Mandell Creighton

English historian and clergyman (1843–1901); bishop of the Church of England from 1897 to 1901

Mandell Creighton (5 July 1843 – 14 January 1901) was an English historian and a prelate of the Church of England.

Mandell Creighton


  • I turn to the past to learn its story without any preconceived opinion what that story may be. I do not assume that one period or one line of study is more instructive than another, but I am ready to recognise the real identity of man's aspiration at all times. Some episodes in history are regarded as profoundly modern; others are dismissed contemptuously as concerned with trifles. In some ages there are great heroes, in others the actors are sunk in indolence and sloth. For my own part I do not recognise this great distinction.
  • The tolerant man has decided opinions, but recognises the process by which he reaches them, and keeps before himself the truth that they can only be profitably spread by repeating in the case of others a similar process to that through which he passed himself. He always keeps in view the hope of spreading his own opinions, but he endeavours to do so by producing conviction. He is virtuous, not because he puts his own opinions out of sight, nor because he thinks that other opinions are as good as his own, but because his opinions are so real to him that he would not anyone else hold them with less reality
  • Few men, I imagine, who become great started on their career with the intention of becoming so. The intention generally accompanies the unsuccessful. The secret of real greatness seems to be a happy knack of doing things as they come in your way; and they rarely present themselves in the form which careful preparation would enable you to deal with.
    • Heroes, address given to the Social and Political Education League (4 November 1898)
  • I do not wish to command so much as to persuade. I wish to induce people to see themselves as others see them, to regard what they are doing in reference to its far-off effects on the consciences of others, to cultivate a truer sense of proportion of things, to deal more with ideas than with the clothing of ideas; to pay more attention to the reason of a thing than to its antiquity; to remember that the chief danger that besets those who are pursuing a high object is to confuse means with ends; to examine themselves very fully, lest they confuse Christian zeal with the desire to have their own way.
    • Lecture at the Diocesan Conference (April 1899)
  • [A good teacher] brings knowledge and his pupil into a vital relationship; and the object of teaching is to establish that relationship on an intelligible basis. This can only be done ... by appealing to two qualities which are at the bottom of all knowledge, curiosity and observation. They are born with us, every child naturally develops them, and it is the duty of the teacher to direct them to proper ends.
    • Thoughts on Education: Speeches and Sermons (1902)
  • No people do so much harm as those who go about doing good.

Quotes about Creighton

  • ... As for his scepticism, it was of a discriminating kind: it had its limits. It was the scepticism of a man endowed with a strong historic sense, unwilling to dogmatise, who shrank instinctively from defining the undefinable.
    • "Mandell Creighton". The Quarterly Review 193: 584–622. April 1901 (quote on p. 590)
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