CARLYLE, Thomas Quotes
(1795-1881), English essayist, historian, biographer and philosopher
Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.
No nobler feeling than this, of admiration for one higher than himself, dwells in the breast of man.—It is to this hour, and at all hours, the vivifying influence in man's life.
Have a purpose in life, and having it, throw into your work such strength of mind and muscle as God has given you.
Anarchy is the choking, sweltering, deadly, and killing rule of no rule; the consecration of cupidity and braying of folly and dim stupidity and baseness, in most of the affairs of men. Slop-shirts attainable three half-pence cheaper by the ruin of living bodies and immortal souls.
Foolish men mistake transitory semblances for eternal fact, and go astray more and more.
One of the Godlike things of this world is the veneration done to human worth by the hearts of men.
Good Christian people, here is for you an inestimable loan.—Take all heed thereof, and in all carefulness employ it. —With high recompense, or else with heavy penalty, will it one day be required back.
Rare benevolence! the minister of God.
A noble book! All men's book! It is our first, oldest statement of the never-ending problem,—man's destiny, and God's ways with him here on earth; and all in such free-flowing outlines,—grand in its sincerity; in its simplicity and its epic melody.
Rich as we are in biography, a well-written life is almost as rare as a well-spent one; and there are certainly many more men whose history deserves to be recorded than persons able and willing to furnish the record.
Biography is the most universally pleasant and profitable of all reading.
If a book come from the heart it will contrive to reach other hearts.—All art and authorcraft are of small account to that.
After all manner of professors have done their best for us, the place we are to get knowledge is in books.—The true university of these days is a collection of books.
Cant is itself properly a double-distilled lie, the materia prima of the devil, from which all falsehoods, imbecilities, and abominations body themselves, and from which no true thing can come.
Today is not yesterday.—We ourselves change.—How then, can our works and thoughts, if they are always to be the fittest, continue always the same.—Change, indeed, is painful, yet ever needful; and if memory have its force and worth, so also has hope.
Oh, give us the man who sings at his work.
Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, and its power of endurance—the cheerful man will do more in the same time, will do it better, will persevere in it longer, than the sad or sullen.
Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, altogether past calculation its powers of endurance. Efforts, to be permanently useful, must be uniformly joyous,—a spirit all sunshine, graceful from very gladness, beautiful because bright.
Good Christian people, here lies for you an inestimable loan;—take all heed thereof, in all carefulness employ it. With high recompense, or else with heavy penalty, will it one day be required back.
The difference between Socrates and Jesus Christ? The great Conscious; the immeasurably great Unconscious.
I don't like to talk much with people who always agree with me. It is amusing to coquette with an echo for a little while, but one soon tires of it.
Custom doth make dotards of us all.
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.
The all-importance of clothes has sprung up in the intellect of the dandy, without effort, like an instinct of genius: he is inspired with cloth—a poet of clothing.
The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak becomes a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.
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.
Democracy will itself accomplish the salutary universal change from the delusive to the real, and make a new blessed world of us bye and bye.
Do the duty which lieth nearest to thee! Thy second duty will already have become clearer.
Men do less than they ought, unless they do all that they can.
Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly in the distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.
There are but two ways of paying a debt; increase of industry in raising income, or increase of thrift in laying out.
Eternity looks grander and kinder if time grows meaner and more hostile.
Experience takes dreadfully high school-wages, but he teaches like no other.
Fame is no sure test of merit, but only a probability of such, it is an accident, not a property of man.
The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none.
Midas longed for gold.—He got it, so that whatever he touched became gold, and he, with his long ears, was little the better for it.
In private life I never knew any one interfere with other people's disputes but that he heartily repented of it.
It seems to me a great truth, that human things cannot stand on selfishness, mechanical utilities, economics, and law courts; that if there be not a religious element in the relations of men, such relations are miserable, and doomed to ruin.
Great men are the commissioned guides of mankind, who rule their fellows because they are wiser.
Habit is the deepest law of human nature.
He who has battled with poverty and hard toil will be found stronger and more expert than he who could stay at home from the battle, concealed among the provision wagons, or unwatchfulty abiding by the stuff.
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.
Biography is the only true history.
History is the first distinct product of man's spiritual nature, his earliest expression of what can be called thought.
Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure there is one rascal less in the world.
Man is, properly speaking, based upon hope; he has no other possession but hope; this world of his is emphatically the place of hope.
True humor springs not more from the head than from the heart.—It is not contempt; its essence is love.—It issues not in laughter, but in still smiles, which lie far deeper.
