Monthly Archives: April 2004

The Ever-quotable Mencken

Reading Transmetropolitan: Gouge Away, I found this quotation:

The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.
(Smart Set Magazine, December 1919)

Lots of people seem to have gathered Mencken quotes (1400+ in Google). Here are some particularly worthwhile collections:

D. Simanek (Lock Haven University)
Freedom’s Nest
John Webb’s collection

TE Lawrence, 1920

In August 1920, Lawrence contributed a Report on Mesopotamia to the Sunday Times, which makes interesting reading in light of what’s occurring now in Iraq. The piece begins

The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information…


A sense that the world has shifted –again– via a Seb posting and some other nearby bits. Jon Udell’s weblog contributes Technorati Trackbacks and this example of Lucas Gonze’s cleverness shows the use… So what we have here is the means to track conversations, to distribute pointers to mp3s… the implications are just starting to line up for interpretation.
And there’s stuff out there like Iraqi Maqaam… This really changes the playing field for teaching a World Music course.

Calgacus on Rome

A speech ascribed to the “first Scot in recorded history”, Calgacus:
30. “Whenever I consider the origin of this war and the necessities of our position, I have a sure confidence that this day, and this union of yours, will be the beginning of freedom to the whole of Britain. To all of us slavery is a thing unknown; there are no lands beyond us, and even the sea is not safe, menaced as we are by a Roman fleet. And thus in war and battle, in which the brave find glory, even the coward will find safety. Former contests, in which, with varying fortune, the Romans were resisted, still left in us a last hope of succour, inasmuch as being the most renowned nation of Britain, dwelling in the very heart of the country, and out of sight of the shores of the conquered, we could keep even our eyes unpolluted by the contagion of slavery. To us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of Britain’s glory has up to this time been a defence. Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvellous. But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission. Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace.
(Ancient History Sourcebook: Tacitus: Life of Cnaeus Julius Agricola, c.98 CE, Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb)