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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 206-207 of the 1978 collection, edited by Eric Mack, of Auberon Herbert’s essays, The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State; specifically, it’s from Herbert’s brilliant May 1894 Contemporary Review essay, “The Ethics of Dynamite”:

Next it was urged in defense of power that the part which falls to discontented minorities is to turn themselves into majorities.  The remedy has the slight defect of drawing upon an imagined future and ignoring a real present.  I am walking along a road, and some one stronger than I knocks me down and begins to cudgel me about the head.  I call to a passer-by to help me and to drag the villain off.  He stands, however, with his hands in his pockets, and cheerfully tells me that it is all right; that I ought not to object.  If I only practice the use of a cudgel myself with sufficient zeal for a month, or perhaps a year, I shall then be in a position to cudgel my assailant quite as effectively about the head as he is now cudgeling me.  I reply that I don’t believe in cudgeling heads, whether it is my head or the head of somebody else.  The passer-by, however, merely shrugs his shoulders, by way of telling me that it is idle to object to what is so excellent a custom, and one which is universally practiced in the district.  Thereupon I find nothing more to say, and have to endure my cudgeling as best I can.  Of course, the retort, however good as a bit of rhetoric, is of small value as regards its logic, for, in addition to the pleasant irony of telling an insignificant section, who are aggrieved, that they are presently to govern the country, there are many injuries which the majority of the future, however much it may approach to omnipotence, can with difficulty redress.  It can hardly unhang a man, or wipe out of existence the weeks he has spent in prison, or give back property that has been taken from him and spent, or build up some great voluntary institution which has been destroyed, or invent redress for restrictions placed upon the facilities of an individual during the best years of his life, or remove the twist it has given to national character by unwise and harsh measures.