To me this question whether liberty is a good or a bad thing appears as irrational as the question whether fire is a good or a bad thing. It is both good and bad according to time, place, and circumstance, and a complete answer to the question, In what cases is liberty good and in what cases is it bad? would involve not merely a universal history of mankind, but a complete solution of the problems which such a history would offer.
Ch. 2 (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1873-1874))
The result of cutting [political power] up into little bits is simply that the man who can sweep the greatest number into one heap will govern the rest... In a pure democracy the ruling men will be the wirepullers and their friends; but they will no more be on an equality with the voters than soldiers of Ministers of State are on an equality with the subjects of monarchy.James Fitzjames Stephen
Parliamentary government is simply a mild and disguised form of compulsion. We agree to try strength by counting heads instead of breaking heads, but the principle is exactly the same... The minority gives way not because it is convinced that it is wrong, but because it is convinced that it is a minority.James Fitzjames Stephen
Originality consists in thinking for yourself, not in thinking differently from other people.James Fitzjames Stephen
Persuasion, indeed, is a kind of force. It consists in showing a person the consequences of his actions. It is, in a word, force applied through the mind.James Fitzjames Stephen
To try to regulate the internal affairs of a family, the relations of love or friendship, or many other things of the same sort, by law or by the coercion of public opinion, is like trying to pull an eyelash out of a man’s eye with a pair of tongs. They may put out the eye, but they will never get hold of the eyelashJames Fitzjames Stephen
To try to make men equal by altering social arrangements is like trying to make the cards of equal value by shuffling the pack.James Fitzjames Stephen