see: "CHARACTER" for related links


Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws
will secure the liberty and happiness of a people
whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore
is the friend of the liberty of his country who tries
most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his
power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to
be chosen onto any office of power and trust who is
not a wise and virtuous man.
--Samuel Adams (1722—1803)
American revolutionary leader.
Essay published in The Advertiser [1748] and later reprinted in
_The Life and Public Service of Samuel Adams_, Volume 1, by
William Vincent Wells; Little, Brown, and Company; Boston [1865].

He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life
is, or very soon will be, void of all regard for his
country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty
of betraying his country, who had not before lost the
feeling of moral obligations in his private connections.
--Samuel Adams (1722—1803)
American revolutionary leader.
Letter to James Warren [4 November 1775].

A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more
surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force
of the common enemy. [...] While the people are virtuous they
cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will
be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or
internal invader. [...] If virtue and knowledge are diffused
among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will
be their great security.
--Samuel Adams (1722—1803)
American revolutionary leader.
Letter to James Warren [12 February 1779].


When we live habitually with the wicked, we become necessarily
either their victim or their disciple; when we associate, on the
contrary, with virtuous men, we form ourselves in imitation of
their virtues, or, at least, lose every day something of our faults.
--Quoted in Maturin M. Ballou _Treasury of Thought_ [10th ed. 1884],
and attributed to Agapet who could be either Agapetus I (?—536) Pope
from 535—536, or Agapetus II (?—955) Pope from 946—955.


Prosperity doth best discover vice, but
adversity doth best discover virtue.
--Francis Bacon (1561—1626)
English philosopher and essayist.
_Essays_ [1625], "Of Adversity"

A man that hath no virtue in himself ever envieth virtue in
others — for men's minds will either feed upon their own
good or upon others' evil; and who wanteth the one will
prey upon the other.
--Francis Bacon (1561—1626)
English philosopher and essayist.
_Essays_ [1625], "Of Envy"


I'm as pure as the driven slush.
--Tallulah Bankhead (1903—1968)
American actress.
In "Saturday Evening Post" [12 April 1947].

Happiness and Virtue react upon each other,— the best are
not only the happiest, but the happiest are usually the best.
--Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803—1873)
British novelist and politician.
_The Duchess de la Valliθre_ [1836]

Let us say that I despise stupidity. Especially
when it masquerades as virtue.
--attributed to Miguel de Cervantes (1547—1616), but in
fact it is dialogue from the 1964 play "Man of La Mancha".

Glory follows virtue as if it were its shadow.
--Marcus Tullius Cicero (106—43 B.C.)
Roman orator and statesman.
"Tusculanae Disputationes" (Tusculan Disputations) [c. 45 B.C.]

I would rather be the author of one original
thought than conqueror of a hundred battles.
Yet moral excellence is so much superior to
intellectual, that I ought to esteem one virtue
more valuable than a hundred original
--William Benton Clulow (1802—1882)
English clergyman.
_Aphorisms and Reflections_ [1843]

He that is good will infallibly become better, and he that is bad
will as certainly become worse; for vice, virtue, and time are
three things that never stand still.
--C.C. Colton (1780—1832)
English clergyman and writer.
_Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words_, CCCCLVII [1821 ed.]


Virtue is not solitary; it is bound to have neighbors.
--Confucius (551—479 B.C.)
K'ung Ch'iu, Chinese philosopher.
_The Analects_, 4.25 tr. James Legge [1930 ed.]

The superior man thinks of virtue;
the small man thinks of comfort.
--Confucius (551—479 B.C.)
K'ung Ch'iu, Chinese philosopher.
_The Analects_, 4.11, tr. James Legge [1930 ed.]


When was public virtue to be found when private was not?
--William Cowper (1731—1800)
English poet and hymnodist.
_The Task_, bk. V [1785]

We are far more liable to catch the vices
than the virtues of our associates.
--Denis Diderot (1713—1784)
French writer and philosopher.
Attributed in Julia B. Hoitt _Excellent Quotations
For Home and School_, p. 38 [1890].

