“It has been observed by an honorable gentleman, that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved, that no position in politics is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government.—Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity:—When they assembled, the field of debate presented an ungovernable mob, not only incapable of deliberation, but prepared for every enormity. In these assemblies, the enemies of the people brought forward their plans of ambition systematically. They were opposed by their enemies of another party; and it became a matter of contingency, whether the people subjected themselves to be led blindly by one tyrant or by another.” – Alexander Hamilton, June 21, 1788 (quoted in Debate on the Constitution, Part Two, ed. Bailyn)
Month: November 2014
“The most damnable thing in the world is a servile copyist!” – Admiral John Fisher (quoted by Winston Churchill in The World Crisis)
“It is customary for thoughtless people to jeer at the old diplomacy and to pretend that wars arise out of its secret machinations. When one looks at the petty subjects which have led to wars between great countries and to so many disputes, it is easy to be misled in this way. Of course such small matters are only the symptoms of the dangerous disease, and are only important for that reason. Behind them lie the interests, the passions and the destiny of mighty races of men; and long antagonisms express themselves in trifles. ‘Great commotions,’ it was said of old, ‘arise out of small things, but not concerning small things.’ The old diplomacy did its best to render harmless the small things: it could not do more. Nevertheless, a war postponed may be a war averted. Circumstances change, combinations change, new groupings arise, old interests are superseded by new. Many quarrels that might have led to war have been adjusted by the old diplomacy of Europe and have, in Lord Melbourne’s phrase, ‘blown over.’ If the nations of the world, while the sense of their awful experiences is still fresh upon them, are able to devise broader and deeper guarantees of peace and build their houses on a surer foundation of brotherhood and interdependence, they will still require the courtly manners, the polite and measured phrases, the imperturbable demeanour, the secrecy and discretion of the old diplomatists of Europe.” – Winston Churchill, The World Crisis
“Society can only exist if the normal, if the virtuous, and the slightly deceitful flourish, and if the passionate, the headstrong, and the too-truthful are condemned to suicide and to madness.” – Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
“We are all so afraid, we are all so alone, we all so need from the outside the assurance of our own worthiness to exist.” – Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
“The instances of honesty that one comes across in this world are just as amazing as the instances of dishonesty.” – Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
“You never merely write; you write to someone.” – Deborah E. Bouchoux, Aspen Handbook for Legal Writers (emphasis in original)
“Reasons briefely set downe by the auctor to perswade every one to lerne to singe.
First, it is a knowledge easely taught, and quickly learned, where there is a good master, and an apt scoller.
Second, the exercise of singing is delightful to nature, and good to preserve the health of Man.
Third, it doth strengthen all parts of the brest, and doth open the pipes.
Fourth, it is a singular good remedie for a stutting and stamering in speech.
Fifth, it is the best meanes to procure a perfect pronunciation, and to make a good orator.
Sixth, it is the onely way to know where Nature hath bestowed the benefit of a good voyce; which guift is so rare, as there is not one among a thousand, that hath it: and in many, that excellent guift is lost, because they want Art to expresse Nature.
Seventh, there is not any musicke of instruments whatsoever, comparable to that which is made of the voyces on Men, where the voyces are good, and the same well sorted and ordered.
Eighth, the better the voyce is, the meeter it is to honour and serve God therewith: and the voyce of man is chiefely to be employed to that ende.
Since singing is so good a thing, I wish all men would learne to singe.”
