James Fenimore Cooper
It is a governing principle of nature, that the agency which can produce most good, when perverted from its proper aim, is most productive of evil. It behooves the well-intentioned, therefore, vigorously to watch the tendency of even their most highly-prized institutions, since that which was established in the interests of the right, may so easily become the agent of the wrong.
The disposition of all power is to abuses, nor does it at all mend the matter that its possessors are a majority. Unrestrained political authority, though it be confided to masses, cannot be trusted without positive limitations, men in bodies being but an aggregation of the passions, weaknesses and interests of men as individuals.
If we would have civilization and the exertion indispensable to its success, we must have property; if we have property, we must have its rights; if we have the rights of property, we must take those consequences of the rights of property which are inseparable from the rights themselves.
We live in a world of transgressions and selfishness, and no pictures that represent us otherwise can be true; though happily for human nature, gleamings of that pure spirit in whose likeness man has been fashioned, are to be seen, relieving its deformities, and mitigating, if not excusing its crimes.
What seems venerable by an accumulation of changes is reduced to familiarity when we come seriously to consider it solely in connection with time.
Equality, in a social sense, may be divided into that of condition, and that of rights. Equality of condition is incompatible with civilization, and is found only to exist in those communities that are but slightly removed from the savage state. In practice, it can only mean a common misery.
An interesting fiction... however paradoxical the assertion may appear... addresses our love of truth- not the mere love of facts expressed by true names and dates, but the love of that higher truth, the truth of nature and principals, which is a primitive law of the human mind.
The very existence of government at all, infers inequality. The citizen who is preferred to office becomes the superior to those who are not, so long as he is the repository of power, and the child inherits the wealth of the parent as a controlling law of society.
All greatness of character is dependent on individuality. The man who has no other existence than that which he partakes in common with all around him will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity.
The ability to discriminate between that which is true and that which is false is one of the last attainments of the human mind.
The press, like fire, is an excellent servant, but a terrible master.
The tendency of democracies is, in all things, to mediocrity.
It is a terrible thought, that nothing is ever forgotten; that not an oath is ever uttered that does not continue to vibrate through all time, in the wide-spreading current of sound; that not a prayer is lisped, that its record is not to be found stamped on the laws of nature by the indelible seal of the Almighty's will.
A true history of human events would show a far larger proportion of our acts are the results of sudden impulses and accident, than of that reason of which we so much boast.