Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

“Woman is not made to be the admiration of all, but the happiness of one.”

“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.”

“But what is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint. Those who know what virtuous liberty is, cannot bear to see it disgraced by incapable heads, on account of their having high-sounding words in their mouths.”

“Our patience will achieve more than our force.”

“Never apologise for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologise for the truth.”

“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”

“He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.”

“Never despair, but if you do, work on in despair.”

“If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free. If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.”

“No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.”

“There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men.”

“It is a general popular error to imagine the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.”

“Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust as a feeble government.”

“People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.”

“As the rose-tree is composed of the sweetest flowers and the sharpest thorns, as the heavens are sometimes overcast—alternately tempestuous and serene—so is the life of man intermingled with hopes and fears, with joys and sorrows, with pleasure and pain.”

“The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered.”

“There is a boundary to men’s passions when they act from feelings; but none when they are under the influence of imagination.”

“Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites…in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

“I have not yet lost a feeling of wonder, and of delight, that the delicate motion should reside in all the things around us, revealing itself only to him who looks for it.”

“They never will love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.”

“It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.”

“Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist.”

“Liberty does not exist in the absence of morality.”

“A kind Providence has placed in our breasts a hatred of the unjust and cruel, in order that we may preserve ourselves from cruelty and injustice. They who bear cruelty, are accomplices in it. The pretended gentleness which excludes that charitable rancour, produces an indifference which is half an approbation. They never will love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.”

“Kings will be tyrants by policy when subjects are rebels from principle.”

“The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.”

“We set ourselves to bite the hand that feeds us”

“A representative owes not just his industry but his judgement”

“Wise men will apply their remedies to vices, not to names; to the causes of evil which are permanent, not to occasional organs by which they act, and the transitory modes in which they appear.”

“The nature of things is, I admit, a sturdy adversary.”

“Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.”

“For there is in mankind an unfortunate propensity to make themselves, their views and their works, the measure of excellence in every thing whatsoever”

“You will smile here at the consistency of those democratists who, when they are not on their guard, treat the humbler part of the community with the greatest contempt, whilst, at the same time they pretend to make them the depositories of all power.”

“Difficulty is a severe instructor, set over us by the supreme ordinance of a parental guardian and legislator, who knows us better than we know ourselves, as he loves us better too. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.”

“To give freedom is still more easy. It is not necessary to guide; it only requires to let go the rein. But to form a free government; that is, to temper together these opposite elements of liberty and restraint in one work, requires much thought, deep reflection, a sagacious, powerful, and combining mind.”

“It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.”

“Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstances, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.”

“Ambition can creep as well as soar.”

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