Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

William Makepeace Thackeray

English Novelist

"Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out."

"Could the best and kindest of us who depart from the earth have an opportunity of revisiting it, I suppose he or she (assuming that any Vanity Fair feelings subsist in the sphere whither we are bound) would have a pang of mortification at finding how soon our survivors were consoled."

"Dare and the world always yields; or if it beats you sometimes, dare it again and it will succumb."

"Despair is perfectly compatible with a good dinner, I promise you."

"Dinner was made for eating, not for talking"

"Dinners are given mostly in the middle classes by way of revenge."

"Do not be in a hurry to succeed. What would you have to live for afterwards? Better make the horizon your goal; it will always be ahead of you."

"Even when I am reading my lectures, I often think to myself, What a humbug you are, and I wonder the people don't find it out."

"Every man ought to be in love a few times in his life, and to have a smart attack of the fever. You are better for it when it is over: the better for your misfortune, if you endure it with a manly heart; how much the better for success, if you win it and a good wife into the bargain!"

"Every man, however brief or inglorious may have been his academical career, must remember with kindness and tenderness the old university comrades and days. The young man's life is just beginning: the boy's leading-strings are cut, and he has all the novel delights and dignities of freedom. He has no idea of cares yet, or of bad health, or of roguery, or poverty, or to-morrow's disappointment."

"Everybody in Vanity Fair must have remarked how well those live who are comfortably and thoroughly in debt; how they deny themselves nothing; how jolly and easy they are in their minds."

"Everyone knows the harm the bad do, but who knows the mischief done by the good?"

"Except for the young or very happy, I can't say I am sorry for anyone who dies."

"Fairy roses, fairy rings, turn out sometimes troublesome things."

"Fashnable fax and polite annygoats."

"Fiction carries a greater amount of truth in solution than the volume which purports to be all true."

"Follow your honest convictions and be strong."

"For a steady self-esteem and indomitable confidence in our own courage, greatness, magnanimity, who can compare with Britons, except their children across the Atlantic?"

"For his part, every beauty of art or nature made him thankful as well as happy, and that the pleasure to be had in listening to fine music, as in looking at the stars in the sky, or at a beautiful landscape or picture, was a benefit for which we might thank Heaven as sincerely as for any other worldly blessing."

"For my part, I believe that remorse is the least active of all a man's moral senses, ? the very easiest to be deadened when wakened, and in some never wakened at all."

"Forgotten tones of love recur to us, and kind glances shine out of the past--oh so bright and clear!--oh so longed after!--because they are out of reach; as holiday music from within a prison wall--or sunshine seen through the bars; more prized because unattainable--more bright because of the contrast of present darkness and solitude, whence there is no escape."

"George meanwhile, with his hat on one side, his elbows squared, and his swaggering martial air, made for Bedford Row, and stalked into the attorney?s offices as if he was lord of every pale-faced clerk who was scribbling there. He ordered somebody to inform Mr. Higgs that Captain Osborne was waiting, in a fierce and patronizing way, as if the pekin of an attorney, who had thrice his brains, fifty times his money, and a thousand times his experience, was a wretched underling who should instantly leave all his business in life to attend on the Captain?s pleasure. He did not see the sneer of contempt which passed all round the room, from the first clerk to the articled gents, from the articled gents to the ragged writers and white-faced runners, in clothes too tight for them, as he sate there tapping his boot with his cane, and thinking what a parcel of miserable poor devils these were. The miserable poor devils knew all about his affairs. They talked about them over their pints of beer at their public-house clubs to other clerks of a night. Ye gods, what do not attorneys and attorneys? clerks know in London! Nothing is hidden from their inquisition, and their families mutely rule our city."

"George, be a King!"

"Good humor may be said to be one of the very best articles of dress one can wear in society."

"Happiest time of youth and life, when love is first spoken and returned; when the dearest eyes are daily shining welcome, and the fondest lips never tire of whispering their sweet secrets; when the parting look that accompanies "Good night!" gives delightful warning of tomorrow."

