1800-1859, American Essayist and Historian
A church is disaffected when it is persecuted, quiet when it is tolerated, and actively loyal when it is favored and cherished.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Religion]
A few more days, and this essay will follow the Defensio Populi to the dust and silence of the upper shelf… For a month or two it will occupy a few minutes of chat in every drawing-room, and a few columns in every magazine; and it will then be withdrawn, to make room for the forthcoming novelties.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Popularity]
A good constitution is infinitely better than the best despot.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Constitutions]
A system in which the two great commandments are to hate your neighbor and to love your neighbor's wife.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Society]
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods?
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Heroes and Heroism]
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 that, than his father Philip for giving him life.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Knowledge]
Generalization is necessary to the advancement of knowledge; but particularly is indispensable to the creations of the imagination. In proportion as men know more and think more they look less at individuals and more at classes. They therefore make better theories and worse poems.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Generalizations]
He had a wonderful talent for packing thought close, and rendering it portable.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Aphorisms and Epigrams]
He was a rake among scholars, and a scholar among rakes.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Scholars and Scholarship]
History, is made up of the bad actions of extraordinary men and woman. All the most noted destroyers and deceivers of our species, all the founders of arbitrary governments and false religions have been extraordinary people; and nine tenths of the calamities that have befallen the human race had no other origin than the union of high intelligence with low desires.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [History and Historians]
In Plato's opinion, man was made for philosophy; in Bacon's opinion, philosophy was made for man.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Philosophers and Philosophy]
Language, the machine of the poet, is best fitted for his purpose in its rudest state. Nations, like individuals, first perceive, and then abstract. They advance from particular images to general terms. Hence the vocabulary of an enlightened society is philosophical, that of a half-civilized people is poetical.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Language]
Logicians may reason about abstractions. But the great mass of men must have images. The strong tendency of the multitude in all ages and nations to idolatry can be explained on no other principle.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Image]
Nothing is so galling to a people not broken in from the birth as a paternal, or in other words a meddling government, a government which tells them what to read and say and eat and drink and wear.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Government]
Perhaps no person can be a poet, or can even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Poetry and Poets]
She thoroughly understands what no other Church has ever understood, how to deal with enthusiasts.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Catholicism]
The best portraits are those in which there is a slight mixture of caricature.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Painters and Painting]
The effect of violent dislike between groups has always created an indifference to the welfare and honor of the state.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Conflict]
The English Bible — a book which, if everything else in our language should perish, would alone suffice to show the whole extent of its beauty and power.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Bible]
The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
Thomas B. Macaulay – [Character]