Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Charles Caleb Colton

English Writer, Clergyman and Collector

"If it be true that men of strong imaginations are usually dogmatists - and I am inclined to think it is so - it ought to follow that men of weak imaginations are the refers; in which case we should have some compensation for stupidity. But it unfortunately happens that no dogmatist is more obstinate or less open to conviction than a fool."

"If sensuality be our only happiness, we ought to envy the brutes; for instinct is a surer, shorter, safer guide to such happiness than reason."

"If you want enemies, excel others; if you want friends, let others excel you."

"If rich, it is easy enough to conceal our wealth; but if poor, it is not quite so easy to conceal our poverty. We shall find that it is less difficult to hide a thousand guineas than one hole in our coat."

"Ignorance lies at the bottom of all human knowledge, and the deeper we penetrate the nearer we arrive unto it. For what we truly know, or what can we clearly affirm, of any one of those important things upon which all our reasonings must of necessity be built - time and space, life and earth, matter and mind?"

"If the prodigal quits life in debt to others, the miser quiets is still deeper in debt to himself."

"Ignorance is a blank sheet, on which we may write; but error is a scribbled one, on which we must first erase."

"If you would take your possessions into the life to come, convert them into good deeds."

"Imitation is the sincerest of flattery."

"In all countries where nature does the most, man does the least."

"In all societies, it is advisable to associate if possible with the highest; not that the highest are always the best, but because, if disgusted there, we can at any time descend; but if we begin with the lowest, to ascend is impossible."

"In life we shall find many men that are great, and some men that are good, but very few men that are both great and good."

"In the age of acorns, a single barleycorn had been of more value to mankind than all the diamonds in the mines of India."

"Independence of principle consists in having no principle on which to depend."

"It has been said that a thing is not necessarily against reason, because it happens to be above it."

"It has been shrewdly said that when men abuse us, we should suspect ourselves, and when they praise us, them. It is a rare instance of virtue to despise censure which we do not deserve, and still more rare to despise praise, which we do. But that integrity that lives only on opinion would starve without it."

"It is adverse to talent to be consorted and trained up with inferior minds and inferior companions, however high they may rank. The foal of the racer neither finds out his speed nor calls out his powers if pastured out with the common herd, that are destined for the collar and the yoke."

"It is almost as difficult to make a man unlearn his errors as his knowledge. Mal-information is more hopeless that non-information; for error is always more busy than ignorance. Ignorance is a blank sheet, on which we may write; but error is a scribbled one, from which we must erase. Ignorance is contented to stand still with her back to the truth; but error is more presumptuous, and proceeds in the wrong direction. Ignorance has no light, but error flows a false one. The consequence is, that error, when she retraces her steps, has farther to go before she can arrive at truth, than ignorance."

"It is an easy and vulgar thing to please the mob, and not a very arduous task to astonish them; but essentially to benefit and to improve them is a work fraught with difficulty, and teeming with danger."

"In most quarrels there is fault on both sides. A quarrel may be compared to a spark, which cannot be produced without a flint as well as steel. Either of them may hammer on wood forever; no fire will follow."

"In pulpit eloquence, the grand difficulty lies here; to give the subject all the dignity it so fully deserves, without attaching any importance to ourselves."

"In order to try whether a vessel be leaky, we first prove it with water before we trust it with wine."

"Make no enemies; he is insignificant indeed that can do thee no harm."

"It is far more easy to pull down than to build up, and to destroy than to preserved. Revolutions have on this account been falsely supposed to be fertile of great talent; as the dregs rise to the top during a fermentation, and the lightest things are carried highest by the whirlwind."

"Liberty will not descend to a people, a people must raise themselves to liberty; it is a blessing that must be earned before it can be enjoyed."

"Like the rainbow, peace rests upon the earth, but its arch is lost in heaven. Heaven bathes it in hues of light - it springs up amid tears and clouds - it is a reflection of the eternal sun - it is an assurance of calm - it is the sign of a great covenant between God and man - it is an emanation from the distant orb of immortal light."

"It is better to have wisdom without learning, than to have learning without wisdom; just as it is better to be rich without being the possessor of a mine, than to be the possessor of a mine without being rich."

"It is with nations as with individuals, those who know the least of others think the highest of themselves; for the whole family of pride and ignorance are incestuous, and mutually beget each other."

"Law and equity are two things which God hath joined, but which man hath put asunder."

"It is with diseases of the mind as with diseases of the body, we are half dead before we understand our disorder, and half cured when we do."

"Love may exist without jealousy, although this is rare: but jealousy may exist without love, and this is common; for jealousy can feed on that which is bitter no less than on that which is sweet, and is sustained by; pride as often as by affection."

"Love is an alliance of friendship and animalism; if the former predominates it is passion exalted and refined; if the latter, gross and sensual."

"Men pursue riches under the idea that their possession will set them at ease and above the world. But the law of association often makes those who begin by loving gold as a servant, finish by becoming its slave; and independence without wealth is at least as common as wealth without independence."

"Memory is the friend of wit, but the treacherous ally of invention; there are many books that owe their success to two things; good memory of those who write them, and the bad memory of those who read them."

"Men are born with two eyes, but only one tongue, in order that they should see twice as much as they say."

"Men spend their lives in anticipations, in determining to be vastly happy at some period when they have time. But the present time has one advantage over every other - it is our own. Past opportunities are gone, future are not come. We may lay in a stock of pleasures, as we would lay in a stock of wine; but if we defer the tasting of them too long, we shall find that both are soured by age."

"Men pursue riches under the idea that their possession will set them at ease and above the world. But the law of association often makes those who begin by loving gold as a servant, finish by becoming its slaves; and independence without wealth is at least as common as wealth without independence."

"Mental pleasures never clog; unlike those of the body, they are increased by repetition, approved of by reflection, and strengthened by enjoyment."

"Men's arguments often prove nothing but their wishes."

"Moderation is the inseparable companion of wisdom, but with it genius has not even a nodding acquaintance."

"Men will wrangle for religion, write for it, fight for it, die for it; anything but live for it."

"Mental pleasures never cloy; unlike those of the body, they are increased by repetition, approved of by reflection, and strengthened by enjoyment."

"Most of our misfortunes are more supportable than the comments of our friends upon them."

"Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time, which every day produces, and which most men throw away, but which nevertheless will make at the end of it no small deduction for the life of man."

"No company is preferable to bad, because we are more apt to catch the vices of others than their virtues, as disease is far more contagious than health."

"Mystery is not profoundness."

"No man can purchase his virtue too dear, for it is the only thing whose value must ever increase with the price it has cost us. Our integrity is never worth so much as when we have parted with our all to keep it."

"No man can promise himself even fifty years of life, but any man may, if he please, live in the proportion of fifty years in forty - let him rise early, that he may have the day before him, and let him make the most of the day, by determining to expend it on two sorts of acquaintance only - those by whom something may be got, and those from whom something may be learnt."

"None are so fond of secrets as those who do not mean to keep them. Such persons covet secrets as spendthrifts do money, for the purpose of circulation."

"Nothing more completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity, than straightforward and simple integrity."