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Quotes of the day: G.M. Trevelyan

Published Sunday, February 16, 2014 @ 3:37 AM EST
Feb 16 2014

George Macaulay Trevelyan, (February 16, 1876 – July 21,1962), as a British historian. Trevelyan was the third son of Sir George Otto Trevelyan, 2nd Baronet, and great-nephew of Thomas Babington Macaulay, whose staunch liberal Whig principles he espoused in accessible works of literate narrative avoiding a consciously dispassionate analysis, that became old-fashioned during his long and productive career. The noted historian E.H. Carr considered Trevelyan to be one of the last historians of the Whig tradition. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Education... has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.

Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.

Socrates gave no diplomas or degrees, and would have subjected any disciple who demanded one to a disconcerting catechism on the nature of true knowledge.

An historical event cannot be isolated from its circumstances, any more than the onion from its skins, because an event is itself nothing but a set of circumstances, none of which will ever recur.

Social history might be defined negatively as the history of a people with the politics left out.

Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the life blood of real civilization.

We are the children of the earth and removed from her our spirit withers.

Anger is a momentary madness, so control your passion or it will control you.

Every true history must force us to remember that the past was once as real as the present and as uncertain as the future.

History repeats itself and history never repeats itself are about equally true. We never know enough about the infinitely complex circumstances of any past event to prophesy the future by analogy.

I have two doctors, my left leg and my right. After a day's walking, everything has twice its usual value.

The poetry of history lies in the quasi-miraculous fact that once, on this earth, once, on this familiar spot of ground, walked other men and women, as actual as we are today, thinking their own thoughts, swayed by their own passions, but now all gone, one generation vanishing into another, gone as utterly as we ourselves shall shortly be gone, like ghosts at cockcrow.

You cannot so completely isolate any historical event from its circumstances as to be able to deduce from it a law of general application. Only politicians adorning their speeches with historical arguments have this power; and even they never agree.

One half who graduate from college never read another book.

Never tell a young person that anything cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.

A little man often casts a long shadow.

The best job goes to the person who can get it done without passing the buck or coming back with excuses.

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!

Categories: G.M. Trevelyan, Quotes of the day


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