The Power of the Pen over “The Poison in the Pot”

power of the pen

“Proclaim liberty throughout the Land. . [but] When a pundit makes a prediction, and it doesn’t come to pass, the prophet has spoken presumptuously. So don’t listen to him anymore.” – Moses (1300s BC)

“Happy are the people who don’t take the advice of the ungodly. They shall be like trees planted by the riverside, and their leaves shall not wither.” – David (1000s BC)

“Men may commit theft as well as adultery with the eye.” – Xenocrates (339 BC))

“Once you let go of liberty, you won’t easily get it back.” – Plautus (200 BC)

“In the beginning, the world was so made that certain signs come before certain events.” – Cicero (43 BC)

“Where liberty has fallen, no one dares speak freely.” – Publilius Cyrus (43 BC)

“Let your yay be yay and your nay nay. Anything other than this is hurtful and counter-productive.” – Matthew (1st Century)

“It is the Lord’s will that we may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men by example, using our Freedom as bondservants of Him, though not as an excuse for malice.” – Peter (1st Century, “to the tribes scattered abroad)

“Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty!” – Paul (1st Century)

“Where Liberty dwells, there is my country.” – Algernon Sidney (1641)

FROM ABOUT 600 AD to the end of the Dark Age: Muhammed said that “the ink of the scribes is more valuable than the blood of the martyrs” (630 AD). I think he meant his scribes and our blood! The Renaissance wasn’t produced by the intellectual class. It was made possible by those who repelled the waves of Islamist invasions. In 1016, an earthquake destroyed the Dome of the Rock. Exactly 50 years later, Alfred the Great’s educational reforms in Britain began to unify the Anglo-Saxon states. It was the preparation of a great harvest field. The seeds of Freedom were planted with the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Like the proverbial mustard seed, it didn’t germinate instantaneously, but that was the start of a socio-economic revolution that would eventually let lose the potential of the individual

(there’s a reason the English capitalize the word “I”)! By the 1300s, their literary prowess began to grow, and even some common people were learning to read and write. Learning was cultivated by theological schools such as Oxford, and it began to blossom with the invention of the printing press in Germany. With the Bible in the hands of the masses, the standardization of English spelling and grammar was achieved, and we were off to the races.

“I may stand alone but would not change my free thoughts for a throne.” – Byron (1620)

“Our blood poured together would quite confound distinction.” – Shakespeare (1602)

“In the name of God, amen.” – Mayflower Compact (11/11/1620)

“Envy never takes a holiday.” – Frances Bacon (1600s)

“He that brings himself into needless danger is the devil’s martyr.” – Fuller (1639)

“When it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.” – Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland (1641)

“Be not ashamed to say what you are not ashamed to think.” – Montaigne (1695)

“Kings will be tyrants [thru] policy when subjects are rebels from principle . . He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill.” – Edmund Burke (1700s)

“Crowds without company, and dissipation without pleasure.” – Edward Gibbon (1700s)

“Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.” – Oliver Goldsmith (1700s)

“Wrong has no warrant. No man can pretend authority to do an ill thing.” – Scottish Proverb (1721)

“I am not a Virginian but an American – Give me liberty or give me death. If this be treason, may God make the most of it.” – Patrick Henry (1774)

“We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights . ” – Thomas Jefferson (1776)

“That we may then unite to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue and the increase of science among them and us – and generally [God] grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best . . ” – George Washington (October 3, 1789; proclamation of National Day of Prayer and thanksgiving)

Let knowledge grow from more to more,

But more reverence in us dwell;

That mind and soul, according well,

May make one music as before.

– Tennyson (1809-1892)

“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But, notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” – Alexis de Tocqueville (1830s)

“We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, it would be an evil still.” – John Stuart Mill (1800s)

But what is Freedom? Rightly understood

A universal license to be good.

– Hartley Coleridge (1840)

“Woe unto us when the great God lets loose a thinker on our land.” – unknown (1800s)

“He was like the cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow .. An ass may bray a good while before he shakes the stars down.” – George Eliot (Mary Ann Cross, 1800s)

“The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property.” – Marx and Engels (1848)

“Blah, blah, blah.” – Charles Darwin (1849)

“Right makes Might . . . Those who would deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” – Abraham Lincoln (1860s)

What is a communist? One who has yearnings

For equal division of unequal earnings

Idler or bungler, or both, he’s willing

To fork out his penny and pocket your shilling.

– Ebenezer Elliott (1876)

With pen and pencil, we’re learning to say

Nothing, more cleverly, every day.

– William Allingham (1884)

“Every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own . . it must be within his right to possess things not merely for temporary and momentary use, as other living things do, but to have and to hold them in stable and permanent possession.

“[I]t is impossible to reduce civil society to one dead level. Socialists may in that intent do their utmost, but all striving against nature in vain. There exists among mankind manifold differences of the most important kind; people differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition.”-Pope Leo XIII (1891)

“I can inform ten men easier than to reform one.” – Wm.D. Hoard, Wisconsin governor (1890s)

“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.” – Theodore Roosevelt (1900s)

“Some Americans need hyphens in their names because only part of them has come over.” – Woodrow Wilson (1914)

“They [the masses] fall more easily to a big lie than to a little one.” – Hitler (1925)

“A Communist is a Socialist in a violent hurry.” – G.W. Gough (1926)

“The deliberations of great leaders and great bodies are but overture. The truly majestic music, the music of freedom, of justice, and peace is the music made in forgetting self and seeking in silence the will of Him Who made us.” Ronald Reagan (farewell address to the United Nations, 1988)


Curtis Dahlgren

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About the Author

Curtis Dahlgren
Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in the frozen tundra of Michigan's U.P., and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton. In the intro to The Fenton Bible, Fenton said: ​"I was in '53 a young student in a course of education for an entirely literary career, but with a wider basis of study than is usual. . . . In commerce my life has been passed. . . . Indeed, I hold my commercial experience to have been my most important field of education, divinely prepared to fit me to be a competent translator of the Bible, for it taught me what men are and upon what motives they act, and by what influences they are controlled. Had I, on the other hand, lived the life of a Collegiate Professor, shut up in the narrow walls of a library, I consider that I should have had my knowledge of mankind so confined to glancing through a 'peep-hole' as to make me totally unfit for [my life's work]." ​In 1971-72 Curtis did some writing for the Badger Herald and he is listed as a University of Wisconsin-Madison "alumnus" (loosely speaking, along with a few other drop-outs including John Muir, Charles Lindbergh, Frank Lloyd Wright and Dick Cheney). [He writes humor, too.]