Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

H. G. Wells, fully Herbert George Wells

English Novelist, Journalist, Science Fiction Writer, Social Reformer, Evolutionary Biologist and Historian

"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo."

"Better it is toward the right conduct of life, to consider what will be the end of a thing, than what is the beginning of it: for what promises fair at first may prove ill, and what seems at first a disadvantage, may prove very advantageous."

"He reflected that the path of true love never had run smooth."

"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."

"Human history is, in essence, a history of ideas."

"Adapt or perish, now as ever, is Nature's inexorable imperative."

"After people have repeated a phrase a great number of times, they begin to realize it has meaning and may even be true."

"Human society is based on want. Life is based on want. Wild-eyed visionaries may dream of a world without need. Cloud-cuckoo-land. It can't be done."

"Militarism and warfare are childish things, if they are not more horrible than anything childish can be. They must become things of the past."

"Our true nationality is mankind."

"Religion is the first thing and the last thing, and until a man has found God and been found by God, he begins at no beginning, he works to no end."

"Religions are such stuff as dreams are made of."

"The appetite grows with what it feeds on."

"The professional military mind is by necessity an inferior and unimaginative mind; no man of high intellectual quality would willingly imprison his gifts in such a calling."

"We live in reference to past experience and not to future events, however inevitable."

"We want to get rid of the militarist not simply because he hurts and kills, but because he is an intolerable thick-voiced blockhead who stands hectoring and blustering in our way to achievement."

"You can go through contemporary life fudging and evading, indulging and slacking, never really hungry nor frightened nor passionately stirred, your highest moment a mere sentimental orgasm, and your first real contact with primary and elemental necessities the sweat of your deathbed."

"There is, though I do not know how there is or why there is, a sense of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven. There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope."

"Humanity either makes, or breeds, or tolerates all its afflictions, great or small."

"The crisis of yesterday is the joke of to-morrow."

"Strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness."

"One of the darkest evils of our world is surely the unteachable wildness of the Good."

"They may fight against greatness in us who are the children of men, but can they conquer? Even if they should destroy us every one, what then? Would it save them? No! For greatness is abroad, not only in us, not only in the Food, but in the purpose of all things! It is in the nature of all things, it is part of space and time. To grow and still to grow, from first to last that is Being, that is the law of life. What other law can there be?"

"The past is but the beginning of a beginning, and all that is or has been is but the twilight of the dawn."

"Biologically the species is the accumulation of the experiments of all its successful individuals since the beginning."

"Crime and bad lives are the measure of a State's failure, all crime in the end is the crime of the community."

"Thought has made me shameless. It does not matter at last at all if one is a little harsh or indelicate or ridiculous if that also is in the mystery of things. Behind everything I perceive the smile that makes all effort and discipline temporary, all the stress and pain of life endurable. In the last resort I do not care whether I am seated on a throne or drunk or dying in a gutter. I follow my leading. In the ultimate I know, though I cannot prove my knowledge in any way whatever, that everything is right and all things mine."

"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe... Yet, clumsily or smoothly, the world, it seems, progresses and will progress."

"Life begins perpetually. Gathered together at last under the leadership of man, the student-teacher of the universe... unified, disciplined, armed with the secret powers of the atom, and with knowledge as yet beyond dreaming, Life, forever dying to be born afresh, forever young and eager, will presently stand upon this earth as upon a footstool, and stretch out its realm amidst the stars."

"There has been ... an enormous waste of human mental and physical resources in premature revolutionary thrusts, ill-planned, dogmatic, essentially unscientific reconstructions and restorations of the social order, during the past hundred years. This was the inevitable first result of the discrediting of those old and superseded mental adaptations which were embodied in the institutions and education of the past. They discredited themselves and left the world full of problems."

"We do not want dictators, we do not want oligarchic parties or class rule, we want a widespread world intelligence conscious of itself. To work out a way to that world brain organization is therefore our primary need in this age of imperative construction."

"Our world is changing and it is changing with an ever-increasing violence. An old world dies about us. A new world struggles into existence. But it is not developing the brain and the sensitiveness and delicacy necessary for its new life."

"We have been gradually brought to the pitch of imagining and framing our preliminary ideas of a federal world control of such things as communications, health, money, economic adjustments, and the suppression of crime. In all these material things we have begun to foresee the possibility of a world-wide network being woven between all men about the earth. So much of the World Peace has been brought into the range of -- what shall I call it? -- the general imagination. But I do not think we have yet given sufficient attention to the prior necessity, of linking together its mental organizations into a much closer accord than obtains at the present time. All these ideas of unifying mankind's affairs depend ultimately for their realization on mankind having a unified mind for the job. The want of such effective mental unification is the key to most of our present frustrations. While men's minds are still confused, their social and political relations will remain in confusion, however great the forces that are grinding them against each other and however tragic and monstrous the consequences."

"I grieved to think how brief the dream of the human intellect had been. It had committed suicide. It had set itself steadfastly towards comfort and ease, a balanced society with security and permanency as its watchword, it had attained its hopes—to come to this at last. Once, life and property must have reached almost absolute safety. The rich had been assured of his wealth and comfort, the toiler assured of his life and work. No doubt in that perfect world there had been no unemployed problem, no social question left unsolved. And a great quiet had followed. It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and dangers."

"A great new world is struggling into existence. But its struggle remains catastrophic until it can produce an adequate knowledge organization ... An immense, an ever-increasing wealth of knowledge is scattered about the world today, a wealth of knowledge and suggestion that – systematically ordered and generally disseminated – would probably give this giant vision and direction and suffice to solve all the mighty difficulties of our age, but the knowledge is still dispersed, unorganized, impotent in the face of adventurous violence and mass excitement."

"As educators we are going to ask what is the subject-matter of a general education? What do we want known? And how do we want it known? What is the essential framework of knowledge that should be established in the normal citizen of our modern community? What is the irreducible minimum of knowledge for a responsible human being today?"

"In my survey of the minimum knowledge needed to make an efficient citizen of the world, I laid great stress upon history. It is the core of initiation. History explains the community to the individual, and when the community of interests and vital interaction has expanded to planetary dimensions, then nothing less than a clear and simplified world history is required as the framework of social ideas. The history of man becomes the common adventure of Everyman."

"If we don't end war, war will end us"

"Advertising is legalized lying."

"It is possible to believe that all the past is but the beginning of a beginning, and that all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn. It is possible to believe that all the human mind has ever accomplished is but the dream before the awakening."

"Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no need of change."

"Sometimes, you have to step outside of the person you've been and remember the person you were meant to be. The person you want to be. The person you are."

"Losing your way on a journey is unfortunate. But, losing your reason for the journey is a fate more cruel."

"What really matters is what you do with what you have."

"Civilization is a race between disaster and education"

"I hope, or I could not live"

"Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have."

"A historian without any theological bias whatever… cannot portray the progress of humanity honestly without giving a foremost place to a penniless teacher from Nazareth. "

"Man must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind him to the fact that each moment of his life is a miracle and a mystery. "

"If you fell down yesterday, stand up today. "