Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Guiseppe Mazzini

Italian Patriot, Writer, Politician, Journalist, Activist for the Unification of Italy

"There is no absolute type on earth: the absolute exists in the Divine Idea alone; the gradual comprehension of which man is destined to attain; although its complete realization is impossible on earth; earthly life being but one stage of the eternal evolution of life, manifested in thought and action; strengthened by all the achievements of the past, and advancing from age to ages towards a less imperfect expression of that idea. Our earthly life is one phase of the eternal aspiration of the soul towards progress, which is our law; ascending in increasing power and purity from the finite towards the infinite; from the real towards the ideal; from that which is, towards that which is to come. In the immense storehouse of the past evolutions of life constituted by universal tradition, and in the prophetic instinct brooding in the depths of the human soul, does poetry seek inspiration. It changes with the times, for it is their expression; it is transformed with society, for?consciously or unconsciously?it sings the lay of Humanity; although, according to the individual bias or circumstances of the singer, it assumes the hues of the present, or of the future in course of elaboration, and foreseen by the inspiration of genius. It sings now a dirge and now a cradle song; it initiates or sums up."

"We improve with the improvement of Humanity; nor without the improvement of the whole can you hope that your own moral and material conditions will improve. Generally speaking, you cannot, even if you would, separate your life from that of Humanity; you live in it, by it, for it. Your souls, with the exception of the very few men of exceptional power, cannot free themselves from the influence of the elements amid which they exist, just as the body, however robust its constitution, cannot escape from the effects of corrupt air around it. How many of you have the strength of mind to bring up your sons to be wholly truthful, knowing that you are sending them forth to persecution in a country where tyrants and spies bid them conceal or deny two-thirds of their real opinions? How many of you resolve to educate them to despise wealth in a society where gold is the only power which obtains honors, influence, and respect, where indeed it is the only protection from the tyranny and insults of the powerful and their agents? Who is there among you who in pure love and with the best intentions in the world has not murmured to his dear ones in Italy, Do not trust men; the honest man should retire into himself and fly from public life; charity begins at home,?and such-like maxims, plainly immoral, but prompted by the general state of society? What mother is there among you who? has not flung her arms around her son?s neck and striven to dissuade him from perilous attempts to benefit his brothers? And even if you had strength to teach the contrary, would not the whole of society, with its thousand voices, its thousand evil examples, destroy the effect of your words? Can you purify, elevate your own souls in an atmosphere of contamination and degradation? And, to descend to your material conditions, do you think they can be lastingly ameliorated by anything but the amelioration of all? Millions of pounds are spent annually here in England, where I write, by private charity, for the relief of individuals who have fallen into want; yet want increases here every year, and charity to individuals has proved powerless to heal the evil?the necessity of collective organic remedies is more and more universally felt"

"What is the most important duty? One's duty toward one's parent."

"Without country you have neither name, token, voice, nor rights, no admission as brothers into the fellowship of the Peoples. You are the bastards of Humanity. Soldiers without a banner, Israelites among the nations, you will find neither faith nor protection; none will be sureties for you. Do not beguile yourselves with the hope of emancipation from unjust social conditions if you do not first conquer a Country for yourselves."