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Cato worth remembering

John J. Miller writes about the stupendous effect of Addison's Cato in America.

As we noted in the Liberty Timeline,

Decades after the first American productions of the play, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry quoted Cato in letters and speeches. George Washington, who saw the play sometime in the 1750s, can quote lines from memory, and has it performed for his army at Valley Forge in the desperate winter of 1777-78.

The virtues defended by Cato and George Washington are endurance, character, civility, constancy of mind, discipline, faith, friendship, honour, humanity, lawfulness, mildness, self control, sociability, strength of mind, striving, toil, and valour.

We like to see them honoured today.

Comments (1)


Wonderful lineage of ideas in the rich tradition of Europe--Rome to Britain to USA; Cato to Addison to Founding Fathers. A potent chain of action. Some combinations are just too good to forget or put aside!

A lesser example from the fabled history of double-play Chicago Cubs baseball:

These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

By Franklin Pierce Adams
New York Evening Mail July 10, 1910

Let us hope that someday Eutopians and Islamists have occasion to express similar regrets.

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