Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
Edmund Burke
  I don’t like that part of your letter wherein you say, “you had the testimony of well-doing in your breast.” Whenever such notions rise again, endeavour to suppress them. It is one of the subtlest stratagems the enemy of mankind uses to delude us, that, by lulling us into a false peace, his conquest may be the easier. We should always be in no other than the state of a penitent, because the most righteous of us is no better than a sinner. Pray read the parable of the pharisee and the publican who prayed in the temple.
Edmund Burke, ætat. 16, to R. Shackleton.    
  Shall I rage, fret, and accuse Providence of injustice? No: let me rather lament that I do not what is always right; what depends not on the fortuitous changes of this world, nor the blind sport of fortune, but remains unalterably fixed in the mind; untouched, though this shattered globe shall fall in pieces, and bury us in the ruins. Though I do lead a virtuous life, let it show me how I am, and of myself how weak; how far from an independent being; given as a sheep into the hands of the great Shepherd of all, on whom let us cast all our cares, for He careth for us.
Edmund Burke, ætat. 17: To R. Shackleton.    
  I would recommend Sallust, rather than Tally’s epistles; which I think are not so extremely valuable. Besides, Sallust is indisputably one of the best historians among the Romans, both for the purity of his language and elegance of his style. He has, I think, a fine, easy, and diversified narrative, mixed with reflections, moral and political, neither very trite and obvious, nor out of the way and abstract; which is, I think, the true beauty of historical observation. Neither should I pass by his beautiful painting of characters. In short, he is an author that, on all accounts, I would recommend to you. As for Terence and Plautus, what I fancy you will chiefly get by them, as to the language, is some insight into the common manner of speech used by the Romans. One excels in the justness of his pieces, the other in the humour. I think a play in each will be sufficient. I would recommend to you Tully’s orations,—excellent indeed.
Edmund Burke, ætat. 18, to R. Shackleton.    
  Pope says, all the advantage arising from the reputation of wit, is the privilege of saying foolish things unnoticed; and it really is so, as to letters, or anything committed to writing. But I don’t think it holds good with respect to conversation; for I have observed that where a man gets a reputation for being a little witty, all shun, fear, and hate him, and carp and canvas his most trifling words or actions.
Edmund Burke, ætat. 18: To R. Shackleton.    
  Indeed no man knows, when he cuts off the incitements to a virtuous ambition and the just rewards of public service, what infinite mischief he may do his country through all generations.
Edmund Burke.    
  There are some men formed with feelings so blunt, that they can hardly be said to be awake during the whole course of their lives.
Edmund Burke.    
  An appearance of delicacy, and even of fragility, is almost essential to it [beauty].
Edmund Burke.    
  That great chain of causes, which, linking one to another, even to the throne of God himself, can never be unravelled by any industry of ours.
Edmund Burke.    
  It becomes extremely hard to disentangle our idea of the cause from the effect by which we know it.
Edmund Burke.    
  That the Christian religion cannot exist in this country with such a fraternity will not, I think, be disputed with me. On that religion, according to our mode, all our laws and institutions stand, as upon their base. That scheme is supposed in every transaction of life; and if that were done away, everything else, as in France, must be changed along with it. Thus, religion perishing, and with it this Constitution, it is a matter of endless meditation what order of things would follow it.
Edmund Burke.    
  Better to be despised for too anxious apprehensions than ruined by too confident security.
Edmund Burke.    
  One who wishes to preserve consistency, but who would preserve consistency by varying his means to secure the unity of his end.
Edmund Burke.    
  Men love to hear of their power, but have an extreme disrelish to be told their duty.
Edmund Burke.    
  What is the education of the generality of the world? Reading a parcel of books? No. Restraint of discipline, emulation, examples of virtue and of justice, form the education of the world.
Edmund Burke.    
  To prove that the Americans ought not to be free, we are obliged to depreciate the value of freedom itself.
Edmund Burke.    
  Our manners, our civilization, and all the good things connected with manners, and with civilization, have, in this European world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles,… I mean the spirit of a gentleman and the spirit of religion.
Edmund Burke.    
  Obloquy is a necessary ingredient in the composition of all true glory.
Edmund Burke.    
  At some time or other, to be sure, all the beginners of dynasties were chosen by those who called them to govern.
Edmund Burke.    
  To demonstrate the eternal difference between a true and severe friend to the monarchy, and a slippery sycophant of the court.
Edmund Burke.    
  The natural effect of fidelity, clemency, kindness, in governors, is peace, good-will, order, and esteem on the part of the governed.
Edmund Burke.    
  The nobles have the monopoly of honour, the plebeians a monopoly of all the means of acquiring wealth.
Edmund Burke.    
  I own that there is a haughtiness and fierceness in human nature which will cause innumerable broils, place men in what situation you please.
Edmund Burke.    
  Oppression makes wise men mad; but the distemper is still the madness of the wise, which is better than the sobriety of fools.
Edmund Burke.    
  It has been remarked that there is no prince so bad whose favourites and ministers are not worse.
Edmund Burke.    
  Facts are to the mind the same thing as food to the body. On the due digestion of facts depend the strength and wisdom of the one, just as vigour and health depend on the other. The wisest in council, the ablest in debate, and the most agreeable companion in the commerce of human life, is that man who has assimilated to his understanding the greatest number of facts.
Edmund Burke.    
  Do they mean to invalidate, annul, or call in question that great body of our statute law? to annul laws of inestimable value to our liberties?
Edmund Burke.    
  His grants are engrafted on the public law of Europe, covered with the awful hoar of innumerable ages.
Edmund Burke.    
  The levity that is fatigued and disgusted with everything of which it is in possession.
Edmund Burke.    
  Grand, swelling sentiments of liberty I am sure I do not despise. They warm the heart, they enlarge and liberalize our minds; they animate our courage in a time of conflict.
Edmund Burke.    
  Mauger all our regulations to prevent it, the simple name of “man,” applied properly, never fails to work a salutary effect.
Edmund Burke.    
  His enthusiasm kindles as he advances; and when he arrives at his peroration it is in full blaze.
Edmund Burke.    
  Good order is the foundation of all good things.
Edmund Burke.    
  Wherever we are formed by nature to any active purpose, the passion which animates us to it is attended with delight, or a pleasure of some kind.
Edmund Burke.    
  Confounded by the complication of distempered passions, their reason is disturbed; their views become vast and perplexed; to others inexplicable, to themselves uncertain.
Edmund Burke.    
  A consideration of the rationale of our passions seems to me very necessary to all who would affect them upon solid and pure principles.
Edmund Burke.    
  There is a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.
Edmund Burke.    
  Political reason is a computing principle,—adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, morally, and not metaphysically, or mathematically, true moral demonstrations.
Edmund Burke.    
  The speculative line of demarcation, where obedience ought to end and resistance begin, is faint, obscure, and not easily definable.
Edmund Burke.    
  Those who quit their proper character to assume what does not belong to them, are for the greater part ignorant of both the character they leave and of the character they assume.
Edmund Burke.    
  If prescription be once shaken, no species of property is secure when it once becomes an object large enough to tempt the cupidity of indigent power.
Edmund Burke.    
  A present personal detriment is so heavy where it falls, and so instant in its operation, that the cold commendation of a public advantage never was, and never will be, a match for the quick sensibility of a private loss.
Edmund Burke.    
  An enlightened self-interest, which, when well understood, they tell us will identify with an interest more enlarged and public.
Edmund Burke.    
  If the grain were separated from the chaff which fills the works of our National Poets, what is truly valuable would be to what is useless in the proportion of a mole-hill to a mountain.
Edmund Burke.    
  It cannot be too often repealed, until it comes into the currency of a proverb, “To innovate is not to reform.”
Edmund Burke.    
  Religion is for the man in humble life, and to raise his nature, and to put him in mind of a state in which the privileges of opulence will cease, when he will be equal, and may be more than equal by virtue.
Edmund Burke.    
  Genuine simplicity of heart is a healing and cementing principle.
Edmund Burke.    
  Slavery is a state so improper, so degrading, and so ruinous to the feelings and capacities of human nature, that it ought not to be suffered to exist.
Edmund Burke.    
  A disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman.
Edmund Burke.    
  A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.
Edmund Burke.    
  When by a cold penury I blast the abilities of a nation, and stunt the growth of its active energies, the ill I may do is beyond all calculation.
Edmund Burke.    
  It is one thing to make an idea clear, and another to make it affecting to the imagination.
Edmund Burke.    
  You will not think it unnatural that those who have an object depending, which strongly engages their hopes and fears, should be somewhat inclining to superstition.
Edmund Burke.    
  He who calls in the aid of an equal understanding doubles his own; and he who profits of a superior understanding raises his powers to a level with the height of the superior understanding he unites with.
Edmund Burke.    
  I considered how little man is, yet, in his own mind, how great! He is lord and master of all things, yet scarce can command anything. He is given a freedom of his will; but wherefore? Was it but to torment and perplex him the more? How little avails this freedom, if the objects he is to act upon be not as much disposed to obey as he is to command! What well-laid and what better executed scheme of his is there but what a small change of nature is sufficient to defeat and entirely abolish? If but one element happens to encroach a little on the other, what confusion may it not create in his affairs! what havoc! what destruction! The servant destined to his use confines, menaces, and frequently destroys this mighty, this feeble lord.
Edmund Burke: Ætat. 17, to R. Shackleton.    
  War is the matter which fills all history, and consequently the only or almost the only view in which we can see the external of political society is in a hostile shape; and the only actions to which we have always seen, and still see all of them intent, are such as tend to the destruction of one another.
Edmund Burke: A Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  The first accounts we have of mankind are but so many accounts of their butcheries. All empires have been cemented in blood; and, in those early periods, when the race of mankind began first to form themselves into parties and combinations, the first effect of the combination, and indeed the end for which it seems purposely formed, and best calculated, was their mutual destruction. All ancient history is dark and uncertain. One thing, however, is clear,—there were conquerors, and conquests, in those days; and, consequently, all that devastation by which they are formed, and all that oppression by which they are maintained.
Edmund Burke: A Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  But these disputes ended as all such ever have done, and ever will do; in a real weakness of all parties; a momentary shadow and dream of power in some one; and the subjection of all to the yoke of a stranger, who knows to profit of their divisions.
Edmund Burke: A Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  I intended, my lord, to have proceeded in a sort of method in estimating the numbers of mankind cut off in these wars which we have on record. But I am obliged to alter my design. Such a tragical uniformity of havoc and murder would disgust your lordship as much as it would me; and I confess I already feel my eyes ache by keeping them so long intent on so bloody a prospect.
Edmund Burke: A Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  I shall draw to a conclusion of this part, by making a general calculation of the whole. I think I have actually mentioned above thirty-six millions. I have not particularized any more. I don’t pretend to exactness; therefore, for the sake of a general view, I shall lay together all those actually slain in battles, or who have perished in a no less miserable manner by the other destructive consequences of war, from the beginning of the world to this day, in the four parts of it, at a thousand times as much; no exaggerated calculation, allowing for time and extent. We have not perhaps spoke of the five-hundredth part; I am sure I have not of what is actually ascertained in history.
Edmund Burke: A Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  Shall I, to justify my calculations from the charge of extravagance, add to the account those skirmishes which happen in all wars, without being singly of sufficient dignity in mischief to merit a place in history, but which by their frequency compensate for this comparative innocence? shall I inflame the account by those general massacres which have devoured whole cities and nations; those wasting pestilences, those consuming famines, and all those furies that follow in the train of war? I have no need to exaggerate; and I have purposely avoided a parade of eloquence on this occasion.
Edmund Burke: A Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  The numbers I particularized are about thirty-six millions. Besides those killed in battles, I have said something, not half what the matter would have justified, but something I have said concerning the consequences of war even more dreadful than that monstrous carnage itself which shocks our humanity, and almost staggers our belief. So that, allowing me in my exuberance one way for my deficiencies in the other, you will find me not unreasonable. I think the numbers of men now upon earth are computed at five hundred millions at the most. Here the slaughter of mankind, on what you call a small calculation, amounts to upwards of seventy times the number of souls this day on the globe: a point which may furnish matter of reflection to one less inclined to draw consequences than your lordship.
Edmund Burke: A Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  From the earliest dawnings of policy to this day, the invention of men has been sharpening and improving the mystery of murder, from the first rude essays of clubs and stones, to the present perfection of gunnery, cannoneering, bombarding, mining, and all those species of artificial, learned, and refined cruelty, in which we are now so expert, and which make a principal part of what politicians have taught us to believe is our principal glory.
Edmund Burke: A Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  Examine history; consult present experience; and you will find that far the greater part of the quarrels between several nations had scarce any other occasion than that these nations were different combinations of people, and called by different names: to an Englishman, the name of a Frenchman, a Spaniard, an Italian, much more a Turk, or a Tartar, raises of course ideas of hatred and contempt.
Edmund Burke: A Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  There was a class of the Druids whom they called Bards, who delivered in songs (their only history) the exploits of their heroes, and who composed those verses which contained the secrets of Druidical discipline, their principles of natural and moral philosophy, their astronomy, and the mystical rites of their religion. These verses in all probability bore a near resemblance to the Golden Verses of Pythagoras.—to those of Phocylides, Orpheus, and other remnants of the most ancient Greek poets.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of Eng. Hist., Book i.    
  But the introduction of Christianity, which, under whatever form, always confers such inestimable benefits on mankind, soon made a sensible change in these rude and fierce manners. It is by no means impossible, that, for an end so worthy, Providence on some occasions might directly have interposed.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of Eng. History.    
  In ancient times, and in all countries, the profession of physic was annexed to the priesthood. Men imagined that all their diseases were inflicted by the immediate displeasure of the Deity, and therefore concluded that the remedy would most probably proceed from those who were particularly employed in his service. Whatever, for the same reason, was found of efficacy to avert or cure distempers was considered as partaking somewhat of the Divinity. Medicine was always joined with magic: no remedy was administered without mysterious ceremony and incantation. The use of plants and herbs, both in medicinal and magical practice, was early and general. The mistletoe, pointed out by its very peculiar appearance and manner of growth, must have struck powerfully on the imaginations of a superstitious people. Its virtues may have been soon discovered. It has been fully proved, against the opinion of Celsus, that internal remedies were of very early use.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of Eng. History.    
  On the whole, though this father of the English learning [Beda] seems to have been but a genius of the middle class, neither elevated nor subtile, and one who wrote in a low style, simple, but not elegant, yet, when we reflect upon the time in which he lived, the place in which he spent his whole life, within the walls of a monastery, in so remote and wild a country, it is impossible to refuse him the praise of an incredible industry and a generous thirst of knowledge.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  Futurity is the great concern of mankind. Whilst the wise and learned look back upon experience and history, and reason from things past about events to come, it is natural for the rude and ignorant, who have the same desires without the same reasonable means of satisfaction, to inquire into the secrets of futurity, and to govern their conduct by omens, dreams, and prodigies. The Druids, as well as the Etruscans and Roman priesthood, attended with diligence the flight of birds, the pecking of chickens, and the entrails of their animal sacrifices.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  It is sufficiently known that the first Christians, avoiding the Pagan tribunals, tried most even of their civil causes before the bishop, who, though he had no direct coercive power, yet, wielding the sword of excommunication, had wherewithal to enforce the execution of his judgments. Thus the bishop had a considerable sway in temporal affairs, even before he was owned by the temporal power.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  The Saxon laws, imperfect and various as they were, served in some tolerable degree a people who had by their Constitution an eye on each other’s concerns, and decided almost all matters of any doubt amongst them by methods which, however inadequate, were extremely simple. They judged every controversy either by the conscience of the parties, or by the country’s opinion of it, or what they judged an appeal to Providence. They were unwilling to submit to the trouble of weighing contradictory testimonies; and they were destitute of those critical rules by which evidence is sifted, the true distinguished from the false, the certain from the uncertain. Originally, therefore, the defendant in the suit was put to his oath, and if on oath he denied the debt or the crime with which he was charged, he was of course acquitted. But when the first fervours of religion began to decay, and fraud and the temptations to fraud to increase, they trusted no longer to the conscience of the party. They cited him to an higher tribunal,—the immediate judgment of God. Then trials were so many conjurations, and the magical ceremonies of barbarity and heathenism entered into law and religion. This supernatural method of process they called God’s Dome; it is generally known by the name of Ordeal, which in the Saxon language signifies the Great Trial. This trial was made either by fire or water: that by fire was principally reserved for persons of rank; that by water decided the fate of the vulgar; sometimes it was at the choice of the party.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  The Common Law, as it then prevailed in England, was in a great measure composed of some remnants of the old Saxon customs, joined to the feudal institutions brought in at the Norman Conquest. And it is here to be observed that the constitutions of Magna Charta are by no means a renewal of the Laws of St. Edward, or the ancient Saxon laws, as our historians and law-writers generally, though very groundlessly, assert. They bear no resemblance in any particular to the Laws of St. Edward, or to any other collection of these ancient institutions. Indeed, how should they? The object of Magna Charta is the correction of the feudal policy, which was first introduced, at least in any regular form, at the Conquest, and did not subsist before it.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  By the Feudal Law, all landed property is, by a feigned conclusion, supposed to be derived, and therefore to be mediately or immediately held, from the crown. If some estates were so derived, others were certainly procured by the same original title of conquest by which the crown itself was acquired, and the derivation from the king could in reason only be considered as a fiction of the law.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  There is scarce any object of curiosity more rational than the origin, the progress, and the various revolutions of human laws. Political and military relations are for the greater part accounts of the ambition and violence of mankind: this is an history of their justice. And surely there cannot be a more pleasing speculation than to trace the advances of men in an attempt to imitate the Supreme Ruler in one of the most glorious of his attributes, and to attend them in the exercise of a prerogative which it is wonderful to find intrusted to the management of so weak a being. In such an inquiry we shall, indeed, frequently see great instances of this frailty; but at the same time we shall behold such noble efforts of wisdom and equity as seem fully to justify the reasonableness of that extraordinary disposition by which men, in one form or other, have been always put under the dominion of creatures like themselves.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  The Norman Conquest is the great era of our laws. At this time the English jurisprudence, which had hitherto continued a poor stream, fed from some few, and those scanty sources, was all at once, as from a mighty flood, replenished with a vast body of foreign learning, by which, indeed, it might be said rather to have been increased than much improved; for this foreign law, being imposed, not adopted, for a long time bore strong appearances of that violence by which it had been first introduced. All our monuments bear a strong evidence to this change. New courts of justice, new names and powers of officers, in a word, a new tenure of land as well as new possessors of it, took place. Even the language of public proceedings was in a great measure changed.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  It is not wholly unworthy of observation, that Providence, which strongly appears to have intended the continual intermixture of mankind, never leaves the human mind destitute of a principle to effect it. This purpose is sometimes carried on by a sort of migratory instinct, sometimes by the spirit of conquest; at one time avarice drives men from their homes, at another they are actuated by a thirst of knowledge; where none of these causes can operate, the sanctity of particular places attracts men from the most distant quarters.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  Religion, which in Alfred’s father was so prejudicial to affairs, without being in him at all inferior in its zeal and fervour, was of a more enlarged and noble kind; far from being a prejudice to his government, it seems to have been the principle that supported him in so many fatigues, and fed like an abundant source his civil and military virtues. To his religious exercises and studies he devoted a full third part of his time.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  From Rome the whole Western world had received its Christianity; she was the asylum of what learning had escaped the general desolation; and even in her ruins she preserved something of the majesty of her ancient greatness. On these accounts she had a respect and a weight which increased every day amongst a simple religious people, who looked but a little way into the consequences of their actions. The rudeness of the world was very favourable for the establishment of an empire of opinion. The moderation with which the Popes at first exerted this empire made its growth unfelt until it could no longer be opposed; and the policy of later Popes, building on the piety of the first, continually increased it; and they made use of every instrument but that of force. They employed equally the virtues and the crimes of the great; they favoured the lust of kings for absolute authority, and the desire of subjects for liberty; they provoked war, and mediated peace; and took advantage of every turn in the minds of men, whether of a public or private nature, to extend their influence, and push their power from ecclesiastical to civil, from subjection to independency, from independency to empire.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  The great and capital objects of their worship were taken from Druidism,—trees, stones, the elements, and the heavenly bodies. These were their principal devotions, laid the strongest hold upon their minds, and resisted the progress of the Christian religion with the greatest obstinacy: for we find these superstitions forbidden amongst the latest Saxon laws. A worship which stands in need of the memorial of images or books to support it may perish when these are destroyed; but when a superstition is established upon those great objects of Nature which continually solicit the senses, it is extremely difficult to turn the mind from things that in themselves are striking, and that are always present.
Edmund Burke: Abridgment of English History.    
  This mode of arguing from your having done any thing in a certain line to the necessity of doing every thing has political consequences of other moment than those of a logical fallacy.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  Different from them are all the great critics. They have taught us one essential rule. I think the excellent and philosophic artist, a true judge as well as a perfect follower of Nature, Sir Joshua Reynolds, has somewhere applied it, or something like it, in his own profession. It is this: that, if ever we should find ourselves disposed not to admire those writers or artists (Livy and Virgil, for instance, Raphael or Michael Angelo) whom all the learned had admired, not to follow our own fancies, but to study them, until we know how and what we ought to admire; and if we cannot arrive at this combination of admiration with knowledge, rather to believe that we are dull than that the rest of the world has been imposed on.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  As the exorbitant exercise of power cannot, under popular sway, be effectually restrained, the other great object of political arrangement, the means of abating an excessive desire of it, is in such a state still worse provided for. The democratic commonwealth is the foodful nurse of ambition. Under the other forms it meets with many restraints.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  Taking it for granted that I do not write to the disciples of the Parisian philosophy, I may assume that the awful Author of our being is the Author of our place in the order of existence,—and that having disposed and marshalled us by a divine tactic, not according to our will, but according to His, He has in and by that disposition virtually subjected us to act the part which belongs to the place assigned us. We have obligations to mankind at large, which are not in consequence of any special voluntary pact. They arise from the relation of man to man, and the relation of man to God, which relations are not matters of choice. On the contrary, the force of all the pacts which we enter into with any particular person or number of persons amongst mankind depends upon those prior obligations. In some cases the subordinate relations are voluntary, in others they are necessary,—but the duties are all compulsive.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  The excellencies of the British Constitution had already exercised and exhausted the talents of the best thinkers and the most eloquent writers and speakers that the world ever saw.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  If ever we ought to be economists even to parsimony, it is in the voluntary production of evil.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  The distinguishing part of our Constitution is its liberty. To preserve that liberty inviolate is the peculiar duty and proper trust of a member of the House of Commons. But the liberty, the only liberty, I mean, is a liberty connected with order; and that not only exists with order and virtue, but cannot exist at all without them. It inheres in good and steady government, as in its substance and vital principle.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  But the principle of Mr. Burke’s proceeding ought to lead him to a very different conclusion,—to this conclusion,—that a monarchy is a thing perfectly susceptible of a balance of power, and that, when reformed and balanced, for a great country it is the best of all governments. The example of our country might have led France, as it has led him, to perceive that monarchy is not only reconcilable to liberty, but that it may be rendered a great and stable security, to its perpetual enjoyment.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  Any contumely, any outrage, is readily passed over, by the indulgence which we all owe to sudden passion. These things are soon forgot upon occasions in which all men are so apt to forget themselves. Deliberate injuries, to a degree, must be remembered, because they require deliberate precautions to be secured against their return.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  The quality of the sentence does not, however, decide on the justice of it. Angry friendship is sometimes as bad as calm enmity. For this reason the cold neutrality of abstract justice is, to a good and clear cause, a more desirable thing than an affection liable to be any way disturbed. When the trial is by friends, if the decision should happen to be favourable, the honour of the acquittal is lessened; if adverse, the condemnation is exceedingly embittered. It is aggravated by coming from lips professing friendship, and pronouncing judgment with sorrow and reluctance. Taking in the whole view of life, it is more safe to live under the jurisdiction of severe but steady reason than under the empire of indulgent but capricious passion.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  His sentiments with regard to them can never vary, without subjecting him to the just indignation of mankind, who are bound, and are generally disposed, to look up with reverence to the best patterns of their species, and such as give a dignity to the nature of which we all participate.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  Look through the whole of life and the whole system of duties. Much the strongest moral obligations are such as were never the results of our option. I allow, that, if no Supreme Ruler exists, wise to form, and potent to enforce, the moral law, there is no sanction to any contract, virtual or even actual, against the will of prevalent power. On that hypothesis, let any set of men be strong enough to set their duties at defiance, and they cease to be duties any longer.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  Nothing universal can be rationally affirmed on any moral or any political subject. Pure metaphysical abstraction does not belong to these matters. The lines of morality are not like the ideal lines of mathematics. They are broad and deep as well as long. They admit of exceptions; they demand modifications. These exceptions and modifications are not made by the process of logic, but by the rules of prudence. Prudence is not only the first in rank of the virtues political and moral, but she is the director, regulator, the standard of them all. Metaphysics cannot live without definition; but prudence is cautious how she defines. Our courts cannot be more fearful in suffering fictitious cases to be brought before them for eliciting their determination on a point of law than prudent moralists are in putting extreme and hazardous cases of conscience upon emergencies not existing.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791.    
  He [Burke] has never professed himself a friend or an enemy to republics or to monarchies in the abstract. He thought that the circumstances and habits of every country which it is always perilous and productive of the greatest calamities to force, are to decide upon the form of its government. There is nothing in his nature, his temper, or his faculties which should make him an enemy to any republic, modern or ancient. Far from it. He has studied the form and spirit of republics very early in life; he has studied them with great attention, and with a mind undisturbed by affection or prejudice. He is, indeed, convinced that the science of government would be poorly cultivated without that study.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs.    
  The Constitution of a country once settled upon some compact, tacit or expressed, there is no power existing of force to alter it, without the breach of the covenant, or the consent of all the parties. Such is the nature of a contract. And the votes of a majority of the people, whatever their infamous flatterers may teach in order to corrupt their minds, cannot alter the moral any more than they can alter the physical essence of things.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs.    
  Place, for instance, before your eyes such a man as Montesquieu. Think of a genius not born in every country or every time: a man gifted by Nature with a penetrating, aquiline eye,—with a judgment prepared with the most extensive erudition,—with an Herculean robustness of mind, and nerves not to be broken with labour,—a man who could spend twenty years in one pursuit. Think of a man like the universal patriarch in Milton (who had drawn up before him in his prophetic vision the whole series of the generations which were to issue from his loins): a man capable of placing in review, after having brought together from the East, the West, the North, and the South, from the coarseness of the rudest barbarism to the most refined and subtle civilization, all the schemes of government which had ever prevailed amongst mankind, weighing, measuring, collating, and comparing them all, joining fact with theory, and calling into council, upon all this infinite assemblage of things, all the speculations which have fatigued the understandings of profound reasoners in all times. Let us then consider, that all these were but so many preparatory steps to qualify a man, and such a man, tinctured with no national prejudice, with no domestic affection, to admire, and to hold out to the admiration of mankind, the Constitution of England.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs.    
  That writer is too well read in men not to know how often the desire and design of a tyrannic domination lurks in the claim of an extravagant liberty. Perhaps in the beginning it always displays itself in that manner. No man has ever affected power which he did not hope from the favour of the existing government in any other mode.
Edmund Burke: Appeal from the Old to the New Whigs, 1791.    
  On a superficial view we may seem to differ very widely from each other in our reasonings, and no less in our pleasures: but, notwithstanding this difference, which I think to be rather apparent than real, it is probable that the standard both of reason and taste is the same in all human creatures. For if there were not some principles of judgment as well as of sentiment common to all mankind, no hold could possibly be taken either on their reason or their passions, sufficient to maintain the ordinary correspondence of life.
Edmund Burke: Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, Introduction, On Taste, 1756.    
  Whilst we consider taste merely according to its nature and species, we shall find its principles entirely uniform; but the degree in which these principles prevail, in the several individuals of mankind, is altogether as different as the principles themselves are similar. For sensibility and judgment, which are the qualities that compose what we commonly call a taste, vary exceedingly in various people. From a defect in the former of these qualities arises a want of taste; a weakness in the latter constitutes a wrong or a bad one. There are some men formed with feelings so blunt, with tempers so cold and phlegmatic, that they can hardly be said to be awake during the whole course of their lives. Upon such persons the most striking objects make but a faint and obscure impression.
Edmund Burke: Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, Introduction, On Taste.    
  It appears, indeed, to be generally acknowledged that with regard to truth and falsehood there is something fixed. We find people in their disputes continually appealing to certain tests and standards, which are allowed on all sides, and are supposed to be established in our common nature. But there is not the same obvious concurrence in any uniform or settled principles which relate to taste. It is even commonly supposed that this delicate and aerial faculty, which seems too volatile to endure even the chains of a definition, cannot be properly tried by any test, nor regulated by any standard. There is so continual a call for the exercise of the reasoning faculty, and it is so much strengthened by perpetual contention, that certain maxims of right reason seem to be tacitly settled amongst the most ignorant. The learned have improved on this rude science, and reduced those maxims into a system. If taste has not been so happily cultivated, it was not that the subject was barren, but that the labourers were few or negligent; for, to say the truth, there are not the same interesting motives to impel us to fix the one, which urge us to ascertain the other.