In idleness there is perpetual despair.
It is not a lucky word, this same "impossible"; no good comes of those who have it so often in their mouth.
There is but one thing without honor, smitten with eternal barrenness, inability to do or to be,—insincerity, unbelief. He who believes no thing, who believes only the shows of things, is not in relation with nature and fact at all.
Not one false man but does unaccountable mischief.
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.
The eye of the intellect sees in all objects what it brought with it the means of seeing.
Foolish men imagine that because judgment for an evil thing is delayed, there is no justice, but only accident here below. Judgment for an evil thing is many times delayed some day or two, some century or two, but it is sure a life, it is sure as death!
Properly, there is no other knowledge but that which is got by working; the rest is yet all a hypothesis of knowledge; a thing to be argued of in schools; a hing floating in the clouds, in endless logic-vortices, till we try and fix it.
Knowledge conquered by labor becomes a possession,—a property entirely our own. A greater vividness and permanency of impression is secured, and facts thus acquired become registered in the mind in a way that mere imparted information can never produce.
Blessed is the man that has found his work.—One monster there is in the world, the idle man.
The true epic of our times is not "arms and the man," but "tools and the man," an infinitely wider kind of epic.
There is a perennial nobleness and even sacredness in work.—Were he ever so benighted and forgetful of his high calling, there is always hope in a man who actually and earnestly works.
Labor is life; from the inmost heart of the worker rises his God-given force, the sacred celestial life-essence breathed into him by Almighty God!
No man who has once heartily and wholly laughed can be altogether and irreclaimably depraved.
A laugh, to be joyous, must flow from a joyous heart, for without kindness there can be no true joy.
How much lies in laughter: the cipher key, wherewith we decipher the whole man!
The man who cannot laugh is not only fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; but his whole life is already a treason and a stratagem.
Chancery, and certain other law courts, seem nothing; yet, in fact, they are, the worst of them, something: chimneys for the deviltry and contention of men to escape by.
Alas! how many causes that can plead well for themselves in the courts of Westminster, and yet in the general court of the universe, and free soul of man, have no word to utter!
A lie should be trampled on and extinguished wherever found.—I am for fumigating the atmosphere when I suspect that falsehood, like pestilence, breathes around me.
The true university of these days is a collection of books.
One life; a little gleam of time between two eternities; no second chance for us forever more.
This little life has its duties that are great—that are alone great, and that go up to heaven and down to hell.
Our grand business in life is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.
Thy life is no idle dream, but a solemn reality; it is thine own, and it is all thou hast to front eternity with.
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.
The beaten paths of literature lead safeliest to the goal, and the talent pleases us most which submits to shine with new gracefulness through old forms.—Nor is the noblest and most peculiar mind too noble or peculiar for working by prescribed laws.
The older I grow—and I now stand on the brink of eternity—the more comes back to me that sentence in the Catechism which I learned when a child, and the fuller and deeper its meaning becomes: "What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever."
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.
He is of the earth, but his thoughts are with the stars. Mean and petty his wants and desires; yet they serve a soul exalted with grand, glorious aims,—with immortal longings,—with thoughts which sweep the heavens, and wander through eternity. A pigmy standing on the outward crest of this small planet, his far reaching spirit stretches outward to the infinite, and there alone finds rest.
Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of a man you are, for it shows me what your ideal of manhood is, and what kind of a man you long to be.
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.
The meaning of song goes deep. Who is there that, in logical words, can express the effect music has on us? A kind of inarticulate, unfathomable speech, which leads us to the edge of the infinite, and lets us for moments gaze into that!
Music is well said to be the speech of angels.
Nature is the time-vesture of God that reveals him to the wise, and hides him from the foolish.
Shakespeare says, we are creatures that look before and after; the more surprising that we do not look round a little, and see what is passing under our very eyes.
Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world.
A word spoken in season, at the right moment, is the matter of ages.
The merit of originality is not novelty, it is sincerity.—The believing man is the original man; he believes for himself, not for another.
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 changes.
Every noble work is at first impossible.
Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world.
Generations are as the days of toilsome mankind.—What the father has made, the son can make and enjoy, but he has also work of his own appointed to him.—Thus all things wax and roll onwards—arts, establishments, opinions; nothing is ever completed, but completing.
In the huge mass of evil as it rolls and swells, there is ever some good working toward deliverance and triumph.
A man with a half-volition goes backwards and forwards, and makes no way on the smoothest road; a man with a whole volition advances on the roughest, and will reach his purpose, if there be even a little wisdom in it.
