Sunday, July 31, 2005

Be a Prophet

Elijah stands before God's face because all of his love belongs to the Lord. ...Glorifying God is his joy. His zeal to serve him tears him apart: "I am filled with jealous zeal for the Lord, the God of hosts" (1 Kgs 19:10, 14; these words were used as a motto on the shield of the Order). By living penitentially, he atones for the sins of his time. The offense that the misguided people give to the Lord by their manner of worship hurts him so much that he wants to die. And the Lord consoles him only as he consoles his especially chosen ones: He appears to him himself on a lonely mountain, reveals himself in soft rustling after a thunderstorm, and announces his will to him in clear words.

The prophet, who serves the Lord in complete purity of heart and completely stripped of everything earthly, is also a model of obedience. He stands before God's face like the angels before the eternal throne, awaiting his sign, always ready to serve. He has no other will than the will of his Lord. When God bids, he goes before the king and fearlessly risks giving him bad news that must arouse his hatred. When God wills it, he leaves the country at the threat of violence; but he also returns at God's command, though the danger has not disappeared.

Anyone who is so unconditionally faithful to God can also be certain of God's faithfulness. He is permitted to speak "as someone who has power," may open and close heaven, may command the waters to let him walk through and remain dry, may call down fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice, to execute punishment on God's enemies, and may breathe new life into a dead person. We see the Savior's predecessor provided with all the graces that he has promised to his own. And the greatest crown is still in reserve for him: Before the eyes of his true disciple, Elisha, he is carried off in a fiery carriage to a secret place far from all human abodes. According to the testimony of Revelation, he will return near the end of the world to suffer a martyr's death for his Lord in the battle against the Antichrist.

Edith Stein: on Carmelite Spirituality
Read the rest here

Image: Ford Madox Brown 'Elijah Raises the Widow's Son'

Friday, July 29, 2005

Cultivate

"However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts."
Henry David Thoreau

The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
Luke 10

Spelling

My spelling is Wobbly.
It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.

A. A. Milne

Image: Ernest H Shepard

See also here if you have ever unsuccessfully tried to find a spot on the beach, the best way to carve a ham, or comfort in a moving vehicle,

Are you really sure that a floor can't also be a ceiling?


Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it's in my basement... let me go upstairs and check.

He who wonders discovers that this in itself is a wonder.

M. C. Escher

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Saints Natalia, Aurelius, Liliosa, Felix, and George: Martyrs


At the beginning of the Moslem rule in Córdova, Spain, during the 8th century, Christians were allowed to practice their Faith; later, however, when the domination became complete, the Mohammedan leaders began a systematic persecution of the Christians. One of the most prominent martyrs of the day was the Archbishop of Toledo, St. Eulogius, who also wrote a Memorial of the martyrs who suffered before him, among whom were those we honor today.

Natalia was a converted Moslem and her husband Aurelius was the son of an Arab and a Spanish woman. They conformed to Moslem customs outwardly but practiced their Christian faith in secret. One day Aurelius happened to see a Christian patiently enduring the scorn of the populace and the fierce blows of the whip for having publicly confessed his faith. This worked a dramatic change in Aurelius: from that moment on, he and his wife began to live their Christian faith openly. After setting aside enough money to take care of their daughter’s future, they distributed the rest of their possessions to the poor, and gave themselves over to penance and devotion.

Their example proved to be an inspiration for a relative of Aurelius named Felix, who had apostasized from the Church, and his wife Liliosa who had been practicing her faith in secret. Now, Felix returned to the Church and both gave up all pretense of dissembling. All four began to visit and minister to the Christians who were in prison. It did not take long before all four of these dedicated servants of God were arrested and themselves thrown into prison.

Also arrested with them was a beggar named George, who belonged to the monastery of St. Sabas in Jerusalem and had toured Egypt and Europe in search of alms for his house. S ince he could not be accused of the same crime as the others — apostasy from the Moslem faith — George in order to obtain martyrdom insulted Mohammed to the Cadi’s face. Thus, when the first four were condemned to death by beheading, George was also included. On July 27, 852, these saintly followers of Christ achieved the martyrdom they so avidly sought.

