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date: 24 August 2019

Edmund Burke 1729–97
Irish-born Whig politician and man of letters 

  1. The conduct of a losing party never appears right: at least it never can possess the only infallible criterion of wisdom to vulgar judgements—success.
    Letter to a Member of the National Assembly (1791)
  2. Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though for but one year, can never willingly abandon it.
    Letter to a Member of the National Assembly (1791)
  3. You can never plan the future by the past.
    Letter to a Member of the National Assembly (1791)
  4. Liberty too must be limited in order to be possessed.
    Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol (1777)
  5. Nothing in progression can rest on its original plan. We may as well think of rocking a grown man in the cradle of an infant.
    Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol (1777)
  6. Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist.
    Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol (1777)
  7. There is, however, a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.
    Observations on a late Publication on the Present State of the Nation (2nd ed., 1769)
  8. It is a general popular error to imagine the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.
    Observations on a late Publication on the Present State of the Nation (2nd ed., 1769)
  9. It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact; and great trade will always be attended with considerable abuses.
    On American Taxation (1775)
  10. To tax and to please, no more than to love and to be wise, is not given to men.
    On American Taxation (1775)
  11. The concessions of the weak are the concessions of fear.
    On Conciliation with America (1775)
  12. The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered.
    On Conciliation with America (1775)
  13. The religion most prevalent in our northern colonies is a refinement on the principle of resistance; it is the dissidence of dissent, and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion.
    On Conciliation with America (1775)
  14. I do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against an whole people.
    On Conciliation with America (1775)
  15. It is not, what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice, tells me I ought to do.
    On Conciliation with America (1775)
  16. Every human benefit, every virtue and every prudent act, is founded on compromise.
    On Conciliation with America (1775)
  17. Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.
    On Conciliation with America (1775)
  18. No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
    On the Sublime and Beautiful (1757) pt. 2, sect. 2
  19. Custom reconciles us to everything.
    On the Sublime and Beautiful (1757) pt. 4, sect. 18
  20. Whenever our neighbour's house is on fire, it cannot be amiss for the engines to play a little on our own.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  21. A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  22. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  23. Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  24. I thought ten thousand swords must have leapt from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  25. The age of chivalry is gone.— That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  26. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone!
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  27. This barbarous philosophy, which is the offspring of cold hearts and muddy understandings.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  28. In the groves of their academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  29. 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.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  30. Society is indeed a contract…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.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  31. Superstition is the religion of feeble minds.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  32. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  33. Our patience will achieve more than our force.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  34. We begin our public affections in our families. No cold relation is a zealous citizen.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  35. Good order is the foundation of all good things.
    Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
  36. Well is it known that ambition can creep as well as soar.
    Third Letter…on the Proposals for Peace… (1797)
  37. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
    Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770); see Burke
  38. 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.
    Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770); see Canning, Goldsmith
  39. Falsehood and delusion are allowed in no case whatsoever: But, as in the exercise of all the virtues, there is an economy of truth.
    Two Letters on the Proposals for Peace with the Regicide Directory (1796) pt. 1; see Armstrong
  40. Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.
    Two Letters on the Proposals for Peace with the Regicide Directory (9th ed., 1796)
  41. The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.
    speech on the Middlesex Election, 7 February 1771, in The Speeches (1854)
  42. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
    speech, 3 November 1774, in Speeches at his Arrival at Bristol (1774)
  43. Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.
    Speech at Bristol, previous to the Late Election (1780)
  44. The people are the masters.
    speech, House of Commons, 11 February 1780; see Blair
  45. Not merely a chip of the old ‘block’, but the old block itself.
    on the younger Pitt's maiden speech, February 1781
    N. W. Wraxall Historical Memoirs of My Own Time (1904 ed.) pt. 2
  46. The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
    speech at County Meeting of Buckinghamshire, 1784, attributed in E. Latham Famous Sayings (1904), with ‘except’ substituted for ‘but’
  47. An event has happened, upon which it is difficult to speak, and impossible to be silent.
    speech, 5 May 1789, in E. A. Bond (ed.) Speeches…in the Trial of Warren Hastings (1859) vol. 2
  48. Dangers by being despised grow great.
    speech on the Petition of the Unitarians, 11 May 1792
  49. Those who carry on great public schemes must be proof against the most fatiguing delays, the most mortifying disappointments, the most shocking insults, and, worst of all, the presumptuous judgements of the ignorant upon their designs.
    attributed; Benjamin Ward Richardson ‘A Biographical Dissertation’ ch. 4 in Edwin Chadwick The Health of Nations (1887)
  50. It is necessary only for the good man to do nothing for evil to triumph.
    attributed (in a number of forms) to Burke, but not found in his writings; see Burke, see also Mill