Quotes by Edward Gibbon

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Edward Gibbon (April 27, 1737 (O.S.) (May 8, 1737 (N.S.)) - January 16, 1794) was arguably the most influential historian since the time of Tacitus. His magnum opus, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ...

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The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.

We improve ourselves by victories over ourselves. There must be contest, and we must win.
I was never less alone than when by myself.
History is little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.
A heart to resolve, a head to contrive, and a hand to execute.
Beauty is an outward gift, which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused.
Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved-to write a book.
The laws of probability, so true in general, so fallacious in particular.
All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance.
Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive.
My early and invincible love of reading I would not exchange for all the riches of India.
The style of an author should be the image of his mind, but the choice and command of language is the fruit of exercise.
Hope, the best comfort of our imperfect condition.
My English text is chaste, and all licentious passages are left in the obscurity of a learned language.
The urgent consideration of the public safety may undoubtedly authorize the violation of every positive law. How far that or any other consideration may operate to dissolve the natural obligations of humanity and justice, is a doctrine of which I still desire to remain ignorant.
Style is the image of character.
Corruption, the most infallible symptom of constitutional liberty.
I understand by this passion the union of desire, friendship, and tenderness, which is inflamed by a single female, which prefers her to the rest of her sex, and which seeks her possession as the supreme or the sole happiness of our being.
Fanaticism obliterates the feelings of humanity.
I am indeed rich, since my income is superior to my expenses, and my expense is equal to my wishes.
I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son.
Our sympathy is cold to the relation of distant misery.
The pathetic almost always consists in the detail of little events.
The author himself is the best judge of his own performance; none has so deeply meditated on the subject; none is so sincerely interested in the event.
Books are those faithful mirrors that reflect to our mind the minds of sages and heroes.
Truth, naked, unblushing truth, the first virtue of all serious history, must be the sole recommendation of this personal narrative.
The courage of a soldier is found to be the cheapest and most common quality of human nature.
It has always been my practice to cast a long paragraph in a single mould, to try it by my ear, to deposit it in my memory, but to suspend the action of the pen till I had given the last polish to my work.
It was scarcely possible that the eyes of contemporaries should discover in the public felicity the latent causes of decay and corruption. This long peace, and the uniform government of the Romans, introduced a slow and secret poison into the vitals of the empire. The minds of men were gradually reduced to the same level, the fire of genius was extinguished, and even the military spirit evaporated. The natives of Europe were brave and robust. Spain, Gaul, Britain, and Illyricum, supplied the legions with excellent soldiers, and constituted the real strength of the monarchy. Their personal valour remained, but they no longer possessed that public courage which is nourished by the love of independence, the sense of national honour, the presence of danger, and the habit of command. They received laws and governors from the will of their sovereign, and trusted for their defence to a mercenary army. The posterity of their boldest leaders was contented with the rank of citizens and subjects. The most aspiring spirits resorted to the court or standard of the emperors; and the deserted provinces, deprived of political strength or union, insensibly sunk into the languid indifference of private life.
The principles of a free constitution are irrecoverably lost, when the legislative power is nominated by the executive.