Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke

English Politician and Philosopher

"Cunning pays no regard to virtue, and is but the low mimic of wisdom."

"The shortest and surest way of arriving at real knowledge is to unlearn the lessons we have been taught, to remount the first principles, and take nobody's word about them."

"The confirmed prejudices of a thoughtful life, are as hard to change as the confirmed habits of an indolent life: and as some must trifle away age, because they trifled away youth, others must labor on in a maze of error, because they have wandered there too long to find their way out."

"Whatever study tends neither directly nor indirectly to make us better men and citizens is at best but a specious and ingenious sort of idleness, and the knowledge we acquire by it only a creditable kind of ignorance, nothing more."

"It is a very easy thing to devise good laws; the difficulty is to make them effective. The great mistake is that of looking upon men as virtuous, or thinking that they can be made so by laws; and consequently the greatest art of a politician is to render vices serviceable to the cause of virtue."

"Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to every individual body. Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man; without liberty, no happiness can be enjoyed by society."

"Truth lies within a little and certain compass, but error is immense."