These quotes give me hope.

George–he, of the dependent clause–Will in a recent column scolded those who suppose that civilisation is an easy thing; a corallary is that it is not complicated, either.

Where then, to bolster my corallary? The mind races to William F. Buckley’s baby, The Corner, at National Review Online

Herewith, hope.

A friend sends along this quotation by the great Justice Joseph Story. Story was nominated to the Court in 1811, at the age of 32, by President Madison. (Since he himself drafted a great deal of the Constitution, it can be safely assumed that Madison knew what he was doing.) Working closely with Chief Justice John Marshall, Story served until his death in 1845.

“Constitutions are not designed for metaphysical or logical subtleties. . . . They are instruments of a practical nature, founded on the common business of human life, adapted to common wants, designed for common use, and fitted for common understandings. The people make them; the people adopt them; the people must be supposed to read them, with the help of common sense.”

From a reader, remarks on the Constitution by Thomas Jefferson:

“The Constitution on which our Union rests, shall be administered by me [as President] according to the safe and honest meaning contemplated by the plain understanding of the people of the United States at the time of its adoption–a meaning to be found in the explanations of those who advocated, not those who opposed it, and who opposed it merely lest the construction should be applied which they denounced as possible.”

“Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.”

Hamilton, Justice Story, and now Jefferson. To take seriously the original intent of the Founders, I begin to see, is to take seriously the importance they placed on common sense and the plain language of the Constitution.

This, to my simple mind, is the quick of the difference between the Left’s and the Conservative’s approach to civilisation. It also is a clue to the Left’s current intellectual project: making the hard and un-complicated, hard and complicated.



Posted on October 22, 2005, in William F. Buckleyable. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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