Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

William Ewart Gladstone

English Statesman, Four-time British Prime Minister

"I mean this, that together with the so-called increase of expenditure there grows up what may be termed a spirit which, insensibly and unconsciously perhaps, but really, affects the spirit of the people, the spirit of parliament, the spirit of the public departments, and perhaps even the spirit of those whose duty it is to submit the estimates to parliament."

"I think that the principle of the Conservative Party is jealousy of liberty and of the people, only qualified by fear; but I think the principle of the Liberal Party is trust in the people, only qualified by prudence."

"I venture on assuring you that I regard the design formed by you and your friends with sincere interest, and in particular wish well to all the efforts you may make on behalf of individual freedom and independence as opposed to what is termed Collectivism."

"I venture to say that every man who is not presumably incapacitated by some consideration of personal unfitness or of political danger is morally entitled to come within the pale of the Constitution."

"I was brought up to hate and fear liberty. I came to love it. That is the secret of my whole career."

"I would tell them of my own intention to keep my own counsel . . . and I will venture to recommend them, as an old Parliamentary hand, to do the same."

"If Germany is to become a colonizing power, all I say is, ''God speed her!'' She becomes our ally and partner in the execution of the great purposes of Providence for the advantage of mankind."

"If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you."

"If you weren't such a great man, you'd be a terrible bore."

"Ireland, Ireland! That cloud in the west! That coming storm! That minister of God's retribution upon cruel, inveterate, and but half-atoned injustice! Ireland forces upon us those great social and great religious questions. God grant that we may have courage to look them in the face!"

"It is difficult to see anything but infatuation in the destructive temperament which leads to the action ... that each of us is to rejoice that our several units are to be distinguished at death into countless millions of organisms; for such, it seems, is the latest revelation delivered from the fragile tripod of a modern Delphi."

"It is not a life at all. It is a reticence, in three volumes."

"Letter to the committee in charge of the celebration of the centennial of the American Constitution. I have always regarded that Constitution as the most remarkable work known to me in modern times to have been produced by the human intellect, at a single stroke (so to speak), in its application to political affairs."

"Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear."

"Man himself is the crowning wonder of creation; the study of his nature the noblest study the world affords."

"My name may have buoyancy enough to float upon the sea of time."

"National injustice is the surest road to national downfall."

"Never forget that the purpose for which a man lives is the improvement of the man himself, so that he may go out of this world having, in his great sphere or his small one, done some little good for his fellow creatures and labored a little to diminish the sin and sorrow that are in the world."

"Nothing more surely cultivates and embellishes a man than association with refined and virtuous women."

"Nothing that is morally wrong can be politically right."

"Remember the rights of the savage, as we call him. Remember that the happiness of his humble home, remember that the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows, are as sacred in the eye of Almighty God as are your own. Remember that He who has united you together as human beings in the same flesh and blood, has bound you by the law of mutual love, that that mutual love is not limited by the shores of this island, is not limited by the boundaries of Christian civilization, that it passes over the whole surface of the earth, and embraces the meanest along with the greatest in its wide scope."

"Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race"

"Show me the manner in which a nation or a community cares for its dead. I will measure exactly the sympathies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals."

"So long as there is this book, there will be no peace in the world."

"Socialism. Here I am at at one with you. I have always been opposed to it. It is now taking hold of both parties, in a way I much dislike: and unhappily Lord Salisbury is one of its leaders, with no Lord Hartington (see his speech at Darwen) to oppose him."

"Swimming for his life, a man does not see much of the country through which the river winds."

"The Chancellor of the Exchequer should boldly uphold economy in detail; and it is the mark of a chicken-hearted Chancellor when he shrinks from upholding economy in detail, when because it is a question of only two or three thousand pounds, he says it is no matter. He is ridiculed, no doubt, for what is called candle-ends and cheese-parings, but he is not worth his salt if he is not ready to save what are meant by candle-ends and cheese-parings in the cause of the country. No Chancellor of the Exchequer is worth his salt who makes his own popularity either his consideration, or any consideration at all, in administering the public purse. In my opinion, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the trusted and confidential steward of the public. He is under a sacred obligation with regard to all that he consents to spend."

"The disease of an evil conscience is beyond the practice of all the physicians of all the countries in the world."