The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder—a waif, a nothing, a no man. Have a purpose in life, and, having it, throw such strength of mind and muscle into your work as God has given you.
Heroes have gone out, quacks have come in; the reign of quacks has not ended with the nineteenth century. The sceptre is held with a firmer grasp; the empire has a wider boundary. We are all the slaves of quackery in one shape or another. One portion of our being is always playing the successful quack to the other.
Men seldom, or rather never for a length of time, and deliberately, rebel against anything that does not deserve rebelling against.
Religion cannot pass away. The burning of a little straw may hide the stars of the sky, but the stars are there, and will reappear.
Of all acts of man repentance is the most divine.—The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.
The block of granite which is an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, becomes a steppingstone in the pathway of the strong.
All men, if they work not as in the great taskmaster's eye, will work wrong, and work unhappily for themselves and for you.
Let a man try faithfully, manfully to be right, he will daily grow more and more right. It is at the bottom of the condition on which all men have to cultivate themselves.
Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure that there ia one rascal less in the world.
Sarcasm is the language of the devil; for which reason I have long since as good as renounced it.
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.
Speech is great, but silence is greater.
This is such a serious world that we should never speak at all unless we have something to say.
Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the delights of life, which they are thenceforth to rule.
The deadliest sin were the consciousness of no sin.
Little dew-drops of celestial melody.
A wise man was he who counselled that speculation should have free course, and look fearlessly toward all the thirty-two points of the compass, whithersoever and howsoever it listed.
When I gaze into the stars, they look down upon me with pity from their serene and silent spaces, like eyes glistening with tears over the little lot of man. Thousands of generations, all as noisy as our own, have been swallowed up by time, and there remains no record of them any more. Yet Arcturus and Orion, Sirius and Pleiades, are still shining in their courses, clear and young, as when the shepherd first noted them in the plain of Shinar!
Look up, and behold the eternal fields of light that lie round about the throne of God. Had no star ever appeared in the heavens, to man there would have been no heavens; and he would have laid himself down to his last sleep, in a spirit of anguish, as upon a gloomy earth vaulted over by a material arch—solid and impervious.
A star is beautiful; it affords pleasure, not from what it is to do, or to give, but simply by being what it is. It befits the heavens; it has congruity with the mighty space in which it dwells. It has repose; no force disturbs its eternal peace. It has freedom; no obstruction lies between it and infinity.
Taste, if it mean anything but a paltry connoisseurship, must mean a general susceptibility to truth and nobleness, a sense to discern, and a heart to love and reverence all beauty, order, goodness, wheresoever, or in whatsoever forms and accompaniments, they are to be seen. This surely implies, as its chief condition, a finery-gifted mind, purified into harmony with itself, into keenness and justness of vision; above all, kindled into love and generous admiration.
A thinking man is the worst enemy the Prince of Darkness can have; every tune such an one announces himself, I doubt not there runs a shudder through the nether empire; and new emissaries are trained with new tactics to, if possible, entrap and hoodwink and handcuff him.
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.
I have always found that the honest truth of our own mind has a certain attraction for every other mind that loves truth honestly.
There is but one thing without honor, smitten with eternal barrenness, inability to do or to be, and that is unbelief. He who believes nothing, who believes only the shows of things, is not in relation with nature and fact at all.
Man's unhappiness comes of his greatness; it is because there is an infinite in him, which, with all his cunning, he cannot quite bury under the finite.
Men's hearts ought not to be set against one another, but set with one another, and all against evil only.
Knowest thou not, thou canst not move a step on this earth without finding some duty to be done, and that every man is useful to his kind, by the very fact of his existence?
The vulgarity of inanimate things requires time to get accustomed to; but living, breathing, bustling, plotting, planning, human vulgarity is a species of moral ipecacuanha enough to destroy any comfort.
The wealth of man is the number of things which he loves and blesses, which he is loved and blessed by.
The wise man is but a clever infant, spelling letters from a hieroglyphical prophetic book, the lexicon of which lies in eternity.
The man who cannot wonder, who does not habitually wonder and worship, is but a pair of spectacles behind which there is no eye.
If you do not wish a man to do a thing, you had better get him to talk about it; for the more men talk, the more likely they are to do nothing else.
All men, if they work not as in the great taskmaster's eye, will work wrong, work unhappily for themselves and you.
What greater calamity can fall upon a nation than the loss of worship.
Youth is to all the glad season of life, but often only by what it hopes, not by what it attains or escapes.