Thomas Babington Macaulay

(Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay)

Thomas Babington Macaulay
Thomas Babington Macaulay
  • Born: October 25, 1800
  • Died: December 28, 1859
  • Nationality: British
  • Profession: Poet

99

Quotes

58

Citations

217

Concepts

0

Videos

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
… the magistrate should know what law he is to administer, that the subject should know under what law he is to live. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
… the science of government is an experimental science, and that, like all other experimental sciences, it is generally in a state of progression. No man is so obstinate an admirer of the old times as to deny that medicine, surgery, botany, chemistry, engineering, navigation, are better understood now than in any former age. We conceive that it is the same with political science Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Social Sciences
A [legal] code is almost the only blessing, perhaps it is the only blessing, which absolute governments are better fitted to confer on a nation than popular governments. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
A politician must often talk and act before he has thought and read. He may be very ill-informed respecting a question; all his notions about it may be vague and inaccurate, but speak he must; and if he is a man of talents, of tact, and of intrepidity, he soon finds that, even under such circumstances, it is possible to speak successfully. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
A reforming age is always fertile of imposters. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
American democracy must be a failure because it places the supreme authority in the hands of the most ignorant part of society. Democracies & Republics
But the time will come when New England will be as thickly peopled as old England. Wages will be as low, and will fluctuate as much with you as with us… hundreds of thousands of artisans will assuredly be sometimes out of work. Then your institutions will be fairly brought to the test. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Constitutions are in politics what paper money is in commerce. They afford great facilities and conveniences. But we must not attribute to them that value which really belongs to what they represent. They are not power, but symbols of power, and will, in an emergency, prove altogether useless unless the power for which they stand be forthcoming. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
Copyright is monopoly, and produces all the effects which the general voice of mankind attributes to monopoly ... It is good that authors should be remunerated; and the least exceptionable way of remunerating them is by a monopoly. Yet monopoly is an evil. For the sake of the good we must submit to the evil; but the evil ought not to last a day longer than is necessary for the purpose of securing the good. Copyrights, Patents & Intellectual Property
Every improvement of the means of locomotion benefits mankind morally and intellectually as well as materially, and not only facilitates the interchange of the various productions of nature and art, but tends to remove national and provincial antipathies, and to bind together all the branches of the great human family. Transportation
For political and intellectual freedom and for all the blessings that political and intellectual freedom have brought in their train, she [England] is chiefly indebted to the great rebellion of the laity against the priesthood. Religion & God
Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular. Foreign Trade
I am quite ready to take the Oriental learning at the value of the Orientals themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. Discrimination & Prejudice
I believe, Sir, that it is the right and the duty of the State to provide means of education for the common people. This proposition seems to me to be implied in every definition that has ever yet been given of the functions of a government. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty, or civilization, or both…. Democracies & Republics
I have not the smallest doubt that, if we had a purely democratic government here, the effect would be the same. Either the poor would plunder the rich, and civilization would perish; or order and property would be saved by a strong military government, and liberty would perish. Democracies & Republics
In every age the vilest specimens of human nature are to be found among demagogues. Propaganda & Disinformation
In no form of government is there an absolute identity of interest between the people and their rulers Lobbying & Special Interests ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
In politics, as in religion, there are devotees who show their reverence for a departed saint by converting his tomb into a sanctuary for crime. Memorials, Monuments, Medals, Statues & Buildings
Institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty, or civilization, or both. Democracies & Republics
It is quite plain that your government will never be able to restrain a distressed and discontented majority. For with you the majority is the government, and has the rich, who are always a minority, absolutely at its mercy. Miscellaneous
Judge-made law, where there is an absolute government and a lax morality, where there is no bar and no public, is a curse and scandal not to be endured. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Knowledge advances by steps, and not by leaps. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Let us do justice to them [the Jews].... Let us open to them every career in which ability and energy can be displayed. Till we have done this, let us not presume to say that there is no genius among the countrymen of Isaiah, no heroism among the descendants of the Maccabees. Equality & Equal Opportunity
Logicians may reason about abstractions. But the great mass of men must have images. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition, that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom .... If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever. Freedom & Liberty
Men are never so likely to settle a question rightly as when they discuss it freely. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
Monarchy and aristocracy, valuable and useful as I think them, are still valuable and useful as means, and not as ends. Miscellaneous
No sophism is too gross to delude minds distempered by party spirit. Political Parties & Machines
None of the modes by which a magistrate is appointed, popular election, the accident of the lot, or the accident of birth, affords, as far as we can perceive, much security for his being wiser than any of his neighbours. The chance of his being wiser than all his neighbours together is still smaller. Voters, Voting & Elections
Nothing is so galling to a people not broken in from the birth as a paternal, or in other words a meddling government, a government which tells them what to read and say and eat and drink and wear. Freedom & Liberty
Reform that you may preserve. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
That is the best government which desires to make the people happy, and knows how to make them happy. Government ;Management & Managing Government
The best [legal] codes extant, if malignantly criticized, will be found to furnish matter for censure in every page … Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The Church is the handmaid of tyranny and the steady enemy of liberty. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The gallery in which the reporters sit has become a fourth estate of the realm. Media, Journalism & The Press
The Habeas Corpus Act is the most stringent curb that ever legislation imposed on tyranny. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it. Power ;Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
