Like many, I think highly of Edmund Burke. The introduction to the wikipedia article on Edmund Burke indicates how many want to claim him as one of their guiding lights:
Edmund Burke (12 January 1729 – 9 July 1797) was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party.
He is mainly remembered for his support of the cause of the American Revolutionaries, and for his later opposition to the French Revolution. The latter led to his becoming the leading figure within the conservative faction of the Whig party, which he dubbed the “Old Whigs”, in opposition to the pro–French Revolution “New Whigs”, led by Charles James Fox.
Burke was praised by both conservatives and liberals in the 19th century. Since the 20th century, he has generally been viewed as the philosophical founder of modern conservatism, as well as a representative of classical liberalism.
- Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
- If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.
- Religion is essentially the art and the theory of the remaking of man. Man is not a finished creation.
- Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.
- Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.
- Never despair, but if you do, work on in despair.
- Facts are to the mind what food is to the body.
- All human laws are, properly speaking, only declaratory; they have no power over the substance of original justice.
- But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever.