Thoughts & Quotes of

the letter and you will be brought to the beginning of the thoughts beginning with that letter.


¶ Our form of government is really a juntocracy, or government by a minister and his crew.
¶ It was the reign of the English Queen, Anne (1702-14) when there came about a growth in unity and power of the Cabinet Council. Anne was a sick woman throughout much of her reign and was obliged to leave many of the decisions of state with her ministers. Anne's Lord Treasure was her "Prime Minister." Her next most powerful minister was the Secretary of State.
¶ "Calamity is unhappily the usual season of reflection." (Edmund Burke)
¶ In regards to capital punishment: I take the moral high ground: life is precious. However, that life is precious, is no reason to object to capital punishment, -- indeed, this is the primary justification for capital punishment. I don't know if I like the idea of bringing back capital punishment for all murderers, but maybe for a small subset. Many murders are once-in-a-lifetime acts, and the perpetrators never kill again. Some murderers do strike more than once. Often, they too, can be reformed. However, a small but horrifying group of murderers show no compassion. They strike at random and the murders are carefully planned. Torture is more often the rule, not the exception. For these killing machines -- what else can you call someone who is so unflinchingly vicious? -- death may be the only safe choice. If they cannot be 'cured' and 'proven' to be safe, why should we let them live to kill again? They have, after all, proven themselves inherently dangerous. Do we value the lives of past and future victims so little? Can anyone actually argue that the murderer's life is more important than those of his victims? Everyone must agree that the recidivism rate of those executed is much lower. If we cannot keep serial killers locked up until they die, or if that would be more cruel treatment, then perhaps we should terminate them. DNA testing helps ensure we do not execute the wrong person. It's not retribution or revenge, it's simply a matter of public safety.
A process used by students by which principles, doctrines, theories, etc. are reduced into short concise statements or notes. These notes can be valuable to the student when he goes to refresh himself before examinations; but it is likely more valuable as a learning process, for, in order to successfully condense an area of knowledge, one must first understand and become thoroughly acquainted with the whole. Canned notes usually do not make much sense to anyone except a person who is trained in the area, and often, like so much short hand only to the person who did the canning.
§ See blupete's commentary of -- June 3rd, 2001.
§ "You got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there" (Yogi Berra).
¶ "Know when to speak; for many things it brings
Danger to give the best advice to kings." (Herrick: Aph. Caution in Council.)
¶ "Look before you leap;
For as you sow y' are like to reap." (Butler: Hudibras.)
§ "Only the fools are certain and assured." (Montaigne)
§ "The surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness; her state is like that of things above the moon, ever serene." (Montaigne)
§ See Prerogative Writs.
¶ The court of the Lord Chancellor of England, the highest court of judicature next to the House of Lords; but, since the Judicature Act of 1873, a division of the High Court of Justice. We learn from the OED that it "formerly consisted of two distinct tribunals, one ordinary, being a court of common law, the other extraordinary, being a court of equity. To the former belonged the issuing of writs for a new parliament, and of all original writs. The second proceeded upon rules of equity and conscience, moderating the rigour of the common law, and giving relief in cases where there was no remedy in the common-law courts. Its functions in this respect are now transferred to the Court of Appeal."
§ "It is a secret both in nature and state, that it is safer to change many things than one." (Francis Bacon)
§ See blupete's commentary of -- February 20th, 2000.
¶ Creatures of the Present Impulse -
"[We meet] people who cannot lift up a little finger to save themselves from ruin, nor give up the smallest indulgence for the sake of any other person. They cannot put themselves out of their way on any account. No one makes a greater outcry when the day of reckoning comes, or affects greater compassion for the mischiefs they have occasioned; but till the time comes, they feel nothing, they care for nothing. They live in the present moment, are the creatures of the present impulse (whatever it may be) -- and beyond that, the universe is nothing to them. The slightest toy countervails the empire of the world; they will not forego the smallest inclination they feel, for any object that can be proposed to them, or any reasons that can be urged for it. ... [One cannot] ask of these persons to put off any enjoyment for a single instant, or to gird themselves up to any enterprise of pith or moment. They have been so used to a studied succession of agreeable sensations that the shortest pause is a privation which they can by no means endure ... They lie on beds of roses, and spread their gauze wings to the sun and summer gale, and cannot bear to put their tender feet to the ground, much less to encounter the thorns and briars of the world. ... they have no fancy for fishing in troubled waters." (William Hazlitt, "On Effeminacy of Character.")
