Reference > Quotations > C.N. Douglas, comp. > Forty Thousand Quotations > Primary Author Index
C.N. Douglas, comp.  Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical.  1917.
James A. Garfield
  A nation is not worthy to be saved if, in the hour of its fate, it will not gather up all its jewels of manhood and life, and go down into the conflict, however bloody and doubtful, resolved on measureless ruin or complete success.  1
  A noble life crowned with heroic death rises above and outlives the pride and pomp and glory of the mightiest empire of the earth.  2
  A pound of pluck is worth a ton of luck.  3
  All free governments are managed by the combined wisdom and folly of the people.  4
  All free governments are party governments.  5
  As a flash of lightning in a midnight tempest reveals the abysmal horrors of the sea, so did the flash of the first sun disclose the awful abyss into which rebellion was ready to plunge us. In a moment the fire was lighted in twenty million hearts. In a moment we were the most warlike nation on the earth. In a moment we were not merely a people with an army—we were a people in arms. The nation was in column—not all at the front, but all in the array. I love to believe that no heroic sacrifice is ever lost; that the characters of men are molded and inspired by what their fathers have done; that treasured up in American souls are all the unconscious influences of the great deeds of the Anglo-Saxon race, from Agincourt to Bunker Hill. It was such an influence that led a young Greek, two thousand years ago, when musing on the battle of Marathon, to exclaim, “The trophies of Miltiades will not let me sleep!” Could these men be silent in 1861; these, whose ancestors had felt the inspiration of battle on every field where civilization had fought in the last thousand years? Read their answer in this green turf. Each for himself gathered up the cherished purposes of life—its aims and ambitions, its dearest affections—and flung all, with life itself, into the scale of battle.  6
  At present the most valuable gift which can be bestowed on women is something to do, which they can do well and worthily, and thereby maintain themselves.  7
  Battles are never the end of war; for the dead must be buried and the cost of the conflict must be paid.  8
  Coercion is the basis of every law in the universe,—human or divine. A law is not law without coercion behind it.  9
  Commerce links all mankind in one common brotherhood of mutual dependence and interests.  10
  Every great political party that has done this country any good has given to it some immortal ideas that have outlived the members of that party.  11
  Fortunate men! your country lives because you died. Your fame is placed where the breath of calumny can never reach it, where the mistakes of a weary life can never dim its brightness! Coming generations will rise up and call you blessed.  12
  Great ideas travel slowly, and for a time noiselessly, as the gods whose feet were shod with wool.  13
  Heroes did not make our liberties: they but reflected and illustrated them.  14
  History is but the unrolled scroll of prophecy.  15
  History is constantly repeating itself, making only such changes of programme as the growth of nations and centuries requires.  16
  Honesty is the best policy, says the familiar axiom; but people who are honest on that principle defraud no one but themselves.  17
  I am trying to do two things,—dare to be a radical, and not be a fool; which, if I may judge by the exhibitions around me, is a matter of no small difficulty.  18
  I have seen the sea lashed into fury and tossed into spray, and its grandeur moves the soul of the dullest man; but I remember that it is not the billows, but the calm level of the sea, from which all heights and depths are measured. When the storm has passed and the hour of calm settles on the ocean, when the sunlight bathes its smooth surface, then the astronomer and surveyor take the level from which to measure all terrestrial heights and depths. Gentlemen of the convention, your present temper may not mark the healthful pulse of our people when our enthusiasm has passed. When the emotions of this hour have subsided, we shall find that calm level of public opinion below the storm, from which the thoughts of a mighty people are to be measured, and by which their final action will be determined.  19
  I must do something to keep my thoughts fresh and growing. I dread nothing so much as falling into a rut and feeling myself becoming a fossil.  20
  I will pick up a few straws here and there over the broad field, and ask you a few moments to look at them.  21
  If silence is ever golden, it must be  *  *  *  beside the graves of  *  *  *  men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.  22
  If the power to do hard work is not talent, it is the best possible substitute for it.  23
  If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should not grow old.  24
  In the long, fierce struggle for freedom of opinion, the press, like the church, counted its martyrs by thousands.  25
  In the minds of most men, the kingdom of opinion is divided into three territories—the territory of yes, the territory of no, and a broad, unexplored middle ground of doubt.  26
