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Lord Thomas Babbington Macaulay
1800 - 1859

British historian and essayist, member of Parliament and of the House of Lords, author of History of England (1848)


... let not us ... fight the battle of truth with the weapons of error, and endeavor to support by oppression...

Apr. 17, 1833 - from a speech in the British House of Commons about tolerance
Our rulers will best promote the improvement of the nation by strictly confining themselves to their own legitimate duties, by leaving capital to find its most lucrative course, commodities their fair price, industry and intelligence their natural reward, idleness and folly their natural punishment, by maintaining peace, by defending property, by diminishing the price of law, and observing strict economy in every department of the state. Let the Government do this: the People will assuredly do the rest.

Jan. 1830 - from a book review published in the Edinburgh Review
Government, as government, can bring nothing but the influence of hopes and fears to support its doctrines. It carries on controversy, not with reasons, but with threats and bribes. If it employs reason, it does so, not in virtue of any powers which belong to it as a government. Thus, instead of a contest between argument and argument, we have a contest between argument and force, Instead of a contest in which truth, from the natural constitution of the human mind, has a decided advantage over falsehood, we have a contest in which truth can be victorious only by accident.

Jan. 1830 - from a book review published in the Edinburgh Review
Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water until he had learnt to swim. If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.

1825 - from a book review published in the Edinburgh Review