Edmund Burke Quotations

Edmund Burke

All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter.

All men that are ruined, are ruined on the side of their natural propensities.

And having looked to government for bread, on the very first scarcity they will turn and bite the hand that fed them.

A state without some means of change is without the means of its conservation.

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.

By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation.

Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.

Freedom and not servitude is the cure of anarchy; as religion, and not atheism, is the true remedy for superstition.

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

If you can be well without health, you may be happy without virtue.

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

It is hard to say whether the doctors of law or divinity have made the greater advances in the lucrative business of mystery.

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

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.

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

Laws, like houses, lean on one another.

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

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

Nothing in progression can rest on its original plan. We may as well think of rocking a grown man in the cradle of an infant.

People crushed by law have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws.

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.

The age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded.

The great difference between the real leader and the pretender is that the one sees into the future, while the other regards only the present; the one lives by the day, and acts upon expediency; the other acts on enduring principles and for the immortality.

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

The public interest requires doing today those things that men of intelligence and goodwill would wish, five and ten years hence, had been done.

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

The true danger is when Liberty is nibbled away, for expedients.

To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.

What is liberty without...virtue? It is...madness, without restraint. Men are qualified for liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites.

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