IT SEEMS TO me that you Englishmen have not yet for a long enough time tried practically universal suffrage to understand its necessary concomitants, as well as do Americans. This is shown, in one respect, by your insisting upon purity of elections and freedom from bribery of electors and of public officials, and the earnestness with which you pursue and punish violations of the same. No institution is necessarily good in itself, and to accomplish the maintenance of civilised society in which brains may secure its rewards, is the true end, the summum bonum of government. Now the Americans, from their long experience in meeting the problems of universal suffrage, have ascertained that the most dangerous persons to put in authority are honest fanatics. Dishonest men may line their own pockets, but are not likely to lean towards extreme measures of radical legislation; there is more money in it for them to sell out. Then, too, there is nothing which discourages reformers in the start like the knowledge that they have to deal with a venal and corrupt gang who under no circumstances will have any real interest in any public measure. A country can prosper and grow great under a corrupt government; witness England of the thirteenth to eighteenth centuries. It cannot prosper under doctrinaires; witness France of the Revolution.

 ——Spencer Jerome in The Idler, Vol. VII (1895).


  1. Colin the Barbarian says:

    Well, the author sure changed my mind about things. From now on, I resolve to demand more corruption and dishonesty from Washington.

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