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Robert Cecil (1830 – 1903)


British Conservative politician and Prime Minister.
Robert Cecil
Wherever it has had free play in the ancient world or in the modern, in the old hemisphere or the new, a thirst for empire, and a readiness for aggressive war, has always marked it.
Cecil quotes
...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.
Cecil
Half a century ago, the first feeling of all Englishmen was for England. Now, the sympathies of a powerful party are instinctively given to whatever is against England. It may be Boers or Baboos, or Russians or Affghans, or only French speculators – the treatment these all receive in their controversies with England is the same: whatever else my fail them, they can always count on the sympathies of the political a party from whom during the last half century the rulers of England have been mainly chosen...It is striking, though by no means a solitary indication of how low, in the present temper of English politics, our sympathy with our own countrymen has fallen. Of course, we shall be told that a conscience of exalted sensibility, which is the special attribute of the Liberal party, has enabled them to discover, what English statesmen had never discovered before, that the cause to which our countrymen are opposed is generally the just one...For ourselves, we are rather disposed to think that patriotism has become in some breasts so very reasonable an emotion, because it is ceasing to be an emotion at all; and that these superior scruples, to which our fathers were insensible, and which always make the balance of justice lean to the side of abandoning either our territory or our countrymen, indicate that the national impulses which used to make Englishmen cling together in face of every external trouble are beginning to disappear.




[Property furnishes] almost the only motive power of agitation. A violent political movement (setting aside those where religious controversy is at work) is generally only an indication that a class of those who have little see their way to getting more by means of a political convulsion.
A gram of experience is worth a ton of theory.
Robert Cecil quotes
It is right to be forward in the defence of the poor; no system that is not just as between rich and poor can hope to survive.
Robert Cecil
...if our ancestors had cared for the rights of other people, the British empire would not have been made.
We are not the same people that we have been, either in our social characteristics, in our patriotic sentiments, or in the tone of our moral and religious feelings.
Cecil
In the supreme struggle of social order against anarchy, we cannot deny to the champions of civilised society the moral latitude which is by common consent accorded to armed men fighting for their country against a foreign foe.
...institutions like the House of Lords must die, like all other organic beings, when their time comes.
Robert Cecil
It is one of the misfortunes of our political system that parties are formed more with reference to controversies that are gone by than to the controversies which these parties have actually to decide.




Robert Cecil quotes
It is said,—and men seem to think that condemnation can go no further than such a censure—that they brought us within twenty-four hours of revolution...But is it in truth so great an evil, when the dearest interests and the most sincere convictions are at stake, to go within twenty-four hours of revolution?
Robert Cecil
...the common sense of Christendom has always prescribed for national policy principles diametrically opposed to those that are laid down in the Sermon on the Mount.
Cecil quotes
...that shapeless, formless, fibreless mass of platitudes which in official cant is called "unsectarian religion".
To give 'the suffrage' to a poor man is to give him as large a part in determining that legislation which is mainly concerned with property as the banker whose name is known on every Exchange in Europe, as the merchant whose ships are in every sea, as the landowner who owns the soil of a whole manufacturing town...two day-labourers shall outvote Baron Rothschild...The bestowal upon any class of a voting power disproportionate to their stake in the country, must infallibly give that class a power pro tanto of using taxation as an instrument of plunder, and expenditure and legislation as a fountain of gain.
The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.
Robert Cecil
English policy is to float lazily downstream, occasionally putting out a diplomatic boat-hook to avoid collisions.
Robert Cecil quotes
It was a part of a budget which even three months had proved to be a mass of miscalculation; it was the pet scheme of a cosmopolitan school who love England little, and whom England loves less, whose sympathies are half-American and half-French; and it was the first application of a theory of combined taxation and reform, according to which the poor were exclusively to fix the revenue which the rich were exclusively to pay.
Robert Cecil
It is patent on the face of history that the aggregates of men who form communities, like the aggregates of atoms that form living bodies, are subject to laws of progressive change – be it towards growth or towards decay.
The most formidable intellectual figure that the Conservative party has ever produced.


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