Thanks for posting. It was a marvelous tour of the English language.
Thanks, also, for your previous contribution today. There, my addition of excerpts on "popularity" of leaders, from Noah Webster's 1802 Address on the celebration of the Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, seemed pertinent. They seem just as pertinent here:
"The man who only flatters and cringes to gain applause, is a saint, compared with the man who tramples on law and constitution to secure the popularity his arts have obtained, and to retain the confidence of a party. There is something extremely contemptible in the factitious character of a popularity-seeker, or mere man of the people.
--------- "The natural consequence of too much popularity is, that it enables the possessor to violate the laws and constitution of his country, and sacrifice its interests with impunity . . . .
"To be a tyrant with any tolerable degree of safety, a man must be fully possessed of the confidence of the people. Charles the first of England extended the royal prerogative to an unwarrantable length, and lost his head . . . but that prince could not have sent a detachment of three hundred men to drive the commons of England from their hall, and have effected his purpose. That act of despotism was reserved for the republican Cromwell, the friend of the people. James the second was an arbitrary man, a catholic, and odious to the English nation . . . he was, therefore, compelled to abdicate his throne. But his successor, William, a friend of the whigs, ascended the throne upon a tide of popularity; and he could deliberately sign an illegal and barbarous warrant for the murder of the whole village of Glencoe, in Scotland, and never be called in question for the murderous deed! "Oh, 'tis excellent," says the poet, "To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." - MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
"The open advocate of a strong government is subject to popular odium, his encroachments are eyed with jealousy, or resisted by force. But the hypocritical pretender to patriotism acquires, in the confidence of the people, a giant's force, and he may use it like a giant. The people, like artless females, are liable to be seduced, not by the men they hate or suspect, but by those they love.
"Nor is it among the least evils proceeding from the ambition of popular favor, that the friends of the people are willing to secure it, by relaxing the energy of the laws. They know that legal restraints are odious, and will hazard the public peace, rather than not gratify the licentious propensities of their partizans.
. . . .
Many thanks for posting this gem. It seems the more things change the more they stay the same. In many of the passages, one could easily swap out the names of Wilson and Roosevelt for other politicians, chief executives and otherwise. It seems the human condition and the aphrodisiac of power will repeatedly produce the same results. And, that the press would rather be members of court than to watchdog court. Perhaps, that might explain their latching on to the left. The right would never include them as members of court yet the left welcomes them in as stakeholders.
Malcolm Forbes’ tag line was always “with all thy getting, get understanding”. Mencken appears to have gotten more than his share of understanding.
Hmmm...One simple name change and it is deja vu all over again...
H.L., quite obviously, bought his ink by the barrel.
Wow, that’s gonna take a while to digest.
I really need to give up TV and read more...
"As democracy is perfected, the office of the U.S. presidency represents more and more closely the inner soul of the people.
"On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts' desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron" - (H. L. Mencken, 1920)
Mencken was a true writer.