The history of England is emphatically the history of progress. History
The Irish university question has been put off from year to year, and at length presses for settlement. In the best interests of Ireland, may the same thing be written thirty years hence! Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
The object of oratory alone is not truth, but persuasion. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
The Puritan hated bearbaiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The reluctant obedience of distant provinces generally costs more than its worth. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
The voice of great events is proclaiming to us, Reform, that you may preserve. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
The writers of history seem to entertain an aristocratical contempt for the writers of memoirs. They think it beneath the dignity of men who describe the revolutions of nations to dwell on the details which constitute the charm of biography. History
There were gentlemen and there were seamen in the navy of Charles the Second. But the seamen were not gentlemen; and the gentlemen were not seamen. Military & Veterans
Thus our [British] democracy was from an early period the most aristocratic, and our aristocracy the most democratic. Democracies & Republics
Timid and interested politicians think much more about the security of their seats than about the security of their country. Defense & National Security
To have found a great people sunk in the lowest depths of slavery and superstition, to have so ruled them as to have made them desirous and capable of all the privileges of citizens, would indeed be a title to glory all our own. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
To punish a man because he has committed a crime, or because he is believed, though unjustly, to have committed a crime, is not persecution. To punish a man, because we infer from the nature of some doctrine which he holds, or from the conduct of other persons who hold the same doctrines with him, that he will commit a crime, is persecution, and is, in every case, foolish and wicked. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Universal suffrage exists in the United States without producing any frightful consequences. Voters, Voting & Elections
We do not pretend to show that universal suffrage is an evil. Let its advocates show it to be a good. Voters, Voting & Elections
We do not think it necessary to prove that a quack medicine is poison. Let the vendor prove it to be sanitive. Regulation & Deregulation
We have obtained concessions of inestimable value, not by beating the drum, not by ringing the tocsin, not by tearing up the pavement, not by running to the gunsmith’s shops to search for arms, but by the mere force of reason and public opinion. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
We know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
We must judge the form of government by its general tendency, not by happy accidents. Miscellaneous
Your [the American] constitution is all sail and no anchor. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
A good constitution is infinitely better than the best despot.
A single breaker may recede; but the tide is evidently coming in.
American democracy must be a failure because it places the supreme authority in the hands of the poorest and most ignorant part of the society. Society ;Failure
An acre in Middlesex is better than a principality in Utopia.
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods? Death
And to say that society ought to be governed by the opinion of the wisest and best, though true, is useless. Whose opinion is to decide who are the wisest and best? Society
As civilization advances, poetry almost necessarily declines. Literature, Writers & Writing
Few of the many wise apothegms which have been uttered have prevented a single foolish action.
He had a wonderful talent for packing thought close, and rendering it portable.
He was a rake among scholars, and a scholar among rakes.
I shall cheerfully bear the reproach of having descended below the dignity of history if I can succeed in placing before the English of the nineteenth century a true picture of the life of their ancestors. Life ;History
I shall not be satisfied unless I produce something which shall for a few days supersede the last fashionable novel on the tables of young ladies.
I would rather be poor in a cottage full of books than a king without the desire to read.
Many politicians are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water till he had learned to swim. Freedom & Liberty ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
None of the modes by which a magistrate is appointed, popular election, the accident of the lot, or the accident of birth, affords, as far as we can perceive, much security for his being wiser than any of his neighbours.
Nothing except the mint can make money without advertising. Money, Coins & Minting
Nothing is so galling to a people not broken in from the birth as a paternal, or, in other words, a meddling government, a government which tells them what to read, and say, and eat, and drink and wear. Government
Nothing is so useless as a general maxim.
People crushed by law have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws. Power
Perhaps no person can be a poet, or even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind. Literature, Writers & Writing
Persecution produced its natural effect on them. It found them a sect; it made them a faction.
Reform, that we may preserve.
She thoroughly understands what no other Church has ever understood, how to deal with enthusiasts.
Such night in England ne'er had been, nor ne'er again shall be.
Temple was a man of the world amongst men of letters, a man of letters amongst men of the world.
The best portraits are those in which there is a slight mixture of caricature.
The effect of violent dislike between groups has always created an indifference to the welfare and honor of the state.
The English Bible - a book which, if everything else in our language should perish, would alone suffice to show the whole extent of its beauty and power. Power
The knowledge of the theory of logic has no tendency whatever to make men good reasoners. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
The maxim, that governments ought to train the people in the way in which they should go, sounds well. But is there any reason for believing that a government is more likely to lead the people in the right way than the people to fall into the right way of themselves? Government
The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
The object of oratory alone in not truth, but persuasion. Truth
The puritan hated bear baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
There is only one cure for the evils which newly acquired freedom produces, and that cure is freedom. Freedom & Liberty
There is surely no contradiction in saying that a certain section of the community may be quite competent to protect the persons and property of the rest, yet quite unfit to direct our opinions, or to superintend our private habits.
To punish a man because we infer from the nature of some doctrine which he holds, or from the conduct of other persons who hold the same doctrines with him, that he will commit a crime, is persecution, and is, in every case, foolish and wicked. Nature
To sum up the whole, we should say that the aim of the Platonic philosophy was to exalt man into a god. Religion & God
To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Turn where we may, within, around, the voice of great events is proclaiming to us, Reform, that you may preserve!
We hold that the most wonderful and splendid proof of genius is a great poem produced in a civilized age.
Your Constitution is all sail and no anchor.