Edmund Burke: Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, Introduction, On Taste.    
  I mean by the word taste, no more than that faculty or those faculties of the mind which are affected with, or which form a judgment of, the works of imagination and the elegant arts. This is, I think, the most general idea of that word, and what is the least connected with any particular theory. And my point in this inquiry is, to find whether there are any principles, on which the imagination is affected, so common to all, so grounded and certain, as to supply the means of reasoning satisfactorily about them. And such principles of taste I fancy there are; however paradoxical it may seem to those who on a superficial view imagine that there is so great a diversity of tastes, both in kind and degree, that nothing can be more indeterminate.
Edmund Burke: Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, Introduction, On Taste.    
  Indeed, it is for the most part in our skill in manners, and in the observances of time and place, and of decency in general, which is only to be learned in those schools to which Horace recommends us, that what is called taste, by way of distinction, exists: and which is in reality no other than a more refined judgment. On the whole, it appears to me that what is called taste, in its most general acceptation, is not a simple idea, but is partly made up of a perception of the primary pleasures of sense, of the secondary pleasures of the imagination, and of the conclusions of the reasoning faculty: concerning the various relations of these, and concerning the human passions, manners, and actions. All this is requisite to form taste, and the groundwork of all these is the same in the human mind; for as the senses are the great originals of all our ideas, and consequently of all our pleasures, if they are not uncertain and arbitrary, the whole groundwork of taste is common to all, and therefore there is a sufficient foundation for a conclusive reasoning on these matters.
Edmund Burke: Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, Introduction, On Taste.    
  The cause of a wrong taste is a defect of judgment. And this may arise from a natural weakness of understanding (in whatever the strength of that faculty may consist), or, which is much more commonly the case, it may arise from a want of a proper and well-directed exercise, which alone can make it strong and ready. Besides, that ignorance, inattention, prejudice, rashness, levity, obstinacy, in short, all those passions, and all those vices, which pervert the judgment in other matters, prejudice it no less in this its more refined and elegant province.
Edmund Burke: Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, Introduction, On Taste.    
  Before I leave this subject, I cannot help taking notice of an opinion which many persons entertain, as if the taste were a separate faculty of the mind, and distinct from the judgment and imagination; a species of instinct, by which we are struck naturally, and at the first glance, without any previous reasoning, with the excellences or the defects of a composition. So far as the imagination and the passions are concerned, I believe it true, that the reason is little consulted; but where disposition, where decorum, where congruity are concerned, in short, wherever the best taste differs from the worst, I am convinced that the understanding operates, and nothing else; and its operation is in reality far from being always sudden, or, when it is sudden, it is often far from being right.
Edmund Burke: Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, Introduction, On Taste.    
  Men of the best taste by consideration come frequently to change these early and precipitate judgments, which the mind, from its aversion to neutrality and doubt, loves to form on the spot. It is known that the taste (whatever it is) is improved exactly as we improve our judgment, by extending our knowledge, by a steady attention to our object, and by frequent exercise. They who have not taken these methods, if their taste decides quickly, it is always uncertainly; and their quickness is owing to their presumption and rashness, and not to any sudden irradiation that in a moment dispels all darkness from their minds. But they who have cultivated that species of knowledge which makes the object of taste, by degrees and habitually attain not only a soundness but a readiness of judgment, as men do by the same methods on all other occasions. At first they are obliged to spell, but at last they read with ease and celerity; but this celerity of its operation is no proof that the taste is a distinct faculty.
Edmund Burke: Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, Introduction, On Taste.    
  The more accurately we search into the human mind, the stronger traces we everywhere find of His wisdom who made it. If a discourse on the use of the parts of the body may be considered as a hymn to the Creator, the use of the passions, which are the organs of the mind, cannot be barren of praise to him, nor unproductive to ourselves of that noble and uncommon union of science and admiration, which a contemplation of the works of infinite wisdom alone can afford to a rational mind; whilst, referring to him whatever we find of right or good or fair in ourselves, discovering his strength and wisdom even in our own weakness and imperfection, honouring them where we discover them clearly, and adoring their profundity where we are lost in our search, we may be inquisitive without impertinence, and elevated without pride; we may be admitted, if I may dare to say so, into the counsels of the Almighty by a consideration of his works.
Edmund Burke: Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  The characters of nature are legible, it is true; but they are not plain enough to enable those who run, to rend them. We must make use of a cautious, I had almost said, a timorous method of proceeding. We must not attempt to fly, when we can scarcely pretend to creep. In considering any complex matter, we ought to examine every distinct ingredient in the composition, one by one; and reduce everything to the utmost simplicity; since the condition of our nature binds us to a strict law and very narrow limits. We ought afterwards to re-examine the principles by the effect of the composition, as well as the composition by that of the principles. We ought to compare our subject with things of a similar nature, and even with things of a contrary nature; for discoveries may be, and often are, made by the contrast, which would escape us on the single view. The greater number of the comparisons we make, the more general and the more certain our knowledge is likely to prove, as built upon a more extensive and perfect induction.  105
  If an inquiry thus carefully conducted should fail at last of discovering the truth, it may answer an end perhaps as useful, in discovering to us the weakness of our own understanding. If it does not make us knowing, it may make us modest. If it does not preserve us from error, it may at least from the spirit of error; and may make us cautious of pronouncing with positiveness or with haste, when so much labour may end in so much uncertainty.
Edmund Burke: Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  The use of such inquiries may be very considerable. Whatever turns the soul inward on itself tends to concentre its forces, and to fit it for greater and stronger flights of science. By looking into physical causes our minds are opened and enlarged; and in this pursuit, whether we take or whether we lose our game, the chase is certainly of service. Cicero, true as he was to the academic philosophy, and consequently led to reject the certainty of physical, as of every other kind of knowledge, yet freely confesses its great importance to the human understanding: “Est animorum ingeniorumque nostrorum naturale quoddam quasi pabulum consideratio contemplatioque naturæ.” If we can direct the lights we derive from such exalted speculations upon the humbler field of the imagination, whilst we investigate the springs and trace the courses of our passions, we may not only communicate to the taste a sort of philosophical solidity, but we may reflect back on the severer sciences some of the graces and elegances of taste, without which the greatest proficiency in those sciences will always have the appearance of something illiberal.
Edmund Burke: Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  Comedy was satirical. Satire is best on the living. It was soon found that the best way to depress an hated character was to turn it into ridicule; and therefore the greater vices, which in the beginning were lashed, gave place to the contemptible. Its passion, therefore, became ridicule. Every writing must have its characteristic passion. What is that of comedy, if not ridicule? Comedy, therefore, is a satirical poem, representing an action carried on by dialogue, to excite laughter by describing ludicrous characters. See Aristotle.
Edmund Burke: Hints for an Essay on the Drama.    
  It is natural with men, when they relate any action with any degree of warmth, to represent the parties to it talking as the occasion requires; and this produces that mixed species of poetry, composed of narrative and dialogue, which is very universal in all languages, and of which Homer is the noblest example in any. This mixed kind of poetry seems also to be most perfect, as it takes in a variety of situations, circumstances, reflections, and descriptions, which must be rejected on a more limited plan.
Edmund Burke: Hints for an Essay on the Drama.    
  We are not to forget that a play is, or ought to be, a very short composition; that, if one passion or disposition is to be wrought up with tolerable success, I believe it is as much as can in any reason be expected. If there be scenes of distress and scenes of humour, they must either be in a double or single plot. If there be a double plot, there are in fact two. If they be in checkered scenes of serious and comic, you are obliged continually to break both the thread of the story and the continuity of the passion; if in the same scene, as Mrs. V. seems to recommend, it is needless to observe how absurd the mixture must be, and how little adapted to answer the genuine end of any passion. It is odd to observe the progress of bad taste: for this mixed passion being universally proscribed in the regions of tragedy, it has taken refuge and shelter in comedy, where it seems firmly established, though no reason can be assigned why we may not laugh in the one as well as weep in the other. The true reason of this mixture is to be sought for in the manners which are prevalent amongst a people. It has become very fashionable to affect delicacy, tenderness of heart, and fine feeling, and to shun all imputation of rusticity. Much mirth is very foreign to this character; they have introduced, therefore a sort of neutral writing.
Edmund Burke: Hints for an Essay on the Drama.    
  Men, in praising, naturally applaud the dead. Tragedy celebrated the dead.  111
  Great men are never sufficiently shown but in struggles. Tragedy turned, therefore, on melancholy and affecting subjects,—a sort of threnodia,—its passions, therefore, admiration, terror, and pity.
Edmund Burke: Hints for an Essay on the Drama.    
  I know no human being exempt from the law. The law is the security of the people of England; it is the security of every person that is governed, and of every person that governs. There is but one law for all, namely, that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity,—the Law of Nature and of Nations. So far as any laws fortify this primeval law, and give it more precision, more energy, more effect by their declarations, such laws enter into the sanctuary, and participate in the sacredness of its character.
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings, 1794.    
  The Law of Nations is the law of India as well as of Europe, because it is the law of reason and the law of Nature, drawn from the pure sources of morality, of public good, and of natural equity, and recognized and digested into order by the labour of learned men.
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings, 1794.    
  Thank God, my Lords, men that are greatly guilty are never wise. I repeat it—men that are greatly guilty are never wise. In their defence of one crime they are sure to meet the ghost of some former defence, which, like the spectre in Virgil, drives them back.
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings.    
  But, my Lords, they will show you, they say, that Genghis Khân, Kouli Khân, and Tamerlane destroyed ten thousand times more people in battle than this man did…. Have they run mad? Have they lost their senses in their guilt? Did they ever expect that we meant to compare this man to Tamerlane, Genghis Khân, or Kouli Khân?—to compare a fraudulent bullock-contractor (for we could show that his first elementary malversations were in carrying on fraudulent bullock-contracts, which contracts were taken from him with shame and disgrace, and restored with greater shame and disgrace), to compare him with the conquerors of the world? We never said he was a tiger and a lion: no, we have said he was a weasel and a rat. We have said that he has desolated countries by the same means that plagues of his description have produced similar desolations. We have said that he, a fraudulent bullock-contractor, exalted to great and unmerited powers, can do move mischief than even all the tigers and lions in the world. We know that a swarm of locusts, although individually despicable, can render a country more desolate than Genghis Khân or Tamerlane. When God Almighty chose to humble the pride and presumption of Pharaoh, and to bring him to shame, He did not effect his purpose with tigers and lions; but He sent lice, mice, frogs, and everything loathsome and contemptible, to pollute and destroy the country.
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings.    
  My Lords, we are now come to another devoted province: we march from desolation to desolation; because we follow the footsteps of Warren Hastings, Esquire, Governor-General of Bengal. You will here find the range of his atrocities widely extended; but before I enter into a detail of them, I have one reflection to make, which I beseech your Lordships to bear in mind throughout the whole of this deliberation. It is this: you ought never to conclude that a man must necessarily be innoxious because he is in other respects insignificant. You will see that a man bred in obscure, vulgar, and ignoble occupations, and trained in sordid, base, and mercenary habits, is not incapable of doing extensive mischief because he is so little and because his vices are of a mean nature. My Lords, we have shown to you already, and we shall demonstrate to you more clearly in future, that such minds placed in authority can do more mischief to a country, can treat all ranks and distinctions with more pride, insolence, and arrogance, than those who have been born under canopies of state and swaddled in purple: you will see that they can waste a country more effectually than the proudest and most mighty conquerors, who, by the greatness of their military talents, have first subdued and afterwards plundered nations.
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings.    
  This ruined country, its desolate fields and its undone inhabitants, all call aloud for British justice, all call for vengeance upon the head of this execrable criminal.  118
  Oh! but we ought to be tender towards his personal character,—extremely cautious in our speech; we ought not to let indignation loose. My lords, we do let our indignation loose; we cannot bear with patience this affliction of mankind. We will neither abate our energy, relax in our feelings, nor in the expressions which those feelings dictate. Nothing but corruption like his own would enable any man to see such a scene of desolation and ruin unmoved. We feel pity for the works of God and man; we feel horror for the debasement of human nature; and, feeling thus, we give a loose to our indignation, and call upon your lordships for justice.
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings.    
  Reports, though of a kind less authentic than the Year Books, to which Coke alludes, have continued without interruption to the time in which we live. It is well known that the elementary treatises of law, and the dogmatical treatises of English jurisprudence, whether they appear under the names of institutes, digests, or commentaries, do not rest on the authority of the supreme power, like the books called the Institute, Digest, Code, and authentic collations in the Roman law. With us doctrinal books of that description have little or no authority, other than as they are supported by the adjudged cases and reasons given at one time or other from the bench; and to these they constantly refer. This appears in Coke’s Institutes, in Comyns’s Digest, and in all books of that nature. To give judgment privately is to put an end to reports; and to put an end to reports is to put an end to the law of England.
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings: Report on the Lords’ Journals, 1794.    
  Your Committee is of opinion that nothing better could be devised by human wisdom than argued judgments publicly delivered for preserving unbroken the great traditionary body of the law, and for marking, whilst that great body remained unaltered, every variation in the application and the construction of particular parts, for pointing out the ground of each variation, and for enabling the learned of the bar and all intelligent laymen to distinguish those changes made for the advancement of a more solid, equitable, and substantial justice, a progressive experience, and the improvement of moral philosophy, from those hazardous changes in any of the ancient opinions and decisions which may arise from ignorance, from levity, from false refinement, from a spirit of innovation, or from other motives, of a nature not more justifiable.
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings: Report on the Lords’ Journals, 1794.    
  Their rules with regard to competence were many and strict, and our lawyers have mentioned it to their reproach. “The Civilians,” it has been observed, “differ in nothing more than admitting evidence; for they reject histriones, etc., and whole tribes of people.” But this extreme rigour as to competency rejected by our law, is not found to extend to the genus of evidence, but only to a particular species,—personal witnesses. Indeed, after all their efforts to fix these things by positive and inflexible maxims, the best Roman lawyers, in their best ages, were obliged to confess that every case of evidence rather formed its own rule than that any rule could be adapted to every case. The best opinions, however, seem to have reduced the admissibility of witnesses to a few heads. “For if,” said Callistratus, in a passage preserved to us in the Digest, “the testimony is free from suspicion, either on account of the quality of the person, namely, that he is in a reputable situation, or for cause, that is to say, that the testimony given is not for reward nor favour nor for enmity, such a witness is admissible.” This first description goes to competence, between which and credit Lord Hardwicke justly says the discrimination is very nice. The other part of the text shows their anxiety to reduce credibility itself to a fixed rule.
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings: Report on the Lords’ Journals, 1794.    
  At length, Lord Hardwicke, in one of the cases the most solemnly argued that has been in man’s memory, with the aid of the greatest learning at the bar, and with the aid of all the learning on the bench, both bench and bar being then supplied with men of the first form, declared from the bench, and in concurrence with the rest of the judges, and with the most learned of the long robe, the able council on the side of the old restrictive principles making no reclamation, “that the judges and sages of the law have laid it down that there is but ONE general rule of evidence,—the best that the nature of the case will admit.”
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings: Report on the Lords’ Journals, 1794.    
  Lord Hardwicke had before declared, with great truth, “that the boundaries of what goes to the credit and what to the competency are very nice, and the latter carried too far;” and in the same case [King v. Bray] he said, “that, unless the objection appeared to him to carry a strong danger of perjury, and some apparent advantage might accrue to the witness, he was always inclined to let it go to his credit, only in order to let in a proper light to the case, which would otherwise be shut out;” and in a doubtful case, he said, it was generally his custom to admit the evidence, and give such directions to the “jury as the nature of the case might require.”
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings: Report on the Lords’ Journals, 1794.    
  In truth, it seems a wild attempt to lay down any rule for the proof of intention by circumstantial evidence. All the acts of the party,—all things that explain or throw light on these acts,—all the acts of others relative to the affair, that come to his knowledge, and may influence him,—his friendships and enmities, his promises, his threats, the truth of his discourses, the falsehood of his apologies, pretences, and explanations, his looks, his speech, his silence where he was called to speak,—everything which tends to establish the connection between all these particulars,—every circumstance, precedent, concomitant, and subsequent, become parts of circumstantial evidence. These are in their nature infinite, and cannot be comprehended within any rule or brought under any classification.
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings: Report on the Lords’ Journals, 1794.    
  Much industry and art have been used, among the illiterate and unexperienced, to throw imputations on this prosecution, and its conduct, because so great a proportion of the evidence offered on the trial (especially on the latter charges) has been circumstantial. Against the prejudices of the ignorant your committee opposes the judgment of the learned. It is known to them, that, when this proof is in its greatest perfection, that is, when it is most abundant in circumstances, it is much superior to positive proof; and for this we have the authority of the learned judge who presided at the trial of Captain Donellan: “On the part of the prosecution a great deal of evidence has been laid before you. It is all circumstantial evidence, and in its nature it must be so: for, in cases of this sort, no man is weak enough to commit the act in the presence of other persons, or to suffer them to see what he does at the time; and therefore it can only be made out by circumstances, either before the committing of the act, at the time when it was committed, or subsequent to it. And a presumption which necessarily arises from circumstances is very often more convincing and more satisfactory than any other kind of evidence; because it is not within the reach and compass of human abilities to invent a train of circumstances which shall be so connected together as to amount to a proof of guilt, without affording opportunities of contradicting a great part, if not all, of these circumstances. But if the circumstances are such as, when laid together, bring conviction to your minds, it is then fully equal, if not, as I told you before, more convincing than positive evidence.”
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings: Report on the Lords’ Journals, 1794.    
  Crimes are the actions of physical beings with an evil intention abusing their physical powers against justice and to the detriment of society.
Edmund Burke: Imp. of W. Hastings; Report on the Lords’ Journal, 1794.    
  Formerly the people of England were censured, and perhaps properly, with being a sullen, unsocial, cold, unpleasant race of men, and as inconstant as the climate in which they are born. These are the vices which the enemies of the kingdom charged them with: and people are seldom charged with vices of which they do not in some measure partake. But nobody refused them the character of being an open-hearted, candid, liberal, plain, sincere people,—qualities which would cancel a thousand faults, if they had them.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of W. Hastings, May 7, 1789.    
  From the first records of human impatience down to the present time, it has been complained that the march of violence and oppression is rapid, but that the progress of remedial and vindictive justice, even the divine, has almost always favoured the appearance of being languid and sluggish. Something of this is owing to the very nature and constitution of human affairs; because, as justice is a circumspect, cautious, scrutinizing, balancing principle, full of doubt even of itself, and fearful of doing wrong even to the greatest wrong-doers, in the nature of things its movements must be slow in comparison with the headlong rapidity with which avarice, ambition, and revenge pounce down upon the devoted prey of those violent and destructive passions.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of W. Hastings.    
  But, my Lords, men are made of two parts,—the physical part, and the moral. The former he has in common with the brute creation. Like theirs, our corporeal pains are very limited and temporary. But the sufferings which touch our moral nature have a wider range, and are infinitely more acute, driving the sufferer sometimes to the extremities of despair and distraction. Man, in his moral nature, becomes, in his progress through life, a creature of prejudice, a creature of opinions, a creature of habits, and of sentiments growing out of them. These form our second nature, as inhabitants of the country and members of the society in which Providence has placed us. This sensibility of our moral nature is far more acute in that sex which, I may say without any compliment, forms the better and more virtuous part of mankind, and which is at the same time protected from the insults and outrages to which this sensibility exposes them. This is a new source of feelings, that often make corporeal distress doubly felt; and it has a whole class of distresses of its own.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of W. Hastings.    
  This sympathetic revenge, which is condemned by clamorous imbecility, is so far from being a vice, that it is the greatest of all possible virtues,—a virtue which the uncorrupted judgment of mankind has in all ages exalted to the rank of heroism. To give up all the repose and pleasures of life, to pass sleepless nights and laborious days, and, what is ten times more irksome to an ingenuous mind, to offer one’s self to calumny and all its herd of hissing tongues and poisoned fangs, in order to free the world from fraudulent prevaricators, from cruel oppressors, from robbers and tyrants, has, I say, the test of heroic virtue, and well deserves such a distinction.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of W. Hastings.    
  There have been known to be men, otherwise corrupt and vicious, who, when great trust was put in them, have called forth principles of honour latent in their minds; and men who were nursed, in a manner, in corruption have been not only great reformers by institution, but greater reformers by the example of their own conduct.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of W. Hastings.    
  It is the nature of tyranny and rapacity never to learn moderation from the ill-success of first oppressions; on the contrary, all oppressors, all men thinking highly of the methods dictated by their nature, attribute the frustration of their desires to the want of sufficient rigour. Then they redouble the efforts of their impotent cruelty, which producing, as they must ever produce, new disappointments, they grow irritated against the objects of their rapacity; and then rage, fury, and malice, implacable because unprovoked, recruiting and reinforcing their avarice, their vices are no longer human. From cruel men they are transformed into savage beasts, with no other vestiges of reason left but what serves to furnish the inventions and refinements of ferocious subtlety, for purposes of which beasts are incapable and at which fiends would blush.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of Warren Hastings.    
  You have the representatives of that religion which says that their God is love, that the very vital spirit of their institution is charity,—a religion which so much hates oppression, that, when the God whom we adore appeared in human form, he did not appear in a form of greatness and majesty, but in sympathy with the lowest of the people, and thereby made it a firm and ruling principle that their welfare was the object of all government, since the Person who was the Master of Nature chose to appear himself in a subordinate situation.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of Warren Hastings.    
  A principle of honour, as long as it is connected with virtue, adds no small efficacy to its operation, and no small brilliancy and lustre to its appearance; but honour, the moment that it becomes unconnected with the duties of official function, with the relations of life, and the eternal and immutable laws of morality, and appears in its substance alien to them, changes its nature, and, instead of justifying a breach of duty, aggravates all its mischiefs to an almost infinite degree: by the apparent lustre of the surface it hides from you the baseness and deformity of the ground.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of Warren Hastings.    
  But, my Lords, it is not only in the house of prayer that we offer to the First Cause the acceptable homage of our rational nature,—my Lords, in this House, at this bar, in this place, in every place where His commands are obeyed, His worship is performed. And, my Lords, I must boldly say (and I think I shall hardly be contradicted by your Lordships, or by any persons versed in the law which guides us all) that the highest act of religion, and the highest homage which we can and ought to pay, is an imitation of the Divine perfections, as far as such a nature can imitate such perfections, and that by this means alone we can make our homage acceptable to Him.  136
  My Lords, in His temple we shall not forget that His most distinguished attribute is justice, and that the first link in the chain, by which we are held to the Supreme Judge of All is justice; and that it is in this solemn temple of representative justice we may best give Him praise, because we can here best imitate His divine attributes.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of Warren Hastings.    
  My Lords, it is certain that even tyranny itself may find some specious colour, and appear as a more severe and rigid execution of justice. Religious persecution may shield itself under the guise of a mistaken and over-zealous piety. Conquest may cover its baldness with its own laurels, and the ambition of the conqueror may be hid in the secrets of his own heart under a veil of benevolence, and make him imagine he is bringing temporary desolation upon a country only to promote its ultimate advantage and his own glory. But in the principles of that governor who makes nothing but money his object there can be nothing of this. There are here none of those specious delusions that look like virtues, to veil either the governor or the governed.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of Warren Hastings.    
  Vice incapacitates a man from all public duty; it withers the powers of his understanding, and makes his mind paralytic.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of Warren Hastings.    
  He could be warned by nothing but that noble indignation at guilt which is the last thing that ever was or will be extinguished in a virtuous mind.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of Warren Hastings.    
  God has sometimes converted wickedness into madness; and it is to the credit of human reason that men who are not in some degree mad are never capable of being in the highest degree wicked. The human faculties and reason are in such cases deranged; and therefore this man has been dragged by the just vengeance of Providence to make his own madness the discoverer of his own wicked, perfidious, and cursed machinations in that devoted country.
Edmund Burke: Impeachment of Warren Hastings.    
  Nothing ought to be more weighed than the nature of books recommended by public authority. So recommended, they soon form the character of the age. Uncertain indeed is the efficacy, limited indeed is the extent, of a virtuous institution. But if education takes in vice as any part of its system, there is no doubt but that it will operate with abundant energy, and to an extent indefinite.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly, 1791.    
  It is thus, and for the same end, that they endeavour to destroy that tribunal of conscience which exists independently of edicts and decrees. Your despots govern by terror. They know that he who fears God fears nothing else; and therefore they eradicate from the mind, through their Voltaire, their Helvetius, and the rest of that infamous gang, that only sort of fear which generates true courage. Their object is, that their fellow-citizens may be under the dominion of no awe but that of their Committee of Research and of their lanterne.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly, 1791.    
  Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites,—in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity,—in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption,—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.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly, 1791.    
  True humility, the basis of the Christian system, is the low, but deep and firm, foundation of all real virtue. But this, as very painful in the practice, and little imposing in the appearance, they have totally discarded. Their object is to merge all national and all social sentiment in inordinate vanity.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly, 1791.    
  There are cases in which a man would be ashamed not to have been imposed on. There is a confidence necessary to human intercourse, and without which men are often more injured by their own suspicions than they would be by the perfidy of others. But when men whom we know to be wicked impose upon us, we are something worse than dupes. When we know them, their fair pretences become new motives for distrust. There is one case, indeed, in which it would be madness not to give the fullest credit to the most deceitful of men,—that is, when they make declarations of hostility against us.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly, 1791.    
  As to the leaders in this imposture, you know that cheats and deceivers never can repent. The fraudulent have no resource but in fraud. They have no other goods in their magazine. They have no virtue or wisdom in their minds, to which, in a disappointment concerning the profitable effects of fraud and cunning, they can retreat. The wearing out of an old serves only to put them upon the invention of a new delusion. Unluckily, too, the credulity of dupes is as inexhaustible as the invention of knaves. They never give people possession; but they always keep them in hope.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly, 1791.    
  Cromwell knew how to separate the institutions expedient to his usurpation from the administration of the public justice of his country. For Cromwell was a man in whom ambition had not wholly suppressed, but only suspended, the sentiments of religion, and the love (as far as it could consist with his designs) of fair and honourable reputation. Accordingly, we are indebted to this act of his for the preservation of our laws, which some senseless asserters of the rights of men were then on the point of entirely erasing, as relics of feudality and barbarism. Besides, he gave, in the appointment of that man [Sir Matthew Hale], to that age, and to all posterity, the most brilliant example of sincere and fervent piety, exact justice, and profound jurisprudence.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly, 1791.    
  The Eastern politicians never do anything without the opinion of the astrologers on the fortunate moment. They are in the right, if they can do no better; for the opinion of fortune is something towards commanding it. Statesmen of a more judicious prescience look for the fortunate moment too; but they seek it, not in the conjunctions and oppositions of planets, but in the conjunctions and oppositions of men and things. These form their almanac.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly, 1791.    
  They were young and inexperienced; and when will young and inexperienced men learn caution and distrust of themselves?
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly, 1791.    
  They who always labour can have no true judgment. You never give yourselves time to cool. You can never survey, from its proper point of sight, the work you have finished, before you decree its final execution. You can never plan the future by the past.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly, Jan. 19, 1791.    
  He has not observed on the nature of vanity who does not know that it is omnivorous,—that it has no choice in its food,—that it is fond to talk even of its own faults and vices, as what will excite surprise and draw attention, and what will pass at worst for openness and candour.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the Nat. Assembly.    
  The person given to us by Monk was a man without any sense of his duty as a prince, without any regard to the dignity of his crown, without any love to his people,—dissolute, false, venal, and destitute of any positive good quality whatsoever, except a pleasant temper, and the manners of a gentleman. Yet the restoration of our monarchy, even in the person of such a prince, was everything to us; for without monarchy in England, most certainly we never can enjoy either peace or liberty.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, Jan. 19, 1791.    
  Great distress has never hitherto taught, and whilst the world lasts it never will teach, wise lessons to any part of mankind. Men are as ??much blinded by the extremes of misery as by the extremes of prosperity.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791.    
  The very confession that a government wants either amendment in its conformation or relief to great distress, causes it to lose half its reputation, and as great a proportion of its strength as depends upon that reputation.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791.    
  Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it. They may be distressed in the midst of all their power; but they will never look to anything but power for their relief. When did distresses ever oblige a prince to abdicate his authority? And what effect will it have upon those who are made to believe themselves a people of princes?
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791.    
  It is in the relaxation of security, it is in the expansion of prosperity, it is in the hour of dilatation of the heart, and of its softening into festivity and pleasure, that the real character of men is discerned. If there is any good in them, it appears then or never. Even wolves and tigers, when gorged with their prey, are safe and gentle. It is at such times that noble minds give all the reins to their good nature. They indulge their genius even to intemperance, in kindness to the afflicted, in generosity to the conquered,—forbearing insults, forgiving injuries, overpaying benefits. Full of dignity themselves, they respect dignity in all, but they feel it sacred to the unhappy. But it is then, and basking in the sunshine of unmerited fortune, that low, sordid, ungenerous, and reptile souls swell with their hoarded poisons; it is then that they display their odious splendour, and shine out in the full lustre of their native villany and baseness.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791.    
