Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Thomas Carlyle

Scottish Essayist, Historian, Biographer and Philosopher

"The stupendous Fourth Estate, whose wide world-embracing influences what eye can take in?"

"The suffering man ought really 'to consume his own smoke'; there is no good in emitting smoke till you have made it into fire, — which, in the metaphorical sense too, all smoke is capable of becoming!"

"The three great elements of modern civilization, Gun powder, Printing, and the Protestant religion."

"The true eye for talent presupposes the true reverence for it."

"The true epic of our times is not arms and the man, but tools and the man, an infinitely wider kind of epic."

"The true past departs not, no truth or goodness realized by man ever dies, or can die; but all is still here, and, recognized or not, lives and works through endless change."

"The true University of these days is a Collection of Books."

"The unspeakable Turk should be immediately struck out of the question, and the country be left to honest European guidance."

"The true Sovereign of the world, who molds the world like soft wax, according to his pleasure, is he who lovingly sees into the world."

"The uttered part of a man's life, let us always repeat, bears to the unuttered, unconscious part a small unknown proportion. He himself never knows it, much less do others."

"The wise man is but a clever infant, spelling letters from a hieroglyphical prophetic book, the lexicon of which lies in eternity."

"The whole past is the procession of the present."

"The world is an old woman, and mistakes any gilt farthing for a gold coin; whereby being often cheated, she will thenceforth trust nothing but the common copper."

"The world is a republic of mediocrities, and always was."

"The work we desire and prize is not the courage to die decently, but to live manfully."

"There are but two ways of paying a debt; increase of industry in raising income, or increase of thrift in laying out."

"There are depths in man that go to the lowest hell, and heights that reach the highest heaven, for are not both heaven and hell made out of him, everlasting miracle and mystery that he is."

"There are female dandies as well as clothes-wearing men; and the former are as objectionable as the latter."

"There are good and bad times, but our mood changes more often than our fortune."

"There are remedies for all things but death."

"There is a great discovery still to be made in literature, that of paying literary men by the quantity they do not write."

"There is a calm, viscous insensibility which will baffle even the gods, and calmly say, Try all your lightnings here, and see whether I cannot quench them."

"There is a majesty and mystery in nature, take her as you will. The essence of poetry comes breathing to a mind that feels from every province of her empire."

"There is a perennial nobleness and even sacredness in work. Were he ever so benighted, forgetful of his high calling, there is always hope in a man that actually and earnestly works."

"There is endless merit in a man's knowing when to have done."

"There is no heroic poem in the world but is at bottom a biography, the life of a man; also, it may be said, there is no life of a man, faithfully recorded, but is a heroic poem of its sort, rhymed or unrhymed."

"There is no life of a man, faithfully recorded, but is a heroic poem of sort, rhymed or unrhymed."

"These limbs,--whence had we them, this stormy force; this life-blood, with its burning passion? They are dust and shadow--a shadow system gathered round our me; wherein through some moments or years, the divine essence is to be revealed in the flesh."

"There is in it a placid inexhaustibility, a calm, vicious infinitude, which will baffle even the gods."

"There is often more spiritual force in a proverb than in whole philosophical systems."

"Think of living! Thy life, wert thou the pitifullest of all the sons of earth, is no idle dream, but a solemn reality. It is thy own; it is all thou hast to front eternity with. Work, then, even as He has done, and does, like a star, unhasting, yet unresting."

"This great maxim of Philosophy he had gathered by the teaching of nature alone: That man was created to work, not to speculate, or feel, or dream."

"This little life has its duties that are great-that are alone great, and that go up to heaven and down to hell."

"This is such a serious world that we should never speak at all unless we have something to say."

"Thought is the parent of the deed."

"This Mirabeau's work, then is done. He sleeps with the primeval giants. He has gone over to the majority: Abiit ad plures."

"Thou fool! Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom; that idle crag thou sittest on is six thousand years of age."

"Thy life is no idle dream, but a solemn reality; it is thine own, and it is all thou hast to front eternity with."

"Thought once awakened does not again slumber; unfolds itself into a System of Thought; grows, in man after man, generation after generation, - till its full stature is reached, and such System of Thought can grow no farther, but must give place to another."

"Time is the silent, never-resting thing ... rolling, rushing on, swift, silent, like an all-embracing oceantide, on which we and all the universe swim."

"To me the Universe was all void of Life, of Purpose, of Volition, even of Hostility; it was one huge, dead, immeasurable Steam-engine, rolling on, in its dead indifference, to grind me limb from limb. Oh vast gloomy, solitary Golgotha, and Mill of Death! Why was the living banished thither companionless, conscious? Why, if there is no Devil; nay, unless the Devil is your God?"

"To a shower of gold most things are penetrable."

"To him and all of us the expressly appointed schoolmaster and schoolings are as nothing."

"To redeem a world sunk in dishonesty has not been given them. Solely over one man therein thou hast quite absolute control. Him redeem, him make honest."

"To say that we have a clear conscience is to utter a solecism; had we never sinned we should have had no conscience. Were defeat unknown, neither would victory be celebrated by songs of triumph."

"To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself."

"To the Arab Nation it was as a birth from darkness into light; Arabia first became alive by means of it. A poor shepherd people, roaming unnoticed in its deserts since the creation of the world: a Hero-Prophet was sent down to them with a word they could believe: see, the unnoticed becomes world-notable, the small has grown world-great; within one century afterwards, Arabia is at Grenada on this hand, at Delhi on that; — glancing in valor and splendor and the light of genius, Arabia shines through long ages over a great section of the world. Belief is great, life-giving. The history of a Nation becomes fruitful, soul-elevating, great, so soon as it believes."

"To the very last, he [Napoleon] had a kind of idea; that, namely, of la carrière ouverte aux talents,—the tools to him that can handle them."

"To the vulgar eye, few things are wonderful that are not distant."

"To the very last, he had a kind of idea; that, namely, of la carrière ouverte aux talents,—the tools to him that can handle them."