Words From the Past Archive
- As I have said, there are two points or two characteristics of the Radical programme which it is your special duty to resist. One concerns the freedom of individuals. After all, the great characteristic of this country is that it is a free country, and by a free country I mean a country where people are allowed, so long as they do not hurt their neighbours, to do as they like. I do not mean a country where six men may make five men do exactly as they like. That is not my notion of freedom.
- Speech to the third annual banquet of the Kingston and District Working Men’s Conservative Association (13 June, 1883).
- ‘The Marquis Of Salisbury At Kingston’, The Times (14 June 1883), p. 7.
— Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (from here)
Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws. The Hingefreel people of Arkintoofle Minor did try to build spaceships that were powered by bad news but they didn’t work particularly well and were so extremely unwelcome whenever they arrived anywhere that there wasn’t really any point in being there. ― Douglas Adams (from here)
Was not John Bunyan an extremist? — “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience”. . . So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime — the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists. — Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963 from here)
The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government. — George Washington (from here)
It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it. — Robert E. Lee (Comment to James Longstreet, on seeing a Union charge repelled in the Battle of Fredericksburg (13 December 1862)) (from here)
ON THOMAS PAINE: He has been called an atheist, but atheist he was not. Paine believed in a supreme intelligence, as representing the idea which other men often express by the name of deity.
His Bible was the open face of nature, the broad skies, the green hills. He disbelieved the ancient myths and miracles taught by established creeds. But the attacks on those creeds — or on persons devoted to them — have served to darken his memory, casting a shadow across the closing years of his life.
When Theodore Roosevelt termed Tom Paine a “dirty little atheist” he surely spoke from lack of understanding. It was a stricture, an inaccurate charge of the sort that has dimmed the greatness of this eminent American. But the true measure of his stature will yet be appreciated. The torch which he handed on will not be extinguished. — Thomas Alva Edison (from here)
I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer. — Benjamin Franklin (from here)
In order to examine ourselves thoroughly, let the case be proposed in the strongest manner. What, if I were to see a Papist, an Arian, a Socinian casting out devils? If I did, I could not forbid even him, without convicting myself of bigotry. Yea, if it could be supposed that I should see a Jew, a Deist, or a Turk, doing the same, were I to forbid him either directly or indirectly, I should be no better than a bigot still.
O stand clear of this! But be not content with not forbidding any that casts out devils. It is well to go thus far; but do not stop here. If you will avoid all bigotry, go on. In every instance of this kind, whatever the instrument be, acknowledge the finger of God. And not only acknowledge, but rejoice in his work, and praise his name with thanksgiving. Encourage whomsoever God is pleased to employ, to give himself wholly up thereto. Speak well of him wheresoever you are; defend his character and his mission.Enlarge, as far as you can, his sphere of action; show him all kindness in word and deed; and cease not to cry to God in his behalf, that he may save both himself and them that hear him.
I need add but one caution: Think not the bigotry of another is any excuse for your own. It is not impossible, that one who casts out devils himself, may yet forbid you so to do. You may observe, this is the very case mentioned in the text. The Apostles forbade another to do what they did themselves. But beware of retorting. It is not your part to return evil for evil. Another’s not observing the direction of our Lord, is no reason why you should neglect it. Nay, but let him have all the bigotry to himself. If he forbid you, do not you forbid him. Rather labour, and watch, and pray the more, to confirm your love toward him. If he speak all manner of evil of you, speak all manner of good (that is true) of him. (John Wesley from here)
One of the paradoxes of this age is that it is the age of Pacifism, but not the age of peace. – G. K. Chesterton (from here)
When once a republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils, but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil. — (The Spirit of laws by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu)
I did not write it. God wrote it. I merely did his dictation. — (from the introduction of the 1879 edition of UNCLE TOM’S CABIN or Life among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe. See here.)
