A Website and a Monthly Newsletter about the Outer Bay of Islands, Newfoundland


Lord Acton (1834-1902) English historian.

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".

Poem by Robert Hayman  (1575-1629)

            The Aire, in Newfound-Land is wholesome good;
            The Fire, as sweet as any made of wood;
            The Waters, very rich, both salt and fresh;
            The Earth more rich, you know it is no less.
            Where all are good, Fire, Water, Earth, and Aire,
            What man made of these foure would not live there?

Charles Dickens 1812 – 1870

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”!

Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980)

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth: we are all crew.  (1965)

St Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

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.

St Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13, verses 1 and 13  (The Bible)

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.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616), from Hamlet, act 1 scene 3

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.

Pastor Martin Niemöller  (1892-1984)

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.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Tintern Abbey, lines 88-102

                          ... For I have learned
     To look on nature, not as in the hour
     Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
     The still, sad music of humanity,
     Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
     To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
     A presence that disturbs me with the joy
     Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
     Of something far more deeply interfused,
     Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
     And the round ocean and the living air,
     And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
     A motion and a spirit, that impels
     All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
     And rolls through all things.              (1798)

Poem by Francis Thompson  (1859-1907)

             The Kingdom of God

    O WORLD invisible, we view thee,
    O world intangible, we touch thee,
    O world unknowable, we know thee,
    Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

    Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
    The eagle plunge to find the air--
    That we ask of the stars in motion
    If they have rumour of thee there?

    Not where the wheeling systems darken,
    And our benumbed conceiving soars!--
    The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
    Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

    The angels keep their ancient places--
    Turn but a stone and start a wing!
    'Tis ye, 'tis your estrangèd faces,
    That miss the many-splendoured thing.


    But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
    Cry--and upon thy so sore loss
    Shall shine the traffic of Jacob's ladder
    Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.

    Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
    Cry--clinging to Heaven by the hems;
    And lo, Christ walking on the water,
    Not of Genesareth, but Thames!

                                   Francis Thompson

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. 


Poem of George Sutherland Fraser (1915-1980)

           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,
      The likeness of a cloud or wave
  Whose momentary aspect, gone,
      The sieve of memory cannot save.

  Right at the back of my head I know
      Incredible wild things
  Struggle like swans half-blind with snow-
        And the dying swan sings.

A thought from Edward Noyes Westcott, 19th century American writer

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! 

Winston Churchill (1874–1965) once said:

The United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Be careful of reading health books - you may die of a misprint.