the king's order that all persons over a mile high should leave the court-room.
In truth, the tone of Irving
's remark carries us back, by its audacious self-reliance, to the answer said to have been given by the Delphic oracle to Cicero
in his youth.
It told him, according to Plutarch, to live for himself, and not to take the opinions of others for his guide; and the German Niebuhr
thinks that ‘if the answer was really given, it might well tempt us to believe in the actual inspiration of the priestess.’1
At any rate, Irving
must have meant something by the remark.
What could he have meant?
What is this touchstone that the American
press must apply to the history and the thought of the world?
The touchstone, I should unhesitatingly reply, of the Declaration of Independence
; or rather, perhaps, of those five opening words into which the essence of the Declaration of Independence
was concentrated; the five words within which, as Lincoln
embodied an eternal truth.
‘All men are created equal;’ —that is, equally men, and each entitled to be counted and considered as an individual.