Home  »  Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men  »  Algernon Sidney

S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Algernon Sidney

  • [An English republican, grand-nephew of Sir Philip Sidney; born 1622; lieutenant-general in Ireland, 1646; member of the Council of State, 1659; acted on the Continent and in England with Russell and other popular leaders; accused of complicity in the Rye-House plot, and beheaded after a mock trial conducted by Jeffreys, December, 1683.]
  • The best legacy I can leave my children is free speech, and the example of using it.

  • In his last speech on his trial, he said of the judge by whom he was tried, and whose conduct had been, as usual, grossly unfair, “Magistrates are made for the good of nations, not nations for the benefit of kings.”
  • When asked by the executioner, Dec. 7, 1683, if he would like to rise again, after laying his head on the block, he answered, “Not till the general resurrection: strike on!”
  • Two Latin mottoes of Sidney’s have been preserved: “Sanctus amor patriæ dat animum” (Sacred love of country inspires courage). This was inscribed on his banner in the Civil War. The other was written in an album in Copenhagen:—
  • “Manus hæc inimica tyrannis
  • Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem.”
  • The last line is the motto of the arms of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The whole has been rendered into English by an accomplished governor of the State,—the Hon. John D. Long:—
  • “This hand, the tyrant smiting, ne’er will sword release,
  • Till liberty assure the quietude of peace.”