Sunday, 2 July 2017

More quotations from Lord Salisbury


The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.

Letter to Lord Lytton (25 May 1877), quoted in Cecil, The Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury. Volume II, p. 145

...the splitting up of mankind into a multitude of infinitesimal governments, in accordance with their actual differences of dialect or their presumed differences of race, would be to undo the work of civilisation and renounce all the benefits which the slow and painful process of consolidation has procured for mankind...It is the agglomeration and not the comminution of states to which civilisation is constantly tending; it is the fusion and not the isolation of races by which the physical and moral excellence of the species is advanced. There are races, as there are trees, which cannot stand erect by themselves, and which, if their growth is not hindered by artificial constraints, are all the healthier for twining round some robuster stem.

Bentley's Quarterly Review, 1, (1859), p. 22

Wherever democracy has prevailed, the power of the State has been used in some form or other to plunder the well-to-do classes for the benefit of the poor.

Quarterly Review, 110, 1861, p. 281

...the gentleness, the concessions, the morbid tenderness of Louis XVI had only tended to precipitate his own and his people's doom, and aggravate the ferocity of those he tried by kindness to disarm.

The perils of change are so great the promise of the most hopeful theories is so often deceptive, that it is frequently the wiser part to uphold the existing state of things, if it can be done, even though, in point of argument, it should be utterly indefensible...Resistance is folly or heroism—a virtue or a vice—in most cases, according to the probabilities there are of its being successful.

A Government which is strong enough to hold its own will generally command an acquiescence which with all but very speculative minds, is the equivalent of contentment.

Quarterly Review, 117, 1865

Conflict in free states is the law of life.

Quarterly Review, 118, 1865, p. 198

The two parties represent two opposite moods of the English mind, which may be trusted, unless past experience is wholly useless, to succeed each other from time to time. Neither of them, neither the love of organic changes nor the dislike of it, can be described as normal to a nation. In every nation, they have succeeded each other at varying intervals during the whole of the period which separates its birth from its decay. Each finds in the circumstances and constitution of individuals a regular support which never deserts it. Among men, the old, the phlegmatic, the sober-minded, among classes, those who have more to lose than to gain by change, furnish the natural Conservatives. The young, the envious, the restless, the dreaming, those whose condition cannot easily be made worse, will be rerum novarum cupidi. But the two camps together will not nearly include the nation: for the vast mass of every nation is unpolitical.

Quarterly Review, 133, 1872, pp. 583-584

English policy is to float lazily downstream, occasionally putting out a diplomatic boat-hook to avoid collisions.

Letter to Lord Lytton (9 March 1877), quoted in Cecil, The Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury. Volume II, p. 130

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