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Thomas Babington Macaulay

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The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it.
--
Review of Aiken’s Life of Addison (1843).

 
Thomas Babington Macaulay

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Next in order comes knowledge of the first cause and the subsequent orders of the Gods, then the nature of the world, the essence of intellect and of soul, then providence, fate, and fortune, then to see virtue and formed from them, and from what possible source evil came into the world.
Each of these subjects needs many long discussions; but there is perhaps no harm in stating them briefly, so that a disciple may not be completely ignorant about them.
It is proper to the first cause to be one — for unity precedes multitude — and to surpass all things in power and goodness. Consequently all things must partake of it. For owing to its power nothing else can hinder it, and owing to its goodness it will not hold itself apart.
If the first cause were soul, all things would possess soul. If it were mind, all things would possess mind. If it were being, all things would partake of being. And seeing this quality in all things, some men have thought that it was being. Now if things simply were, without being good, this argument would be true, but if things that are are because of their goodness, and partake in the good, the first thing must needs be both beyond-being and good. It is strong evidence of this that noble souls despise being for the sake of the good, when they face death for their country or friends or for the sake of virtue. — After this inexpressible power come the orders of the Gods.

 
Sallustius (or Sallust)
 

My conduct must be the best proof, the moral proof, of my supreme desire; and if I do not end by convincing myself, within the bounds of the ultimate and irremediable uncertainty of the truth of what I hope for, it is because my conduct is not sufficiently pure. Virtue, therefore, is not based upon dogma, but dogma upon virtue, and it is not faith that creates martyrs but martyrs who create faith. There is no security or repose — so far as security and repose are obtainable in this life, so essentially insecure and unreposeful — save in conduct that is passionately good.

 
Miguel de Unamuno
 

In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god. Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do. Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice. Those who have money will display it in every imaginable way. If their ostentation does not exceed their fortune, all will be well. But if their ostentation does exceed their fortune they will ruin themselves. In such a country, the greatest fortunes will vanish in the twinkling of an eye. Those who don't have money will ruin themselves with vain efforts to conceal their poverty. That is one kind of affluence: the outward sign of wealth for a small number, the mask of poverty for the majority, and a source of corruption for all.

 
Denis Diderot
 

Superficial knowledge … is hurtful to those who possess true genius; for it necessarily draws them away from their main object, wastes their industry over details and subjects foreign to their needs and natural talent, and lastly does not serve, as they flatter themselves, to prove the breadth of their mind. In all ages there have been men of very moderate intelligence who knew much, and so on the contrary, men of the highest intelligence who knew very little. Ignorance is not lack of intelligence, nor knowledge a proof of genius.

 
Luc de Clapiers Vauvenargues
 

Omnium rerum domina, virtus. Virtue is the mistress of all things. Virtue is the master of all things. Therefore a nation that should never do wrong must necessarily govern the world. The might of virtue, the power of virtue, is not a very common topic, not so common as it should be.

 
John Adams
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