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Benjamin Harrison (search for this): entry 1598
d ourselves rank democrats, whereas we were in fact only progressive Englishmen. Turn the leaves of that sage manual of constitutional interpretation and advocacy, the Federalist, and note the perverse tendency of its writers to refer to Greece and Rome for precedents—that Greece and Rome which haunted all our earlier and even some of our more mature years. Recall, too, that familiar story of Daniel Webster which tells of his coming home exhausted from an interview with the first President-elect Harrison, whose Secretary of State he was to be, and explaining that he had been obliged in the course of the conference, which concerned the inaugural address about to be delivered, to kill nine Roman consuls whom it had been the intention of the good conqueror of Tippecanoe publicly to take into office with him. The truth is that we long imagined ourselves related in some unexplained way to all ancient republicans. Strangely enough, too, we at the same time accepted the quite incompatib
James Monroe (search for this): entry 1598
and few can believe that it would again approve or applaud childish arrogance and ignorant arbitrariness like his; but even in his case, striking and ominous as it was, it must not be overlooked that he was suffered only to strain the Constitution, not to break it. He held his office by orderly election; he exercised its functions within the letter of the law; he could silence not one word of hostile criticism; and, his second term expired, he passed into private life as harmlessly as did James Monroe. A nation that can quietly reabsorb a vast victorious army is no more safely free and healthy than is a nation that could reabsorb such a President as Andrew Jackson, sending him into seclusion at the Hermitage to live without power, and die almost forgotten. A huge, stalwart body politic like ours, with quick life in every individual town and county, is apt, too, to have the strength of variety of judgment. Thoughts which in one quarter kindle enthusiasm may in another meet coolne
we know. We have to accept rumors concerning them, we have to know them through the variously colored accounts of others; we can seldom test our impressions of their sincerity by standing with them face to face. Here certainly the ancient pocket republics had much the advantage of us: in them citizens and leaders were always neighbors; they stood constantly in each other's presence. Every Athenian knew Themistocles's manner, and gait, and address, and felt directly the just influence of Aristides. No Athenian of a later period needed to be told of the vanities and fopperies of Alcibiades, any more than the elder generation needed to have described to them the personality of Pericles. Our separation from our leaders is the greater peril, because democratic government more than any other needs organization in order to escape disintegration; and it can have organization only by full knowledge of its leaders and full confidence in them. Just because it is a vast body to be persua
w scarcely realize the atmosphere of such thoughts. We are no longer wont to refer to the ancients or to the French for sanction of what we do. We have had abundant experience of our own by which to reckon. Hardly any fact in history, says Mr. Bagehot, writing about the middle of the century, is so incredible as that forty and a few years ago England was ruled by Mr. Perceval. It seems almost the same as being ruled by the Record newspaper. (Mr. Bagehot would now probably say the StandardMr. Bagehot would now probably say the Standard newspaper.) He had the same poorness of thought, the same petty conservatism, the same dark and narrow superstition. The mere fact of such a premier being endured shows how deeply the whole national spirit and interest was absorbed in the contest with Napoleon, how little we understood the sort of man who should regulate its conduct— in the crisis of Europe, as Sydney Smith said, he safely brought the curates' salaries improvement bill to a hearing ; and it still more shows the horror of all
Cornelius N. Bliss (search for this): entry 1598
stification, for such as caught a generous elevation of spirit from the speculative enthusiasm of Rousseau. For us who stand in the dusty matterof-fact world of to-day, there is a touch of pathos in recollections of the ardor for democratic liberty that filled the air of Europe and America a century ago with such quickening influences. We may sometimes catch ourselves regretting that the inoculations of experience have closed our systems against the infections of hopeful revolution. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven! O times In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways Of custom, law, and statute took at once The attraction of a country in romance! When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights, When most intent on making of herself A prime Enchantress, to assist the work Which then was going forward in her name! Not favored spots alone, but the whole earth, The beauty wore of promise, that which sets (As at some moment might not be un
