Quotes by Thomas Carlyle

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Thomas Carlyle (December 4, 1795 - February 5, 1881) was a Scottish essayist, satirist, and historian, whose work was hugely influential during the Victorian era. Coming from a strictly Calvinist family, Carlyle was expected by his parents to become a preacher. However, while at the University of Edinburgh he lost his Christian faith. Nevertheless Calvinist values remained with him throughout his life. This combination of a religious temperament with loss of faith in traditional Christianity made Carlyle's work appealing to many Victorians who were grappling with scientific and political changes that threatened the traditional social order. more

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Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves.

When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with it fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze.
Skepticism, as I said, is not intellectual only; it is moral also; a chronic atrophy and disease of the whole soul. A man lives by believing something; not by debating and arguing about many things. A sad case for him when all that he can manage to believe is something he can button in his pocket, and with one or the other organ eat and digest! Lower than that he will not get.
The soul gives unity to what it looks at with love.
The spiritual is the parent of the practical.
Laughter is the cipher key wherewith we decipher the whole man
For all right judgment of any man or things it is useful, nay, essential, to see his good qualities before pronouncing on his bad.
It is not a lucky word, this name impossible; no good comes of those who have it so often in their mouths.
I do not believe in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
True humor springs not more from the head than from the heart. It is not contempt; its essence is love. It issues not in laughter, but in still smiles, which lie far deeper.
The whole past is the procession of the present.
Stern accuracy in inquiring, bold imagination in describing, these are the cogs on which history soars or flutters and wobbles.
No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men.
A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder.
Conclusive facts are inseparable from inconclusive except by a head that already understands and knows.
The courage we desire and prize is not the courage to die decently, but to live manfully.
All great peoples are conservative.
One must verify or expel his doubts, and convert them into the certainty of Yes or NO.
If a book comes from the heart it will contrive to reach other hearts. All art and author craft are of small account to that.
No iron chain, or outward force of any kind, can ever compel the soul of a person to believe or to disbelieve.
It is the unseen and the spiritual in people that determines the outward and the actual.
In every phenomenon the beginning remains always the most notable moment.
Show me the person you honor, for I know better by that the kind of person you are. For you show me what your idea of humanity is.
Old age is not a matter for sorrow. It is matter for thanks if we have left our work done behind us.
The outer passes away; the innermost is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Talk that does not end in any kind of action is better suppressed altogether.
Virtue is like health: the harmony of the whole man.
Writing is a dreadful labor, yet not so dreadful as Idleness.
Youth is to all the glad season of life; but often only by what it hopes, not by what it attains, or what it escapes.
No conquest can ever become permanent which does not show itself beneficial to the conquered as well as to the conquerors.
Variety is the condition of harmony.
Real good breeding, as the people have it here, is one of the finest things now going in the world. The careful avoidance of all discussion, the swift hopping from topic to topic, does not agree with me; but the graceful style they do it with is beyond that of minuets!
Good breeding differs, if at all, from high breeding only as it gracefully remembers the rights of others, rather than gracefully insists on its own rights.
Man's unhappiness, as I construe, comes of his greatness; it is because there is an Infinite in him, which with all his cunning he cannot quite bury under the Finite.
A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that Fortune's inequality exhibits under this sun.
Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.
If time is precious, no book that will not improve by repeated reading deserves to be read at all.
Thought once awakened does not again slumber; unfolds itself into a System of Thought; grows, in man after man, generation after generation, --till its full stature is reached, and such System of Thought can grow no farther, but must give place to another.
The cut of a garment speaks of intellect and talent and the color of temperament and heart.
When we can drain the Ocean into mill-ponds, and bottle up the Force of Gravity, to be sold by retail, in gas jars; then may we hope to comprehend the infinitudes of man's soul under formulas of Profit and Loss; and rule over this too, as over a patent engine, by checks, and valves, and balances.
In private life I never knew anyone interfere with other people's disputes but he heartily repented of it.
Life is a little gleam of time between two eternity s.
We have our little theory on all human and divine things. Poetry, the workings of genius itself, which, in all times, with one or another meaning, has been called Inspiration, and held to be mysterious and inscrutable, is no longer without its scientific exposition. The building of the lofty rhyme is like any other masonry or bricklaying: we have theories of its rise, height, decline and fall -- which latter, it would seem, is now near, among all people.
There is a great discovery still to be made in literature, that of paying literary men by the quantity they do not write.
For man is not the creature and product of Mechanism; but, in a far truer sense, its creator and producer.
The world is a republic of mediocrities, and always was.
Cash-payment never was, or could except for a few years be, the union-bond of man to man. Cash never yet paid one man fully his deserts to another; nor could it, nor can it, now or henceforth to the end of the world.
For the superior morality, of which we hear so much, we too would desire to be thankful: at the same time, it were but blindness to deny that this superior morality is properly rather an inferior criminality, produced not by greater love of Virtue, but by greater perfection of Police; and of that far subtler and stronger Police, called Public Opinion.
Song is the heroics of speech.
Music is well said to be the speech of angels; in fact, nothing among the utterances allowed to man is felt to be so divine. It brings us near to the infinite.
Secrecy is the element of all goodness; even virtue, even beauty is mysterious.
Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one.
The past is all holy to us; the dead are all holy; even they that were wicked when alive.
Cash-payment is not the sole nexus of man with man.
Imperfection clings to a person, and if they wait till they are brushed off entirely, they would spin for ever on their axis, advancing nowhere.
Not brute force but only persuasion and faith are the kings of this world.
It is a vain hope to make people happy by politics.
Little other than a red tape Talking-machine, and unhappy Bag of Parliamentary Eloquence.

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