Reflections on the Revolution in France "Kings Will Be Tyrants From Policy, When Subjects Are Rebels From Principle"
by Edmund Burke

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"Kings Will Be Tyrants From Policy, When Subjects Are Rebels From Principle"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: Herein is cited, perhaps most succinctly, Burke's faith in the established political structure and his vociferous opposition to the French Revolution. The sweeping away of the traditions of ages, the erection of new forms of government built on abstract theories–such actions are abhorrent to him. Much that is hopeful in the Revolution he is unable to see; and he cannot, in his passion, discriminate carefully among men and motives. But his treatment of the situation in Reflections, written before the Terror had begun to alienate sympathy, shows great insight and prophetic wisdom. It is invaluable to see these momentous events through the eyes of an influential contemporary conservative. Above all, he perceives the danger of anarchical destruction of the form of government which the Western World has struggled so long to achieve. He writes:

. . . When the old feudal and chivalrous spirit of fealty . . . shall be extinct in the minds of men, plots and assassinations will be anticipated by preventive murder and preventive confiscation. . . . Kings will be tyrants from policy, when subjects are rebels from principle.