Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > Lord Thomas Macaulay Quotes

Lord Thomas Macaulay
(25 Oct 1800 - 28 Dec 1859)

English politician and historian whose popular History of England appeared in five volumes (1849-1861).

Science Quotes by Lord Thomas Macaulay (7 quotes)

Archimedes was not free from the prevailing notion that geometry was degraded by being employed to produce anything useful. It was with difficulty that he was induced to stoop from speculation to practice. He was half ashamed of those inventions which were the wonder of hostile nations, and always spoke of them slightingly as mere amusements, as trifles in which a mathematician might be suffered to relax his mind after intense application to the higher parts of his science.
— Lord Thomas Macaulay
In Lord Bacon', Edinburgh Review (Jul 1887), in Critical and Miscellaneous Essays (1879), Vol. 1, 395.
Science quotes on:  |  Amusement (33)  |  Application (242)  |  Archimedes (55)  |  Ashamed (3)  |  Being (1278)  |  Degrade (8)  |  Difficulty (196)  |  Employ (113)  |  Free (232)  |  Geometry (255)  |  Higher (37)  |  Hostile (8)  |  Induce (22)  |  Intense (20)  |  Invention (369)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Mathematicians and Anecdotes (141)  |  Mere (84)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Nation (193)  |  Notion (113)  |  Part (222)  |  Practice (204)  |  Prevailing (3)  |  Produce (104)  |  Relax (2)  |  Science (3879)  |  Slight (31)  |  Speak (232)  |  Speculation (126)  |  Stoop (3)  |  Suffer (41)  |  Trifle (15)  |  Useful (250)  |  Wonder (236)

Ask a follower of Bacon what [science] the new philosophy, as it was called in the time of Charles the Second, has effected for mankind, and his answer is ready; “It has lengthened life; it has mitigated pain; it has extinguished diseases; it has increased the fertility of the soil; it has given new securities to the mariner; it has furnished new arms to the warrior; it has spanned great rivers and estuaries with bridges of form unknown to our fathers; it has guided the thunderbolt innocuously from heaven to earth; it has lighted up the night with the splendour of the day; it has extended the range of the human vision; it has multiplied the power of the human muscles; it has accelerated motion; it has annihilated distance; it has facilitated intercourse, correspondence, all friendly offices, all dispatch of business; it has enabled man to descend to the depths of the sea, to soar into the air, to penetrate securely into the noxious recesses of the earth, to traverse the land in cars which whirl along without horses, to cross the ocean in ships which run ten knots an hour against the wind. These are but a part of its fruits, and of its first-fruits; for it is a philosophy which never rests, which has never attained, which is never perfect. Its law is progress. A point which yesterday was invisible is its goal to-day, and will be its starting-point to-morrow.”
— Lord Thomas Macaulay
From essay (Jul 1837) on 'Francis Bacon' in Edinburgh Review. In Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay and Lady Trevelyan (ed.) The Works of Lord Macaulay Complete (1871), Vol. 6, 222.
Science quotes on:  |  Acceleration (12)  |  Aeronautics (14)  |  Against (332)  |  Agriculture (68)  |  Air (347)  |  All (4108)  |  Answer (366)  |  Arm (81)  |  Arms (37)  |  Ask (411)  |  Attain (125)  |  Attainment (47)  |  Automobile (22)  |  Sir Francis Bacon (184)  |  Benefit (114)  |  Bridge (47)  |  Bridge Engineering (8)  |  Business (149)  |  Call (769)  |  Car (71)  |  Cave (15)  |  Correspondence (23)  |  Depth (94)  |  Descend (47)  |  Disease (328)  |  Distance (161)  |  Earth (996)  |  Effect (393)  |  Electricity (159)  |  Engineering (175)  |  Estuary (3)  |  Exploration (134)  |  Extend (128)  |  Father (110)  |  Fertility (19)  |  First (1283)  |  Form (959)  |  Fruit (102)  |  Furnish (96)  |  Goal (145)  |  Great (1574)  |  Heaven (258)  |  Horse (74)  |  Hour (186)  |  Human (1468)  |  Invisibility (5)  |  Invisible (63)  |  Knot (11)  |  Law (894)  |  Life (1795)  |  Light (607)  |  Lighting (5)  |  Machine (257)  |  Man (2251)  |  Mankind (339)  |  Mariner (11)  |  Medicine (378)  |  Mining (18)  |  Motion (310)  |  Muscle (45)  |  Never (1087)  |  New (1216)  |  Noxious (6)  |  Ocean (202)  |  Oceanography (17)  |  Office (71)  |  Pain (136)  |  Penetrate (67)  |  Perfect (216)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Point (580)  |  Power (746)  |  Progress (465)  |  Range (99)  |  Rest (280)  |  River (119)  |  Run (174)  |  Science (3879)  |  Sea (308)  |  Ship (62)  |  Soar (23)  |  Soil (86)  |  Splendour (8)  |  Steam Engine (45)  |  Strength (126)  |  Telegraph (38)  |  Thunderbolt (7)  |  Time (1877)  |  Today (314)  |  Tomorrow (60)  |  Unknown (182)  |  Vision (123)  |  Warrior (6)  |  Whirl (8)  |  Will (2355)  |  Wind (128)  |  Yesterday (36)

