"That Chastity Of Honor Which Felt A Stain Like A Wound"
Context: Burke has been called, Bacon alone excepted, "the greatest political thinker who has ever devoted himself to the practice of English politics." Though he never attained a political office in any degree proportioned to his ability and services, he succeeded in affecting profoundly the opinion of his times. Serving in Parliament, he was roused to action by the sympathy expressed in England for the French Revolution. The result was Reflections, a "letter intended to have been sent to a gentleman in Paris." In the debates which followed, Burke became separated from his friends Sheridan and Fox, and from his party. The immediate quotation reveals him deriding an age which will perpetrate the macabre butcheries of the Royal Family, an age without glory and honor:
. . . The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half of its evil by losing all its grossness!