Beware of the virtue which a man boasts is his.
--Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830—1916)
Austrian writer.
_Aphorisms by Marie, Freifrau Von Ebner-Eschenbach_
tr. by Mrs. Annis Lee Wister [1883].


[On the two great virtues of women:]

A womanly disposition, as shown in modesty and

Womanly language. She should be careful in the
choice of words, and avoid lying and unseemly
expressions. She should speak when necessary,
and be silent at other times. She should not be
adverse to listening to others.

--Kaibara Ekken (1630—1714)
Japanese philosopher, travel writer, and botanist.
_Dojikun_ (Instructions for Children)


Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve;
nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of
--T.S. Eliot (1888—1965)
Anglo-American poet, critic, and dramatist.
"Shakespeare and the Stoicism of Seneca" [1927]

The only reward of virtue is virtue.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803—1882)
American philosopher and poet.
_Essays_, First Series [1841], "Friendship"

Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal
virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people
that I have ever known.
--F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896—1940)
American novelist.
_The Great Gatsby_, ch. 3 [1925]


I believe long habits of virtue have a
sensible effect on the countenance.
--Benjamin Franklin (1706—1790)
American politician, inventor, and scientist.
In one of the "Busy-Body Papers" in _American
Weekly Mercury_ [18 February 1729].

Search others for their virtues, thy self for thy vices.
--Benjamin Franklin (1706—1790)
American politician, inventor, and scientist.
_Poor Richard's Almanack_ [December 1738]

A Bible and a newspaper in every house, a good school in
every district — all studied and appreciated as they merit
— are the principal support of virtue, morality, and civil
--Benjamin Franklin (1706—1790)
American politician, inventor, and scientist.
Attributed in James Willis Westlake _Common-School
Literature, English and American_, p. 109 [1877].


If you can be well without health,
you may be happy without virtue.
--Thomas Fuller (1654—1734)
English writer and physician.
Comp., _Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs_ [1732]

The virtue which requires to be ever
guarded is scarce worth the sentinel.
--Oliver Goldsmith (1728—1774)
Anglo-Irish writer, poet, and dramatist.
_The Vicar of Wakefield_ [1766]

We often dislike others for their virtues as their vices.
--William Hazlitt (1778—1830)
English essayist.
_Characteristics in the Manner of Rochefoucault's Maxims_, # 115 [1823]

Virtue has a veil, vice a mask.
--Victor Hugo (1802—1885)
French poet, dramatist, and novelist.
In Lorenzo O'Rourke (tr.) _Victor Hugo's
Intellectual Autobiography_ [1907].

Love blinds us to faults, hatred to virtues.
--attributed to Moses Ibn Ezra (1060?—1138?)
Spanish philosopher and poet.

If no action is to be deemed virtuous for
which malice can imagine a sinister motive,
then there never was a virtuous action.
--Thomas Jefferson (1743—1826)
American statesman and president [1801-09].
Letter to Martin Van Buren [29 June 1824].


No people can be great who
have ceased to be virtuous.
--Samuel Johnson (1709—1784)
English poet, critic, and lexicographer.
_Introduction to the Political State of Great Britain_ [1756]

If he does really think that there is no distinction between
virtue and vice, why, Sir, when he leaves our houses, let
us count our spoons.
--Samuel Johnson (1709—1784)
English poet, critic, and lexicographer.
In James Boswell _The Life of Samuel Johnson_ [1791], "14 July 1763"

Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues;
because, unless a man has that virtue, he has
no security for preserving any other.
--Samuel Johnson (1709—1784)
English poet, critic, and lexicographer.
Remark, Spring 1775 in James Boswell _The Life of Samuel Johnson_ [1791].



James Joyce (1882—1941)
Irish novelist.

In his impoverished youth, Joyce once applied
for a job in a bank. 'Do you smoke?' asked the
bank manager.