  Everybody knows that there is a great dispute amongst their leaders, which of them is the best resemblance to Rousseau. In truth, they all resemble him. His blood they transfuse into their minds and into their manners. Him they study; him they meditate; him they turn over in all the time they can spare from the laborious mischief of the day or the debauches of the night. Rousseau is their canon of holy writ; in his life he is their canon of Polycletus; he is their standard figure of perfection. To this man and this writer, as a pattern to authors and to Frenchmen, the foundries of Paris are now running for statues, with the kettles of their poor and the bells of their churches.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791.    
  Taste and elegance, though they are reckoned only among the smaller and secondary morals, yet are of no mean importance in the regulation of life. A moral taste is not of force to turn vice into virtue; but it recommends virtue with something like the blandishments of pleasure, and it infinitely abates the evils of vice. Rousseau, a writer of great force and vivacity, is totally destitute of taste in any sense of the word.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791.    
  In a small degree, and conversant in little things, vanity is of little moment. When full-grown, it is the worst of vices, and the occasional mimic of them all. It makes the whole man false. It leaves nothing sincere or trustworthy about him. His best qualities are poisoned and perverted by it, and operate exactly as the worst. When your lords had many writers as immoral as the object of their statue (such as Voltaire and others), they chose Rousseau, because in him that peculiar vice which they wished to erect into ruling virtue was by far the most conspicuous.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791.    
  It was this abuse and perversion, which vanity makes even of hypocrisy, which has driven Rousseau to record a life not so much as checkered or spotted here and there with virtues, or even distinguished by a single good action. It is such a life he chooses to offer to the attention of mankind. It is such a life that, with a wild defiance, he flings in the face of his Creator, whom he acknowledges only to brave. Your Assembly, knowing how much more powerful example is found than precept, has chosen this man (by his own account without a single virtue) for a model. To him they erect their first statue. From him they commence their series of honours and distinctions.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly.    
  I am certain that the writings of Rousseau lead directly to this kind of shameful evil. I have often wondered how he comes to be so much more admired and followed on the Continent than he is here. Perhaps a secret charm in the language may have its share in this extraordinary difference. We certainly perceive, and to a degree we feel, in this writer, a style glowing, animated, enthusiastic, at the same time that we find it lax, diffuse, and not in the best taste of composition,—all the members of the piece being pretty equally laboured and expanded, without any due selection or subordination of parts. He is generally too much on the stretch, and his manner has little variety. We cannot rest upon any of his works, though they contain observations which occasionally discover a considerable insight into human nature. But his doctrines, on the whole, are so inapplicable to real life and manners, that we never dream of drawing from them any rule for laws or conduct, or for fortifying or illustrating anything by a reference to his opinions. They have with us the fate of older paradoxes:—
        Cum ventum ad verum est, sensus moresque repugnant,
Atque ipsa utilitatis justi prope mater et æqui.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly.    
  It is not that I consider this writer [Rousseau] as wholly destitute of just notions. Amongst irregularities, it must be reckoned that he is sometimes moral, and moral in a very sublime strain. But the general spirit and tendency of his works is mischievous,—and the more mischievous for this mixture; for perfect depravity of sentiment is not reconcilable with eloquence; and the mind (though corruptible, not complexionally vicious) would reject and throw off with disgust a lesson of pure and unmixed evil. These writers make even virtue a pander to vice.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Member of the National Assembly.    
  No man lives too long who lives to do with spirit and suffer with resignation what Providence pleases to command or inflict; but, indeed, they are sharp commodities which beset old age.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Noble Lord on the Attacks upon his Pension, 1796.    
  Had it pleased God to continue to me the hopes of succession, I should have been, according to my mediocrity and the mediocrity of the age I live in, a sort of founder of a family: I should have left a son, who, in all the points in which personal merit can be viewed, in science, in erudition, in genius, in taste, in honour, in generosity, in humanity, in every liberal sentiment and every liberal accomplishment, would not have shown himself inferior to the Duke of Bedford, or to any of those whom he traces in his line. His Grace very soon would have wanted all plausibility in his attack upon that provision which belonged more to mine than to me. He would soon have supplied every deficiency, and symmetrized every disproportion. It would not have been for that successor to resort to any stagnant, wasting reservoir of merit in me, or in any ancestry. He had in himself a salient, living spring of generous and manly action. Every day he lived he would have re-purchased the bounty of the crown, and ten times more, if ten times more he had received. He was made a public creature, and had no enjoyment whatever but in the performance of some duty. At this exigent moment the loss of a finished man is not easily supplied.  165
  But a Disposer whose power we are little able to resist, and whose wisdom it behoves us not at all to dispute, has ordained it in another manner, and (whatever my querulous weakness might suggest) a far better. The storm has gone over me; and I lie like one of those old oaks which the hurricane has scattered about me. I am stripped of all my honours, I am torn up by the roots, and lie prostrate on the earth. There, and prostrate there, I most unfeignedly recognize the Divine justice, and in some degree submit to it. But, whilst I humble myself before God, I do not know that it is forbidden to repel the attacks of unjust and inconsiderate men. The patience of Job is proverbial. After some of the convulsive struggles of our irritable nature, he submitted himself, and repented in dust and ashes. But even so, I do not find him blamed for reprehending, and with a considerable degree of verbal asperity, those ill-natured neighbours of his who visited his dunghill to read moral, political, and economical lectures on his misery. I am alone. I have none to meet my enemies in the gate.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Noble Lord on the Attacks upon his Pension, 1796.    
  He valued ancient nobility; and he was not disinclined to augment it with new honours. He valued the old nobility and the new, not as an excuse for inglorious sloth, but as an incitement to virtuous activity. He considered it as a sort of cure for selfishness and a narrow mind,—conceiving that a man born in an elevated place in himself was nothing, but everything in what went before and what was to come after him. Without much speculation, but by the sure instinct of ingenuous feelings, and by the dictates of plain, unsophisticated, natural understanding, he felt that no great commonwealth could by any possibility long subsist without a body of some kind or other of nobility decorated with honour and fortified by privilege. This nobility forms the chain that connects the ages of a nation, which otherwise (with Mr. Paine) would soon be taught that no one generation can bind another. He felt that no political fabric could be well made, without some such order of things as might, through a series of time, afford a rational hope of securing unity, coherence, consistency, and stability to the state.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Noble Lord on the Attacks upon his Pension, 1796.    
  These philosophers are fanatics: independent of any interest, which, if it operated alone, would make them much more tractable, they are carried with such an headlong rage towards every desperate trial that they would sacrifice the whole human race to the slightest of their experiments. I am better able to enter into the character of this description of men than the noble Duke can be. I have lived long and variously in the world. Without any considerable pretensions to literature in myself, I have aspired to the love of letters. I have lived for a great many years in habitudes with those who professed them. I can form a tolerable estimate of what is likely to happen from a character chiefly dependent for fame and fortune on knowledge and talent, as well in its morbid and perverted state as in that which is sound and natural. Naturally men so formed and finished are the first gifts of Providence to the world. But when they have once thrown off the fear of God, which was in all ages too often the case, and the fear of man, which is now the case, and when in that state they come to understand one another, and to act in corps, a more dreadful calamity cannot arise out of hell to scourge mankind.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Noble Lord on the Attacks upon his Pension, 1796.    
  Nothing can be conceived more hard than the heart of a thorough-bred metaphysician. It comes nearer to the cold malignity of a wicked spirit than to the frailty and passion of a man. It is like that of the Principle of Evil himself, incorporeal, pure, unmixed, dephlegmated, defecated evil! It is no easy operation to eradicate humanity from the human breast. What Shakspeare calls the “compunctious visitings of Nature” will sometimes knock at their hearts, and protest against their murderous speculations. But they have a means of compounding with their nature. Their humanity is not dissolved; they only give it a long prorogation. They are ready to declare that they do not think two thousand years too long a period for the good that they pursue. It is remarkable that they never see any way to their projected good but by the road of some evil. Their imagination is not fatigued with the contemplation of human suffering through the wild waste of centuries added to centuries of misery and desolation. Their humanity is at their horizon,—and, like the horizon, it always flies before them. The geometricians and the chemists bring, the one from the dry bones of their diagrams, and the other from the soot of their furnaces, dispositions that make them worse than indifferent about those feelings and habitudes which are the supports of the moral world. Ambition is come upon them suddenly; they are intoxicated with it, and it has rendered them fearless of the danger which may thence arise to others or to themselves. These philosophers consider men in their experiments no more than they do mice in air-pumps or in a recipient of mephitic gas. Whatever his Grace may think of himself, they look upon him, and everything that belongs to him, with no more regard than they do upon the whiskers of that little long-tailed animal that has long been the game of the grave, demure, insidious, spring-nailed, velvet-pawed, green-eyed philosophers, whether going upon two legs or upon four.
Edmund Burke: Letter to a Noble Lord upon the Attacks upon his Pension, 1796.    
  Everything has been done [in your History of America] which was so naturally to be expected from the author of the History of Scotland, and the age of Charles the Fifth. I believe few books have done more than this towards clearing up dark points, correcting errors, and removing prejudices. You have, too, the rare secret of rekindling an interest in subjects that had been so often treated, and in which everything that could feed a vital flame appeared to have been consumed. I am sure I read many parts of your history with that fresh concern and anxiety which attends those who are not previously informed of the event.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Dr. W. Robertson, June 10, 1777.    
  However, to act with any people with the least degree of comfort, I believe we must contrive a little to assimilate to their character. We must gravitate toward them, if we would keep in the same system, or expect that they should approach toward us.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Hon. C. J. Fox, Oct. 8, 1777.    
  Surely the state of Ireland ought forever to teach parties moderation in their victories. People crushed by law have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws; and those who have much to hope and nothing to lose will always be dangerous, more or less.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Hon. Chas. James Fox, Oct. 8, 1777.    
  A more mischievous idea cannot exist, than that any degree of wickedness, violence, and oppression may prevail in a country, that the most abominable, murderous, and exterminating rebellions may rage in it, or the most atrocious and bloody tyranny may domineer, and that no neighbouring power can take cognizance of either, or afford succour to the miserable sufferers.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Lord Grenville, Aug. 18, 1792.    
  Until this step is firmly taken, the House will continue under the impression of fear,—the most unwise, the most unjust, and the most cruel of all counsellors.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Lord Loughborough, June 15, 1780.    
  I am not of opinion that the race of men and the commonwealths they create, like the bodies of individuals, grow effete, and languid, and bloodless, and ossify by the necessities of their own conformation, and the fatal operation of longevity and time. These analogies between bodies natural and politic, though they may sometimes illustrate arguments, furnish no arguments of themselves. They are but too often used under colour of a specious philosophy to find apologies for the despair of laziness and pusillanimity, and to excuse the want of all manly efforts, when the exigencies of our country call for them more loudly.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Mr. W. Elliot, 1795.    
  The progressive sagacity that keeps company with times and occasions, and decides upon things in their existing position, is that alone which can give true propriety, grace, and effect to a man’s conduct. It is very hard to anticipate the occasion, and to live by a rule more general.
Edmund Burke: Letter to R. Shackleton, May 25, 1779.    
  When you choose an arduous and slippery path, God forbid that any weak feelings of my declining age, which calls for soothings and supports, and which can have none but from you, should make me wish that you should abandon what you are about, or should trifle with it! In this house we submit, though with troubled minds, to that order which has connected all great duties with toils and with perils, which has conducted the road to glory through the regions of obloquy and reproach, and which will never suffer the disparaging alliance of spurious, false, and fugitive praise with genuine and permanent reputation. We know that the Power which has settled that order, and subjected you to it by placing you in the situation you are in, is able to bring you out of it with credit and with safety. His will be done! All must come right. You may open the way with pain and under reproach: others will pursue it with ease and with applause.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Rich. Burke, on Protestant Ascendency in Ireland, 1793.    
  Liberty, such as deserves the name, is an honest, equitable, diffusive, and impartial principle. It is a great and enlarged virtue, and not a sordid, selfish, and illiberal vice. It is the portion of the mass of the citizens, and not the haughty license of some potent individual or some predominant faction.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Richard Burke on Prot. Ascend. in Ireland, 1793.    
  This kind of persecutors without zeal, without charity, know well enough that religion, to pass by all questions of the truth or falsehood of any of its particular systems (a matter I abandon to the theologians on all sides), is a source of great comfort to us mortals, in this our short but tedious journey throughout the world. They know that, to enjoy this consolation, men must believe their religion upon some principle or other, whether of education, habit, theory, or authority. When men are driven from any of those principles on which they have received religion, without embracing with the same assurance and cordiality some other system, a dreadful void is left in their minds, and a terrible shock is given to their morals. They lose their guide, their comfort, their hope.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Richard Burke on Prot. Ascend. in Ireland, 1793.    
  If anything ought to be despotic in a country, it is its government; because there is no cause of constant operation to make its yoke unequal. But the dominion of a party must continually, steadily, and by its very essence, lean upon the prostrate description. A constitution formed so as to enable a party to overrule its very government, and to overpower the people too, answers the purposes neither of government nor of freedom. It compels that power which ought, and often would be disposed, equally to protect the subjects, to fail in its trust, to counteract its purposes, and to become no better than the instrument of the wrongs of a faction.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Richard Burke, On Protestant Ascendency in Ireland, 1793.    
  That discretion, which in judicature is well said by Lord Coke to be a crooked cord, in legislature is a golden rule.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe, on the Roman Cathotics of Ireland, 1792.    
  But calamity is, unhappily, the usual season of reflection; and the pride of men will not often suffer reason to have any scope until it can be no longer of service.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  Parliament, from a mere representative of the people, and a guardian of popular privileges for its own immediate constituents, grew into a mighty sovereign. Instead of being a control on the crown on its own behalf, it communicated a sort of strength to the royal authority, which was wanted for the conservation of a new object, but which could not be safely trusted to the crown alone.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  Civil freedom, Gentlemen, is not, as many have endeavoured to persuade you, a thing that lies hid in the depth of abstruse science. It is a blessing and a benefit, not an abstract speculation; and all the just reasoning that can be upon it is of so coarse a texture as perfectly to suit the ordinary capacities of those who are to enjoy and of those who are to defend it. Far from any resemblance to those propositions in geometry and metaphysics which admit no medium, but must be true or false in all their latitude, social and civil freedom, like all other things in common life, are variously mixed and modified, enjoyed in very different degrees, and shaped into an infinite diversity of forms, according to the temper and circumstances of every community.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  The extreme of liberty (which is its abstract perfection, but its real fault) obtains nowhere, nor ought to obtain anywhere; because extremes, as we all know, in every point which relates either to our duties or satisfactions in life, are destructive both to virtue and enjoyment. Liberty, too, must be limited in order to be possessed. The degree of restraint it is impossible in any case to settle precisely. But it ought to be the constant aim of every wise public counsel to find out, by cautious experiments, and rational, cool endeavours, with how little, not how much, of this restraint the community can subsist; for liberty is a good to be improved, and not an evil to be lessened. It is not only a private blessing of the first order, but the vital spring and energy of the state itself, which has just so much life and vigour as there is liberty in it. But, whether liberty be advantageous or not (for I know it is the fashion to decry the very principle), none will dispute that peace is a blessing; and peace must, in the course of human affairs, be frequently brought by some indulgence and toleration at least to liberty: for, as the Sabbath (though of divine institution) was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, government, which can claim no higher origin or authority, in its exercise at least, ought to conform to the exigencies of the time, and the temper and character of the people with whom it is concerned, and not always to attempt violently to bend the people to their theories of subjection. The bulk of mankind, on their part, are not excessively curious concerning any theories whilst they are really happy; and one sure symptom of an ill-conducted state is the propensity of the people to resort to them.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  In effect, to follow, not to force, the public inclination,—to give a direction, a form, a technical dress, and a specific sanction, to the general sense of the community, is the true end of legislation.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  The poorest being that crawls on earth, contending to save itself from injustice and oppression, is an object respectable in the eyes of God and man. But I cannot conceive any existence under heaven (which in the depths of its wisdom tolerates all sorts of things) that is more truly odious and disgusting than an impotent, helpless creature, without civil wisdom or military skill, without a consciousness of any other qualification for power but his servility to it, bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles which he is not to fight, contending for a violent dominion which he can never exercise, and satisfied to be himself mean and miserable, in order to render others contemptible and wretched.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  Not that I think it fit for any one to rely too much on his own understanding, or to be filled with a presumption not becoming a Christian man in his own personal stability and rectitude. I hope I am far from that vain confidence which almost always fails in trial. I know my weakness in all respects, as much at least as any enemy I have; and I attempt to take security against it. The only method which has ever been found effectual to preserve any man against the corruption of nature and example is an habit of life and communication of councils with the most virtuous and public-spirited men of the age you live in. Such a society cannot be kept without advantage, or deserted without shame. For this rule of conduct I may be called in reproach a party man; but I am little affected with such aspersions. In the way which they call party I worship the Constitution of your fathers; and I shall never blush for my political company.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  I hope there are none of you corrupted with the doctrine taught by wicked men for the worst purposes, and received by the malignant credulity of envy and ignorance, which is, that the men who act upon the public stage are all alike, all equally corrupt, all influenced by no other views than the sordid lure of salary and pension. The thing I know by experience to be false. Never expecting to find perfection in men, and not looking for divine attributes in created beings, in my commerce with my contemporaries I have found much human virtue. I have seen not a little public spirit, a real subordination of interest to duty, and a decent and regulated sensibility to honest fame and reputation. The age unquestionably produces (whether in a greater or less number than former times I know not) daring profligates and insidious hypocrites. What then? Am I not to avail myself of whatever good is to be found in the world, because of the mixture of evil that will always be in it? The smallness of the quantity in currency only heightens the value. They who raise suspicions on the good on account of the behaviour of ill men are of the party of the latter.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  This moral levelling is a servile principle. It leads to practical passive obedience far better than all the doctrines which the pliant accommodation of theology to power has ever produced. It cuts up by the roots not only all idea of forcible resistance, but even of civil opposition. It disposes men to an abject submission, not by opinion, which may be shaken by argument or altered by passion, but by the strong ties of public and private interest. For, if all men who act in a public situation are equally selfish, corrupt, and venal, what reason can be given for desiring any sort of change, which, besides the evils which must attend all changes, can be productive of no possible advantage? The active men in the state are true samples of the mass. If they are universally depraved, the commonwealth itself is not sound. We may amuse ourselves with talking as much as we please of the virtue of middle or humble life; that is, we may place our confidence in the virtue of those who have never been tried. But if the persons who are continually emerging out of that sphere be no better than those whom birth has placed above it, what hopes are there in the remainder of the body which is to furnish the perpetual succession of the state? All who have ever written on government are unanimous, that among a people generally corrupt liberty cannot long exist. And, indeed, how is it possible, when those who are to make the laws, to guard, to enforce, or to obey them, are, by a tacit confederacy of manners, indisposed to the spirit of all generous and noble institutions?
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  They have been told that their dissent from violent measures is an encouragement to rebellion. Men of great presumption and little knowledge will hold a language which is contradicted by the whole course of history. General rebellions and revolts of an whole people never were encouraged, now or at any time. They are always provoked.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  I am, and ever have been, deeply sensible of the difficulty of reconciling the strong presiding power, that is so useful towards the conservation of a vast, disconnected, infinitely diversified empire, with that liberty and safety of the provinces which they must enjoy (in opinion and practice at least) or they will not be provinces at all. I know, and have long felt, the difficulty of reconciling the unwieldy haughtiness of a great ruling nation, habituated to command, pampered by enormous wealth, and confident from a long course of prosperity and victory, to the high spirit of free dependencies, animated with the first glow and activity of juvenile heat, and assuming to themselves, as their birthright, some part of that very pride which oppresses them. They who perceive no difficulty in reconciling these tempers (which, however, to make peace, must some way or other be reconciled) are much above my capacity, or much below the magnitude of the business. Of one thing I am perfectly clear: that it is not by deciding the suit, but by compromising the difference, that peace can be restored or kept. They who would put an end to such quarrels by declaring roundly in favour of the whole demands of either party have mistaken, in my humble opinion, the office of a mediator.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, 1777.    
  A conscientious person would rather doubt his own judgment than condemn his species. He would say, “I have observed without attention, or judged upon erroneous maxims; I trusted to profession, when I ought to have attended to conduct.” Such a man will grow wise, not malignant, by his acquaintance with the world. But he that accuses all mankind of corruption ought to remember that he is sure to convict only one. In truth, I should much rather admit those whom at any time I have disrelished the most to be patterns of perfection, than seek a consolation to my own unworthiness in a general communion of depravity with all about me.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  For I never knew a writer on the theory of government so partial to authority as not to allow that the hostile mind of the rulers to their people did fully justify a change of government; nor can any reason whatever be given why one people should voluntarily yield any degree of preëminence to another but on a supposition of great affection and benevolence towards them.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  These were the considerations, gentlemen, which led me early to think, that, in the comprehensive dominion which the Divine Providence had put into our hands, instead of troubling our understandings with speculations concerning the unity of empire and the identity or distinction of legislative powers, and inflaming our passions with the heat and pride of controversy, it was our duty, in all soberness, to conform our government to the character and circumstances of the several people who composed this mighty and strangely diversified mass.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  I was persuaded that government was a practical thing, made for the happiness of mankind, and not to furnish out a spectacle of uniformity to gratify the schemes of visionary politicians. Our business was to rule, not to wrangle; and it would have been a poor compensation that we had triumphed in a dispute, whilst we lost an empire.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  If any ask me what a free government is, I answer, that, for any practical purpose, it is what the people think so,—and that they, and not I, are the natural, lawful, and competent judges of this matter. If they practically allow me a greater degree of authority over them than is consistent with any correct ideas of perfect freedom, I ought to thank them for so great a trust, and not to endeavour to prove from thence that they have reasoned amiss, and that, having gone so far, by analogy they must hereafter have no enjoyment but by my pleasure.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  There are people who have split and anatomized the doctrine of free government, as if it were an abstract question concerning metaphysical liberty and necessity, and not a matter of moral prudence and natural feeling. They have disputed whether liberty be a positive or a negative idea; whether it does not consist in being governed by laws, without considering what are the laws, or who are the makers; whether man has any rights by Nature; and whether all the property he enjoys be not the alms of his government, and his life itself their favour and indulgence. Others, corrupting religion as these have perverted philosophy, contend that Christians are redeemed into captivity, and the blood of the Saviour of mankind has been shed to make them the slaves of a few proud and insolent sinners. These shocking extremes provoking to extremes of another kind, speculations are let loose as destructive to all authority as the former are to all freedom; and every government is called tyranny and usurpation which is not formed on their fancies.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, April 3, 1777.    
  All the principal religions in Europe stand upon one common bottom. The support that the whole, or the favoured parts, may have in the secret dispensations of Providence, it is impossible to say; but, humanly speaking, they are all prescriptive religions. They have all stood long enough to make prescription, and its chain of legitimate prejudices, their chief stay. The people who compose the four grand divisions of Christianity have now their religion as an habit, and upon authority, and not on disputation; as all men who have their religion derived from their parents and the fruits of education must have it; however the one more than the other may be able to reconcile his faith to his own reason or to that of other men.
Edmund Burke: Letter to William Smith.    
  If to preserve political independence and civil freedom to nations was a just ground of war, a war to preserve national independence, property, liberty, life, and honour from certain universal havoc is a war just, necessary, manly, pious; and we are bound to persevere in it by every principle, divine and human, as long as the system which menaces them all, and all equally, has an existence in the world.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I.    
  A danger to avert a danger, a present inconvenience and suffering to prevent a foreseen future and a worse calamity,—these are the motives that belong to an animal who in his constitution is at once adventurous and provident, circumspect and daring,—whom his Creator has made, as the poet says, “of large discourse, looking before and after.” But never can a vehement and sustained spirit of fortitude be kindled in a people by a war of calculation. It has nothing that can keep the mind erect under the gusts of adversity. Even where men are willing, as sometimes they are, to barter their blood for lucre, to hazard their safety for the gratification of their avarice, the passion which animates them to that sort of conflict, like all the short-sighted passions, must see its objects distinct and near at hand. The passions of the lower order are hungry and impatient. Speculative plunder,—contingent spoil,—future, long adjourned, uncertain booty,—pillage which must enrich a late posterity, and which possibly may not reach to posterity at all,—these, for any length of time, will never support a mercenary war. The people are in the right. The calculation of profit in all such wars is false. On balancing the account of such wars, ten thousand hogsheads of sugar are purchased at ten thousand times their price. The blood of man should never be shed but to redeem the blood of man. It is well shed for our family, for our friends, for our God, for our country, for our kind. The rest is vanity; the rest is crime.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I.    
  As to war, if it be the means of wrong and violence, it is the sole means of justice amongst nations. Nothing can banish it from the world. They who say otherwise, intending to impose upon us, do not impose upon themselves. But it is one of the greatest objects of human wisdom to mitigate those evils which we are unable to remove. The conformity and analogy of which I speak, incapable, like everything else, of preserving perfect trust and tranquillity among men, has a strong tendency to facilitate accommodation and to produce a generous oblivion of the rancour of their quarrels. With this similitude, peace is more of peace, and war is less of war.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I.    
  The spirit of enterprise gives to this description the full use of all their native energies. If I have reason to conceive that my enemy, who, as such, must have an interest in my destruction, is also a person of discernment and sagacity, then I must be quite sure that, in a contest, the object he violently pursues is the very thing by which my ruin is likely to be the most perfectly accomplished.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  And is, then, example nothing? It is everything. Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other. This war is a war against that example.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  There is a courageous wisdom: there is also a false, reptile prudence, the result, not of caution, but of fear. Under misfortunes, it often happens that the nerves of the understanding are so relaxed, the pressing peril of the hour so completely confounds all the faculties, that no future danger can be properly provided for, can be justly estimated, can be so much as fully seen. The eye of the mind is dazzled and vanquished. An abject distrust of ourselves, an extravagant admiration of the enemy, present us with no hope but in a compromise with his pride by a submission to his will. This short plan of policy is the only counsel which will obtain a hearing. We plunge into a dark gulf with all the rash precipitation of fear. The nature of courage is, without a question, to be conversant with danger; but in the palpable night of their terrors, men under consternation suppose, not that it is the danger which by a sure instinct calls out the courage to resist it, but that it is the courage which produces the danger. They therefore seek for a refuge in the fears themselves, and consider a temporizing meanness as the only source of safety.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  It has ever been the method of public jurists to draw a great part of the analogies on which they form the law of nations from the principles of law which prevail in civil communities. Civil laws are not all of them merely positive. Those which are rather conclusions of legal reason than matters of statutable provision belong to universal equity, and are universally applicable. Almost the whole prætorian law is such.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  Manners are of more importance than laws. Upon them, in a great measure, the laws depend. The law touches us but here and there, and now and then. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in. They give their whole form and colour to our lives. According to their quality, they aid morals, they supply them, or they totally destroy them.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  Other legislators, knowing that marriage is the origin of all relations, and consequently the first element of all duties, have endeavoured by every art to make it sacred. The Christian religion, by confining it to the pairs, and by rendering that relation indissoluble, has by these two things done more towards the peace, happiness, settlement, and civilization of the world than by any other part in this whole scheme of Divine wisdom. The direct contrary course has been taken in the synagogue of Antichrist,—I mean in that forge and manufactory of all evil, the sect which predominated in the Constituent Assembly of 1789. Those monsters employed the same or greater industry to desecrate and degrade that state, which other legislators have used to render it holy and honourable. By a strange, uncalled-for declaration, they pronounced that marriage was no better than a common civil contract.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  The practice of divorce, though in some countries permitted, has been discouraged in all. In the East, polygamy and divorce are in discredit, and the manners correct the laws. In Rome, whilst Rome was in its integrity, the few causes allowed for divorce amounted in effect to a prohibition. They were only three. The arbitrary was totally excluded; and accordingly some hundreds of years passed without a single example of that kind. When manners were corrupted, the laws were relaxed; as the latter always follow the former, when they are not able to regulate them or to vanquish them.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  As to the right of men to act anywhere according to their pleasure, without any moral tie, no such right exists. Men are never in a state of total independence of each other. It is not the condition of our nature: nor is it conceivable how any man can pursue a considerable course of action without its having some effect upon others, or, of course, without producing some degree of responsibility for his conduct. The situations in which men relatively stand produce the rules and principles of that responsibility, and afford directions to prudence in exacting it.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  As to those whom they suffer to die a natural death, they do not permit them to enjoy the last consolations of mankind, or those rights of sepulture which indicate hope, and which mere Nature has taught to mankind, in all countries, to soothe the afflictions and to cover the infirmity of mortal condition. They disgrace men in the entry into life, they vitiate and enslave them through the whole course of it, and they deprive them of all comfort at the conclusion of their dishonoured and depraved existence.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  I am not quite of the mind of those speculators who seem assured that necessarily, and by the constitution of things, all states have the same periods of infancy, manhood, and decrepitude that are found in the individuals who compose them. Parallels of this sort rather furnish similitudes to illustrate or to adorn than supply analogies from whence to reason. The objects which are attempted to be forced into an analogy are not found in the same classes of existence. Individuals are physical beings subject to laws universal and invariable. The immediate cause acting in these laws may be obscure; the general results are certain subjects of certain calculation. But commonwealths are not physical, but moral essences. They are artificial combinations, and, in their proximate efficient cause, the arbitrary productions of the human mind. We are not yet acquainted with the laws which necessarily influence the stability of that kind of work made by that kind of agent.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  Men are not tied to one another by papers and seals. They are led to associate by resemblances, by conformities, by sympathies. It is with nations as with individuals. Nothing is so strong a tie of amity between nation and nation as correspondence in laws, customs, manners, and habits of life. They have more than the force of treaties in themselves. They are obligations written in the heart. They approximate men to men without their knowledge, and sometimes against their intentions. The secret, unseen, but irrefragable bond of habitual intercourse holds them together, even when their perverse and litigious nature sets them to equivocate, scuffle, and fight about the terms of their written obligations.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  None can aspire to act greatly but those who are of force greatly to suffer. They who make their arrangements in the first run of misadventure, and in a temper of mind the common fruit of disappointment and dismay, put a seal on their calamities. To their power they take a security against any favours which they might hope from the usual inconstancy of fortune.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  Falsehood and delusion are allowed in no case whatever: but, as in the exercise of all the virtues, there is an economy of truth. It is a sort of temperance, by which a man speaks truth with measure, that he may speak it the longer.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  As if war was a matter of experiment! As if you could take it up or lay it down as an idle frolic! As if the dire goddess that presides over it, with her murderous spear in her hand and her Gorgon at her breast, was a coquette to be flirted with! We ought with reverence to approach that tremendous divinity, that loves courage, but commands counsel. War never leaves where it found a nation. It is never to be entered into without a mature deliberation,—not a deliberation lengthened out into a perplexing indecision, but a deliberation leading to a sure and fixed judgment. When so taken up, it is not to be abandoned without reason as valid, as fully and as extensively considered. Peace may be made as unadvisedly as war. Nothing is so rash as fear; and the counsels of pusillanimity very rarely put off, whilst they are always sure to aggravate, the evils from which they would fly.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  If wealth is the obedient and laborious slave of virtue and of public honour, then wealth is in its place and has its use; but if this order is changed, and honour is to be sacrificed to the conservation of riches, riches, which have neither eyes nor hands, nor anything truly vital in them, cannot long survive the being of their vivifying powers, their legitimate masters, and their potent protectors. If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free: if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed. We are bought by the enemy with the treasure from our own coffers. Too great a sense of the value of a subordinate interest may be the very source of its danger, as well as the certain ruin of interests of a superior order. Often has a man lost his all because he would not submit to hazard all in defending it.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter I., 1796.    