If Bacon erred here [in valuing mathematics only for its uses], we must acknowledge that we greatly prefer his error to the opposite error of Plato. We have no patience with a philosophy which, like those Roman matrons who swallowed abortives in order to preserve their shapes, takes pains to be barren for fear of being homely.
— Lord Thomas Macaulay
In 'Lord Bacon', Edinburgh Review (Jul 1837). Collected in Critical and Miscellaneous Essays: Contributed to the Edinburgh Review (1857), Vol. 1, 396.
Science quotes on:  |  Abortive (2)  |  Acknowledge (33)  |  Sir Francis Bacon (184)  |  Barren (30)  |  Being (1278)  |  Error (321)  |  Fear (197)  |  Homely (2)  |  Mathematicians and Anecdotes (141)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Must (1526)  |  Opposite (104)  |  Order (632)  |  Pain (136)  |  Patience (56)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Plato (76)  |  Preserve (83)  |  Roman (36)  |  Shape (72)  |  Swallow (29)  |  Use (766)  |  Value (365)

It is curious to observe how differently these great men [Plato and Bacon] estimated the value of every kind of knowledge. Take Arithmetic for example. Plato, after speaking slightly of the convenience of being able to reckon and compute in the ordinary transactions of life, passes to what he considers as a far more important advantage. The study of the properties of numbers, he tells us, habituates the mind to the contemplation of pure truth, and raises us above the material universe. He would have his disciples apply themselves to this study, not that they may be able to buy or sell, not that they may qualify themselves to be shop-keepers or travelling merchants, but that they may learn to withdraw their minds from the ever-shifting spectacle of this visible and tangible world, and to fix them on the immutable essences of things.
Bacon, on the other hand, valued this branch of knowledge only on account of its uses with reference to that visible and tangible world which Plato so much despised. He speaks with scorn of the mystical arithmetic of the later Platonists, and laments the propensity of mankind to employ, on mere matters of curiosity, powers the whole exertion of which is required for purposes of solid advantage. He advises arithmeticians to leave these trifles, and employ themselves in framing convenient expressions which may be of use in physical researches.
— Lord Thomas Macaulay
In 'Lord Bacon', Edinburgh Review (Jul 1837). Collected in Critical and Miscellaneous Essays: Contributed to the Edinburgh Review (1857), Vol. 1, 394.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (192)  |  Advantage (134)  |  Advise (7)  |  Apply (160)  |  Arithmetic (136)  |  Arithmetician (3)  |  Bacon (4)  |  Being (1278)  |  Branch (150)  |  Buy (20)  |  Compute (18)  |  Consider (416)  |  Contemplation (73)  |  Convenience (50)  |  Curiosity (128)  |  Curious (91)  |  Despise (13)  |  Different (577)  |  Disciple (7)  |  Employ (113)  |  Essence (82)  |  Estimate (57)  |  Estimates of Mathematics (30)  |  Example (94)  |  Exertion (15)  |  Expression (175)  |  Fix (25)  |  Frame (26)  |  Great (1574)  |  Habituate (3)  |  Immutable (22)  |  Important (209)  |  Kind (557)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Lament (11)  |  Late (118)  |  Learn (629)  |  Leave (130)  |  Life (1795)  |  Mankind (339)  |  Material (353)  |  Matter (798)  |  Merchant (6)  |  Mere (84)  |  Mind (1338)  |  More (2559)  |  Mystical (9)  |  Number (699)  |  Observe (168)  |  On The Other Hand (34)  |  Ordinary (160)  |  Other (2236)  |  Pass (238)  |  Physical (508)  |  Plato (76)  |  Platonist (2)  |  Power (746)  |  Propensity (9)  |  Property (168)  |  Pure (291)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Raise (35)  |  Reckon (31)  |  Reference (33)  |  Require (219)  |  Required (108)  |  Research (664)  |  Scorn (12)  |  Sell (15)  |  Shifting (5)  |  Solid (116)  |  Speak (232)  |  Speaking (119)  |  Spectacle (33)  |  Study (653)  |  Tangible (15)  |  Tell (340)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Transaction (13)  |  Travel (114)  |  Travelling (17)  |  Trifle (15)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Universe (857)  |  Use (766)  |  Value (365)  |  Visible (84)  |  Whole (738)  |  Withdraw (9)  |  World (1774)