More reflections on Saints Natalia, Aurelius, Liliosa, Felix, and George
-Celine McCoy
Image: Delaroche 'The Young Martyr'

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Frescos in an Old Church

Six Centuries now have gone
Since, one by one,
These stones were laid,
And in air's vacancy
This beauty made.

They who thus reared them
Their rest have won;
Ours now this heritage-
To guard, preserve, delight in, brood upon;
And in these transitory fragments scan
The immortal longings of the soul of man.

Walter de la Mare

Image: St. Anne teaching the Virgin to read, Corby Glen, Linconshire c.1325

An Old Jazz Tune

Powder your face with sunshine
Put on a great big smile
Make up your eyes with laughter
Folks will be laughing with you in a little while

Whistle a tune of gladness
Gloom was never in style

The future's brighter
When hearts are lighter
Smile, smile, smile!

Lombardo/Rochinski,
via Crosby, Martin, Lombardo, et al

Monday, July 25, 2005

Santiago

Georges de la Tour painted him as a pilgrim. El Greco as an envoy.
And this is what St. Paul had to say

2 Cor 4:7-15
"Brothers and sisters: We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.

We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

...Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God."

Of the 12 apostles, Paul met only Peter and James.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

On The Artist

It is important to recognize the distinction, but also the connection, between these two aspects of human activity. The distinction is clear. It is one thing for human beings to be the authors of their own acts, with responsibility for their moral value; it is another to be an artist, able, that is, to respond to the demands of art and faithfully to accept art's specific dictates.

This is what makes the artist capable of producing objects, but it says nothing as yet of his moral character. We are speaking not of moulding oneself, of forming one's own personality, but simply of actualizing one's productive capacities, giving aesthetic form to ideas conceived in the mind.

The distinction between the moral and artistic aspects is fundamental, but no less important is the connection between them. Each conditions the other in a profound way. In producing a work, artists express themselves to the point where their work becomes a unique disclosure of their own being, of what they are and of how they are what they are. And there are endless examples of this in human history.

In shaping a masterpiece, the artist not only summons his work into being, but also in some way reveals his own personality by means of it. For him art offers both a new dimension and an exceptional mode of expression for his spiritual growth. Through his works, the artist speaks to others and communicates with them. The history of art, therefore, is not only a story of works produced but also a story of men and women. Works of art speak of their authors; they enable us to know their inner life, and they reveal the original contribution which artists offer to the history of culture.
John Paul II, Letter to Artists

Image: Rosenthal ' His Maddona'

Friday, July 22, 2005

What, Then, Shall We Read?

In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.

–C. S. Lewis,
An Experiment in Criticism

Image: Edward Robert Hughes
'Night With Her Train Of Stars

Many Sins Forgiven, Because She Loved Much...

If you haven't already,
I challenge you to read
On Mary Magdalene

Because I sure can't top it!

Happy Feast Day

Image: Georges de la Tour 'Magdalene'

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Pity

This book is not about heroes. English Poetry is not yet fit to speak of them. Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, or power, except war. Above all I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They maybe to the next.

All a poet can do today is warn. That is why true Poets must be truthful.

~Wilfred Owen, 1893-1918
from a preface to a planned book of his poetry.
"And then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies' plan. By mixing a little truth with it they had made their lie far stronger."

CS Lewis- The Last Battle

Why the only solution is love. Zenit on 'What Makes Terroists Tick'


As Time Goes By...

The clock of life is wound but once,
And no one has the power
To tell just where the hands will stop,
At late or early hour...

The present only is our own
Live, love, toil with a will;
Place no faith in tomorrow
For the clock may then be still.

- Robert H Smith
As remembered from its place by my mother's cookie jar.

Image: Paul Almsey 'Rock N Roll Sur Les Quais de Paris'

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

...it is through poetry that the soul is most adequately described...

The human soul is not a complete, static, unchanging, monolithic existence.

It is being in the state of becoming and in the process of becoming; the soul must bring to fruition those predispositions with which it was endowed when coming into the world; however, it can develop them only through activation.

... The soul is housed in a body on whose vigor and health its own vigor and health depend — even if not exclusively nor simply.

