and without an absolute hump, may marry WHOM SHE LIKES."

"A woman's heart is just like a lithographer's stone; what is once written upon it cannot be rubbed out."

"Ah me! we wound where we never intended to strike; we create anger where we never meant harm; and these thoughts are the thorns in our cushion."

"Ah vanity of vanities! How wayward the decrees of fate are, How very weak the very wise, How very small the very great are"

"Ah! gracious Heaven gives us eyes to see our own wrong, however dim age may make them; and knees not too stiff to kneel, in spite of years, cramp, and rheumatism."

"Ah! thank heaven, travelers find Samaritans as well as Levites on life's hard way."

"Ah! Vanitas vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied? ? Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out."

"Ah, ye knights of the pen! May honour be your shield, and truth tip your lances! Be gentle to all gentle people. Be modest to women. Be tender to children. And as for the Ogre Humbug, out sword, and have at him!"

"All is vanity, look you; and so the preacher is vanity too."

"All is vanity, nothing is fair."

"All the world used her ill, said this young misanthropist... and we may be pretty certain that persons whom all the world treats ill, deserve entirely the treatment they get. The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice."