Edmund Burke Quotes

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Edmund Burke

Painting of Edmund Burke MP c. 1767,
studio of Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792)
Born 12 January 1729
Dublin, Kingdom of Ireland
Died 9 July 1797(1797-07-09) (aged 68)
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, Kingdom of Great Britain
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin
Era Eighteenth century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Conservative liberalism, Conservatism
Main interests
Social and political philosophy

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
Edmund Burke
It is the interest of the commercial world that wealth should be found everywhere.
Edmund Burke
When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
Edmund Burke
Ambition can creep as well as soar.
Circumstances give in reality to every political principle its distinguishing color and discriminating effect. The circumstances are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind.
Edmund Burke
Liberty must be limited in order to be possessed.
In effect, to follow, not to force the public inclination; to give a direction, a form, a technical dress, and a specific sanction, to the general sense of the community, is the true end of legislature.
Edmund Burke
If the people are happy, united, wealthy, and powerful, we presume the rest. We conclude that to be good from whence good is derived.
Edmund Burke
Religious persecution may shield itself under the guise of a mistaken and over-zealous piety.
Edmund Burke
Falsehood is a perennial spring.
Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver.
Slavery is a weed that grows on every soil.
A State without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.
Edmund Burke
Frugality is founded on the principal that all riches have limits.
We must all obey the great law of change. It is the most powerful law of nature.
Edmund Burke
Beauty in distress is much the most affecting beauty.
There is a boundary to men's passions when they act from feelings; but none when they are under the influence of imagination.
Edmund Burke
Whilst shame keeps its watch, virtue is not wholly extinguished in the heart; nor will moderation be utterly exiled from the minds of tyrants.
Edmund Burke
Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.
Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust as a feeble government.
The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.
Edmund Burke
But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever.
Edmund Burke
Society can overlook murder, adultery or swindling; it never forgives preaching of a new gospel.
Edmund Burke
Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.
Edmund Burke
He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.
Edmund Burke
All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter.
Edmund Burke
The person who grieves suffers his passion to grow upon him; he indulges it, he loves it; but this never happens in the case of actual pain, which no man ever willingly endured for any considerable time.
Edmund Burke
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke
To tax and to please, no more than to love and to be wise, is not given to men.
Edmund Burke
Facts are to the mind what food is to the body.
There is but one law for all, namely that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity – the law of nature and of nations.
Edmund Burke
It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact.
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
Edmund Burke
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.
Edmund Burke
Passion for fame: A passion which is the instinct of all great souls.
What ever disunites man from God, also disunites man from man.
One that confounds good and evil is an enemy to good.
Whenever our neighbour's house is on fire, it cannot be amiss for the engines to play a little on our own.
Edmund Burke
The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
Edmund Burke
Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.
Edmund Burke
If you can be well without health, you may be happy without virtue.
People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.
Edmund Burke
Beauty is the promise of happiness.
People crushed by laws, have no hope but to evade power. If the laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to the law; and those who have most to hope and nothing to lose will always be dangerous.
Edmund Burke
Politics and the pulpit are terms that have little agreement.
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.
Edmund Burke
A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.
Edmund Burke
The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny.
He that struggles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.
Edmund Burke
The traveller has reached the end of the journey!
Under the pressure of the cares and sorrows of our mortal condition, men have at all times, and in all countries, called in some physical aid to their moral consolations – wine, beer, opium, brandy, or tobacco.
Edmund Burke
By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation.
I have never yet seen any plan which has not been mended by the observations of those who were much inferior in understanding to the person who took the lead in the business.
Edmund Burke
Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.
He had no failings which were not owing to a noble cause; to an ardent, generous, perhaps an immoderate passion for fame; a passion which is the instinct of all great souls.
Edmund Burke
It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.
Edmund Burke
In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority.
Edmund Burke
Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstances, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.
Edmund Burke
Kings will be tyrants from policy, when subjects are rebels from principle.
Edmund Burke
Good order is the foundation of all things.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke
When the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators; the instruments, not the guides, of the people.
Edmund Burke
The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.
Applause is the spur of noble minds, the end and aim of weak ones.
It is, generally, in the season of prosperity that men discover their real temper, principles, and designs.
Edmund Burke
Free trade is not based on utility but on justice.
A disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman.
Edmund Burke
To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.
Superstition is the religion of feeble minds.
Among a people generally corrupt liberty cannot long exist.
If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.
Edmund Burke
Poetry is the art of substantiating shadows, and of lending existence to nothing.
Edmund Burke
The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations.
Edmund Burke
Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.
Edmund Burke
Nothing is so fatal to religion as indifference.
Our patience will achieve more than our force.
The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind, is curiosity.
Edmund Burke
Toleration is good for all, or it is good for none.
Tyrants seldom want pretexts.
Education is the cheap defense of nations.
Nobility is a graceful ornament to the civil order. It is the Corinthian capital of polished society.
Edmund Burke
All human laws are, properly speaking, only declaratory; they have no power over the substance of original justice.
Edmund Burke
To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.
Never despair, but if you do, work on in despair.
To innovate is not to reform.
It is not what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice tell me I ought to do.
Edmund Burke
The march of the human mind is slow.
Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.
Whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither, in my opinion, is safe.
Edmund Burke
The most important of all revolutions, a revolution in sentiments, manners and moral opinions.
Edmund Burke
You can never plan the future by the past.
The arrogance of age must submit to be taught by youth.
It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.
Edmund Burke
Laws, like houses, lean on one another.
Religion is essentially the art and the theory of the remaking of man. Man is not a finished creation.
Edmund Burke
I venture to say no war can be long carried on against the will of the people.
Edmund Burke
Custom reconciles us to everything.