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Thomas Babington Macaulay Quotes


Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay PC was a British poet, historian and Whig politician.
(1800 - 1859)

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A good constitution is infinitely better than the best despot.
 

A great writer is the friend and benefactor of his readers.
 

A page digested is better than a volume hurriedly read.
[Reading]
 

A single breaker may recede; but the tide is evidently coming in.
 

A tact which surpassed the tact of her sex as much as the tact of her sex surpasses the tact of ours.
[Tact]
 

Alas for human nature, that the wounds of vanity should smart and bleed so much longer than the wounds of affection!
[Vanity]
 

An acre in Middlesex is better than a principality in Utopia.
 

And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods?
 

As civilization advances, poetry almost necessarily declines.
 

As in every human character so in every transaction there is a mixture of good and evil: a little exaggeration, a little suppression, a judicious use of epithets, a watchful and searching skepticism with respect to the evidence on one side, a convenient credulity with respect to every report or tradition on the other, may easily make a saint of Laud, or a tyrant of Henry the Fourth.
[History]
 

Both in individuals, and in masses, violent excitement is always followed by remission, and often by reaction. We are all inclined to depreciate what we have over-praised, and, on the other hand, to show undue indulgence where we have shown undue rigor.
 

By poetry we mean the art of employing words in such a manner as to produce an illusion on the imagination; the art of doing by means of words, what the painter does by means of colors.
[Poetry]
 

Charles V. said that a man who knew four languages was worth four men; and Alexander the Great so valued learning, that he used to say he was more indebted to Aristotle for giving him knowledge, than to his father Philip for giving him life.
[Knowledge]
 

Children, look in those eyes, listen to that dear voice, notice the feeling of even a single touch that is bestowed upon you by that gentle hand! Make much of it while yet you have that most precious of all good gifts, a loving mother. Read the unfathomable love of those eyes; the kind anxiety of that tone and look, however slight your pain. In after life you may have friends, fond, dear friends, but never will you have again the inexpressible love and gentleness lavished upon you, which none but a mother bestows.
[Mother]
 

Every age and nation has certain characteristic vices, which prevail almost universally, which scarcely any person scruples to avow, and which even rigid moralists but faintly censure. Succeeding generations change the fashion of their morals with the fashion of their hats and their coaches; take some other kind of wickedness under their patronage, and wonder at the depravity of their ancestors.
[Vice]
 

Every generation enjoys the use of a vast hoard bequeathed to it by antiquity, and transmits that hoard, augmented by fresh acquisitions, to future ages.
[Knowledge]
 

Few of the many wise apothegms which have been uttered from the time of the seven sages of Greece to that of poor Richard, have prevented a single foolish action.
 

Great minds react on the society which has made them what they are; but they only pay with interest what they have received.
[Intellect]
 

He alone reads history aright, who, observing how powerfully circumstances influence the feelings and opinions of men, how often vices pass into virtues, and paradoxes into axioms, learns to distinguish what is accidental and transitory in human nature from what is essential and immutable.
[History]
 

He had a wonderful talent for packing thought close, and rendering it portable.
 


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