  Nothing, indeed, but the possession of some power can with any certainty discover what at the bottom is the true character of any man.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter II.    
  They who have made but superficial studies in the natural history of the human mind have been taught to look on religious opinions as the only cause of enthusiastic zeal and sectarian propagation. But there is no doctrine whatever, on which men can warm, that is not capable of the very same effect. The social nature of man impels him to propagate his principles, as much as physical impulses urge him to propagate his kind. The passions give zeal and vehemence. The understanding bestows design and system. The whole man moves under the discipline of his opinions. Religion is among the most powerful causes of enthusiasm. When anything concerning it becomes an object of much meditation, it cannot be indifferent to the mind. They who do not love religion hate it. The rebels to God perfectly abhor the Author of their being. They hate Him “with all their heart, with all their mind, with all their soul, and with all their strength.” He never presents Himself to their thoughts but to menace and alarm them. They cannot strike the sun out of heaven, but they are able to raise a smouldering smoke that obscures him from their own eyes.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter II.    
  I know, too, the obstinacy of unbelief in those perverted minds which have no delight but in contemplating the supposed distress and predicting the immediate ruin of their country. These birds of evil presage at all times have grated our ears with their melancholy song; and, by some strange fatality or other, it has generally happened that they have poured forth their loudest and deepest lamentations at the periods of our most abundant prosperity.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter III., 1797.    
  Never was there a jar or discord between genuine sentiment and sound policy. Never, no, never, did Nature say one thing and Wisdom say another. Nor are sentiments of elevation in themselves turgid and unnatural. Nature is never more truly herself than in her grandest forms. The Apollo of Belvedere (if the universal robber has yet left him at Belvedere) is as much in Nature as any figure from the pencil of Rembrandt or any clown in the rustic revels of Teniers. Indeed, it is when a great nation is in great difficulties that minds must exalt themselves to the occasion, or all is lost.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter III., 1797.    
  Strong passion under the direction of a feeble reason feeds a low fever, which serves only to destroy the body that entertains it. But vehement passion does not always indicate an infirm judgment. It often accompanies, and actuates, and is even auxiliary to, a powerful understanding; and when they both conspire and act harmoniously, their force is great to destroy disorder within and to repel injury from abroad.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter III., 1797.    
  Where I speak of responsibility, I do not mean to exclude that species of it which the legal powers of the country have a right finally to exact from those who abuse a public trust: but, high as this is, there is a responsibility which attaches on them from which the whole legitimate power of the kingdom cannot absolve them; there is a responsibility to conscience and to glory, a responsibility to the existing world, and to that posterity which men of their eminence cannot avoid for glory or for shame,—a responsibility to a tribunal at which not only ministers, but kings and parliaments, but even nations themselves, must one day answer.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter III., 1797.    
  I do not call a healthy young man, cheerful in his mind and vigorous in his arms, I cannot call such a man poor; I cannot pity my kind as a kind, merely because they are men. This affected pity only tends to dissatisfy them with their condition, and to teach them to seek resources where no resources are to be found, in something else than their own industry and frugality and sobriety.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter III., 1797.    
  Fraud and prevarication are servile vices. They sometimes grow out of the necessities, always out of the habits, of slavish and degenerate spirits; and on the theatre of the world it is not by assuming the mask of a Davus or a Geta that an actor will obtain credit for manly simplicity and a liberal openness of proceeding. It is an erect countenance, it is a firm adherence to principle, it is a power of resisting false shame and frivolous fear, that assert our good faith and honour and assure to us the confidence of mankind.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter III., 1797.    
  Indeed, the abuse of the bounties of Nature, much more surely than any partial privation of them, tends to intercept that precious boon of a second and dearer life in our progeny, which was bestowed in the first great command to man from the All-Gracious Giver of all,—whose name be blessed, whether He gives or takes away! His hand, in every page of His book, has written the lesson of moderation. Our physical well-being, our moral worth, our social happiness, our political tranquillity, all depend on that control of all our appetites and passions which the ancients designed by the cardinal virtue of temperance.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace, Letter III., 1797.    
  Well is it known that ambition can creep as well as soar. The pride of no person in a flourishing condition is more justly to be dreaded than that of him who is mean and cringing under a doubtful and unprosperous fortune.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace: Letter III., 1797.    
  It is the common doom of man, that he must eat his bread by the sweat of his brow,—that is, by the sweat of his body or the sweat of his mind. If this toil was inflicted as a curse, it is, as might be expected, from the curses of the Father of all blessings; it is tempered with many alleviations, many comforts. Every attempt to fly from it, and to refuse the very terms of our existence, becomes much more truly a curse; and heavier pains and penalties fall upon those who would elude the tasks which are put upon them by the great Master Workman of the world, who in his dealings with his creatures sympathizes with their weakness, and, speaking of a creation wrought by mere will out of nothing, speaks of six days of labour and one of rest.
Edmund Burke: Letters on a Regicide Peace: Letter III., 1797.    
  It may be new to his Grace, but I beg leave to tell him that mere parsimony is not economy. It is separable in theory from it; and in fact it may or it may not be a part of economy, according to circumstances. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy. If parsimony were to be considered as one of the kinds of that virtue, there is, however, another and an higher economy. Economy is a distributive virtue, and consists, not in saving, but in selection. Parsimony requires no providence, no sagacity, no powers of combination, no comparison, no judgment. Mere instinct, and that not an instinct of the noblest kind, may produce this false economy in perfection. The other economy has larger views. It demands a discriminating judgment, and a firm, sagacious mind. It shuts one door to impudent importunity, only to open another, and a wider, to unpresuming merit. If none but meritorious service or real talent were to be rewarded, this nation has not wanted, and this nation will not want, the means of rewarding all the service it ever will receive, and encouraging all the merit it ever will produce. No state, since the foundation of society, has been impoverished by that species of profusion.
Edmund Burke: Litters to a Noble Lord, 1796.    
  Hope is the principle of activity; without holding out hope, to desire one to advance is absurd and senseless. Suppose, without a sou in my hand, one were to say, “Exert yourself: for there is no hope,”—it would be to turn me into ridicule, and not to advise me. To hold out to me the hopelessness of my condition never was a reason for exertion; for when, ultimately, equal evils attend upon exertion and rest, rest has clearly the preference.
Edmund Burke: Lord North and the American War.    
  A wise man always walks with his scale to measure, and his balances to weigh, in his hand. If he cannot have the best, he asks himself if he cannot have the next best. But if he comes to the point of graduation, where all positive good ceases, he asks himself next, What is the least evil? and on a view of the downward comparison, he considers and embraces that least evil as comparative good.
Edmund Burke: Lord North and the American War.    
  Who can avoid being touched with the most poignant emotion when he compares the state of things at this the opening of his Majesty’s third parliament with their condition at the opening of his first? Sir, the House has many young members who are saved the feeling of this painful contrast; but the aged Israelites weep at the view of the second temple! Oh! what a falling off is there! Oh! how soon this sun of our meridian glory is setting in clouds, in tempests, and storms—in darkness and the shadow of death!  232
  At that happy meridian, Sir, we triumphantly withstood the combination of all Europe. Every part of the globe bowed under the force of our victorious arms; and, what was a combination new under the sun, we had all the trophies of war combined with all the advantages of peace. The rugged field of glory was buried under the exuberance of luxuriant harvest. The peaceful olive was engrafted on the laurel; arms and arts embraced each other. The messengers of victory, sent from every quarter of the globe, met the convoys of commerce that issued from every port, and announced one triumph while they prepared another. In the season of piracy and rapine the ocean was as safe to navigation as the tranquil bosom of the Thames. All this was done by the concord, by the consent, and harmonious motion, of all the parts of the empire; and this harmony, consent, and concord arose from the principle of liberty, that fed, that animated, and bound together, the whole.  233
  But now, while those enemies look on and rejoice, we are tearing to pieces this beautiful structure! The demon of discord walks abroad; a spirit of blindness and delusion prevails; we are preparing to mangle our own flesh in order to cut to pieces the bonds of our union, and we begin with the destruction of our commerce as a preliminary to civil slaughter,—and thus opens this third Parliament.
Edmund Burke: Notes for Speech on Amendment of the Address, Nov. 30, 1774.    
  People not very well grounded in the principles of public morality find a set of maxims in office ready made for them, which they assume as naturally and inevitably as any of the insignia or instruments of the situation. A certain tone of the solid and practical is immediately acquired. Every former profession of public spirit is to be considered as a debauch of youth, or, at best, as a visionary scheme of unattainable perfection. The very idea of consistency is exploded. The convenience of the business of the day is to furnish the principle for doing it.
Edmund Burke: Observations on “The Present State of the Nation,” 1769.    
  I believe the instances are exceedingly rare of men immediately passing over a clear marked line of virtue into declared vice and corruption. There are a sort of middle tints and shades between the two extremes; there is something uncertain on the confines of the two empires which they first pass through, and which renders the change easy and imperceptible. There are even a sort of splendid impositions so well contrived, that, at the very time the path of rectitude is quitted forever, men seem to be advancing into some higher and nobler road of public conduct. Not that such impositions are strong enough in themselves; but a powerful interest, often concealed from those whom it affects, works at the bottom, and secures the operation.
Edmund Burke: On “The Present State of the Nation,” 1769.    
  I am beyond measure surprised that you seem to feel no sort of terror at the awfulness of the situation in which you are placed by Providence, or into which you thought proper to intrude yourselves. A whole people culprit! Nations under accusation! A tribunal erected for commonwealths! This is no vulgar idea, and no trivial undertaking; it makes me shudder. I confess that, in comparison of the magnitude of the situation, I feel myself shrunk to nothing. Next to that tremendous day in which it is revealed that the saints of God shall judge the world, I know nothing that fills my mind with greater apprehension; and yet I see the matter trifled with, as if it were the beaten routine, an ordinary quarter-session, or a paltry course of common gaol-delivery.
Edmund Burke: On the Measures against the American Colonies: Corresp., 1844, iv. 488.    
  I speak for myself: I do not wish any man to be converted from his sect. The distinctions which we have reformed from animosity to emulation may be even useful to the cause of religion. By some moderate contention they keep alive zeal. Whereas people who change, except under strong conviction (a thing now rather rare), the religion of their early prejudices, especially if the conversion is brought about by any political machine, are very apt to degenerate into indifference, laxity, and often downright atheism.
Edmund Burke: On the Policy of the Allies, Oct. 1793.    
  I do not contend against the advantages of distrust. In the world we live in it is but too necessary. Some of old called it the very sinews of discretion. But what signify commonplaces that always run parallel and equal? Distrust is good, or it is bad, according to our position and our purpose. Distrust is a defensive principle. They who have much to lose have much to fear.
Edmund Burke: On the Polity of the Allies.    
  The same sun which gilds all nature, and exhilarates the whole creation, does not shine upon disappointed ambition. It is something that rays out of darkness, and inspires nothing but gloom and melancholy. Men in this deplorable state of mind find a comfort in spreading the contagion of their spleen. They find an advantage too; for it is a general, popular error, to imagine the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare. If such persons can answer the ends of relief and profit to themselves, they are apt to be careless enough about either the means or the consequences.
Edmund Burke: On the Present State of the Nation, 1769.    
  Mr. Locke very justly and finely observes of wit, that it is chiefly conversant in tracing resemblances; he remarks, at the same time, that the business of judgment is rather in finding differences. It may perhaps appear, on this supposition, that there is no material distinction between the wit and the judgment, as they both seem to result from different operations of the same faculty of comparing. But in reality, whether they are or are not dependent on the same power of the mind, they differ so very materially in many respects, that a perfect union of wit and judgment is one of the rarest things in the world.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, Introduction, On Taste, 1756.    
  In the morning of our days, when the senses are unworn and tender, when the whole man is awake in every part, and the gloss of novelty fresh upon all the objects that surround us, how lively at that time are our sensations, but how false and inaccurate the judgments we form of things! I despair of ever receiving the same degree of pleasure from the most excellent performances of genius, which I felt at that age from pieces which my present judgment regards as trifling and contemptible.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, Introduction, On Taste, 1756.    
  Although imitation is one of the great instruments used by Providence in bringing our nature towards its perfection, yet if men gave themselves up to imitation entirely, and each followed the other, and so on in an eternal circle, it is easy to see that there never could be any improvement amongst them. Men must remain as brutes do, the same at the end that they are at this day, and that they were in the beginning of the world. To prevent this, God has implanted in man a sense of ambition, and a satisfaction arising from the contemplation of his excelling his fellows in something deemed valuable amongst them. It is this passion that drives men to all the ways we see in use of signalizing themselves, and that tends to make whatever excites in a man the idea of this distinction so very pleasant. It has been so strong as to make very miserable men take comfort that they were supreme in misery; and certain it is that, where we cannot distinguish ourselves by something excellent, we begin to take a complacency in some singular infirmities, follies, or defects of one kind or other.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  The first and the simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind is curiosity. By curiosity I mean whatever desire we have for, or whatever pleasure we take in, novelty. We see children perpetually running from place to place, to hunt out something new; they catch with great eagerness, and with very little choice, at whatever comes before them; their attention is engaged by everything, because everything has, in that stage of life, the charm of novelty to recommend it. But, as those things which engage us merely by their novelty cannot attach us for any length of time, curiosity is the most superficial of all the affections; it changes its object perpetually; it has an appetite which is very sharp, but very easily satisfied; and it has always an appearance of giddiness, restlessness, and anxiety. Curiosity, from its nature, is a very active principle; it quickly runs over the greatest part of its objects; and soon exhausts the variety which is commonly to be met with in nature; the same things make frequent returns, and they return with less and less of any agreeable effect.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  We are so wonderfully formed, that, whilst we are creatures vehemently desirous of novelty, we are as strongly attached to habit and custom. But it is the nature of things which hold us by custom, to affect us very little whilst we are in possession of them, but strongly when they are absent. I remember to have frequented a certain place every day for a long time together, and I may truly say that, so far from finding pleasure in it, I was affected with a sort of weariness and disgust; I came, I went. I returned, without pleasure: yet if by any means I passed by the usual time of my going thither, I was remarkably uneasy, and was not quiet till I had got into my old track.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  Now, though in a just idea of the Deity perhaps none of his attributes are predominant, yet, to our imagination, his power is by far the most striking. Some reflection, some comparing, is necessary to satisfy us of his wisdom, his justice, and his goodness. To be struck with his power, it is only necessary that we should open our eyes. But whilst we contemplate so vast an object, under the arm, as it were, of almighty power, and invested upon every side with omnipresence, we shrink into the minuteness of our own nature, and are, in a manner, annihilated before him. And although a consideration of his other attributes may relieve, in some measure, our apprehensions, yet no conviction of the justice with which it is exercised, nor the mercy with which it is tempered, can wholly remove the terror that naturally arises from a force which nothing can withstand. If we rejoice, we rejoice with trembling; and even whilst we are receiving benefits, we cannot but shudder at a power which can confer benefits of such mighty importance.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  It is by imitation, far more than by precept, that we learn everything; and what we learn thus we acquire not only more effectually, but more pleasantly. This forms our manners, our opinions, our lives. It is one of the strongest links of society; it is a species of mutual compliance, which all men yield to each other, without constraint to themselves, and which is extremely flattering to all. Herein it is that painting and many other agreeable arts have laid one of the principal foundations of their power. And since, by its influence on our manners and our passions, it is of such great consequence, I shall here venture to lay down a rule which may inform us with a good degree of certainty when we are to attribute the power of the arts to imitation, or to our pleasure in the skill of the imitator merely, and when to sympathy, or some other cause in conjunction with it: when the object represented in poetry or painting is such as we could have no desire of seeing in the reality, then I may be sure that its power in poetry or painting is owing to the power of imitation, and to no cause operating in the thing itself.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  Providence has so ordered it, that a state of rest and inaction, however it may flatter our indolence, should be productive of many inconveniences; that it should generate such disorders as may force us to have recourse to some labour, as a thing absolutely requisite to make us pass our lives with tolerable satisfaction; for the nature of rest is to suffer all the parts of our bodies to fall into a relaxation, that not only disables the members from performing their functions, but takes away the vigorous tone of fibre which is requisite for carrying on the natural and necessary secretions. At the same time, that in this languid, inactive state, the nerves are more liable to the most horrid convulsions, than when they are sufficiently braced and strengthened. Melancholy, dejection, despair, and often self-murder, is the consequence of the gloomy view we take of things in this relaxed state of body.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  Labour is not only requisite to preserve the coarser organs in a state fit for their functions; but it is equally necessary to those finer and more delicate organs, on which, and by which, the imagination and perhaps the other mental powers act. Since it is probable that not only the inferior parts of the soul, as the passions are called, but the understanding itself makes use of some fine corporeal instruments in its operation; though what they are, and where they are, may be somewhat hard to settle: but that it does make use of such, appears from hence; that a long lassitude of the whole body, and, on the other hand, that great bodily labour, or pain, weakens and sometimes actually destroys the mental faculties. Now, as a due exercise is essential to the coarse muscular parts of the constitution, and that without this rousing they would become languid and diseased, the very same rule holds with regard to those finer parts we have mentioned: to have them in proper order, they must be shaken and worked to a proper degree.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  It may be observed, that very polished languages, and such as are praised for their superior clearness and perspicuity, are generally deficient in strength. The French language has that perfection and that defect. Whereas the Oriental tongues, and in general the languages of most unpolished people, have a great force and energy of expression; and this is but natural. Uncultivated people are but ordinary observers of things, and not critical in distinguishing them; but for that reason they admire more, and are more affected with what they see, and therefore express themselves in a warmer and more passionate manner.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  Poets, and orators, and painters, and those who cultivate other branches of the liberal arts, have, without this critical knowledge, succeeded well in their several provinces, and will succeed: as among artificers there are many machines made and even invented without any exact knowledge of the principles they are governed by. It is, I own, not uncommon to be wrong in theory and right in practice: and we are happy that it is so. Men often act right from their feelings, who afterwards reason but ill on them from principle; but as it is impossible to avoid an attempt at such reasoning, and equally impossible to prevent its having some influence on our practice, surely it is worth taking some pains to have it just, and founded on the basis of sure experience. We might expect that the artists themselves would have been our surest guides; but the artists have been too much occupied in the practice; the philosophers have done little; and what they have done was mostly with a view to their own schemes and systems; and as for those called critics, they have generally sought the rule of the arts in the wrong place; they sought it among poems, pictures, engravings, statues, and buildings. But art can never give the rules that make an art.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  Hence we may observe that poetry, taken in its most general sense, cannot with strict propriety be called an art of imitation. It is indeed an imitation so far as it describes the manners and passions of men which their words can express; where animi motus effert interprete lingua. There it is strictly imitation; and all merely dramatic poetry is of this sort. But descriptive poetry operates chiefly by substitution; by the means of sounds, which by custom have the effect of realities. Nothing is an imitation further than as it resembles some other thing; and words undoubtedly have no sort of resemblance to the ideas for which they stand.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  Every one knows that sleep is a relaxation; and that silence, where nothing keeps the organs of hearing in action, is in general fittest to bring on this relaxation; yet when a sort of murmuring sounds dispose a man to sleep, let these sounds cease suddenly, and the person immediately awakes; that is, the parts are braced up suddenly, and he awakes. This I have often experienced myself, and I have heard the same from observing persons. In like manner, if a person in broad daylight were falling asleep, to introduce a sudden darkness would prevent his sleep for that time; though silence and darkness in themselves, and not suddenly introduced, are very favourable to it. This I knew only by conjecture on the analogy of the senses when I first digested these observations; but I have since experienced it. And I have often experienced, and so have a thousand others, that on the first inclining towards sleep, we have been suddenly awakened with a most violent start; and that this start was generally preceded by a sort of dream of our falling down a precipice: whence does this strange motion arise, but from the too sudden relaxation of the body, which by some mechanism in nature restores itself by as quick and vigorous an exertion of the contracting power of the muscles? The dream itself is caused by this relaxation; and it is of too uniform a nature to be attributed to any other cause. The parts relax too suddenly, which is in the nature of falling; and this accident of the body induces this image in the mind. When we are in a confirmed state of health and vigour, as all changes are then less sudden, and less on the extreme, we can seldom complain of this disagreeable sensation.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  The second branch of the social passions is that which administers to society in general. With regard to this, I observe, that society, merely as society, without any particular heightenings, gives us no positive pleasure in the enjoyment; but absolute and entire solitude, that is, the total and perpetual exclusion from all society, is as great a positive pain as can almost be conceived. Therefore in the balance between the pleasure of general society, and the pain of absolute solitude, pain is the predominant idea. But the pleasure of any particular social enjoyment outweighs very considerably the uneasiness caused by the want of that particular enjoyment; so that the strongest sensations relative to the habitudes of particular society are sensations of pleasure. Good company, lively conversations, and the endearments of friendship, fill the mind with great pleasure; a temporary solitude, on the other hand, is itself agreeable. This may perhaps prove that we are creatures designed for contemplation as well as action; since solitude as well as society has its pleasures; as from the former observation we may discern that an entire life of solitude contradicts the purposes of our being, since death itself is scarcely an idea of more terror.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  Magnificence is likewise a source of the sublime. A great profusion of things which are splendid or valuable in themselves, is magnificent. The starry heaven, though it occurs so very frequently to our view, never fails to excite an idea of grandeur. This cannot be owing to the stars themselves, separately considered. The number is certainly the cause. The apparent disorder augments the grandeur, for the appearance of care is highly contrary to our ideas of magnificence. Besides, the stars lie in such apparent confusion as makes it impossible on ordinary occasions to reckon them. This gives them the advantage of a sort of infinity.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling. I say the strongest emotion, because I am satisfied the ideas of pain are much more powerful than those which enter on the part of pleasure. Without all doubt, the torments which we may be made to suffer are much greater in their effect on the body and mind than any pleasures which the most learned voluptuary could suggest, or than the liveliest imagination, and the most sound and exquisitely sensible body, could enjoy.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  Whenever we are formed by nature to any active purpose, the passion which animates us to it is attended with delight, or a pleasure of some kind, let the subject-matter be what it will; and as our Creator has designed that we should be united by the bond of sympathy, he has strengthened that bond by a proportionable delight; and there most where our sympathy is most wanted,—in the distresses of others. If this passion was simply painful, we would shun with the greatest care all persons and places that could excite such a passion; as some, who are so far gone in indolence as not to endure any strong impression, actually do. But the case is widely different with the greater part of mankind: there is no spectacle we so eagerly pursue, as that of some uncommon and grievous calamity; so that whether the misfortune is before our eyes, or whether they are turned back to it in history, it always touches with delight. This is not an unmixed delight, but blended with no small uneasiness. The delight we have in such things hinders us from shunning scenes of misery; and the pain we feel prompts us to relieve ourselves in relieving those who suffer: and all this is antecedent to any reasoning, by an instinct that works us to its own purposes without our concurrence.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  To examine this point concerning the effect of tragedy in a proper manner, we must previously consider how we are affected by the feelings of our fellow-creatures in circumstances of real distress. I am convinced we have a degree of delight, and that no small one, in the real misfortunes and pains of others; for let the affection be what it will in appearance, if it does not make us shun such objects, if on the contrary it induces us to approach them, if it makes us dwell upon them, in this case I conceive we must have a delight or pleasure of some species or other in contemplating objects of this kind. Do we not read the authentic histories of scenes of this nature with as much pleasure as romances or poems, where the incidents are fictitious?
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  Now, as words affect, not by any original power, but by representation, it might be supposed that their influence over the passions should be but light; yet it is quite otherwise; for we find by experience that eloquence and poetry are as capable, nay indeed much more capable, of making deep and lively impressions than any other arts, and even than nature itself in very many cases.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.    
