Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Walter Savage Landor

English Poet and Prose Writer

"The sublime is contained in a grain of dust."

"The tomb is the pedestal of greatness. I make a distinction between God's great and the king's great."

"The verdict of the judges was biased by nothing else than their habitudes of feeling."

"The very beautiful rarely love at all. Those precious images are placed above the reach of the passions."

"The virtuous man meets with more opposites and opponents than any other."

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

"The worse of ingratitude lies not in the ossified heart of him who commits it, but we find it in the effect it produces on him against whom it was committed."

"The writing of the wise are the only riches our posterity cannot squander."

"There are no fields of amaranth on this side of the grave: there are no voices, O Rhodopè! that are not soon mute, however tuneful: there is no name, with whatever emphasis of passionate love repeated, of which the echo is not faint at last."

"There are proud men of so much delicacy that it almost conceals their pride, and perfectly excuses it."

"There is a gravity which is not austere nor captious, which belongs not to melancholy nor dwells in contraction of heart: but arises from tenderness and hangs upon reflection."

"There is a greater difference both in the stages of life and in the seasons of the year than in the conditions of men: yet the healthy pass through the seasons, from the clement to the unclement, not only unreluctant but rejoicingly, knowing that the worst will soon finish, and the best begin anew; and we are desirous of pushing forward into every stage of life, excepting that only which ought reasonably to allure us most, as opening to us the Via sacra, along which we move in triumph to our eternal country. We labor to get through a crowd. Such is our impatience, such our hatred of procrastination, in everything but the amendment of our practices and the adornment of our nature, one would imagine we were dragging Time along by force, and not he us."

"There is a mountain and a wood between us, where the lone shepherd and late bird have seen us morning and noon and eventide repass. Between us now the mountain and the wood seem standing darker than last year they stood, and say we must not cross--alas! alas!"

"There is a vast deal of vital air in loving words."

"There is delight in singing, though none hear beside the singer"

"There is no easy path leading out of life, and few are the easy ones that lie within it."

"There is no funeral so sad to follow as the funeral of our own youth, which we have been pampering with fond desires, ambitious hopes, and all the bright berries that hang in poisonous clusters over the path of life."

"There is nothing on earth divine except humanity."

"This is the pleasantest part of life. Oblivion throws her light coverlet over our infancy; and, soon after we are out of the cradle we forget how soundly we had been slumbering, and how delightful were our dreams. Toil and pleasure contend for us almost the instant we rise from it: and weariness follows whichever has carried us away. We stop awhile, look around us, wonder to find we have completed the circle of existence, fold our arms, and fall asleep again."

"To my ninth decade I have tottered on, and no soft arm bends now my steps to steady; she, who once led me where she would, is gone, so when he calls me, Death shall find me ready."

"To Robert Browning - There is delight in singing, though none hear beside the singer; and there is delight in praising, though the praiser sits alone and see the praised far off him, far above. Shakespeare is not our poet, but the world's, therefore on him no speech! and brief for thee, Browning! Since Chaucer was alive and hale no man hath walked along our roads with step so active, so inquiring eye, or tongue so varied in discourse. But warmer climes give brighter plumage, stronger wing; the breeze of Alpine heights thou playest with, borne on beyond Sorrento and Amalfi, where the Siren waits thee, singing song for song."

"To say nothing of its holiness or authority, the Bible contains more specimens of genius and taste than any other volume in existence."

"To write as your sweet mother does is all you wish to do. Play, sing, and smile for others, Rose! Let others write for you. Or mount again your Dartmoor grey, and I will walk beside, until we reach that quiet bay which only hears the tide. Then wave at me your pencil, then at distance bid me stand, before the cavern’d cliff, again the creature of your hand. And bid me then go past the nook to sketch me less in size; there are but few content to look so little in your eyes. Delight us with the gifts you have, and wish for none beyond: to some be gay, to some be grave, to one (blest youth!) be fond. Pleasures there are how close to Pain, and better unpossest! Let poetry’s too throbbing vein lie quiet in your breast."

"Truth is a point, the subtlest and finest; harder than adamant; never to be broken, worn away or blunted. Its only bad quality is, that it is sure to hurt those who touch it; and likely to draw blood, perhaps the life blood of those who press earnestly upon it."

