Zitate von Richard Cobden

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Richard Cobden

Geburtstag: 3. Juni 1804
Todesdatum: 2. April 1865

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Richard Cobden war ein britischer Unternehmer und die führende Figur des Manchesterliberalismus und der Freihandelsbewegung.

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Zitate Richard Cobden

„I have generally made it a rule to parry the inquiries and comparisons which the Americans are so apt to thrust at an Englishman. On one or two occasions, when the party has been numerous and worth powder and shot, I have, however, on being hard pressed, and finding my British blood up, found the only mode of allaying their inordinate vanity to be by resorting to this mode of argument:—"I admit all that you or any other person can, could, may, or might advance in praise of the past career of the people of America. Nay, more, I will myself assert that no nation ever did, and in my opinion none ever will, achieve such a title to respect, wonder, and gratitude in so short a period; and further still, I venture to allege that the imagination of statesmen never dreamed of a country that should in half a century make such prodigious advances in civilization and real greatness as yours has done. And now I must add, and I am sure you, as intelligent, reasonable men, will go with me, that fifty years are too short a period in the existence of nations to entitle them to the palm of history. No, wait the ordeal of wars, distresses, and prosperity (the most dangerous of all), which centuries of duration are sure to bring to your country. These are the test, and if, many ages hence, your descendants shall be able only to say of their country as much as I am entitled to say of mine now, that for seven hundred years we have existed as a nation constantly advancing in liberty, wealth, and refinement; holding out the lights of philosophy and true religion to all the world; presenting mankind with the greatest of human institutions in the trial by jury; and that we are the only modern people that for so long a time withstood the attacks of enemies so heroically that a foreign foe never put foot in our capital except as a prisoner (this last is a poser);—if many centuries hence your descendants will be entitled to say something equivalent to this, then, and not till then, will you be entitled to that crown of fame which the historian of centuries is entitled to award."“

—  Richard Cobden
Letter to F. Cobden (5 July 1835) during his visit to the United States, quoted in John Morley, The Life of Richard Cobden (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1905), pp. 33-34.

„I cannot believe that the gentry of England will be made mere drumheads to be sounded upon by a Prime Minister to give forth unmeaning and empty sounds, and to have no articulate voice of their own. No! You are the gentry of England who represent the counties. You are the aristocracy of England. Your fathers led our fathers: you may lead us if you will go the right way. But, although you have retained your influence with this country longer than any other aristocracy, it has not been by opposing popular opinion, or by setting yourselves against the spirit of the age. In other days, when the battle and the hunting-fields were the tests of manly vigour, why, your fathers were first and foremost there. The aristocracy of England were not like the noblesse of France, the mere minions of a court; nor were they like the hidalgoes of Madrid, who dwindled into pigmies. You have been Englishmen. You have not shown a want of courage and firmness when any call has been made upon you. This is a new era. It is the age of improvement, it is the age of social advancement, not the age for war or for feudal sports. You live in a mercantile age, when the whole wealth of the world is poured into your lap. You cannot have the advantages of commercial rents and feudal privileges; but you may be what you always have been, if you will identify yourselves with the spirit of the age. The English people look to the gentry and aristocracy of their country as their leaders. I, who am not one of you, have no hesitation in telling you, that there is a deep-rooted, an hereditary prejudice, if I may so call it, in your favour in this country. But you never got it, and you will not keep it, by obstructing the spirit of the age.“

—  Richard Cobden
Speech in the House of Commons http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1845/mar/13/effects-of-corn-laws-on-agriculturists (13 March 1845).

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„I am not one to advocate the reducing of our navy in any degree below that proportion to the French navy which the exigencies of our service require; and, mind what I say, here is just what the French Government would admit as freely as you would. England has four times, at least, the amount of mercantile tonnage to protect at sea that France has, and that surely gives us a legitimate pretension to have a larger navy than France. Besides, this country is an island; we cannot communicate with any part of the world except by sea. France, on the other hand, has a frontier upon land, by which she can communicate with the whole world. We have, I think, unfortunately for ourselves, about a hundred times the amount of territory beyond the seas to protect, as colonies and dependencies, that France has. France has also twice or three times as large an army as England had. All these things give us a right to have a navy somewhat in the proportion to the French navy which we find to have existed if we look back over the past century. Nobody has disputed it. I would be the last person who would ever advocate any undue change in this proportion. On the contrary— I have said it in the House of Commons, and I repeat it to you— if the French Government showed a sinister design to increase their navy to an equality with ours; then, after every explanation to prevent such an absurd waste, I should vote 100 millions sterling rather than allow that navy to be increased to a level with ours— because I should say that any attempt of that sort without any legitimate grounds, would argue some sinister design upon this country.“

