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Henry Giles (November 1, 1809 - July 10, 1882) was a Unitarian minister and writer.

Born in County Wexford to a Roman Catholic family, Giles changed his religious belief several times, becoming a Protestant and a Dissenter,[1] He studied for a time at the Royal Academical Institution of Belfast.[1] before finally becoming a Unitarian and officiating as a minister of that denomination in Greenock, Scotland and chapel of Toxteth Park, in the edge of Liverpool, England.[1][2]

It was during his three years preaching in Liverpool that Giles gained a reputation as a preacher of marked oratorical power.[1] In "the Liverpool Controversy,"— an extended debate held in 1839 between thirteen clergymen of the Established Church on one hand, and Giles, along with James Martineau and John Hamilton Thom defending the Unitarian position on the other hand.[1] A record of the debate was published under the name Unitarianism Defended.[1]

In 1840, Giles moved to the United States, where he preached, lectured extensively, and wrote.[2] He was widely known as a lecturer,[3] and his numerous volumes of literary interpretation and criticism were well-received, particularly his Human Life in Shakespeare.[3] Other works included Lectures and Essays (2 vols. 1845), Christian Thoughts on Life (1850), and Illustrations of Genius in Some of its Applications to Society and Culture. He was married in 1849, in Bangor, Maine, to Louise Lord, of Bucksport, with whom he had two daughters, and a son.[1] One daughter, Nora, was drown off Bucksport, Maine in 1869, at the age of 18, in a sailing accident.[4]

Giles was plagued by a variety of health issues. He had a hunchbacked, dwarfish stature which he claimed resulted from a nurse having let him fall as an infant, injuring his spine.[1] Throughout his life, he struggled with alcoholism; although he initially found strong drink distasteful, he became acclimated to liquor when it was prescribed to him to counter an illness.[1] His public life came to an abrupt halt around 1865, when he suffered a sudden paralytic attack while lecturing in Boston.[1] He lived for seventeen years thereafter, and died in Quincy, Massachusetts.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j A. Judson Rich, "Henry Giles" in Joseph Henry Allen, ed., The Unitarian review (1891), p. 276-285.
  2. ^ a b c Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (1904), p. 1280.
  3. ^ a b George Willis Cooke, Unitarianism in America: A History of Its Origin and Development (1902), p. 420.
  4. ^ New York Times, July 7, 1869, p, 1

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Henry Giles (1 November 1809 -10 July 1882) was a Unitarian minister and writer.


Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • When illusions are over, when the distractions of sense, the vagaries of fancy, and the tumults of passion have dissolved even before the body is cold, which once they so thronged and agitated, the soul merges into intellect, intellect into conscience, conscience into the unbroken, awful solitude of its own personal accountability; and though the inhabitants of the universe were within the spirit's ken, this personal accountability is as strictly alone and unshared, as if no being were throughout immensity but the spirit and its God.
    • P. 2.
  • The Psalms are an everlasting manual to the soul; the book of its immortal wishes, its troubles, its aspirations, and its hopes; sung in every tongue, and in every age; destined to endure while the universe of God has light, harmony, or grandeur, while man has religion or sensibility, while language has sublimity or sweetness.
    • P. 33.
  • Enough of good there is in the lowest estate to sweeten life; enough of evil in the highest to check presumption; enough there is of both in all estates, to bind us in compassionate brotherhood, to teach us impressively that we are of one dying and one immortal family.
    • P. 41.
  • The materials of the first temple were made ready in solitude. Those of the last also must be shaped in retirement; in the silence of the heart; in the quietness of home; in the practice of unostentatious duty.
    • P. 45
  • Why should not our solemn duties, and our hastening end, render us so united, that personal contention would be impossible, in a general sympathy quickened by the breath of a forbearing and pitying charity?
    • P. 47.
  • The path which leads to the mount bf ascension does not lie among flowers; and he who travels it must climb the cold hillside, he must have his feet cut by the pointed rocks, he must faint in the dark valley, he must not seldom have his rest at midnight on the desert sand.
    • P. 107.
  • Bearing bravely the evils that beset us, doing cheerfully the duties that are near, trusting in God, guided by Christ, fear shall not confound us in the way, and death shall find us ready.
    • P. 118.
  • We are not to wait to be in preparing to be. We are not to wait to do in preparing to do, but to find in being and doing preparation for higher being and doing.
    • P. 121.
  • It awes by the majesty of its truths, it agitates by the force of its compunctions, it penetrates the heart by the tenderness of its appeals, and it casts over the abyss of thought, the shadow of its eternal grandeur.
    • P. 140.
  • The spirit of contempt is the true spirit of Antichrist; for no other is more directly opposed to Christ.
    • P. 160.
  • We cannot rekindle the morning beams of childhood; we cannot recall the noontide glory of youth; we cannot bring back the perfect day of maturity; we cannot fix the evening rays of age in the shadowy horizon; but we can cherish that goodness which is the sweetness of childhood, the joy of youth, the strength of maturity, the honor of old age, and the bliss of saints.
    • P. 287.
  • Happiness is not the end of duty, it is a constituent of it. It is in it and of it; not an equivalent, but an element.
    • P. 297.
  • Not until right is founded upon reverence, will it be secure; not until duty is based upon love, will it be complete; not until liberty is based on eternal principles, will it be full, equal, lofty, and universal.
    • P. 378.
  • O, we all long for the day, the blessed day, when freedom shall at least be co-extensive with Christendom; when a slave political or domestic, shall not tread on an atom upon which the cross of Calvary has cast its shadow; when the baptism of the crucified shall be on every brow, the seal of a heavenly sonship; when the fire of a new Pentecost shall melt asunder, by its divine heat of charity, the bond which wrong or prejudice has fastened; when, to touch any spot over the wide sweep of God's Christianized earth, any spot which the gospel of the Saviour has ever visited, which the name of the Saviour has ever sanctified, shall be, in itself, the spell of a complete deliverance, the magic of a perfect franchise.
    • P. 379.

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