Pieces of eight

Taken in by America
An outsider's look at America and the American
Contemporary
C20th
C19th
C18th
C17th
C19th

"Popularity looks so much like fame that one is constantly mistaken for the other, as if they were twins. But they are not twins; they are not even brothers ..."
(Every Saturday magazine, Manhattan)

"The stars was shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods … and the wind was trying to whisper something to me and I couldn’t make out what it was. … I hadn’t no confidence." (Huckleberry Finn)


"Wagner's music's not as bad as it sounds." (Mark Twain)

"The demon ... seems to have delighted in sucking the blood of genius and of generosity." (Abraham Lincoln) 

There is a ... story about a grocer who was a deacon, and who was heard to call down stairs before breakfast, to his clerk: “John, have you watered the rum?” “Yes, Sir.” “And sanded the sugar?” “Yes, Sir.” “And dusted the pepper?” “Yes, Sir.” “And chicoried the coffee?” “Yes, Sir.” “Then come up to prayers.”
(P. T. Barnum)

"If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there’s naught beyond. But ’tis enough." (Herman Melville)

"I... regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me ... religious slaveholders are the worst ... the meanest and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all others." (Frederick Douglass)

“I am on a hilltop and must go down into the valley; and when Uncas follows in my footsteps, there will no longer be any of the blood of the Sagamores, for my boy is the last of the Mohicans.” (James Fenimore Cooper)


Legislators came to work "in a spirit of avowed misunderstanding, without the smallest wish to agree." (Thomas Jefferson)
 

" ... the Dutch discoverers bargained for only so much land as the hide of a bullock would cover ... they cut the hide in strips no thicker than a child's finger, so as to take in a large portion of land, and to take in the Indians into the bargain."  

"Our worthy forefathers could scarcely stir abroad without danger of being outjockeyed in horseflesh, or taken in in bargaining; while, in their absence, some daring Yankee pedlar would penetrate to their household, and nearly ruin
the good housewives with tinware and wooden bowls."

Peter Stuyvesant "was a man easily taken in ... but if he once found it out, his wrath was terrible."

"
Once a year, on the first day of April, he [Peter Stuyvesant] used to array himself in full regimentals, being the anniversary of his triumphal entry into New Amsterdam, after the conquest of New Sweden. This was always a kind of saturnalia among the domestics, when they considered themselves at liberty, in some measure, to say and do what they pleased, for on this day their master was always observed to unbend and become exceedingly pleasant and jocose, sending the old gray-headed negroes on April-fool's errands for pigeons' milk; not one of whom but allowed himself to be taken in, and humored his old master's jokes, as became a faithful and well disciplined dependent."
(Washington Irving)

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