Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Charles Caleb Colton

English Writer, Clergyman and Collector

"Doubt is the vestibule which all must pass before they can enter into the temple of wisdom."

"Times of great calamity and confusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm."

"Power multiplies flatterers, and flatters multiply our delusions by hiding us from ourselves."

"Death is the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release, the physician of him whom medicine cannot cue, and the comforter of him whom time cannot console."

"There is this difference between happiness and wisdom; that those that think of themselves as the happiest person, really is so; but they that think themselves the wisest, are generally the greatest fool."

"There is a paradox in pride: it makes some men ridiculous, but prevents others from becoming so."

"There is no cruelty so inexorable and unrelenting, as that which proceeds from a bigoted and presumptuous supposition of doing service to God."

"True friendship is like sound health, the value of it is seldom known until it be lost."

"True contentment depends not upon what we have; a tub was large enough for Diogenes, but a world was too little for Alexander."

"A man who knows the world will not only make the most of everything he does know, but of many things he does not know, and will gain more credit by his adroit mode of hiding his ignorance than the pedant by his awkward attempt to exhibit his erudition."

"Always look at those whom you are talking to, never at those you are talking of."

"All poets pretend to write for immortality, but the whole tribe have no objection to present pay and present praise."

"An act by which we make one friend and one enemy is a losing game; because revenge is a much stronger principle than gratitude."

"Anguish of mind has driven thousands to suicide; anguish of body, none. This proves that the health of the mind is of far more consequence to our happiness than the health of the body, although both are deserving of much more attention than either receives."

"Ambition makes the same mistake concerning power that avarice makes concerning wealth. She begins by accumulating power as a mean to happiness, and she finishes by continuing to accumulate it as an end."

"Ambition is to the mind what the cap is to the falcon; it blinds us first and then compels us to tower, by reason of our blindness. But alas! when we are at the summit of a vain ambition, we are also at the depth of misery."

"Applause is the spur of noble minds, the end and aim of the weak ones."

"Anger is practical awkwardness."

"As the grand discordant harmony of the celestial bodies may be explained by the simple principles of gravity and impulse, so also in that more wonderful and complicated microcosm the heart of man, all the phenomena of morals are perhaps resolvable into one single principle, the pursuit of apparent good; for although customs universally vary, yet man in all climates and countries is essentially the same."

"As no roads are so rough as those that have just been mended, so no sinners are so intolerant as those that have just turned saints."

"By reading, we enjoy the dead; by conversation, the living; and by contemplation, ourselves. Reading enriches the memory, conversation polishes the wit; and contemplation improves the judgment. Of these, reading is the most important, as it furnishes both the others."

"Augur said, " Give me neither poverty or riches"' and this will ever be the prayer of the wise. Our incomes should be like our shoes: if too small, they will gall and pinch us, but if too large, they will cause us to stumble and to trip. But wealth, after all, is a relative thing, since he that has little, and wants less, is richer than he that has much, but wants more."

"Conversation is the music of the mind, an intellectual orchestra, where all the instruments should bear a part, but where none should play together. Each of the performers should have a just appreciation of his own powers, otherwise an unskillful novice who might usurp the first fiddle, would infallibly get into a scrape. To prevent these mistakes, a good master of the band will be very particular in the assortment of the performers; if too dissimilar, there will be no harmony, if too few, there will be no variety; and, if too numerous, there will be no order, for the presumption of one prater, might silence the eloquence of a Burke, or the wit of a Sheridan, as a single kettle-drum would drown the finest solo of a Gionowich or a Jordini."

"Death is the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release; the physician of him whom medicine cannot cure; the comforter of him whom time cannot console."

"Custom is the law of one description of fools and fashion of another; but the two parties often clash; for precedent is the legislator of the first, and novelty of the last."

"Emulation looks out for merits, that she may exalt herself by a victory; envy spies out blemishes, that she may lower another by a defeat."

"Doubt is the vestibule which all must pass before they can enter the temple of wisdom. When we are in doubt and puzzle out the truth by our own exertions, we have gained something that will stay by us and will serve us again. But if to avoid the trouble of the search we avail ourselves of the superior information of a friend, such knowledge will not remain with us; we have not bought, but borrowed it."

"Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer."

"Early rising not only gives us more life in the same number of years, but adds, likewise, to their number; and not only enables us to enjoy more the existence in the same time, but increases also in measure."

"Expect not praise without envy until you are dead. Honors bestowed on the illustrious dead have in them no admixture of envy; for the living pity the dead; and pity and envy, like oil and vinegar, assimilate not."

"Emulation looks out for merits, that she may exalt herself by victory; envy spies out blemishes, that she may lower another by defeat."

"Faults of the head are punished in this world, those of the heart in another; but as most of our vices are compound, so also is their punishment."

"Falsehood is never so successful as when she baits her hook with truth, and no opinions so fatally mislead us, as those that are not wholly wrong; as no watches so effectually deceive the wearer as those that are sometimes right."

"For what are the triumphs of war, planned by ambition, executed by violence, and consummated by devastation? The means are the sacrifice of many, the end, the bloated aggrandizement of the few."

"Friendship often ends in love, but love in friendship never."

"From its very inaction, idleness ultimately becomes the most active cause of evil; as a palsy is more to be dreaded than a fever. The Turks have a proverb, which says, "That the devil tempts all other men, but the idle men tempt the devil.""

"Gambling is the child of avarice, but the parent of prodigality."

"He that has never known adversity, is but half acquainted with others, or with himself. Constant success shows us but one side of the world. for, as it surrounds us with friends, who will tell us only our merits, so it silences those enemies from whom alone we can learn our defects."

"Gross and vulgar minds will always pay a higher respect to wealth than to talent; for wealth, although it be a far less efficient sources of power than talent, happens to be far more intelligible."

"Happiness, that grand mistress of the ceremonies in the dance of life, impels us through all its mazes and meanderings, but leads none of us by the same route."

"He that studies only men, will get the body of knowledge without the soul; and he that studies only books, the soul without the body. He that to what he sees, adds observation, and to what he reads, reflection, is on the right road to knowledge, provided that in scrutinizing the hearts of others, he neglects not his own."

"Great men often obtain their ends by means beyond the grasp of vulgar intellect, and even by methods diametrically opposite to those which the multitude would pursue. But, to effect this, bespeaks as profound a knowledge of mind as that philosopher evinced of matter, who first produced ice by the agency of heat"

"He that shortens the road to knowledge, lengthens life."

"He that sympathizes in all the happiness of others, perhaps himself enjoys the safest happiness; and he that is warned by the folly of others has perhaps attained the soundest wisdom."

"He that will believe only what he can fully comprehend must have a long head or a very short creed."

"He that thinks himself the wisest is generally the greatest fool."

"How small a portion of our life it is that we really enjoy! In youth we are looking forward to things that are to come; in old age we are looking backward to things that are gone past; in manhood, although we appear indeed to be more occupied in things that are present, yet even that is too often absorbed in vague determinations to be vastly happy on some future day when we have time."

"He who studies books alone will know how things ought to be, and he who studies men will know how they are"

"He that will not permit his wealth to do any good to others while he is living, prevents it from doing any good to himself when he is dead; and by an egotism that is suicidal and has a double edge, cuts himself from the truest pleasure here and the highest happiness hereafter."

"I have somewhere seen it observed that we should make the same use of a book that the bees does of a flower; she steals sweets from it, but does not injure it."