"Truth sometimes corner unawares upon Caution, and sometimes speaks in public as unconsciously as in a dream."

"Truth, like the juice of the poppy, in small quantities, calms men; in larger, heats and irritates them, and is attended by fatal consequences in its excess."

"Twenty years hence my eyes may grow if not quite dim, yet rather so, still yours from others they shall know twenty years hence. Twenty years hence though it may hap that I be called to take a nap in a cool cell where thunderclap was never heard. there breathe but o'er my arch of grass a not too sadly sighed alas, and I shall catch, ere you can pass, that winged word."

"Vast objects of remote altitude must be looked at a long while before they are ascertained. Ages are the telescope tubes that must be lengthened out for Shakespeare; and generations of men serve but a single witness to his claims."

"Verse calls them forth; 'tis verse that gives immortal youth to mortal maids."

"Very true, the linnets sing sweetest in the leaves of spring: you have found in all these leaves that which changes and deceives, and, to pine by sun or star, left them, false ones as they are. But there be who walk beside Autumn's, till they all have died, and who lend a patient ear to low notes from branches sere."

"Virtue is presupposed in friendship."

"Was genius ever ungrateful? Mere talents are dry leaves, tossed up and down by gusts of passion, and scattered and swept away; but, Genius lies on the bosom of Memory, and Gratitude at her feet."

"We are no longer happy as soon as we wish to be happier."

"We cannot be contented because we are happy, and we cannot be happy because we are contented."

"We cannot conquer fate and necessity, yet we can yield to them in such a manner as to be greater than if we could."

"We care not how many see us in choler, when we rave and bluster, and make as much noise and bustle as we can; but if the kindest and most generous affection comes across us, we suppress every sign of it, and hide ourselves in nooks and covert."

"We fancy that our afflictions are sent us directly from above; sometimes we think it in piety and contrition, but oftener in moroseness and discontent."

"We must not indulge in unfavorable views of mankind, since by doing it we make bad men believe that they are no worse than others, and we teach the good that they are good in vain."

"We often fancy that we suffer from ingratitude, while in reality we suffer from self-love."

"We often say things because we can say them well, rather than because they are sound and reasonable."

"We think that we suffer from ingratitude, while in reality we suffer from self-love."

"Welcome, old friend! These many years have we lived door by door; the fates have laid aside their shears perhaps for some few more. I was indocile at an age when better boys were taught, but thou at length hast made me sage, if I am sage in aught. Little I know from other men, too little they know from me, but thou hast pointed well the pen that writes these lines to thee. Thanks for expelling Fear and Hope, one vile, the other vain; one's scourge, the other's telescope, I shall not see again. Rather what lies before my feet my notice shall engage-- He who hath braved Youth's dizzy heat dreads not the frost of Age."

"Well I remember how you smiled to see me write your name upon the soft sea-sand . . . "O! what a child! You think you're writing upon stone! I have since written what no tide shall ever wash away, what men unborn shall read o'er ocean wide and find Ianthe's name again."

"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?"

"What is reading but silent conversation."

"Whatever is worthy to be loved for anything is worthy of preservation. A wise and dispassionate legislator, if any such should ever arise among men, will not condemn to death him who has done or is likely to do more service than injury to society. Blocks and gibbets are the nearest objects with legislators, and their business is never with hopes or with virtues."

"When a cat flatters ... he is not insincere: you may safely take it for real kindness."

"When a woman hath ceased to be quite the same to us, it matters little how different she becomes."

"When she kissed me once in a play, rubies were less bright than they; and less bright were those which shone in the palace of the Sun. Will they be as bright again? Not if kiss'd by other men."

"When the buds began to burst, long ago, with Rose the First I was walking; joyous then far above all other men, till before us up there stood Britonferry's oaken wood, whispering, "Happy as thou art, happiness and thou must part." Many summers have gone by since a Second Rose and I (Rose from the same stem) have told this and other tales of old. She upon her wedding day carried home my tenderest lay: from her lap I now have heard gleeful, chirping, Rose the Third. Not for her this hand of mine rhyme with nuptial wreath shall twine; cold and torpid it must lie, mute the tongue, and closed the eye."