¶ The Hesitator -
Then there are others who "may be officious, good-natured, friendly, generous in disposition, but they are of no use to any one. They will put themselves to twice the trouble you desire, not to carry your point, but to defeat it; and in obviating needless objections, neglect the main business. If they do what you want, it is neither at the time nor in the manner that you wish. This timidity amounts to treachery ... They hesitate about the best way of beginning a thing till the opportunity for action is lost, and are less anxious about its being done than the precise manner of doing it. ... the same distraction of motive and shortsightedness which gets them into scrapes hinders them from seeing their way out of them. Such persons ... spoil the freshness and originality of their own thoughts by asking contradictory advice; and in befriending others, while they are about it and about it, you might have done the thing yourself a dozen times over." (William Hazlitt, "On Effeminacy of Character.")
¶ Firm and Decisive -
"There is nothing more to be esteemed than a manly firmness and decision of character. I like a person who knows his own mind and sticks to it; who sees at once what is to be done in given circumstances and does it. He does not beat about the bush for difficulties or excuses, but goes the shortest and most effectual way to work to attain his own ends or to accomplish a useful object. If he can serve you, he will do so; if he cannot, he will say so without keeping you in needless suspense, or laying you under pretended obligations. T... There is stuff in him, and it is of the right practicable sort. ... [He gives no thought as to whether he be] a friend or a foe, a knave or a fool; but thinks that life is short, and that there is no time to play fantastic tricks in it, to tamper with principles, or trifle with individual feelings." (William Hazlitt, "On Effeminacy of Character.")
¶ "We confide in our own strength without boasting; we respect that of others withut fearing it." (Thomas Jefferson)
§ See blupete's commentary of -- March 1st, 1998.
¶ "Dependence on charity is not to be made an agreeable mode of life." (Sir Charles Trevelyan.)
§ See blupete's commentary of -- November 24, 1997.
¶ According to Russell "there can be no real intimacy or friendship between parents and children, and the parents are incapable of helping their children with advice or sympathy."
¶ From the Dear Abby column as appeared in The Daily News, January 18, 1994:
"The Childless Couple: There is nothing sadder than a childless couple. It breaks my heart to see them relaxing around swimming pools in Florida, sitting all suntanned and miserable on the decks of their boats - trotting off to Europe like lonesome fools. It's an empty life. Nothing but money to spend, more time to enjoy, and a whole lot less to worry about. The poor childless couple are so wrapped in themselves, you have to feel sorry for them. They don't fight over the child's discipline, don't blame each other for the child's most obnoxious characteristics, and they miss all the fun of doing without for the child's sake. They just go along, doing what they want, buying what they want, and liking each other. It's a pretty pathetic picture.
Everyone should have children. No one should be allowed to escape the wonderful experience that accompanies each state in the development of the young - the happy memories of sleepless night, coughing spells, tantrums, diaper rash, debts, dipso babysitters, saturated mattresses, emergencies and never-ending crises.
The real fulfillment comes as the child grows like a little acorn into a real nut. The wonder of watching your overweight ballerina make a fool of herself in a leotard. The warm smile of a small lad with the sun glittering on 500 bucks worth of braces ruined on peanut brittle.
How dismal is the peaceful home without the constant childish problems that make for a well-rounded like and an early breakdown; the tender, thoughtful discussions when the report card reveals the progeny to be one step below a moron; the end-of-the-day reunions with all the joyful happenings recited like well-placed blows to the temple.
Children are worth it all. Every moment of anxiety, every sacrifice, every complete collapse pays off as a fine, sturdy adolescence is reached. The feeling of reward the first time you took the boy hunting - he didn't mean to shoot you; the lad was excited. Remember how he cried? How sorry he was? And how much better you felt after the blood transfusion? Think back to the night of romantic adventure when your budding daughter eloped with the village idiot. What childless couple ever shared in the stark realism of that drama? Aren't you a better man for having lived richly, fully, acquiring that tic in your left eye?
The Childless Couple fill their lonely days with golf, vacation trips, dinner dates, civic affairs, tranquility, leisure and entertainment. There is a terrifying emptiness without children, but the childless couple are too comfortable to know it. You just have to look at them to see what the years have done: He looks boyish, unlined and rested; she's slim, well-groomed and youthful. It isn't natural. If they had had kids, they'd look like the rest of us - worn out, wrinkled and exhausted."
