Thursday, February 10, 2022


 If men were to impress upon their minds a thorough conviction of the truth of this simple proposition, That they have no right to do evil in order to obtain good; we should not have seen so many human victims immolated upon the very altar of the Virtues. But since these compromises have taken place between the present and the future, between the sacrifice of the present generation and the advantages to be conferred upon posterity, a new degree of passion considers itself as bound in duty to overstep all limits, and often men, prone to guilt, affecting to be animated by the examples of Brutus, of Manlius, of Piso, have proscribed virtue, because great men have sometimes immolated guilt;--have assassinated those they hated, because the Romans had courage to sacrifice all they held most dear ;--have massacred feeble enemies, because generous souls had assailed their adversaries in power;--and, deriving from patriotism only the ferocious sentiments which at some periods it may have produced, have displayed no greatness but in wickedness, and have trusted only to the energy of guilt.

Anne-Louise-Germaine de Staël-Holstein, The Influence of the Passions upon the Happiness of Individuals and Nations, p. 182.