— William Byrd, Psalmes, Sonets, and Songs
“The proud tower built up through the great age of European civilization was an edifice of grandeur and passion, of riches and beauty and dark cellars. Its inhabitants lived, as compared to a later time, with more self-reliance, more confidence, more hope; greater magnificence, extravagance and elegance; more careless ease, more gaiety, more pleasure in each other’s company and conversation, more injustice and hypocrisy, more misery and want, more sentiment including false sentiment, less sufferance of mediocrity, more dignity in work, more delight in nature, more zest. The Old World had much that has since been lost, whatever may have been gained.” – Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower
“Like a crack in a plank of wood which cannot be sealed, the difference between the worker and the intellectual was ineradicable in Socialism. Organized Socialism bore the name Workingmen’s Association but in fact it was never any such thing. It was a movement not of, but on behalf of, the working class, and the distinction remained basic. Although it spoke for the worker and made his wants articulate, goals and doctrine were set, and thought, energy and leadership largely supplied by, intellectuals. The working class was both client and ultimately, in its mass strength, the necessary instrument of the overthrow of capitalism. As such it appeared as Hero; it was sentimentalized. In the illustrations for an English pamphlet commemorating the London Congress of 1896, the workingmen appeared as handsome strong-muscled Burne-Jones figures in smocks accompanied by indomitable women with long limbs and rippling hair.” – Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower
“A careful education of youth, and strict family government, will operate like leaven—and lay a foundation to hope for better fruit from the rising generation, than ought to have been expected from the generality of those at present on the stage, had we considered the dissipation of the times when their manners were forming. Children that are taught obedience to their parents, and subordination to their superiors, and in early life initiated in habits of virtue and industry, will not fail to make good citizens.—Civil government may lop off the excressences of vice; but good education establishes principles in the mind, and prevents the vicious shoots.” – David Howell, “Solon, Junior”
“No form of government can make a vicious and ignorant people happy.—When the majority of our citizens becomes corrupt, even our well ballanced constitution cannot save us from slavery and ruin. Let it therefore be the unceasing study of all who love their country, to promote virtue and dispense knowledge through the whole extent of our settlements.” – David Ramsay, Columbia Herald, June 5, 1788
Join the union while you may, don’t wait till your dying day, for that may not be far awayJoin the union while you may, don’t wait till your dying day, for that may not be far away
“For unskilled and unorganized labour, working conditions matched the slums. At the Shawfield Chemical Works in Glasgow in 1897, year of the Diamond Jubilee, workmen received 3d. or 4d. an hour for a twelve-hour day, seven days a week, spent amid poisonous vapors without a lunch-hour rest. They ate lunch standing at the furnaces and if they took Sunday off were fined the next day’s wages. Lord Overtoun, owner of the Works, a philanthropist who gave ℒ 10,000 a year to charity, was a leading member of the Sunday Observance and Sunday Rest Societies. In other industries workers could be arrested for taking a day off without permission. If they applied for it, the request could be refused; if they took it anyway they could be, and often were, hauled off to a day in gaol. Skilled workers organized in England’s craft unions, the oldest in Europe, were better off. Numbering about one-fifth of all adult male workers, a larger proportion than in any other country, they had their own insurance and pension systems backed by large funds and they benefited from lower prices in their own cooperatives. Nevertheless, vis-à-vis capital, they were still on the defensive and the dark persistent presence of unemployment at their backs made them vulnerable.” – Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower
“In the slums people lived three to a bedroom of 700 cubic feet or, with children, eight and nine in a space of 1,200 cubic feet. Vermin lived with them, a piece of paper on the floor served as a toilet, fish on Sundays was the weekly protein for a family of eight, at two and a half ounces per portion. Children were stunted and pale, with rotting teeth, and if they went to school, sat dully at their desks or fell asleep. Ignorance and apathy as much as ill health were poverty’s product; the slums were sloughs of wasted lives.” – Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower
“To accomplish the ends of Society by being equal to Contingencies infinite, demands the deposit of power great and extensive indeed in the hands of Rulers. So great, as to render abuse probable, unless prevented by the most careful precautions: among which, the freedom & frequency of elections, the liberty of the Press, the Trial by Jury, and the Independency of the Judges, seem to be so capital & essential; that they ought to be secured by a Bill of Rights to regulate the discretion of Rulers in a legal way, restraining the progress of Ambition & Avarice within just bounds. Rulers must act by subordinate Agents generally, and however the former may be secure from the pursuits of Justice, the latter are forever kept in Check by the trial by Jury where that exists ‘in all its Rights’. This most excellent security against oppression, is an universal, powerful and equal protector of all. But the benefit to be derived from this System is most effectually to be obtained from a well informed and enlightened people. Here arises the necessity for the freedom of the Press, which is the happiest Organ of communication ever yet devised, the quickest & surest means of conveying intelligence to the human Mind.” – Richard Henry Lee, letter to Edmund Pendleton, May 26, 1788, Debate on the Constitution, Part Two (ed. Bailyn; emphasis in original)
