Thomas Carlyle


Scottish Essayist, Historian, Biographer and Philosopher

Author Quotes

In the long-run every Government is the exact symbol of its People, with their wisdom and unwisdom; we have to say, Like People like Government.

It is one of the illusions, that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour.-Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.-No man has learned anything rightly until he knows and feels that every day is doomsday.

Labor, wide as the earth, has its summit in heaven.

Literature, so far as it is Literature, is an ‘apocalypse of Nature,’ a revealing of the ‘open secret.

Man makes circumstances, and spiritually as well as economically, is the artificer of his own fortune.

My whinstone house my castle is, I have my own four walls.

No lie you can speak or act but it will come, after longer or shorter circulation, like a Bill drawn on Nature's Reality, and be presented there for payment, — with the answer, No effects.

Not our logical faculty, but our imaginative one is king over us. I might say, priest and prophet to lead us to heaven-ward, or magician and wizard to lead us hellward.

Oh, give us the man who sings at his work.

Philosophy complains that Custom has hoodwinked us, from the first; that we do everything by Custom, even Believe by it; that our very Axioms, let us boast of Free-thinking as we may, are oftenest simply such Beliefs as we have never heard questioned. Nay, what is Philosophy throughout but a continual battle against Custom; an ever-renewed effort to transcend the sphere of blind Custom, and so become Transcendental?

Sarcasm is the language of the devil, for which reason I have long since as good as renounced it.

Song is the heroics of speech.

That great mystery of Time, were there no other; the illimitable, silent, never-resting thing called Time, rolling, rushing on, swift, silent, like an all-embracing ocean tide, on which we and all the Universe swim like exhalations, like apparitions which are, and then are not: this is forever very literally a miracle; a thing to strike us dumb,--for we have no word to speak about it.

The coldest word was once a glowing new metaphor.

The ghostly consciousness of wrong.

The most fearful unbelief is unbelief in your self.

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

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

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

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.

War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from one village and another village, stick them into uniforms, equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against one other.

We touch heaven when we lay our hand on a human body! This sounds much like a mere flourish of rhetoric; but it is not so. If well meditated, it will turn out to be a scientific fact; the expression, in such words as can be had, of the actual truth of the thing. We are the miracle of miracles,--the great inscrutable mystery of God. We cannot understand it, we know not how to speak of it; but we may feel and know, if we like, that it is verily so.

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do that with all thy might and leave the issues calmly to God.

Without oblivion, there is no remembrance possible. When both oblivion and memory are wise, when the general soul of man is clear, melodious, true, there may come a modern Iliad as memorial of the Past.

If those gentlemen would let me alone I should be much obliged to them. I would say, as Shakespeare would say... Sweet Friend, for Jesus sake forbear.

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Scottish Essayist, Historian, Biographer and Philosopher