A reformer exhorted children that they would succeed where he and his colleagues had failed with the charge: Live for that better day.
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change (as the poet said), windows on the world and lighthouses erected in the sea of time. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in
Books are ... companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of mind. Books are humanity in print.
Vainglory, however, no matter how much medieval Christianity insisted it was a sin, is a motor of mankind, no more eradicable than sex.
House Speaker Thomas Reed could destroy an argument or expose a fallacy in fewer words than anyone else. His language was vivid and picturesque. He had a way of phrasing things which was peculiarly apt and peculiarly his own.
Now according to German logic, a declaration of war was found to be unnecessary because of imaginary bombings
Chief among the forces affecting political folly is lust for power, named by Tacitus as the most flagrant of all passions.
Any person who considers himself, and intends to remain, a member of Western society inherits the Western past from Athens and Jerusalem to Runnymede and Valley Forge, as well as to Watts and Chicago of August 1968. He may ignore it or deny it, but that does not alter the fact. The past sits back and smiles and knows it owns him anyway.
Nineteenth-century liberalism had assumed that man was a rational being who operated naturally according to his own best interests, so that in the end, what was reasonable would prevail. On this principle liberals defended extension of the suffrage toward the goal of one man, one vote. But a rise in literacy and in the right to vote, as the event proved, did nothing to increase common sense in politics. The mob that is moved by waving the bloody shirt, that decides elections in response to slogans—Free Silver, Hang the Kaiser, Two Cars in Every Garage—is not exhibiting any greater political sense than Marie Antoinette, who said, “Let them eat cake,” or Caligula, who made his horse a consul. The common man proved no wiser than the decadent aristocrat. He has not shown in public affairs the innate wisdom which democracy presumed he possessed.
The writer of history, I believe, has a number of duties vis-à-vis the reader, if he wants to keep him reading. The first is to distill. He must do the preliminary work for the reader, assemble the information, make sense of it, select the essential, discard the irrelevant- above all, discard the irrelevant - and put the rest together so that it forms a developing dramatic narrative. Narrative, it has been said , is the lifeblood of history. To offer a mass of undigested facts, of names not identified and places not located, is of no use to the reader and is simple laziness on the part of the author, or pedantry to show how much he has read.
The process of gaining power employs means which degrade or brutalize the seeker, who awakes to find that power has been possessed at the cost of virtue or moral purpose lost.
No less a bold and pugnacious figure than Winston Churchill broke down and was unable to finish his remarks at the sendoff of the British Expeditionary Force into the maelstrom of World War I in Europe.
The author says one patrician English leader saw his relationship with the populace thusly: He wasn't responsible TO them. He was responsible FOR them. He was responsible for their care.
Confronted by menace or what is perceived as menace, governments will usually attempt to smash it, rarely to examine it, understand it, and drefine it.
He was always acting, always enveloping himself in artificiality, perhaps to conceal the volcano within.
Between the happening of a historical process and its recognition by rulers, a lag stretches, full of pitfalls.
I will only mention that the independent power of words to affect the writing of history is a thing to be watched out for. They have an almost frightening autonomous power to produce in the mind of the reader an image or idea that was not in the mind of the writer. Obviously they operate this way in all forms of writing, but history is particularly sensitive because one has a duty to be accurate, and careless use of words can leave a false impression one had not intended.
If the historian will submit himself to his material instead of trying to impose himself on his material, then the material will ultimately speak to him and supply the answers.
A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests. Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other human activity. In this sphere, wisdom, which may be defined as the exercise of judgment acting on experience, common sense and available information, is less operative and more frustrated than it should be. Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests? Why does intelligent mental process seem so often not to function?
An event of great agony is bearable only in the belief that it will bring about a better world. When it does not, as in the aftermath of another vast calamity in 1914-18, disillusion is deep and moves on to self-doubt and self-disgust.