There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk ’round the whole world till we come back to the same place. — Gilbert Keith Chesterton (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936), first sentence in The Everlasting Man (1925)
Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him. I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man: none else is like Him; Jesus Christ was more than a man. I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me but to do this it was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice. When I saw men and spoke to them, I lighted up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ. — In a statement about Jesus Christ, Napoleon Bonaparte while he was exiled on the rock of St. Helena he called Count Montholon to his side and asked him, “Can you tell me who Jesus Christ was?” Upon the Count declining to respond Napoleon countered. (from here)
While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken, and so solemnly repeated on that venerable ground, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government. — John Adams, Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6. There are some differences in the version that appeared in The Works of John Adams (Boston, 1854), vol. 9, pp. 228-9, most notably the words “or gallantry” instead of “and licentiousness”. (from here)
So when all the yielding and objections is over, the other Senator said, “I object to the remarks of a professional joker being put into the Congressional Record.” Taking a dig at me, see? They didn’t want any outside fellow contributing. Well, he had me wrong. Compared to them I’m an amateur, and the thing about my jokes is that they don’t hurt anybody. You can say they’re not funny or they’re terrible or they’re good or whatever it is, but they don’t do no harm. But with Congress — every time they make a joke it’s a law. And every time they make a law it’s a joke. — Will Rogers (from here)
Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of the government. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it. — Woodrow Wilson, speech at New York Press Club (9 September 1912), in The papers of Woodrow Wilson, 25:124 (from here)
We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way. — George S. Patton (from here)
Lord, whatever you want, wherever you want it, and whenever you want it, that’s what
I want. —Richard Baxter (from here)
Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made. — attributed to John Godfrey Saxe (from here)
Here is the popular version of the quote: “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” Here is what he wrote: “What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.” — from PASCAL’S PENSÉES by Blaise Pascal
It is not thy hold on Christ that saves thee; it is Christ. It is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee; it is Christ. It is not even thy faith in Christ, though that be the instrument; it is Christ’s blood and merit. –Charles Spurgeon (from Charles Spurgeon Quotes on Salvation)
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, “the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. — Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006 (from here)
Men … are easily induced to believe that in some wonderful manner everybody will become everybody’s friend, especially when some one is heard denouncing the evils now existing in states, suits about contracts, convictions for perjury, flatteries of rich men and the like, which are said to arise out of the possession of private property. These evils, however, are due to a very different cause—the wickedness of human nature. — Aristotle from Politics (from here)
He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future. — Adolf Hitler, speech at the Reichsparteitag, 1935 (from here)
Men who are sincere in defending their freedom, will always feel concern at every circumstance which seems to make against them; it is the natural and honest consequence of all affectionate attachments, and the want of it is a vice. But the dejection lasts only for a moment; they soon rise out of it with additional vigor; the glow of hope, courage and fortitude, will, in a little time, supply the place of every inferior passion, and kindle the whole heart into heroism. — From The American Crisis: PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 12, 1777 by Thomas Paine
The martyrsto vice far exceed the martyrs to virtue, both in endurance and in number. So blinded are we to our passions, that we suffer more to insure perdition than salvation. — Hannah More (from here)
As men, we are all equal in the presence of death. — Publilius Syrus (Roman slave/freed man -1st century BC)
What is a throne? — a bit of wood gilded and covered in velvet. I am the state— I alone am here the representative of the people. Even if I had done wrong you should not have reproached me in public—people wash their dirty linen at home. France has more need of me than I of France. — Napoléon Bonaparte (from here)
In that land the great experiment was to be made, by civilized man, of the attempt to construct society upon a new basis; and it was there, for the first time, that theories hitherto unknown, or deemed impracticable, were to exhibit a spectacle for which the world had not been prepared by the history of the past. — from Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville
I am more afraid of an army of one hundred sheep led by a lion than an army of one hundred lions led by a sheep. — Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Cherish, therefore, the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges, and Governors, shall all become wolves. — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Carrington, January 16, 1787 (from here)
When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you. — African Proverb quotes (from here)
So why do we let enemies come within?
