"The mechanism that directs government cannot be virtuous, because it is impossible to thwart every crime, to protect oneself from every criminal without being criminal too; that which directs corrupt mankind must be corrupt itself; and it will never be by means of virtue, virtue being inert and passive, that you will maintain control over vice, which is ever active: the governor must be more energetic than the governed."
"The art of government is the organization of idolatry. The bureaucracy consists of functionaries; the aristocracy, of idols; the democracy, of idolaters. The populace cannot understand the bureaucracy: it can only worship the national idols."
"The House of Lords, architecturally, is a magnificent room, and the dignity, quiet, and repose of the scene made me unwillingly acknowledge that the Senate of the United States might possibly improve its manners. Perhaps in our desire for simplicity, absence of title, or badge of office we may have thrown over too much."
"It is not impossible, of course, after such an administration as Roosevelt's and after the change in method that I could not but adapt in view of my different way of looking at things, that questions should arise as to whether I should go back on the principles of the Roosevelt administration.... I have a government of limited power under a Constitution, and we have got to work out our problems on the basis of law. Now, if that is reactionary, then I am a reactionary."
"The scope of modern government in what it can and ought to accomplish for its people has been widened far beyond the principles laid down by the old "laissez faire" school of political rights, and the widening has met popular approval."
"What shall we think of a government to which all the truly brave and just men in the land are enemies, standing between it and those whom it oppresses? A government that pretends to be Christian and crucifies a million Christs every day!"
"We talk about a representative government; but what a monster of a government is that where the noblest faculties of the mind, and the whole heart, are not represented! A semihuman tiger or ox, stalking over the earth, with its heart taken out and the top of its brain shot away. Heroes have fought well on their stumps when their legs were shot off, but I never heard of any good done by such a government as that."
"The only government that I recognize--and it matters not how few are at the head of it, or how small its army--is that power that establishes justice in the land, never that which establishes injustice."
"If private men are obliged to perform the offices of government, to protect the weak and dispense justice, then the government becomes only a hired man, or clerk, to perform menial or indifferent services."
"All is quiet at Harper's Ferry," say the journals. What is the character of that calm which follows when the law and the slaveholder prevail? I regard this event as a touchstone designed to bring out, with glaring distinctness, the character of this government. We needed to be thus assisted to see it by the light of history. It needed to see itself. When a government puts forth its strength on the side of injustice, as ours to maintain slavery and kill the liberators of the slave, it reveals itself a merely brute force, or worse, a demoniacal force."