On the other hand, the body receives its nature as body—life, motion, form, gestalt, and spiritual significance — through the soul.

The world of the spirit is founded on sensuousness which is spiritual as much as physical: the intellect, knowing its activity to be rational, reveals a world; the will intervenes creatively and formatively in this world; the emotion receives this world inwardly and puts it to the test.
-Edith Stein




Images: 'The Lady of Shalot' by: William Holman Hunt (top left) and John William Waterhouse

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

How to Educate Girls

The nature and destiny of woman require an education which can inspire works of effective love. Thus, emotional training is the most important factor required in the formation of woman; however, such authentic formation is related to intellectual clarity and energy as well as to practical competence.

This education forms a proper disposition of the soul in accordance with objective values, and it enables a practical execution of this disposition. To place supernatural values above all earthly ones complies with an objective hierarchy of values. The initiation of this attitude presents as well an analogy with the future vocation of forming human beings for the kingdom of God.

That is why the essence of all feminine education (as of education in general) must be religious education, one which can forcefully convey the truths of the faith in a manner which appeals to the emotions and inspires actions. Such formation is designed to exercise simultaneously the practical activities by the life of faith. The individual will be concerned with these activities through his entire life: the development of the life of faith and of prayer with the Church through the liturgy, as well as with creating a new personal relationship to the Lord, especially through an understanding of the Holy Eucharist and a truly Eucharistic life. Of course, such religious education can only be imparted by those personalities who are themselves filled with the spirit of faith and whose lives are fashioned by it.

-Edith Stein, 'On the Spirituality of Women'

Image: Jessie Wilcox Smith

Life is a fact


Monday, July 18, 2005

On the Sixteenth Sunday of the Year, 2005

This is a day of contradictions: the height of summer in a world which seems to us to be defined by the cold despair of winter. But we remember that it is in winter, when everything is frozen into the intimate warmth of the earth that the grain prepares for a new spring.

When you sow things they seem to become lost. You cannot find, or hope to find the mustard seed again. The wheat appears to be rotten and worthless. And Jesus says this, in the presence of God, is actually the solution: a promise of spring, resurrection, and life!

The answer of a Christian to the questions of the world is different from that of the politicians and the media. It is not revenge, not taking upon ourselves the separation of the 'darnel' and the wheat. And our peculiar element of hope is that in a communal sharing of suffering, new seeds of empathy and heroism will grow. Paul asks how we can even pray amongst this suffering, and then gives us the answer: for us, this is the travail before a new birth! And what we acknowledge that we cannot fix our God can transform.

Sermon: Fr. Benedito, Diocese of Westminster, London
Image: Millet 'The Angelus'

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Notes from Greenwich


"All I need is a tall ship and a star to stear her by..."
-John Masefield


WHY IS A SHIP CALLED A SHE?
A ship is called a she because there is always a great deal of bustle around her; there is usually a gang of men around her; she has a waist and wears stays; it takes a lot of paint to keep her young looking; it's not the initial expense that breaks you, but the upkeep; she can be all decked out; it takes an experienced man to handle her correctly but without a man at the helm she is absolutely uncontrolable; and when coming into a new port she always heads for the buoys.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Generous Love

"Be witnesses to Christ among other people of your own age. In this way give vigour to your lives as believers secure in committing yourselves to a great cause, and you will be able to perceive more effectively the voice of the Spirit.

And if this voice calls you to a higher and more generous love, do not be afraid. Take courage: Christ is calling you and the whole world awaits you!

Remember that the Kingdom of God has need of your generous and total dedication. Do not be like the rich young man who, when invited by Christ, was unable to accept but remained with his possessions and sadness, even though Jesus had glanced at him with love. Be like the fishermen who, when they were called by Jesus, left everything promptly to become fishers of men. " John Paul II, 1989

Please join me and Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha to pray for World Youth Day 2005- 33 Day countdown!

Image: William Allard- Midwife Bedami Devi holds an abandoned baby girl found under a bridge

Just a Legality

Courtesy of my brother, via Disorder in the Courts of America, a book which claims to have gleaned these from actual court reports.

Although in all fairness I think one of the reasons so much humor has exists at the expense of lawers is that, unlike artists and architects, they have the misfortune of working in a profession which regorously rechords every slip of the tongue...


ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all? WITNESS: Yes. ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory? WITNESS: I forget. ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning? WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?" ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you? WITNESS: My name is Susan.

ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo? WITNESS: We both do.ATTORNEY: Voodoo? WITNESS: We do. ATTORNEY: You do? WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning? WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken? WITNESS: Would you repeat the question?

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated? WITNESS: By death. ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to? WITNESS: Oral.

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body? WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m. ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time? WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse? WITNESS: No. ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure? WITNESS: No. ATTORNEY Did you check for breathing? WITNESS: No. ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy? WITNESS: No. ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor? WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar. ATTORNEY: But could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless? WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A Song of Paradise

SING a song of Paradise
Far above the skies,--
Four-and-twenty Elders
And Monsters full of eyes!
Heaven's gates are opened,
They all begin to sing,
Playing ball with golden crowns
Round about the King.

The King is in His counting-house,
Counting His elect,
The Queen comes from her chamber
Royally bedecked
With chrysoprase and amethyst
And jacinth without price . . .
Now is not this a pretty song
To sing of Paradise?
-Dorothy Sayers

Image: Margaret Tarrant 'First Flowers'

Monday, July 11, 2005

Ecce! Labora!

Happy Feast of St. Benedict of Nursia:

St. Benedict's Rule is written for laymen, not for clerics. The saint's purpose was not to institute an order of clerics with clerical duties and offices, but an organization and a set of rules for the domestic life of such laymen as wished to live as fully as possible the type of life presented in the Gospel. "My words", he says, "are addressed to thee, whoever thou art, that, renouncing thine own will, dost put on the strong and bright armour of obedience in order to fight for the Lord Christ, our true King." (Prol. to Rule.)

A characteristic feature of the saint's Rule is its view of work. ...With Benedict the work of his monks was ...a means to goodness of life. The great disciplinary force for human nature is work; idleness is its ruin. The purpose of his Rule was to bring men "back to God by the labour of obedience, from whom they had departed by the idleness of disobedience". Work was the first condition of all growth in goodness. ... In the regeneration of human nature in the order of discipline, even prayer comes after work, for grace meets with no co-operation in the soul and heart of an idler. ... "Ecce! labora!" go and work.

Work is not, as the civilization of the time taught, the condition peculiar to slaves; it is the universal lot of man, necessary for his well-being as a man, and essential for him as a Christian.

The religious life, as conceived by St. Benedict is essentially social. Life apart from one's fellows, the life of a hermit, if it is to be wholesome and sane, is possible only for a few, and these few must have reached an advanced stage of self-discipline while living with others (Rule, 1). The Rule, therefore, is entirely occupied with regulating the life of a community of men who live and work and pray and eat together, and this is not merely for a course of training, but as a permanent element of life at its best. ...So intimately connected with domestic life is the whole framework and teaching of the Rule that a Benedictine may be more truly said to enter or join a particular household than to join an order.

...The Benedictine ideal of poverty is quite different from the Franciscan. The Benedictine takes no explicit vow of poverty; he only vows obedience according to the Rule. The rule allows all that is necessary to each individual, ... Possessions could be held in common, they might be large, but they were to be administered for the furtherance of the work of the community and for the benefit of others. While the individual monk was poor, the monastery was to be in a position to give alms, not to be compelled to seek them. It was to relieve the poor, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick, to bury the dead, to help the afflicted (ibid., 4), to entertain all strangers (ibid., 3). The poor came to Benedict to get help to pay their debts (Dial. St. Greg., 27); they came for food (ibid., 21, 28).

... In his conception of the Chrisitian character, prayer is coexistent with the whole life, and life is not complete at any point unless penetrated by prayer. ... The form of prayer which thus covers the whole of our waking hours, St. Benedict calls the first degree of humility. It consists in realizing the presence of God (7). ...[T]he centre of the common life to which he bound his monks, [was]...public worship of
God, the opus Dei, ... the chief work of his monks, and to be the source from which all other works took their inspiration, their direction, and their strength.

