“Men show at least as much zeal in mischief as in well doing, in folly as in wisdom. The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people that they will have a chance of maltreating someone. Men must be bribed to build up and do good by the offer of an opportunity to hurt and pull down. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior ‘righteous indignation’ — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.” Aldous Huxley, Introduction to The Easton Press edition of Samuel Butler’s Erewhon (1934), signed July 24, 1933.

Tracking down this oft-shared passage (usually quoted from ‘To be able to destroy’ onward) was helped by a reader of the Wirkman Comment blog. (Thanks much!) From that reader’s direction, I bought the precise edition of Erewhon in question, and verified the exact wording, which is quoted, inaccurately, in several books of quotation and on the Web as from Huxley’s excellent first novel, Crome Yellow.