Thomas Carlyle


Scottish Essayist, Historian, Biographer and Philosopher

Author Quotes

Talk that does not end in any kind of action is better suppressed altogether.

The built house seems all so fit,- everyway as it should be, as if it came there by its own law and the nature of things,- we forget the rude disorderly quarry it was shaped from. The very perfection of the house, as if Nature herself had made it, hides the builder's merit. Perfect, more perfect than any other man, we may call Shakespeare in this: he discerns, knows as by instinct, what condition he works under, what his materials are, what his own force and its relation to them is. It is not a transitory glance of insight that will suffice; it is deliberate illumination of the whole matter; it is a calmly seeing eye; a great intellect, in short. How a man, of some wide thing that he has witnessed, will construct a narrative, what kind of picture and delineation he will give of it,- is the best measure you could get of what intellect is in the man. Which circumstance is vital and shall stand prominent; which unessential, fit to be suppressed; where is the true beginning, the true sequence and ending? To find out this, you task the whole force of insight that is in the man. He must understand the thing; according to the depth of his understanding, will the fitness of his answer be.

The eye sees what it brings the power to see.

The leafy blossoming present time springs from the whole past, remembered and unrememberable.

The purpose of man is in action not thought.

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

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

To a shower of gold most things are penetrable.

Variety is the condition of harmony.

We have our little theory on all human and divine things. Poetry, the workings of genius itself, which, in all times, with one or another meaning, has been called Inspiration, and held to be mysterious and inscrutable, is no longer without its scientific exposition. The building of the lofty rhyme is like any other masonry or bricklaying: we have theories of its rise, height, decline and fall -- which latter, it would seem, is now near, among all people.

What unknown seas of feeling lie in man, and will from time to time break through!

With stupidity and sound digestion man may fret much; but what in these dull unimaginative days are the terrors of conscience to the diseases of the liver.

In no time whatever can small critics entirely eradicate out of living men's hearts a certain altogether peculiar collar reverence for Great Men--genuine admiration, loyalty, adora-tion.

It is a strange trade that of advocacy. Your intellect, your highest heavenly gift is hung up in the shop window like a loaded pistol for sale.

I've got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.

Life is a little gleam of time between two eternity s.

Mahomet can work no miracles; he often answers impatiently: I can work no miracles. I? I am a Public Preacher; appointed to preach this doctrine to all creatures. Yet the world, as we can see, had really from of old been all one great miracle to him. Look over the world, says he; is it not wonderful, the work of Allah; wholly a sign to you, if your eyes were open!

Money, which is of very uncertain value, and sometimes has no value at all and even less.

No Dilettantism in this Mahomet; it is a business of Reprobation and Salvation with him, of Time and Eternity: he is in deadly earnest about it! Dilettantism, hypothesis, speculation, a kind of amateur-search for Truth, toying and coquetting with Truth: this is the sorest sin. The root of all other imaginable sins. It consists in the heart and soul of the man never having been open to Truth; — living in a vain show. Such a man not only utters and produces falsehoods, but is himself a falsehood. The rational moral principle, spark of the Divinity, is sunk deep in him, in quiet paralysis of life-death.

Not all his men may sever this, it yields to friends', not monarchs', calls; my whinstone house my castle is— I have my own four walls.

Of all your troubles, great and small, the greatest are the ones that don't happen at all.

Over the times thou hast no power.-To redeem a world sunk in dishonesty has not been given thee. Solely over one man therein thou hast a quite absolute, uncontrollable power.-Him redeem and make honest.

Rest is a fine medicine. Let your stomachs rest, ye dyspeptics; let your brain rest, you wearied and worried men of business; let your limbs rest, ye children of toil!

Silence, the great Empire of Silence: higher than all stars; deeper than the Kingdom of Death! It alone is great; all else is small.

Teach a parrot the terms 'supply and demand' and you've got an economist.

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Scottish Essayist, Historian, Biographer and Philosopher