William Edward Hartpole Lecky

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All mankind loves a lover.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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William Edward Hartpole Lecky (26 March 1838 – 22 October 1903) Irish historian.


A History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne (1869)

  • Under these circumstances, there has arisen in society a figure which is certainly the most mournful, and in some respects the most awful, upon which the eye of the moralist can dwell. That unhappy being whose very name is a shame to speak; who counterfeits with a cold heart the transports of affection, and submits herself as the passive instrument of lust; who is scorned and insulted as the vilest of her sex, and doomed, for the most part, to disease and abject wretchedness and an early death, appears in every age as the perpetual symbol of the degradation and sinfulness of man. Herself the supreme type of vice, she is ultimately the most efficient guardian of virtue. But for her, the unchallenged purity of countless happy homes would be polluted, and not a few who, in the pride of their untempted chastity, think of her with an indignant shudder, would have known the agony of remorse and of despair. On that one degraded and ignoble form are concentrated the passions that might have filled the world with shame. She remains, while creeds and civilisations rise and fall, the eternal priestess of humanity, blasted for the sins of the people.
    • Chapter 5 (3rd edition pages 282-283).
    • Referring to the figure of the prostitute.


  • Whence has come thy lasting power.
    • On an old Song. Reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • The stately ship is seen no more,
    The fragile skiff attains the shore;
    And while the great and wise decay,
    And all their trophies pass away,
    Some sudden thought, some careless rhyme,
    Still floats above the wrecks of Time.
    • On an old Song. Reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

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