'No,' replied his would-be employee.

'Do you drink?'


'Do you go with girls?'


The manager was unimpressed with this display
of virtue. 'Away with you!' he cried. 'You'd probably
rob the bank.'

--_Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes_
edited by Clifton Fadiman and Andrι Bernard [2000 ed.]


However evil men may be they dare not be openly hostile
to virtue, and so when they want to attack it they pretend
to find it spurious, or impute crimes to it.
--Franηois de La Rochefoucauld (1613—1680)
French classical author.
_Maxims_ [1665]

He who possess virtue in abundance
may be compared to an infant.
--Lao-tzu (c. 6th cent. B.C.)
_Tao-te Ching_ (Chinese: Classic of the Way of Power).

It has been my experience that folks who
have no vices have very few virtues.
--Abraham Lincoln (1809—1865)
American Republican statesman, President [1861-65].
Attributed in "Good Literature" [28 October 1882].

If men were virtuous, there would
be no need of governments at all.
--James Madison (1751—1836)
Fourth president of the United States [1809-17].
In Alistair Cooke _America_ [1973].

The virtue of a man ought to be measured not by his
extraordinary exertions, but by his every-day conduct.
--Blaise Pascal (1623—1662)
French mathematician, physicist, and moralist.
Attributed in James Comper Gray _The Biblical
Museum: Old Testament_, vol I [1876].

Any institution which does not suppose the people
good, and the magistrate corruptible, is evil.
--Maximilien Robespierre (1758—1794)
French revolutionary.
"Declaration of the Rights of Man" [24 April 1792]

Men's evil manners live in brass, their virtues
We write in water.
--William Shakespeare (1564—1616)
English dramatist.
_King Henry VIII_, act 4, sc. 2, l. 45 [1613]

When you are younger you get blamed for crimes
you never committed and when you're older you
begin to get credit for virtues you never possessed.
It evens itself out.
--I.F. Stone [Isidor Feinstein] (1907—1989)
American investigative journalist.
"International Herald Tribune" [16 March 1988]; quoted in
Robert Andrews _The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations_, p. 25 [1993].

The problem with people who have no
vices is that generally you can be pretty
sure they're going to have some pretty
annoying virtues.
--attributed to Elizabeth Taylor (1932—2011)
American motion-picture actress.


Be good and you will be lonesome.
--Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835—1910)
American humorist, novelist, journalist, and river pilot.
Holographed caption under frontispiece photograph
of the author in _Following the Equator_ [1897].

Why, you simple creatures, the weakest
of all weak things is a virtue which has
not been tested in the fire.
--Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835—1910)
American humorist, novelist, journalist, and river pilot.
_The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories and
Essays_ [1904], ch. 3 "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg"


What is virtue, my friend? It is to do good.
Do it, that is enough. We shall not worry
about your motives.
--Voltaire (Franηois Marie Arouet) (1694—1778)
French writer and philosopher.
"Falseness of Human Virtues" in
_Philosophical Dictionary_ [1764], tr. Theodore Besterman [1971]

I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue
enough to maintain what I consider the most
enviable title, the character of an Honest Man.
--George Washington (1732—1799)
American general and commander-in-chief of the colonial armies in the American
Revolution [1775-83] and first president of the United States [1789-97].
Letter to Alexander Hamilton [28 August 1788].


Let us say that I despise stupidity. Especially
when it masquerades as virtue.
--The Duke, "The Man of La Mancha" [1964 play]

Virtues and vices are of a strange nature,
for the more we have, the fewer we think
we have.


rectitude (adj.) ['rek-ti-tood]
Moral virtue or conduct, rightness of judgment.

Click picture to ZOOM


see: "EYES"
see: "SEEING"
see: "DISCOVERY" for other related links

They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind
lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
New Testament, "Matthew" 15:14

Your vision will become clear only when you
look into your heart. Who looks outside,
dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
--attributed to Carl Gustav Jung (1875—1961)
Swiss psychologist.