  Individuals may wear for a time the glory of our institutions, but they carry it not to the grave with them. Like raindrops from heaven, they may pass through the circle of the shining bow and add to its luster; but when they have sunk in the earth again, the proud arch still spans the sky and shines gloriously on.  27
  It is not right or manly to lie even about Satan.  28
  Liberty is no negation. It is a substantive, tangible reality.  29
  Light itself is a great corrective. A thousand wrongs and abuses that are grown in darkness disappear, like owls and bats, before the light of day.  30
  Monuments may be builded to express the affection or pride of friends, or to display their wealth, but they are only valuable for the characters which they perpetuate.  31
  Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither justice nor freedom can be permanently maintained.  32
  Nine times out of ten, the best thing that can happen to a young man is to be tossed overboard and compelled to sink or swim for himself. In all my acquaintance I never knew a man to be drowned who was worth the saving.  33
  No man can make a speech alone. It is the great human power that strikes up from a thousand minds that acts upon him, and makes the speech.  34
  Power exhibits itself under two distinct forms,—strength and force,—each possessing peculiar qualities, and each perfect in its own sphere. Strength is typified by the oak, the rock, the mountain. Force embodies itself in the cataract, the tempest, and the thunder-bolt.  35
  Real political issues cannot be manufactured by the leaders of political parties, and real ones cannot be evaded by political parties. The real political issues of the day declare themselves, and come out of the depths of that deep which we call public opinion.  36
  Right reason is stronger than force.  37
  Suicide is not a remedy.  38
  Swift defined observation to be an old man’s memory.  39
  The best system of education is that which draws its chief support from the voluntary effort of the community, from the individual efforts of citizens, and from those burdens of taxation which they voluntarily impose upon themselves.  40
  The children of to-day will be the architects of our country’s destiny in 1900.  41
  The monument means a world of memories, a world of deeds, a world of tears, and a world of glories.  *  *  *  By the subtle chemistry that no man knows, all the blood that was shed by our brethren, all the lives that were devoted, all the grief that was felt, at last crystallized itself into granite, rendering immortal the great truth for which they died, and it stands there to-day.  42
  The people of this country have shown by the highest proofs human nature can give that wherever the path of duty and honor may lead, however steep and rugged it may be, they are ready to walk in it.  43
  The possession of great powers no doubt carries with it a contempt for mere external show.  44
  The right of private judgment is absolute in every American citizen.  45
  The world’s history is a divine poem of which the history of every nation is a canto and every man a word. Its strains have been pealing along down the centuries, and though there have been mingled the discords of warring cannon and dying men, yet to the Christian philosopher and historian—the humble listener—there has been a divine melody running through the song which speaks of hope and halcyon days to come.  46
  There are some things I am afraid of: I am afraid to do a mean thing.  47
  There are times in the history of men and nations, when they stand so near the vale that separates mortals from the immortals, time from eternity, and men from their God, that they can almost hear the beatings, and feel the pulsations of the heart of the Infinite.  48
  They summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtue of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.  49
  True art is but the anti-type of nature,—the embodiment of discovered beauty in utility.  50
  We hold reunions, not for the dead, for there is nothing in all the earth that you and I can do for the dead. They are past our help and past our praise. We can add to them no glory, we can give to them no immortality. They do not need us, but forever and forever more we need them.  51
  Whatever I may believe in theology, I do not believe in the doctrine of vicarious atonement in politics.  52
  When the Divine Artist would produce a poem, He plants a germ of it in a human soul, and out of that soul the poem springs and grows as from the rose-tree the rose.  53
  Wherever a ship ploughs the sea, or a plough furrows the field; wherever a mine yields its treasure; wherever a ship or a railroad train carries freight to market; wherever the smoke of the furnace rises, or the clang of the loom resounds; even in the lonely garret, where the seamstress plies her busy needle—there is industry.  54
  You and I are now nearly in middle age, and have not yet become soured and shrivelled with the wear and tear of life. Let us pray to be delivered from that condition where life and Nature have no fresh, sweet sensations for us.  55

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