Portrait of Vicesimus Knox

Quotes by Vicesimus Knox

1752 – 1821

Vicesimus Knox (1752-1821) was an English minister who ran afoul of the British authorities in the 1790s with his sermons opposing the war against the French. He was educated at home by his father, attended St. John’s College, Oxford, where he became a fellow, and then was headmaster of Tonbridge School from 1778 to 1812. His main work, The Spirit of Despotism, is an analysis of how political despotism at home can arise under the cover of fighting a foreign war.


Presidents, Kings, Tyrants, & Despots

Vicesimus Knox tries to persuade an English nobleman that some did not come into the world with “saddles on their backs and bridles in their mouths” and some others like him came “ready booted and spurred to ride the rest to death” (1793)

Vicesimus Knox

War & Peace

Vicesimus Knox on how the aristocracy and the “spirit of despotism” use the commemoration of the war dead for their own aims (1795)

Vicesimus Knox


Knox on how the people during wartime are cowered into submission and pay their taxes “without a murmur” (1795)

Vicesimus Knox

Religion & Toleration

The 6th Day of Christmas: Vicesimus Knox on the Christian religion and peace on earth (1793)

Vicesimus Knox