The most pathetic person in the world is
someone who has sight but has no vision.
--Helen Keller (1880—1968)
American author and educator who was blind and deaf.
Attributed in Carolyn Warner (ed.) _The Last
Word: A Treasury of Women's Quotes_ [1992].

Every man takes the limits of his own field
of vision for the limits of the world.
--Arthur Schopenhauer (1788—1860)
German philosopher.
_Studies in Pessimism_ [1851], "Psychological Observations"



see: "LANGUAGE" for related links

I am lapidary but not eristic when I use big words.
--William F. Buckley Jr. (1925—2008)
American author and journalist.
1986 column, quoted in _Wall Street Journal_ [28 February 2008].

I am a Bear of Very Little Brain,
and long words bother me.
--A. A. (Alan Alexander) Milne (1882—1956)
English writer for children.
_Winnie-the-Pooh_ [1926]


lexicon (noun) ['lek-sκ-kahn]
A dictionary or vocabulary, a special set of words
(medical lexicon) or the set of words used by all
the speakers of a given language (mental lexicon).



see: "KINDNESS" for related links

The most solid comfort one can fall back upon is the
thought that the business of one's life [...] is to help
in some small nibbling way to reduce the sum of
ignorance, degradation, and misery on the face of
this beautiful earth.
--George Eliot [Mary Ann Evans] (1819—1880)
English novelist.
Letter to Mrs. Congreve [5 May 1860].

I expect to pass through this world but once; any
good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness
that I can show to any fellow-creature, let me do it
now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not
pass this way again.
--Stephen Grellet (1773—1855)
French missionary.
Attributed; there are many claimants to authorship.

Give what you have. To some one, it
may be better than you dare think.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807—1882)
American poet.
Attributed in "Our Paper" (Concord Junction, Mass.) [23 October 1915].

Perhaps Milton Friedman put it best when he criticized
John Kennedy's famous [quotation from Gibran], 'Ask
not what your country can do for you — ask what you
can do for your country.' As Mr Friedman said, `Neither
half of the statement expresses a relation between the
citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals
of free men in a free society.'
--Roger Pilon
In a letter to the Wall Street Journal [12 February 2002].

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
--attributed to Booker T. Washington (1856—1915)
African-American educator.



see: "POLITICS" for related links

Always vote for principle, though you may vote
alone, and you may cherish the sweetest
reflection that your vote is never lost.
--attributed to John Quincy Adams (1767—1848)
6th President of the United States.

Our government is built upon the vote. But votes that
are purchasable are quicksands, and a government
built on them stands upon corruption and revolution.
--Henry Ward Beecher (1813—1887)
American Congregational minister; brother of
Harriet Beecher Stowe, son of Lyman Beecher.
_Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit_ [1887], "Political"

Woman stock is rising in the market. I shall
not live to see women vote, but I'll come
and rap at the ballot box.
--Lydia Marie Child (1802—1880)
American abolitionist and suffragist.
Letter to Sarah Shaw [3 August 1856].


At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the
little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil,
making a little cross on a little bit of paper.
--Winston Churchill (1874—1965)
British Conservative statesman and Prime Minister [1940-45, 1951-55].
1944 speech quoted in Martin Gilbert _Churchill: A Life_, p. 802 [1991].

Nothing would induce me to vote for giving
women the franchise. I am not going to be
henpecked in a question of such importance.
--Winston Churchill (1874—1965)
British Conservative statesman and Prime Minister [1940-45, 1951-55].
Quoted in Robert Lewis Taylor _Winston Churchill:
An Informal Study of Greatness_ [1952].


Sensible and responsible women do not want
to vote. The relative positions to be assumed
by man and woman in the working out of our
civilization were assigned long ago by a higher
intelligence than ours.
--Grover Cleveland (1837—1908)
22nd [1885-89] and 24th [1893-97] President of the U.S..
In the "Ladies' Home Journal" [April 1905].

