Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke

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Author: Edmund Burke

Parsimony Not Economy.

I beg leave to tell him, that mere parsimony is not economy. It is separable in theory from it; and in fact it may, or it may not, be a PART of economy, according to circumstances. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy. If parsimony were to be considered as one of the kinds of that virtue, there is, however, another and a higher economy. Economy is a distributive virtue, and consists not in saving, but in selection. Parsimony requires no providence, no sagacity, no powers of combination, no comparison, no judgment. Mere instinct, and that not an instinct of the noblest kind, may produce this false economy in perfection. The other economy has larger views. It demands a discriminating judgment, and a firm, sagacious mind. It shuts one door to impudent importunity, only to open another, and a wider, to unpresuming merit. If none but meritorious service or real talent were to be rewarded, this nation has not wanted, and this nation will not want, the means of rewarding all the service it ever will receive, and encouraging all the merit it ever will produce. No state, since the foundation of society, has been impoverished by that species of profusion. Had the economy of selection and proportion been at all times observed, we should not now have had an overgrown duke of Bedford, to oppress the industry of humble men, and to limit, by the standard of his own conceptions, the justice, the bounty, or, if he pleases, the charity of the crown.

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Chicago: Edmund Burke, "Parsimony Not Economy.," Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke in Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke Original Sources, accessed January 30, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=94GEPIHX3M5Q6S9.

MLA: Burke, Edmund. "Parsimony Not Economy." Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke, in Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke, Original Sources. 30 Jan. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=94GEPIHX3M5Q6S9.

Harvard: Burke, E, 'Parsimony Not Economy.' in Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke. cited in , Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke. Original Sources, retrieved 30 January 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=94GEPIHX3M5Q6S9.