Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Charles Caleb Colton

English Writer, Clergyman and Collector

"Of all the faculties of the mind, memory is the first that flourishes, the first that dies."

"Of all the faculties of the mind, memory is the first that flourishes and the first that dies."

"Our incomes are like our shoes; if too small, they gall and pinch us; but if too large, they cause us to stumble and trip."

"Of all the passions, jealously is that which exacts the hardest service, and pays the bitterest wages. Its service is to watch the success of our enemy; its wages to be sure of it."

"Physical courage which despises all danger, will make a man brave in one way; and moral courage, which despises all opinion, will make a man brave in another. The former would seem most necessary for the camp; the latter for the council; but to constitute a great man both are necessary."

"Patience is the support of weakness; impatience is the ruin of strength."

"Our wealth is often a snare to ourselves, and always a temptation to others."

"Physicians must discover weaknesses of the human mind, and even condescend to humour them, or they will never be called in to cure the infirmities of the body."

"Posthumous charities are the very essence of selfishness, when bequeathed by those who, when alive, would part with nothing."

"Power will intoxicate the best hearts, as wine the strongest heads. No man is wise enough, or good enough, to be trusted with unlimited power."

"Posthumous charities are the very essence of selfishness when bequeathed by those who, even alive, would part with nothing."

"Pride, like the magnet, constantly points to one object, self; but unlike the magnet, it has no attractive pole, but at all points repels."

"Pure truth, like pure gold, has been found unfit for circulation, because men have discovered that it is far more convenient to adulterate the truth than to refine themselves."

"Reform is a good replete with paradox; it is a cathartic which our political quacks, like our medical, recommend themselves; it is admired by all who cannot effect it, and abused by all who can; it is thought pregnant with danger, for all time that is present, but would have been extremely profitable for that which is past, and will be highly salutary for that which is to come."

"Religion has treated knowledge sometimes as an enemy, sometimes as an hostage; often as a captive and more often as a child; but knowledge has become of age, and religion must either renounce her acquaintance, or introduce her as a companion and respect her as a friend."

"Reply with wit to gravity, and with gravity to wit. Make a full concession to your adversary; give him every credit for the arguments you know you can answer, and slur over those you feel you cannot. But above all, if he has the privilege of making his reply, take special care that the strongest thing you have to urge be the last."

"Some read to think, these are rare; some to write, these are common; some to talk, and these are the great majority."

"Subtract from the great man all that he owes to opportunity, all that he owes to chance, and all that he gained by the wisdom of his friends and the folly of his enemies, and the giant will often be seen as a pygmy."

"The author, however, who has thought more than he has read, read more than he has written, and written more than he has published, if he does not command success, has at least deserved it."

"Speaking generally, no man appears great to his contemporaries, for the same reason that no man is great to his servants - both know too much of him."

"The consideration of the small addition often made by wealth to the happiness of the possessor may check the desire and prevent the insatiability which sometimes attends it... Gross and vulgar minds will always pay a higher respect to wealth than to talent; for wealth, although it be a far less efficient source of power than talent, happens to be far more intelligible."

"The celebrated Galen said that employment was nature's physician. It is indeed so important to happiness that indolence is justly considered the parent of misery."

"Taking medicine is often only making a new disease to cure or hide the old one."

"The greatest and the most amiable privilege which the rich enjoy over the poor is that which they exercise the least, the privilege of making others happy."

"The intoxication of anger, like that of the grape, shows us to others, but hides us from ourselves. We injure our own cause in the opinion of the world when we too passionately defend it."

"The farther we advance in knowledge, the more simplicity shall we discover in those primary rules that regulate all the apparently endless, complicated, and multiform operations of the Godhead."

"The firmest friendships have been formed in mutual adversity; as iron is most strongly united by the fiercest flame."

"The only kind office performed for us by our friends of which we never complain is our funeral; and the only thing which we most want, happens to the be the only thing we never purchase - our coffin."

"The most zealous converters are always the most rancorous when they fail of producing conversion."

"The man who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own dispositions, will waste his life in fruitless efforts, and multiply the griefs which he proposes to remove."

"The reason why great men meet with so little pity or attachment in adversity, would seem to be this: the friends of a great man were made by his fortune, his enemies by himself, and revenge is a much more punctual paymaster than gratitude."

"The only things in which we can be said to have any property are our actions. Our thoughts may be bad, yet produce no poison; they may be good, yet produce no fruit. Our riches may be taken away by misfortune, our reputation by malice, our spirits by calamity, our health by disease, our friends by death. But our actions must follow us beyond the grave; with respect to them alone, we cannot say that we shall carry nothing with us when we die, neither that we shall go naked out of the world."

"The profoundly wise do not declaim against superficial knowledge in others, so much as the profoundly ignorant; on the contrary, they would rather assist it with their advice that overwhelm it with their contempt; for they know that there was a period when even a Bacon or a Newton were superficial, and that he who has little knowledge is far more likely to get more that has none."

"The proud man places himself at a distance from other men; seen through that distance, others perhaps appear little to him; but he forgets that this very distance causes him to appear equally little to others."

"The seeds of repentance are sown in youth by pleasure, but the harvest is reaped in age by pain."

"The sun should not set upon our anger, neither should he rise upon our confidence. We should forgive freely but forget rarely. I will not be revenged, and this I owe to my enemy; but I will remember, and this I owe to myself."

"The seat of perfect contentment is in the head; for every individual is thoroughly satisfied with his own proportion of brains."

"The slightest sorrow for sin is sufficient if it produce amendment, and the greatest insufficient if it do not."

"The true motives of our actions, like the real pipes of an organ, are usually concealed; but the gilded and hollow pretext is pompously placed in the front for show."

"The soundest argument will produce no more conviction in an empty head than the most superficial declamation; a feather and a guinea fall with equal velocity in a vacuum."

"The two most precious things on this side the grave are our reputation and our life. But it is to be lamented that the most contemptible whisper may deprive us of the one, and the weakest weapon of the other."

"The upright, if he suffer calumny to move him, fears the tongue of man more than the eye of God."

"The wisest man may be wiser today than he was yesterday, and tomorrow than he is today. Total freedom from change would imply total freedom from error; but this is the prerogative of Omniscience alone."

"The worst thing that can be said of the most powerful is that they can take your life; but the same thing can be said of the most weak."

"The young fancy that their follies are mistaken by the old for happiness; and the old fancy that their gravity is mistaken by the young for wisdom."

"There are circumstances of peculiar difficulty and danger, where a mediocrity of talent is the most fatal quality that a man can possibly possess. Had Charles the first, and Louis the Sixteenth, been more wise or more weak, more firm or more yielding, in either case they had both of them saved their heads."

"There are only two things in which the false professors of all religions have agreed - to persecute all other sects and to plunder their own."

"Theories are private property, but truth is common stock."

"There are no two things so much talked of, and so seldom seen, as virtue and the funds."

"There are three kinds of praise - that which we yield, that which we lend, and that which we pay. We yield it to the powerful from fear, we lend it to the weak from interest, and we pay it to the deserving from gratitude."