It is not, indeed, strange that the Greeks and Romans should not have carried ... any ... experimental science, so far as it has been carried in our time; for the experimental sciences are generally in a state of progression. They were better understood in the seventeenth century than in the sixteenth, and in the eighteenth century than in the seventeenth. But this constant improvement, this natural growth of knowledge, will not altogether account for the immense superiority of the modern writers. The difference is a difference not in degree, but of kind. It is not merely that new principles have been discovered, but that new faculties seem to be exerted. It is not that at one time the human intellect should have made but small progress, and at another time have advanced far; but that at one time it should have been stationary, and at another time constantly proceeding. In taste and imagination, in the graces of style, in the arts of persuasion, in the magnificence of public works, the ancients were at least our equals. They reasoned as justly as ourselves on subjects which required pure demonstration.
— Lord Thomas Macaulay
History (May 1828). In Samuel Austin Allibone, Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay (1880), 36.
Science quotes on:  |  16th Century (3)  |  17th Century (16)  |  18th Century (21)  |  Account (192)  |  Ancient (189)  |  Art (657)  |  Better (486)  |  Century (310)  |  Constant (144)  |  Degree (276)  |  Demonstration (113)  |  Difference (337)  |  Discover (553)  |  Discovery (780)  |  Exert (39)  |  Experimental (192)  |  Faculty (72)  |  Grace (31)  |  Greek (107)  |  Growth (187)  |  History (673)  |  Human (1468)  |  Human Intellect (31)  |  Imagination (328)  |  Immense (86)  |  Improvement (108)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Intellect (233)  |  Kind (557)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Magnificence (13)  |  Merely (316)  |  Modern (385)  |  Natural (796)  |  New (1216)  |  Ourselves (245)  |  Persuasion (8)  |  Principle (507)  |  Proceeding (39)  |  Progress (465)  |  Progression (23)  |  Pure (291)  |  Reason (744)  |  Required (108)  |  Roman (36)  |  Science (3879)  |  Science And Art (184)  |  Small (477)  |  State (491)  |  Stationary (10)  |  Strange (157)  |  Subject (521)  |  Superiority (19)  |  Taste (90)  |  Time (1877)  |  Understood (156)  |  Will (2355)  |  Work (1351)  |  Writer (86)

