Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

William Makepeace Thackeray

English Novelist

"I have long gone about with a conviction on my mind that I had a work to do?a Work, if you like, with a great W; a Purpose to fulfil... a Great Social Evil to Discover and to Remedy."

"I have seen no men in life loving their profession so much as painters, except, perhaps, actors, who, when not engaged themselves, always go to the play."

"I hope the artist who illustrates this work will take care to do justice to his portrait. Mr. Clive himself, let that painter be assured, will not be too well pleased if his countenance and figure do not receive proper attention."

"I knew all along that the prize I had set my life on was not worth the winning."

"I never knew whether to pity or congratulate a man on coming to his senses."

"I regularly frequent St. George's, Hanover Square, during the genteel marriage season; and though I have never seen the bridegroom's male friends give way to tears, or the beadles and officiating clergy in any way affected, yet it is not at all uncommon to see women who are not in the least concerned in the operations going on -- old ladies who are long past marrying, stout middle-aged females with plenty of sons and daughters, let alone pretty young creatures in pink bonnets, who are on their promotion, and may naturally taken an interest in the ceremony -- I say it is quite common to see the women present piping, sobbing, sniffling; hiding their little faces in their little useless pocket-handkerchiefs; and heaving, old and young, with emotion."

"I set it down as a maxim that it is good for a man to live where he can meet his betters, intellectual and social."

"I should like to know what well-constituted mind, merely because it is transitory, dislikes roast beef?"

"I think I could be a good woman if I had five thousand a year."

"I want a sofa, as I want a friend, upon which I can repose familiarly. If you can't have intimate terms and freedom with one and the other, they are of no good."

"I wonder is it because men are cowards in heart that they admire bravery so much, and place military valor so far beyond every other quality for reward and worship."

"I would rather make my name than inherit it"

"If a man character is to be abused there's nobody like a relative to do the business."

"If a man has committed wrong in life, I don't know any moralist more anxious to point his errors out to the world than his own relations."

"If a man's character is to be abused, say what you will, there's nobody like a relation to do the business."

"If a secret history of books could be written, and the author's private thoughts and meanings noted down alongside of his story, how many insipid volumes would become interesting, and dull tales excite the reader!"

"If dying, I yet live in a tender heart or two; nor am I lost and hopeless living, if a sainted departed soul still loves and prays for me."

"If fathers are sometimes sulky at the appearance of the destined son-in-law, is it not a fact that mothers become sentimental and, as it were, love their own loves over again."

"If fun is good, truth is still better, and love best of all."

"If he had but a little more brains, she thought to herself, I might make something of him; but she never let him perceive the opinion she had of him; listened with indefatigable complacency to his stories of the stable and the mess; laughed at all his jokes...When he came home, she was alert and happy; when he went out she pressed him to go; when he stayed at home, she played and sang for him, made him good drinks, superintended his dinner, warmed his slippers, and steeped his soul in comfort. The best of women {I have heard my grandmother say) are hypocrites. We don't know how much they hide from us: how watchful they are when they seem most artless and confidential: how often those frank smile which they wear so easily are traps to cajole or elude or disarm--I don't mean in your mere coquettes, but your domestic models and paragons of female virute."

"If I mayn't tell you what I feel, what is the use of a friend?"

"If love lives through all life; and survives through all sorrow; and remains steadfast with us through all changes; and in all darkness of spirit burns brightly; and, if we die, deplores us for ever, and loves still equally; and exists with the very last gasp and throb of the faithful bosom--whence it passes with the pure soul, beyond death; surely it shall be immortal!"

"If people only made prudent marriages, what a stop to population there would be!"

"If she did not wish to lead a virtuous life, at least she desired to enjoy a character for virtue, and we know that no lady in the genteel world can possess this desideratum, until she has put on a train and feathers and has been presented to her Sovereign at Court. From that august interview they come out stamped as honest women. The Lord Chamberlain gives them a certificate of virtue."

"If success is rare and slow, everybody knows how quick and easy ruin is."

"If thou hast never been a fool, be sure thou wilt never be a wise man."

"if you are not allowed to touch the heart sometimes in spite of syntax, and are not to be loved until you all know the difference between trimeter and trameter, may all Poetry go to the deuce, and every schoolmaster perish miserably!"

