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Quotes of the day: Thomas Babington Macaulay

Published Friday, October 24, 2014 @ 11:58 PM EDT
Oct 24 2014

Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, PC (October 25, 1800 - December 28, 1859) was a British historian and Whig politician. He wrote extensively as an essayist and reviewer; his books on British history were hailed as literary masterpieces. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A people which takes no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants.

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.

As civilization advances, poetry almost necessarily declines.

As freedom is the only safeguard of governments, so are order and moderation generally necessary to preserve freedom.

Every man who has seen the world knows that nothing is so useless as a general maxim.

Everybody's business is nobody's business.

Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular.

I would rather be a poor man in a garret with plenty of books than a king who did not love reading.

Institutions purely democratic must, sooner, or later, destroy liberty or civilization or both.

It is possible to be below flattery as well as above it.

It may be laid as a universal rule that a government which attempts more than it ought will perform less.

More sinners are cursed at not because we despise their sins but because we envy their success at sinning.

No man in the world acts up to his own standard of right.

Nothing except the mint can make money without advertising.

People crushed by law have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws.

Perhaps no person can be a poet, or even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind.

Reform, that we may preserve.

The gallery in which the reporters sit has become a fourth estate of the realm.

The great cause of revolutions is this, that while nations move onward, constitutions stand still.

The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it.

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 is not truth, but persuasion.

The perfect lawgiver is a just temper between the mere man of theory, who can see nothing but general principles, and the mere man of business, who can see nothing but particular circumstances.

The Puritans hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.

The reluctant obedience of distant provinces generally costs more than it is worth.

There is only one cure for the evils which newly acquired freedom produces, and that cure is freedom.

We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.

We must judge of a form of government by it's general tendency, not by happy accidents.


(October 15 is also the birthday of Pablo Picasso.)

Categories: Quotes of the day, Thomas Babington Macaulay


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