The enemy is within the gates; it is with our own luxury, our own folly, our own criminality that we have to contend. —Marcus Tullius Cicero (Ancient Roman Lawyer, Writer, Scholar, Orator and Statesman, 106 BC-43 BC) (quote from here)
In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress. — John Adams US diplomat & politician (1735 – 1826) (from here)
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. — Theodore Roosevelt from THE MAN IN THE ARENA
Here, in response to a request from the new father of a baby boy named Thomas Jefferson Smith, Jefferson listed a “decalogue of canons for observation in practical life.”
- Never put off till tomorrow what you can do to-day.
- Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
- Never spend your money before you have it.
- Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
- Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
- We never repent of having eaten too little.
- Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
- How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
- Take things always by their smooth handle.
- When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.
Thomas Jefferson (from here)
We have no government armed in power capable of contending in human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other. — John Adams, 1798, Address to the militia of Massachusetts (from here)
I agree that the measure of success is not merchandise but character. But I do criticize those sentiments, held in too many respectable quarters, that our economic system is fundamentally wrong, that commerce is only selfishness, and that our citizens, holding the hope of all that America means, are living in industrial slavery. I appeal to Amherst men to reiterate and sustain the Amherst doctrine, that the man who builds a factory builds a temple, that the man who works there worships there, and to each is due, not scorn or blame, but reverence and praise. — Calvin Coolidge (from his second speech to the Amherst Alumni Association in 1916)
There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people. — Adam Smith from the The Wealth of Nations
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin (from here)
The Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure. — George Washington (from here)
Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature. — Samuel Adams from The Rights of the Colonists
Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government…The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable. —Franklin D. Roosevelt (from here)
A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both. These basic precepts are not lofty abstractions, far removed from matters of daily living. They are laws of spiritual strength that generate and define our material strength. Patriotism means equipped forces and a prepared citizenry. Moral stamina means more energy and more productivity, on the farm and in the factory. Love of liberty means the guarding of every resource that makes freedom possible–from the sanctity of our families and the wealth of our soil to the genius of our scientists. — Dwight D. Eisenhower from his First Inaugural address (20 January 1953)
A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man, that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of friends; and that the most liberal professions of good-will are very far from being the surest marks of it. — George Washington—(from here)
A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. — James Madison (from here)
If you love knowledge, you will be a master of knowledge. What you have come to know, pursue by exercise; what you have not learned, seek to add to your knowledge, for it is as reprehensible to hear a profitable saying and not grasp it as to be offered a good gift by one’s friends and not accept it. Believe that many precepts are better than much wealth, for wealth quickly fails us, but precepts abide through all time. — Socrates (from here)
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. — John Adams, ‘Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,’ December 1770, US diplomat & politician (1735 – 1826) (from here)
What is worst of all is to advocate Christianity, not because it is true, but because it might prove useful… To justify Christianity because it provides a foundation of morality, instead of showing the necessity of Christian morality from the truth of Christianity, is a very dangerous inversion; and we may reflect that a good deal of the attention of totalitarian states has been devoted with a steadfastness of purpose not always found in democracies, to providing their national life with a foundation of morality — the wrong kind, perhaps, but a good deal more of it. It is not enthusiasm, but dogma, that differentiates a Christian from a pagan society. — T. S. Elliot (from here)
European merchants supply the best weaponry, contributing to their own defeat. — Saladin (from here)
To preserve the fiction that Social Security is insurance, federal government interest-bearing bonds of a corresponding amount have been deposited in a so-called trust fund. That is, one branch of government, the Treasury, has given an interest-bearing IOU to another branch, The Social Security Administration. Each year thereafter, the Treasury gives the Social Security Administration additional IOUs to cover the interest due. The only way the Treasury can redeem its debt to the Social Security Administration is to borrow money from the public, run a surplus in its other activities or have the Federal Reserve print the money–the same alternatives that would be open to it to pay the Social Security Adminstration if there were no trust fund. But the accounting slight-of-hand of a bogus trust fund is counted on to conceal this fact from a gullible public.” —Milton Friedman, “Social Security Socialism,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 26, 1999, A18. (H/T to Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin).
