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All the entertainment and talk of history is nothing almost but fighting and killing: and the honour and renown that is bestowed on conquerers (who for the most part are but the great butchers of mankind) farther mislead growing youth, who by this means come to think slaughter the laudible business of mankind, and the most heroick of virtues. By these steps unnatural cruelty is planted in us; and what humanity abhors, custom reconciles and recommends to us, by laying it in the way to honour. Thus, by fashioning and opinion, that comes to be a pleasure, which in itself neither is, nor can be any.
And with a burning pain in my heart I realized how unnecessary, how petty, and how deceptive all that had hindered us from loving was. I understood that when you love you must either, in your reasonings about that love, start from what is highest, from what is more important than happiness or unhappiness, sin or virtue in their accepted meaning, or you must not reason at all.
Democratic and aristocratic states are not in their own nature free. Political liberty is to be found only in moderate governments; and even in these it is not always found. It is there only when there is no abuse of power. But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go. Is it not strange, though true, to say that virtue itself has need of limits?
Her virtues, graced with external gifts, Do breed love's settled passions in my heart; And like as rigour of tempestuous gusts Provokes the mightiest hulk against the tide, So am I driven by breath of her renown Either to suffer shipwreck or arrive Where I may have fruition of her love.
Man must choose either of the two courses, the upward or the downward; but as he has the brute in him, he will more easily choose the downward course than the upward, especially when the downward course is presented to him in a beautiful garb. Man easily capitulates when sin is presented in the garb of virtue.
Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavored to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits, and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind.
In the past, the virtue of women's writing often lay in its divine spontaneity … But it was also, and much more often, chattering and garrulous … In future, granted time and books and a little space in the house for herself, literature will become for women, as for men, an art to be studied. Women's gift will be trained and strengthened. The novel will cease to be the dumping-ground for the personal emotions. It will become, more than at present, a work of art like any other, and its resources and its limitations will be explored.
Virtue supposes liberty, as the carrying of a burden supposes active force. Under coercion there is no virtue, and without virtue there is no religion. Make a slave of me, and I shall be no better for it. Even the sovereign has no right to use coercion to lead men to religion, which by its nature supposes choice and liberty. My thought is no more subject to authority than is sickness or health.