"Happy! Who is happy? Was there not a serpent in Paradise itself? And if Eve had been perfectly happy beforehand, would she have listened to the tempter?"

"Have you ever had a difference with a dear friend? How his letters, written in the period of love and confidence, sicken and rebuke you! What a dreary mourning it is to dwell upon those vehement protests of dead affection! What lying epitaphs they make over the corpse of love! What dark, cruel comments upon Life and Vanities! Most of us have got or written drawers full of them. They are closet-skeletons which we keep and shun"

"He began to feel that she was very lonely indeed. If he?d been here, she said, those cowards would never have dared to insult me. She thought about him with great sadness and perhaps longing--about his honest, stupid, constant kindness and fidelity; his never-ceasing obedience; his good humor; his bravery and courage. Very likely she cried, for she was particularly lively, and had put on a little extra rouge, when she came down to dinner."

"He first selected the smallest one...and then bowed his head as though he were saying grace. Opening his mouth very wide, he struggled for a moment, after which all was over. I shall never forget the comic look of despair he cast upon the other five over-occupied shells. I asked him how he felt. 'Profoundly grateful,' he said, 'as if I had swallowed a small baby.'"

"He fought a thousand glorious wars, And more than half the world was his, And somewhere, now, in yonder stars, Can tell, mayhap, what greatness is."

"He had not got beyond the theory as yet ? the practice of life was all to come."

"He had placed himself at her feet so long that the poor little woman had been accustomed to trample upon him. She didn't wish to marry him, but she wished to keep him. She wished to give him nothing, but that he should give her all. It is a bargain not unfrequently levied in love."

"He that hath ears to hear, let him stuff them with cotton."

"He was always thinking of his brother's soul, or of the souls of those who differed with him in opinion: it is a sort of comfort which many of the serious give themselves."

"He who meanly admires a mean thing is a snob ? perhaps that is a safe definition of the character."

"Heaven does not choose its elect from among the great and wealthy."

"Here is a minute. It may be my love is dead, but here is a minute to kneel over the grave and pray by it."

"Here was a man who could not spell, and did not care to read ? who had the habits and the cunning of a boor: whose aim in life was pettifogging: who never had a taste, or emotion, or enjoyment, but was sordid and soil; and yet he had rank, and honors, and power, somehow: and was dignitary of the land, and a pillar of the state."

"Here was a tranquil, sunshiny day of a life that was to be agitated and stormy?a happy hour or two to remember. Not much happened during the happy hour or two. It was only sweet sleep, pleasant waking, friendly welcome, serene pastime."

"Here?s a 165-year old but still fitting comment on public officials who are so sure they?re right that they?ll drive over a cliff rather than compromise: Always to be right, always to trample forward, and never to doubt ? are not these the great qualities with which dullness takes the lead in the world?"

"Hint at the existence of wickedness in a light, easy, and agreeable manner, so that nobody's fine feelings may be offended."

"His first and only love, whom he had adored ever since when? ? ever since yesterday, ever since forever."

"Ho, pretty page, with the dimpled chin that never has known the barber's shear, all your wish is woman to win, this is the way that boys begin. Wait till you come to Forty Year."

"How can you make a fool perceive that he is a fool? Such a personage can no more see his own folly than be can see his own ears."

"How grateful are we ? how touched a frank and generous heart is for a kind word extended to us in our pain! The pressure of a tender hand nerves a man for an operation, and cheers him for the dreadful interview with the surgeon."

"How hard it is to make an Englishman acknowledge that he is happy!"

"How to live well on nothing a year."

"Humor is wit and love."

"I can endure poverty but not shame-neglect but not insult, and insult from you.."

"I can't help always falling upon it, and cry out with particular loudness and wailing, and become especially melancholy, when I see a dead love tied to a live love."