Edmund Burke


English Statesman, Orator, Writer and Political Theorist

Author Quotes

There is a courageous wisdom; there is also a false, reptile prudence, the result not of caution, but of fear.

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.

The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.

Never despair; but if you do, work on in despair.

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

Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.

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

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

A nation without the means of reform is without the means of survival.

All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.

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 combination of skill and force, can do in his favor.

All government indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act is founded on compromise and barter.

Toleration is good for all, or it is good for none.

We must soften into a credulity below the milkiness of infancy to think all men virtuous. We must be tainted with a malignity truly diabolical, to believe all the world to be equally wicked and corrupt.

There is no qualification for government but virtue and wisdom.

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.

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.

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

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 greatest joy in nature is the absence of man.

The heart of the art of diplomacy is to grant graciously what you no longer have the power to withhold.

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.

The first accounts we have of mankind are but accounts of their butcheries. All empires have been cemented in blood.

Religious persecution may shield itself under the guides of a mistaken and over-zealous piety.

Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together.

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English Statesman, Orator, Writer and Political Theorist