Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Thomas Carlyle

Scottish Essayist, Historian, Biographer and Philosopher

"This world, after all our sciences, is still a miracle: wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, to whoever will think of it."

"Thought once awakened does not again slumber."

"Thought will not work except in silence."

"Time has only a relative existence."

"Universal History, the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked here."

"To us also, through every star, through every blade of grass, is not God made visible if we will open our minds and our eyes."

"We quietly believe this Universe to be intrinsically a great, unintelligible Perhaps."

"What is Philosophy but a continual battle against Custom?"

"What an enormous magnifier is tradition! How a thing grows in the human memory and in the human imagination, when love, worship, and all that lies in the human heart, is there to encourage it."

"What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

"Without kindness, there can be no true joy."

"Wonder is the basis of worship."

"Work is alone noble."

"Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, altogether past calculation its powers of endurance."

"A little gleam of time between two eternities; no second chance to us forever more."

"A mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one."

"Work is the grand cure for all the maladies and miseries that ever beset mankind."

"All reform except a moral one will prove unavailing."

"Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness; he has a life purpose. Labor is life. From the heart of the worker rises the celestial force, breathed into him by Almighty God, awakening him to all nobleness, to all knowledge. Has thou valued patience, courage, openness to light, or readiness to own thy mistakes. In wrestling with the dim, brute powers of Fact, thou wilt continually learn. For every noble work, the possibilities are diffused through immensity - undiscoverable, except to Faith."

"Give us, oh, give us, the man who sings at his work! He will do more in the same time, he will do it better, he will persevere longer. One is scarcely sensible of fatigue whilst he marches to music. The very stars said to make harmony as they revolve in their spheres. Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, altogether past calculation in its powers of endurance. Efforts, to be permanently useful, must be uniformly joyous, a spirit all sunshine, graceful from very gladness, beautiful because bright."

"For a hundred that can bear adversity, there is hardly one that can bear prosperity."

"Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness. He has a work, a life purpose."

"Everywhere the human soul stands between a hemisphere of light and another of darkness on the confines of two everlasting hostile empires - Necessity and Free Will."

"Instead of saying that man is the creature of circumstances, say that man is the architect of circumstances."

"It is great, and there is no other greatness - to make one nook of God’s Creation more fruitful, better, more worthy of God; to make some human hart a little wiser, manlier, happier - more blessed."

"No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men."

"Nature… is a Volume written in celestial hieroglyphs, in a true Sacred-writing; of which even Prophets are happy that they can read here a line and there a line."

"Obstacles in the pathway of the weak become stepping stones in the pathway of the strong."

"One life – a little gleam of Time between two Eternities."

"Prayer is and remains always a native and deepest impulse of the soul of man."

"Perseverance… is the very hinge of all virtues."

"Skepticism means, not intellectual doubt alone, but moral doubt."

"Speech that leads not to action, still more that hinders it, is a nuisance on the earth."

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

"The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers on a single object, can accomplish something. The strongest, by dispensing his over many, may fail to accomplish anything. The drop, by continually falling, bores its passage through the hardest rock. The hasty torrent rushes over it with hideous uproar, and leaves no trace behind."

"When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with its fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze."

"Worship is transcendent wonder."

"The hero is he who lives in the inward sphere of things, in the True, Divine, Eternal, which exists always... His lfie is a piece of the everlasting heart of nature itself."

"The end of man is an action and not a thought, though it were the noblest."

"History is the distillation of rumor."

"A background of wrath, which can be stirred up the murderous internal pitch, does lie in every man."

"A fair day's wage for a fair day's work: it is as just a demand as governed men ever made of governing. It is the everlasting right of man."

"A country which has no national literature, or a literature too insignificant to force its way abroad, must always be, to its neighbors at least, in every important spiritual respect, an unknown and unestimated country."

"A force as of madness in the hands of reason has done all that was ever done in the world."

"A fundamental mistake to call vehemence and rigidity strength! A man is not strong who takes convulsion-fits; though six men cannot hold him then. He that can walk under the heaviest weight without staggering, he is the strong man . . . A man who cannot hold his peace, till the time come for speaking and acting, is no right man."

"A dandy is a clothes-wearing man,-a man whose trade, office, and existence consist in the wearing of clothes.-Every faculty of his soul, spirit, person, and purse is heroically consecrated to this one object-the wearing of clothes wisely and well; so that as others dress to live, he lives to dress."

"A certain man has called us, of all peoples the wisest in action, but he added, the stupidest in speech."

"A Fourth Estate, of Able Editors, springs up."

"A good collection of good books is the true university of our time"

"A good book is the purest essence of a human soul."