— Lord Palmerston
, Context: Proneness to changes and fondness for experiment have never been the character of the English nation. They have, on the contrary, been remarkable for tenacious adherence to existing institutions, and for stubborn resistance even to plausible innovations. Striking, indeed, is the contrast which, in this respect, they exhibit with their next door neighbours of the continent; for while France boasts of the newness and freshness of her institutions, the people of England place their pride and attachment in the antiquity of theirs. So hard, indeed, is it to bring this nation to consent to great and important changes, that some of those measures which impartial posterity will stamp with the mint-mark of purest wisdom, and most unalloyed good, have only been wrung from the reluctant consent of England, after long and toilsome years of protracted discussion; and even such acts as the re-admission of the Catholics of the pale of the constitution, and the prohibition of the traffic in the flesh and blood of man, were each of them the achievement of a hard-fought contest of many years.
Speech in the House of Commons (3 March 1831), quoted in George Henry Francis, Opinions and Policy of the Right Honourable Viscount Palmerston, G.C.B., M.P., &c. as Minister, Diplomatist, and Statesman, During More Than Forty Years of Public Life (London: Colburn and Co., 1852), pp. 159-160.