Observations On A Late Publication Intituled "the Present State Of The Nation" Quotes

Edmund Burke

"There Is A Limit At Which Forbearance Ceases To Be A Virtue"

Context: At this time in England there was considerable popular discontent with the government: the king's policy was unpopular, there were riots in London, the Colonies in America were restive, and there were grave public doubts concerning foreign policy. One pamphlet in particular, indicative of this unrest, attacked with general charges irresponsibility and corruption in matters of government finance. Burke, as an important Whig member of Parliament, responded in this essay, in which he shows most clearly his complete mastery of the details of finance. Early in the tract Burke argues that the party in power has borne criticism in silence rather than create new division, but, he continues, such a policy must have a limit:

. . . These virtuous men, such I am warranted by public opinion to call them, were resolved rather to endure everything . . . A diversity of opinion upon almost every principle of politics had indeed drawn a strong line of separation between them and some others. However, they were desirous not to extend the misfortune by unnecessary bitterness; they wished to prevent a difference of opinion on the commonwealth from festering into rancorous and incurable hostility. Accordingly they endeavored that all past controversies should be forgotten; and that enough for the day should be the evil thereof. There is however a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. Men may tolerate injuries whilst they are only personal to themselves. But it is not the first of virtues to bear with moderation the indignities that are offered to our country.