Friday, May 28, 2004

What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything.

Laurence Sterne, as quoted by David McCullough in his John Adams.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

His understanding lies, I think, rather in seeing large things largely than correctly....In the conduct of affairs he may perhaps be able to take so comprehensive a view as to render invention and expedient unnecessary.

Franklin Alexander, describing John Adams as quoted by David McCullough in his John Adams.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

I am not going to speak to you at all about the justice or injustice of your conduct. I know very well that this word is nothing but noise, when it is a question of the general interest. I could speak to you about the means by which you could succeed, and ask you whether you are strong enough to play the role of oppressors; this would be closer to the heart of the matter. However I will not even do that, but I will confine myself to imploring you to cast your eyes on the nations who hate you: ask them; see what they think of you, and tell me to what extent you have resolved to make your enemies laugh at you.

Denis Diderot in June 1776 to John Wilkes in reference to British pursuit of war to suppress the American colonies, as quoted by Emma Rothschild in The New York Review (March 25, 2004).