“In a free government, the voice of the people, expressed by the votes of a majority, must be the rule, or we shall be left without any certain rule to determine what is politically right. To depart from it, is establishing tyranny by law. It would be a solemn renunciation of the forms and substance of liberty; and our affairs, on this dangerous principle, must rapidly hasten to an oligarchy—the most dreadful of all governments.” – Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, May 21, 1788 (emphases in original)
“To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied on, regulated, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, ruled, censored, by persons who have neither wisdom nor virtue. It is every action and transaction to be registered, stamped, taxed, patented, licensed, assessed, measured, reprimanded, corrected, frustrated. Under pretext of the public good it is to be exploited, monopolized, embezzled, robbed and then, at the least protest or word of complaint, to be fined, harassed, vilified, beaten up, bludgeoned, disarmed, judged, condemned, imprisoned, shot, garroted, deported, sold, betrayed, swindled, deceived, outraged, dishonored. That’s government, that’s its justice, that’s its morality!” – Pierre Proudhon, Idée générale de la révolution au vingtième siècle (as quoted by Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower)
“The Anarchists believed that with Property, the monarch of all evil, eliminated, no man could again live off the labour of another and human nature would be released to seek its natural level of justice among men. The role of the State would be replaced by voluntary cooperation among individuals and the role of the law by the supreme law of the general welfare. To this end no reform of existing social evils through vote or persuasion was of any use, for the ruling class would never give up its property or the powers and laws which protected ownership of property. Therefore, the necessity of violence. Only revolutionary overturn of the entire malignant existing system would accomplish the desired result. Once the old structure was in rubble, a new social order of utter equality and no authority, with enough of everything for everybody, would settle smilingly upon the earth. So reasonable seemed the proposition that once apprised of it the oppressed classes could not fail to respond. The Anarchist task was to awaken them.” – Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower
“They came from the warrens of the poor, where hunger and dirt were king, where consumptives coughed and the air was thick with the smell of latrines, boiling cabbage and stale beer, where babies wailed and couples screamed in sudden quarrels, where roofs leaked and unmended windows let in the cold blasts of winter, where privacy was unimaginable, where men, women, grandparents and children lived together, eating sleeping, fornicating, defecating, sickening and dying in one room, where a teakettle served as a wash boiler between meals, old boxes served as chairs, heaps of foul straw as beds, and boards propped across two crates as tables, where sometimes not all the children in a family could go out at one time because there were not enough clothes to go round, where decent families lived among drunkards, wife-beaters, thieves and prostitutes, where life was a seesaw of unemployment and endless toil, where a cigar-maker and his wife earning 13 cents an hour worked seventeen hours a day seven days a week to support themselves and three children, where death was the only exit and the only extravagance and the scraped savings of a lifetime would be squandered on a funeral coach with flowers and a parade of mourners to ensure against the anonymity and last ignominy of Potter’s Field.” – Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower
“So enchanting was the vision of a stateless society, without government, without law, without ownership of property, in which, corrupt institutions having been swept away, man would be free to be good as God intended him, that six heads of state were assassinated for its sake in the twenty years before 1914.” – Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower
“Are we to consider men entrusted with power as the receptacles of all the depravity of human nature? By no means. The people do not part with their full proportions of it. Reason and revelation both deceive us, if they are all wise and virtuous. Is not history as full of the vices of the people, as it is of the crimes of the kings? what is the present moral character of the citizens of the United States? I need not discover it. It proves too plainly, that the people are as much disposed to vice as their rulers, and that nothing but a vigorous and efficient government can prevent their degenerating into savages, or devouring each other like beasts of prey.” – Dr. Benjamin Rush, Columbian Herald, April 19, 1788
“Friends, let me tell you: Sitting outside and reading is not a difficult art to master.” – Matt Bell, Facebook, June 25, 2014.
