Toiling up

“No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty—none less inclined to take, or touch, aught which they have not honestly earned.  Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of liberty shall be lost.” – Abraham Lincoln, “Annual Message to Congress,” December 3, 1861

Straightening the relations

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital.  Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.  Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.  Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights.  Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital, producing mutual benefits.  The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation.” – Abraham Lincoln, “Annual Message to Congress,” December 3, 1861

Litmus testing

“The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.  Nor is there in this view any assault upon the court or the judges.  It is a duty from which they may not shrink, to decide the cases properly brought before them; and it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.” – Abraham Lincoln, “First Inaugural Address”

Long live the king

“A majority, held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people.  Whoever rejects it does, of necessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism.  Unanimity is impossible; the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissable; so that rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.” – Abraham Lincoln, “First Inaugural Address”

Mightier than the sword, able to leap long centuries in a single bound

Writing—the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye—is the great invention of the world.  Great in the astonishing range of analysis and combination which necessarily underlies the most crude and general conception of it—great, very great in enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space.” – Abraham Lincoln, “Lecture on Discoveries and Inventions” (emphasis in original)

A nation of hothouse flowers

“As if it weren’t ludicrous enough for every child to be ‘gifted’, now they have to be ill as well: a touch of Asperger’s, a little autism; dyslexia stalks the playground; the poor little gifted things have been ‘bullied’ at school; if they can’t confess to being abused, they must confess to being abusive.” — Edward St. Aubyn, At Last

There is seething

“Behaviours could be changed, attitudes modified, mentalities transformed, but it was hard to have a dialogue with the somatic habits of infancy.  How could an infant express himself before he had a self to express, or the words to express what he didn’t yet have?  Only the dumb language of injury and illness was abundantly available.  There was screaming of course, if it was allowed.” – Edward St. Aubyn, At Last

The reptilian brain awaits

“Neither a soul nor a personal identity was needed to precipitate a human life, just a cluster of habits clinging to the hollow concept of independent existence, like a crowd of grasping passengers sinking the lifeboat they imagined would save them.  In the background was the ever-present opportunity to slip away into the glittering ocean of a true nature that was not personal either.” – Edward St. Aubyn, At Last