Quotes

 On this page you can find quotes about history and a few other things.
Happy reading!

April 2018

The months and days are the travellers of eternity. The years that come and go are also voyagers.
— Matsuo Basho

The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows. One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. How much longer must we play at deadly war games before we heed the plaintive pleas of the unnumbered dead and maimed of past wars?
— Martin Luther King Jr.

March 2018

I am afflicted with the power of thought, which is a heavy curse. The less a person thinks and inquires regarding the why and the wherefore and the justice of things, when dragging along through life, the happier it is for him, and doubly, trebly so, for her.
— Miles Franklin

The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.
— Alfred North Whitehead

Women ought to have representatives, instead of being arbitrarily governed without any direct share allowed them in the deliberations of government.
— Mary Wollstonecraft

Happiness, whether in business or private life, leaves very little trace in history.
— Fernand Braudel

Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.
— Joan Wallach Scott

Everything that explains the world has in fact explained a world that does not exist, a world in which men are at the centre of the human enterprise and women are at the margin ‘helping’ them. Such a world does not exist — never has.
— Gerda Lerner

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
― Charles Dickens

Justice and judgement lie often a world apart.
— Emmeline Pankhurst

I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the “obsolete” hand-loom weaver, the “utopian” artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity. Their crafts and traditions may have been dying. Their hostility to the new industrialism may have been backward-looking. Their communitarian ideals may have been fantasies. Their insurrectionary conspiracies may have been foolhardy. But they lived through these times of acute social disturbance, and we did not. Their aspirations were valid in terms of their own experience; and if they were casualties of history, they remain, condemned in their own lives, as casualties.
― E.P. Thompson

February 2018

If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.
― Ernest Hemingway

The law of unintended consequences is the only real law of history.
— Niall Ferguson

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
― William Shakespeare

This is what really happened, reported by a free press to a free people. It is the raw material of history; it is the story of our own times.
— Henry Steel Commager

To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love
― Jane Austen

History is a conversation and sometimes a shouting match between present and past, though often the voices we most want to hear are barely audible.
— Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

January 2018

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
—Edmund Burke

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.
— Vera Brittain

If one could make alive again for other people some cobwebbed skein of old dead intrigues and breathe breath and character into dead names and stiff portraits. That is history to me!
— G. M. Trevelyan

Well-behaved women seldom make history.
― Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

We are not makers of history. We are made by history.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every new generation must rewrite history in its own way.
— Robin G. Collingwood

Now, dear friend, remember this is a voice from the tomb…we have been nearly nine years in this living tomb…it is impossible for mind or body to withstand the continual strain…one or the other must give away.
— James Wilson

December 2017

Our memory is like that burning scrap of paper. We use it to light up the past. First of all our own, and then we ask old people to tell us what they remember. After that we look for letters written by people who are already dead. And in this way we light our way back.
— E.H Gombrich

If a book is well written, I always find it too short.
― Jane Austen

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.
― Italo Calvino

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
— Winston Churchill

After love, book collecting is the most exhilarating sport of all.
— A S W Rosenbach

In writing history I find that one must first amass the clay, the raw material of reality, building up the rough form, gathering much more than one can eventually keep. Then begins the careful paring away, the sculpting and moulding, the tweaking out of detail. The final reality emerges, and one could believe that it was always there, trapped in the clay, awaiting discovery and release.
— Tom Griffiths

The writer’s object should be to hold the reader’s attention. I want the reader to turn the page and keep on turning until the end. This is accomplished only when the narrative moves steadily ahead, not when it comes to a weary standstill, overloaded with every item uncovered in the research.
― Barbara W. Tuchman

November 2017

As a historian, there have been many times when I have longed to be present where and when events happen, but once I had arrived in, say, Kabul, I discovered the same thing as many other people in the same situations: to be right in the middle of things is no guarantee of being able to understand them. You are stuck in a confusing, chaotic and noisy reality and the chances are that the editorial office on the other side of the planet often has a better idea of what is going on than you do — just as a historian, paradoxically enough, often has a better understanding of an event than those who were actually involved in it. You become aware that distance is frequently the ingredient that makes understanding possible. But distance exacts a price: perhaps inevitably, much of the direct experience is lost.
— Peter Englund

Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change (as the poet said), windows on the world and lighthouses erected in the sea of time. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.
— Barbara W. Tuchman

October 2017

Come sail your ships around me
And burn your bridges down
We make a little history, baby
Every time you come around
— Nick Cave

There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy
— William Shakespeare

September 2017

And the Anzac legends didn’t mention mud and blood and tears,
and stories that my father told me never seemed quite real
I caught some pieces in my back that I didn’t even feel…
God help me, I was only nineteen.
— John Schumann

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting
— Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, Emily Robison, and Dan Wilson

Can’t see nothin’ in front of me
Can’t see nothin’ coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I’ve gone
How far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed
On my back’s a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile line.
— Bruce Springsteen

GEORGE: Wow, Keith Hernandez. He’s such a great player.
JERRY: Yeah, he’s a real smart guy too. He’s a Civil War buff.
GEORGE: I’d love to be a Civil War buff. … What do you have to do to be a buff
JERRY: So Biff wants to be a buff? … Well sleeping less than 18 hours a day
would be a start.
—writers, Larry David and Larry Levin

A lie told often enough becomes the truth.
— Vladimir Lenin

To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.
— Cicero

August 2017

The rose soon drupes & dies. The brier fades away. But my fond heart for you I love shall never go astray.
—Thomas Alsop [had words engraved on 1833 love token]

May the rose of England never bud. The thistle of Scotland never grow. The harp of Ireland never play. Till I poor convict gain my liberty.
—Anonymous

When this, you see remember me, and, bare, me in, your mind let, all, the, world say, what they, will speak of me, as, you find
— Anonymous

July 2017

The most enduring reminders of the first people are made of the stone — freed from the bedrock and raised towards the sky; used as canvases for works of art; piled high as houses of the living and of the dead; scorched and cracked by home fires of long ago; chipped and polished as tools.
— Neil Oliver

Revision is the lifeblood of historical scholarship. History is a continuing dialogue between the present and the past. Interpretations of the past are subject to change in response to new evidence, new questions asked of the evidence, new perspectives gained by the passage of time. There is no single, eternal, and immutable “truth” about past events and their meaning. The unending quest of historians for understanding the past—that is, “revisionism”—is what makes history vital and meaningful.
— James McPherson

White Australia has a Black history.
— Author unknown

Well they were standin’ on the shore one day
Saw the white sails in the sun
Wasn’t long before they felt the sting
White man, white law, white gun
Don’t tell me that it’s justified
Cause somewhere someone lied
Yeah, well someone lied
Someone lied
Genocide
Well someone lied oh
— Shane Howard

Imagine if ours was the oldest culture in the world and we were told that it was worthless. Imagine if we had resisted this settlement, suffered and died in the defence of our land, and then were told in history books that we had given up without a fight. Imagine if non-Aboriginal Australians had served their country in peace and war and were then ignored in history books. Imagine if our feats on sporting fields had inspired admiration and patriotism and yet did nothing to diminish prejudice. Imagine if our spiritual life was denied and ridiculed. Imagine if we had suffered the injustice and then were blamed for it. It seems to me that if we can imagine the injustice we can imagine its opposite. And we can have justice.
— Paul Keating

Let no-one say the past is dead, the past is all about us and within.
— Oodgeroo Noonuccal

May 2017

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.
— Karl Marx

April 2017

I ….. swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lord the King in the Australian Imperial Force from ….. until the end of the War, and a further period of four months thereafter unless sooner lawfully discharged, dismissed, or removed therefrom; and that I will resist His Majesty’s enemies and cause His Majesty’s peace to be kept and maintained; and that I will in all matters appertaining to my service, faithfully discharge my duty according to law. So help me God.
— Australian Imperial Force, Oath of enlistment

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
— Laurence Binyon

March 2017

There never was a good war or a bad peace.
— Benjamin Franklin

For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.
— Virginia Woolf


Before 2017

You can’t get at the truth by writing history; only the novelist can do that.
— Gerald Brenan

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.
— John Lennon

I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention.
(Catherine Morland on History in Northanger Abbey)
— Jane Austen

Give your child two lasting things. One is roots, the other wings.
— Anonymous


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