Reference > Quotations > C.N. Douglas, comp. > Forty Thousand Quotations > Category Index
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C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
 
Biography
 
  There is properly no history, only biography.
Emerson.    
  1
  Biography is the best form of history.
H. W. Shaw.    
  2
  Some one calls biography the home aspect of history.
Beecher.    
  3
  A true delineation of the smallest man is capable of interesting the greatest man.
Carlyle.    
  4
  One anecdote of a man is worth a volume of biography.
Channing.    
  5
  A life that is worth writing at all is worth writing minutely.
Longfellow.    
  6
  To be ignorant of the lives of the most celebrated men of antiquity is to continue in a state of childhood all our days.
Plutarch.    
  7
  The great lesson of biography is to show what man can be and do at his best. A noble life put fairly on record acts like an inspiration to others.
Samuel Smiles.    
  8
  The cabinets of the sick and the closets of the dead have been ransacked to publish private letters and divulge to all mankind the most secret sentiments of friendship.
Pope.    
  9
  Our Grub-street biographers watch the death of a great man like so many undertakers on purpose to make a penny of him.
Addison.    
  10
  Occasionally a single anecdote opens a character: biography has its comparative anatomy, and a saying or a sentiment enables the skilful hand to construct the skeleton.
Willmott.    
  11
  The lives of great men cannot be writ with any tolerable degree of elegance or exactness within a short time after their decease.
Addison.    
  12
  My advice is to consult the lives of other men as we would a looking-glass, and from thence fetch examples for our own imitation.
Terence.    
  13
  Rich as we are in biography, a well-written life is almost as rare as a well-spent one; and there are certainly many more men whose history deserves to be recorded than persons willing and able to record it.
Carlyle.    
  14
  Of all the species of literary composition, perhaps biography is the most delightful. The attention concentrated on one individual gives a unity to the materials of which it is composed, which is wanting in general history.
Robert Hall.    
  15
  I should dread to disfigure the beautiful ideal of the memories of illustrious persons with incongruous features, and to sully the imaginative purity of classical works with gross and trivial recollections.
Wordsworth.    
  16
  History can be formed from permanent monuments and records; but lives can only be written from personal knowledge, which is growing every day less, and in a short time is lost forever.
Dr. Johnson.    
  17
  Biographies of great, but especially of good men are most instructive and useful as helps, guides, and incentives to others. Some of the best are almost equivalent to gospels,—teaching high living, high thinking, and energetic action, for their own and the world’s good.
Samuel Smiles.    
  18
  Biography, especially the biography of the great and good, who have risen by their own exertions from poverty and obscurity to eminence and usefulness, is an inspiring and ennobling study. Its direct tendency is to reproduce the excellence it records.
Horace Mann.    
  19
  The parallel circumstances and kindred images to which we readily conform our minds are, above all other writings, to be found in the lives of particular persons, and therefore no species of writing seems more worthy of cultivation than biography.
Dr. Johnson.    
  20
 
 
  As in the case of painters, who have undertaken to give us a beautiful and graceful figure, which may have some slight blemishes, we do not wish them to pass over such blemishes altogether, nor yet to mark them too prominently. The one would spoil the beauty, and the other destroy the likeness of the picture.
Plutarch.    
  21
  The business of the biographer is often to pass slightly over those performances and incidents which produce vulgar greatness, to lead the thoughts into domestic privacies, and display the minute details of daily life, where exterior appendages are cast aside, and men excel each other only by prudence and virtue.
Dr. Johnson.    
  22
  Of all studies, the most delightful and the most useful is biography. The seeds of great events lie near the surface; historians delve too deep for them. No history was ever true. Lives I have read which, if they were not, had the appearance, the interest, and the utility of truth.
Landor.    
  23
  Much that is published as a novel is only anonymous biography. Many a man who is a bore in conversation may have qualities which give indescribable charms to narrative; and the egotist, if he only have the art to conceal his identity, can then hold the reader by the powerful grasp of sympathy.
R. S. Mackenzie.    
  24
  As it often happens that the best men are but little known, and consequently cannot extend the usefulness of their examples a great way, the biographer is of great utility, as, by communicating such valuable patterns to the world, he may perhaps do a more extensive service to mankind than the person whose life originally afforded the pattern.
Fielding.    
  25
 
 
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