Confidant Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
The following year the house was substantially remodeled, and the conservatory removed. As the walls of the now crumbling wall were being torn down, one of the workmen chanced upon a small leatherbound book that had apparently been concealed behind a loose brick or in a crevice in the wall. By this time Emily Dickinson was a household name in Amherst. It happened that this carpenter was a lover of poetry- and hers in particular- and when he opened the little book and realized that that he had found her diary, he was 'seized with a violent trembling, ' as he later told his grandson. Both electrified and terrified by the discovery, he hid the book in his lunch bucket until the workday ended and then took it home. He told himself that after he had read and savored every page, he would turn the diary over to someone who would know how to best share it with the public. But as he read, he fell more and more deeply under the poet's spell and began to imagine that he was her confidant. He convinced himself that in his new role he was no longer obliged to give up the diary. Finally, having brushed away the light taps of conscience, he hid the book at the back of an oak chest in his bedroom, from which he would draw it out periodically over the course of the next sixty-four years until he had virtually memorized its contents. Even his family never knew of its existence. Shortly before his death in 1980 at the age of eighty-nine, the old man finally showed his most prized possession to his grandson (his only son having preceded him in death), confessing that his delight in it had always been tempered by a nagging guilt and asking that the young man now attempt to atone for his grandfather's sin. The grandson, however, having inherited both the old man's passion for poetry and his tendency towards paralysis of conscience, and he readily succumbed to the temptation to hold onto the diary indefinitely while trying to decide what ought to be done with it.

Jamie Fuller
Tom Paine has almost no influence on present-day thinking in the United States because he is unknown to the average citizen. Perhaps I might say right here that this is a national loss and a deplorable lack of understanding concerning the man who first proposed and first wrote those impressive words, 'the United States of America.' But it is hardly strange. Paine's teachings have been debarred from schools everywhere and his views of life misrepresented until his memory is hidden in shadows, or he is looked upon as of unsound mind. We never had a sounder intelligence in this Republic. He was the equal of Washington in making American liberty possible. Where Washington performed Paine devised and wrote. The deeds of one in the Weld were matched by the deeds of the other with his pen. Washington himself appreciated Paine at his true worth. Franklin knew him for a great patriot and clear thinker. He was a friend and confidant of Jefferson, and the two must often have debated the academic and practical phases of liberty. I consider Paine our greatest political thinker. As we have not advanced, and perhaps never shall advance, beyond the Declaration and Constitution, so Paine has had no successors who extended his principles. Although the present generation knows little of Paine's writings, and although he has almost no influence upon contemporary thought, Americans of the future will justly appraise his work. I am certain of it. Truth is governed by natural laws and cannot be denied. Paine spoke truth with a peculiarly clear and forceful ring. Therefore time must balance the scales. The Declaration and the Constitution expressed in form Paine's theory of political rights. He worked in Philadelphia at the time that the first document was written, and occupied a position of intimate contact with the nation's leaders when they framed the Constitution. Certainly we may believe that Washington had a considerable voice in the Constitution. We know that Jefferson had much to do with the document. Franklin also had a hand and probably was responsible in even larger measure for the Declaration. But all of these men had communed with Paine. Their views were intimately understood and closely correlated. There is no doubt whatever that the two great documents of American liberty reflect the philosophy of Paine... Then Paine wrote 'Common Sense, ' an anonymous tract which immediately stirred the fires of liberty. It flashed from hand to hand throughout the Colonies. One copy reached the New York Assembly, in session at Albany, and a night meeting was voted to answer this unknown writer with his clarion call to liberty. The Assembly met, but could find no suitable answer. Tom Paine had inscribed a document which never has been answered adversely, and never can be, so long as man esteems his priceless possession. In 'Common Sense' Paine flared forth with a document so powerful that the Revolution became inevitable. Washington recognized the difference, and in his calm way said that matters never could be the same again. It must be remembered that 'Common Sense' preceded the declaration and affirmed the very principles that went into the national doctrine of liberty. But that affirmation was made with more vigor, more of the fire of the patriot and was exactly suited to the hour... Certainly [the Revolution] could not be forestalled, once he had spoken. {The Philosophy of Paine, June 7, 1925}

Thomas A. Edison
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