The Great Yazoo
Since Aug 20, 2004
The Great Yazoo s
The legal incorporation of these societies [Oxford and Cambridge universities] by the charters of popes and kings had given them a monopoly of the public instruction; and the spirit of monopolists is narrow, lazy, and oppressive; their work is more costly and less productive than that of independent artists; and the new improvements so eagerly grasped by the competition of freedom, are admitted with slow and sullen reluctance in those proud corporations, above the fear of a rival, and below the confession of an error. We may scarcely hope that any reformation will be a voluntary act; and so deeply are they rooted in law and prejudice, that even the omnipotence of parliament would shrink from an inquiry into the state and abuses of the two universities. Memoirs of My Life and Writings, by Edward Gibbon
Happy is the boy who discovers the bent of his life-work during childhood. My Life as an Explorer, by Sven Hedin
I believe it was Gods will that we should come back, so that men might know the things that are in the world, since, as we have said in the first chapter of this book, no other man, Christian or Saracen, Mongol or pagan, has explored so much of the world as Messer Marco, son of Messer Niccolo Polo, great and noble citizen of the city of Venice. Travels, by Marco Polo
In the essay called Over-legislation, [British Philosopher Herbert] Spencer remarks the fact so notoriously common in our experience, that when State power is applied to social purposes, its action is invariably slow, stupid, extravagant, unadaptive, corrupt and obstructive. He devotes several paragraphs to each count, assembling a complete array of proof. When he ends, discussion ends; there is simply nothing to be said. He shows further that the State does not even fulfill efficiently what he calls its unquestionable duties to society; it does not efficiently adjudge and defend the individuals elemental rights. This being so - and with us this too is a matter of notoriously common experience - Spencer sees no reason to expect that State power will be more efficiently applied to secondary social purposes. Had we, in short, proved its efficiency as judge and defender, instead of having found it treacherous, cruel, and anxiously to be shunned, there would be some encouragement to hope other benefits at its hands.
Yet, he remarks, it is just this monstrously extravagant hope that society is continually indulging; and indulging in the face of daily evidence that it is illusory. He points to the anomaly which we have all noticed as so regularly presented by newspapers. Take up one, says Spencer, and you will probably find a leading editorial exposing the corruption, negligence or mismanagement of some State department. Cast your eye down the next column, and it is not unlikely that you will read proposals for an extension of State supervision. . . . Thus while every day chronicles a failure, there every day reappears the belief that it needs but an Act of Parliament and a staff of officers to effect any end desired. Nowhere is the perennial faith of mankind better seen. Our Enemy, The State, by Albert J. Nock
From time to time there returns on the cautious thinker the conclusion that, considered simply as a question of probabilities, it is unlikely that his views upon any debatable topic are correct. "Here," he reflects, "are thousands around me holding on this or that point opinions differing from minewholly in many cases; partially in most others. Each is as confident as I am of the truth of his convictions. Many of them are possessed of great intelligence; and, rank myself high as I may, I must admit that some are my equalsperhaps my superiors. Yet, while every one of us is sure he is right, unquestionably most of us are wrong. Why should not I be among the mistaken? True, I cannot realize the likelihood that I am so. But this proves nothing; for though the majority of us are necessarily in error, we all labor under the inability to think we are in error. Is it not then foolish thus to trust myself? A like warrant has been felt by men all the world through; and, in nine cases out of ten, has proved a delusive warrant. Is it not then absurd in me to put so much faith in my judgments?"
Over-Legislation (1853) by Herbert Spencer. This essay first appeared in The Westminster Review for July, 1853 and was reprinted in Spencer's Essays: Scientific, Political and Speculative (London and New York, 1892, in three volumes).
The husbands of the talkative have a great reward hereafter.
No money and no preferment would have drawn Creighton from his work on the Indian Survey, but deep in his heart also lay the ambition to write F R S after his name. Honours of a sort he knew could be obtained by ingenuity and the help of friends, but, to the best of his belief, nothing save work -papers representing a life of it - took a man into the Society which he had bombarded for years with monographs on strange Asiatic cults and unknown customs. Nine men out of ten would flee from a Royal Society soiree in extremity of boredom; but Creighton was the tenth, and at times his soul yearned for the crowded rooms in easy London where silver-haired, bald- headed gentlemen who know nothing of the Army move among spectroscopic experiments, the lesser plants of the frozen tundras, electric flight-measuring machines, and apparatus for slicing into fractional millimetres the left eye of the female mosquito. By all right and reason, it was the Royal Geographical that should have appealed to him, but men are as chancy as children in their choice of playthings. So Creighton smiled, and thought the better of Hurree Babu, moved by like desire.
He sat, in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zam Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher - the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum . Who hold Zam-Zammah, that fire-breathing dragon, hold the Punjab, for the great green-bronze piece is always first of the conquerors loot. Kim, by Rudyard Kipling.
I am a lead pencilthe ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.
Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that's all I do.
You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mysterymore so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, the wise G. K. Chesterton observed, "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders."
I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand meno, that's too much to ask of anyoneif you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher becausewell, because I am seemingly so simple.
Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U.S.A. each year.
Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eyethere's some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.
I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read
Itinerate Campfire-side Geography Teacher