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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: George Grenville (1712–70)
QUOTATION: A wise government knows how to enforce with temper, or to conciliate with dignity, but a weak one is odious in the former, and contemptible in the latter.
ATTRIBUTION: GEORGE GRENVILLE, speech against the motion for expelling John Wilkes, House of Commons, February 3, 1769.—The Parliamentary History of England, printed by T. C. Hansard, vol. 16, col. 570 (1813).

“Though Grenville had taken a prominent part in the early measures against Wilkes, he opposed his expulsion from the House of Commons on 3 Feb. 1769, in probably the ablest speech that he ever made.”—The Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 8, p. 559.
SUBJECTS: Government