¶ "We feel the full force of the spirit of hatred with all of them in turn. ... we throw aside the trammels of civilization, the flimsy veil of humanity. ... The wild beast resumes its sway within us, we feel like hunting animals, and as the hound starts in his sleep and rushes on the chase in fancy the heart rouses itself in its native lair, and utters a wild cry of joy, at being restored once more to freedom and lawless unrestrained impulses. Every one has his full swing, or goes to the Devil his own way. Here are no ... long calculations of self-interest -- the will takes its instant way to its object, as the mountain-torrent flings itself over the precipice: the greatest possible good of each individual consists in doing all the mischief he can to his neighbour." (William Hazlitt, "On The Pleasure Of Hating.")
¶ "Civilization is the exercise of self-restraint." (Yeats)
§ See blupete's commentary of -- January 14th, 2001.
Hazlitt in his essay ("On Coffee-House Politicians.") identified two reasons why he preferred London over the country.
"I do not think there is anything deserving the name of society to be found out of London; and that for the two following reasons. First, there is neighbourhood elsewhere, accidental or unavoidable acquaintance: people are thrown together by chance or grow together like trees; but you can pick your society nowhere but in London. The very persons that of all others you would wish to associate with in almost every line of life (or at least of intellectual pursuit) are to be met with there. It is hard if out of a million of people you cannot find half a dozen to your liking. Individuals may seem lost and hid in the size of the place; but in fact, from this very circumstance, you are within two or three miles' reach of persons that, without it, you would be some hundreds apart from. Secondly, London is the only place in which each individual in company is treated according to his value in company, and to that only. In every other part of the kingdom he carries another character about with him, which supersedes the intellectual or social one. It is known in Manchester or Liverpool what every man in the room is worth in land or money; what are his connections and prospects in life -- and this gives a character of servility or arrogance, of mercenaries or impertinence to the whole of provincial intercourse. You laugh not in proportion to a man's wit, but his wealth; you have to consider not what, but whom you contradict. You speak by the pound, and are heard by the rood. In the metropolis there is neither time nor inclination for these remote calculations. Every man depends on the quantity of sense, wit, or good manners he brings into society for the reception he meets with in it. A Member of Parliament soon finds his level as a commoner: the merchant and manufacturer cannot bring his goods to market here: the great landed proprietor shrinks from being the lord of acres into a pleasant companion or a dull fellow. When a visitor enters or leaves a room, it is not inquired whether he is rich or poor, whether he lives in a garret or a palace, or comes in his own or a hackney coach, but whether he has a good expression of countenance, with an unaffected manner, and whether he is a man of understanding or a blockhead. These are the circumstances by which you make a favourable impression on the company, and by which they estimate you in the abstract. In the country, they consider whether you have a vote at the next election or a place in your gift, and measure the capacity of others to instruct or entertain them by the strength of their pockets and their credit with their banker. Personal merit is at a prodigious discount in the provinces. I like the country very well if I want to enjoy my own company; but London is the only place for equal society, or where a man can say a good thing or express an honest opinion without subjecting himself to being insulted, unless he first lays his purse on the table to back his pretensions to talent or independence of spirit. I speak from experience."
¶ "... the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or to forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because in the opinions of others to do so would be wise or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to someone else." (John Stuart Mill.)
¶ "Common sense is the just result of the sum total of such unconscious impressions in the ordinary occurrences of life, as they are treasured up in the memory, and called out by the occasion. ... [It] acts as a check-weight on sophistry, and suspends our rash and superficial judgements. ... It rests upon the simple process of feeling, - it anchors in experience. It is not, nor cannot be, the test of abstract, speculative opinions. ... In art, in taste, in life, in speech, you decide from feeling, and not from reason." (William Hazlitt, "On Genius and Common Sense.")
¶ "He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "Compromise is the art of sacrificing the non-essential to preserve the essential." (John Stuart Mill, Autobiography.)
¶ "The product of the faculty of conception; an idea of a class of objects, a general notion or idea." (OED.)
¶ "A Percept or Intuition is a single representation a Concept is a collective (general or universal) representation of a whole class of things." (Bowen's Logic, 1864.)
¶ "Concepts like triangle, animal, or motion." (Lotze's Logic, 1884, trans.)
¶ See percept.
¶ "From our innermost consciousness, a voice is heard, clothed with native authority -- 'I feel. I think. I will. I am.'"
¶ "Consciousness is the perception of what passes in a Man's own mind." (Locke.)
¶ It was the English moral philosopher, Joseph Butler (1692-1752), who believed "that there is in every man a superior principle of reflection or conscience which passes judgment upon himself, which, without being consulted, without being advised with, magisterially exerts itself and approves or condemns accordingly."