The man who can right himself by a
vote will seldom resort to a musket.
--James Fenimore Cooper (1789—1851)
American novelist.
_The American Democrat_ [1838]

Voting is the most basic essential of citizenship and I think
that any man or woman in this country who fails to avail
himself or herself of that right should hide in shame. I
truly wish there was some sort of badge of dishonor that
a non-voter would have to wear.
--India [Moffett] Edwards (1895—1990)
American political party executive; vice-chair of
the Democratic National Committee [1950-56].
_Pulling No Punches_ [1977]

Any avenues to political change in the South were effectively blocked.
Blacks simply lacked political power. No blacks held state or county
offices in the states of the old Confederacy. Very few blacks voted —
though not from apathy or choice. In the late nineteenth century, the
southern states started the process of getting rid of black voters; they
finished off the job in the twentieth. The states used every trick and
stratagem in the books, and some outside the books, to keep blacks
out of voting booths. Anyone who wanted to vote had to go through
an obstacle course. In South Carolina voters had to pay a poll tax,
own three hundred dollars' worth of property, and "both read and
write any section" of the South Carolina Constitution. In Mississippi
prospective voters had to be able to read sections of the federal and
state constitutions, and also give a "reasonable" interpretation of
what they had read. No blacks ever seemed to be able to pass these
tests; whites sailed through routinely (or were not even asked).
Troublesome or persistent blacks were given rougher treatment. As
an Alabama official put it: "At first, we used to kill them to keep
them from voting; when we got sick of doing that we began to steal
their ballots; and when stealing their ballots got to troubling our
consciences we decided to handle the matter legally, fixing it so
they couldn't vote."
--Lawrence M. Friedman (b. 1930)
American law professor.
_American Law in the 20th Century_ [2002], ch. 5, p. 114

I always voted at my party's call.
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.
--W. S. Gilbert (1836—1911)
English writer of comic and satirical verse.
_H.M.S. Pinafore_, act I [1878]

When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow
their hopes, the seeds of political manipulation are sown.
--Stephen Jay Gould (1941—2002)
American paleontologist.
_An Urchin in the Storm_ [1987], "The Quack Detector"

In most places in the country, voting is looked upon
as a right and a duty, but in Chicago it's a *sport*.
In Chicago not only *your* vote counts, but all kinds
of other votes — kids, dead folks, and so on.
--Dick Gregory (b. 1932)
American comedian and social activist.
_Dick Gregory's Political Primer_ [1972]

The voice of the people has been said to be the
voice of God; and, however generally this maxim
has been quoted and believed, it is not true to
fact. The people are turbulent and changing,
they seldom judge or determine right.
--Alexander Hamilton (1755or57—1804)
New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention,
major author of the _Federalist Papers_, and first
secretary of the Treasury of the United States [1789-95].
In a speech at the Constitutional Convention [18 June 1787].


If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no
candidates and no measures you want to vote for but there are certain
to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against.
By this rule you will rarely go wrong.

If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool
(there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other
way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish)
without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly
intelligent exercise of franchise requires.

--Robert Heinlein (1907—1988)
American science-fiction writer.
_Time Enough for Love_ [1973]



Benjamin Jowett (1817—1893)
English classical scholar.

Jowett once submitted a matter to the vote of the dons of Balliol
College. The result did not please him, he announced. 'The vote
is twenty-two to two. I see we are deadlocked.'

--_Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes_
edited by Clifton Fadiman and Andrι Bernard [2000 ed.]



Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean?
It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not
avowed, autocrats, We choose between Tweedledum and

You ask for votes for women. What good can votes do when
ten-elevenths of the land of Great Britain belongs to 200,000
and only one-eleventh to the rest of the 40,000,000? Have
your men with their millions of votes freed themselves from
this injustice?

--Helen Keller (1880—1968)
American author and educator who was blind and deaf.
Letter to British suffragist [1911].