Undoubtedly the duty here prescribed is incumbent on all mankind; at least on every one of those to whom are entrusted the oracles of God. For it is here enjoined to everyone without exception that names the name of Christ. And the person whom everyone is commanded to please, is his neighbour; that is, every child of man. Only we are to remember here what the same Apostle speaks upon a similar occasion. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” In like manner we are to please all men, if it be possible, as much as lieth in us. But strictly speaking it is not possible; it is what no man ever did, nor ever will perform. But suppose we use our utmost diligence, be the event as it may, we fulfill our duty. (continued here) — SERMON ONE HUNDRED: On Pleasing All Men by John Wesley
Capitalism….is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary…. The fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion comes from the new consumers, goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates…. [T]he history of the productive apparatus of a typical farm, from the beginnings of the rationalization of crop rotation, plowing and fattening to the mechanized thing of today–linking up with elevators and railroads–is a history of revolutions. So is the history of the productive apparatus of the iron and steel industry from the charcoal furnace to our own type of furnace, or the history of the apparatus of power production from the overshot water wheel to the modern power plant, or the history of transportation from the mailcoach to the airplane. The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation….that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in. . . . (from Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy by Joseph Schumpeter; H/T to Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin; quoted from here).
I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that be not the guide in expounding it, there can be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers. If the meaning of the text be sought in the changeable meaning of the words composing it, it is evident that the shape and attributes of the Government must partake of the changes to which the words and phrases of all living languages are constantly subject. What a metamorphosis would be produced in the code of law if all its ancient phraseology were to be taken in its modern sense And that the language of our Constitution is already undergoing interpretations unknown to its founders, will I believe appear to all unbiased Enquirers into the history of its origin and adoption. — James Madison from A Letter To Henry Lee
I knew that there is a manifest, marked distinction, which ill men with ill designs, or weak men incapable of any design, will constantly be confounding, that is, a marked distinction between change and reformation. The former alters the substance of the objects themselves; and gets rid of all their essential good, as well as of all the accidental evil, annexed to them. Change is novelty; and whether it is to operate any one of the effects of reformation at all, or whether it may not contradict the very principle upon which reformation is desired, cannot be certainly known beforehand. Reform is, not a change in the substance, or in the primary modification, of the object, but, a direct application of a remedy to the grievance complained of. So far as that is removed, all is sure. It stops there; and, if it fails, the substance which underwent the operation, at the very worst, is but where it was. — Edmund Burke (1729–1797). A Letter to a Noble Lord. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. — James Madison from The Federalist No. 51
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:From bondage to spiritual faith;From spiritual faith to great courage;From courage to liberty;From liberty to abundance;From abundance to complacency;From complacency to apathy;From apathy to dependence;From dependence back into bondage.– falsely attributed to “The Fall of The Athenian Republic” to Alexander Tyler (a Scottish history professor at The University of Edinborough) (see here)
Someone in the Middle Ages said, “God nothing does, nor suffers to be done, but what we would ourselves, if we could see through all events of things as well as He.” –Dr. J. Vernon McGee (from here)
The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane. — Mark Twain (from here)
When it is asked, why we ought to obey the will of the Deity, this question, which would be impious and absurd in the highest degree, if asked from any doubt that we ought to obey him, can admit but of two different answers. It must either be said that we ought to obey the will of the Deity because he is a Being of infinite power, who will reward us eternally if we do so, and punish us eternally if we do otherwise: or it must be said, that independent of any regard to our own happiness, or to rewards and punishments of any kind, there is a congruity and fitness that a creature should obey its creator, that a limited and imperfect being should submit to one of infinite and incomprehensible perfections. Besides one or other of these two, it is impossible to conceive that any other answer can be given to this question. If the first answer be the proper one, virtue consists in prudence, or in the proper pursuit of our own final interest and happiness; since it is upon this account that we are obliged to obey the will of the Deity. If the second answer be the proper one, virtue must consist in propriety, since the ground of our obligation to obedience is the suitableness or congruity of the sentiments of humility and submission to the superiority of the object which excites them. — Adam Smith from The Theory of Moral Sentiments
