John Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton, fully John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton, fully John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

English Catholic Historian, Historian, Politician and Writer

Author Quotes

Human learning has often been an instrument, not a source, of hostility to religion.

Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; but still more when they are super bad and add the tendency of the certainty of corruption of authority.

Good and evil lie close together. Seek no artistic unity in character.

Fanaticism in religion is the alliance of the passions she condemns with the dogmas she professes.

There is not a more perilous or immoral habit of mind than the sanctifying of success.

A public man has no right to let his actions be determined by particular interests. He does the same thing as a judge who accepts a bribe. Like a judge he must consider what is right, not what is advantageous to a party or class.

Moral precepts are constant through the ages and not obedient to circumstances.

It is easier to find people fit to govern themselves than people fit to govern others.

History is a great innovator and breaker of idols.

The great novelty of the American Constitution was that it imposed checks on the representatives of the people.

Political economy cannot be supreme arbiter in politics. Else you might defend slavery where it is economically sound and reject it where the economic argument applies against it.

Property, not conscience, is the basis of liberty. For the defence of conscience need not arise. Property is always exposed to interference. It is the constant object of policy.

Federalism is the best curb on democracy. [It] assigns limited powers to the central government. Thereby all power is limited. It excludes absolute power of the majority.

The common vice of democracy is disregard for morality.

Democracy generally monopolizes and concentrates power.

It is bad to be oppressed by a minority, but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority.

A liberal is only a bundle of prejudices until he has mastered, has understood, experienced the philosophy of Conservatism.

Limitation is essential to authority. A government is legitimate only if it is effectively limited.

Men cannot be made good by the state, but they can easily be made bad. Morality depends on liberty.

All liberty is conditional, limited and therefore unequal. The state can never do what it likes in its own sphere. It is bound by all kinds of law.

Liberty is the harmony between the will and the law.

Liberty becomes a question of morals more than of politics.

There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion.

The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.

The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.

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Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton, fully John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
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English Catholic Historian, Historian, Politician and Writer