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Vicesimus Knox
1752 - 1821

English writer, minister, Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford, vigorous education critic and reformer, author of Essays, Moral and Literary (1778), Liberal Education (1781) and The Spirit of Despotism (1795)


Corruption of manners has a natural tendancy to promote the spirit of despotism.

1795 - from The Spirit of Depsotism
The excessive Love of Distinction and Power which prevails wherever the Spirit of Despotism exists, deadens some of the finest Feelings of the Heart, and counteracts the Laws of Nature.

1795 - from The Spirit of Depsotism
Fear must of necessity become the predominant passion in all countries subject to the uncontrolled dominion of an individual and his ministers: but fear chills the blood, and freezes the faculties. Under its icy influence there can arise no generous emulation, no daring spirit of adventure. Enterprise is considered as dangerous, not merely from the general casualty of all human affairs, but because it excites notice, and alarms the jealousy of selfish power. Under a despotic government, to steal through life unobserved, to creep, with timid caution, through the vale of obscurity, is the first wisdom; and to be suffered to die in old age, in the course of nature, without the prison, the chain, the halter, or the axe, the highest pitch of human felicity.

1795 - from The Spirit of Depsotism