"If you had told Sycorax that her son Caliban was as handsome as Apollo, she would have been pleased, witch as she was."

"If you take temptations into account, who is to say that he is better than his neighbor? A comfortable career of prosperity, if it does not make people honest, at least keeps them so."

"If you will fling yourself under the wheels, Juggernaut will go over you; depend upon it."

"If, in looking at the lives of princes, courtiers, men of rank and fashion, we must perforce depict them as idle, profligate, and criminal, we must make allowances for the rich men's failings, and recollect that we, too, were very likely indolent and voluptuous, had we no motive for work, a mortal's natural taste for pleasure, and the daily temptation of a large income. What could a great peer, with a great castle and park, and a great fortune, do but be splendid and idle?"

"I'm no angel."

"In a love affair, there is usually one person who loves, and the other qui se laisse aimer; it is only in later days, perhaps, when the treasures of love are spent, and the kind hand cold which ministered them, that we remember how tender it was; how soft to soothe; how eager to shield; how ready to support and caress. The ears my no longer hear which would have received our words of thanks so delightedly. Let us hope those fruits of love, though tardy, are yet not all too late; and though we bring our tribute of reverence and gratitude, it may be to a gravestoon, there is an acceptance even there for the stricken heart's oblation of fond remorse, contrite memories, and pious tears."

"In a word, in adversity she was the best of comforters, in good fortune the most troublesome of friends."

"In effective womanly beauty form is more than face, and manner more than either."

"In the brave days when I was twenty-one."

"In the charm of friendship, people who do not usually self-effacing can be brave, be confident shy, lazy being enterprising, impatient and a lot of motion be cautious and quiet."

"In the midst of friends, home, and kind parents, she was alone."

"Indeed, for my own part, though I have been repeatedly told by persons for whom I have the greatest respect, that Miss Brown is an insignificant chit, and Mrs. White has nothing but her petit minois chiffonne, and Mrs. Black has not a word to say for herself; yet I know that I have had the most delightful conversations with Mrs. Black (of course, my dear Madam, they are inviolable): I see all the men in a cluster round Mrs. White's chair: all the young fellows battling to dance with Miss Brown; and so I am tempted to think that to be despised by her sex is a very great compliment to a woman."

"Is beauty beautiful, or is it only our eyes that make it so?"

"Isidor thought for a moment he had gone mad, and that he wished his valet to cut his throat."

"It is an awful thing to get a glimpse, as one sometimes does, when the time is past, of some little, little wheel which works the whole mighty machinery of fate, and see how our destinies turn on a minute's delay or advance."

"It is an old saying, that we forget nothing, as people in fever begin suddenly to talk the language of their infancy; we are stricken by memory sometimes, and old affections rush back on us as vivid as in the time when they were our daily talk; when their presence gladdened our eyes; when their accents thrilled in our ears; when, with passionate tears and grief, we flung ourselves upon their hopeless corpses. Parting is death,?at least as far as life is concerned. 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 the other, 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."

"It is best to love wisely, no doubt; but to love foolishly is better than not to be able to love at all. Some of us can't: and are proud of our impotence, too."

"It is from the level of calamities, not that of every-day life, that we learn impressive and useful lessons."

"It is impossible, in our condition of Society, not to be sometimes a Snob."

"It is not that speech of yesterday, he continued, which moves you. That is but the pretext, Amelia, or I have loved you and watched you for fifteen years in vain. Have I not learned in that time to read all your feelings and look into your thoughts? I know what your heart is capable of: it can cling faithfully to a recollection and cherish a fancy, but it can?t feel such an attachment as mine deserves to mate with, and such as I would have won from a woman more generous than you. No, you are not worthy of the love which I have devoted to you. I knew all along that the prize I had set my life on was not worth the winning; that I was a fool, with fond fancies, too, bartering away my all of truth and ardour against your little feeble remnant of love."

"It is only hope which is real, and reality is a bitterness and a deceit."

"It is the ordinary lot of people to have no friends if they themselves care for nobody."

"It is the pretty face which creates sympathy in the hearts of men, those wicked rogues. 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 and 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."