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Wikipedia Summary for Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke (12 January [NS] 1729 – 9 July 1797) was an Irish statesman, economist, and philosopher. Born in Dublin, Burke served as a member of parliament (MP) between 1766 and 1794 in the House of Commons of Great Britain with the Whig Party after moving to London in 1750.

Burke was a proponent of underpinning virtues with manners in society and of the importance of religious institutions for the moral stability and good of the state. These views were expressed in his A Vindication of Natural Society. He criticised the actions of the British government towards the American colonies, including its taxation policies. Burke also supported the rights of the colonists to resist metropolitan authority, although he opposed the attempt to achieve independence. He is remembered for his support for Catholic emancipation, the impeachment of Warren Hastings from the East India Company, and his staunch opposition to the French Revolution.

In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke asserted that the revolution was destroying the fabric of good society and traditional institutions of state and society and condemned the persecution of the Catholic Church that resulted from it. This led to his becoming the leading figure within the conservative faction of the Whig Party which he dubbed the Old Whigs as opposed to the pro–French Revolution New Whigs led by Charles James Fox.

In the 19th century, Burke was praised by both conservatives and liberals. Subsequently in the 20th century, he became widely regarded as the philosophical founder of modern conservatism.

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

--Edmund Burke

Nothing is so rash as fear; its counsels very rarely put off, whilst they are always sure to aggravate the evils from which it would fly.

--Edmund Burke

Death is natural to a man, but slavery unnatural; and the moment you strip a man of his liberty you strip him of all his virtues: you convert his heart into a dark hole, in which all the vices conspire against you.

--Edmund Burke

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality.

--Edmund Burke

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

--Edmund Burke

Longer Version:

All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing as they must if they believe they can do nothing. There is nothing worse because the council of despair is declaration of irresponsibility; it is Pilate washing his hands.


Crimes lead one into another; they who are capable of being forgers are capable of being incendiaries.

--Edmund Burke

A representative owes not just his industry but his judgement.

--Edmund Burke

Slavery they can have anywhere. It is a weed that grows in every soil.

--Edmund Burke

Free trade is not based on utility but on justice.

--Edmund Burke

Magnificence is likewise a source of the sublime. A great profusion of things which are splendid or valuable in themselves is magnificent. The starry heaven, though it occurs so very frequently to our view, never fails to excite an idea of grandeur.

--Edmund Burke

Guilt was never a rational thing; it distorts all the faculties of the human mind, it perverts them, it leaves a man no longer in the free use of his reason, it puts him into confusion.

--Edmund Burke

Pleasure of every kind quickly satisfies.

--Edmund Burke

Make the Revolution a parent of settlement, and not a nursery of future revolutions.

--Edmund Burke

Sallust is indisputably one of the best historians among the Romans, both for the purity of his language and the elegance of his style.

--Edmund Burke

What is it we all seek for in an election? To answer its real purposes, you must first possess the means of knowing the fitness of your man; and then you must retain some hold upon him by personal obligation or dependence.

--Edmund Burke

Our manners, our civilization, and all the good things connected with manners and civilization, have, in this European world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles: I mean the spirit of a gentleman, and the spirit of religion.

--Edmund Burke

Contempt is not a thing to be despised.

--Edmund Burke

A coward's courage is in his tongue.

--Edmund Burke

The earth, the kind and equal mother of all ought not to be monopolised to foster the pride and luxury of any men.

--Edmund Burke

All men have equal rights, but not to equal things.

--Edmund Burke

Equity money is dynamic and debt money is static.

--Edmund Burke

Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver, and adulation is not of more service to the people than to kings.

--Edmund Burke

Flattery is no more than what raises in a man's mind an idea of a preference which he has not.

--Edmund Burke

Geography is an earthly subject, but a heavenly science.

--Edmund Burke

Gambling is a principle inherent in human nature.

--Edmund Burke

When a great man has some one object in view to be achieved in a given time, it may be absolutely necessary for him to walk out of all the common roads.

--Edmund Burke

Great men are never sufficiently shown but in struggles.

--Edmund Burke

Refined policy ever has been the parent of confusion, and ever will be so as long as the world endures. Plain good intention, which is as easily discovered at the first view as fraud is surely detected at last, is of no mean force in the government of mankind.

--Edmund Burke

But whoever is a genuine follower of Truth, keeps his eye steady upon his guide, indifferent whither he is led, provided that she is the leader.

--Edmund Burke

It is by imitation, far more than by precept, that we learn everything; and what we learn thus, we acquire not only more effectually, but more pleasantly.

--Edmund Burke

We set ourselves to bite the hand that feeds us.

--Edmund Burke

Fraud is the ready minister of injustice.

--Edmund Burke

I know of nothing sublime which is not some modification of power.

--Edmund Burke

I am convinced that we have a degree of delight, and that no small one, in the real misfortunes and pain of others.

--Edmund Burke

The only training for the heroic is the mundane.

--Edmund Burke

That great chain of causes, which, linking one to another, even to the throne of God Himself, can never be unraveled by any industry of ours.

--Edmund Burke

Poetry, with all its obscurity, has a more general as well as a more powerful dominion over the passions than the art of painting.

--Edmund Burke

Religion, to have any force upon men's understandings, -- indeed, to exist at all, -- must be supposed paramount to law, and independent for its substance upon any human institution, else it would be the absurdest thing in the world, -- an acknowledged cheat.

--Edmund Burke

Art is a partnership not only between those who are living but between those who are dead and those who are yet to be born.

--Edmund Burke

A great deal of the furniture of ancient tyranny is torn to rags; the rest is entirely out of fashion.

--Edmund Burke

If we owned the property, we will be free and prosperous. If so they regain control, we will become poor.

