Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

I've just had it pointed out to me (Bear Of Very Little Brain that I am) that not only was Thursday Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, it was also Abraham Lincoln's. Born on the same day of the same year.

By way of a tribute to one of them, here is my favourite piece of English prose:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government : of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


Darwin's writings can't match that, but his ideas were as much of an inspiration as Lincoln's and have become as much a part of our common heritage. Of course, some people don't get it, but then some people still think democracy is a bad idea.



I like to think that maybe the Wainwrights in this Gary Larson cartoon were creationists:


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