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"There will always be men who see that every man must fight out the battle between damnation and impassioned clay with his own pitiful equipment. In every generation these men will communicate to us their vision of the beauty and terror of this world. Some will write poetry: some novels: some plays: some will paint, some will compose music: and some, I believe most passionately, will write history."

MANNING CHARLES, CLARK - The Writing of History

"I take it, too, you all agree that history like poetry, music, painting, sculpture and dancing - is one of the great comforters which men have put between themselves and death - to make their living and dying more bearable."


"My purpose was to tell the story of what happened when a great civilisation was transplanted to our ancient continent. My purpose was to show how the more successful our ancestors were in planting that civilisation in the Australian wilderness, the more disastrous it was for the original tenants. My purpose was also to show how human beings responded to the decline of religious faiths which had comforted human beings for thousands of years, and to portray, as well as I could, the pilgrimage of man from the Kingdom of God to the Kingdom of Nothingness. My purpose was also to present the choice which confronts us at the moment: whether we shall drift into the role of defenders of an over-ripe society or shall join those who in their zeal to wipe a society based on moral infamy off the face of the earth, lapsed into spiritual popery, conformism and greyness of spirit, or shall build a society in which men can be both happy and wise. "

MANNING CHARLES, CLARK - Telling the Story, Boyer Lecture 1976

"Everything a historian writes should be a celebration of life. A hymn of praise to life. It should come up from inside a man who knows all about that horror of the darkness when a man returns to the dust from whence he came. Of a man who's looked into the heart of a great darkness that has seen and felt both a tenderness for everyone and yet paradoxically a melancholy, a sadness and compassion, because he realises that what matters most in life is never likely to happen."


"All faiths in Australia have been the faiths of exiles, and so suffered from a tendency to serve purposes other than those of their founder."


"It is the divided ones, the ones who thirst to believe, and who are sceptical of all belief, who believe in the perfectibility of mankind, and yet perceive that the hearts of the sons of men are filled with evil, who became the great teachers."


"This generation has a chance to be wiser than previous generations. They can make their own history. With the end of the domination by the straiteners, the enlargers of life now have their chance? It is the task of the historian and the mythmaker to tell the story of how the world came to be as it is. It is the task of the prophet to tell the story of what might be. The historian presents the choice: history is a book of wisdom for those making that choice."

MANNING CHARLES, CLARK - epilogue, A History of Australia