Quotes by Thomas B. Macaulay

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The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.

In Plato's opinion, man was made for philosophy; in Bacon's opinion, philosophy was made for man.
A church is disaffected when it is persecuted, quiet when it is tolerated, and actively loyal when it is favored and cherished.
Charles V. said that a man who knew four languages was worth four men; and Alexander the Great so valued learning, that he used to say he was more indebted to Aristotle for giving him knowledge that, than his father Philip for giving him life.
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods?
We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.
The best portraits are those in which there is a slight mixture of caricature.
To punish a man because he has committed a crime, or because he is believed, though unjustly, to have committed a crime, is not persecution. To punish a man, because we infer from the nature of some doctrine which he holds, or from the conduct of other persons who hold the same doctrines with him, that he will commit a crime, is persecution, and is, in every case, foolish and wicked.
The object of oratory alone in not truth, but persuasion.
Perhaps no person can be a poet, or can even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind.
A few more days, and this essay will follow the Defensio Populi to the dust and silence of the upper shelf... For a month or two it will occupy a few minutes of chat in every drawing-room, and a few columns in every magazine; and it will then be withdrawn, to make room for the forthcoming novelties.
Time advances: facts accumulate; doubts arise. Faint glimpses of truth begin to appear, and shine more and more unto the perfect day. The highest intellects, like the tops of mountains, are the first to catch and to reflect the dawn. They are bright, while the level below is still in darkness. But soon the light, which at first illuminated only the loftiest eminences, descends on the plain, and penetrates to the deepest valley. First come hints, then fragments of systems, then defective systems, then complete and harmonious systems. The sound opinion, held for a time by one bold speculator, becomes the opinion of a small minority, of a strong minority, of a majority of mankind. Thus, the great progress goes on.
The puritan hated bear baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
Turn where we may, within, around, the voice of great events is proclaiming to us, Reform, that you may preserve!
He was a rake among scholars, and a scholar among rakes.
A system in which the two great commandments are to hate your neighbor and to love your neighbor's wife.
Language, the machine of the poet, is best fitted for his purpose in its rudest state. Nations, like individuals, first perceive, and then abstract. They advance from particular images to general terms. Hence the vocabulary of an enlightened society is philosophical, that of a half-civilized people is poetical.
Logicians may reason about abstractions. But the great mass of men must have images. The strong tendency of the multitude in all ages and nations to idolatry can be explained on no other principle.
History, is made up of the bad actions of extraordinary men and woman. All the most noted destroyers and deceivers of our species, all the founders of arbitrary governments and false religions have been extraordinary people; and nine tenths of the calamities that have befallen the human race had no other origin than the union of high intelligence with low desires.
We must judge a government by its general tendencies and not by its happy accidents.
Nothing is so galling to a people not broken in from the birth as a paternal, or in other words a meddling government, a government which tells them what to read and say and eat and drink and wear.
Generalization is necessary to the advancement of knowledge; but particularly is indispensable to the creations of the imagination. In proportion as men know more and think more they look less at individuals and more at classes. They therefore make better theories and worse poems.
The reluctant obedience of distant provinces generally costs more than it [The Territory] is worth. Empires which branch out widely are often more flourishing for a little timely pruning.
Your Constitution is all sail and no anchor.
A good constitution is infinitely better than the best despot.
The effect of violent dislike between groups has always created an indifference to the welfare and honor of the state.
The real security of Christianity is to be found in its benevolent morality, in its exquisite adaptation to the human heart, in the facility with which its scheme accommodates itself to the capacity of every human intellect, in the consolation which it bears to the house of mourning, in the light with which it brightens the great mystery of the grave.
She thoroughly understands what no other Church has ever understood, how to deal with enthusiasts.
There were gentlemen and there were seamen in the navy of Charles the Second. But the seamen were not gentlemen; and the gentlemen were not seamen.
He had a wonderful talent for packing thought close, and rendering it portable.

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