Metternich, quotations, History
[Italy, geographical expression]
Metternich, geographical expression

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Quotations About History

Prince Clemens von Metternich was a towering figure in European diplomacy during the first half of the nineteenth century. His career was central to the restoration of monarchical Europe after the turmoils of the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars of 1789-1815.

  The following quotations perhaps reflect his career as a champion of the traditions of monarchy against the rising tide of populist [i.e. liberal, constitutional, national and socialistic etc.] aspiration.

"When Paris has a cold, all Europe sneezes."

  "I have never feared that the revolution would be engendered by the universities; but that at them a whole generation of revolutionaries must be formed, unless the evil is restrained, seems to me certain.... The greatest and consequently most urgent evil now is the press.... All journals, pamphlets, &c., in Germany must be under a censorship."


  "It is useless to close the gates against ideas; they overleap them."

  "This maxim, "to preserve is to act", has always served me as a line of conduct, while those who should have backed me up were confusing the duty of preservation with inactivity."


"The obvious is always least understood."


"Error has never approached my spirit."


"The men who make history have not time to write it."

"The word 'Italy' is a geographical expression, a description which is useful shorthand, but has none of the political significance the efforts of the revolutionary ideologues try to put on it, and which is full of dangers for the very existence of the states which make up the peninsula."
[In a letter to Austrian ambassador to France of April 1847 ]

"Italy is only a geographical expression."
[Fr., L'Italie est un nom geographique - in a letter to British Foreign Minister, Lord Palmerston of August 6 1847 ]

"I came into the world either too early or too late; at present, I am good for nothing."

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