ion of what we do. We have had abundant experience of our own by which to reckon. Hardly any fact in history, says Mr. Bagehot, writing about the middle of the century, is so incredible as that forty and a few years ago England was ruled by Mr. Perceval. It seems almost the same as being ruled by the Record newspaper. (Mr. Bagehot would now probably say the Standard newspaper.) He had the same poorness of thought, the same petty conservatism, the same dark and narrow superstition. The merell that is fanciful, unreal, and misleading in politics. To be ruled by him was like taking an account of life from Mr. Rider Haggard. And yet there is still much sympathy in this timid world for the dull people who felt safe in the hands of Mr. Perceval, and, happily, much sympathy also, though little justification, for such as caught a generous elevation of spirit from the speculative enthusiasm of Rousseau. For us who stand in the dusty matterof-fact world of to-day, there is a touch of
Themistocles (search for this): entry 1598
s to our consciousness instead of real persons whom we have seen and beard, and whom we know. We have to accept rumors concerning them, we have to know them through the variously colored accounts of others; we can seldom test our impressions of their sincerity by standing with them face to face. Here certainly the ancient pocket republics had much the advantage of us: in them citizens and leaders were always neighbors; they stood constantly in each other's presence. Every Athenian knew Themistocles's manner, and gait, and address, and felt directly the just influence of Aristides. No Athenian of a later period needed to be told of the vanities and fopperies of Alcibiades, any more than the elder generation needed to have described to them the personality of Pericles. Our separation from our leaders is the greater peril, because democratic government more than any other needs organization in order to escape disintegration; and it can have organization only by full knowledge of it
Rider Haggard (search for this): entry 1598
f escape, explains the great historian: Stay still; don't move; do what you have been accustomed to do; and consult your grandmother on everything. Almost equally incredible to us is the ardor of revolution that filled the world in those first days of our national life—the fact that one of the rulers of the world's mind in that generation was Rousseau, the apostle of all that is fanciful, unreal, and misleading in politics. To be ruled by him was like taking an account of life from Mr. Rider Haggard. And yet there is still much sympathy in this timid world for the dull people who felt safe in the hands of Mr. Perceval, and, happily, much sympathy also, though little justification, for such as caught a generous elevation of spirit from the speculative enthusiasm of Rousseau. For us who stand in the dusty matterof-fact world of to-day, there is a touch of pathos in recollections of the ardor for democratic liberty that filled the air of Europe and America a century ago with suc
Alcibiades (search for this): entry 1598
y colored accounts of others; we can seldom test our impressions of their sincerity by standing with them face to face. Here certainly the ancient pocket republics had much the advantage of us: in them citizens and leaders were always neighbors; they stood constantly in each other's presence. Every Athenian knew Themistocles's manner, and gait, and address, and felt directly the just influence of Aristides. No Athenian of a later period needed to be told of the vanities and fopperies of Alcibiades, any more than the elder generation needed to have described to them the personality of Pericles. Our separation from our leaders is the greater peril, because democratic government more than any other needs organization in order to escape disintegration; and it can have organization only by full knowledge of its leaders and full confidence in them. Just because it is a vast body to be persuaded, it must know its persuaders; in order to be effective, it must always have choice of men
Wordsworth (search for this): entry 1598
tom, law, and statute took at once The attraction of a country in romance! When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights, When most intent on making of herself A prime Enchantress, to assist the work Which then was going forward in her name! Not favored spots alone, but the whole earth, The beauty wore of promise, that which sets (As at some moment might not be unfelt Among the bowers of paradise itself) The budding rose above the rose full blown. Such was the inspiration which not Wordsworth alone, but Coleridge also, and many another generous spirit whom we love, caught in that day of hope. It is common to say, in explanation of our regret that the dawn and youth of democracy's day are past, that our principles are cooler now and more circumspect, with the coolness and circumspection of advanced years. It seems to some that our enthusiasms have become tamer and more decorous because our sinews have hardened; that as experience has grown idealism has declined. But to spea
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