—  Richard Cobden
Speech in Rochdale (26 June 1861), quoted in John Bright and J. E. Thorold Rogers (eds.), Speeches on Questions of Public Policy by Richard Cobden, M.P. Volume II (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1908), pp. 433-4.

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„Here is an empire in which is the only relic of the oldest civilization of the world—one which, 2,700 years ago, according to some authorities, had a system of primary education—which had its system of logic before the time of Aristotle, and its code of morals before that of Socrates. Here is a country which has had its uninterrupted traditions and histories for so long a period—that supplied silks and other articles of luxury to the Romans 2,000 years ago! They are the very soul of commerce in the East, and one of the wealthiest nations in the world. They are the most industrious people in Asia, having acquired the name of the ants of the East... You find them not as barbarians at home, where they cultivate all the arts and sciences, and where they have carried all, except one, to a point of perfection but little below our own—but that one is war. You have there a people who have carried agriculture to a state of horticulture, and whose great cities rival in population those of the Western world. Now, there must be something in such a people deserving of respect. If in speaking of them we stigmatize them as barbarians, and threaten them with force because we say they are inaccessible to reason, it must be because we do not understand them; because their ways are not our ways, nor our ways theirs. Now, is not so venerable an empire as that deserving of some sympathy—at least of some justice—at the hands of conservative England?“

—  Richard Cobden
Speech http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1857/feb/26/resolutions-moved-debate-adjourned in the House of Commons (26 February 1857) on China.

„We are on the eve of great changes... We have set an example to the world in all ages; we have given them the representative system. The very rules and regulations of this House have been taken as the model for every representative assembly throughout the whole civilised world; and having besides given them the example of a free press and civil and religious freedom, and every institution that belongs to freedom and civilisation, we are now about giving a still greater example; we are going to set the example of making industry free— to set the example of giving the whole world every advantage of clime, and latitude, and situation, relying ourselves on the freedom of our industry. Yes, we are going to teach the world that other lesson. Don't think there is anything selfish in this, or anything at all discordant with Christian principles. I can prove that we advocate nothing but what is agreeable to the highest behests of Christianity. To buy in the cheapest market, and sell in the dearest. What is the meaning of the maxim? It means that you take the article which you have in the greatest abundance, and with it obtain from others that of which they have the most to spare; so giving to mankind the means of enjoying the fullest abundance of earth's goods, and in doing so, carrying out to the fullest extent the Christian doctrine of 'Doing to all men as ye would they should do unto you'.“

—  Richard Cobden
Speech in the House of Commons (27 February 1846), quoted in John Bright and J. E. Thorold Rogers (eds.), Speeches on Questions of Public Policy by Richard Cobden, M.P. Volume I (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1908), p. 198.

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„I cannot give a stronger proof of the perils which I think surrounds us, than to say that I shall feel it my duty to stop the wheels of Government if I can, in a way which can only be justified by an extraordinary crisis... I do not mean to threaten outbreaks—that the starving masses will come and pull down your mansions; but I say that you are drifting on to confusion without rudder or compass. It is my firm belief that within six months we shall have populous districts in the north in a state of social dissolution. You may talk of repressing the people by the military, but what military force would be equal to such an emergency?... I do not believe that the people will break out unless they are absolutely deprived of food; if you are not prepared with a remedy, they will be justified in taking food for themselves and their families... Is it not important for Members for manufacturing districts on both sides to consider what they are about? We are going down to our several residences to face this miserable state of things, and selfishness, and a mere instinctive love of life ought to make us cautious. Others may visit the continent, or take shelter in rural districts, but the peril will ere long reach them even there. Will you, then, do what we require, or will you compel us to do it ourselves? This is the question you must answer.“

—  Richard Cobden
Speech http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1842/jul/08/distress-of-the-country in the House of Commons (8 July 1842) against the Corn Laws.

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