¶ "We class sensations along with emotions, and volitions, and thoughts, under the common head of states of consciousness. But what consciousness is, we know not; and how it is that anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as the result of irritating nervous tissue, is just as unaccountable as the appearance of the Djin when Aladdin rubbed his lamp, or as any other ultimate fact of nature." (Huxley)
¶ "A man's conscience and his judgment is the same thing, and, as the judgment, so also the conscience may be erroneous." (Thomas Hobbes)
¶ "Silence is sometimes an argument of Consent." (Thomas Hobbes)
¶ "If any one will not consent the City retaines its primitive Right against the Dissentour, that is the Right of War, as against an Enemy." (Thomas Hobbes)
¶ "The rarest of all human qualities is consistency." (Jeremy Bentham)
¶ "We are told by one that our Constitution is a balance; by another that it is a representation of classes; by others that it is an aristocratical republic efficiently checked by public opinion." (John Stuart Mill, The British Constitution.)
¶ "Our constitution is a prescriptive constitution; it is a constitution, whose sole authority is, that it has existed time out of mind." (Edmund Burke)
¶ "I set out with a perfect distrust of my own abilities, a total renunciation of every speculation of my own, and with a profound reverence for the wisdom of our ancestors, who have left us the inheritance of so happy a Constitution and so flourishing an empire, and, what is a thousand times more valuable, the treasury of the maxims and principles which formed the one and obtained the other." (Edmund Burke)
§ See blupete's essay -- "The Canadian Constitution."
§ See blupete's essay -- "A Country's Constitution."
¶ "Their thoughts do not run in the natural order of sequence. They say bright things on all possible subjects, but their zigzags rack you to death. After a jolting half hour with one of these jerky companions, talking with a dull friend affords great relief." (Holmes.)
¶ "Talking is like playing on the harp; there is much in laying the hand on the strings to stop their vibrations as in twanging them to bring out their music." (Holmes.)
¶ The exclusive right given by law for a certain term of years to an author, composer, designer, etc. (or his assignee), to print, publish, and sell copies of his original work.
¶ "I [John Stuart Mill] suppose, with all who are known as political economists, I was a recipient of all the shallow theories and absurd proposals by which people are perpetually endeavouring to show the way to universal wealth and happiness by some artful reorganization of the currency. When there were signs of sufficient intelligence in the writers to make it worth while attempting to put them right, I took the trouble to point out their errors, until the growth of my correspondence made it necessary to dismiss such persons with very brief answers. Many, however, of the communications I received were more worthy of attention than these, and in some, oversights of detail were pointed out in my writings, which I was thus enabled to correct. Correspondence of this sort naturally multiplied with the multiplication of the subjects on which I wrote, especially those of a metaphysical character." (John Stuart Mill, Autobiography.)
¶ "Much of Southey's time -- his most valuable possession -- was given to his correspondents. Napoleon's plan of answering letters, according to Bourrienne, was to let them lie unopened for six weeks, by which time nine out of ten had answered themselves, or had been answered by history. Coleridge's plan -- says De Quincey -- was shorter; he opened none, and answered none. To answer all forthwith was the habit of Southey." (Edward Dowden in his biography on Southey (New York: Harper, nd) at p. 122.)
¶ "... the facing of the world alone, without one's familiar refuge, is the beginning of wisdom and courage." [In a letter to Lucy Martin Donnelly, dated February 7th, 1903, set out in Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1872-1914) (Boston: Little, Brown; 1967) at p. 255.]
¶ "The Court is not a legislature fulfilling the wishes of a current majority. It is a group of lawyers reading a constitution that was meant to give a permanent pledge of certain liberties, regardless of what the current majority would like. While In a measure the Court is responsive to popular attitudes, it is at the core proof against them." [Charles Rembar, The End of Obscenity (London: Deutsch, 1969), p. 5.]
¶ "My experience during those years abouts trials in which I took part as I saw them reported even in the best papers was distortion, mutilation and at the best an opaque account of what took place in the court room.." [Felix Frankfurter Reminisces (New York: Reynal & Co., 1960) p. 208.]
¶ "Few questions bother me more from time to time than what is it that makes people cowardly, makes people timid and afraid to say publicly what they say privately. By 'people' I mean not those who are economically dependent and who can't call their souls their own because they have to feed their wives and their children, but those who are economically independent, those who have position, those who by speaking out publicly would turn on the currents of reason and check the currents of unreason." [Felix Frankfurter Reminisces (New York: Reynal & Co., 1960) p. 205.]
