QUOTATION: The three great elements of modern civilization, gunpowder, printing, and the Protestant religion.
ATTRIBUTION: Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish essayist, historian. The State of German Literature, Critical and Miscellaneous Essays (1839-1857).
Carlyle was alluding to an earlier observation by Francis Bacon: "Printing, gunpowder, and the magnet … these three have changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world." (Novum Organum, bk. 1, aph. 129, 1620).