LADIES: My own earnest, heartfelt conviction is that
you are a pack of cats. I use the word 'cats' advisedly,
and I mean every letter of it. I want to go on record
before this gathering as being strongly and unalterably
opposed to Woman Suffrage until you get it. After that
I favour it. My reasons for opposing the suffrage are of
a kind you couldn't understand. But all men — except
the few that I see at this meeting — understand them
by instinct.

As you may, however, succeed as a result of the fuss
you are making — in getting votes, I have thought it
best to come. Also — I am free to confess — wanted
to see what you looked like.

On this last head I am disappointed. Personally I like
women a good deal fatter than most of you are, and
better looking. As I look around this gathering I see
one or two of you that are not so bad, but on the whole
not many. But my own strong personal predilection is
and remains in favour of a woman who can cook, mend
clothes, talk when I want her to, and give me the kind
of admiration to which I am accustomed.

Let me, however, say in conclusion that I am altogether
in sympathy with your movement to this extent. If you
ever *do* get votes — and the indications are that you
will (blast you) — I want your votes, and I want all of

--Stephen Butler Leacock (1869—1944)
Canadian humorist.
"Truthful Speech of a District Politician to a Ladies' Suffrage Society"


In dictatorships the masses vote with their feet.
--V.I. Lenin (1870—1924)
Russian revolutionary and first head of the Soviet state (1917-24).
Attributed in "N.Y. Times" [4 November 1954].

American youth attributes much more importance to
arriving at driver's license age than at voting age.
--H. (Herbert) Marshall McLuhan (1911—1980)
Canadian professor and author.
_Understanding Media_ [1964]

'Vote early and vote often,' the advice openly
displayed on the election banners in one of
our northern cities.
--William Porcher Miles (1822—1899)
American politician.
Speech in the House of Representatives [31 March 1858].

Why We Oppose Votes for Men
1. Because man's place is the armory.
2. Because no really manly man wants to settle any
question otherwise than by fighting about it.
3. Because if men should adopt peaceable methods
women will no longer look up to them.
4. Because men will lose their charm if they step out
of their natural selves in other matters than feats of
arms, uniforms and drums.
5. Because men are too emotional to vote. Their
conduct at baseball games and political conventions
shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to
force renders them peculiarly unfit for the task of
--Alice Duer Miller (1874—1942)
American writer and poet.
_Are Women People? A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times_ [1915]

The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so
dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of
a citizen in a democracy.
--Baron de Montesquieu (Charles Louis de Secondat) (1689—1755)
French philosopher, jurist, and satirist.
_The Spirit of the Laws_ [1748]

Boss Tweed: "As long as I count the Votes,
what are you going to do about it?"
--Thomas Nast (1840—1902)
German-born American cartoonist.
Caption of cartoon _Harper's Weekly_ [7 October 1871]

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
--George Jean Nathan (1882—1958)
American drama critic and editor.
Quoted in Clifton Fadiman (ed.) _The American Treasury, 1455—1955_ [1955].

The right to vote is a consequence, not a primary cause, of a
free social system — and its value depends on the constitutional
structure implementing and strictly delimiting the voters' power;
unlimited majority rule is an instance of the principle of tyranny.
Outside the context of a free society, who would want to die for
the right to vote? Yet that is what the American soldiers were
asked to die for — not even for their own vote, but to secure that
privilege for the South Vietnamese, who had no other rights and
no knowledge of rights or freedom.
--Ayn Rand (1905—1982)
Russian-born American writer.
In _The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought_
The Ayn Rand Library, Volume V, [1989], pt. 2, ch. 14.

Americanism is a question of spirit, conviction, and purpose, not of
creed or birthplace. The politician who bids for the Irish or German
vote, or the Irishman or German who votes as an Irishman or
German, is despicable, for all citizens of this commonwealth should
vote solely as Americans.
--Theodore Roosevelt (1858—1919)
American Republican statesman and President [1901-09].
"True Americanism," _The Forum Magazine_ [April 1894]

[Referring to the voter registration of the dead:]
I want to be buried in Chicago, because
I want to stay active in politics.
--Mark Russell (b. 1932)
American political satirist.
In "The Plain Dealer" (Cleveland, Oh.) [2 November 1986].

