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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

Thomas Carlyle 1795-1881 John Bartlett

      Except by name, Jean Paul Friedrich Richter is little known out of Germany. The only thing connected with him, we think, that has reached this country is his saying,—imported by Madame de Staël, and thankfully pocketed by most newspaper critics,—“Providence has given to the French the empire of the land; to the English that of the sea; to the Germans that of—the air!”
          Richter. Edinburgh Review, 1827.
      He who would write heroic poems should make his whole life a heroic poem.
          Life of Schiller.
      Literary men are … a perpetual priesthood.
          Richter. State of German Literature. (1827.)
      I came hither [Craigenputtoch] solely with the design to simplify my way of life and to secure the independence through which I could be enabled to remain true to myself.
          Letter to Goethe, 1828.
      Clever men are good, but they are not the best.
          Goethe. Edinburgh Review, 1828.
      We are firm believers in the maxim that for all right judgment of any man or thing it is useful, nay, essential, to see his good qualities before pronouncing on his bad.
          Goethe. Edinburgh Review, 1828.
      How does the poet speak to men with power, but by being still more a man than they?
          Burns. Edinburgh Review, 1828.
      A poet without love were a physical and metaphysical impossibility.
          Burns. Edinburgh Review, 1828.
      His religion at best is an anxious wish,—like that of Rabelais, a great Perhaps. 1 
          Burns. Edinburgh Review, 1828.
    We have oftener than once endeavoured to attach some meaning to that aphorism, vulgarly imputed to Shaftesbury, which however we can find nowhere in his works, that “ridicule is the test of truth.” 2 
          Voltaire. Foreign Review, 1829.
      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.
          Sir Walter Scott. London and Westminster Review, 1838.
      Silence is deep as Eternity, speech is shallow as Time.
          Sir Walter Scott. London and Westminster Review, 1838.
      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. 3 
          Sir Walter Scott. London and Westminster Review, 1838.
      Blessed is the healthy nature; it is the coherent, sweetly co-operative, not incoherent, self-distracting, self-destructive one!
          Sir Walter Scott. London and Westminster Review, 1838.
      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.
          Sir Walter Scott. London and Westminster Review, 1838.
      Literature is the Thought of thinking Souls.
          Sir Walter Scott. London and Westminster Review, 1838.
      It can be said of him, when he departed he took a Man’s life with him. No sounder piece of British manhood was put together in that eighteenth century of Time.
          Sir Walter Scott. London and Westminster Review, 1838.
      The eye of the intellect “sees in all objects what it brought with it the means of seeing.”
          Varnhagen von Ense’s Memoirs. Ibid.
      Love is ever the beginning of Knowledge as fire is of light.
          Essays. Death of Goethe.
      Music is well said to be the speech of angels.
          Essays. The Opera.
      A mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one.
          Essays. Goethe’s Works.
      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.
          Essays. Goethe’s Works.
      He that works and does some Poem, not he that merely says one, is worthy of the name of Poet.
          Introduction to Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches.
      The Public is an old woman. Let her maunder and mumble.
          Journal. (1835).
      It is now almost my sole rule of life to clear myself of cants and formulas, as of poisonous Nessus shirts.
          Letter to his Wife. 1835.
      There is endless merit in a man’s knowing when to have done.
          Francia. 1845.
      History is the essence of innumerable biographies.
          On History.
      The barrenest of all mortals is the sentimentalist.
      A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.
          Article on Biography.
      Even in the meanest sorts of Labor, the whole soul of a man is composed into a kind of real harmony the instant he sets himself to work.
          Past and Present.
      Every noble crown is, and on earth will forever be, a crown of thorns.
          Past and Present.
      Respectable Professors of the Dismal Science. 4 
          Latter Day Pamphlet, No. 1. (1850.)
      A healthy hatred of scoundrels.
          Latter Day Pamphlet, No. 12. (1850.)
      Nature admits no lie.
          Latter Day Pamphlet, No. 5. (1850.)
