S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
There is no slight danger from general ignorance; and the only choice which Providence has graciously left to a vicious government, is either to fall by the people, if they are suffered to become enlightened, or with them, if they are kept enslaved and ignorant.
To write or talk concerning any subject, without having previously taken the pains to understand it, is a breach of the duty which we owe to ourselves, though it may be no offence against the laws of the land. The privilege of talking and even publishing nonsense is necessary in a free state; but the more sparingly we make use of it the better.
I respect the man who knows distinctly what he wishes. The greater part of all the mischief in the world arises from the fact that men do not sufficiently understand their own aims. They have undertaken to build a tower, and spend no more labour on the foundation than would be necessary to erect a hut.
Obstinate contemners of all helps and arts, such as, presuming on their natural parts, dare deride all diligence, and seem to mock at the terms when they understand not the things, think that way to get off wittily with their ignorance.
There never was any party, faction, sect, or cabal whatsoever, in which the most ignorant were not the most violent: for a bee is not a busier animal than a blockhead. However, such instruments are necessary to politicians; and perhaps it may be with states as with clocks, which must have some lead weight hanging at them, to help and regulate the motion of the finer and more useful parts.
When complaints are madeoften not altogether without reasonof the prevailing ignorance of facts on such or such subjects, it will often be found that the parties censured, though possessing less knowledge than is desirable, yet possess more than they know what to do with. Their deficiency in arranging and applying their knowledge, in combining facts, and correctly deducing, and rightly employing, general principles, will be perhaps greater than their ignorance of facts.