The Queen is most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak
or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'Woman's
Rights' with all its attendant horrors on which her poor, feeble
sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feeling and
propiety. It is a subject which makes the Queen so furious
that she cannot contain herself. God created men and women
different — then let them remain each in their own position.
--Queen Victoria (1819—1901)
Queen of the United Kingdom [1837—1901].
Memorandum on women's suffrage [29 May 1870].

Half of the American people never read a newspaper.
Half never vote for president. One hopes it is the
same half.
--Gore Vidal (1925—2012)
American writer.
Quoted in Mark S. Hoffman _The World Almanac and Book of Facts_ [1992].


"A Jersey Lesson in Voter Fraud"
by Thomas Fleming
_The Wall Street Journal_ [6 February 2013]

Some youthful memories were stirred by the news this week that the president plans to use his State of the Union speech next Tuesday to urge Congress to make voter registration and ballot-casting easier. Like Mr. Obama, I come from a city with a colorful history of political corruption and vote fraud.

The president's town is Chicago, mine is Jersey City. Both were solidly Democratic in the 1930s and '40s, and their mayors were close friends. At one point in the early '30s, Jersey City's Frank Hague called Chicago's Ed Kelly to say he needed $2 million as soon as possible to survive a coming election. According to my father—one of Boss Hague's right-hand men—a dapper fellow who had taken an overnight train arrived at Jersey City's City Hall the next morning, suitcase in hand, cash inside.

Those were the days when it was glorious to be a Democrat. As a historian, I give talks from time to time. In a recent one, called "Us Against Them," I said it was we Irish and our Italian, Polish and other ethnic allies against "the dirty rotten stinking WASP Protestant Republicans of New Jersey." By thus demeaning the opposition, we had clear consciences as we rolled up killer majorities using tactics that had little to do with the election laws.

My grandmother Mary Dolan died in 1940. But she voted Democratic for the next 10 years. An election bureau official came to our door one time and asked if Mrs. Dolan was still living in our house. "She's upstairs taking a nap," I replied. Satisfied, he left.

Thousands of other ghosts cast similar ballots every Election Day in Jersey City. Another technique was the use of "floaters," tough Irishmen imported from New York who voted five, six and even 10 times at various polling places.

Equally effective was cash-per-vote. On more than one Election Day, my father called the ward's chief bookmaker to tell him: "I need 10 grand by one o'clock." He always got it, and his ward had a formidable Democratic majority when the polls closed.

Other times, as the clock ticked into the wee hours, word would often arrive in the polling places that the dirty rotten stinking WASP Protestant Republicans had built up a commanding lead in South Jersey, where "Nucky" Johnson (currently being immortalized on TV in HBO's "Boardwalk Empire") had a small Republican machine in Atlantic City.

By dawn, tens of thousands of hitherto unknown Jersey City ballots would be counted and another Democratic governor or senator would be in office, and the Democratic presidential candidate would benefit as well. Things in Chicago were no different, Boss Hague would remark after returning from one of his frequent visits.

I have to laugh when I hear current-day Democrats not only lobbying against voter-identification laws but campaigning to make voting even easier than it already is. More laughable is the idea of dressing up the matter as a civil-rights issue.

My youthful outlook on life—that anything goes against the rotten stinking WASP Protestant Republicans—evaporated while I served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. In that conflict, millions of people like me acquired a new understanding of what it meant to be an American.

Later I became a historian of this nation's early years—and I can assure President Obama that no founding father would tolerate the idea of unidentified voters. These men understood the possibility and the reality of political corruption. They knew it might erupt at any time within a city or state.

The president's party—which is still my party—has inspired countless Americans by looking out for the less fortunate. No doubt that instinct motivated Mr. Obama in his years as a community organizer in Chicago. Such caring can still be a force, but that force, and the Democratic Party, will be constantly soiled and corrupted if the right and the privilege to vote becomes an easily manipulated joke.