--Edmund Burke

There is nothing in the world really beneficial that does not lie within the reach of an informed understanding and a well-protected pursuit.

--Edmund Burke

They made and recorded a sort of institute and digest of anarchy, called the rights of man.

--Edmund Burke

Freedom without virtue is not freedom but license to pursue whatever passions prevail in the intemperate mind; man's right to freedom being in exact proportion to his willingness to put chains upon his own appetites; the less restraint from within, the more must be imposed from without.

--Edmund Burke

I consider how little man is, yet, in his own mind, how great. He is lord and master of all things, yet scarce can command anything.

--Edmund Burke

The great must submit to the dominion of prudence and of virtue, or none will long submit to the dominion of the great.

--Edmund Burke

Whenever government abandons law, it proclaims anarchy.

--Edmund Burke

The very name of a politician, a statesman, is sure to cause terror and hatred; it has always connected with it the ideas of treachery, cruelty, fraud, and tyranny.

--Edmund Burke

To speak of atrocious crime in mild language is treason to virtue.

--Edmund Burke

The grave is a common treasury, to which we must all be taken.

--Edmund Burke

The superfluities of a rich nation furnish a better object of trade than the necessities of a poor one. It is the interest of the commercial world that wealth should be found everywhere.

--Edmund Burke

That cardinal virtue, temperance.

--Edmund Burke

I take toleration to be a part of religion. I do not know which I would sacrifice; I would keep them both: it is not necessary that I should sacrifice either.

--Edmund Burke

Vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.

--Edmund Burke

Though ugliness be the opposite of beauty, it is not the opposite to proportion and fitness; for it is possible that a thing may be very ugly with any proportions, and with a perfect fitness for any use.

--Edmund Burke

Delusion and weakness produce not one mischief the less, because they are universal.

--Edmund Burke

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

--Edmund Burke

To drive men from independence to live on alms, is itself great cruelty.

--Edmund Burke

Learning will be cast into the mire and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude.

--Edmund Burke

Over-taxation cost England her colonies of North America.

--Edmund Burke

Religion is the basis of civil society, and the source of all good and of all comfort.

--Edmund Burke

He that accuses all mankind of corruption ought to remember that he is sure to convict only one.

--Edmund Burke

No men can act with effect who do not act in concert; no men can act in concert who do not act with confidence; no men can act with confidence who are not bound together with common opinions, common affections, and common interests.

--Edmund Burke

It ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention.

--Edmund Burke

Prudence is a quality incompatible with vice, and can never be effectively enlisted in its cause.

--Edmund Burke

Law and arbitrary power are at eternal enmity.

--Edmund Burke

Jacobinism is the revolt of the enterprising talents of a country against its property.

--Edmund Burke

It is known that the taste -- whatever it is -- is improved exactly as we improve our judgment, by extending our knowledge, by a steady attention to our object, and by frequent exercise.

--Edmund Burke

Fellowship in treason is a bad ground of confidence.

--Edmund Burke

To complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present possessors of power, to lament the past, to conceive extravagant hopes of the future, are the common dispositions of the greatest part of mankind.

--Edmund Burke

In a free country every man thinks he has a concern in all public matters, -- that he has a right to form and a right to deliver an opinion on them. This it is that fills countries with men of ability in all stations.

--Edmund Burke

We must not always judge of the generality of the opinion by the noise of the acclamation.

--Edmund Burke

Their resistance was made to concession; their revolt was from protection; their blow was aimed at a hand holding out graces, favours, and immunities.

--Edmund Burke

Government is the exercise of all the great qualities of the human mind.

--Edmund Burke

The wise determine from the gravity of the case; the irritable, from sensibility to oppression; the high minded, from disdain and indignation at abusive power in unworthy hands.

--Edmund Burke

The love of lucre, though sometimes carried to a ridiculous excess, a vicious excess, is the grand cause of prosperity to all States.

--Edmund Burke

It is better to cherish virtue and humanity, by leaving much to free will, even with some loss of the object , than to attempt to make men mere machines and instruments of political benevolence. The world on the whole will gain by a liberty, without which virtue cannot exist.

--Edmund Burke

All government is founded on compromise and banter.

--Edmund Burke

History is a pact between the dead, the living, and the yet unborn.

--Edmund Burke

Circumspection and caution are part of wisdom.

--Edmund Burke

There ought to be 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.

--Edmund Burke

When you fear something, learn as much about it as you can. Knowledge conquers fear.

--Edmund Burke

All that needs to be done for evil to prevail is good men doing nothing.

--Edmund Burke

Never, no never, did Nature say one thing, and wisdom another.

--Edmund Burke

Good company, lively conversation, and the endearments of friendship fill the mind with great pleasure.

--Edmund Burke

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.

--Edmund Burke

I cannot help concurring with the opinion that an absolute democracy, no more than absolute monarchy, is to be reckoned among the legitimate forms of government.

--Edmund Burke

There never was a bad man that had ability for good service.

--Edmund Burke

I own that there is a haughtiness and fierceness in human nature which will cause innumerable broils, place men in what situation you please.

--Edmund Burke

The poorest being that crawls on earth, contending to save itself from injustice and oppression, is an object respectable in the eyes of God and man.

--Edmund Burke

The grand instructor, time.

--Edmund Burke

You had that action and counteraction which, in the natural and in the political world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers draws out the harmony of the universe.

--Edmund Burke

Teach me, O lark! with thee to greatly rise, to exalt my soul and lift it to the skies.

--Edmund Burke

Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation.You choose a Member indeed; but when you have chosen him, heisnotthe Member for Bristol, but heisa Member of Parliament.

--Edmund Burke

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