...if St. Benedict gives no further directions on private prayer, it is because the whole condition and mode of life secured by the Rule, and the character formed by its observance, lead naturally to the higher states of prayer.


...The Rule, including its system of prayer and public psalmody, is meant for every class of mind and every degree of learning. It is framed not only for the educated and for souls advanced in perfection, but it organizes and directs a complete life which is adapted for simple folk and for sinners, for the observance of the Commandments and for the beginnings of goodness. "We have written this Rule", writes St. Benedict, "that by observing it..., we may shew ourselves to have some degree of goodness in life and a beginning of holiness." "Whoever, therfore, thou are that hastenest to thy heavenly country, fulfil by the help of Christ this little RUle which we have written for beginner: and then at length thou shalt arrive, under God's protection, at the lofty summits of doctrine and virtue." (73).

Click Here to Visit Monte Cassino

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Terror, Heroism, and Anniversaries

O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profundity
Of honor and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, Good Lord!

Tie in a living tether
the prince and priest and thrall,
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all.
In ire and exultation,
Aflame with faith and free,
lift up a living nation,
A single sword to thee.

Hymn: GK Chesterton
Image: J Powell, 'St Michael' from the Warminster Mosaic

BBC on the 60th Anniversary VE and VJ Day

Christopher Hitchens on London's Response (With apologies to PeepingThomists)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Relative Burdens

'Come to me all you who labor, and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.'

"Any other burden oppresses and crushes you, but Christ's actually takes weight off you. Any other burden weighs down, but Christ's gives you wings.

If you take a bird's wings away, you might seem to be taking weight off it, but the more weight you take off, the more you tie it down to the earth. There it is on the ground, and you wanted to relieve it of a weight; give it back the weight of its wings and you will see how it flies"

- St. Augustine, "Sermon," 126.
Image: 'Jesus Washing the Feet of Peter,' Ford Mattox Brown

Just So Things Don't Get Too Serious




















One of the refinements of culture which I have discovered English grocery stores to be missing during my time here...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Reflections on the United States From Abroad

Chapter 13: GOVERNMENT OF THE DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA

I AM well aware of the difficulties that attend this part of my subject; but although every expression which I am about to use may clash, upon some points, with the feelings of the different parties which divide my country, I shall still speak my whole thought.

In Europe we are at a loss how to judge the true character and the permanent instincts of democracy, because in Europe two conflicting principles exist .... Such is not the case in America, however; ...In America democracy is given up to its own propensities; its course is natural and its activity is unrestrained, there, consequently, its real character must be judged. ...

MANY people in Europe are apt to believe without saying it, or to say without believing it, that one of the great advantages of universal suffrage is that it entrusts the direction of affairs to men who are worthy of the public confidence. They ...aver that the people always wish the welfare of the state and instinctively designate those who are animated by the same good will and who are the most fit to wield the supreme authority. I confess that the observations I made in America by no means coincide with these opinions. On my arrival in the United States I was surprised to find so much distinguished talent among the citizens and so little among the heads of the government.

...I readily admit that the mass of the citizens sincerely wish to promote the welfare of the country; ...but it is always more or less difficult for them to discern the best means of attaining the end which they sincerely desire. Long and patient observation and much acquired knowledge are requisite to form a just estimate of the character of a single individual. Men of the greatest genius often fail to do it, and can it be supposed that the common people will always succeed? The people have neither the time nor the means for an investigation of this kind. Their conclusions are hastily formed from a superficial inspection of the more prominent features of a question. Hence it often happens that mountebanks of all sorts are able to please the people, while their truest friends frequently fail to gain their confidence.

...It cannot be denied that democratic institutions strongly tend to promote the feeling of envy in the human heart; not so much because they afford to everyone the means of rising to the same level with others as because those means perpetually disappoint the persons who employ them. Democratic institutions awaken and foster a passion for equality which they can never entirely satisfy. ... The lower orders are agitated by the chance of success, they are irritated by its uncertainty; and they pass from the enthusiasm of pursuit to the exhaustion of ill success, and lastly to the acrimony of disappointment. ..., and there is no superiority, however legitimate it may be, which is not irksome in their sight. ...While the natural instincts of democracy induce the people to reject distinguished citizens as their rulers, an instinct not less strong induces able men to retire from the political arena, in which it is so difficult to retain their independence, or to advance without becoming servile...