      A Parliament speaking through reporters to Buncombe and the twenty-seven millions, mostly fools.
          Latter Day Pamphlet, No. 6. (1850.)
      The fine arts once divorcing themselves from truth are quite certain to fall mad, if they do not die.
          Latter Day Pamphlet, No. 8. (1850.)
      Genius … means the transcendent capacity of taking trouble. 5 
          Life of Frederick the Great. Book iv. Chap. iii.
      Happy the people whose annals are blank in history-books. 6 
          Life of Frederick the Great. Book xvi. Chap. i.
      He who first shortened the labor of Copyists by device of Movable Types was disbanding hired Armies and cashiering most Kings and Senates and creating a whole new Democratic world: he had invented the Art of printing.
          Sartor Resartus. Book i. Chap. v.
      What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite.
          Sartor Resartus. Book ii. Chap. i.
      Alas the fearful Unbelief is unbelief in yourself.
          Sartor Resartus. Book ii. Chap. vii.
      As the Swiss inscription says: Sprechen ist silbern, Schweigen ist golden,—“Speech is silvern, Silence is golden;” or, as I might rather express it, Speech is of Time, Silence is of Eternity.
          Sartor Resartus. Book iii. Chap. iii.
      In books lies the soul of the whole Past Time: the articulate audible voice of the Past, when the body and material substance of it has altogether vanished like a dream.
          Heroes and Hero-Worship. The Hero as a Man of Letters.
      The true University of these days is a Collection of Books.
          Heroes and Hero-Worship. The Hero as a Man of Letters.
      One life,—a little gleam of time between two Eternities.
          Heroes and Hero-Worship. The Hero as a Man of Letters.
      Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity there are a hundred that will stand adversity.
          Heroes and Hero-Worship. The Hero as a Man of Letters.
      The Press is the Fourth Estate of the realm.
          Heroes and Hero-Worship. The Hero as a Man of Letters.
      The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. 1
          The Hero as a Prophet.
    My whinstone house my castle is;
    I have my own four walls.
          My own four Walls.
    The unspeakable Turk.
          In public letter, 1877.
      Lord Bacon could as easily have created the planets as he could have written Hamlet.
          Remark in discussion.
      Can there be a more horrible object in existence than an eloquent man not speaking the truth?
          Address as Lord Rector of Edinburgh University, 1866.
Note 1.
Browning: Bishop Bloughram’s Apology, “The grand perhaps.” [back]
Note 2.
How comes it to pass, then, that we appear such cowards in reasoning, and are so afraid to stand the test of ridicule?—Shaftesbury: Characteristics. A Letter concerning Enthusiasm, sect. 2.
  Truth, ’t is supposed, may bear all lights; and one of those principal lights or natural mediums by which things are to be viewed in order to a thorough recognition is ridicule itself.—Shaftesbury: Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour, sect. 1.
  ’T was the saying of an ancient sage (Gorgias Leontinus, apud Aristotle’s “Rhetoric,” lib. iii. c. 18), that humour was the only test of gravity, and gravity of humour. For a subject which would not bear raillery was suspicious; and a jest which would not bear a serious examination was certainly false wit.—Ibid. sect. 5. [back]
Note 3.
Carlyle in his essay on Mirabeau, 1837, quotes this from a “New England book.” [back]
Note 4.
Referring to Political Economy and Social Science, Carlyle also in his Essay on “The Nigger Question” (1849) speaks of “What we might call, by way of Eminence, the Dismal Science.” [back]
Note 5.
Buffon says:—“La génie n’est autre chose qu’une grande aptitude à la patience. (Genius is nothing else than a great aptitude for patience).” There is also a popular proverb: “Genius is patience.” See also Disraeli, p. 627: “Patience is a necessary ingredient of genius.” See Leslie Stephen: “Genius is a capacity for taking trouble.” Jan Walæus also says: “Genius is an intuitive talent for labor.” [back]
Note 6.
Montesquieu: Aphorism. [back]