  But the Scripture alone can supply ideas answerable to the majesty of this subject. In the Scripture, wherever God is represented as appearing or speaking, everything terrible in nature is called up to heighten the awe and solemnity of the Divine presence. The Psalms and the prophetical books are crowded with instances of this kind. The earth shook (says the Psalmist), the heavens also dropped at the presence of the Lord. And, what is remarkable, the painting preserves the same character not only when he is supposed descending to take vengeance upon the wicked, but even when he exerts the like plenitude of power in acts of beneficence to mankind. Tremble, thou earth! at the presence of the Lord; at the presence of the God of Jacob; which turned the rock into standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters! It were endless to enumerate all the passages, both in the sacred and profane writers, which establish the general sentiment of mankind, concerning the inseparable union of a sacred and reverential awe, with our ideas of the divinity.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  Before the Christian religion had, as it were, humanized the idea of the Divinity, and brought it somewhat nearer to us, there was very little said of the love of God. The followers of Plato have something of it, and only something; the other writers of pagan antiquity, whether poets or philosophers, nothing at all. And they who consider with what infinite attention, by what a disregard of every perishable object, through what long habits of piety and contemplation it is that any man is able to attain an entire love and devotion to the Deity, will easily perceive that it is not the first, the most natural, and the most striking effect which proceeds from that idea.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  The person who grieves suffers his passion to grow upon him; he indulges it, he loves it: but this never happens in the case of actual pain, which no man ever willingly endured for any considerable time. That grief should be willingly endured, though far from a simply pleasing sensation, is not so difficult to be understood. It is the nature of grief to keep its object perpetually in its eye; to present it in its most pleasurable views; to repeat all the circumstances that attend it, even to the last minuteness; to go back to every particular enjoyment, to dwell upon each, and to find a thousand new perfections in all, that were not sufficiently understood before; in grief, the pleasure is still uppermost; and the affliction we suffer has no resemblance to absolute pain, which is always odious, and which we endeavour to shake off as soon as possible.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  But if you listen to the complaints of a forsaken lover, you observe that he insists largely on the pleasures which he enjoyed, or hoped to enjoy, and on the perfection of the object of his desires: it is the loss which is always uppermost in his mind. The violent effects produced by love, which has sometimes been even wrought up to madness, is no objection to the rule which we seek to establish. When men have suffered their imaginations to be long affected with any idea, it so wholly engrosses them as to shut out by degrees almost every other, and to break down every partition of the mind which would confine it. Any idea is sufficient for this purpose, as is evident from the infinite variety of causes which give rise to madness; but this at most can only prove that the passion of love is capable of producing very extraordinary effects, not that its extraordinary emotions have any connection with positive pain.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  I know several who admire and love painting, and yet who regard the objects of their admiration in that art with coolness enough in comparison of that warmth with which they are animated by affecting pieces of poetry or rhetoric. Among the common sort of people, I never could perceive that painting had much influence on their passions. It is true that the best sorts of painting, as well as the best sorts of poetry, are not much understood in that sphere. But it is most certain that their passions are very strongly roused by a fanatic preacher, or by the ballads of Chevy Chase, or the Children in the Wood, or the other little popular poems and tales that are current in that rank of life. I do not know of any paintings, bad or good, that produce the same effect. So that poetry, with all its obscurity, has a more general, as well as a more powerful dominion over the passions, than the other art.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  In reality, poetry and rhetoric do not succeed in exact description so well as painting does; their business is, to affect rather by sympathy than imitation; to display rather the effect of things on the mind of the speaker, or of others, than to present a clear idea of the things themselves. This is their most extensive province, and that in which they succeed the best.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature, when those causes operate most powerfully, is astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object that it cannot entertain any other, nor by consequence reason on that object which employs it. Hence arises the great power of the sublime, that, far from being produced by them, it anticipates our reasonings, and hurries us on by an irresistible force. Astonishment, as I have said, is the effect of the sublime in the highest degree; the inferior effects are admiration, reverence, and respect.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  There are many animals, who, though far from being large, are yet capable of raising ideas of the sublime, because they are considered as objects of terror,—as serpents and poisonous animals of almost all kinds. And to things of great dimensions, if we annex an adventitious idea of terror, they become without comparison greater. A level plain of a vast extent on land is certainly no mean idea; the prospect of such a plain may be as extensive as a prospect of the ocean; but can it ever fill the mind with anything so great as the ocean itself? This is owing to several causes; but it is owing to none more than this, that the ocean is an object of no small terror. Indeed, terror is in all cases whatsoever, either more openly or latently, the ruling principle of the sublime.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  We yield to sympathy what we refuse to description. The truth is, all verbal description, merely as naked description, though never so exact, conveys so poor and insufficient an idea of the thing described, that it could scarcely have the smallest effect, if the speaker did not call in to his aid those modes of speech that mark a strong and lively feeling in himself. Then, by the contagion of our passions, we catch a fire already kindled in another, which probably might never have been struck out by the object described. Words, by strongly conveying the passions by those means which we have already mentioned, fully compensate for their weakness in other respects.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  Choose a day on which to represent the most sublime and affecting tragedy we have; appoint the most favourite actors; spare no cost upon the scenes and decorations; unite the greatest efforts of poetry, painting, and music; and when you have collected your audience, just at the moment when their minds are erect with expectation, let it be reported that a state criminal of high rank is on the point of being executed in the adjoining square; in a moment the emptiness of the theatre would demonstrate the comparative weakness of the imitative arts, and proclaim the triumph of the real sympathy.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  Thirdly; by words we have it in our power to make such combinations as we cannot possibly do otherwise. By this power of combining we are able, by the addition of well-chosen circumstances, to give a new life and force to the simple object. In painting we may represent any line figure we please; but we can never give it those enlivening touches which it may receive from words. To represent an angel in a picture, you can only draw a beautiful young man winged; but what painting can furnish out anything so grand as the addition of one word, “The angel of the Lord”? It is true, I have here no clear idea; but these words affect the mind more than the sensible image did; which is all I contend for.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful.    
  The excellence and force of a composition must always be imperfectly estimated from its effect on the minds of any, except we know the temper and character of those minds. The most powerful effects of poetry and music have been displayed, and perhaps still are displayed, where these arts are but in a very low and imperfect state. The rude hearer is affected by the principles which operate in these arts even in the rudest condition; and he is not skilful enough to perceive the defects. But as the arts advance towards their perfection, the science of criticism advances with equal pace, and the pleasure of judges is frequently interrupted by the faults which are discovered in the most finished compositions.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful: Introduction, On Taste, 1756.    
  Besides the ideas, with their annexed pains and pleasures, which are presented by the sense; the mind of man possesses a sort of creative power of its own; either in representing at pleasure the images of things in the order and manner in which they were received by the senses, or in combining those images in a new manner, and according to a different order. This power is called imagination; and to this belongs whatever is called wit, fancy, invention, and the like. But it must be observed that this power of the imagination is incapable of producing anything absolutely new; it can only vary the disposition of those ideas which it has received from the senses. Now the imagination is the most extensive province of pleasure and pain, as it is the region of our fears and our hopes, and of all our passions that are connected with them; and whatever is calculated to affect the imagination with these commanding ideas, by force of any original natural impression, must have the same power pretty equally over all men. For since the imagination is only the representation of the senses, it can only be pleased or displeased with the images, from the same principle on which the sense is pleased or displeased with the realities; and consequently there must be just as close an agreement in the imaginations as in the senses of men. A little attention will convince us that this must of necessity be the case.
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime and Beautiful; Introd. On Taste, 1756.    
  Death is natural to a man, but slavery unnatural; and the moment you strip a man of his liberty you strip him of all his virtues: you convert his heart into a dark hole, in which all the vices conspire against you.
Edmund Burke: Prior’s Burke, 5th ed., chap. ix.    
  This distemper of remedy, grown habitual, relaxes and wears out, by a vulgar and prostituted use, the spring of that spirit which is to be exerted on great occasions. It was in the most patient period of Roman servitude that themes of tyrannicide made the ordinary exercise of boys at school,—cum perimit sævos classis numerosa tyrannos.
Edmund Burke: Reflec. on the Rev. in France, 1790.    
  I was, indeed, aware that a jealous, ever-waking vigilance, to guard the treasure of our liberty, not only from invasion, but from decay and corruption, was our best wisdom and our first duty.
Edmund Burke: Reflec. on the Rev. in France, 1790.    
  You would have had a protected, satisfied, laborious, and obedient people, taught to seek and to recognize the happiness that is to be found by virtue in all conditions,—in which consists the true moral equality of mankind, and not in that monstrous fiction which, by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life, serves only to aggravate and embitter that real inequality which it never can remove, and which the order of civil life establishes as much for the benefit of those whom it must leave in an humble state as those whom it is able to exalt to a condition more splendid, but not more happy. You had a smooth and easy career of felicity and glory laid open to you, beyond anything recorded in the history of the world; but you have shown that difficulty is good for man.
Edmund Burke: Reflec. on the Rev. in France, 1790.    
  Many of our men of speculation, instead of exploding general prejudices, employ their sagacity to discover the latent wisdom which prevails in them. If they find what they seek (and they seldom fail), they think it more wise to continue the prejudice, with the reason involved, than to cast away the coat of prejudice and to leave nothing but the naked reason; because prejudice, with its reason, has a motive to give action to that reason, and an affection which will give it permanence. Prejudice is of ready application in the emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, sceptical, puzzled, and unresolved. Prejudice renders a man’s virtue his habit, and not a series of unconnected acts. Through just prejudice, his duty becomes a part of his nature.
Edmund Burke: Reflec. on the Rev. in France, 1790.    
  Mr. Hume told me that he had from Rousseau himself the secret of his principles of composition. That acute though eccentric observer had perceived that, to strike and interest the public, the marvellous must be produced; that the marvellous of the heathen mythology had long since lost its effects; that giants, magicians, fairies, and heroes of romance, which succeeded, had exhausted the portion of credulity which belonged to their age; that now nothing was left to a writer but that species of the marvellous, which might still be produced, and with as great an effect as ever, though in another way,—that is, the marvellous in life, in manners, in characters, and in extraordinary situations, giving rise to new and unlooked-for strokes in politics and morals. I believe that, were Rousseau alive, and in one of his lucid intervals, he would be shocked at the practical frenzy of his scholars, who in their paradoxes are servile imitators, and even in their incredulity discover an implicit faith.
Edmund Burke: Reflec. on the Rev. in France, 1790.    
  But where popular authority is absolute and unrestrained, the people have an infinitely greater, because a far better founded, confidence in their own power. They are themselves in a great measure their own instruments. They are nearer to their objects. Besides, they are less under responsibility to one of the greatest controlling powers on earth, the sense of fame and estimation. The share of infamy that is likely to fall to the lot of each individual in public acts is small indeed: the operation of opinion being in the inverse ratio to the number of those who abuse power. Their own approbation of their own acts has to them the appearance of a public judgment in their favour. A perfect democracy is therefore the most shameless thing in the world. As it is the most shameless, it is also the most fearless. No man apprehends in his person that he can be made subject to punishment.
Edmund Burke: Reflec. on the Rev. in France.    
  The power of perpetuating our property in our families is one of the most valuable and interesting circumstances belonging to it, and that which tends the most to the perpetuation of society itself. It makes our weakness subservient to our virtue; it grafts benevolence even upon avarice. The possessors of family wealth, and of the distinction which attends hereditary possession (as most concerned in it), are the natural securities for this transmission.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  Turbulent, discontented men of quality, in proportion as they are puffed up with personal pride and arrogance, generally despise their own order. One of the first symptoms they discover of a selfish and mischievous ambition is a profligate disregard of a dignity which they partake with others.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  It is undoubtedly true, though it may seem paradoxical,—but, in general, those who are habitually employed in finding and displaying faults are unqualified for the work of reformation; because their minds are not only unfurnished with patterns of the fair and good, but by habit they come to take no delight in the contemplation of those things. By hating vices too much, they come to love men too little. It is, therefore, not wonderful that they should be indisposed and unable to serve them.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  The consecration of the state by a state religious establishment is necessary also to operate with a wholesome awe upon free citizens; because, in order to secure their freedom, they must enjoy some determinate portion of power. To them, therefore, a religion connected with the state, and with their duty towards it, becomes even more necessary than in such societies where the people, by the terms of their subjection, are confined to private sentiments, and the management of their own family concerns. All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust, and that they are to account for their conduct in that trust to the one great Master, Author, and Founder of society.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  Supposing, however, that something like moderation were visible in this political sermon, yet politics and the pulpit are terms that have little agreement. No sound ought to be heard in the church but the healing voice of Christian charity. The cause of civil liberty and civil government gains as little as that of religion by this confusion of duties. Those who quit their proper character to assume what does not belong to them are, for the greater part, ignorant both of the character they leave and of the character they assume. Wholly unacquainted with the world, in which they are so fond of meddling, and inexperienced in all its affairs, on which they pronounce with so much confidence, they have nothing of politics but the passions they excite. Surely the church is a place where one day’s truce ought to be allowed to the dissensions and animosities of mankind.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  No rotation, no appointment by lot, no mode of election operating in the spirit of sortition or rotation, can be generally good in a government conversant in extensive objects; because they have no tendency, direct or indirect, to select the man with a view to the duty, or to accommodate the one to the other. I do not hesitate to say that the road to eminence and power, from obscure condition, ought not to be made too easy, nor a thing too much of course. If rare merit be the rarest of all rare things, it ought to pass through some sort of probation. The temple of honour ought to be seated on an eminence. If it be opened through virtue, let it be remembered, too, that virtue is never tried but by some difficulty and some struggle.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  By these theorists the right of the people is almost always sophistically confounded with their power. The body of the community, whenever it can come to act, can meet with no effectual resistance; but till power and right are the same, the whole body of them has no right inconsistent with virtue, and the first of all virtues, prudence.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  Until now, we have seen no examples of considerable democracies. The ancients were better acquainted with them. Not being wholly unread in the authors who had seen the most of those constitutions, and who best understood them, I cannot help concurring with their opinion, that an absolute democracy no more than absolute monarchy is to be reckoned among the legitimate forms of government. They think it rather the corruption and degeneracy than the sound constitution of a republic. If I recollect rightly, Aristotle observes that a democracy has many striking points of resemblance with a tyranny.  287
  (The ethical character is the same: both exercise despotism over the better class of citizens; and decrees are in the one what ordinances and arrets are in the other: the demagogue, too, and the court favourite, are not unfrequently the same identical men, and always bear a close analogy; and these have the principal power, each in their respective forms of government, favourites with the absolute monarch, and demagogues with a people such as I have described. Arist., Polit., lib. iv. cap. 4.)  288
  Of this I am certain, that in a democracy the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority, whenever strong divisions prevail in that kind of polity, as they often must,—and that oppression of the minority will extend to far greater numbers, and will be carried on with much greater fury, than can almost ever be apprehended from the dominion of a single sceptre. In such a popular persecution, individual sufferers are in a much more deplorable condition than any other. Under a cruel prince they have the plaudits of the people to animate their generous constancy under their sufferings; but those who are subjected to wrong under multitudes are deprived of all external consolation: they seem deserted by mankind, overpowered by a conspiracy of their whole species.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  But admitting democracy not to have that inevitable tendency to party tyranny which I suppose it to have, and admitting it to possess as much good in it when unmixed as I am sure it possesses when compounded with other forms; does monarchy, on its part, contain nothing at all to recommend it? I do not often quote Bolingbroke, nor have his works in general left any permanent impression on my mind. He is a presumptuous and a superficial writer. But he has one observation which in my opinion is not without depth and solidity. He says that he prefers a monarchy to other governments, because you can better ingraft any description of republic on a monarchy than anything of monarchy upon the republican forms. I think him perfectly in the right. The fact is so historically, and it agrees well with the speculation.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver; and adulation is not of more service to the people than to kings.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  Compute your gains; see what is got by those extravagant and presumptuous speculations which have taught your leaders to despise all their predecessors, and all their contemporaries, and even to despise themselves, until the moment in which they became despicable. By following those false lights, France has bought undisguised calamities at a higher price than any nation has purchased the most unequivocal blessings. France has bought poverty by crime. France has not sacrificed her virtue to her interest; but she has abandoned her interest, that she might prostitute her virtue.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  In all bodies, those who will lead must also, in a considerable degree, follow. They must conform their propositions to the taste, talent, and disposition of those whom they wish to conduct: therefore, if an assembly is viciously or feebly composed in a very great part of it, nothing but such a supreme degree of virtue as very rarely appears in the world, and for that reason cannot enter into calculation, will prevent the men of talents disseminated through it from becoming only the expert instruments of absurd projects. If, what is the more likely event, instead of that unusual degree of virtue, they should be actuated by sinister ambition and a lust of meretricious glory, then the feeble part of the assembly, to whom at first they conform, becomes, in its turn, the dupe and instrument of their designs. In this political traffic, the leaders will be obliged to bow to the ignorance of their followers, and the followers to become subservient to the worst designs of their leaders.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  Hypocrisy, of course, delights in the most sublime speculations; for, never intending to go beyond speculation, it costs nothing to have it magnificent.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  And first of all, the science of jurisprudence, the pride of the human intellect, which, with all its defects, redundancies, and errors, is the collected reason of ages, combining the principles of original justice with the infinite variety of human concerns, as a heap of old exploded errors, would be no longer studied. Personal self-sufficiency and arrogance (the certain attendants upon all those who have never experienced a wisdom greater than their own) would usurp the tribunal. Of course no certain laws, establishing invariable grounds of hope and fear, would keep the actions of men in a certain course, or direct them to a certain end.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  God forbid I should insinuate anything derogatory to that profession which is another priesthood, administering the rites of sacred justice! But whilst I revere men in the functions which belong to them, and would do as much as one man can do to prevent their exclusion from any, I cannot, to flatter them, give the lie to Nature. They are good and useful in the composition; they must be mischievous, if they preponderate so as virtually to become the whole. Their very excellence in their peculiar functions may be far from a qualification for others. It cannot escape observation, that, when men are too much confined to professional and faculty habits, and, as it were, inveterate in the recurrent employment of that narrow circle, they are rather disabled than qualified for whatever depends on the knowledge of mankind, on experience in mixed affairs, on a comprehensive, connected view of the various, complicated, external and internal interests which go to the formation of that multifarious thing called a State.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  Every sort of moral, every sort of civil, every sort of politic institution, aiding the rational and natural ties that connect the human understanding and affections to the divine, are not more than necessary, in order to build up that wonderful structure, Man,—whose prerogative it is, to be in a great degree a creature of his own making, and who, when made as he ought to be made, is destined to hold no trivial place in the creation.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  But now all is to be changed. All the pleasing illusions which made power gentle and obedience liberal, which harmonized the different shades of life, and which by a bland assimilation incorporated into politics the sentiments which beautify and soften private society, are to be dissolved by this new conquering empire of light and reason. All the decent drapery of life is to be rudely torn off. All the superadded ideas, furnished from the wardrobe of a moral imagination, which the heart owns and the understanding ratifies, as necessary to cover the defects of our naked, shivering nature, and to raise it to dignity in our own estimation, are to be exploded, as a ridiculous, absurd, and antiquated fashion.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then the Dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in,—glittering like the morning star, full of life and splendour and joy. Oh, what a revolution! and what an heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom! little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honour, and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  The degree of estimation in which any profession is held becomes the standard of the estimation in which the professors hold themselves.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  Political arrangement, as it is a work for social ends, is to be only wrought by social means. There mind must conspire with mind. Time is required to produce that union of minds which alone can produce all the good we aim at. Our patience will achieve more than our force. If I might venture to appeal to what is so much out of fashion in Paris,—I mean to experience,—I should tell you, that in my course I have known, and, according to my measure, have co-operated with great men: and I have never yet seen any plan which has not been mended by the observations of those who were much inferior in understanding to the person who took the lead in the business. By a slow but well-sustained progress, the effect of each step is watched; the good or ill success of the first gives light to us in the second; and so, from light to light, we are conducted with safety through the whole series. We see that the parts of the system do not clash. The evils latent in the most promising contrivances are provided for as they arise. One advantage is as little as possible sacrificed to another. We compensate, we reconcile, we balance. We are enabled to unite into a consistent whole the various anomalies and contending principles that are found in the minds and affairs of men. From hence arises, not an excellence in simplicity, but one far superior, an excellence in composition.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  I cannot stand forward and give praise or blame to anything which relates to human actions and human concerns on a simple view of the object, as it stands stripped of every relation, in all the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction. Circumstances (which with some gentlemen pass for nothing) give in reality to every political principle its distinguishing colour and discriminating effect. The circumstances are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  The Christian statesmen of this land would, indeed, first provide for the multitude, because it is the multitude, and is therefore, as such, the first object in the ecclesiastical institution, and in all institutions. They have been taught that the circumstance of the Gospel’s being preached to the poor was one of the great tests of its true mission. They think, therefore, that those do not believe it who do not take care it should be preached to the poor.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  Nothing is a due and adequate representation of a state, that does not represent its ability, as well as its property. But as ability is a vigorous and active principle, and as property is sluggish, inert, and timid, it can never be safe from the invasions of ability, unless it be out of all proportion predominant in the representation. It must be represented, too, in great masses of accumulation, or it is not rightly protected. The characteristic essence of property, formed out of the combined principles of its acquisition and conservation, is to be unequal. The great masses, therefore, which excite envy, and tempt rapacity, must be put out of the possibility of danger. Then they form a natural rampart about the lesser properties in all their gradations.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  We know, and, what is better, we feel inwardly, that religion is the basis of civil society, and the source of all good and of all comfort. In England we are so convinced of this, that there is no rust of superstition, with which the accumulated absurdity of the human mind might have crusted it over in the course of ages, that ninety-nine in a hundred of the people of England would not prefer to impiety. We shall never be such fools as to call in an enemy to the substance of any system to remove its corruptions, to supply its defects, or to perfect its construction. If our religious tenets should ever want a further elucidation, we shall not call on atheism to explain them. We shall not light up our temple from that unhallowed fire. It will be illuminated with other lights.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  One of the first motives to civil society, and which becomes one of its fundamental rules, is, that no man should be judge in his own cause. By this each person has at once divested himself of the first fundamental right of uncovenanted man, that is, to judge for himself, and to assert his own cause. He abdicates all right to be his own governor. He inclusively, in a great measure, abandons the right of self-defence, the first law of Nature. Man cannot enjoy the rights of an uncivil and of a civil state together. That he may obtain justice, he gives up his right of determining what it is in points the most essential to him. That he may secure some liberty, he makes a surrender in trust of the whole of it.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  Believe me, Sir, those who attempt to level never equalize. In all societies consisting of various descriptions of citizens, some description must be uppermost. The levellers, therefore, only change and pervert the natural order of things: they load the edifice of society by setting up in the air what the solidity of the structure requires to be on the ground.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  But is superstition the greatest of all possible vices? In its possible excess I think it becomes a very great evil. It is, however, a moral subject, and of course admits of all degrees and all modifications. Superstition is the religion of feeble minds; and they must be tolerated in an intermixture of it, in some trifling or some enthusiastic shape or other, else you will deprive weak minds of a resource found necessary to the strongest. The body of all true religion consists, to be sure, in obedience to the will of the Sovereign of the world, in a confidence in His declarations, and in imitation of His perfections. The rest is our own. It may be prejudicial to the great end,—it may be auxiliary. Wise men, who, as such, are not admirers (not admirers at least of the munera terræ) are not violently attached to these things, nor do they violently hate them. Wisdom is not the most severe corrector of folly. They are the rival follies which mutually wage so unrelenting a war, and which make so cruel a use of their advantages, as they can happen to engage the immoderate vulgar, on the one side or the other, in their quarrels.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  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. Pater ipse colendi haud facilem esse viam voluit. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper. This amicable conflict with difficulty obliges us to an intimate acquaintance with our object, and compels us to consider it in all its relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.    
  For though hereditary wealth, and the rank which goes with it, are too much idolized by creeping sycophants, and the blind, abject admirers of power, they are too rashly slighted in shallow speculations of the petulant, assuming, short-sighted coxcombs of philosophy. Some decent, regulated pre-eminence, some preference (not exclusive appropriation) given to birth, is neither unnatural, nor unjust, nor impolitic.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  When men of rank sacrifice all ideas of dignity to an ambition without a distinct object, and work with low instruments and for low ends, the whole composition becomes low and base. Does not something like this now appear in France?
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  All other nations have begun the fabric of a new government, or the reformation of an old, by establishing originally, or by enforcing with greater exactness, some rites or other of religion. All other people have laid the foundations of civil freedom in severer manners and a system of a more austere and masculine morality. France, when she let loose the reins of regal authority, doubled the license of a ferocious dissoluteness in manners, and of an insolent irreligion in opinions and practices,—and has extended through all ranks of life, as if she were communicating some privilege or laying open some secluded benefit, all the unhappy corruptions that usually were the disease of wealth and power. This is one of the new principles of equality in France.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  I hear on all hands that a cabal, calling itself philosophic, receives the glory of many of the late proceedings, and that their opinions and systems are the true actuating spirit of the whole of them. I have heard of no party in England, literary or political, at any time, known by such a description. It is not with you composed of those men, is it, whom the vulgar, in their blunt, homely style, commonly call Atheists and Infidels? If it be, I admit that we too have had writers of that description, who made some noise in their day. At present they repose in lasting oblivion. Who, born within the last forty years, has read one word of Collins, and Toland, and Tindal, and Chubb, and Morgan, and that whole race who called themselves Freethinkers? Who now reads Bolingbroke? Who ever read him through? Ask the booksellers of London what is become of all these lights of the world. In as few years their few successors will go to the family vault of “all the Capulets.”
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  To secure any degree of sobriety in the propositions made by the leaders in any public assembly, they ought to respect, in some degree perhaps to fear, those whom they conduct. To be led any otherwise than blindly, the followers must be qualified, if not for actors, at least for judges; they must also be judges of natural weight and authority. Nothing can secure a steady and moderate conduct in such assemblies, but that the body of them should be respectably composed, in point of condition in life, of permanent property, of education, and of such habits as enlarge and liberalize the understanding.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  There is no qualification for government but virtue and wisdom, actual or presumptive. No, Sir. Wherever they are actually found, they have, in whatever state, condition, profession, or trade, the passport of heaven to human place and honour. Woe to the country which would madly and impiously reject the service of the talents and virtues, civil, military, or religious, that are given to grace and to serve it; and would condemn to obscurity everything formed to diffuse lustre and glory around a state! Woe to that country, too, that, passing into the opposite extreme, considers a low education, a mean, contracted view of things, a sordid, mercenary occupation, as a preferable title to command! Everything ought to be open,—but not indifferently to every man.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  Government is not made in virtue of natural rights, which may and do exist in total independence of it,—and exist in much greater clearness, and in a much greater degree of abstract perfection: but their abstract perfection is their practical defect. By having a right to everything they want everything. Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. Men have a right that these wants should be provided for by this wisdom. Among these wants is to be reckoned the want, out of civil society, of a sufficient restraint upon their passions.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  The moment you abate anything from the full rights of men each to govern himself, and suffer any artificial, positive limitation upon those rights, from that moment the whole organization of government becomes a consideration of convenience. This it is which makes the constitution of a state, and the due distribution of its powers, a matter of the most delicate and complicated skill.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  The science of government being, therefore, so practical in itself, and intended for such practical purposes, a matter which requires experience, and even more experience than any person can gain in his whole life, however sagacious and observing he may be, it is with infinite caution that any man ought to venture upon pulling down an edifice which has answered in any tolerable degree for ages the common purposes of society, or on building it up again without having models and patterns of approved utility before his eyes.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  We do not draw the moral lessons we might from history. On the contrary, without care it may be used to vitiate our minds and to destroy our happiness. In history a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind. It may, in the perversion, serve for a magazine furnishing offensive and defensive weapons for parties in Church and State, and supplying the means of keeping alive or reviving dissensions and animosities and adding fuel to civil fury. History consists, for the greater part, of the miseries brought upon the world by pride, ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, sedition, hypocrisy, ungoverned zeal, and all the train of disorderly appetites, which shake the public with the same
                    “troublous storms that toss
The private state and render life unsweet.”
  These vices are the causes of those storms. Religion, morals, laws, prerogatives, privileges, liberties, rights of men, are the pretexts. The pretexts are always found in some specious appearance of a real good.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  We are but too apt to consider things in the state in which we find them, without sufficiently adverting to the causes by which they have been produced, and possibly may be upheld. Nothing is more certain than that our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are connected with manners and with civilization, have, in this European world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles, and were, indeed, the result of both combined: I mean the spirit of a gentleman, and the spirit of religion. The nobility and the clergy, the one by profession, and the other by patronage, kept learning in existence, even in the midst of arms and confusions, and whilst governments were rather in their causes than formed. Learning paid back what it received to nobility and priesthood, and paid it with usury, by enlarging their ideas, and by furnishing their minds. Happy, if they had all continued to know their indissoluble union, and their proper place! Happy, if learning, not debauched by ambition, had been satisfied to continue the instructor, and not aspired to be the master! Along with its natural protectors and guardians, learning will be cast into the mire and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  If civil society be made for the advantage of man, all the advantages for which it is made become his right. It is an institution of beneficence; and law itself is only beneficence acting by a rule. Men have a right to live by that rule; they have a right to justice, as between their fellows, whether their fellows are in politic functions or in ordinary occupation. They have a right to the fruits of their industry, and to the means of making their industry fruitful. They have a right to the acquisitions of their parents, to the nourishment and improvement of their offspring, to instruction in life, and to consolation in death. Whatever each man can separately do, without trespassing upon others, he has a right to do for himself; and he has a right to a fair portion of all which society, with all its combinations of skill and force, can do in his favour. In this partnership all men have equal rights; but not to equal things.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  And as to the share of power, authority, and direction which each individual ought to have in the management of the state, that I must deny to be amongst the direct original rights of man in civil society; for I have in my contemplation the civil social man, and no other. It is a thing to be settled by convention.  324
  If civil society be the offspring of convention, that convention must be its law. That convention must limit and modify all the descriptions of constitution which are formed under it. Every sort of legislative, judicial, or executory power are its creatures. They can have no being in any other state of things; and how can any man claim, under the conventions of civil society, rights which do not so much as suppose its existence,—rights which are absolutely repugnant to it?
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  The vanity, restlessness, petulance, and spirit of intrigue of several petty cabals, who attempt to hide their total want of consequence in bustle and noise, and puffing and mutual quotation of each other, makes you imagine that our contemptuous neglect of their abilities is a general mark of acquiescence in their opinions. No such thing, I assure you. Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field,—that, of course, they are many in number,—or that, after all, they are other than the little, shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of the hour.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  Society is, indeed, a contract. Subordinate contracts for objects of mere occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure; but the state ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties. It is to be looked on with other reverence; because it is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science, a partnership in all art, a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail long. But if, in the moment of riot, and in a drunken delirium from the hot spirit drawn out of the alembic of hell, which in France is now so furiously boiling, we should uncover our nakedness, by throwing off that Christian religion which has hitherto been our boast and comfort, and one great source of civilization among us, and among many other nations, we are apprehensive (being well aware that the mind will not endure a void) that some uncouth, pernicious, and degrading superstition might take place of it.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  The English people are satisfied that to the great the consolations of religion are as necessary as its instructions. They, too, are among the unhappy. They feel personal pain and domestic sorrow. In these they have no privilege, but are subject to pay their full contributions levied on mortality. They want this sovereign balm under their gnawing cares and anxieties, which, being less conversant about the limited wants of animal life, range without limit and are diversified by infinite combinations in the wild and unbounded regions of imagination.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  Whilst shame keeps its watch, virtue is not wholly extinguished in the heart, nor will moderation be utterly exiled from the minds of tyrants.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  They conceive that He who gave our nature to be perfected by our virtue willed also the necessary means of its perfection: He willed, therefore, the state: He willed its connection with the source and original archetype of all perfection. They who are convinced of this His will, which is the law of laws and the sovereign of sovereigns, cannot think it reprehensible that this our corporate fealty and homage, that this our recognition of a signiory paramount, I had almost said this oblation of the state itself, is a worthy offering on the high altar of universal praise, should be performed, as all public, solemn acts are performed, in buildings, in music, in decoration, in speech, in the dignity of persons, according to the customs of mankind, taught by their nature,—that is, with modest splendour, with unassuming state, with mild majesty and sober pomp.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  Prudence would be neuter; but if, in the contention between fond attachment and fierce antipathy concerning things in their nature not made to produce such heats, a prudent man were obliged to make a choice of what errors and excesses of enthusiasm he would condemn or bear, perhaps he would think the superstition which builds to be more tolerable than that which demolishes,—that which adorns a country than that which deforms it,—that which endows, than that which plunders,—that which disposes to mistaken beneficence, than that which stimulates to real injustice,—that which leads a man to refuse to himself lawful pleasure, than that which snatches from others the scanty subsistence of their self-denial. Such, I think, is very nearly the state of the question between the ancient founders of monkish superstition and the superstition of the pretended philosophers of the hour.
