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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Patriots and Gentlemen

     "I respect virtue in all its situations;  even when it is found in the unsuitable company of weakness.  I lament to see qualities, rare and valuable, squandered away without any public utility.  But when a gentleman with great visible emoluments abandons the party in which he has long acted, and tells you, it is because he proceeds upon his own judgement;  that he acts on the merits of the several measures as they arise;  and that he is obliged to follow his own conscience, and not that of others;  he gives reasons which it is impossible to controvert, and discovers a character which it is impossible to mistake.  What shall we think of him who never differed from a certain set of men until the moment they lost their power, and who never agreed with them in a single instance afterwards?  Would not such a coincidence of interest and opinion be rather fortunate?  Would it not be an extraordinary cast upon the dice, that a man's connexions should degenerate into faction, precisely at the critical moment when they lose their power, or he accepts a place? . . .In the mean time we are born only to be men.  We shall do enough if we form ourselves to be good ones.  It is therefore our business carefully to cultivate in our minds, to rear to the most perfect vigour and maturity, every sort of generous and honest feeling that belongs to our nature.  To bring the dispostions that are lovely in private life into the service and conduct of the commonwealth;  so to be patriots, as not to forget we are gentlemen."  Edmund Burke Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (pgs. 87-88,89)

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