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- My highest ambition, and what I hope to do as far as I can, is to make my history the very reverse of Gibbon in this respect,—that whereas the whole spirit of his work, from its low morality, is hostile to religion, without speaking directly against it, so my greatest desire would be, in my History, by its high morals and its general tone, to be of use to the cause, without actually bringing it forward.
- Statement (1826) on his History of Rome, quoted in A. P. Stanley, The Life and Correspondence and Thomas Arnold (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910), p. 192
- My object will be, if possible, to form Christian men, for Christian boys I can scarcely hope to make.
- Letter accepting appointment as headmaster of Rugby; in Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
- Real knowledge, like every thing else of the highest value, is not to be obtained easily. It must be worked for, — studied for, — thought for, — and, more than all, it must be prayed for.
- Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895). p. 364.
- As of rioting, the old Roman way of dealing with that is always the right one; flog the rank and file, and fling the ring-leaders from the Tarpeian rock.
- Quoted by Matthew Arnold, Cornhill Magazine, August 1868
- The distinction between Christianity and all other systems of religion consists largely in this, that in these other, men are found seeking after God, while Christianity is God seeking after man.
- Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 133.
- [In many cases] there is no doubt that the shrine of a Muslim saint marks the site of some local cult which was practised on the spot long before the introduction of Islam.
- Quoted in P.M. Currie, The Shrine and Cult of Mu‘in al-Dîn Chishtî of Ajmer, OUP, 1989 p. 74-87 and quoted in Ram Swarup, Hindu View of Christianity and Islam (1992)