Top 50 + Edmund Burke Quotes

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Who is Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke was an Anglo-Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher who served for many years in the British House of Commons as a member of the Whig party. He is mainly remembered for his support of the American colonies in the dispute with King George III and Great Britain that led to the American Revolution and for his strong opposition to the French Revolution. The latter made Burke one of the leading figures within the conservative faction of the Whig party (which he dubbed the “Old Whigs”), in opposition to the pro-French-Revolution “New Whigs”, led by Charles James Fox. Burke also published a philosophical work where he attempted to define emotions and passions, and how they are triggered in a person. Burke worked on aesthetics and founded the Annual Register, a political review. He is often regarded by conservatives as the philosophical founder of Anglo-American conservatism.

Top 50 + Edmund Burke Quotes

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

2. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it

3. Woman is not made to be the admiration of all, but the happiness of one.

4. Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting

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

6. Ambition can creep as well as soar.

7. Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.

8. Our patience will achieve more than our force.

9. But what is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint. Those who know what virtuous liberty is, cannot bear to see it disgraced by incapable heads, on account of their having high-sounding words in their mouths.

10. Never apologise for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologise for the truth.

11. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

12. Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.

13. Liberty does not exist in the absence of morality.

14. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

15. No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.

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

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

18. Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist

19. If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free. If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.

20. It is a general popular error to imagine the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.

21. There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men.

22. People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.

23. Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites…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.

24. Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust as a feeble government.

25. It is not, what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice, tell me I ought to do.

26. They never will love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.

27. The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.

28. Kings will be tyrants by policy when subjects are rebels from principle.

29. There is a boundary to men’s passions when they act from feelings; but none when they are under the influence of imagination.

30. I have not yet lost a feeling of wonder, and of delight, that the delicate motion should reside in all the things around us, revealing itself only to him who looks for it.

31. The greatest gift is a passion for reading.

32. The human mind is often, and I think it is for the most part, in a state neither of pain nor pleasure, which I call a state of indifference.

33. As the rose-tree is composed of the sweetest flowers and the sharpest thorns, as the heavens are sometimes overcast—alternately tempestuous and serene—so is the life of man intermingled with hopes and fears, with joys and sorrows, with pleasure and pain.

34. It is our ignorance of things that causes all our admiration and chiefly excites our passions

35. 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

36. The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.

37. A kind Providence has placed in our breasts a hatred of the unjust and cruel, in order that we may preserve ourselves from cruelty and injustice. They who bear cruelty, are accomplices in it. The pretended gentleness which excludes that charitable rancour, produces an indifference which is half an approbation. They never will love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.

38. A kind Providence has placed in our breasts a hatred of the unjust and cruel, in order that we may preserve ourselves from cruelty and injustice. They who bear cruelty, are accomplices in it. The pretended gentleness which excludes that charitable rancour, produces an indifference which is half an approbation. They never will love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate.

39. You will smile here at the consistency of those democratists who, when they are not on their guard, treat the humbler part of the community with the greatest contempt, whilst, at the same time they pretend to make them the depositories of all power.

40. Wise men will apply their remedies to vices, not to names; to the causes of evil which are permanent, not to occasional organs by which they act, and the transitory modes in which they appear.

41. 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 …. When danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and [yet] with certain modifications, they may be, and they are delightful, as we every day experience.

42. Society is a partnership of the dead, the living and the unborn.

43. For there is in mankind an unfortunate propensity to make themselves, their views and their works, the measure of excellence in every thing whatsoever

44. 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 splendor, and joy. Oh! what a revolution! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream that, 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. Never, never more shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness.

45. 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.

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

47. The only thing necessary for the continuance of evil is for a good man to do nothing.

48. No man had ever a point of pride that was not injurious to him.

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

50. Those who attempt to level, never equalize.

51. 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.

52. To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.

53. Rage and frenzy will pull down more in half an hour than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in a hundred years.

54. o give freedom is still more easy. It is not necessary to guide; it only requires to let go the rein. But to form a free government; that is, to temper together these opposite elements of liberty and restraint in one work, requires much thought, deep reflection, a sagacious, powerful, and combining mind.”

55. There is no safety for honest men, but by believing all possible evil of evil men, and by acting with promptitude, decision, and steadiness on that belief.

56. The nature of things is, I admit, a sturdy adversary.

57. Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion, is safe.

58. All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

59. Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their appetites.

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

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