Top 10 Quotes by James Fitzjames Stephen

James Fitzjames Stephen

The result of cutting [political power] up into little bits is simply that the man who can sweep the greatest number into one heap will govern the rest... In a pure democracy the ruling men will be the wirepullers and their friends; but they will no more be on an equality with the voters than soldiers of Ministers of State are on an equality with the subjects of monarchy.

James Fitzjames Stephen
Each must act as he thinks best; and if he is wrong, so much the worse for him. We stand on a mountain pass in the midst of whirling snow and blinding mist through which we get glimpses now and then of paths which may be deceptive. If we stand still we shall be frozen to death. If we take the wrong road we shall be dashed to pieces. We do not certainly know whether there is any right one. What must we do? Be strong and of a good courage. Act for the best, hope for the best, and take what comes. . . . If death ends all, we cannot meet death better.
James Fitzjames Stephen

To try to regulate the internal affairs of a family, the relations of love or friendship, or many other things of the same sort, by law or by the coercion of public opinion, is like trying to pull an eyelash out of a man's eye with a pair of tongs. They may put out the eye, but they will never get hold of the eyelash

James Fitzjames Stephen
Persuasion, indeed, is a kind of force. It consists in showing a person the consequences of his actions. It is, in a word, force applied through the mind.
James Fitzjames Stephen

Originally consists in thinking for yourself, and not in thinking unlike other people.

James Fitzjames Stephen
Power and courtly influence form an intoxicating draught even when raised to the lips of an ascetic and a saint.
James Fitzjames Stephen

Parliamentary government is simply a mild and disguised form of compulsion. We agree to try strength by counting heads instead of breaking heads, but the principle is exactly the same... The minority gives way not because it is convinced that it is wrong, but because it is convinced that it is a minority.

James Fitzjames Stephen
A well-judging man will open his trunk-line of study in such a direction that, while habitually adhering to it, he may enjoy a ready access to such other fields of knowledge as are most nearly related to it.
James Fitzjames Stephen

Used with due abstinence, hope acts as a healthful tonic; intemperately indulged, as an enervating opiate. The visions of future triumph, which at first animate exertion, if dwelt upon too intently, will usurp the place of the stern reality; and, noble objects will be contemplated, not for their own inherent worth, but on account of the day-dreams they engender. Thus hope, aided by imagination, makes one man a hero, another a somnambulist, and a third a lunatic; while it renders them all enthusiasts.

James Fitzjames Stephen
Wisdom may be the ultimate arbiter, but is seldom the immediate agent in human affairs.