Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
America
 
  I remember, Sir, with a melancholy pleasure, the situation of the honourable gentleman who made the motion for the repeal; in that crisis, when the whole trading interest of this empire, crammed into your lobbies, with a trembling and anxious expectation, waited, almost to a winter’s return of light, their fate from your resolutions. When at length you had determined in their favour, and your doors thrown open showed them the figure of their deliverer in the well-earned triumph of his important victory, from the whole of that grave multitude there arose an involuntary burst of gratitude and transport. They jumped upon him like children on a long-absent father. They clung about him as captives about their redeemer. All England, all America, joined in his applause. Nor did he seem insensible to the best of all earthly rewards, the love and admiration of his fellow-citizens. Hope elevated and joy brightened his crest. I stood near him; and his face, to use the expression of the Scripture of the first martyr, “his face was if it had been the face of an angel.” I do not know how others feel, but if I had stood in that situation I never would have exchanged it for all that kings in their profusion could bestow. I did hope that that day’s danger and honour would have been a bond to hold us all together forever. But, alas! that, with other pleasing visions, is long since vanished.
Edmund Burke: Speech on American Taxation, April 19, 1774.    
  1
 
  On this business of America, I confess I am serious, even to sadness. I have had but one opinion concerning it since I sat, and before I sat, in Parliament, The noble lord will, as usual, probably, attribute the part taken by me and my friends in this business to a desire of getting his places. Let him enjoy this happy and original idea. If I deprived him of it, I should take away most of his wit, and all his argument. But I had rather bear the brunt of all his wit, and indeed blows much heavier, than stand answerable to God for embracing a system that tends to the destruction of some of the very best and fairest of His works. But I know the map of England as well as the noble lord, or as any other person; and I know that the way I take is not the road to preferment.
Edmund Burke: Speech on American Taxation, April 19, 1774.    
  2
 
  Permit me. Sir, to add another circumstance in our colonies which contributes no mean part towards the growth and effect of this untractable spirit: I mean their education. In no country, perhaps, in the world is law so general a study. The profession itself is numerous and powerful, and in most provinces it takes the lead. The greater number of the deputies sent to the Congress were lawyers. But all who read, and most do read, endeavour to obtain some smattering in that science. I have been told by an eminent bookseller that in no branch of his business, after tracts of popular devotion, were so many books as those on the law exported to the plantations. The colonists have now fallen into the way of printing them for their own use. I hear that they have sold nearly as many of Blackstone’s “Commentaries” in America as in England. General Gage marks out this disposition very particularly in a letter on your table. He states that all the people in his government are lawyers, or smatterers in law,—and that in Boston they have been enabled, by successful chicane, wholly to evade many parts of one of your capital penal constitutions.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.    
  3
 
  For that service, for all service, whether of revenue, trade, or empire, my trust is in her interest in the British Constitution. My hold of the colonies is in the close affection which grows from common names, from kindred blood, from similar privileges and equal protection. These are ties which, though light as air, are as strong as links of iron. Let the colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated with your government,—they will cling and grapple to you, and no force under heaven will be of power to tear them from their allegiance. But let it be once understood that your government may be one thing and their privileges another, that these two things may exist without any mutual relation,—the cement is gone, the cohesion is loosened, and everything hastens to decay and dissolution. As long as you have the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever the chosen race and sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces towards you. The more they multiply, the more friends you will have; the more ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience. Slavery they can have anywhere. It is a weed that grows in every soil.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.    
  4
 
  Deny them this participation of freedom, and you break that sole bond which originally made, and must still preserve, the unity of the empire. Do not entertain so weak an imagination as that your registers and your bonds, your affidavits and your sufferances, your cockets and your clearances, are what form the great securities of your commerce. Do not dream that your letters of office, and your instructions, and your suspending clauses are the things that hold together the great contexture of this mysterious whole. These things do not make your government. Dead instruments, passive tools as they are, it is the spirit of the English communion that gives all their life and efficacy to them. It is the spirit of the English Constitution, which, infused through the mighty mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, vivifies every part of the empire, even down to the minutest member. Is it not the same virtue which does everything for us here in England?
Edmund Burke: Speech on Conciliation with America, March 22, 1775.    
  5
 
  I am, and ever have been, deeply sensible of the difficulty of reconciling the strong presiding power, that is so useful towards the conservation of a vast, disconnected, infinitely diversified empire, with that liberty and safety of the provinces which they must enjoy (in opinion and practice at least) or they will not be provinces at all. I know, and have long felt, the difficulty of reconciling the unwieldy haughtiness of a great ruling nation, habituated to command, pampered by enormous wealth, and confident from a long course of prosperity and victory, to the high spirit of free dependencies, animated with the first glow and activity of juvenile heat, and assuming to themselves, as their birthright, some part of that very pride which oppresses them. They who perceive no difficulty in reconciling these tempers (which, however, to make peace, must some way or other be reconciled) are much above my capacity, or much below the magnitude of the business. Of one thing I am perfectly clear: that it is not by deciding the suit, but by compromising the difference, that peace can be restored or kept. They who would put an end to such quarrels by declaring roundly in favour of the whole demands of either party have mistaken, in my humble opinion, the office of a mediator.
Edmund Burke: Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol, 1777.    
  6
 
  I am beyond measure surprised that you seem to feel no sort of terror at the awfulness of the situation in which you are placed by Providence, or into which you thought proper to intrude yourselves. A whole people culprit! Nations under accusation! A tribunal erected for commonwealths! This is no vulgar idea, and no trivial undertaking; it makes me shudder. I confess that, in comparison of the magnitude of the situation, I feel myself shrunk to nothing. Next to that tremendous day in which it is revealed that the saints of God shall judge the world, I know nothing that fills my mind with greater apprehension; and yet I see the matter trifled with, as if it were the beaten routine, an ordinary quarter-session, or a paltry course of common gaol-delivery.
Edmund Burke: On the Measures against the American Colonies: Corresp., 1844, iv. 488.    
  7
 
  Everything has been done [in your History of America] which was so naturally to be expected from the author of the History of Scotland, and the age of Charles the Fifth. I believe few books have done more than this towards clearing up dark points, correcting errors, and removing prejudices. You have, too, the rare secret of rekindling an interest in subjects that had been so often treated, and in which everything that could feed a vital flame appeared to have been consumed. I am sure I read many parts of your history with that fresh concern and anxiety which attends those who are not previously informed of the event.
Edmund Burke: Letter to Dr. W. Robertson, June 10, 1777.    
  8
 
  Such was the orthodox theory; but, in the same way that the knowing ones on the race-course often make the most astounding mistakes in their forecastings, to their own great pecuniary disadvantage and the edification of a censorious world, so will it frequently occur that professed scientific men, too mindful of abstract theories to make practical innovations, find themselves suddenly confronted with some new application of those theories, or some complete reversal of them. These audacious exhibitions of scientific heterodoxy have of late years been more common in America. The active, volatile, knowing States’ man is as little disposed to submit to antiquated authority in intellectual matters as in political affairs.
Household Words.    
  9
 
 
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