The opinion of Bacon on this subject [geometry] was diametrically opposed to that of the ancient philosophers. He valued geometry chiefly, if not solely, on account of those uses, which to Plato appeared so base. And it is remarkable that the longer Bacon lived the stronger this feeling became. When in 1605 he wrote the two books on the Advancement of Learning, he dwelt on the advantages which mankind derived from mixed mathematics; but he at the same time admitted that the beneficial effect produced by mathematical study on the intellect, though a collateral advantage, was “no less worthy than that which was principal and intended.” But it is evident that his views underwent a change. When near twenty years later, he published the De Augmentis, which is the Treatise on the Advancement of Learning, greatly expanded and carefully corrected, he made important alterations in the part which related to mathematics. He condemned with severity the pretensions of the mathematicians, “delidas et faslum mathematicorum.” Assuming the well-being of the human race to be the end of knowledge, he pronounced that mathematical science could claim no higher rank than that of an appendage or an auxiliary to other sciences. Mathematical science, he says, is the handmaid of natural philosophy; she ought to demean herself as such; and he declares that he cannot conceive by what ill chance it has happened that she presumes to claim precedence over her mistress.
— Lord Thomas Macaulay
In 'Lord Bacon', Edinburgh Review (Jul 1837). Collected in Critical and Miscellaneous Essays: Contributed to the Edinburgh Review (1857), Vol. 1, 395.
Science quotes on:  |  Account (192)  |  Admit (45)  |  Advancement (62)  |  Advantage (134)  |  Alteration (30)  |  Ancient (189)  |  Appear (118)  |  Appendage (2)  |  Assume (38)  |  Auxiliary (11)  |  Bacon (4)  |  Base (117)  |  Become (815)  |  Being (1278)  |  Beneficial (13)  |  Book (392)  |  Carefully (65)  |  Chance (239)  |  Change (593)  |  Chiefly (47)  |  Claim (146)  |  Collateral (4)  |  Conceive (98)  |  Condemn (44)  |  Correct (86)  |  De (3)  |  Declare (45)  |  Derive (65)  |  Diametrically (6)  |  Dwell (15)  |  Effect (393)  |  End (590)  |  Evident (91)  |  Expand (53)  |  Feel (367)  |  Feeling (250)  |  Geometry (255)  |  Greatly (12)  |  Handmaid (6)  |  Happen (274)  |  Happened (88)  |  High (362)  |  Human (1468)  |  Human Race (100)  |  Important (209)  |  Intellect (233)  |  Intend (16)  |  It Is Evident (5)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Late (118)  |  Learn (629)  |  Learning (274)  |  Less (103)  |  Live (628)  |  Long (790)  |  Mankind (339)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Mathematicians and Anecdotes (141)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Mistress (7)  |  Mix (19)  |  Natural (796)  |  Natural Philosophy (52)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Oppose (24)  |  Other (2236)  |  Part (222)  |  Philosopher (258)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Plato (76)  |  Precedence (4)  |  Presume (9)  |  Pretension (6)  |  Principal (63)  |  Produce (104)  |  Produced (187)  |  Pronounce (10)  |  Publish (36)  |  Race (268)  |  Rank (67)  |  Relate (21)  |  Remarkable (48)  |  Same (157)  |  Say (984)  |  Science (3879)  |  Severity (6)  |  Solely (9)  |  Strong (174)  |  Stronger (36)  |  Study (653)  |  Subject (521)  |  Time (1877)  |  Treatise (44)  |  Two (937)  |  Undergo (14)  |  Use (766)  |  Value (365)  |  View (488)  |  Well-Being (5)  |  Worthy (34)  |  Write (230)  |  Year (933)

[I can] scarcely write upon mathematics or mathematicians. Oh for words to express my abomination of the science.
Lamenting mathematics whilst an undergraduate at Cambridge, 1818.
— Lord Thomas Macaulay
Quoted in John Gascoigne, Cambridge in the Age of Enlightenment (1989), 272.
Science quotes on:  |  Abomination (2)  |  Express (186)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Scarcely (74)  |  Science (3879)  |  Undergraduate (15)  |  Word (619)  |  Write (230)



Quotes by others about Lord Thomas Macaulay (1)

Macaulay somewhere says, that it is extraordinary that, whereas the laws of the motions of the heavenly bodies, far removed as they are from us, are perfectly well understood, the laws of the human mind, which are under our observation all day and every day, are no better understood than they were two thousand years ago.
In Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not (1859), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Better (486)  |  Extraordinary (79)  |  Heavens (125)  |  Human (1468)  |  Human Mind (128)  |  Law (894)  |  Law Of Motion (14)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Motion (310)  |  Observation (555)  |  Say (984)  |  Thousand (331)  |  Two (937)  |  Understanding (513)  |  Understood (156)  |  Year (933)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
Quotations by: • Albert Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: • Atomic  Bomb • Biology • Chemistry • Deforestation • Engineering • Anatomy • Astronomy • Bacteria • Biochemistry • Botany • Conservation • Dinosaur • Environment • Fractal • Genetics • Geology • History of Science • Invention • Jupiter • Knowledge • Love • Mathematics • Measurement • Medicine • Natural Resource • Organic Chemistry • Physics • Physician • Quantum Theory • Research • Science and Art • Teacher • Technology • Universe • Volcano • Virus • Wind Power • Women Scientists • X-Rays • Youth • Zoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.