"The hopelessness of the Turkish Government should make me witness with delight its being swept out of the countries which it tortures. Next to the Ottoman Government nothing can be more deplorable and blameworthy than jealousies between Greek and Slav and plans by the States already existing for appropriating other territory. Why not Macedonia for the Macedonians as well as Bulgaria for the Bulgarians and Serbia for the Serbians?"

"The idea of abolishing Income Tax is to me highly attractive, both on other grounds and because it tends to public economy."

"The most distinguished professional men bear witness, with an overwhelming authority, in favor of a course of education in which to train the mind shall be the first object, and to stock it, the second."

"The only means which have been placed in my power of "raising the wages of colliers" has been by endeavoring to beat down all those restrictions upon trade which tend to reduce the price to be obtained for the product of their labor, and to lower as much as may be the taxes on the commodities which they may require for use or for consumption. Beyond this I look to the forethought not yet so widely diffused in this country as in Scotland, and in some foreign lands; and I need not remind you that in order to facilitate its exercise the Government have been empowered by Legislation to become through the Dept. of the P.O. the receivers and guardians of savings."

"The reason why the foreign producer gets his produce to market cheaper, relatively, is this ? that foreign produce is collected and brought in such large quantities and is sent in great masses to the market. That is the secret of cheap carriage... We must try to make our pounds of produce into tons ? or must bring together a number of producers. If you small agriculturists can collectively offer a great bulk of merchandise to the railway companies, they will give you good terms."

"The resources of civilization are not yet exhausted."

"The rule of our policy is that nothing should be done by the state which can be better or as well done by voluntary effort; and I am not aware that, either in its moral or even its literary aspects, the work of the state for education has as yet proved its superiority to the work of the religious bodies or of philanthropic individuals. Even the economical considerations of materially augmented cost do not appear to be wholly trivial."

"The sense of beauty enters into the highest philosophy, as in Plato. The highest poet must be a philosopher, accomplished like Dante, or intuitive like Shakespeare."

"The ship retains her anchorage, yet drifts with a certain range, subject to wind and tide; so we have for an anchorage the cardinal truths of the gospel."

"The thirst for an enduring fame is near akin to the love of true excellence; but the fame of the moment is a dangerous possession and a bastard motive; and he who does his acts in order that the echo of them may come back as a soft music in his ears, plays false to his noble destiny as a Christian man, places himself in continual danger of dallying with wrong, and taints even his virtuous actions at their source."

"The Turks one and all, bag and baggage, shall, I hope, clear out from the province they have desolated and profaned."

"There is a process of slow modification and development mainly in directions which I view with misgiving. "Tory democracy," the favorite idea on that side, is no more like the Conservative party in which I was bred, than it is like Liberalism. In fact less. It is demagogism ? applied in the worst way, to put down the pacific, law-respecting, economic elements which ennobled the old Conservatism, living upon the fomentation of angry passions, and still in secret as obstinately attached as ever to the evil principle of class interests. The Liberalism of to-day is better ? yet far from being good. Its pet idea is what they called construction, ? that is to say, taking into the hands of the State the business of the individual man. Both the one and the other have much to estrange me, and have had for many, many years."

"There should be a sympathy with freedom, a desire to give it scope, founded not upon visionary ideas, but upon the long experience of many generations within the shores of this happy isle, that in freedom you lay the firmest foundations both of loyalty and order."

"There was a twilight before the dawn, and a dawn before the morning, and a morning before the day."

"This is the negation of God erected into a system of government."

"This, if I understand it, is one of those golden moments of our history, one of those opportunities which may come and may go, but which rarely return."

"To be engaged in opposing wrong affords, under the conditions of our mental constitution, but a slender guarantee for being right."

"Turks one and all, bag and baggage, shall I hope clear out from the province they have desolated and profaned."

"Unhappily my manner tends to turn every conversation into a debate."

"We are bound to lose Ireland in consequence of years of cruelty, stupidity and misgovernment and I would rather lose her as a friend than as a foe."

"We cannot change the profound and resistless tendencies of the age toward religious liberty. It is our business to guide and control their application."

"We know quite well that the people of the Northern States have not yet drunk of the cup -- they are still trying to hold it far from their lips -- which all the rest of the world see they nevertheless must drink of. We may have our own opinions about slavery; we may be for or against the South; but there is no doubt that Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South have made an army; they are making, it appears, a navy; and they have made, what is more than either, they have made a nation."