Quotes by Thomas Carlyle

Get quotes of the day


How do you feel today?    I feel ...

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

Add to my favourites Get these quotes on a PDF
Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world.

Culture is the process by which a person becomes all that they were created capable of being.
We were wise indeed, could we discern truly the signs of our own time; and by knowledge of its wants and advantages, wisely adjust our own position in it. Let us, instead of gazing idly into the obscure distance, look calmly around us, for a little, on the perplexed scene where we stand. Perhaps, on a more serious inspection, something of its perplexity will disappear, some of its distinctive characters and deeper tendencies more clearly reveal themselves; whereby our own relations to it, our own true aims and endeavors in it, may also become clearer.
Wonderful Force of Public Opinion! We must act and walk in all points as it prescribes; follow the traffic it bids us, realize the sum of money, the degree of influence it expects of us, or we shall be lightly esteemed; certain mouthfuls of articulate wind will be blown at us, and this what mortal courage can front?
Reality, if rightly interpreted, is grander than fiction.
To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself.
Reform is not pleasant, but grievous; no person can reform themselves without suffering and hard work, how much less a nation.
Of all acts of man repentance is the most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.
All men, if they work not as in the great taskmaster's eye, will work wrong, and work unhappily for themselves and for you.
No age seemed the age of romance to itself.
Sarcasm I now see to be, in general, the language of the devil; for which reason I have long since as good as renounced it.
Science must have originated in the feeling that something was wrong.
The barrenest of all mortals is the sentimentalist.
Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time.
Speech is of time, silence is of eternity.
The first sin in our universe was Lucifer's self conceit.
We call it a Society; and go about professing openly the totalest separation, isolation. Our life is not a mutual helpfulness; but rather, cloaked under due laws-of-war, named fair competition and so forth, it is a mutual hostility.
If an eloquent speaker speak not the truth, is there a more horrid kind of object in creation?
Speech is human, silence is divine, yet also brutish and dead: therefore we must learn both arts.
No ghost was every seen by two pair of eyes.
It were a real increase of human happiness, could all young men from the age of nineteen be covered under barrels, or rendered otherwise invisible; and there left to follow their lawful studies and callings, till they emerged, sadder and wiser, at the age of twenty-five.
If what you have done is unjust, you have not succeeded.
In a symbol there is concealment and yet revelation: here therefore, by silence and by speech acting together, comes a double significance. In the symbol proper, what we can call a symbol, there is ever, more or less distinctly and directly, some embodiment and revelation of the Infinite; the Infinite is made to blend itself with the Finite, to stand visible, and as it were, attainable there. By symbols, accordingly, is man guided and commanded, made happy, made wretched.
Tell a person they are brave and you help them become so.
No man who has once heartily and wholly laughed can be altogether irreclaimably bad.
Even in the meanest sorts of labor, the whole soul of a man is composed into a kind of real harmony the instant he sets himself to work.
He that can work is born to be king of something.
Foolish men imagine that because judgment for an evil thing is delayed, there is no justice; but only accident here below. Judgment for an evil thing is many times delayed some day or two, some century or two, but it is sure as life, it is sure as death.
The real use of gunpowder is to make all men tall.
Nothing is more terrible than activity without insight.
It is a strange trade that of advocacy. Your intellect, your highest heavenly gift is hung up in the shop window like a loaded pistol for sale.
Pin your faith to no ones sleeves, haven't you two eyes of your own.
Not our logical faculty, but our imaginative one is king over us. I might say, priest and prophet to lead us to heaven-ward, or magician and wizard to lead us hellward.
Imagination is a poor matter when it has to part company with understanding.
Painful for a person is rebellious independence, only in loving companionship with his associates does a person feel safe: Only in reverently bowing down before the higher does a person feel exalted.
Man is emphatically a proselytizing creature.
Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure there is one less rascal in the world.
Heroism is the divine relation which, in all times, unites a great man to other men.
The hell of these days is the fear of not getting along, especially of not making money.
But the whim we have of happiness is somewhat thus. By certain valuations, and averages, of our own striking, we come upon some sort of average terrestrial lot; this we fancy belongs to us by nature, and of indefeasible rights. It is simple payment of our wages, of our deserts; requires neither thanks nor complaint. Foolish soul! What act of legislature was there that thou shouldst be happy? A little while ago thou hadst no right to be at all.
The only happiness a brave person ever troubles themselves in asking about, is happiness enough to get their work done.
The difference between Socrates and Jesus? The great conscious and the immeasurably great unconscious.
In the long-run every Government is the exact symbol of its People, with their wisdom and unwisdom; we have to say, Like People like Government.
Men are to be guided only by their self-interests. Good government is a good balancing of these; and, except a keen eye and appetite for self-interest, requires no virtue in any quarter. To both parties it is emphatically a machine: to the discontented, a taxing-machine; to the contented, a machine for securing property. Its duties and its faults are not those of a father, but of an active parish-constable.
If the cut of the costume indicates intellect and talent, then the color indicates temper and heart.
Society is founded upon cloth.
Fame, we may understand, is no sure test of merit, but only a probability of such; it is an accident, not a property of man.
I grow daily to honor facts more and more, and theory less and less. A fact, it seems to me, is a great thing -- a sentence printed, if not by God, then at least by the Devil.
What are your historical Facts; still more your biographical? Wilt thou know a man by stringing-together beadrolls of what thou namest Facts?
All evil is like a nightmare; the instant you stir under it, the evil is gone.
The condition of the most passionate enthusiast is to be preferred over the individual who, because of the fear of making a mistake, won't in the end affirm or deny anything.
Egotism is the source and summary of all faults and miseries.
No sooner is your ocean filled, than he grumbles that it might have been of better vintage. Try him with half of a Universe, of an Omnipotence, he sets to quarrelling with the proprietor of the other half, and declares himself the most maltreated of men. Always there is a black spot in our sunshine: it is even as I said, the Shadow of Ourselves.
There are but two ways of paying debt: Increase of industry in raising income, increase of thrift in laying out.
No sadder proof can be given of a person's own tiny stature, than their disbelief in great people.
A man cannot make a pair of shoes rightly unless he do it in a devout manner.

Get Quotes of the Day

Your daily dose of thought, inspiration and motivation.