Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Thomas Carlyle

Scottish Essayist, Historian, Biographer and Philosopher

"The cut of a garment speaks of intellect and talent and the color of temperament and heart."

"The curtains of Yesterday drop down, the curtains of To-morrow roll up; but Yesterday and To-morrow both are."

"The deadliest sin were the consciousness of no sin."

"The devil has his elect."

"The deepest depth of vulgarism is that of setting up money as the ark of the covenant."

"The difference between Orthodoxy or Mydoxy and Heterodoxy or Thy-doxy."

"The depth of our despair measures what capability and height of claim we have to hope."

"The dust of controversy is merely the falsehood flying off."

"The eye sees what it brings the power to see."

"The eternal stars shine out as soon as it is dark enough."

"The eye of the intellect sees in all objects what it brought with it the means of seeing."

"The first sin in our universe was Lucifer's self conceit."

"The first duty of man is to conquer fear; he must get rid of it, he cannot act till then."

"The ghostly consciousness of wrong."

"The goal of yesterday will be our starting-point to-morrow."

"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 event for the world is the arrival of a new and wise person."

"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 hell of these days is the fear of not getting along, especially of not making money."

"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 fearful unbelief is unbelief in your self."

"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 great soul of this world is just."

"The history of the world is but a biography of great men."

"The heart always sees before than the head can see."

"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 old cathedrals are good, but the great blue dome that hangs over everything is better."

"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 outer passes away; the innermost is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

"The past is all holy to us; the dead are all holy; even they that were wicked when alive."

"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 Press is the Fourth Estate of the realm."

"The people may eat grass: hasty words, which fly abroad irrevocable—and will send back tidings."

"The Public is an old woman. Let her maunder and mumble."

"The scandalous bronze-lacquer age of hungry animalisms, spiritual impotences, and mendacities, will have to run its course, till the pit follow it."

"The real use of gunpowder is to make all men tall."

"The purpose of man is in action not thought."

"The spiritual is the parent of the practical."

"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 soul gives unity to what it looks at with love."

"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."