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studies;" and the crafty and worldly-wise point of view is probably best expressed by Hobbes, in "Leviathan," ch. x., "Of Power, Worth, Dignity, Honor, and Worthiness:"

Power is the present means to procure some future apparent good.

Good success is

power; because it maketh reputation of wisdom, or good fortune; which makes men either fear him or rely on him.

Eloquence is power; because it is seeming prudence. .

Form is power; because, being a promise of good, it recommendeth men to the favor of women and strangers.

The sciences are small power; because not eminent; and therefore not acknowledged in any man; nor are at all, but in few, and in them, but of a few things. For science is of that nature as none can understand it to be but such as in good measure have attained it.

Variations on the theme are numerous :

Knowledge is indeed that which, next to virtue, truly and essentially raises one man above the other.-ADDISON: The Guardian, No. 3.

Simple as it may seem, it was a great discovery that the key of knowledge should turn both ways, that it could open as well as lock the door of power to the many.-LOWELL: Among my Books: New England Two Centuries Ago.

Shakespeare's dictum,

Ignorance is the curse of God,
Knowledge the wing whereby we fly to heaven,

Henry VI., Part II., Act iv., Sc. 7,

finds a close parallel in the Persian Sháh-Námah :

Choose knowledge,

If thou desirest a blessing from the Universal Provider;
For the ignorant man cannot rise above the earth;

And it is by knowledge that thou must render thyself praiseworthy.

Knowledge under difficulties. This phrase, which is now one of the commonest forms of speech, is said to be due to Lord Brougham, who suggested it to Mr. Craik as an improvement to the title of his volume written in 1828, "The Love of Knowledge overcoming Difficulties in its Pursuit," which was accordingly changed to "The Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties" (CHARLES KNIGHT: Passages of a Working Life, ii. 135). The book first appeared in two volumes, 1830-1831, among the publications of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. The sentence is put in the mouth of Mr. Weller, senior, on his finding Sam writing a valentine. "Pickwick" was published in 1837, and the phrase was then already current.

Know-Nothings, a name popularly given in the United States to a development out of the "American party.' It was a secret political order which sprang up in 1853, and was organized in New York by E. Z. C. Judson, better known as "Ned Buntline." None but "Native Americans"-i.e., natives of the country-were allowed admission. To all questions put to members as to the movements of the organization the prescribed reply was "I don't know," whence the nickname. The secret name of the order is said to have been "Sons of '76." Among the cardinal tenets of the organization were bitter opposition to Roman Catholics, a "pure American" common-school system, repeal or radical modification of the naturalization laws, ineligibility to public office of any but native-born Americans, and hostility to foreigners, whom the enormous emigrations into the United States it was feared would soon make preponderant. After some notable successes at the polls, the organization went to pieces, the American party having first split into "North Americans" and "South Americans” on the slavery question and disappeared from national politics in 1860.

In Massachusetts there is an odd local application of the word. A serious railroad accident in 1854, just before the election of Governor Gardiner, the "Native American" candidate, resulted in the enactment of a law requiring all trains to stop before reaching a "grade” crossing. The recommendation

of its passage was one of the first official acts of the new governor, whence these crossings were called "Know-nothings."

Kootoo, or Kotow, in Chinese, to " bow," to "salaam," now accepted into the vocabulary of familiar English on both sides of the Atlantic as a synonyme for to flatter, to be obsequiously polite, to boot-lick.

Mr. Thackeray has said more, and more effectually, about snobs and snobbism than any other man; and yet his frittered life and his obedience to the call of the great are the observed of all observers. As it is so, so must it be; but "O the pity of it, the pity of it!" Great and unusual allowance is to be made in his case, I am aware, but this does not lessen the concern occasioned by the spectacle of one after another of the aristocracy of nature making the kotoo to the aristocracy of accident.-HARRIET MARTINEAU: Autobiography.


Kuklux-Klan (a corruption of the Greek word kúkλos, "a circle," the "klan" being added to increase the alliterative force of the jingle), a secret association of Southerners, originally organized June, 1866, by a few young men for purposes of amusement during the stagnation that followed immediately after the war. Its founders had builded better than they knew. Branch orders were established all over the South, and it became an immense political organization, whose dual object was to maintain order against the internal lawlessness that was then rife at the South and to resist the encroachments of Federal authority, especially by using all means at hand, either lawful or unlawful, fair or foul, to prevent the threatened ascendency of the negro race, who in many localities were numerically predominant. Part of their plan of campaign was the intimidation of negro voters and of "carpet-bag" settlers from the North. Many outrages were undeniably committed in the midnight raids of masked members of the Klan, and the reports of these outrages, often intensified, exaggerated, and even manufactured out of the whole cloth for partisan effect, served to keep up the bitter feeling in the North which found vent in the waving of the bloody flag. A. W. Tourgee's "A Fool's Errand" gives an excellent picture of the condition of things in the South at the time when the Klan was most prevalent. It was nominally disbanded by its presiding Grand Wizard in February, 1869, but Kuklux raids were common for several years after that date. An alternative title was "The Invisible Empire." It was also sometimes known as "The Knights of the White Camellia" and "The Knights of the Golden Circle," but these were the names of secret societies founded before the Kuklux-Klan, which had merged into it.


