Philosopher, mathematician, and historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) believed that to understand history, all one needed to do was study great men.
"The age of miracles is forever here," he wrote.
Carlyle was an apostle of courage and endurance who was called the "undoubted head of English letters" by his lifelong friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Born on this day in Scotland and the eldest of nine, Carlyle was the first of the Victorian "wisdom writers." His major works included The French Revolution (1837), On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1841), and The History of Frederick the Great (1858-65).
At the time, his prolific output of publications made him one of London's leading literary and intellectual figures. "A good book is the purest essence of a human soul," he said.
He was also known for his skill in mathematics. Teaching himself German, he translated Legendre's éléments de géométrie in 33 editions. "It is a mathematical fact," the gifted writer said, "that the casting of this pebble from my hand alters the center of gravity of the universe."
Historians say Carlyle was inspired by the philosophy of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and had the reputation of being critical, strong-willed, and stubborn. An advocate for the working class, Carlyle wrote with passionate idealism and celebrated the power of human life.
"The soul gives unity to what it looks at with love," he wrote.
More Thomas CARLYLE Quotations
A hero dwells within.