¶ "I was taught to think, and I was willing to believe, that genius was not a bawd, that virtue was not a mask, that liberty was not a name, that love had its seat in the human heart." (William Hazlitt, "On The Pleasure Of Hating.")
§ See blupete's commentary of -- October 20, 1997.
§ See blupete's essay -- "Criminal Law & Drugs."
¶ "No criticism can be instructive which is not full of examples and illustrations." (David Hume)
¶ "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." (In a speech given by President Theodore Roosevelt at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910.)
¶ "The last sort I shall mention are verbal critics -- mere word-catchers, fellows that pick out a word in a sentence and a sentence in a volume, and tell you it is wrong. These erudite persons constantly find out by anticipation that you are deficient in the smallest things -- that you cannot spell certain words or join the nominative case and the verb together, because to do this is the height of their own ambition, and of course they must set you down lower than their opinion of themselves. They degrade by reducing you to their own standard of merit; for the qualifications they deny you, or the faults they object, are so very insignificant, that to prove yourself possessed of the one or free from the other is to make yourself doubly ridiculous. Littleness is their element, and they give a character of meanness to whatever they touch. They creep, buzz, and fly-blow. It is much easier to crush than to catch these troublesome insects; and when they are in your power your self-respect spares them. The race is almost extinct: -- one or two of them are sometimes seen crawling over the pages of the Quarterly Review!" (William Hazlitt, "On Criticism.")
¶ "... there are two objectives of the lawyer at trial: persuading the trial court and building a record for appeal. There are other prizes -- false ones -- that lawyers sometimes strive for. One is persuading the spectators (however few they be). This is a trap of vanity, deepened by the movies and television. (Contemplating the effect of television courtroom drama on legal style, I have sometimes felt a chill at what must be happening to medical techniques.) The other false prize is persuading the witness. Here the natural urge to win an argument can do a lawyer in. The crestfallen witness is largely a literary invention. Very often after an obliterating cross-examination, a man will leave the stand looking fat and happy. If the edge of his testimony has been dulled, or if he has been led by his own words to subvert the proposition that he was called to support, the job has been completed. It is not necessary that he acknowledge his defeat; it is not even necessary that he be aware of it." [Charles Rembar, The End of Obscenity (London: Deutsch, 1969), p. 325.]
¶ There are those who would assert that if the witness hasn't hurt you, don't cross-examine. "If you do cross-examine, have a specific objective in mind, prepare thoroughly to achieve your objective, and once you have accomplished it, sit down." (Brown, The Art of Questioning, Thirty maxims of cross-examination, (New York: Macmillan, 1987), Forward, xxix.)
¶ "Never put the ultimate important question until a proper foundation for it has been laid, even though that may take some time. When the adverse witness is then confronted with the circumstances, he can neither deny nor explain." (Brown, The Art of Questioning ..., (New York: Macmillan, 1987), p. 50.)
¶ "Keep an eye on the clock, because it is always best to finish a session strong and, in some cases, to have overnight for honing of further cross-examination. Try to have your best shot come just before you finish the day's session." (Brown, The Art of Questioning ..., (New York: Macmillan, 1987), p. 57.)
¶ The object, rarely achieved, is to bring the witness around to contradicting that which he or she maintained in the beginning.
¶ "The secret of cross-examination is not to examine crossly." (The English author and barrister, John Mortimer.)
¶ Richelieu's definition of cruelty: it is "the love of giving pain for its own sake." (Belloc's biography.)
§ See blupete's essay -- "On Art."
¶ "Curiosity draws a man from consideration of the effect, to seek the cause." (Thomas Hobbes)
¶ "Action requires co-operation, but in general if you set your face against custom, people will set their faces against you. They cannot tell whether you are right or wrong, but they know that you are guilty of a pragmatical assumption of superiority over them which they do not like." (William Hazlitt, "On Thought and Action.")
¶ Custom has been described as being, long, very long, or ancient. Long custom is from ten to twenty years; very long custom, more than thirty years; and ancient custom, forty years. [See Harding, A Social History of English Law (Pelican, 1966) p. 216.]
¶ "Long sufferance begets custom; custom, consent and imitation." (Montaigne)
¶ "Men are not impelled by any reasoning or process of the understanding, but rather from Custom or Habit. ... Custom, then, is the great guide of human life." (David Hume)
¶ "Men do not normally reason with one another, men impact on one another as billiard balls do; it is custom that leads men to do things as they do; it is custom, often concealed from the actor, which drives him to do things of which he is naturally ignorant as to why and for what purpose he does them." (David Hume)



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Peter Landry