Witney Museum & Historical Society
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Page last updated: February 19th 2012
Page first published: February 19th 2012
Quotes on history
"I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is
the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging of the future
but by the past."
Attributed to both Edward Gibbon (1737 - 1794) and Patrick Henry
(1736 - 1799).
"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
“We learn from history that we do not learn from history”
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
...but then again:
"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history."
George Bernard Shaw
"An account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which
are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly
"History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is
who we are and why we are the way we are."
David C. McCullough
"Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the
present controls the past."
"History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It's been
around a long time."
"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."
"We can be almost certain of being wrong about the future, if
we are wrong about the past."
C. K. Chesterton
"History is the only laboratory we have in which to test the
consequences of thought."
"History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going
downstairs and wooden shoes coming up."
"Who does not know that the first law of historical writing is the
"History" is a Greek word which means, literally, just
"History is not history unless it is the truth."
"History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to
be surprised yet again."
"Nothing endures but change."
"History, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in.
I read it a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not
either vex or weary me.
The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in
every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any
women at all---it is very tiresome."
Catherine Morland [Jane Austen]. 1803. Northanger Abbey.
Illustration from G. F Rodwell's book:
“South by East: Notes of Travel in Southern Europe” (1877)
Image from wikimedia