Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
- A gram of experience is worth a ton of theory.
- Saturday Review (1859)
- 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.
- ‘The Conservative Reaction’, The Quarterly Review, vol. 108 (July & October 1860), p. 276.
- English policy is to float lazily downstream, occasionally putting out a diplomatic boat-hook to avoid collisions.
- Letter to Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton (9 March 1877), as quoted in Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury (1921-1932), Vol. 2, by Lady Gwendolen Cecil
- No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
- Letter to Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton (15 June 1877)
- As I have said, there are two points or two characteristics of the Radical programme which it is your special duty to resist. One concerns the freedom of individuals. After all, the great characteristic of this country is that it is a free country, and by a free country I mean a country where people are allowed, so long as they do not hurt their neighbours, to do as they like. I do not mean a country where six men may make five men do exactly as they like. That is not my notion of freedom.
- Speech to the third annual banquet of the Kingston and District Working Men's Conservative Association (13 June, 1883).
- 'The Marquis Of Salisbury At Kingston', The Times (14 June, 1883), p. 7.
- 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.
- ‘Disintegration’, Quarterly Review, no. 312; October 1883, reprinted in Paul Smith (ed.), Lord Salisbury on Politics. A selection from his articles in the Quaterly Review, 1860-1883 (Cambridge University Press, 1972), pp. 342-343.
- On general grounds I object to Parliament trying to regulate private morality in matters which only affects the person who commits the offence.
- Letter to Sir Henry Peek (1888)
- Parliament is a potent engine, and its enactments must always do something, but they very seldom do what the originators of these enactments meant.
- Statement to the Associated Chambers of Commerce (March 1891)
- [Most legislation] will have the effect of surrounding the industry which it touches with precautions and investigations, inspections and regulations, in which it will be slowly enveloped and stifled.
- Statement to the Associated Chambers of Commerce (March 1891)
- There is no danger which we have to contend with which is so serious as an exaggeration of the power, the useful power, of the interference of the State. It is not that the State may not or ought not to interfere when it can do so with advantage, but that the occasions on which it can so interfere are so lamentably few and the difficulties that lie in its way are so great. But I think that some of us are in danger of an opposite error. What we have to struggle against is the unnecessary interference of the State, and still more when that interference involves any injustice to any people, especially to any minority. All those who defend freedom are bound as their first duty to be the champions of minorities, and the danger of allowing the majority, which holds the power of the State, to interfere at its will is that the interests of the minority will be disregarded and crushed out under the omnipotent force of a popular vote. But that fear ought not to lead us to carry our doctrine further than is just. I have heard it stated — and I confess with some surprise — as an article of Conservative opinion that paternal Government — that is to say, the use of the machinery of Government for the benefit of the people — is a thing in itself detestable and wicked. I am unable to subscribe to that doctrine, either politically or historically. I dot believe it to have been a doctrine of the Conservative party at any time. On the contrary, if you look back, even to the earlier years of the present century, you will find the opposite state of things; you will find the Conservative party struggling to confer benefits — perhaps ignorantly and unwisely, but still sincerely — through the instrumentality of the State, and resisted by a severe doctrinaire resistance from the professors of Liberal opinions. When I am told that it is an essential part of Conservative opinion to resist any such benevolent action on the part of the State, I should expect Bentham to turn in his grave; it was he who first taught the doctrine that the State should never interfere, and any one less like a Conservative than Bentham it would be impossible to conceive... The Conservative party has always leaned — perhaps unduly leaned — to the use of the State, as far as it can properly be used, for the improvement of the physical, moral, and intellectual condition of our people, and I hope that that mission the Conservative party will never renounce, or allow any extravagance on the other side to frighten them from their just assertion of what has always been its true and inherent principles.
- Speech to the United Club (15 July, 1891), published in "Lord Salisbury On Home Politics" in The Times (16 July 1891), p. 10
- We must learn this rule, which is true alike of rich and poor — that no man and no class of men ever rise to any permanent improvement in their condition of body or of mind except by relying upon their own personal efforts. The wealth with which the rich man is surrounded is constantly tempting him to forget the truth, ad you see in family after family men degenerating from the position of their fathers because they live sluggishly and enjoy what has been placed before them without appealing to their own exertions. The poor man, especially in these days, may have a similar temptation offered to him by legislation, but this same inexorable rule will work. The only true lasting benefit which the statesman can give to the poor man is so to shape matters that the greatest possible opportunity for the exercise of his own moral and intellectual qualities shall be offered to him by the law; and therefore it is that in my opinion nothing that we can do this year, and nothing that we did before, will equal in the benefit that it will confer upon the physical condition, and with the physical will follow the moral too, of the labouring classes in the rural districts, that measure for free education which we passed last year. It will have the effect of bringing education home to many a family which hitherto has not been able to enjoy it, and in that way, by developing the faculties which nature has given to them, it will be a far surer and a far more valuable aid to extricate them from any of the sufferings or hardships to which they may be exposed than the most lavish gifts of mere sustenance that the State could offer.
- Speech to Devonshire Conservatives (January 1892), as quoted in The Marquis of Salisbury (1892), by James J. Ellis, p. 185
- Variant: The only true lasting benefit which the statesman can give to the poor man is so to shape matters that the greatest possible liberty for the exercise of his own moral and intellectual qualities should be offered to him by law.
- As quoted in Salisbury — Victorian Titan (1999) by Andrew Roberts
- If I were asked to define Conservative policy, I should say that it was the upholding of confidence.
- Quoted in Salisbury — Victorian Titan (1999) by Andrew Roberts
- "Lord Salisbury (1830-1903) The Libertarian" by Andrew Roberts