Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
NOTE: This quotation is an excerpt from a letter sent by Lord Acton to an acquaintance during a discussion of the topic "power" they conducted by mail. The first sentence of Lord Acton's statement is frequently misquoted, without the words "tends to".
The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time, without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong, without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault-full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.
— Little Dorrit, chapter 10.
We who live in modern times tend to think that bureaucracy, the structure which frequently hinders and delays us in whatever business we may have with Government, is a modern invention. However the 1857 quotation below from Charles Dickens’s 1857 novel Little Dorrit leaves no room to doubt that bureaucracy has a long, if not strictly honourable, history. Listen any day to the proceedings of our governments, federal or provincial, particularly in Question Time, and it quickly becomes plain that the modern politician’s skilful avoidance of a direct answer to a simple question is not just a modern phenomenon. As the French so succinctly remark, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”!
If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. . . . .And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
First they came for the socialists,
and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the communists,
and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
The Kingdom of God
The angels keep their ancient places--
This has been one of my favourite poems ever since I first read it as a teenager. At first sight its meaning seems obscure, but soon the theme "to find truth we need search no further than ourselves" emerges clearly, particularly, although not exclusively, to people of faith. In simple terms, God (or truth) is not somewhere out there, inaccessible; but, says Thompson, we need only search within ourselves.
| On a Memory of Beauty |
How can the heart for sea and stone
Be cumbered and forget a face
That moved it once to fret and moan -
Forget the woman, see the place?
But was it one or was it two,
Was it a statue or a girl?
Might every spring her form renew,
And the white sea-froth be her curl?
Beauty but for a moment shone,
A reasonable amount of fleas is good for a dog . . . . . . they keep him from broodin' on bein' a dog.
While humorous, this thought contains more real truth than we might think on first reading!
The United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative.