Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)

“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”

“My early and invincible love of reading — I would not exchange for the treasures of India.”

“The five marks of the Roman decaying culture:

Concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth;
Obsession with sex and perversions of sex;
Art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original;
Widening disparity between very rich and very poor;
Increased demand to live off the state.”

“We improve ourselves by victory over our self. There must be contests, and you must win.”

“All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance.”

“Corruption, the most infallible symptom of constitutional liberty.”

“Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book. ”

“The policy of the emperors and the senate, as far as it concerned religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of the enlightened, and by the habits of the superstitious, part of their subjects. The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord.”

“Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius.”

“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.”

“The theologian may indulge the pleasing task of describing religion as she descended from heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.”

“Books are those faithful mirrors that reflect to our mind the minds of sages and heroes.”

“The end comes when we no longer talk with ourselves. It is the end of genuine thinking and the beginning of the final loneliness”

“I make it a point never to argue with people for whose opinion I have no respect.”

“To an active mind, indolence is more painful than labor.”

“Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive.”

“The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.”

“As long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters.”

“Active valour may often be the present of nature; but such patient diligence can be the fruit only of habit and discipline.”

“The value of money has been settled by general consent to express our wants and our property, as letters were invented to express our ideas; and both these institutions, by giving a more active energy to the powers and passions of human nature, have contributed to multiply the objects they were designed to represent.”

“The most worthless of mankind are not afraid to condemn in others the same disorders which they allow in themselves; and can readily discover some nice difference in age, character, or station, to justify the partial distinction.”

“War, in its fairest form, implies a perpetual violation of humanity and justice.”

“… but I must reluctantly observe that two causes, the abbreviation of time, and the failure of hope, will always tinge with a browner shade the evening of life.”

“The ascent to greatness, however steep and dangerous, may entertain an active spirit with the consciousness and exercise of its own power: but the possession of a throne could never yet afford a lasting satisfaction to an ambitious mind.”

“Where error is irreparable, repentance is useless.”

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