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! — Patrick Henry (from here)
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyceTo reign is worth ambition though in Hell:Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n.–So Satan spoke in Paradise Lost by John Milton.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave,When first we practise to deceive! — from Marmion by Sir Walter Scott: Canto the Sixth (see this page for info on Sir Walter Scott)
Realizing the power to tax is the power to destroy, and that the power to take a certain amount of property or of income is only another way of saying that for a proportion of his time a citizen must work for the government, the authority to impose a tax upon the people must be carefully guarded. It condemns the citizen to servitude. — Calvin Coolidge (from here)
The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything. — by Emile Cammaerts (quote from here)
If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. — by C. S. Lewis (quote from here)
The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny. — President Abraham Lincoln, Address at Sanitary Fair, Baltimore, April 18, 1864
A few people have even objected to prayers being said in the Congress. That’s just plain wrong. The Constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying; its declared purpose was to protect their freedom to pray. — from President Ronald Reagan‘s Radio Address to the Nation on Prayer, September 18, 1982
No place so sacred from such fops is barred,Nor is Paul’s Church more safe than Paul’s Churchyard:Nay, fly to altars; there they’ll talk you dead,For fools rush in where angels fear to tread — from An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope
A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is always a vice. — Unsourced. Attributed to Thomas Paine
The very first thing the President did was to show me the new Presidential Seal, which he had just redesigned. He explained, ‘The seal has to go everywhere the President goes. It must be displayed upon the lectern when he speaks. The eagle used to face the arrows but I have re-designed it so that it now faces the olive branches… what do you think?’ I said, ‘Mr. President, with the greatest respect, I would prefer the American eagle’s neck to be on a swivel so that it could face the olive branches or the arrows, as the occasion might demand.’ — What Winston Churchill said in an exchange (March 4, 1946) with Harry S. Truman aboard the Presidential train in Washington, D.C.‘s Union Station before journeying to Fulton, Missouri; as quoted in “The Genius and Wit of Winston Churchill” by Robin Lawson (from here)
This reminds me of a conversation which I once had with the Hon. Frederick Douglass. At one time Mr. Douglass was traveling in the state of Pennsylvania, and was forced, on account of his colour, to ride in the baggage-car, in spite of the fact that he had paid the same price for his passage that the other passengers had paid. When some of the white passengers went into the baggage-car to console Mr. Douglass, and one of them said to him: “I am sorry, Mr. Douglass, that you have been degraded in this manner,” Mr. Douglass straightened himself up on the box upon which he was sitting, and replied: “They cannot degrade Frederick Douglass. The soul that is within me no man can degrade. I am not the one that is being degraded on account of this treatment, but those who are inflicting it upon me.” — from Up From Slavery: An Autobiography, by Booker T. Washington
If any man err from the right way, it is his own misfortune, no injury to thee; nor therefore art thou to punish him in the things of this life because thou supposest he will be miserable in that which is to come. — John Locke (from A Letter Concerning Toleration) (text available from here)
Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back an ass. — Japanese proverb (from here)
Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means-to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal-would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this court should resolutely set its face. — Louis Dembitz Brandeis
Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. — appeared originally in the Greek play Medea by Euripides.
About the time we think we can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends. — President Herbert Hoover.
The best of men are but men at best. — General John Lambert (1619-83)
But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint. — Edmund Burke
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. — John 1:1-5
Government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. — Gerald R. Ford
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. — John Kennedy
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. — Hanlon’s razor
Origin & History of the word serf
late 15c., “slave,” from M.Fr. serf, from L. servum (nom. servus) “slave” (see serve
). Fallen from use in original sense by 18c. Meaning “lowest class of cultivators of the soil in continental European countries” is from 1610s. Use by modern writers with reference to medieval Europeans first recorded 1761 (contemporary Anglo-L. records used nativus, villanus or servus). Serfdom first attested 1850.