Mr. Fleming is a former president of the Society of American Historians.


plebiscite (noun)
Vote of all citizens: a vote by a whole electorate
to decide a question of importance.

suffrage (noun) ['sκ-frij]
The right to vote.



see: "CLASS"
see: "COMMUNICATION" for other related links

The limerick is furtive and mean.
You must keep her in close quarantine.
Or she sneaks to the slums
And promptly becomes
Disorderly, drunk, and obscene.
--Morris Bishop (1893—1973)
American linguist and writer of light verse.
In Richard Lederer _The Cunning Linguist_ [2003].

A vulgar man is captious and jealous; eager and
impetuous about trifles. He suspects himself to
be slighted, thinks everything that is said meant
at him.
--Lord Chesterfield [Philip Dormer Stanhope] (1694— 1773)
British writer and politician.
Letter to his son [27 September 1749].

As always, the British especially shudder at the latest
American vulgarity, and then they embrace it with
enthusiasm two years later.
--Alistair Cooke [Alfred Cooke] (1908—2004)
British-born American broadcaster and journalist.
_American Way_ [March 1975]

Language is the apparel in which your thoughts
parade before the public. Never clothe them in
vulgar or shoddy attire.
--George Crane
Quoted in Lloyd Cory _Quote Unquote_ [1977].

[To two women who commended him for on the
omission of vulgar words from his Dictionary:]
What! my Dears! then you have been looking
for them?
--Samuel Johnson (1709—1784)
English poet, critic, and lexicographer.
Quoted in Henry G. Beste _Personal and Literary Memorials_ [1829].

Many women, particularly young women, have claimed the
right to use the most explicit sex terms, including extremely
vulgar ones, in public as well as private. But it is men, far
more than women, who have been liberated by this change.
For now that women use these terms, men no longer need
to watch their own language in the presence of women.
But is this a gain for women?
--Margaret Mead (1901—1978)
American anthropologist.
Attributed in "Reader's Digest" [1987].

To endeavor to work upon the vulgar with fine sense
is like attempting to hew blocks with a razor.
--Alexander Pope (1688—1744)
English poet.
_Thoughts on Various Subjects_ [1727]


billingsgate (noun) ['bi-lings-geyt]
Nathan Bailey, in 'An universal etymological English dictionary'
(1721) defined a billingsgate as "a scolding impudent Slut," but
the word has gone on to refer, as well, to the stream of abusive
speech used by these impudent women. Today it may refer to
a woman who uses abusive language or the abusive language
Its eponym is the Billingsgate fish market in London.
Billingsgate was one of the two water-gates to London from the
Thames (between the Tower and the London Bridge) when the
open fish market was proclaimed there in 1699. The Billingsgate
fish market thereafter became known not only for the smelly
fruits of the sea on sale there, but for the rancid language of
the fishwives who mongered them.

lubricious [loo-BRISH-us], adjective:
1. Lustful; lewd.
2. Stimulating or appealing to sexual desire
or imagination.
3. Having a slippery or smooth quality.

meretricious (adj.) [mer-κ-'trish-κs]
Gaudy, vulgar, especially attracting attention by
being gaudy or vulgar.

ordure (noun) ['or-jκr]
Excrement, filth; moral filthiness, such as filthy
language, profanity, vulgarity.

plebeian [plih-BEE-uhn], adjective:
1. Of or pertaining to the Roman plebs, or common people.
2. Of or pertaining to the common people.
3. Vulgar; common; crude or coarse in nature or manner.

raffish (adj.) ['rζ-fish]
1. Vulgar in taste, appearance, dissolute in behavior.
2. Dashing, carefree or unconventionally fun-loving; rakish.

ribald [RIB-uhld; RY-bawld], adjective:
1. Characterized by or given to vulgar humor; coarse.
2. A ribald person; a lewd fellow.

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