Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Walter Savage Landor

English Poet and Prose Writer

"A man's vanity tells him what is honor; a man's conscience what is justice."

"Goodness does not more certainly make men happy, than happiness makes them good. We must distinguish between felicity and prosperity; for prosperity leads often to ambition, and ambition to disappointment; the course is then over, the wheel turns round but once; while the reaction of goodness and happiness is perpetual."

"How ready we all are with our praises when a cake is to be divided, - if it is not ours!"

"It is as wise to moderate our belief as our desires."

"It is easy to look down on others; to look down on others is the difficulty."

"Kindness in ourselves is the honey that blunts the sting of unkindness in another."

"Lies are as communicative as fleas; and truth is as difficult to lay hold upon as air."

"Men universally are ungrateful toward him who instructs them, unless, in the hours or in the intervals of instruction, he presents a sweet cake to their self-love."

"Even the weakest disputant is made so conceited by what he calls religion, as to think himself wiser than the wisest who thinks differently from him."

"Delay of justice is injustice."

"Everything that looks to the future elevates human nature; for never is life so low or so little as when occupied with the present."

"Moroseness is the evening of turbulence."

"No thoroughly occupied man was yet very miserable."

"Politeness is not always a sign of wisdom. but the want of it always leaves room for a suspicion of folly, if folly and imprudence are the same."

"Principles do not mainly influence even the principled; we talk on principle, but we act on interest."

"The only effect of public punishment is to show the rabble how bravely it can be borne."

"There is no eloquence which does not agitate the soul."

"There is no outward sign of politeness which has not a deep, moral reason. Behavior is a mirror in which every one shows his own image. There is a politeness of the heart akin to love, from which springs the easiest politeness of outward behavior... Politeness is not always a sign of wisdom, but the want of it always leaves room for the suspicion of folly."

"Those who are quite satisfied sit still and do nothing; those who are not quite satisfied are the sole benefactors of the world."

"We enter our studies, and enjoy a society which we alone can bring together. We raise no jealousy by conversing with one in preference to another; we give no offense to the most illustrious by questioning him as long as we will, and leaving him as abruptly. Diversity of opinion raises no tumult in our presence: each interlocutor stands before us, speaks or is silence, and we adjourn or decide the business at our leisure."

"We talk on principle, but we act on interest."

"Belief in a future life is the appetite of reason."

"Circumstances are things round about; we are in them, not under them."

"Every sect is a moral check on its neighbor. Competition is as wholesome in religion as in commerce."

"Falsehood is for a season."

"He who brings ridicule to bear against truth finds in his hand a blade without hilt."

"I would recommend a free commerce both of matter and mind. I would let men enter their own churches with the same freedom as their own houses; and I would do it without a homily or graciousness or favor, for tyranny itself is to me a word less odious than toleration."

"States, like men, have their growth, their manhood, their decrepitude, their decay."

"Taken as a whole, the universe is absurd."

"The foundation of domestic happiness is faith in the virtue of woman."

"The present, like a note in music, is nothing but as it appertains to what is past and what is to come."

"There is no more certain sign of a narrow mind, of stupidity, and of arrogance, than to stand aloof from those who think differently from us."

"We are poor, indeed, when we have no half-wishes left us. The heart and the imagination close the shutters the instant they are gone."

"We must distinguish between felicity and prosperity; for prosperity leads often to ambition, and ambition to disappointment; the course is then over, the wheel turns round but once, while the reaction of goodness and happiness is perpetual."

"What is companionship where nothing that improves the intellect is communicated and where the larger heart contracts itself to the model and dimension of the smaller?"

"Men, like nails, lose their usefulness when they lose direction and begin to bend. "

