Algernon Sidney

  • English politician
  • Born 1623
  • Died 1683

Algernon Sidney or Sydney (15 January 1623 – 7 December 1683) was an English politician and member of the middle part of the Long Parliament. A republican political theorist, colonel, and commissioner of the trial of King Charles I of England, he opposed the king's execution. Sidney was later charged with plotting against Charles II, in part based on his most famous work, Discourses Concerning Government, used by the prosecution as a witness at his trial. He was executed for treason. After his death, Sidney was revered as a "Whig patriot–hero and martyr".

There may be a hundred thousand men in an army, who are all equally free; but they only are naturally most fit to be commanders or leaders, who most excel in the virtues required for the right performance of those offices.

No right can come by conquest, unless there were a right of making that conquest.

That is the best Government, which best provides for war.

The common Notions of Liberty are not from School Divines, but from Nature.

The best Governments of the World have bin composed of Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy.

Laws and constitutions ought to be weighed... to constitute that which is most conducing to the establishment of justice and liberty.

All the nations they had to deal with, had the same fate.

This submission is a restraint of liberty, but could be of no effect as to the good intended, unless it were general; nor general, unless it were natural.

The general revolt of a Nation cannot be called a Rebellion.

The truth is, man is hereunto led by reason which is his nature.

Liberty cannot be preserved, if the manners of the people are corrupted.

Everyone sees they cannot well live asunder, nor many together, without some rule to which all must submit.

To depend upon the Will of a Man is Slavery.

Many things are unknown to the wisest, and the best men can never wholly divest themselves of passions and affections... nothing can or ought to be permanent but that which is perfect.

Fruits are always of the same nature with the seeds and roots from which they come, and trees are known by the fruits they bear: as a man begets a man, and a beast a beast, that society of men which constitutes a government upon the foundation of justice.

A general presumption that Icings will govern well, is not a sufficient security to the People... those who subjected themselves to the will of a man were governed by a beast.

God leaves to Man the choice of Forms in Government; and those who constitute one Form, may abrogate it.

'Tis hard to comprehend how one man can come to be master of many, equal to himself in right, unless it be by consent or by force.

Liars need to have good memories.

Such as have reason, understanding, or common sense, will, and ought to make use of it in those things that concern themselves and their posterity, and suspect the words of such as are interested in deceiving or persuading them not to see with their own eyes.

Who will wear a shoe that hurts him, because the shoe-maker tells him 'tis well made?

If vice and corruption prevail, liberty cannot subsist; but if virtue have the advantage, arbitrary power cannot be established.