“No kind of Accusation is so readily made, or so easily believ’d, by Knaves as the Accusation of Knavery.” – Benjamin Franklin, letter to Philadelphia Federal Gazette, April 8, 1788
“Nothing so comforts the military mind as the maxim of a great but dead general.” – Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August
“The supposition of universal venality in human nature is little less an error in political reasoning than the supposition of universal rectitude. The institution of delegated power implies that there is a portion of virtue and honor among mankind, which may be a reasonable foundation of confidence. And experience justifies the theory: It has been found to exist in the most corrupt periods in the most corrupt governments.” – Alexander Hamilton, “The Federalist LXXVI”
“There are some, who would be inclined to regard the servile pliancy of the executive to a prevailing current, either in the community, or in the Legislature, as its best recommendation. But such men entertain very crude notions, as well of the purposes for which government was instituted, as of the true means by which the public happiness may be promoted. The republican principle demands, that the deliberate sense of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they entrust the management of their affairs; but it does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breese of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter their prejudices to betray their interests. It is a just observation, that the people commonly intend the PUBLIC GOOD. This often applies to their very errors. But their good sense would despise the adulator, who should pretend that they always reason right about the means of promoting it. They know from experience, that they sometimes err; and the wonder is, that they so seldom err as they do; beset as they continually are by the wiles of parasites and sycophants, by the snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate; by the artifices of men, who possess their confidence more than they deserve it, and of those who seek to possess, rather than to deserve it. When occasions present themselves in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection. Instances might be cited, in which a conduct of this kind has saved the people from very fatal consequences of their own mistakes, and has procured lasting monuments of their gratitude to the men, who had courage and magnanimity enough to serve them at the peril of their displeasure.” – Alexander Hamilton, “The Federalist LXXI” (emphases in original)
“The internet is, in effect, a library of unimaginable size—full, as all libraries are, of news, gossip, archive material and other stuff which may to varying degrees be irrelevant, wrong or mad. It has made the best and worst of such information more freely available than ever before. Search engines should be like library catalogues—comprehensive and neutral, and without fear or favour of what the contents may reveal, or how they may be used. It should be up to individuals, not governments, to distinguish what is right or wrong, useful or immaterial. People should be wary of ceding the power to make that judgment, even to a court that thinks hard about it and backs the underdog. As James Madison said, ‘I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.’” – The Economist, May 17th, 2014
“An attention to the judgment of other nations is important to every government for two reasons: The one is, that independently of the merits of any particular plan or measure, it is desireable on various accounts, that it should appear to other nations as the offspring of a wise and honorable policy: The second is, that in doubtful cases, particularly where the national councils may be warped by some strong passion, or momentary interest, the presumed or known opinion of the impartial world, may be the best guide that can be followed.” – James Madison, “The Federalist LXIII”
“All writers on government agree, and the feelings of the human mind witness the truths of these political axioms, that man is born free and possessed of certain unalienable rights—that government is instituted for the protection, safety, and happiness of the people, and not for the profit, honour, or private interest of any man, family, or class of men—That the origin of all power is in the people, and that they have an incontestable right to check the creatures of their own creation, vested with certain powers to guard the life, liberty and property of the community.” – Mercy Otis Warren, “A Columbian Patriot”
Gravel Magazine’s November 2014 issue has been published, and includes one of my stories — “Guys Come in Three Sizes.”