A Blupete Biography Page

BURKE QUOTES, A Supplement To
Edmund Burke

§ "The more deeply we penetrate into the labyrinth of art, the further we find ourselves from those ends for which we entered it." (A Vindication of Natural Society, 1756.)
§ "An air of robustness and strength is very prejudicial to beauty. An appearance of delicacy and even of fragility, is almost essential to it." (Sublime & Beautiful, 1756.)
§ "Calamity is unhappily the usual season of reflection." (Letter to Sheriffs of Bristol, 1777.)
§ "He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "Our constitution is a prescriptive constitution; it is a constitution, whose sole authority is, that it has existed time out of mind." (1782.)
§ "I set out with a perfect distrust of my own abilities, a total renunciation of every speculation of my own, and with a profound reverence for the wisdom of our ancestors, who have left us the inheritance of so happy a Constitution and so flourishing an empire, and, what is a thousand times more valuable, the treasury of the maxims and principles which formed the one and obtained the other." (On Conciliation with the American Colonies.)
§ "Despotism of the multitude ... [however] democracy is the only tolerable form into which human society can be thrown, that a man is not permitted to hesitate about its merits, without the suspicion of being a friend to tyranny, that is, of being a foe to mankind?"
§ "The human mind is often in a state neither of pain nor pleasure, which I call a state of indifference." (Sublime & Beautiful, 1756.)
§ "In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "The publick is the theatre for mountebanks and impostors." (1796.)
§ "That doctrine of the equality of all men, which has been preached by knavery, and so greedily adopted by malice, envy, and cunning." (1778.)
§ "To love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of publick affections." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "A man that breeds a family without competent means of maintenance, encumbers other men with his children." (Speech on the Repeal of the Marriage Act, 1781.)
§ "No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear."
§ "In the fog and haze of confusion all is enlarged." (1797.)
§ "Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament." And further: "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion." (Speech to the Electors of Bristol, November 3, 1774.)
§ "The objects of society are of the greatest possible complexity." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter we give and take; we remit some rights, that we may enjoy others." (Speech, Conciliation with America, 1775.)
§ "The government is a juggling confederacy of a few to cheat the prince and enslave the people." (A Vindication of Natural Society, 1756.)
§ "It is one of the finest problems in legislation, What the state ought to take upon itself to direct and what it ought to leave, with as little interference as possible, to individual discretion." (1795.)
§ "Popular remedies must be quick and sharp, or they are very ineffectual." (1774.)
§ "Philosophical happiness is to want little. Civil or vulgar happiness is to want much, and to enjoy much." (1795.)
§ "History is a preceptor of prudence, not of principles." (1771.)
Interest Groups:-
§ "It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare."
§ "It would be well if gentlemen, before they joined in a cry against any establishment, had well considered for what purpose that cry is raised." (1799.)
§ "No rational man ever did govern himself, by abstractions and universals." (1794.)
§ "... a science [the law] which does more to quicken and invigorate the understanding, than all the other kinds of learning put together ..." (1774.)
§ "The law is wiser than cabal or interest." (1794.)
§ "All punishments are for example towards the conservation of the people at large." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "It is not, what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice, tell me I ought to do." (Second Speech, Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.)
§ "Even a failure in it [law] stands almost as a sort of qualification for other things." (1779.)
§ "Liberty without wisdom, and without virtue is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "Medicine was always joined with magick; no remedy was administered without mysterious ceremony and incantation." (English History, 1757.)
§ "Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, can never willingly abandon it."
§ "A king is not to be deposed by halves." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "They who make a man an idol, when he is off his pedestal will treat him with all the contempt with which blind and angry worshippers treat an idol that is fallen." (1797.)
§ "We do not sufficiently distinguish, in our observations upon language, between a clear expression, and a strong expression." (Sublime & Beautiful.)
§ "A politician, to do great things, looks for a power, what our workmen call a purchase; and if he finds that power, in politics as in mechanics, he cannot be at a loss to apply it." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "I always distinguish between a man's talkative and writative character." (1746.)
§ "All which a man without authority can give, -- his unbiased opinion, his honest advice, and his best reasons." (1791.)
§ "Power is a very corrupting thing, especially low and jobbish power." (1792.)
§ "The operation of opinion being in the inverse ratio to the number of those who abuse power." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "You think you are combating prejudice, but you are at war with nature." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "That the critical taste does not depend upon a superior principle in men, but upon superior knowledge." (Sublime & Beautiful, 1756.)
Professions, The:-
§ "The degree of estimation in which any profession is held becomes the standard of the estimation in which the professors hold themselves." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "If prescription be once shaken, no species of property is secure, when it once becomes an object large enough to tempt the cupidity of indigent power." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "Property, left undefended by principles, became a repository of spoils to tempt cupidity." (Letter to W. Elliot, 1795.)
§ "Property was not made by government, but government by and for it. The one is primary and self-existent; the other is secondary and derivative." (Speech, 1779.)
§ "Prosperity is not apt to receive good lessons, nor always to give them." (1795.)
§ "We begin to think and to act from reason and from nature alone." (A Vindication of Natural Society, 1756.)
§ "A populace never rebels from passion for attack, but from impatience of suffering."
§ "[Re: French Revolution] I thought that ten thousand swords would have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her [Marie Antoinette] with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "The Revolution which is resorted to for a title, on their system, wants a title itself." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "A revolution will be the very last resource of the thinking and the good." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "... all that wise men ever aim at is to keep things from coming to the worst. Those who expect perfect reformations, either deceive or are deceived miserably." (1770.)
§ "Your mob can do this [pulling down and destroying social institutions] as well at least as your assemblies. The shallowest understanding, the rudest hand is more than equal to that task. Rage and frenzy will pull down more in half an hour than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in a hundred years. The errors and defects of old establishments are visible and palpable. It calls for little ability to point them out ... No difficulties occur in what has never been tried. Criticism is almost baffled in discovering the defects of what has not existed; and eager enthusiasm and cheating hope have all the wide field of imagination in which they may expatiate with little or no opposition." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "It required an unbroken attention, to form a true judgment." (1783.)
The Nature of the State: A Contract Between Generations:-
§ "Society is indeed a contract. Subordinate contracts for objects of mere occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure -- but the state ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico, or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties. It is to be looked on with other reverence, because it is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, 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.)
§ "Superstition is the religion of feeble minds." (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.)
§ "The most unjust and impolitick of all things, unequal taxation." (1797.)
§ "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter. ... Man acts from motives relative to his interests; and not on metaphysical speculations." (On the Causes of the Present Discontents, 1770.)
§ "The cause of humanity would be far more benefited by the continuance of the trade." (In a letter, 1792.)
§ "Before men can transact any affair, they must have a common language to speak otherwise all is cross-purpose and confusion." (1797.)
§ "I act almost always from my present impulse, and with little scheme or design." (1763.)
§ "The value of money must be judged, like every thing else, from it's rate at market." (1797.)
§ "We owe an implicit reverence to all the institutions of our ancestors." (A Vindication of Natural Society, 1756.)
§ "When full grown, it [vanity] is the worst of vices, and the occasional mimic of them all. It makes the whole man false." (1791.)
§ "It is the interest of the commercial world that wealth should be found everywhere."


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Peter Landry
2011 (2019)