Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Walter Savage Landor

English Poet and Prose Writer

"Ah, what avails the sceptred race! Ah, what the form divine! What every virtue, every grace! Rose Aylmer, all were thine. Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes may weep, but never see, a night of memories and sighs I consecrate to thee."

"Although men of eminent genius have been guilty of all other vices, none worthy of more than a secondary name has ever been a gamester. Either an excess of avarice, or a deficiency of excitability, is the cause of it; neither of which can exist in the same bosom with genius, patriotism, or virtue."

"Ambition has but one reward for all: A little power, a little transient fame; A grave to rest in, and a fading name!"

"Ambition is but avarice on stilts, and masked. God sometimes sends a famine, sometimes a pestilence, and sometimes a hero, for the chastisement of mankind; none of them surely for our admiration."

"An ingenuous mind feels in unmerited praise the bitterest reproof. If you reject it you are unhappy, if you accept it you are undone."

"An Invocation - We are what suns and winds and waters make us; the mountains are our sponsors, and the rills fashion and win their nursling with their smiles. But where the land is dim from tyranny, there tiny pleasures occupy the place of glories and of duties; as the feet of fabled faeries when the sun goes down trip o’er the grass where wrestlers strove by day. Then Justice, call’d the Eternal One above, is more inconstant than the buoyant form that burst into existence from the froth of ever-varying ocean: what is best then becomes worst; what loveliest, most deform’d. The heart is hardest in the softest climes, the passions flourish, the affections die. O thou vast tablet of these awful truths, that fillest all the space between the seas, spreading from Venice’s deserted courts to the Tarentine and Hydruntine mole, what lifts thee up? What shakes thee? ’t is the breath of God. Awake, ye nations! spring to life! Let the last work of his right hand appear fresh with his image, Man."

"And about her courts were seen liveried angels robed in green, wearing, by St Patrick's bounty, emeralds big as half the county."

"As the pearl ripens in the obscurity of its shell, so ripens in the tomb all the fame that is truly precious."

"As there are some flowers which you should smell but slightly to extract all that is pleasant in them, and which, if you do otherwise, emit what is unpleasant and noxious, so there are some men with whom a slight acquaintance is quite sufficient to draw out all that is agreeable; a more intimate one would be unsatisfactory and unsafe."

"As we sometimes find one thing while we are looking for another, so, if truth escaped me, happiness and contentment fell in my way."

"Be always displeased at what thou art, if thou desire to attain to what thou art not; for where thou hast pleased thyself, there thou abidest."

"Be assured that, although men of eminent genius have been guilty of all other vices, none worthy of more than a secondary name has ever been a gamester. Either an excess of avarice or a deficiency of what, in physics, is called excitability, is the cause of it; neither of which can exist in the same bosom with genius, with patriotism, or with virtue."

"But I have sinuous shells of pearly hue… Shake one, and it awakens; then apply its polished lips to your attentive ear, and it remembers its august abodes, and murmurs as the ocean murmurs there… Past are three summers since she first beheld t The ocean; all around the child await some exclamation of amazement here: she coldly said, her long-lasht eyes abased, is this the mighty ocean? is this all?"

"But when we play the fool, how wide the theatre expands! beside, how long the audience sits before us! How many prompters! What a chorus!"

"Cats ask plainly for what they want."

"Cats, like men, are flatterers."

"Child of a day, thou knowest not the tears that overflow thy urn, the gushing eyes that read thy lot, nor, if thou knewest, couldst return! And why the wish! the pure and blest watch like thy mother o'er thy sleep. O peaceful night! O envied rest! Thou wilt not ever see her weep."

"Children are what the mothers are; no fondest father's fondest care can so fashion the infant's heart, or so shape the life."

"Circumstances form the character; but, like petrifying matters, they harden while they form."

"Clear writers, like clear fountains, do not seem so deep as they are; the turbid looks most profound."

"Consciousness of error is, to a certain extent, a consciousness of understanding; and correction of error is the plainest proof of energy and mastery."

"Consult duty not events."

"Contentment is better than divinations or visions."

"Cruelty in all countries is the companion of anger; but there is only one, and never was another on the globe, where she coquets both with anger and mirth."

"Cruelty is no more the cure of crimes than it is the cure of sufferings. Compassion in the first instance is good for both; I have known it to bring compunction when nothing else would."

"Cruelty is the highest pleasure to the cruel man; it is his love."

"Cruelty, if we consider it as a crime, is the greatest of all; if we consider it as a madness, we are equally justifiable in applying to it the readiest and the surest means of oppression."

"Death stands above me, whispering low I know not what into my ear: of his strange language all I know is, there is not a word of fear."

"Democracy is always the work of kings. Ashes, which in themselves are sterile, fertilize the land they are cast upon."

"Despotism sits nowhere so secure as under the effigy and ensigns of freedom."

"Even the wise become as the unwise in the enchanted chambers of Power, whose lamps make every face of the same color."

"Every good writer has much idiom; it is the life and spirit of language."

"Every great writer is a writer of history, let him treat on what subjects he may. - He carries with him, for thousands of years, a portion of his times."

"Experience is our only teacher both in war and peace."

"Fame often rests at first upon something accidental, and often, too, is swept away, or for a time removed; but neither genius nor glory, is conferred at once, nor do they glimmer and fall, like drops in a grotto, at a shout."

"Fame, they tell you, is air; but without air there is no life for any; without fame there is none for the best."

"Familiarities are the aphides that imperceptibly suck out the juices intended for the germ of love."

"Fancy is imagination in her youth and adolescence. Fancy is always excursive; imagination, not seldom, is sedate."

"For, surely, surely, where your voice and graces are, nothing of death can any feel or know."

"Friendship is a vase, which, when it is flawed by heat, or violence, or accident, may as well be broken at once; it can never be trusted after."

"Friendship may sometimes step a few paces in advance of truth."

"Friendships are the purer and the more ardent, the nearer they come to the presence of God, the Sun not only of righteousness but of love."

"From you, Ianthe, little troubles pass like little ripples down a sunny river; your pleasures spring like daisies in the grass, cut down, and up again as blithe as ever."

"George the First was always reckoned vile, but viler George the Second; and what mortal ever heard any good of George the Third? When from earth the Fourth descended, God be praised, the Georges ended!"

"God scatters beauty as he scatters flowers o'er the wide earth, and tells us all are ours. A hundred lights in every temple burn, and at each shrine I bend my knee in turn."

"Goodness does not more certainly make men happy than happiness makes them good."

"Great men always pay deference to greater."

"Great men lose somewhat of their greatness by being near us; ordinary men gain much."

"Great men too often have greater faults than little men can find room for."

"Greatness, as we daily see it, is unsociable."