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France.    
  I must fairly tell you that, so far as my principles are concerned (principles that I hope will only depart with my last breath) I have no idea of a liberty unconnected with honesty and justice. Nor do I believe that any good constitutions of government, or of freedom, can find it necessary for their security to doom any part of the people to a permanent slavery. Such a constitution of freedom, if such can be, is in effect no more than another name for the tyranny of the strongest faction; and factions in republics have been, and are, full as capable as monarchs of the most cruel oppression and injustice.
Edmund Burke: Speech at Bristol Previous to the Election, 1780.    
  I cannot name this gentleman [John Howard] without remarking that his labours and writings have done much to open the eyes and hearts of mankind. He has visited all Europe,—not to survey the sumptuousness of palaces or the stateliness of temples, not to make accurate measurements of the remains of ancient grandeur nor to form a scale of the curiosity of modern art, not to collect medals or collate manuscripts,—but to dive into the depths of dungeons, to plunge into the infection of hospitals, to survey the mansions of sorrow and pain, to take the gauge and dimensions of misery, depression, and contempt, to remember the forgotten, to attend to the neglected, to visit the forsaken, and to compare and collate the distresses of all men in all countries. His plan is original, and it is as full of genius as it is of humanity. It was a voyage of discovery—a circumnavigation of charity. Already the benefit of his labour is felt more or less in every country; I hope he will anticipate his final reward by seeing all its effects fully realized in his own. He will receive, not by retail, but in gross, the reward of those who visit the prisoner; and he has so forestalled and monopolized this branch of charity, that there will be, I trust, little room to merit by such acts of benevolence hereafter.
Edmund Burke: Speech at Bristol previous to the Election, 1780.    
  Gentlemen, I have had my day. I can never sufficiently express my gratitude to you for having set me in a place wherein I could lend the slightest help to great and laudable designs. If I have had my share in any measure giving quiet to private property and private conscience,—if by my vote I have aided in securing to families the best possession, peace,—if I have joined in reconciling kings to their subjects, and subjects to their prince,—if I have assisted to loosen the foreign holdings of the citizen, and taught him to look for his protection to the laws of his country, and for his comfort to the good will of his countrymen,—if I have thus taken my part with the best of men in the best of their actions. I can shut the book. I might wish to read a page or two more, but this is enough for my measure. I have not lived in vain.
Edmund Burke: Speech at Bristol previous to the Election, 1780.    
  But if I profess all this impolitic stubbornness, I may chance never to be elected into Parliament. It is certainly not pleasing to be put out of the public service. But I wish to be a member of Parliament to have my share of doing good and resisting evil. It would therefore be absurd to renounce my objects in order to obtain my seat. I deceive myself, indeed, most grossly, if I had not much rather pass the remainder of my life hidden in the recesses of the deepest obscurity, feeding my mind even with the visions and imaginations of such things, than to be placed on the most splendid throne of the universe, tantalized with a denial of the practice of all which can make the greatest situation any other than the greatest curse.
Edmund Burke: Speech at Bristol previous to the Election, 1780.    
  We knew beforehand, or we were poorly instructed, that toleration is odious to the intolerant, freedom to oppressors, property to robbers, and all kinds and degrees of prosperity to the envious. We knew that all these kinds of men would gladly gratify their evil dispositions under the sanction of law and religion, if they could: if they could not, yet, to make way to their objects, they would do their utmost to subvert all religion and all law.
Edmund Burke: Speech at Bristol Previous to the Election, 1780.    
  As to the opinion of the people, which some think, in such cases, is to be implicitly obeyed,—near two years’ tranquillity, which followed the act, and its instant imitation in Ireland, proved abundantly that the late horrible spirit was in a great measure the effect of insidious art, and perverse industry, and gross misrepresentation. But suppose that the dislike had been much more deliberate and much more general than I am persuaded it was,—when we know that the opinions of even the greatest multitudes are the standard of rectitude, I shall think myself obliged to make those opinions the masters of my conscience. But if it may be doubted whether Omnipotence itself is competent to alter the essential constitution of right and wrong, sure I am that such things as they and I are possessed of no such power.
Edmund Burke: Speech at Bristol Previous to the Election, Sept. 6, 1780.    
  No man carries further than I do the policy of making government pleasing to the people. But the widest range of this politic complaisance is confined within the limits of justice. I would not only consult the interest of the people, but I would cheerfully gratify their humours. We are all a sort of children, that must be soothed and managed. I think I am not austere or formal in my nature. I would bear, I would even myself play my part in, any innocent buffooneries, to divert them. But I never will act the tyrant for their amusement. If they will mix malice in their sports, I shall never consent to throw them any living, sentient creature whatsoever, no, not so much as a kitling, to torment.
Edmund Burke: Speech at Bristol Previous to the Election, Sept. 6, 1780.    
  He tells you that “the topic of instructions has occasioned much altercation and uneasiness in this city;” and he expresses himself (if I understand him rightly) in favour of the coercive authority of such instructions.  340
  Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinions high respect; their business unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasure, his satisfaction, to theirs,—and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own.  341
  But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure,—no, nor from the law and the Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.  342
  My worthy colleague says, his will ought to be subservient to yours. If that be all, the thing is innocent. If government were a matter of will upon any side, yours, without question, ought to be superior. But government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and what sort of reason is that in which the determination precedes the discussion, in which one set of men deliberate and another decide, and where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments?
Edmund Burke: Speech at the Conclusion of the Poll at Bristol, 1774.    
  I remember, Sir, with a melancholy pleasure, the situation of the honourable gentleman who made the motion for the repeal; in that crisis, when the whole trading interest of this empire, crammed into your lobbies, with a trembling and anxious expectation, waited, almost to a winter’s return of light, their fate from your resolutions. When at length you had determined in their favour, and your doors thrown open showed them the figure of their deliverer in the well-earned triumph of his important victory, from the whole of that grave multitude there arose an involuntary burst of gratitude and transport. They jumped upon him like children on a long-absent father. They clung about him as captives about their redeemer. All England, all America, joined in his applause. Nor did he seem insensible to the best of all earthly rewards, the love and admiration of his fellow-citizens. Hope elevated and joy brightened his crest. I stood near him; and his face, to use the expression of the Scripture of the first martyr, “his face was if it had been the face of an angel.” I do not know how others feel, but if I had stood in that situation I never would have exchanged it for all that kings in their profusion could bestow. I did hope that that day’s danger and honour would have been a bond to hold us all together forever. But, alas! that, with other pleasing visions, is long since vanished.
Edmund Burke: Speech on American Taxation, April 19, 1774.    
  On this business of America, I confess I am serious, even to sadness. I have had but one opinion concerning it since I sat, and before I sat, in Parliament, The noble lord will, as usual, probably, attribute the part taken by me and my friends in this business to a desire of getting his places. Let him enjoy this happy and original idea. If I deprived him of it, I should take away most of his wit, and all his argument. But I had rather bear the brunt of all his wit, and indeed blows much heavier, than stand answerable to God for embracing a system that tends to the destruction of some of the very best and fairest of His works. But I know the map of England as well as the noble lord, or as any other person; and I know that the way I take is not the road to preferment.
Edmund Burke: Speech on American Taxation, April 19, 1774.    
  Sir, if such a man fell into errors, it must be from defects not intrinsical; they must be rather sought in the particular habits of his life, which, though they do not alter the groundwork of character, yet tinge it with their own hue. He was bred in a profession. He was bred to the law, which is, in my opinion, one of the first and noblest of human sciences,—a science which does more to quicken and invigorate the understanding than all the other kinds of learning put together; but it is not apt, except in persons very happily born, to open and to liberalize the mind exactly in the same proportion. Passing from that study, he did not go very largely into the world, but plunged into business,—I mean into the business of office, and the limited and fixed methods and forms established there. Much knowledge is to be had, undoubtedly, in that line; and there is no knowledge which is not valuable. But it may be truly said that men too much conversant in office are rarely minds of remarkable enlargement. Their habits of office are apt to give them a turn to think the substance of business not to be much more important than the forms in which it is conducted. These forms are adapted to ordinary occasions; and therefore persons who are nurtured in office do admirably well as long as things go on in their proper order; but when the high-roads are broken up, and the waters out, when a new and troubled scene is opened, and the file affords no precedent, then it is that a greater knowledge of mankind and a far more extensive comprehension of things is requisite, than ever office gave, or than office can ever give. Mr. Grenville thought better of the wisdom and power of human legislation than in truth it deserves.
Edmund Burke: Speech on American Taxation, April 19, 1774.    
  Interested timidity disgraces as much in the cabinet as personal timidity does in the field. But timidity with regard to the well-being of our country is heroic virtue.
Edmund Burke: Speech on American Taxation, April 19, 1774.    
  Sir, the venerable age of this great man, his merited rank, his superior eloquence, his splendid qualities, his eminent services, the vast space he fills in the eye of mankind, and, more than all the rest, his fall from power, which, like death, canonizes and sanctifies a great character, will not suffer me to censure any part of his conduct. I am afraid to flatter him: I am sure I am not disposed to blame him. Let those who have betrayed him by their adulation insult him with their malevolence.
Edmund Burke: Speech on American Taxation, April 19, 1774.    
  Obstinacy, Sir, is certainly a great vice; and in the changeful state of political affairs it is frequently the cause of great mischief. It happens, however, very unfortunately, that almost the whole line of the great and masculine virtues, constancy, gravity, magnanimity, fortitude, fidelity, and firmness, are closely allied to this disagreeable quality, of which you have so just an abhorrence; and, in their excess, all these virtues very easily fall into it.
Edmund Burke: Speech on American Taxation, April 19, 1774.    
  My idea is nothing more. Refined policy has ever been the parent of confusion,—and ever will be so, as long as the world endures. Plain good intention, which is as easily discovered at the first view as fraud is surely detected at last, is, let me say, of no mean force in the government of mankind. Genuine simplicity of heart is an healing and cementing principle.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Concil., with America, March 22, 1775.    
  Permit me. Sir, to add another circumstance in our colonies which contributes no mean part towards the growth and effect of this untractable spirit: I mean their education. In no country, perhaps, in the world is law so general a study. The profession itself is numerous and powerful, and in most provinces it takes the lead. The greater number of the deputies sent to the Congress were lawyers. But all who read, and most do read, endeavour to obtain some smattering in that science. I have been told by an eminent bookseller that in no branch of his business, after tracts of popular devotion, were so many books as those on the law exported to the plantations. The colonists have now fallen into the way of printing them for their own use. I hear that they have sold nearly as many of Blackstone’s “Commentaries” in America as in England. General Gage marks out this disposition very particularly in a letter on your table. He states that all the people in his government are lawyers, or smatterers in law,—and that in Boston they have been enabled, by successful chicane, wholly to evade many parts of one of your capital penal constitutions.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.    
  For that service, for all service, whether of revenue, trade, or empire, my trust is in her interest in the British Constitution. My hold of the colonies is in the close affection which grows from common names, from kindred blood, from similar privileges and equal protection. These are ties which, though light as air, are as strong as links of iron. Let the colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated with your government,—they will cling and grapple to you, and no force under heaven will be of power to tear them from their allegiance. But let it be once understood that your government may be one thing and their privileges another, that these two things may exist without any mutual relation,—the cement is gone, the cohesion is loosened, and everything hastens to decay and dissolution. As long as you have the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever the chosen race and sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces towards you. The more they multiply, the more friends you will have; the more ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience. Slavery they can have anywhere. It is a weed that grows in every soil.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.    
  Deny them this participation of freedom, and you break that sole bond which originally made, and must still preserve, the unity of the empire. Do not entertain so weak an imagination as that your registers and your bonds, your affidavits and your sufferances, your cockets and your clearances, are what form the great securities of your commerce. Do not dream that your letters of office, and your instructions, and your suspending clauses are the things that hold together the great contexture of this mysterious whole. These things do not make your government. Dead instruments, passive tools as they are, it is the spirit of the English communion that gives all their life and efficacy to them. It is the spirit of the English Constitution, which, infused through the mighty mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, vivifies every part of the empire, even down to the minutest member. Is it not the same virtue which does everything for us here in England?
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.    
  But although there are some amongst us who think our Constitution wants many improvements to make it a complete system of liberty, perhaps none who are of that opinion would think it right to aim at such improvement by disturbing his country and risking everything that is dear to him. In every arduous enterprise, we consider what we are to lose, as well as what we are to gain; and the more and better stake of liberty every people possess, the less they will hazard in a vain attempt to make it more. These are the cords of man. Man acts from adequate motives relative to his interest, and not on metaphysical speculations. Aristotle, the great master of reasoning, cautions us, and with great weight and propriety, against this species of delusive geometrical accuracy in moral arguments, as the most fallacious of all sophistry.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.    
  Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together. If we are conscious of our situation, and glow with zeal to fill our place as becomes our station and ourselves, we ought to auspicate all our public proceedings on America with the old warning of the Church, Sursum corda! We ought to elevate our minds to the greatness of that trust to which the order of Providence has called us. By adverting to the dignity of this high calling, our ancestors have turned a savage wilderness into a glorious empire, and have made the most extensive and the only honourable conquests, not by destroying but by promoting the wealth, the number, the happiness of the human race. Let us get an American revenue as we have got an American empire. English privileges have made it all that it is; English privileges alone will make it all it can be.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.    
  All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter. We balance inconveniences; we give and take; we remit some rights, that we may enjoy others; and we choose rather to be happy citizens than subtle disputants. As we must give away some natural liberty, to enjoy civil advantages, so we must sacrifice some civil liberties, for the advantages to be derived from the communion and fellowship of a great empire. But, in all fair dealings, the thing bought must bear some proportion to the purchase paid. None will barter away the immediate jewel of his soul.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.    
  As to the wealth which the colonies have drawn from the sea by their fisheries, you had all that matter fully opened at your bar. You surely thought those acquisitions of value, for they seemed even to excite your envy; and yet the spirit by which that enterprising employment has been exercised ought rather, in my opinion, to have raised your esteem and admiration. And pray, Sir, what in the world is equal to it? Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner in which the people of New England have of late carried on the whale-fishery. Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the deepest frozen recesses of Hudson’s Bay and Davis’s Straits, whilst we are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are at the antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the South. Falkland Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of their victorious industry. Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging to them than the accumulated winter of both the poles. We know that, whilst some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the longitude and pursue their gigantic game along the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed by their fisheries. No climate that is not witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of Holland, nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous and firm sagacity of English enterprise, ever carried this most perilous mode of hardy industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent people,—a people who are still, as it were, but in the gristle, and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood. When I contemplate these things,—when I know that the colonies in general owe little or nothing to any care of yours, and that they are not squeezed into this happy form by the constraints of watchful and suspicious government, but that, through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection,—when I reflect upon these effects, when I see how profitable they have been to us, I feel all the pride of power sink, and all presumption in the wisdom of human contrivances melt and die away within me,—my rigour relents,—I pardon something to the spirit of liberty.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.    
  Next, we know that parties must ever exist in a free country. We know, too, that the emulations of such parties, their contradictions, their reciprocal necessities, their hopes, and their fears, must send them all in their turns to him that holds the balance of the state. The parties are the gamesters; but government keeps the table, and is sure to be the winner in the end.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.    
  With regard, therefore, to the abuse of the external federal trust, I engage myself to you to make good these three positions. First, I say, that from Mount Imaus (or whatever else you call that large range of mountains that walls the northern frontier of India), where it touches us in the latitude of twenty-nine, to Cape Comorin, in the latitude of eight, that there is not a single prince, state, or potentate, great or small, in India, with whom they have come into contact, whom they have not sold: I say sold, though sometimes they have not been able to deliver according to their bargain. Secondly, I say, that there is not a single treaty they have ever made which they have not broken. Thirdly, I say, that there is not a single prince or state, who ever put any trust in the Company, who is not utterly ruined; and that none are in any degree secure or flourishing, but in the exact proportion to their settled distrust and irreconcilable enmity to this nation.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  The invariable course of the Company’s policy is this: either they set up some prince too odious to maintain himself without the necessity of their assistance, or they soon render him odious by making him the instrument of their government. In that case troops are bountifully sent to him to maintain his authority. That he should have no want of assistance, a civil gentleman, called a Resident, is kept at his court, who, under pretence of providing duly for the pay of these troops, gets assignments on the revenue into his hands. Under his provident management, debts soon accumulate; new assignments are made for these debts; until, step by step, the whole revenue, and with it the whole power of the country, is delivered into his hands. The military do not behold without a virtuous emulation the moderate gains of the civil department. They feel that in a country driven to habitual rebellion by the civil government the military is necessary; and they will not permit their services to go unrewarded. Tracts of country are delivered over to their discretion. Then it is found proper to convert their commanding officers into farmers of revenue. Thus, between the well-paid civil and well-rewarded military establishment, the situation of the natives may be easily conjectured. The authority of the regular and lawful government is everywhere and in every point extinguished. Disorders and violences arise; they are repressed by other disorders and other violences. Wherever the collectors of the revenue and the farming colonels and majors move, ruin is about them, rebellion before and behind them. The people in crowds fly out of the country; and the frontier is guarded by lines of troops, not to exclude an enemy, but to prevent the escape of the inhabitants.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  These intended rebellions are one of the Company’s standing resources. When money has been thought to be heaped up anywhere, its owners are universally accused of rebellion, until they are acquitted of their money and their treasons at once. The money once taken, all accusation, trial, and punishment ends. It is so settled a resource, that I rather wonder how it comes to be omitted in the Directors’ account; but I take it for granted this omission will be supplied in their next edition.  361
  The Company stretched this resource to the full extent when they accused two old women in the remotest corner of India (who could have no possible view or motive to raise disturbances) of being engaged in rebellion, with an intent to drive out the English nation, in whose protection, purchased by money and secured by treaty, rested the sole hope of their existence. But the Company wanted money, and the old women must be guilty of a plot. They were accused of rebellion, and they were convicted of wealth. Twice had great sums been extorted from them, and as often had the British faith guaranteed the remainder. A body of British troops, with one of the military farmers-general at their head, was sent to seize upon the castle in which these helpless women resided. Their chief eunuchs, who were their agents, their guardians, protectors, persons of high rank according to the Eastern manners, and of great trust, were thrown into dungeons, to make them discover their bidden treasures, and there they lie at present. The lands assigned for the maintenance of the women were seized and confiscated. Their jewels and effects were taken, and set up to a pretended auction in an obscure place, and bought at such a price as the gentlemen thought proper to give. No account has ever been transmitted of the articles or produce of this sale. What money was obtained is unknown, or what terms were stipulated for the maintenance of these despoiled and forlorn creatures; for by some particulars it appears as if an engagement of the kind was made.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  It is only to complete the view I proposed of the conduct of the Company with regard to the dependent provinces, that I shall say any thing at all of the Carnatic, which is the scene, if possible, of greater disorder than the northern provinces. Perhaps it were better to say of this centre and metropolis of abuse, whence all the rest in India and in England diverge, from whence they are fed and methodized, what was said of Carthage, “De Carthagine satius est silere quam parum dicere.” This country, in all its denominations, is about 46,000 square miles. It may be affirmed, universally, that not one person of substance or property, landed, commercial, or moneyed, excepting two or three bankers, who are necessary deposits and distributors of the general spoil, is left in all that region. In that country, the moisture, the bounty of Heaven, is given but at a certain season. Before the era of our influence, the industry of man carefully husbanded that gift of God. The Gentoos preserved, with a provident and religious care, the precious deposit of the periodical rain in reservoirs, many of them works of royal grandeur; and from these, as occasion demanded, they fructified the whole country. To maintain these reservoirs, and to keep up an annual advance to the cultivators for seed and cattle, formed a principal object of the piety and policy of the priests and rulers of the Gentoo religion.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  The menial servants of Englishmen, persons (to use the emphatical phrase of a ruined and patient Eastern chief) “whose fathers they would not have set with the dogs of their flock”, entered into their patrimonial lands. Mr. Hastings’s banian was, after this auction, found possessed of territories yielding a rent of one hundred and forty thousand pounds a year.  364
  Such an universal proscription, upon any pretence, has few examples. Such a proscription, without even a pretence of delinquency, has none. It stands by itself. It stands as a monument to astonish the imagination, to confound the reason of mankind. I confess to you, when I first came to know this business in its true nature and extent, my surprise did a little suspend my indignation. I was in a manner stupefied by the desperate boldness of a few obscure young men, who, having obtained, by ways which they could not comprehend, a power of which they saw neither the purposes nor the limits, tossed about, subverted, and tore to pieces, as if it were in the gambols of a boyish unluckiness and malice, the most established rights, and the most ancient and revered institutions, of ages and nations.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  But he has put to hazard his ease, his security, his interest, his power, even his darling popularity, for the benefit of a people whom he has never seen. This is the road that all heroes have trod before him. He is traduced and abused for his supposed motives. He will remember that obloquy is a necessary ingredient in the composition of all true glory: he will remember that it was not only in the Roman customs, but it is in the nature and constitution of things, that calumny and abuse are essential parts of triumph. These thoughts will support a mind which only exists for honour under the burden of temporary reproach. He is doing, indeed, a great good,—such as rarely falls to the lot, and almost as rarely coincides with the desires, of any man. Let him use his time. Let him give the whole length of the reins to his benevolence. He is now on a great eminence, where the eyes of mankind are turned to him. He may live long, he may do much; but here is the summit: he never can exceed what he does this day.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  My next inquiry to that of the number is the quality and description of the inhabitants [in the domains of the East India Company]. This multitude of men does not consist of an abject and barbarous populace; much less of gangs of savages, like the Guaraines and Chiquitoes, who wander on the waste borders of the River of Amazons or the Plate; but a people for ages civilized and cultivated,—cultivated by all the arts of polished life whilst we were yet in the woods. There have been (and still the skeletons remain) princes once of great dignity, authority, and opulence. There are to be found the chiefs of tribes and nations. There is to be found an ancient and venerable priesthood, the depository of their laws, learning, and history, the guides of the people whilst living, and their consolation in death; a nobility of great antiquity and renown; a multitude of cities, not exceeded in population and trade by those of the first class in Europe; merchants and bankers, individual houses of whom have once vied in capital with the Bank of England, whose credit had often supported a tottering state and preserved their governments in the midst of war and desolation; millions of ingenious manufacturers and mechanics; millions of the most diligent, and not the least intelligent, tillers of the earth. Here are to be found almost all the religions professed by men,—the Braminical, the Mussulman, the Eastern and the Western Christian.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  I have known merchants with the sentiments and the abilities of great statesmen, and I have seen persons in the rank of statesmen with the conceptions and characters of peddlers. Indeed, my observation has furnished me with nothing that is to be found in any habits of life or education, which tends wholly to disqualify men for the functions of government, but that by which the power of exercising those functions is very frequently obtained. I mean a spirit and habits of low cabal and intrigue: which I have never, in one instance, seen united with a capacity for sound and manly policy.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  I confess I anticipate with joy the reward of those whose whole consequence, power, and authority exist only for the benefit of mankind; and I carry my mind to all the people, and all the names and descriptions, that, relieved by this bill, will bless the labours of this Parliament, and the confidence which the best House of Commons has given to him who the best deserves it. The little cavils of party will not be heard where freedom and happiness will be felt. There is not a tongue, a nation, or religion in India which will not bless the presiding care and manly beneficence of this House, and of him who proposes to you this great work. Your names will never be separated before the throne of the Divine Goodness, in whatever language, or with whatever rites, pardon is asked for sin, and reward for those who imitate the Godhead in His universal bounty to His creatures. These honours you deserve, and they will surely be paid, when all the jargon of influence and party and patronage are swept into oblivion.  369
  I have spoken what I think, and what I feel, of the mover of this bill. An honourable friend of mine, speaking of his merits, was charged with having made a studied panegyric. I don’t know what his was. Mine, I am sure, is a studied panegyric, the fruit of much meditation, the result of the observation of near twenty years. For my own part, I am happy that I have lived to see this day; I feel myself overpaid for the labours of eighteen years, when at this late period I am able to take my share, by one humble vote, in destroying a tyranny that exists to the disgrace of this nation and the destruction of so large a part of the human species.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill.    
  But under the English government all this order is reversed. The Tartar invasion was mischievous; but it is our protection that destroys India. It was their enmity; but it is our friendship. Our conquest there, after twenty years, is as crude as it was the first day. The natives scarcely know what it is to see the gray head of an Englishman. Young men (boys almost) govern there, without society and without sympathy with the natives. They have no more social habits with the people than if they still resided in England,—nor, indeed, any species of intercourse, but that which is necessary to making a sudden fortune with a view to remote settlement. Animated with all the avarice of age and all the impetuosity of youth, they roll in one after another, wave after wave; and there is nothing before the eyes of the natives but an endless, hopeless prospect of new flights of birds of prey and passage, with appetites continually renewing for a food that is continually wasting. Every rupee of profit made by an Englishman is lost forever to India. With us are no retributory superstitions, by which a foundation of charity compensates, through ages, to the poor, for the rapine and injustice of a day. With us no pride erects stately monuments which repair the mischiefs which pride had produced, and which adorn a country out of its own spoils. England has erected no churches, no hospitals, no palaces, no schools; England has built no bridges, made no high-roads, cut no navigations, dug out no reservoirs. Every other conqueror of every other description has left some monument, either of state or beneficence, behind him. Were we to be driven out of India this day, nothing would remain to tell that it had been possessed, during the inglorious period of our dominion, by anything better than the orang-outang or the tiger.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill.    
  There is nothing in the boys we send to India worse than in the boys whom we are whipping at school, or that we see trailing a pipe or bending over a desk at home. But as English youth in India drink the intoxicating draught of authority and dominion before their heads are able to bear it, and as they are full grown in fortune long before they are ripe in principle, neither Nature nor reason have any opportunity to exert themselves for remedy of the excesses of their premature power. The consequences of their conduct, which in good minds (and many of theirs are probably such) might produce penitence or amendment, are unable to pursue the rapidity of their flight. Their prey is lodged in England; and the cries of India are given to seas and winds, to be blown about, in every breaking up of the monsoon, over a remote and unhearing ocean. In India all the vices operate by which sudden fortune is acquired: in England are often displayed, by the same persons, the virtues which dispense hereditary wealth. Arrived in England, the destroyers of the nobility and gentry of a whole kingdom will find the best company in this nation at a board of elegance and hospitality. Here the manufacturer and husbandman will bless the just and punctual hand that in India has torn the cloth from the loom, or wrested the scanty portion of rice and salt from the peasant of Bengal, or wrung from him the very opium in which he forgot his oppressions and his oppressor. They marry into your families; they enter into your senate; they ease your estates by loans; they raise their value by demand; they cherish and protect their relations which lie heavy on your patronage; and there is scarcely an house in the kingdom that does not feel some concern and interest that makes all reform of our Eastern government appear officious and disgusting, and, on the whole, a most discouraging attempt. In such an attempt you hurt those who are able to return kindness or to resent injury. If you succeed, you save those who cannot so much as give you thanks. All these things show the difficulty of the work we have on hand; but they show its necessity, too. Our Indian government is in its best state a grievance. It is necessary that the correctives should be uncommonly vigorous, and the work of men sanguine, warm, and even impassioned in the cause. But it is an arduous thing to plead against abuses of a power which originates from your own country, and affects those whom we are used to consider as strangers.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill.    
  In that Constitution I know, and exultingly I feel, both that I am free, and that I am not free dangerously to myself or to others. I know that no power on earth, acting as I ought to do, can touch my life, my liberty, or my property. I have that inward and dignified consciousness of my own security and independence which constitutes, and is the only thing which does constitute, the proud and comfortable sentiment of freedom in the human breast.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Reform of Representation of the Commons in Parliament, May 7, 1782.    
  It suggests melancholy reflections, in consequence of the strange course we have long held, that we are now no longer quarrelling about the character, or about the conduct, of men, or the tenour of measures, but we are grown out of humour with the English Constitution itself; this is become the object of the animosity of Englishmen. This constitution in former days used to be the admiration and the envy of the world: it was the pattern for politicians, the theme of the eloquent, the meditation of the philosopher, in every part of the world. As to Englishmen, it was their pride, their consolation. By it they lived, for it they were ready to die. Its defects, if it had any, were partly covered by partiality, and partly borne by prudence. Now all its excellencies are forgot, its faults are now forcibly dragged into day, exaggerated by every artifice of representation. It is despised and rejected of men, and every device and invention of ingenuity or idleness is set up in opposition or in preference to it.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Reform of Representation of the Commons in Parliament, May 7, 1782.    
