April 12, 2007

to sink . . . to decline . . .

A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. The essential causes of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.
From Caesar and Christ: A History of Roman Civilization and of Christianity from Their Beginnings to A.D. 325, by William James Durant, 1944

Since private and publick Vices, are in Reality,
though not always apparently,
so nearly connected,
of how much Importance,
how necessary is it,
that the utmost Pains be taken by the Publick, to have the Principles of Virtue early inculcated on the Minds even of children,
and the moral Sense kept alive,
and that the wise institutions of our Ancestors for these great Purposes be encouraged by the Government.
For no people will tamely surrender their Liberties,
nor can any be easily subdued,
when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd.
On the Contrary,
when People are universally ignorant,
and debauchd in their Manners,
they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.
From a letter of Samuel Adams to James Warren, 4 November 1775


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