"If man is reduced to being nothing but a character in history, he has no other choice but to subside into the sound and fury of a completely irrational history or to endow history with the form of human reason."
"... every event has had its cause, and nothing, not the least wind that blows, is accident or causeless. To understand what happens now one must find the cause, which may be very long ago in its beginning, but is surely there, and therefore a knowledge of history as detailed as possible is essential if we are to comprehend the past and be prepared for the future."
"All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut."
"Neither the historian nor the cartographer can ever reproduce the reality they are trying to communicate to the reader of books or maps; they can but give a plan, a series of indications, of this reality. There are contrasting schemes for choosing from enormous numbers of geographic details. You may have a map in which every feature that can be named, every hill, brook, crossroads, is crowded in; or you may have a map in which many details are omitted in the effort to show the reader the lay of the land, the shape of the mountain systems, the relations of drainage, relief, communications, and so on. Both kinds are useful, depending on the needs of the user."
"History in the making is a very uncertain thing. It might be better to wait till the South American republic has got through with its twenty-fifth revolution before reading much about it. When it is over, some one whose business it is, will be sure to give you in a digested form all that it concerns you to know, and save you trouble, confusion, and time. If you will follow this plan, you will be surprised to find how new and fresh your interest in what you read will become."
"Acts themselves alone are history.... Tell me the acts, O historian, and leave me to reason upon them as I please; away with your reasoning and your rubbish! All that is not action is not worth reading."
"Bias, point of view, fury--are they ... so dangerous and must they be ironed out of history, the hills flattened and the contours leveled? The professors talk ... about passion and point of view in history as a Calvinist talks about sin in the bedroom."
"History is not a book, arbitrarily divided into chapters, or a drama chopped into separate acts: it has flowed forward. Rome is a continuity, called "eternal." What has accumulated in this place acts on everyone, day and night, like an extra climate."
"As a novelist, I cannot occupy myself with "characters," or at any rate central ones, who lack panache, in one or another sense, who would be incapable of a major action or a major passion, or who have not a touch of the ambiguity, the ultimate unaccountability, the enlarging mistiness of persons "in history." History, as more austerely I now know it, is not romantic. But I am."
"Positively I sit here, and look at Europe sink, first one deck disappearing, then another, and the whole ship slowly plunging bow-down into the abyss; until the nightmare gets to be howling. The Roman Empire was a trifle to it."
"Supposing the Mechanical Phase to have lasted 300 years, from 1600 to 1900, the next or Electric Phase would have a life equal to (the square root of 300), or about seventeen years and a half, when--that is, in 1917Mit would pass into another or Ethereal Phase, which, for half a century, science has been promising, and which would last only (the square root of 17.5), or about four years, and bring Thought to the limit of its possibilities in the year 1921. It may well be!"
"Measured by any standard known to science--by horse-power, calories, volts, mass in any shape,--the tension and vibration and volume and so-called progression of society were full a thousand times greater in 1900 than in 1800;Mthe force had doubled ten times over, and the speed, when measured by electrical standards as in telegraphy, approached infinity, and had annihilated both space and time. No law of material movement applied to it."