WHEN serious dangers threaten the state, the people frequently succeed in selecting the citizens who are the most able to save it. It has been observed that man rarely retains his customary level in very critical circumstances; he rises above or sinks below his usual condition, and the same thing is true of nations. ..Great characters are then brought into relief as the edifices which are usually concealed by the gloom of night are illuminated by the glare of a conflagrations. At those dangerous times genius no longer hesitates to come forward; and the people, alarmed by the perils of their situation, for a time forget their envious passions. Great names may then be drawn from the ballot box. ...When America was struggling in the high cause of independence to throw off the yoke of another country, and when it was about to usher a new nation into the world, the spirits of its inhabitants were roused to the height which their great objects required. In this general excitement distinguished men were ready to anticipate the call of the community, and the people clung to them for support and placed them at their head. But such events are rare, and it is from the ordinary course of affairs that our judgment must be formed.

If passing occurrences sometimes check the passions of democracy, the intelligence and the morals of the community exercise an influence on them which is not less powerful and far more permanent. This is very perceptible in the United States..., [W]here education and liberty are the daughters of morality and religion, where society has acquired age and stability enough to enable it to form principles and hold fixed habits, the common people are accustomed to respect intellectual and moral superiority and to submit to it without complaint, although they set at naught all those privileges which wealth and birth have introduced among mankind. ...Consequently, the democracy makes a more judicious choice than it does elsewhere.

...It is difficult to say what degree of effort a democratic government may be capable of making on the occurrence of a national crisis. No great democratic republic has hitherto existed in the world. ... The United States affords the first example of the kind. The American Union has now subsisted for half a century, and its existence has only once been attacked; namely, during the War of Independence. At the commencement of that long war, extraordinary efforts were made with enthusiasm for the service of the country. But as the contest was prolonged, private selfishness began to reappear. No money was brought into the public treasury; few recruits could be raised for the army; the people still wished to acquire independence, but would not employ the only means by which it could be obtained. ...In order, therefore, to know what sacrifices democratic nations may impose upon themselves, we must wait until the American people are obliged to put half their entire income at the disposal of the government, as was done by the English; or to send forth a twentieth part of its population to the field of battle, as was done by France.

...It is incontestable that, in times of danger, a free people display far more energy than any other. But ...Democracy appears to me better adapted for the conduct of society in times of peace, or for a sudden effort of remarkable vigor, than for the prolonged endurance of the great storms that beset the political existence of nations. The reason is very evident; enthusiasm prompts men to expose themselves to dangers and privations; but without reflection they will not support them long. There is more calculation even in the impulses of bravery than is generally supposed; and although the first efforts are made by passion alone, perseverance is maintained only by a distinct view of what one is fighting for. A portion of what is dear to us is hazarded in order to save the remainder.

But it is this clear perception of the future, founded upon judgement and experience, that is frequently wanting in democracies. The people are more apt to feel than to reason; and if their present sufferings are great, it is to be feared that the still greater sufferings attendant upon defeat will be forgotten. ...The noble exposes his life, indeed, but the chance of glory is equal to the chance of harm. If he sacrifices a large portion of his income to the state, he deprives himself for a time of some of the pleasures of affluence; but to the poor man death has no glory, and the imposts that are merely irksome to the rich often deprive him of the necessaries of life.

...I am of opinion that a democratic government tends, in the long run, to increase the real strength of society; but it can never combine, upon a single point and at a given time, so much power as an aristocracy or an absolute monarchy. If a democratic country remained during a whole century subject to a republican government, it would probably at the end of that period be richer, more populous, and more prosperous than the neighboring despotic states. But during that century it would often have incurred the risk of being conquered by them.

... a democracy can obtain truth only as the result of experience; and many nations may perish while they are awaiting the consequences of their errors. The great privilege of the Americans does not consist in being more enlightened than other nations, but in being able to repair the faults they may commit.

Images: 'The Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speach, Freedom From Want, Freedom of Worship, Freedom From Fear' by Norman Rockwell
Text: de Tocqueville http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/toc_indx.html