Scottish Essayist, Historian, Biographer and Philosopher
"The curtains of Yesterday drop down, the curtains of To-morrow roll up; but Yesterday and To-morrow both are."
"The fine arts once divorcing themselves from truth are quite certain to fall mad, if they do not die."
"The great law of culture is, Let each become all that he was created capable of being; expand, if possible, to his full growth; resisting all impediments, casting off all foreign, especially all noxious adhesions, and show himself at length in his own shape and stature be these what they may."
"The glory of a workman, still more of a master workman, that he does his work well, ought to be his most precious possession; like the honor of a soldier, dearer to him than life."
"The Great Man's sincerity is of the kind he cannot speak of, is not conscious of: nay, I suppose, he is conscious rather of insincerity; for what man can walk accurately by the law of truth for one day? No, the Great Man does not boast himself sincere, far from that; perhaps does not ask himself if he is so: I would say rather, his sincerity does not depend on himself; he cannot help being sincere!"
"The greatest of all heroes is One--whom we do not name here! Let sacred silence meditate that sacred matter; you will find it the ultimate perfection of a principle extant throughout man's whole history on earth."
"The modern majesty consists in work. What a man can do is his greatest ornament, and he always consults his dignity by doing it."
"The most unhappy of all men is the man who cannot tell what he is going to do, who has got no work cut-out for him in the world, and does not go into it. For work is the grand cure of all the maladies and miseries that ever beset mankind,honest work, which you intend getting done."
"The great silent man! Looking round on the noisy inanity of the world,--words with little meaning, actions with little worth,--one loves to reflect on the great Empire of Silence."
"The leafy blossoming present time springs from the whole past, remembered and unrememberable."
"The lies (Western slander) which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man (Muhammad) are disgraceful to ourselves only."
"The man of life upright has a guiltless heart, free from all dishonest deeds or thought of vanity."
"The Orator persuades and carries all with him, he knows not how; the Rhetorician can prove that he ought to have persuaded and carried all with him."
"The nobleness of silence. The highest melody dwells only in silence,--the sphere melody, the melody of health."
"The only happiness a brave person ever troubles themselves in asking about, is happiness enough to get their work done."
"The person who cannot laugh is not only ready for treason, and deceptions, their whole life is already a treason and deception."
"The people may eat grass: hasty words, which fly abroad irrevocable—and will send back tidings."
"The scandalous bronze-lacquer age of hungry animalisms, spiritual impotences, and mendacities, will have to run its course, till the pit follow it."
"The seeing eye! It is this that discloses the inner harmony of things; what Nature meant, what musical idea Nature has wrapped up in these often rough embodiments. Something she did mean. To the seeing eye that something were discernible. Are they base, miserable things? You can laugh over them, you can weep over them; you can in some way or other genially relate yourself to them; — you can, at lowest, hold your peace about them, turn away your own and others' face from them, till the hour come for practically exterminating and extinguishing them!"
"The station that has not its duty, its ideal, was never yet occupied by man. Yes, here in this poor, miserable, hampered, despicable actual, wherein thou even now standest,--here or nowhere is thy ideal; work it out therefrom; and working, believe, live, be free."
"The stifled hum of midnight, when traffic has lain down to rest, and the chariot wheels of vanity, still rolling here and there through distant streets, are bearing her to halls, roofed in and lighted for her; and only vice and misery, to prowl, or to moan like night birds, are abroad."