"Acon and Rhodope - The Year's twelve daughters had in turn gone by, Of measured pace tho' varying mien all twelve, Some froward, some sedater, some adorn'd For festival, some reckless of attire. The snow had left the mountain-top; fresh flowers Had withered in the meadow; fig and prune Hung wrinkling; the last apple glow'd amid Its freckled leaves; and weary oxen blinkt Between the trodden corn and twisted vine, Under whose bunches stood the empty crate, To creak ere long beneath them carried home. This was the season when twelve months before, O gentle Hamadryad, true to love! Thy mansion, thy dim mansion in the wood Was blasted and laid desolate: but none Dared violate its precincts, none dared pluck The moss beneath it, which alone remain'd Of what was thine. Old Thallinos sat mute In solitary sadness. The strange tale (Not until Rhaicos died, but then the whole) Echion had related, whom no force Could ever make look back upon the oaks. The father said "Echion! thou must weigh, Carefully, and with steady hand, enough (Although no longer comes the store as once!) Of wax to burn all day and night upon That hollow stone where milk and honey lie: So may the Gods, so may the dead, be pleas'd!" Thallinos bore it thither in the morn, And lighted it and left it. First of those Who visited upon this solemn day The Hamadryad's oak, were Rhodope And Acon; of one age, one hope, one trust. Graceful was she as was the nymph whose fate She sorrowed for: he slender, pale, and first Lapt by the flame of love: his father's lands Were fertile, herds lowed over them afar. Now stood the two aside the hollow stone And lookt with stedfast eyes toward the oak Shivered and black and bare. "May never we Love as they loved!" said Acon. She at this Smiled, for he said not what he meant to say, And thought not of its bliss, but of its end. He caught the flying smile, and blusht, and vow'd Nor time nor other power, whereto the might Of love hath yielded and may yield again, Should alter his. The father of the youth Wanted not beauty for him, wanted not Song, that could lift earth's weight from off his heart, Discretion, that could guide him thro' the world, Innocence, that could clear his way to heaven; Silver and gold and land, not green before The ancestral gate, but purple under skies Bending far off, he wanted for his heir. Fathers have given life, but virgin heart They never gave; and dare they then control Or check it harshly? dare they break a bond Girt round it by the holiest Power on high? Acon was grieved, he said, grieved bitterly, But Acon had complied . . 'twas dutiful! Crush thy own heart, Man! Man! but fear to wound The gentler, that relies on thee alone, By thee created, weak or strong by thee; Touch it not but for worship; watch before Its sanctuary; nor leave it till are closed The temple-doors and the last lamp is spent. Rhodope, in her soul's waste solitude, Sate mournful by the dull-resounding sea, Often not hearing it, and many tears Had the cold breezes hardened on her cheek. Meanwhile he sauntered in the wood of oaks, Nor shun'd to look upon the hollow stone That held the milk and honey, nor to lay His plighted hand where recently 'twas laid Opposite hers, when finger playfully Advanced and pusht back finger, on each side. He did not think of this, as she would do If she were there alone. The day was hot; The moss invited him; it cool'd his cheek, It cool'd his hands; he thrust them into it And sank to slumber. Never was there dream Divine as his. He saw the Hamadryad. She took him by the arm and led him on Along a valley, where profusely grew The smaller lilies with their pendent bells, And, hiding under mint, chill drosera, The violet shy of butting cyclamen, The feathery fern, and, browser of moist banks, Her offspring round her, the soft strawberry; The quivering spray of ruddy tamarisk, The oleander's light-hair'd progeny Breathing bright freshness in each other's face, And graceful rose, bending her brow, with cup Of fragrance and of beauty, boon for Gods. The fragrance fill'd his breast with such delight His senses were bewildered, and he thought He saw again the face he most had loved. He stopt: the Hamadryad at his side Now stood between; then drew him farther off: He went, compliant as before: but soon Verdure had ceast: altho' the ground was smooth, Nothing was there delightful. At this change He would have spoken, but his guide represt All questioning, and said, "Weak youth! what brought Thy footstep to this wood, my native haunt, My life-long residence? this bank, where first I sate with him . . the faithful (now I know, Too late!) the faithful Rhaicos. Haste thee home; Be happy, if thou canst; but come no more Where those whom death alone could sever, died." He started up: the moss whereon he slept Was dried and withered: deadlier paleness spread Over his cheek; he sickened: and the sire Had land enough; it held his only son."

"Alciphron and Leucippe - An ancient chestnut’s blossoms threw Their heavy odour over two: Leucippe, it is said, was one; The other, then, was Alciphron. ‘Come, come! why should we stand beneath?’ This hollow tree’s unwholesome breath?’ Said Alciphron, ‘here’s not a blade Of grass or moss, and scanty shade. Come; it is just the hour to rove In the lone dingle shepherds love; There, straight and tall, the hazel twig Divides the crookаed rock-held fig, O’er the blue pebbles where the rill In winter runs and may run still. Come then, while fresh and calm the air, And while the shepherds are not there.’ Leucippe. But I would rather go when they Sit round about and sing and play. Then why so hurry me? for you Like play and song, and shepherds too. Alciphron. I like the shepherds very well, And song and play, as you can tell. But there is play, I sadly fear, And song I would not have you hear. Leucippe. What can it be? What can it be? Alciphron. To you may none of them repeat The play that you have play’d with me, The song that made your bosom beat. Leucippe. Don’t keep your arm about my waist. Alciphron. Might you not stumble? Leucippe. Well then, do. But why are we in all this haste? Alciphron. To sing. Leucippe. Alas! and not play too?"

"A critic is never too severe when he only detects the faults of an author. But he is worse than too severe when, in consequence of this detection, be presumes to place himself on a level with genius."

"A great man knows the value of greatness; he dares not hazard it, he will not squander it."

"A little praise is good for a shy temper; it teaches it to rely on the kindness of others."

"A mercantile democracy may govern long and widely; a mercantile aristocracy cannot stand."

"A smile is ever the most bright and beautiful with a tear upon it. What is the dawn without the dew? The tear is rendered by the smile precious above the smile itself."

""Do you remember me? or are you proud?" Lightly advancing thro' her star-trimm'd crowd, Ianthe said, and lookt into my eyes, "A yes, a yes, to both: for Memory where you but once have been must ever be, and at your voice Pride from his throne must rise.""

"A solitude is the audience-chamber of God."

"A true philosopher is beyond the reach of fortune."

"A wise man will always be a Christian, because the perfection of wisdom is to know where lies tranquility of mind and how to attain it, which Christianity teaches."

"Absence and death are the same -- only that in death there is no suffering."

"Absurdities are great or small in proportion to custom or insuetude."

"Against the groaning mast I stand, the Atlantic surges swell, to bear me from my native land and Zo?'s wild farewell. From billow upon billow hurl'd I can yet hear her say, `And is there nothing in the world worth one short hour's delay?' `Alas, my Zo?! were it thus, I should not sail alone, nor seas nor fates had parted us, but are you all my own?' Thus were it, never would burst forth my sighs, Heaven knows how true! But, though to me of little worth, the world is much to you. `Yes,' you shall say, when once the dream (So hard to break!) is o'er, `My love was very dear to him, my fame and peace were more.'"