Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Thomas Arnold

British Educator, Historian, early supporter of the Broad Church Anglican movement, Headmaster of Rugby School

"Begin by regarding every thing from a moral point of view, and you will end by believing in God."

"Fanaticism is idolatry; and it has the moral evil of idolatry in it; that is, a fanatic worships something which is the creation of his own desire, and thus even his self-devotion in support of it is only an apparent or his mind, which he least values, offer sacrifice to that which he most values."

"All calm inquiry conducted among those who have their main principles of judgment in common, leads, if not to an approximation of views, yet, at least, to an increase of sympathy."

"Differences of opinion give me but little concern; but it a real pleasure to be brought into communication with anyone who is in earnest, and who really looks to God's will as his standard of right and wrong, and judges of actions according to their greater or lesser conformity."

"Real knowledge, like everything else of value, is not to be obtained easily. It must be worked for, studied for, thought for, and, more that all, must be prayed for."

"Two things we ought to learn from history; one, that we are not in ourselves superior to our fathers; another, that we are shamefully and monstrously inferior to them, if we do not advance beyond them."

"Use your gifts faithfully, and they shall be enlarged; practice what you know, and you shall attain to higher knowledge."

"A great school is very trying: it never can present images of rest and peace; and when the spring and activity of youth are altogether unsanctified by anything pure and elevated in its desires, it becomes a spectacle that is dizzying and almost more morally distressing than the shouts and gambols of a set of lunatics. It is very startling to see so much of sin combined with so little of sorrow. In a parish, among the poor, whatever of sin exists, there is sure also to be enough of suffering: poverty, sickness, and old age, are mighty tamers and chastisers. But with boys of the richer classes one sees nothing but plenty, health, and youth; and these are really awful to behold when one must feel that they are unblessed. On the other hand, few things are more beautiful than when one does see all holy and noble thoughts and principles, not the forced growth of pain, or infirmity, or privation, but springing up as by God’s immediate planting, in a sort of garden of all that is fresh and beautiful, full of so much hope for this world as well as for heaven."

"As I believe the English universities are the best places in the world for those who can profit by them, so I think for the idle and self-indulgent they are about the very worst."

"I am well satisfied that if you let in but one little finger of tradition, you will have in the whole monster - horns and tail and all."

"I consider beyond all wealth, honor, or even health, is the attachment due to noble souls; because to become one with the good, generous, and true, is to be, in a manner, good, generous, and true yourself."

"Ideal insanity is that state of mind in which a person imagines he sees, hears, or otherwise perceives, or converses with, persons or things which either have no external existence to his senses at the time, or have no such external existence as they are then conceived to have; or, if he perceives external objects as they really exist, has yet erroneous and absurd ideas of his own power, and other sensible qualities:—such a state of mind continuing for a considerable time, and being unaccompanied with any violent or adequate degree of fever."

"If there be one thing on earth which is truly admirable, it is to see God's wisdom blessing an inferiority of natural powers, where they have been honestly, truly, and zealously cultivated."

"Insanity, as well as delirium, may be considered as divisible into two kinds; one of which may be called ideal, and the other notional insanity."

"Intellectually the difficulties of unbelief are as great as those of belief, while morally the argument is wholly on the side of belief."

"It was from an old friend who . thought he was dying. Anyway, he said, Life and death issues don't come along that often, thank God, so don't treat everything like its life or death. Go easier."

"It would seem as if the primitive Christian, by laying so much stress upon a future life in contradistinction to this life, and placing the lower creatures out of the pale of hope, placed them at the same time out of the pale of sympathy, and thus laid the foundation for this utter disregard of animals in the light of our fellow creatures"

"Keep your view of men and things attentive, and depend upon it that a mixed knowledge is not a superficial one. As far as it goes, the views that it gives are true; but he who reads deeply in one class of writers only, gets views which are almost sure to be perverted, and which are not only narrow, but false. Adjust your proposed amount of reading to your time and inclination,—this is perfectly free to every man; but whether that amount be large or small, let it be varied in its kind, and widely varied. If I have a confident opinion on any one point connected with the improvement of the human mind, it is on this."

"Might but the sense of moral evil be as strong in me as is my delight in external beauty!"

"Notional insanity is that state of mind in which a person sees, hears, or otherwise perceives external objects, as they really exist, as objects of sense; yet conceives such notions of the powers, properties, designs, state, destination, importance, manner of existence, or the like, of things and persons, of himself and others, as appear obviously, and often grossly, erroneous, or unreasonable, to the common sense of the sober and judicious part of mankind. It is of considerable duration; is never accompanied with any great degree of fever, and very often with no fever at all."

"One’s age should be tranquil, as one’s childhood should be playful; hard work at either extremity of human existence seems to me out of place: the morning and the evening should be alike cool and peaceful; at mid-day the sun may burn, and men may labor under it."

"Our first impressions are to consider the Ascension of our Lord as the very greatest event connected with His appearance on earth. To our own mind, undoubtedly, nothing could be so solemn, so exalting, as the changing this life for another; the putting off mortality and putting on immortality; and all this we connect with the thought of the removal from earth to heaven."

"Probably the happiest period in life most frequently is in middle age, when the eager passions of youth are cooled, and the infirmities of age not yet begun; as we see that the shadows, which are at morning and evening so large, almost entirely disappear at mid-day."

"Rather than have it the principal thing in my son's mind, I would gladly have him think that the sun went round the earth, and that the stars were so many spangles set in the bright blue firmament."

"The difference between one man and another is not mere ability, it is energy"

"The essential point in the notion of a priest is this; that he is a person made necessary to our intercourse with God, without being necessary or beneficial to us morally,—an unreasonable, unmoral, unspiritual necessity."

"There is no earthly thing more mean and despicable, in my mind, than an English gentleman destitute of all sense of his responsibilities and opportunities, and only reveling in the luxuries of our high civilization, and thinking himself a great person."

"What we must look for here is, firstly, religious and moral principles; secondly, gentlemanly conduct; thirdly, intellectual ability."