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Thomas de Quincey Quotes

An English author and intellectual, best known for his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821).
(1785 - 1859)

Call for the grandest of all earthly spectacles, what is that? It is the sun going to his rest.

Cows are amongst the gentlest of breathing creatures; none show more passionate tenderness to their young when deprived of them; and, in short, I am not ashamed to profess a deep love for these quiet creatures.

Even imperfection itself may have its ideal or perfect state.

Far better, and more cheerfully, I could dispense with some part of the downright necessaries of life, than with certain circumstances of elegance and propriety in the daily habits of using them.

I cannot think that any man could ever tower upward into a very great philosopher unless he should begin or end with Christianity. - A great man may, by a rare possibility, be an infidel. - An intellect of the highest order must build on Christianity.

If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.

In many walks of life, a conscience is a more expensive encumbrance than a wife or a carriage.

It was a Sunday afternoon, wet and cheerless; and a duller spectacle this earth of ours has not to show than a rainy Sunday in London.

Many a man has risen to eminence under the powerful reaction of his mind against the scorn of the unworthy, daily evoked by his personal defects, who, with a handsome person, would have sunk into the luxury of a careless life under the tranquilizing smiles of continual admiration.

Much has been accomplished; more than people are aware - so gradual has been the advance. How noiseless is the growth of corn! Watch it night and day for a week, and you will never see it growing; but return after two months, and you will find it all whitening for the harvest. Such, and so imperceptible in the stages of their motion are the victories of the press.

Nobody will laugh long who deals much with opium: its pleasures even are of a grave and solemn complexion.

Reserve is the truest expression of respect toward those who are its objects.

Solitude, though it may be silent as light, is like light, the mightiest of agencies; for solitude is essential to man. All men come into this world alone and leave it alone.

Tea, though ridiculed by those who are naturally coarse in their nervous sensibilities will always be the favorite beverage of the intellectual.

That memory is the book of judgment, from some opium experiences of mine, I can believe. I have, indeed, seen the same thing asserted in modern books, and accompanied by a remark which I am convinced is true, namely: that the dread book of account, which the Scriptures speak of is, in fact, the mind itself of each individual. Of this, at least, I feel assured - that there is no such thing as forgetting, possible to the mind; a thousand accidents may and will interpose a veil between our present consciousness and the secret inscriptions on the mind; accidents of the same sort will also rend away this veil; but whether veiled or unveiled, the inscription remains forever; just as the stars seem to withdraw before the common light of day; whereas, in fact, we all know that it is the light which is drawn over them as a veil, and that they are waiting to be revealed, when the obscuring daylight shall have withdrawn.

The laughter of girls is, and ever was, among the delightful sounds of earth.

The public is a bad guesser.

There, is first, the literature of knowledge; and, secondly, the literature of power. The function of the first is, to teach; of the second is, to move; the first is a rudder, the second an oar or a sail. The first speaks to the mere discursive understanding; the second speaks ultimately to the higher understanding or reason, but always through affections of pleasure and sympathy.

Though a great man may, by a rare possibility, be an infidel, yet an intellect of the highest order must build upon Christianity.