A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.
People crushed by laws, have no hope but to evade power. If the laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to the law; and those who have most to hope and nothing to lose will always be dangerous.
All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
My good friends, while I do most earnestly recommend you to take care of your health and safety, as things most precious to us, I would not have that care degenerate into an effeminate and over-curious attention, which is always disgraceful to a man's self, and often troublesome to others.
Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites.
But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.
Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.
In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority.
There is but one law for all, namely that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity - the law of nature and of nations.
Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.
Men want to be reminded, who do not want to be taught; because those original ideas of rectitude to which the mind is compelled to assent when they are proposed, are not always as present to us as they ought to be.
The hottest fires in hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in times of moral crisis.
I do not hesitate to say that the road to eminence and power, from an obscure condition, ought not to be made too easy, nor a thing too much of course. If rare merit be the rarest of all things, it ought to pass through some sort of probation. The temple of honor ought to be seated on an eminence. If it be open through virtue, let it be remembered, too, that virtue is never tried but by some difficulty and some struggle.
Men who undertake considerable things, even in a regular way, ought to give us ground to presume ability.
It may be observed, that very polished languages, and such as are praised for their superior clearness and perspicuity, are generally deficient in strength.
In general the languages of most unpolished people have a great force and energy of expression; and this is but natural. Uncultivated people are but ordinary observers of things, and not critical in distinguishing them; but, for that reason, they admire more, and are more affected with what they see, and therefore express themselves in a warmer and more passionate manner.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
All men that are ruined, are ruined on the side of their natural propensities.
The only training for the heroic is the mundane.
There is a time when the hoary head of inveterate abuse will neither draw reverence nor obtain protection.
There is a wide difference between admiration and love. The sublime, which is the cause of the former, always dwells on great objects and terrible; the latter on small ones and pleasing; we submit to what we admire, but we love what submits to us: in one case we are forced, in the other, we are flattered, into compliance.
The truly sublime is always easy, and always natural.
Superstition is the religion of feeble minds.
He that struggles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.
History is a pact between the dead, the living, and the yet unborn.
No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
All men have equal rights, but not to equal things.
Religion is essentially the art and the theory of the remaking of man. Man is not a finished creation.
Ambition can creep as well as soar.
The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.
People must be taken as they are, and we should never try make them or ourselves better by quarreling with them.
Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust as a feeble government.
Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.
It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.
The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind, is curiosity.
Manners are of more importance than laws. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe.
Kings will be tyrants from policy, when subjects are rebels from principle.
Good order is the foundation of all things.
Among a people generally corrupt liberty cannot long exist.