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THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY
English author, historian, statesman and poet
(1800 - 1859)
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We deplore the outrages which accompany revolutions. But the more violent the outrages, the more assured we feel that a revolution was necessary.
      - [Revolution]

We do not think it necessary to prove that a quack medicine is poison; let the vender prove it to be sanative.
      - [Quacks]

We must judge of a form of government by it's general tendency, not by happy accidents.
      - [Government]

We must succumb to the general influence of the times. No man can be of the tenth century, if he would; be must be a man of the nineteenth century.
      - [Ingratitude]

We never could clearly understand how it is that egotism, so unpopular in conversation, should be so popular in writing.
      - [Egotism]

What proposition is there respecting human nature which is absolutely and universally true? We know of only one,--and that is not only true, but identical,--that men always act from self-interest.
      - [Humanity]

What society wants is a new motive, not a new cant.
      - [Motive]

When the great Kepler bad at length discovered the harmonic laws that regulate the motions of the heavenly bodies, he exclaimed: "Whether my discoveries will be read by posterity or by my contemporaries is a matter that concerns them more than me. I may well be contented to wait one century for a reader, when God Himself, during so many thousand years, has waited for an observer like myself."
      - [Genius]

In truth it may be laid down as an almost universal rule that good poets are bad critics.
      - Criticisms on the Principal Italian Writers--Dante
        [Criticism]

Parent of sweetest sounds, yet mute forever.
      - Enigma (last line),
        "Cut off my head, etc." [Sound]

Cut off my head, and singular I am,
  Cut off my tail, and plural I appear;
    Although my middle's left, there's nothing there!
      What is my head cut off? A sounding sea;
        What is my tail cut off? A rushing river;
          And in their mingling depths I fearless play,
            Parent of sweetest sounds, yet mute forever.
      - Enigma--On the Codfish [Fish]

The object of oratory alone is not truth, but persuasion.
      - Essay on Athenian Orators [Oratory]

Everybody's business is nobody's business.
      - Essay on Hallam's Constit. History
        [Business : Proverbs]

The English doctrine that all power is a trust for the public good.
      - Essay on Horace Walpole [Public Trust]

Men of great conversational powers almost universally practise a sort of lively sophistry and exaggeration which deceives for the moment both themselves and their auditors.
      - Essay--On the Athenian Orators
        [Conversation]

The hearts of men are their books; events are their tutors; great actions are their eloquence.
      - Essays--Conversation Touching the Great Civil War
        [Man]

A system in which the two great commandments were, to hate your neighbour and to love your neighbour's wife.
      - Essays--Moore's Life of Lord Byron
        [Society]

The merit of poetry, in its wildest forms, still consists in its truth--truth conveyed to the understanding, not directly by the words, but circuitously by means of imaginative associations, which serve as its conductors.
      - Essays--On the Athenian Orators [Poetry]

We hardly know of any instance of the strength and weakness of human nature so striking and so grotesque as the character of this haughty, vigilant, resolute, sagacious blue-stocking, half Mithridates and half Trissotin, bearing up against a world in arms, with an ounce of poison in one pocket and a quire of bad verses in the other.
      - Frederick the Great [Character]

Thus our democracy was from an early period the most aristocratic, and our aristocracy the most democratic.
      - History (vol. I, p. 20) [Democracy]

I shall cheerfully bear the reproach of having descended below the dignity of history.
      - History of England (vol. I, ch. I)
        [History]

The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
      - History of England (vol. I, ch. II)
        [Cruelty : Religion]

There were gentlemen and there were seamen in the navy of Charles the Second. But the seamen were not gentlemen; and the gentlemen were not seamen.
      - History of England
         (vol. I, ch. III, pt. XXXII) [Navy]

The impenetrable stupidity of Prince George (son-in-law of James II) served his turn. It was his habit, when any news was told him, to exclaim, "Est il possible?"--"Is it possible?"
      - History of England (vol. I, ch. IX)
        [Stupidity]

"Sidney Godophin," said Charles (II), "is never in the way and never out of the way."
      - History of England
         (vol. I, p. 265, Cabinet Ed.) [Service]


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