Written history is mostly war, and the surest way to be remembered is to start one.
The obscurest epoch is today.
Whiggism implies boundless optimism about the future, and, less often noted, boundless contempt for the past.
We say of posthumously venerated figures that they waited generations or centuries to receive their due. It does not occur to us that they may have deserved their earlier neglect, and that it is we who have been taken in.
High civilizations are lost not in battle but by forfeit.
The people who believe in Whig history have never read a page of it.
The philosopher, who needs to remember what he knows, forgets; and the historian, who needs to forget, remembers.
Ideologies overtly hostile to civilization are among its less fortunate byproducts.
To imagine not knowing what we know is the indispensable habit of the historian; its opposite is easier to master.
One wonders what people who oppose eugenics think history is.
The past is rarely given voice, except to pronounce in favor of present fashion.