And to say that society ought to be governed by the opinion of the wisest and best, though true, is useless. Whose opinion is to decide who are the wisest and best?
Men are never so likely to settle a question rightly as when they discuss it freely.
Nothing is so galling to a people not broken in from the birth as a paternal, or, in other words, a meddling government, a government which tells them what to read, and say, and eat, and drink and wear.
Perhaps no person can be a poet, or even enjoy poetry without a certain unsoundness of mind.
The maxim, that governments ought to train the people in the way in which they should go, sounds well. But is there any reason for believing that a government is more likely to lead the people in the right way than the people to fall into the right way of themselves?
The object of oratory is not truth but persuasion.
There is surely no contradiction in saying that a certain section of the community may be quite competent to protect the persons and property of the rest, yet quite unfit to direct our opinions, or to superintend our private habits.
This is the best book ever written by any man on the wrong side of a question of which he is profoundly ignorant.
We cannot prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all before us, and with just as much reason.