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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 238-239 of Gertrude Himmelfarb’s excellent 1952 biography of Lord Acton, Lord Acton: A Study in Conscience and Politics:​

The great temptation of history to which most men succumbed, it was apparent to many of Acton’s contemporaries, was power.  It had taken the shattering experiences of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic wars and the nationalist revolutions to explode the illusion of the Enlightenment that power itself was ethically neutral, that its potential for good was as great as for bad, that a benevolent despot was the best of all possible rulers.  Henry Adams, Jacob Burckhardt, Francois Guizot, Alexis de Tocqueville, Thomas Carlyle, Henry Maine and Herbert Spencer are the more familiar names chosen from the roster of philosophers, historians and even statesmen who warned that the will to power is insensibly transformed into a will to evil.