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John Morley (1838 – 1923)


British Liberal statesman, writer and newspaper editor.
John Morley
Those who would treat politics and morality apart will never understand the one or the other.
Morley quotes
The great business of life is to be, to do, to do without, and to depart.
Morley
...there is nothing that the most prominent men in the Liberal party more earnestly desire than that labour representation, direct labour representation, shall be as large as possible...It is sometimes said to me, "Oh! but you are against State intervention in matters of great social reform". At this time of the day it would be absurd for any man who has mastered all the Mining Regulations Acts, the Factories Acts, the great mass of regulation which affects trade; it would be absurd for any man to stand on a platform and say he was entirely against State intervention. I, for my part, have never taken that position...My own belief is that in the matters of hours and of wages for adult male labour the interference would be a bad and mischievous thing...that in such matters, for example, as housing of the poor and so forth, the proper machinery through which to carry out these operations is municipal and not Parliamentary.




There are some books which cannot be adequately reviewed for twenty or thirty years after they come out.
Literature—the most seductive, the most deceiving, the most dangerous of professions.
John Morley quotes
Evolution is not a force but a process; not a cause but a law.
John Morley
In my creed, waste of public money is like the sin against the Holy Ghost.
The most frightful idea that has ever corroded human nature—the idea of eternal punishment.
Morley
Excess of severity is not the path to order. On the contrary, it is the path to the bomb.
Present party designations have become empty of all contents...Vastly extended State expenditure, vastly increased demands from the taxpayer who has to provide the money, social reform regardless of expense, cash exacted from the taxpayer already at his wits' end—when were the problems of plus and minus more desperate? How are we to measure the use and abuse of industrial organization? Powerful orators find "Liberty" the true keyword, but the I remember hearing from a learned student that of "liberty" he knew well over two hundred definitions. Can we be sure that the "haves" and the "have-nots" will agree in their selection of the right one? We can only trust to the growth of responsibility; we may look to circumstances and events to teach their lesson.
John Morley
We are told that we are a pack of Socialists and faddists, and that common sense is on the side of the Unionist party. Well, for my part, I am for going in for all progressive legislation step by step. I do not believe in the short cuts. If Socialism means the abolition of private property, if it means the assumption of land and capital by the State, if it means an equal distribution of products of labour by the State, then I say that Socialism of that stamp, communism of that stamp, is against human nature, and no sensible man will have anything to say to it. But if it means a wise use of the forces of all for the good of each, if it means a legal protection of the weak against the strong, if it means the performance by public bodies of things which individuals cannot perform so well, or cannot perform at all, then the principles of Socialism have been admitted in almost the whole field of social activity already, and all we have to ask when any proposition is made for the further extension of those principles is whether the proposal is in itself a prudent, just, and proper means to the desired end, and whether it is calculated to do good, and more good than harm.




John Morley quotes
I am not going to enter into this chapter, but you all know that this which is called—I do not much like the name, but I confess I have not a better name—"State Socialism" is what has protected us from revolutionary socialism, which is much a worse thing. Probably a considerable portion of this audience consists of men who live on weekly wages; but I ask you not to rush at the first thing that is offered you, not to believe that because a thing sounds very pleasant—like compulsory reduction, for example, of the hours of labour—do not be quite sure until you have looked round it that it may not end in leaving your condition worse than it found it. I should deplore the advance of State Socialism, though I believe much may be hoped from it. I should regard it as a great disaster, the greatest disaster that could befall this great population, if it did anything to take away your self-reliance, the control of the individual over his own appetites and passions, his own idleness and self-indulgence, and make you look to anything but self-reliance. This, in the long run, would do more harm than good.
John Morley
I want to take in all these labour questions from the largest possible nationalist point of view, and it is this—that while the State should do all that it prudently can to protect the health and life, not only of women and children, but of the whole assembly of workers, it is absurd, it is perilous to thrust Acts of Parliament, as I have said before, like the steam ram-rod into the delicate machinery of commercial undertakings.
Morley quotes
We are told by a Lord of the Admiralty who represents a Sheffield division that it is all over with the old Manchester school, and that we have got into new days. I do not belong to the Manchester school. I have nothing to say about the Manchester school except this—that I chanced to write the life of a very important leader of that school. and what did Mr. Cobden say upon this very point? He said:—"I am willing to spend a hundred millions on the fleet if necessary". The Radical party have never been the party who denied the great proposition that lies at the bottom of British politics—namely, that we must have absolute supremacy at sea.
I said years ago that I would rather be the man who helped on a rational scheme which should secure the comfort of old age than I would be a general who had won ever so many victories in the field. These are, to me, the two most tragic sights in the world—a man who is able to work, and anxious to work, and who cannot get work; and the other tragic sight is that of a man who has worked until his eyes have become dim, and his natural force has become abated, and he is left to spend the declining years of a life that has been so nobly used, so honourably used, in straits, difficulties, and hardships.
Success depends on three things: who says it, what he says, how he says it; and of these three things, what he says is the least important.
John Morley
A great interpreter of life ought not himself to need interpretation.
John Morley quotes
We all know that the besetting danger of Churches is formalism; the besetting danger of State action, of corporate action, is officialism and mechanism; and we all know that it is a drawback to many modern ideals that they rest upon materialism and a soulless secularism.
John Morley
Simplicity of character is no hindrance to subtlety of intellect.
No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character.


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