John Robert Seeley

British historian

Sir John Robert Seeley (10 September 1834 – 13 January 1895) was an English historian and essayist.

A portrait of Sir John Robert Seeley

Quotes edit

Ecce Homo (1866) edit

  • John the Baptist was like the Emperor Nerva. In his career it was given him to do two things—to inaugurate a new régime, and also to nominate a successor who was far greater than himself.
  • No heart is pure that is not passionate; no virtue is safe that is not enthusiastic. And such an enthusiastic virtue Christ was to introduce.
    • p. 8
  • Men in general take up scheme after scheme, as circumstances suggest one or another, and therefore most biographies are compelled to pass from one subject to another, and to enter into a multitude of minute questions, to divide the life carefully into periods by chronological landmarks accurately determined, to trace the gradual development of character and ripening or change of opinions.
  • The difficulty of determining whether a man is or is not good has now become a commonplace of moralists and satirists. It is almost impossible to discover any test which is satisfactory, and the test which is actually applied by society is known to be unsatisfactory in the extreme.
  • No man saw the building of the new Jerusalem, the workmen crowded together, the unfinished walls and unpaved streets; no man heard the clink of trowel and pickaxe; it descended out of heaven from God.
    • p. 330 (concluding sentence of book)

The Expansion of England (1883) edit

  • It is a favourite maxim of mine that history, while it should be scientific in its method, should pursue a practical object. That is, it should not merely gratify the reader's curiosity about the past, but modify his view of the present and his forecast of the future,
    • p. 1 (opening sentence of book)
  • We seem, as it were, to have conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind.
    • p. 8
  • The chief forces which hold a community together and cause it to constitute one State are three, common nationality, common religion, and common interest.
  • Property can exist only under the guardianship of the State.
  • Commerce in itself may favour peace, but when commerce is artificially shut out by a decree of Government from some promising territory, then commerce just as naturally favours war.

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