He (Grenville) was bred in a profession. He was bred to the law, which is, in my opinion, one of the first and noblest of human sciences, a science which does more to quicken and invigorate the understanding, than all the other kinds of learning put together; but it is not apt, except in persons very happily born, to open and to liberalise the mind exactly in the same proportion.— American Taxation (II. 18).
Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny. In such a country as this they are of all bad things the worst, worse by far than anywhere else; and they derive a particular malignity even from the wisdom and soundness of the rest of our institutions.— Bristol, 1780 (III. 24).
Manners are of more importance than laws. Upon them, in a great measure, the laws depend. The law touches us but here and there, and now and then. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarise or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in. They give their whole form and colour to our lives. According to their quality, they aid morals, they supply them, or they totally destroy them— Regicide Peace (VI. 149).
Nor is it the worst effect of this unnatural contention that our laws are corrupted. Whilst manners remain entire, they will correct the vices of law, and soften it at length to their own temper.— Letter to Sheriffs (II. 252).
In that jurisprudence were contained the elements and principles of the law of nations, the great ligament of mankind.— Regicide Peace (VI. 147).
Law and arbitrary power are in eternal enmity. Name me a magistrate, and I will name property; name me power, and I will name protection.— Warren Hastings. Speech 4th day.
Cromwell, when he attempted to legalise his power, and to settle his conquered country in a state of order, did not look for dispensers of justice in the instruments of his usurpation. Quite the contrary. He sought out, with great solicitude and selection, and even from the party most opposite to his designs, men of weight and decorum of character; men unstained with the violence of the times, and with hands not fouled with confiscation and sacrilege: for he chose an Halo for his chief justice, though he absolutely refused to take his civic oaths, or to make any acknowledgment whatsoever of the legality of his government. Cromwell told this great lawyer that since he did not approve his title, all he required of him was to administer, in a manner agreeable to his pure sentiments and unspotted character, that justice without which human society cannot subsist: that it was not his particular government, but civil order itself, which, as a judge, he wished him to support. Cromwell knew how to separate the institutions expedient to his usurpation from the administration of the public justice of his country. For Cromwell was a man in whom ambition had not wholly suppressed, but only suspended the sentiments of religion, and the love (as far as it could consist with his designs) of fair and honourable reputation. Accordingly, we are indebted to this act of his for the preservation of our laws, which some senseless assertors of the rights of men were then on the point of entirely erasing, as relics of feudality and barbarism. Besides he gave, in the appointment of that man, to that age and to all posterity the most brilliant example of sincere and fervent piety, exact justice, and profound jurisprudence. But these are not the things in which your philosophic usurpers choose to follow Cromwell— National Assembly (IV. 287).
The true lawgiver ought to have a heart full of sensibility. He ought to love and respect his kind, and to fear himself. It may be allowed to his temperament to catch his ultimate object with an intuitive glance ; but his movements towards it ought to be deliberate.— Reflections (IV. 187).
The old, cool-headed, general law, is as good as any deviation dictated by present heat.— Letter to Sheriffs (II. 244).
My law should not depend upon the fluctuation of the closet, or the complexion of men. Whether a black-haired man or a fair-haired man presided in the Court of King's Bench, I would have the law the same; the same, whether he was born in domo regnatrice, and sucked from his infancy the milk of courts, or was nurtured in the rugged discipline of a popular opposition. This law of court cabal, and of party, this mens quaedam nullo perturbata affectu, this law of complexion, ought not to he endured for a moment in a country, whose being depends upon the certainty, clearness, and stability of institutions— Speech on furies (III. 372).