  But he has praised the tolerating spirit of the heathens. Well! but the honourable gentleman will recollect that heathens, that polytheists, must permit a number of divinities. It is the very essence of its constitution. But was it ever heard that polytheism tolerated a dissent from a polytheistic establishment,—the belief of one God only? Never! never! Sir, they constantly carried on persecution against that doctrine. I will not give heathens the glory of a doctrine which I consider the best part of Christianity. The honourable gentleman must recollect the Roman law, that was clearly against the introduction of any foreign rites in matters of religion. You have it at large in Livy, how they persecuted in the first introduction the rites of Bacchus; and even before Christ, to say nothing of their subsequent persecutions, they persecuted the Druids and others. Heathenism, therefore, as in other respects erroneous, was erroneous in point of persecution. I do not say that every heathen who persecuted was therefore an impious man: I only say he was mistaken, as such a man is now. But, says the honourable gentleman, they did not persecute Epicureans, No: the Epicureans had no quarrel with their religious establishment, nor desired any religion for themselves. It would have been very extraordinary, if irreligious heathens had desired either a religious establishment or toleration. But, says the honourable gentleman, the Epicureans entered, as others, into the temples. They did so; they defied all subscription; they defied all sorts of conformity; there was no subscription to which they were not ready to set their hands, no ceremonies they refused to practise; they made it a principle of their irreligion outwardly to conform to any religion. These atheists eluded all that you could do: so will all freethinkers forever. Then you suffer, or the weakness of your law has suffered, those great dangerous animals to escape notice, whilst you have nets that entangle the poor fluttering silken wings of a tender conscience.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Relief of Prot. Dissenters, March 17, 1773.    
  I may be mistaken, but I take toleration to be a part of religion. I do not know which I would sacrifice: I would keep them both: it is not necessary I should sacrifice either. I do not like the idea of tolerating the doctrines of Epicurus: but nothing in the world propagates them so much as the oppression of the poor, of the honest and candid disciples of the religion we profess in common,—I mean revealed religion; nothing sooner makes them take a short cut out of the bondage of sectarian vexation into open and direct infidelity than tormenting men for every difference.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Relief of Prot. Dissenters.    
  I will stand up at all times for the rights of conscience, as it is such,—not for its particular modes against its general principles. One may be right, another mistaken; but if I have more strength than my brother it shall be employed to support, not to oppress, his weakness; if I have more light, it shall be used to guide, not to dazzle him.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Relief of Prot. Dissenters.    
  What figure do I make in saying, I do not attack the works of these atheistical writers, but I will keep a rod hanging over the conscientious man, their bitterest enemy, because these atheists may take advantage of the liberty of their foes to introduce irreligion? The best book that ever, perhaps, has been written against these people is that in which the author has collected in a body the whole of the infidel code, and has brought the writers into one body to cut them all off together. This was done by a Dissenter, who never did subscribe the Thirty-Nine Articles,—Dr. Leland. But if, after all this, danger is to be apprehended, if you are really fearful that Christianity will indirectly suffer by this liberty, you have my free consent: go directly, and by the straight way, and not by a circuit in which in your road you may destroy your friends; point your arms against these men who, not contented with endeavouring to turn your eyes from the blaze and effulgence of light by which life and immortality is so gloriously demonstrated by the Gospel, would even extinguish that faint glimmering of Nature, that only comfort supplied to ignorant man before this great illumination,—them who, by attacking even the possibility of all revelation, arraign all the dispensations of Providence to man.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Relief of Protestant Dissenters, March 17, 1773.    
  These men, who would take away whatever ennobles the rank or consoles the misfortunes of human nature, by breaking off that connection of observances of affections, of hopes and fears, which bind us to the Divinity, and constitute the glorious and distinguishing prerogative of humanity, that of being a religious creature: against these I would have the laws rise in all their majesty of terrors, to fulminate such vain and impious wretches, and to awe them into impotence by the only dread they can fear or believe, to learn that eternal lesson, Discite justitiam moniti, et non temnere Divos!
Edmund Burke: Speech on Relief of Protestant Dissenters, March 17, 1773.    
  The others, the infidels, are outlaws of the constitution, not of this country, but of the human race. They are never, never to be supported, never to be tolerated. Under the systematic attacks of these people, I see some of the props of good government already begin to fail; I see propagated principles which will not leave to religion even a toleration. I see myself sinking every day under the attacks of these wretched people. How shall I arm myself against them? By uniting all those in affection who are united in the belief of the great principles of the Godhead that made and sustains the world. They who hold revelation give double assurance to their country.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Relief of Protestant Dissenters, March 17, 1773.    
  That man thinks much too highly, and therefore he thinks weakly and delusively, of any contrivance of human wisdom, who believes that it can make any sort of approach to perfection. There is not, there never was, a principle of government under heaven, that does not, in the very pursuit of the good it proposes, naturally and inevitably lead into some inconvenience which makes it absolutely necessary to counterwork and weaken the application of that first principle itself, and to abandon something of the extent of the advantage you proposed by it, in order to prevent also the inconveniences which have arisen from the instrument of all the good you had in view.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Duration of Parliament, May 8, 1780.    
  To govern according to the sense and agreeably to the interests of the people is a great and glorious object of government. This object cannot be obtained but through the medium of popular election; and popular election is a mighty evil. It is such and so great an evil that, though there are few nations whose monarchs were not originally elective, very few are now elected. They are the distempers of elections that have destroyed all free states. To cure these distempers is difficult, if not impossible; the only thing, therefore, left to save the commonwealth is, to prevent their return too quickly.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Duration of Parliaments, May 8, 1780.    
  So was Rome destroyed by the disorders of continual elections, though those of Rome were sober disorders. They had nothing but faction, bribery, bread, and stage-plays, to debauch them: we have the inflammation of liquor superadded, a fury hotter than any of them.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Duration of Parliaments, May 8, 1780.    
  Whilst the Directors were digesting their astonishment at this information, a memorial was presented to them from three gentlemen, informing them that their friends had lent, likewise, to merchants of Canton in China, a sum of not more than one million sterling. In this memorial they called upon the Company for their assistance and interposition with the Chinese government for the recovery of the debt. This sum lent to Chinese merchants was at twenty-four per cent., which would yield, if paid, an annuity of two hundred and forty thousand pounds.  384
  Perplexed as the Directors were with these demands, you may conceive, Sir, that they did not find themselves much disembarrassed by being made acquainted that they must again exert their influence for a new reserve of the happy parsimony of their servants, collected into a second debt from the Nabob of Arcot, amounting to two millions four hundred thousand pounds, settled at an interest of twelve per cent.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Nabob of Arcot’s Debts, Feb. 28, 1785.    
  When at length Hyder Ali found that he had to do with men who either would sign no convention, or whom no treaty and no signature could bind, and who were the determined enemies of human intercourse itself, he decreed to make the country possessed by these incorrigible and predestinated criminals an example to mankind. He resolved, in the gloomy recesses of a mind capacious of such things, to leave the whole Carnatic an everlasting monument of vengeance, and to put perpetual desolation as a barrier between him and those against whom the faith which holds the moral elements of the world together was no protection. He became at length so confident of his force, so collected in his might, that he made no secret whatsoever of his dreadful resolution. Having terminated his disputes with every enemy and every rival, who buried their mutual animosities in their common detestation against the creditors of the Nabob of Arcot, he drew from every quarter whatever a savage ferocity could add to his new rudiments in the arts of destruction; and, compounding all the materials of fury, havoc, and desolation into one black cloud, he hung for a while on the declivities of the mountains. Whilst the authors of all these evils were idly and stupidly gazing on this menacing meteor which blackened all their horizon, it suddenly burst, and poured down the whole of its contents upon the plains of the Carnatic. Then ensued a scene of woe, the like of which no eye had seen, no heart conceived, and which no tongue can adequately tell. All the horrors of war before known or heard of were mercy to that new havoc. A storm of universal fire blasted every field, consumed every house, destroyed every temple. The miserable inhabitants, flying from their flaming villages, in part were slaughtered; others, without regard to sex, to age, to the respect of rank or sacredness of function, fathers torn from children, husbands from wives, enveloped in a whirlwind of cavalry, and amidst the goading spears of drivers and the trampling of pursuing horses, were swept into captivity in an unknown and hostile land. Those who were able to evade this tempest fled to the walled cities; but, escaping from fire, sword, and exile, they fell into the jaws of famine.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Nabob of Arcot’s Debts, Feb. 28, 1785.    
  There is nothing certain in the principles of jurisprudence, if this be not undeniably true, that when a special authority is given to any persons by name to do some particular act, that no others, by virtue of general powers, can obtain a legal title to intrude themselves into that trust, and to exercise those special functions in their place.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Nabob of Arcot’s Debts, Feb. 28, 1785.    
  Madras, with its dependencies, is the second (but with a long interval the second) member of the British empire in the East. The trade of that city, and of the adjacent territory, was not very long ago among the most flourishing in Asia. But since the establishment of the British power it has wasted away under an uniform gradual decline, insomuch that in the year 1779 not one merchant of eminence was to be found in the whole country. During this period of decay, about six hundred thousand sterling pounds a year have been drawn off by English gentlemen on their private account, by the way of China alone. If we add four hundred thousand as probably remitted through other channels and in other mediums, that is, in jewels, gold, and silver, directly brought to Europe, and in bills upon the British and foreign companies, you will scarcely think the matter over-rated. If we fix the commencement of this extraction of money from the Carnatic at a period no earlier than the year 1760 and close it in the year 1780, it probably will not amount to a great deal less than twenty millions of money.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Nabob of Arcot’s Debts.    
  It is by bribing, not so often by being bribed, that wicked politicians bring ruin on mankind. Avarice is a rival to the pursuits of many. It finds a multitude of checks, and many opposers, in every walk of life. But the objects of ambition are for the few; and every person who aims at indirect profit, and therefore wants other protection than innocence and law, instead of its rival, becomes its instrument. There is a natural allegiance and fealty due to this domineering, paramount evil, from all the vassal vices, which acknowledge its superiority, and readily militate under its banners; and it is under that discipline alone that avarice is able to spread to any considerable extent, or to render itself a general, public mischief.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Nabob of Ascot’s Debts, Feb. 28, 1785.    
  In our politics, as in our common conduct, we shall be worse than infants, if we do not put our senses under the tuition of our judgment, and effectually cure ourselves of that optical illusion which makes a brier at our nose of greater magnitude than an oak at five hundred yards’ distance.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Nabot of Arcot’s Debts, Feb. 28, 1785.    
  Early and provident fear is the mother of safety; because in that state of things the mind is firm and collected, and the judgment unembarrassed. But when the fear and the evil feared come on together, and press at once upon us, deliberation itself is ruinous, which saves upon all other occasions; because, when perils are instant, it delays decision; the man is in a flutter, and in a hurry, and his judgment is gone.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Petition of the Unitarians, 1792.    
  A tender conscience, of all things, ought to be tenderly handled: for if you do not, you injure not only the conscience, but the whole moral frame and constitution is injured, recurring at times to remorse, and seeking refuge only in making the conscience callous.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Petition of the Unitarians, May 11, 1792.    
  I go on this ground,—that government, representing the society, has a general superintending control over all the actions and over all the publicly propagated doctrines of men, without which it never could provide adequately for all the wants of society: but then it is to use this power with an equitable discretion, the only bond of sovereign authority. For it is not, perhaps, so much by the assumption of unlawful powers as by the unwise or unwarrantable use of those which are most legal, that governments oppose their true end and object: for there is such a thing as tyranny as well as usurpation. You can hardly state to me a case to which legislature is the most confessedly competent, in which, if the rules of benignity and prudence are not observed, the most mischievous and oppressive things may not be done. So that, after all, it is a moral and virtuous discretion, and not any abstract theory of right, which keeps governments faithful to their ends.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Petition of the Unitarians, May 11, 1792.    
  Religion is so far, in my opinion, from being out of the province or the duty of a Christian magistrate, that it is, and it ought to be, not only his care, but the principal thing in his care; because it is one of the great bonds of human society, and its object the supreme good, the ultimate end and object of man himself. The magistrate, who is a man, and charged with the concerns of men, and to whom very specially nothing human is remote and indifferent, has a right and a duty to watch over it with an unceasing vigilance, to protect, to promote, to forward it by every rational, just, and prudent means. It is principally his duty to prevent the abuses which grow out of every strong and efficient principle that actuates the human mind. As religion is one of the bonds of society, he ought not to suffer it to be made the pretext of destroying its peace, order, liberty, and its security.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Petition of the Unitarians, May 11, 1792.    
  You will be convinced, Sir, that I am not mistaken, if you reflect how generally it is true, that commerce, the principal object of that office, flourishes most when it is left to itself. Interest, the great guide of commerce, is not a blind one. It is very well able to find its own way; and its necessities are its best laws.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Plan for Economical Reform, Feb. 11, 1780.    
  I know it is common for men to say that such and such things are perfectly right, very desirable, but that, unfortunately, they are not practicable. Oh, no, Sir! no! Those things which are not practicable are not desirable. There is nothing in the world really beneficial that does not lie within the reach of an informed understanding and a well-directed pursuit. There is nothing that God has judged good for us that He has not given us the means to accomplish, both in the natural and the moral world. If we cry, like children, for the moon, like children we must cry on.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Plan for Economical Reform, Feb. 11, 1780.    
  In the first class I place the judges as of the first importance. It is the public justice that holds the community together; the ease, therefore, and independence of the judges ought to supersede all other considerations, and they ought to be the very last to feel the necessities of the state; or to be obliged either to court or bully a minister for their right; they ought to be as weak solicitors on their own demands as strenuous asserters of the rights and liberties of others. The judges are, or ought to be, of a reserved and retired character, and wholly unconnected with the political world.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Plan for Economical Reform, Feb. 11, 1780.    
  But the petitioners are violent. Be it so. Those who are least anxious about your conduct are not those that love you most. Moderate affection and satiated enjoyment are cold and respectful; but an ardent and injured passion is tempered up with wrath, and grief, and shame, and conscious worth, and the maddening sense of violated right. A jealous love lights his torch from the firebrands of the furies.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Plan for Economical Reform, Feb. 11, 1780.    
  But, as it is the interest of government that reformation should be early, it is the interest of the people that it should be temperate. It is their interest, because a temperate reform is permanent, and because it has a principle of growth. Whenever we improve, it is right to leave room for a further improvement. It is right to consider, to look about us, to examine the effect of what we have done. Then we can proceed with confidence, because we can proceed with intelligence. Whereas, in hot reformations, in what men more zealous than considerate call making clear work, the whole is generally so crude, so harsh, so indigested, mixed with so much imprudence and so much injustice, so contrary to the whole course of human nature and human institutions, that the very people who are most eager for it are among the first to grow disgusted at what they have done. Then some part of the abdicated grievance is recalled from its exile in order to become a corrective of the correction. Then the abuse assumes all the credit and popularity of a reform. The very idea of purity and disinterestedness in politics falls into disrepute, and is considered as a vision of hot and inexperienced men; and thus disorders become incurable, not by the virulence of their own quality, but by the unapt and violent nature of the remedies.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Plan for Economical Reform, Feb. 11, 1780.    
  In all offices of duty there is almost necessarily a great neglect of all domestic affairs. A person in high office can rarely take a view of his family-house. If he sees that the state takes no detriment, the state must see that his affairs should take as little.  400
  I will even go so far as to affirm, that, if men were willing to serve in such situations without salary, they ought not to be permitted to do it. Ordinary service must be secured by the motives to ordinary integrity. I do not hesitate to say that that state which lays its foundation in rare and heroic virtues will be sure to have its superstructure in the basest profligacy and corruption. An honourable and fair profit is the best security against avarice and rapacity; as in all things else, a lawful and regulated enjoyment is the best security against debauchery and excess. For as wealth is power, so all power will infallibly draw wealth to itself by some means or other; and when men are left no way of ascertaining their profits but by their means of obtaining them, those means will be increased to infinity. This is true in all the parts of administration, as well as in the whole. If any individual were to decline his appointments, it might give an unfair advantage to ostentatious ambition over unpretending service; it might breed invidious comparisons; it might tend to destroy whatever little unity and agreement may be found among ministers. And, after all, when an ambitious man had run down his competitors by a fallacious show of disinterestedness, and fixed himself in power by that means, what security is there that he would not change his course, and claim as an indemnity ten times more than he has given up?
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Plan for Economical Reform, Feb. 11, 1780.    
  Undoubtedly the good fame of every man ought to be under the protection of the laws, as well as his life and liberty and property. Good fame is an outwork that defends them all and renders them all valuable. The law forbids you to revenge; when it ties up the hands of some, it ought to restrain the tongues of others.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Powers of Juries in Prosecutions for Libels, March 7, 1771.    
  Of all things, an indiscreet tampering with the trade of provisions is the most dangerous, and it is always worst in the time when men are most disposed to it,—that is, in the time of scarcity; because there is nothing on which the passions of men are so violent, and their judgment so weak, and on which there exists such a multitude of ill-founded popular prejudices.
Edmund Burke: Thoughts and Details on Scarcity, 1795.    
  To provide for us in our necessities is not in the power of government. It would be a vain presumption in statesmen to think they can do it. The people maintain them, and not they the people. It is in the power of government to prevent much evil; it can do very little positive good in this, or perhaps in anything else. It is not only so of the state and statesman, but of all the classes and descriptions of the rich: they are the pensioners of the poor, and are maintained by their superfluity. They are under an absolute, hereditary, and indefeasible dependence on those who labour and are miscalled the poor.
Edmund Burke: Thoughts and Details on Scarcity, Nov. 1795.    
  Let us only suffer any person to tell us his story, morning and evening, but for one twelvemonth, and he will become our master.
Edmund Burke: Thoughts on French Affairs, Dec. 1791.    
  The power of the crown, almost dead and rotten as Prerogative, has grown up anew, with much more strength, and far less odium, under the name of Influence. An influence which operated without noise and without violence; an influence which converted the very antagonist into the instrument of power; which contained in itself a perpetual principle of growth and renovation; and which the distresses and the prosperity of the country equally tended to augment, was an admirable substitute for a prerogative that, being only the offspring of antiquated prejudices, had moulded in its original stamina irresistible principles of decay and dissolution. The ignorance of the people is a bottom but for a temporary system; the interest of active men in the state is a foundation perpetual and infallible.
Edmund Burke: Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, 1770.    
  When the House of Commons, in an endeavour to obtain new advantages at the expense of the other orders of the state, for the benefit of the commons at large, have pursued strong measures, if it were not just, it was at least natural, that the constituents should connive at all their proceedings; because we ourselves were ultimately to profit. But when this submission is urged to us in a contest between the representatives and ourselves, and where nothing can be put into their scale which is not taken from ours, they fancy us to be children when they tell us they are our representatives, our own flesh and blood, and that all the stripes they give us are for our good.
Edmund Burke: Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, 1770.    
  Party is a body of men united for promoting by their joint endeavours the national interest upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed. For my part, I find it impossible to conceive that any one believes in his own politics, or thinks them to be of any weight, who refuses to adopt the means of having them reduced into practice. It is the business of the speculative philosopher to mark the proper ends of government. It is the business of the politician, who is the philosopher in action, to find out proper means towards those ends, and to employ them with effect. Therefore every honourable connection will avow it is their first purpose, to pursue every just method to put the men who hold their opinions into such a condition as may enable them to carry their common plans into execution, with all the power and authority of the state. As this power is attached to certain situations, it is their duty to contend for these situations.
Edmund Burke: Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, 1770.    
  To complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present possessors of power, to lament the past, to conceive extravagant hopes of the future, are the common dispositions of the greatest part of mankind; indeed, the necessary effects of the ignorance and levity of the vulgar. Such complaints and humours have existed in all times; yet, as all times have not been alike, true political sagacity manifests itself in distinguishing that complaint which only characterizes the general infirmity of human nature from those which are symptoms of the particular distemperature of our own air and season.
Edmund Burke: Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, 1770.    
  I am not one of those who think that the people are never in the wrong. They have been so, frequently and outrageously, both in other countries and in this. But I do say, that in all disputes between them and their rulers, the presumption is at least upon a par in favour of the people. Experience may perhaps justify me in going further. When popular discontents have been very prevalent, it may well be affirmed and supported, that there has been generally something found amiss in the constitution, or in the conduct of government. The people have no interest in disorder. When they do wrong, it is their error, and not their crime. But with the governing part of the state it is far otherwise. They certainly may act ill by design, as well as by mistake.
Edmund Burke: Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, 1770.    
  It is an advantage to all narrow wisdom and narrow morals, that their maxims have a plausible air; and, on a cursory view, appear equal to first principles. They are light and portable. They are as current as copper coin; and about as valuable. They serve equally the first capacities and the lowest; and they are, at least, as useful to the worst men as to the best. Of this stamp is the cant of Not men, but measures; a sort of charm by which many people get loose from every honourable engagement. When I see a man acting this desultory and disconnected part, with as much detriment to his own fortune as prejudice to the cause of any party, I am not persuaded that he is right, but I am ready to believe he is in earnest. I respect virtue in all its situations; even when it is found in the unsuitable company of weakness. I lament to see qualities rare and valuable squandered away without any public utility.
Edmund Burke: Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents.    
  It is very rare indeed for men to be wrong in their feelings concerning public misconduct; as rare to be right in their speculations upon the cause of it. I have constantly observed that the generality of people are fifty years, at least, behindhand in their politics. There are but very few who are capable of comparing and digesting what passes before their eyes at different times and occasions, so as to form the whole into a distinct system. But in books everything is settled for them, without the exertion of any considerable diligence or sagacity. For which reason men are wise with but little reflection, and good with but little self-denial, in the business of all times except their own.
Edmund Burke: Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents.    
  In a free country, every man thinks he has a concern in all public matters; that he has a right to form and a right to deliver an opinion upon them. They sift, examine, and discuss them. They are curious, eager, attentive, and jealous; and by making such matters the daily subjects of their thoughts and discoveries, vast numbers contract a very tolerable knowledge of them, and some a very considerable one. And this it is that fills free countries with men of ability in all stations. Whereas in other countries, none but men whose office calls them to it having much care or thought about public affairs, and not daring to try the force of their opinions with one another, ability of this sort is extremely rare in any station in life.
Edmund Burke: To a Member of the Bell Club, Bristol, Oct. 31, 1777.    
  In free countries there is often found more real public wisdom and sagacity in shops and manufactories than in the cabinets of princes in countries where none dares to have an opinion until he comes into them. Your whole importance, therefore, depends upon a constant, discreet use of your own reason; otherwise you and your country sink to nothing. If upon any particular occasion you should be roused, you will not know what to do. Your fire will be a fire in straw, fitter to waste and consume yourselves than to warm or enliven anything else. You will be only a giddy mob, upon whom no sort of reliance is to be had. You may disturb your country, but you never can reform your government. In other nations they have for some time indulged themselves in a larger use of this manly liberty than formerly they dared.
Edmund Burke: To a Member of the Bell Club, Bristol, Oct. 31, 1777.    
  Believe me, it is a great truth, that there never was, for any long time, a corrupt representation of a virtuous people; or a mean, sluggish, careless people that ever had a good government of any form. If it be true in any degree that the governors form the people, I am certain that it is as true that the people in their turn impart their character to their rulers. Such as you are, sooner or later, must Parliament be.
Edmund Burke: To a Member of the Bell Club, Bristol, Oct. 31, 1777.    
  Hypocrisy is no cheap vice; nor can our natural temper be masked for many years together
Edmund Burke: To Bishop Markham, 1771.    
  My principles, indeed the principles of common sense, lead me to act in corps…. That versatility, those sudden evolutions, which have sometimes derogated from the credit of all public professions, are things not so easy in large bodies, as when men act alone, or in light squadrons. A man’s virtue is best secured by shame, and best improved by emulation in the society of virtuous men.
Edmund Burke: To Bishop Markham, 1771.    
  If I were to trust to my observation and give a verdict on it, I must depose that, in my experience, I have found that those who were most indulgent to themselves were (in the mass) less kind to others than those who have lived a life nearer to self-denial. I go further.—In my experience I have observed that a luxurious softness of manners hardens the heart, at least as much as an over-done abstinence.
Edmund Burke: To Chev. De Rivard, June 1, 1791.    
  It is impossible for me, with any agreement to my sense of propriety, to accept any sort of compensation for services which I may endeavour to do upon a public account. If the bill you allude to should come before you receive this, I must return it by post to the gentleman who transmits it. I have attempted to be useful on many occasions, and to various descriptions of men, and all I wish in return is, that if I have been so fortunate as to do them any service, they will endeavour to improve it to the best advantage to themselves.
Edmund Burke: To Dr. Curry, Aug. 14, 1779, refusing a present of five hundred guineas for his efforts in Parliament on behalf of the persecuted Roman Catholics of Ireland.    
  An uniform principle, which is interwoven in my nature, and which has hitherto regulated, and I hope will continue to regulate, my conduct,—I mean an utter abhorrence of all kinds of public injustice and oppression; the worst species of which are those which, being converted into maxims of state, and blending themselves with law and jurisprudence, corrupt the very fountains of all equity, and subvert all the purposes of government.
Edmund Burke: To Dr. J. Curry, Aug. 14, 1779.    
  Let me wish my young friend, at his entrance into life, to draw a useful lesson from the unprincipled behaviour of a corrupt and licentious people:—that is, never to sacrifice his principles to the hope of obtaining their affections; to regard and wish them well, as a part of his fellow-creatures, whom his best instincts and his highest duties lead him to love and serve, but to put as little trust in them as in princes. For what inward resource has he, when turned out of courts or hissed out of town-halls, who has made their opinions the only standard of what is right, and their favour the sole means of his happiness?
Edmund Burke: To John Bourke, July 11, 1777.    
  The heart is pinched up and contracted by the very studies which ought to have enlarged it,—if we keep all our praise for the triumphant and glorified virtues, and all our uneasy suspicions, and doubts, and criticisms, and exceptions, for the companions of our warfare. A mind that is tempered as it ought, or aims to come to the temper it ought to have, will measure out its just proportion of confidence and esteem for a man of invariable rectitude, of principle, steadiness in friendship, moderation in temper, and a perfect freedom from all ambition, duplicity, and revenge; though the owner of these inestimable qualities is seen in the tavern and on the pavement, as well as in the senate, or appearing with much more decency than solemnity even there.
Edmund Burke: To Lord John Cavendish.    
  Far from taking away its value, everything which makes virtue accessible, simple, familiar, and companionable, makes its use more frequent, and its reality a great deal less doubtful. Neither, I apprehend, is the value of great qualities taken away by the defects or errors that are most nearly related to them. Simplicity, and a want of ambition, do something detract from the splendour of great qualities; and men of moderation will sometimes be defective in vigour. Minds (and these are the best minds) which are more fearful of reproach than desirous of glory, will want that extemporaneous promptitude, and that decisive stroke, which are often so absolutely necessary in great affairs.
Edmund Burke: To Lord John Cavendish.    
  I, who have brought my mind to so exclusive a veneration for the divine perfections that I have no admiration left for those of men, beyond my understanding of them, am yet very willing to honour virtue, so far as I am able to recognize and comprehend it.
Edmund Burke: To Lord John Cavendish.    
  The world will operate differently according to our temper. Almost everybody, in the sanguine season of youth, looks in the world for more perfection than he is likely to find. But a good-tempered man—that is to say, a man of a wise constitution—will be pleased, in the midst of his disappointment, to find that, if the virtues of men are below his wish and calculation, their faults have beneficial effects; whereas the ill-tempered man grows peevish at finding, what he will as certainly find, the ill consequence attending the most undoubted virtues. I believe we shall do everything something the better for putting ourselves in as good a humour as possible when we set about it.
Edmund Burke: To Lord John Cavendish.    
  This virtue and moderation (which times and situations will clearly distinguish from the counterfeits of pusillanimity and indecision) is the virtue only of superior minds. It requires a deep courage, and full of reflection, to be temperate when the voice of multitudes (the specious mimic of fame and reputation) passes judgment against you. The impetuous desire of an unthinking public will endure no course but what conducts to splendid and perilous extremes. Then, to dare to be fearful, when all about you are full of presumption and confidence, and when those who are bold at the hazard of others would punish your caution and disaffection, is to show a mind prepared for its trial; it discovers, in the midst of general levity, a self-possessing and collected character, which, sooner or later, bids fair to attract everything to it, as to a centre.
Edmund Burke: To M. Dupont, Oct. 1789.    
  For, believe me, there is no virtue where there is no wisdom. A great, enlarged, protecting, and preserving benevolence has it, not in its accidents and circumstances, but in its very essence, to exterminate vice, and disorder, and oppression from the world. Goodness spares infirmity. Nothing but weakness is tender of the crimes that connect themselves with power, in the destruction of the religion, laws, polity, morals, industry, liberty, and prosperity of your country.
