There is something good and motherly about Washington, the grand old
benevolent National Asylum for the helpless.
- The Gilded Age
Right here in this heart and home and fountain-head of law--in this great factory
where are forged those rules that create good order and compel virtue and honesty
in the other communities of the land, rascality achieves its highest perfection.
Here rewards are conferred for conniving at dishonesty, but never for exposing
it...I meet a man in the Avenue, sometimes, ...a clerk of a high grade in one
of the Departments; but he was a stranger and had no rules of action for his
guidance except some effete maxims of integrity picked up in Sunday school that
snare to the feet of the unsophisticated!--and some unpractical moral wisdom
instilled into him by his mother, who meant well, poor soul, but whose teachings
were morally bound to train up her boy for the poor-house.
- Letter to Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, March 7, 1868
This everlasting compelling of honesty, morality, justice and the law to bend
the knee to policy, is the rottenest thing in a republican form of government.
It is cowardly, degraded and mischievous; and in its own good time it will bring
destruction upon this broad-shouldered fabric of ours. I believe the Prince
of Darkness could start a branch hell in the District of Columbia (if he has
not already done it), and carry it on unimpeached by the Congress of the United
States, even though the Constitution were bristling with articles forbidding
hells in this country. And if there were moneyed offices in it, Congress would
take stock in the concern, too, and in less than three weeks Fessenden and Washburne
would fill it full of their poor relations. What a rotten, rotten, and unspeakable
nasty concern this nest of departments is, with its brainless battalions of
Congressional poor-relation-clerks and their book-keeping, pencil-sharpening
- Letter to Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, April 7, 1868
Washington is no doubt the boss town in the country for a man to live in who
wants to get all the pleasure he can in a given number of months. But I wasn't
built that way. I don't want the earth at one gulp. All of us are always losing
some pleasure that we might have if we could be everywhere at once. I lose Washington,
for instance, for the privilege of saving my life. My doctor told me that if
I wanted my three score and 10, I must go to bed early, keep out of social excitements,
and behave myself. You can't do that in Washington. Nobody does.
- quoted in interview in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 19, 1889, p. 20.
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