Many of the greatest tyrants on the records of history have begun their reigns in the fairest manner. But this unnatural power corrupts both the heart and the understanding.
Slavery is a state so improper, so degrading, so ruinous to the feelings and capacities of human nature, that it ought not to be suffered to exist.
Portrait-painting may be to the painter what the practical knowledge of the world is to the poet, provided he considers it as a school by which he is to acquire the means of perfection in his art, and not as the object of that perfection.
It is undoubtedly the business of ministers very much to consult the inclinations of the people, but they ought to take great care that they do not receive that inclination from the few persons who may happen to approach them.
A populace never rebels from passion for attack, but from impatience of suffering.
By the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression.
Fraud and prevarication are servile vices. They sometimes grow out of the necessities, always out of the habits, of slavish and degenerate spirits. It is an erect countenance, it is a firm adherence to principle, it is a power of resisting false shame and frivolous fear, that assert our good faith and honor, and assure to us the confidence of mankind.
In a democracy the majority of citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority…and that oppression of the majority will extend to far great number, and will be carried on with much greater fury, than can almost ever be apprehended from the dominion of a single sceptre. Under a cruel prince they have the plaudits of the people to animate their generous constancy under their sufferings; but those who are subjected to wrong under multitudes are deprived of all external consolation: they seem deserted by mankind, overpowered by a conspiracy of their whole species.
Corrupt influence is itself the perennial spring of all prodigality, and of all disorder; it loads us more than millions of debt; takes away vigor from our arms, wisdom from our councils, and every shadow of authority and credit from the most venerable parts of our constitution.
That chastity of honor which felt a stain like a wound.
And having looked to government for bread, on the very first scarcity they will turn and bite the hand that fed them. To avoid that evil, government will redouble the causes of it; and then it will become inveterate and incurable.
Man is an animal that cooks his victuals.
I never knew a man that was bad, fit for any service that was good. There was always some disqualifying ingredient mixing with the compound, and spoiling it. The accomplishment of anything good is a physical impossibility in such a man. He could not if he would, and it is not more certain that he would not if he could, do a good and virtuous action.
To make anything very terrible, obscurity seems, in general, to be necessary.—When we know the full extent of any danger, and can accustom our eyes to it, a great deal of the apprehension vanishes.
The method of teaching which approaches most nearly to the method of investigation, is incomparably the best; since, not content with serving up a few barren and lifeless truths, it leads to the stock on which they grew.
One source of sublimity is infinity.
The yielding of the weak is the concession to fear.
It is from this absolute indifference and tranquillity of the mind, that mathematical speculations derive some of the most considerable advantages; because there is nothing to interest the imagination; because the judgment sits free and unbiased to examine the point. All proportions, every arrangement of quantity, is alike to the understanding, because the same truths result to it from all; from greater from lesser, from equality and inequality.
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.
Topics: Politics, Politicians
Humanity cannot be degraded by humiliation. It is its very character to submit to such things. There is a con sanguinity between benevolence and humility. They are virtues of the same stock.
There ought to be a system of manners in every nation which a well-formed mind would be disposed to relish. To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.
Topics: Manners, Patriotism
Politics and the pulpit are terms that have little agreement. No sound ought to be heard in the church but the healing voice of Christian charity. The cause of civil liberty and civil government gains as little as that of religion by this confusion of duties. Those who quit their proper character to assume what does not belong to them are, for the greater part, ignorant both of the character they leave and of the character they assume.
Taste and elegance, though they are reckoned only among the smaller and secondary morals, yet are of no mean importance in the regulation of life. A moral taste is not of force to turn vice into virtue: but it recommends virtue, with something like the blandishments of pleasure.
I did not obey your instructions. No. I conformed to the instructions of truth and Nature, and maintained your interest, against your opinions, with a constancy that became me. A representative worthy of you ought to be a person of stability. I am to look, indeed, to your opinions, but to such opinions as you and I must have five years hence. I was not to look to the flash of the day. I knew that you chose me, in my place, along with others, to be a pillar of the state, and not a weathercock on the top of the edifice, exalted for my levity and versatility, and of no use but to indicate the shiftings of every fashionable gale.
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.
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