Edmund Burke: To M. Dupont; Burke’s Corresp., 1844, iii. 161.    
  [Richard Shackleton] sanctified his family benevolence, his benevolence to his society and to his friends, and to mankind, with that reference in all things to the Supreme Being, without which the best dispositions and the best teaching will make virtue, if it can be at all attained, uncertain, poor, hard, dry, and comfortless.
Edmund Burke: To Mrs. Mary Leadbeater, Sept. 8, 1792.    
  Reading, and much reading, is good; but the power of diversifying the matter infinitely in your own mind, and of applying it to every occasion that arises, is far better; so don’t suppress the vivida vis. May God grant you every blessing. Remember Him first, and last, and midst. Keep yourselves constantly in His presence. Again and again, God bless you.
Edmund Burke: To R. Burke, Jan., and Mr. T. King, Feb. 1773.    
  My good friends, while I do most earnestly recommend you to take care of your health and safety, as things most precious to us, I would not have that care degenerate into an effeminate and over-curious attention, which is always disgraceful to a man’s self, and often troublesome to others.
Edmund Burke: To R. Burke, Jun., and Mr. T. King, Feb. 1773.    
  Greater mischiefs happen often from folly, meanness, and vanity, than from the greater sins of avarice and ambition.
Edmund Burke: To R. Burke, Jun., March, 1792.    
  All the possible charities of life ought to be cultivated, and where we can neither be brethren nor friends, let us be kind neighbours and pleasant acquaintances.
Edmund Burke: To R. Burke, Jun., March 20, 1792.    
  He has nothing to prevent him but too much idleness, which I have observed fills up a man’s time much more completely, and leaves him less his own master, than any sort of employment whatsoever.
Edmund Burke: To R. Shackleton, May 1, 1768.    
  It is but a few days ago, that a very wise and a very good man (the Duke of Portland) said to me, in a conversation on this subject, that he never knew any man disclaim party who was not of a party that he was ashamed of. But thus much I allow, that men ought to be circumspect, and cautious of entering into this species of political relation; because it cannot easily be broken without loss of reputation, nor (many times) persevered in without giving up much of that practicability which the variable nature of affairs may require, as well as of that regard to a man’s own personal consideration, which (in a due subordination to public good) a man may very fairly aim at. All acting in corps tends to reduce the consideration of an individual who is of any distinguished value.
Edmund Burke: To R. Shackleton, May 25, 1779.    
  What act of oblivion will cover them from the wakeful memory, from the notices and issues of the grand remembrancer—the God within?
Edmund Burke: To Rev. Dr. Hussey, Dec. 1796.    
  That Jacobinism which is speculative in its origin, and which arises from wantonness and fulness of bread, may possibly be kept under by firmness and prudence. The very levity of character which produces it may extinguish it. But Jacobinism which arises from penury and irritation, from scorned loyalty and rejected allegiance, has much deeper roots. They take their nourishment from the bottom of human nature, and the unalterable constitution of things, and not from humour and caprice, or the opinions of the day about privileges and liberties. These roots will be shot into the depths of hell, and will at last raise up their proud tops to heaven itself. This radical evil may baffle the attempts of heads much wiser than those are who in the petulance and riot of their drunken power are neither ashamed nor afraid to insult and provoke those whom it is their duty, and ought to be their glory, to cherish and protect.
Edmund Burke: To Rev. Dr. Hussey, Dec. 1796.    
  One cannot help shuddering with horror when one contemplates the terrible consequences that are frequently the results of craft united with folly, placed in an unnatural elevation. Such ever will be the issue of things when the mean vices attempt to mimic the grand passions. Great men will never do great mischief but for some great end. For this, they must be in a state of inflammation, and, in a manner, out of themselves. Among the nobler animals, whose blood is hot, the bite is never poisonous except when the creature is mad; but in the cold-blooded reptile race, whose poison is exalted by the chemistry of their icy complexion, their venom is the result of their health, and of the perfection of their nature. Woe to the country in which such snakes, whose primum mobile is their belly, obtain wings, and from serpents become dragons. It is not that these people want natural talents, and even a good cultivation; on the contrary, they are the sharpest and most sagacious of mankind in the things to which they apply. But, having wasted their faculties upon base and unworthy objects, in anything of a higher order they are far below the common rate of two-legged animals.
Edmund Burke: To Rev. Dr. Hussey, Dec. 1796.    
  The first duty of a state is to provide for its own conservation. Until that point is secured, it can preserve and protect nothing else. But, if possible, it has greater interest in acting according to strict law than even the subject himself. For if the people see that the law is violated to crush them, they will certainly despise the law. They, or their party, will be easily led to violate it, whenever they can, by all the means in their power. Except in cases of direct war, whenever government abandons law, it proclaims anarchy.
Edmund Burke: To Rev. Dr. Hussey, Dec. 1796.    
  Crimes lead into one another. They who are capable of being forgers are capable of being incendiaries.
Edmund Burke: To Sir A. I. Elton, Jan. 30, 1777.    
  There are situations in which despair does not imply inactivity.
Edmund Burke: To Sir P. Francis, Dec. 11, 1789.    
  As to great and commanding talents, they are the gift of Providence in some way unknown to us. They rise where they are least expected. They fail when everything seems disposed to produce them, or at least to call them forth.
Edmund Burke: To the Chev. De La Bintinnaye, March, 1791.    
  The true way to mourn the dead is to take care of the living who belong to them. These are the pictures and statues of departed friends which we ought to cultivate, and not such as can be had for a few guineas from a vulgar artist.
Edmund Burke: To the Comte d’Artois (Charles X.), Nov. 6, 1793.    
  It is humiliating for us who form the mass of mankind that the people furnish the most detestable examples of wickedness and phrenzy in the tyrannic abuse of power, and that persons of royal birth and place, who in their prosperity were patterns of gentleness, moderation, and benignity, in their adversity furnish the world with the most glorious examples of fortitude, and supply our annals with martyrs and heroes.
Edmund Burke: To the Comte d’Artois (Charles X.), Nov. 6, 1793.    
  If anything in my conversation has merited your regard, I think it must be the openness and freedom with which I commonly express my sentiments. You are too wise a man not to know that such freedom is not without its use; and that by encouraging it, men of true ability are enabled to profit by hints thrown out by understandings much inferior to their own, and which they who first produce them are, by themselves, unable to turn to the best account.
Edmund Burke: To the Comte de Mercey, Aug. 1793.    
  You, if you are what you ought to be, are in my eye the great oaks that shade a country, and perpetuate your benefits from generation to generation. The immediate power of a Duke of Richmond, or a Marquis of Rockingham, is not so much of moment; but if their conduct and example hand down their principles to their successors, then their houses become the public repositories and offices of record for the constitution; not like the Tower, or Roll-Chapel, where it is searched for, and sometimes in vain, in rotten parchments under dripping and perishing walls, but in full vigour, and acting with vital energy and power, in the character of the leading men and natural interests of the country.
Edmund Burke: To the Duke of Richmond, Nov. 17, 1772.    
  I have seen so many woeful examples of the effect of levity, both that which arises from temper and that which is owing to interest, that a small degree of obstinacy is a quality not very odious in my eyes, whether it be complexioned, or from principle.
Edmund Burke: To the Duke of Richmond, Nov. 17, 1772.    
  It is wise, indeed, considering the many positive vexations and the innumerable bitter disappointments of pleasure in the world, to have as many resources of satisfaction as possible within one’s power. Whenever we concentre the mind on one sole object, that object and life itself must go together. But though it is right to have reserves of employment, still some one object must be kept principal, greatly and eminently so; and the other masses and figures must preserve their due subordination, to make out the grand composition of an important life.
Edmund Burke: To the Duke of Richmond, Nov. 17, 1772.    
  It will be necessary to avoid the exquisiteness of an over-attention to small parts; and to over-precision, and to a spirit of detail, which acute understandings, and which, without great care, all precise reasoners are apt to get into; and which gives, in some degree, a sort of hardness, and what you connoisseurs call the dry manner, to all our actions.
Edmund Burke: To the Duke of Richmond, Nov. 17, 1772.    
  A speculative despair is unpardonable, where it is our duty to act.
Edmund Burke: To the Duke of Richmond, Sept. 26, 1775.    
  I love nobility. I should be ashamed to say so if I did not know what it is that I love. He alone is noble that is so reputed by those who, by being free, are capable of forming an opinion. Such a people are alone competent to bestow a due estimation upon rank and titles. He is noble who has a priority amongst freemen; not he who has a sort of wild liberty among slaves.
Edmund Burke: To the King of Poland, probably March, 1792.    
  All direction of public humour and opinion must originate in a few. Perhaps a good deal of that humour and opinion must be owing to such direction. Events supply material; times furnish dispositions; but conduct alone can bring them to bear to any useful purpose. I never yet knew an instance of any general temper in the nation that might not have been tolerably well traced to some particular persons. If things are left to themselves, it is my clear opinion that a nation may slide down fair and softly from the highest point of grandeur and prosperity to the lowest state of imbecility and meanness, without any one’s marking a particular period in this declension, without asking a question about it, or in the least speculating on any of the innumerable acts which have stolen in this silent and insensible revolution. Every event so prepares the subsequent, that, when it arrives, it produces no surprise, nor any extraordinary alarm.
Edmund Burke: To the Marquis of Rockingham, Aug. 23, 1775.    
  Men want arguments to reconcile their minds to what is done, as well as motives originally to act right.
Edmund Burke: To the Marquis of Rockingham, Nov. 14, 1769.    
  You have gone through all the standing power and greatness of the world; you are now amidst the ruins of what is fallen. Power of every name and kind. Power of force, and power of opinion. Italy is deprived of these; but her grand and fertile nature and her fine position remain. The monuments of art, and taste, and magnificence, which in her prosperity were her ornament, are still our lesson; and teach, and will teach us, as long as we have sense enough to learn from them, the spirit with which we ought, when we are able, to decorate a country now the most flourishing that exists. These will give her dignity and glory, when her opulence and her power are gone away, and will perpetuate to other ages and other nations the elegance and taste we have had from Italy. I am sure you must have been struck on viewing the splendid ruins, and half-ruins, of the imperial and pontifical Italy, with the littleness and meanness (though not wholly without taste and elegance and neatness) of everything in this country, although more opulent than any which ever was perhaps in the world. What is London? Clean, commodious, neat; but, a very few things indeed excepted, an endless addition of littleness to littleness, extending itself over a great tract of land. This will lead you to the general principles which divert wealth to objects of permanence and grandeur, and to those which confine it to personal convenience and partial luxury.
Edmund Burke: To the Rev. Robert Dodge, Feb. 29, 1792.    
  Neither you, nor I, nor any fair man, can believe that a whole nation is free from honour and real principle; or that if these things exist in it, they are not to be found in the men the best born, and the best bred, and in those possessed of rank which raises them in their own esteem, and in the esteem of others, and possessed of hereditary settlement in the same place, which secures, with an hereditary wealth, an hereditary inspection. That these should be all scoundrels, and that the virtue, honour, and public spirit of a nation should be only found in its attorneys, pettifoggers, stewards of manors, discarded officers of police, shop-boys, clerks of counting-houses, and rustics from the plough, is a paradox, not of false ingenuity, but of envy and malignity. It is an error, not of the head, but of the heart.
Edmund Burke: To W. Weddell, Jan. 31, 1792.    
  To the solid establishment of every law two things are essentially requisite: first, a proper and sufficient human power to declare and modify the matter of the law; and next, such a fit and equitable constitution as they have a right to declare and render binding. With regard to the first requisite, the human authority, it is their judgment they give up, not their right. The people, indeed, are presumed to consent to whatever the legislature ordains for their benefit; and they are to acquiesce in it, though they do not clearly see into the propriety of the means by which they are conducted to that desirable end. This they owe as an act of homage and just deference to a reason which the necessity of government has made superior to their own.
Edmund Burke: Tract on the Popery Laws.    
  It would be hard to point out any error more truly subversive of all the order and beauty, of all the peace and happiness of human society, than the position that any body of men have a right to make what laws they please,—or that laws can derive any authority from their institution merely, and independent of the quality of the subject-matter. No arguments of policy, reason of state, or preservation of the constitution can be pleaded in favour of such a practice.
Edmund Burke: Tract on the Popery Laws.    
  In reality there are two, and only two, foundations of law; and they are both of them conditions without which nothing can give it any force: I mean equity and utility. With respect to the former, it grows out of the great rule of equality, which is grounded upon our common nature, and which Philo, with propriety and beauty, calls the mother of justice. All human laws are, properly speaking, only declaratory; they may alter the mode and application, but have no power over the substance, of original justice. The other foundation of law, which is utility, must be understood, not of partial or limited, but of general and public, utility, connected in the same manner with, and derived directly from, our rational nature: for any other utility may be the utility of a robber, but cannot be that of a citizen,—the interest of the domestic enemy, and not that of a member of the commonwealth.
Edmund Burke: Tract on the Popery Laws.    
  Reason is never inconvenient, but when it comes to be applied. Mere general truths interfere very little with the passions. They can, until they are roused by a troublesome application, rest in great tranquillity, side by side with tempers and proceedings the most directly opposite to them. Men want to be reminded, who do not want to be taught; because those original ideas of rectitude, to which the mind is compelled to assent when they are proposed, are not always as present to us as they ought to be.
Edmund Burke: Tract on the Popery Laws.    
  Such an intention is pretended by all men,—who all not only insist that their religion has the sanction of Heaven, but is likewise, and for that reason, the best and most convenient to human society. All religious persecution, Mr. Bayle well observes, is grounded upon a miserable petitio principii. You are wrong, I am right; you must come over to me, or you must suffer. Let me add, that the great inlet by which a colour for oppression has entered into the world is by one man’s pretending to determine concerning the happiness of another, and by claiming a right to use what means he thinks proper in order to bring him to a sense of it. It is the ordinary and trite sophism of oppression.
Edmund Burke: Tract on the Popery Laws.    
  If he be beforehand satisfied that your opinion is better than his, he will voluntarily come over to you, and without compulsion, and then your law would be unnecessary; but if he is not so convinced, he must know that it is his duty in this point to sacrifice his interest here to his opinion of his eternal happiness, else he could have in reality no religion at all. In the former case, therefore, as your law would be unnecessary, in the latter it would be persecuting: that is, it would put your penalty and his idea of duty in the opposite scales; which is, or I know not what is, the precise idea of persecution.
Edmund Burke: Tract on the Popery Laws.    
  Those civil constitutions which promote industry are such as facilitate the acquisition, secure the holding, enable the fixing, and suffer the alienation of property. Every law which obstructs it in any part of this distribution is, in proportion to the force and extent of the obstruction, a discouragement to industry. For a law against property is a law against industry,—the latter having always the former, and nothing else, for its object.
Edmund Burke: Tract on the Popery Laws.    
  The desire of acquisition is always a passion of long views. Contine a man to momentary possession, and you at once cut off that laudable avarice which every wise state has cherished as one of the first principles of its greatness. Allow a man but a temporary possession, lay it down as a maxim that he never can have any other, and you immediately and infallibly turn him to temporary enjoyments: and these enjoyments are never the pleasures of labour and free industry, whose quality it is to famish the present hours and squander all upon prospect and futurity; they are, on the contrary, those of a thoughtless, loitering, and dissipated life.
Edmund Burke: Tract on the Popery Laws.    
  Religion, to have any force on men’s understandings,—indeed, to exist at all,—must be supposed paramount to law, and independent for its substance upon any human institution,—else it would be the absurdest thing in the world, an acknowledged cheat. Religion, therefore, is not believed because the laws have established it, but it is established because the leading part of the community have previously believed it to be true.
Edmund Burke: Tract on the Popery Laws.    
  The stock of materials by which any nation is rendered flourishing and prosperous are its industry, its knowledge or skill, its morals, its execution of justice, its courage, and the national union in directing these powers to one point and making them all centre in the public benefit. Other than these, I do not know and scarcely can conceive any means by which a community may flourish.
Edmund Burke: Tract on the Popery Laws.    
  The simplest form of government is despotism, where all the inferior orbs of power are moved merely by the will of the Supreme, and all that are subjected to them directed in the same manner, merely by the occasional will of the magistrate. This form, as it is the most simple, so it is infinitely the most general. Scarcely any part of the world is exempted from its power. And in those few places where men enjoy what they call liberty, it is continually in a tottering situation, and makes greater and greater strides to that gulf of despotism which at last swallows up every species of government.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  Resolve, my lord, our history from the Conquest. We scarcely ever had a Parliament which knew, when it attempted to set limits to the royal authority, how to set limits to its own. Evils we have had continually calling for reformation, and reformations more grievous than any evils. Our boasted liberty sometimes trodden down, sometimes giddily set up, and ever precariously fluctuating and unsettled; it has only been kept alive by the blasts of continual feuds, wars, and conspiracies. In no country in Europe has the scaffold so often blushed with the blood of its nobility. Confiscations, banishments, attainders, executions, make a large part of the history of such of our families as are not utterly extinguished by them.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  But for my part, my lord, I then thought, and am still of the same opinion, that error, and not truth of any kind, is dangerous; that ill conclusions can only flow from false propositions; and that, to know whether any proposition be true or false, it is a preposterous method to examine it by its apparent consequences.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  We found, or we thought we found, an inconvenience in having every man the judge of his own cause. Therefore judges were set up, at first, with discretionary powers. But it was soon found a miserable slavery to have our lives and properties precarious, and hanging upon the arbitrary determination of any one man, or set of men. We fled to laws as a remedy for this evil. By these we persuaded ourselves we might know with some certainty upon what ground we stood. But lo! differences arose upon the sense and interpretation of these laws. Thus we were brought back to our old incertitude.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  The lawyer [as well as the divine] has his forms, and his positive institutions too, and he adheres to them with a veneration altogether as religious. The worst cause cannot be so prejudicial to the litigant, as his advocate’s or attorney’s ignorance or neglect of these forms. A lawsuit is like an ill-managed dispute, in which the first object is soon out of sight, and the parties end upon a matter wholly foreign to that on which they began. In a lawsuit the question is, who has a right to a certain house or farm? And this question is daily determined, not upon the evidence of the right, but upon the observance or neglect of some forms of words in use with the gentlemen of the robe, about which there is even amongst themselves such a disagreement that the most experienced veterans in the profession can never be positively assured that they are not mistaken.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  The nearer we approach to the goal of life, the better we begin to understand the true value of our existence, and the real weight of our opinions. We set out much in love with both; but we leave much behind us as we advance. We first throw away the tales along with the rattles of our nurses: those of the priest keep their hold a little longer; those of our governors the longest of all. But the passions which prop these opinions are withdrawn one after another; and the cool light of reason, at the setting of our life, shows us what a false splendour played upon these objects during our more sanguine seasons. Happy, my lord, if, instructed by my experience, and even by my errors, you come early to make such an estimate of things as may give freedom and ease to your life. I am happy that such an estimate promises me comfort at my death.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  Besides this, the mind of man itself is too active and restless a principle ever to settle on the true point of quiet. It discovers every day some craving want in a body which really wants but little. It every day invents some new artificial rule to guide that nature which, if left to itself, were the best and surest guide. It finds out imaginary beings prescribing imaginary laws; and then it raises imaginary terrors to support a belief in the beings, and an obedience to the laws. Many things have been said, and very well, undoubtedly, on the subjection in which we should preserve our bodies to the government of our understanding; but enough has not been said upon the restraint which our bodily necessities ought to lay on the extravagant sublimities and eccentric rovings of our minds. The body, or, as some love to call it, our inferior nature, is wiser in its own plain way, and attends to its own business more directly, than the mind with all its boasted subtlety.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  It is of no consequence what the principles of any party, or what their pretensions are; the spirit which actuates all parties is the same; the spirit of ambition, of self-interest, of oppression and treachery. This spirit entirely reverses all the principles which a benevolent nature has erected within us; all honesty, all equal justice, and even the ties of natural society, the natural affections.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  The pleasures which are agreeable to nature are within the reach of all, and therefore can form no distinction in favour of the rich. The pleasures which art forces up are seldom sincere, and never satisfying. What is worse, this constant application to pleasure takes away from the enjoyment, or rather turns it into the nature of a very burdensome and laborious business. It has consequences much more fatal. It produces a weak valetudinary state of body, attended by all those horrid disorders, and yet more horrid methods of cure, which are the result of luxury on the one hand, and the weak and ridiculous efforts of human art on the other.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  I had indeed often reflected on that subject [political society] before I could prevail on myself to communicate my reflections to anybody. They were generally melancholy enough; as those usually are which carry us beyond the mere surface of things; and which would undoubtedly make the lives of all thinking men extremely miserable, if the same philosophy which caused the grief did not at the same time administer the comfort.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  The most obvious division of society is into rich and poor; and it is no less obvious that the number of the former bear a great disproportion to those of the latter. The whole business of the poor is to administer to the idleness, folly, and luxury of the rich; and that of the rich, in return, is to find the best methods of confirming the slavery and increasing the burdens of the poor.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  There is a most absurd and audacious method of reasoning avowed by some bigots and enthusiasts, and through fear assented to by some wiser and better men; it is this: they argue against a fair discussion of popular prejudices, because, say they, though they would be found without any reasonable support, yet the discovery might be productive of the most dangerous consequences. Absurd and blasphemous notion! as if all happiness was not connected with the practice of virtue, which necessarily depends upon the knowledge of truth; that is, upon the knowledge of those unalterable relations which Providence has ordained that every thing should bear to every other.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society, 1756.    
  Many of the greatest tyrants on the records of history have begun their reigns in the fairest manner. But the truth is, this unnatural power corrupts both the heart and the understanding. And to prevent the least hope of amendment, a king is ever surrounded by a crowd of infamous flatterers, who find their account in keeping him from the least light of reason, till all ideas of rectitude and justice are utterly erased from his mind.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  In this kind of government human nature is not only abused and insulted, but it is actually degraded and sunk into a species of brutality. The consideration of this made Mr. Locke say, with great justice, that a government of this kind was worse than anarchy: indeed, it is so abhorred and detested by all who live under forms that have a milder appearance, that there is scarcely a rational man in Europe that would not prefer death to Asiatic despotism.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  New laws were made to expound the old; and new difficulties arose upon the new laws; as words multiplied, opportunities of cavilling upon them multiplied also. Then recourse was had to notes, comments, glosses, reports, responsa prudentum, learned readings: eagle stood against eagle: authority was set up against authority. Some were allured by the modern, others reverenced the ancient. The new were more enlightened, the old were more venerable. Some adopted the comment, others stuck to the text. The confusion increased, the mist thickened, until it could be discovered no longer what was allowed or forbidden, what things were in property, and what common. In this uncertainty (uncertain even to the professors, an Egyptian darkness to the rest of mankind) the contending parties felt themselves more effectually ruined by the delay than they could have been by the injustice of any decision. Our inheritances are become a prize for disputation; and disputes and litigations are become an inheritance.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  The delay of the law is, your lordship will tell me, a trite topic, and which of its abuses have not been too severely felt not to be complained of? A man’s property is to serve for the purposes of his support; and therefore, to delay a determination concerning that, is the worst injustice, because it cuts off the very end and purpose for which I applied to the judicature for relief. Quite contrary in the case of a man’s life: there the determination can hardly be too much protracted. Mistakes in this case are as often fallen into as many others; and if the judgment is sudden, the mistakes are the most irretrievable of all others. Of this the gentlemen of the robe are themselves sensible, and they have brought it into a maxim. De morte hominis nulla est cunctatio longa. But what could have induced them to reverse the rules, and to contradict that reason which dictated them, I am utterly unable to guess.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  I remove my suit; I shift from court to court; I fly from equity to law, and from law to equity; equal uncertainty attends me everywhere; and a mistake in which I had no share decides at once upon my liberty and property, sending me from the court to a prison, and adjudging my family to beggary and famine. I am innocent, gentlemen, of the darkness and uncertainty of your science. I never darkened it with absurd and contradictory notions, nor confounded it with chicane or sophistry. You have excluded me from any share in the conduct of my own cause; “the science was too deep for me;” I acknowledged it; but it was too deep even for yourselves: you have made the way so intricate that you are yourselves lost in it; you err, and you punish me for your errors.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  A point concerning property, which ought, for the reasons I have just mentioned, to be most speedily decided, frequently exercises the wit of successions of lawyers, for many generations. Multa virûm volvens durando sæcula vincit. But the question concerning a man’s life, that great question in which no delay ought to be counted tedious, is commonly determined in twenty-four hours at the utmost. It is not to be wondered at that injustice and absurdity should be inseparable companions.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  We are tenants at the will of these gentlemen for everything; and a metaphysical quibble is to decide whether the greatest villain breathing shall meet his deserts or escape with impunity, or whether the best man in the society shall not be reduced to the lowest and most despicable condition it affords. In a word, my lord, the injustice, delay, puerility, false refinement, and affected mystery of the law are such, that many who live under it come to admire and envy the expedition, simplicity, and equality of arbitrary judgments.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  Ask of politicians the end for which laws were originally designed, and they will answer that the laws were designed as a protection for the poor and weak against the oppression of the rich and powerful. But surely no pretence can be so ridiculous: a man might as well tell me he has taken off my load, because he has changed the burden. If the poor man is not able to support his suit, according to the vexatious and expensive manner established in civilized countries, has not the rich as great an advantage over him as the strong has over the weak in a state of nature?
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  Let us expostulate with these learned sages, these priests of the sacred temple of justice. Are we judges of our own property? By no means. You, then, who are initiated into the mysteries of the blindfold goddess, inform me whether I have a right to eat the bread I have earned by the hazard of my life or the sweat of my brow? The grave doctor answers me in the affirmative; the reverend serjeant replies in the negative; the learned barrister reasons upon one side and upon the other, and concludes nothing. What shall I do? An antagonist starts up and presses me hard. I enter the field, and retain these three persons to defend my cause. My cause, which two farmers from the plough could have decided in half an hour, takes the court twenty years. I am however at the end of my labour, and have in reward for all my toil and vexation a judgment in my favour. But hold—a sagacious commander in the adversary’s army has found a flaw in the proceeding. My triumph is turned into mourning. I have used or instead of and, or some mistake, small in appearance, but dreadful in its consequences; and have the whole of my success quashed in a writ of error.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  It is hard to say whether the doctors of law or divinity have made the greater advances in the lucrative business of mystery. The lawyers, as well as the theologians, have erected another reason besides natural reason; and the result has been another justice besides natural justice. They have so bewildered the world and themselves in unmeaning forms and ceremonies, and so perplexed the plainest matters with metaphysical jargon, that it carries the highest danger to a man out of that profession, to make the least step without their advice and assistance. Thus, by confining to themselves the knowledge of the foundation of all men’s lives and properties, they have reduced all mankind into the most abject and servile dependence.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  The very name of a politician, a statesman, is sure to cause terror and hatred; it has always connected with it the ideas of treachery, cruelty, fraud, and tyranny; and those writers who have faithfully unveiled the mysteries of state-freemasonry have ever been held in general detestation, for even knowing so perfectly a theory so detestable. The case of Machiavel seems at first sight something hard in that respect. He is obliged to bear the iniquities of those whose maxims and rules of government he published. His speculation is more abhorred than their practice.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  All writers on the science of policy are agreed, and they agree with experience, that all governments must frequently infringe the rules of justice to support themselves; that truth must give way to dissimulation, honesty to convenience, and humanity itself to the reigning interest. The whole of this mystery of iniquity is called the reason of state. It is a reason which I own I cannot penetrate.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  It is a misfortune that in no part of the globe natural liberty and natural religion are to be found pure, and free from the mixture of political adulteration. Yet we have implanted in us by Providence, ideas, axioms, rules, of what is pious, just, fair, honest, which no political craft nor learned sophistry can entirely expel from our breasts. By these we judge, and we cannot otherwise judge, of the several artificial modes of religion and society, and determine of them as they approach to or recede from this standard.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  We have shown that political society, on a moderate calculation, has been the means of murdering several times the number of inhabitants now upon the earth, during its short existence, not upwards of four thousand years in any accounts to be depended on. But we have said nothing of the other, and perhaps as bad, consequence of those wars, which have spilled such seas of blood and reduced so many millions to a merciless slavery.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  In looking over any state to form a judgment on it, it presents itself in two lights, the external and the internal. The first, that relation which it bears in point of friendship or enmity to other states. The second, that relation which its component parts, the governing and the governed, bear to each other.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  The first part of the external view of all states, their relation as friends, makes so trifling a figure in history that, I am very sorry to say, it affords me but little matter on which to expatiate. The good offices done by one nation to its neighbour; the support given in public distress; the relief afforded in general calamity; the protection granted in emergent danger; the mutual return of kindness and civility, would afford a very ample and very pleasing subject for history. But, alas! all the history of all times, concerning all nations, does not afford matter enough to fill ten pages, though it should be spun out by the wire-drawing amplification of a Guicciardini himself. The glaring side is that of enmity.
Edmund Burke: Vindic. of Nat. Society.    
  The great error of our nature is, not to know where to stop, not to be satisfied with any reasonable acquirement; not to compound with our condition; but to lose all we have gained by an insatiable pursuit after more.
Edmund Burke: Vindication of Nat. Society, 1756.    

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