C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


History teaches everything, even the future.


All history is a lie!

Sir Robert Walpole.

There is a history in all men’s lives.


History is but the unrolled scroll of prophecy.

James A. Garfield.

What is history but a fable agreed upon?

Napoleon I.

Truth is liable to be left-handed in history.

Dumas, Père.

Sin writes history; goodness is silent.


To study history is to study literature.


History is the complement of poetry.

Sir J. Stephen.

Biography is the only true history.


All history was at first oral.

Dr. Johnson.

Her ample page rich with the spoils of time.


The mystery of history is an insoluble problem.

Henry Ward Beecher.

History is a pageant and not a philosopher.

Augustine Birrell.

History is only a confused heap of facts.

Lord Chesterfield.

History is the revelation of Providence.


History itself is nothing more than legend and romance.

Thomas Wright.

History is clarified experience.


History is, after all, the crystallization of popular beliefs.

Donn Piatt.

History ought to be guided by strict truth; and worthy actions require nothing more.

Pliny the Younger.

History is neither more nor less than biography on a large scale.


History shows that the majority of men who have done anything great have passed their youth in seclusion.


History, which is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.


That which history can give us best is the enthusiasm which it raises in our hearts.


The Grecian history is a poem, Latin history a picture, modern history a chronicle.


History casts its shadow far into the land of song.


History, in whatever way it may be executed, is a great source of pleasure.

Pliny the Younger.

History is little else than a picture of human crimes and misfortunes.


Anything but history, for history must be false.

Horace Walpole.

They who live in history only seemed to walk the earth again.


History is the essence of innumerable biographies.


History is only time furnished with dates and rich with events.


History is the depository of great actions, the witness of what is past, the example and instructor of the present, and monitor to the future.


History makes us some amends for the shortness of life.


The historian is a prophet looking backwards.


History hath triumphed over Time, which besides it, nothing but Eternity hath triumphed over.

Sir Walter Raleigh.

History is but a kind of Newgate calendar, a register of the crimes and miseries that man has inflicted on his fellow-man.

Washington Irving.

History is a mighty drama, enacted upon the theatre of time, with suns for lamps and eternity for a background.


A Grecian history, perfectly written should be a complete record of the rise and progress of poetry, philosophy, and the arts.


The impartiality of history is not that of the mirror, which merely reflects objects, but of the judge, who sees, listens, and decides.


Providence conceals itself in the details of human affairs, but becomes unveiled in the generalities of history.


History is the witness of the times, the torch of truth, the life of memory, the teacher of life, the messenger of antiquity.


History needs distance, perspective. Facts and events which are too well attested cease, in some sort, to be malleable.


A cultivated reader of history is domesticated in all families; he dines with Pericles, and sups with Titian.


There is no history worthy of attention but that of a free people; the history of a people subjected to despotism is only a collection of anecdotes.


History is constantly repeating itself, making only such changes of programme as the growth of nations and centuries requires.


History, as it lies at the root of all science, is also the first distinct product of man’s spiritual nature; his earliest expression of what can be called thought.


Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to continue always a child. If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.


It is when the hour of the conflict is over that history comes to a right understanding of the strife, and is ready to exclaim, “Lo, God is here, and we knew Him not!”


History, like religion, unites all learning and power, especially ancient history; that is, the history of the nations of the youthful world—Grecian and Roman, Jewish and early Christian.


There is nothing that solidifies and strengthens a nation like reading of the nation’s own history, whether that history is recorded in books, or embodied in customs, institutions, and monuments.

Joseph Anderson.

What is public history but a register of the successes and disappointments, the vices, the follies, and the quarrels, of those who engage in contention for power?


At the bottom there is no perfect history; there is none such conceivable. All past centuries have rotted down, and gone confusedly dumb and quiet.


Each generation gathers together the imperishable children of the past, and increases them by new sons of light, alike radiant with immortality.


History maketh a young man to be old, without either wrinkles or grey hairs, privileging him with the experience of age, without either the infirmities or inconveniences thereof.


The history of the past is a mere puppet-show. A little man comes out and blows a little trumpet, and goes in again. You look for something new, and lo! another little man comes out, and blows another little trumpet, and goes in again. And it is all over.


The student is to read history actively and not passively; to esteem his own life the text, and books the commentary. Thus compelled, the muse of history will utter oracles as never to those who do not respect themselves.


Truth comes to us from the past, as gold is washed down from the mountains of Sierra Nevada, in minute but precious particles, and intermixed with infinite alloy, the debris of the centuries.


In a word, we may gather out of history a policy no less wise than eternal; by the comparison and application of other men’s forepassed miseries with our own like errors and ill deservings.

Sir Walter Raleigh.

We must consider how very little history there is—I mean real, authentic history. That certain kings reigned and certain battles were fought, we can depend upon as true; but all the coloring, all the philosophy, of history is conjecture.

Dr. Johnson.

Facts are the mere dross of history. It is from the abstract truth which interpenetrates them, and lies latent among them, like gold in the ore, that the mass derives its whole value; and the precious particles are generally combined with the baser in such a manner that the separation is a task of the utmost difficulty.


Geologists complain that when they want specimens of the common rocks of a country, they receive curious spars; just so, historians give us the extraordinary events and omit just what we want,—the every-day life of each particular time and country.


History is a great painter, with the world for canvas, and life for a figure. It exhibits man in his pride, and nature in her magnificence,—Jerusalem bleeding under the Roman, or Lisbon vanishing in flame and earthquake. History must be splendid. Bacon called it the pomp of business. Its march is in high places, and along the pinnacles and points of great affairs.


History presents the pleasantest features of poetry and fiction, the majesty of the epic, the moving accidents of the drama, the surprises and moral of the romance. Wallace is a ruder Hector; Robinson Crusoe is not stranger that Crœsus; the Knights of Ashby never burnish the page of Scott with richer lights of lance and armor than the Carthaginians, winding down the Alps, cast upon Livy.


The world’s history is a divine poem of which the history of every nation is a canto and every man a word. Its strains have been pealing along down the centuries, and though there have been mingled the discords of warring cannon and dying men, yet to the Christian philosopher and historian—the humble listener—there has been a divine melody running through the song which speaks of hope and halcyon days to come.

James A. Garfield.