L, the twelfth letter and ninth consonant of the English alphabet. It comes to us through the Greek and Latin from the Phoenician. (See ALPHABET.) As an abbreviation it stands for libra, pound sterling, and is written either in lower-case italic after the sum, or in the conventional form £ before it, thus, Iool., or £100. "The three L's" is a nautical phrase, formed possibly on the basis of the three R's," and meaning "lead, latitude, and lookout," the three chief things to be considered in keeping a ship from running aground. Labor. He has had his labor for his pains, a proverbial expression, meaning that he has had neither thanks nor reward for trouble taken, work or good deed done.

I have had my labor for my travail.

SHAKESPEARE: Troilus and Cressida, Act i., Sc. 1. They have nought but their toyle for their heate, their paines for their sweate, and (to bring it to our English prouerbe) their labour for their trauaile.-THOMAS NASH (1589): To the Gentlemen Students of both Universities. (Introductory to Robert Greene's Menaphon.)

Laborare est orare (L., “To work is to pray"). This appears to have been originally "Laborare et orare," and as such may have been derived from Jeremiah (Lamentations iii. 41). So in Pseudo-Bernard there occurs, with reference made to Jeremiah for authority, "Qui orat et laborat, cor levat ad Deum cum manibus." (S. BERNARD: Opera, vol. ii., col. 866, Paris, 1690.) The idea had been expressed before by Gregory the Great, with the substitution of "operari" for "laborare," and by many others after him. Just how and when the alteration of the "et" into "est" in the proverb was accomplished may not with certainty be told, but we find it as an ancient maxim of the Benedictine monks. The sentence reappears in various modifications of form, thus, "Scriptum est et oratio mea in sinu meo convertetur' (Ps. xxxiv. 13, Vulg.), et qui pro alio orat pro se ipso laborat." (RADULPHUS ARDEUS, Homiletica, i., "De Tempore," 1485.) This may perhaps intimate a transition towards the use of the proverb which is now most commonly thought of. It occurs in verse as follows, “Tu supplex ora, tu protege, tuque labora,” in “Carminum Proverbialium Loci Communes" (p. 156, London, 1588), a common text-book which was often reprinted. "Ora et labora" is the motto of the Earl of Dalhousie, and “Orando laborando” of Rugby School.

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Laconic, an adjective signifying short, brief, terse, and derived from Lacon, one of the names of Sparta, because the Spartans were held to be especially expert in condensing their meaning into the fewest possible words. Thus, when Xerxes summoned Leonidas to yield up his arms, the latter answered, "Come and take them." Equal conciseness was aimed at in the despatches from the seats of war: the victory of Platæa was announced, "Persia is humbled," and the end of the Peloponnesian war, "Athens is taken."

It was an Athenian, however, who, after one of his countrymen had made a brilliant and showy speech, full of rhetorical promises, rose and said, "Men of Athens, all that he has said, I will do."

Philostratus tells us how Atticus, in digging under a house, found a large treasure of money. Being in fear of informers, he deemed it best to notify the fact to Nerva, the reigning emperor, who wrote him the laconic reply, "Use it." His heart still failing him, he wrote again, saying it was too large to use. "Then abuse it" came the answer.

When Menecrates, a physician who from his wonderful cures was styled Jupiter, addressed Agesilaus a letter,

Agesilaus answered,—

M. Jupiter to King Agesilaus. Health,

King Agesilaus to Menecrates. His senses.

But the most famous laconicism in ancient, indeed, in all, history is Cæsar's announcement to his friend Amintius of his victory over Pharnaces, at Zela, in Asia Minor, B.C. 47, "Veni, vidi, vici," which it were a work of supererogation to translate into "I came, I saw, I conquered." John Sobieski, when he sent the Pope the Mussulman standards captured before Vienna, attempted to improve upon Cæsar with this affected bit of humility: "I came, I saw, God conquered." Turenne's paraphrase was much better, because there was no mock-modesty about it. After the battle of Dünen, which resulted in the recovery of Dunkirk from the Spaniards (June 14, 1658), he announced the victory as follows: "The enemy came, was beaten, I am tired, good-night!" Suwarow's concise announcement of the capture of Prague, in 1794, "Hurrah! Prague! Suwarow," was answered quite as concisely by Catherine II.: "Bravo! Field-Marshal! Catherine."

When he took Tutukay, Suwarow wrote,—

Slava bogu, slava vam!
Tutukai vsiata I ya tam,

which can only be lamely translated,—

Glory to God, glory to you!

Tutukai is taken, and I am there.

Blake's despatch announcing a victory over the French has a magnificent truculence :

Please your honor and glory, met with the French fleet, beat, killed, took, sunk, and burned as per margin. Yours, etc.

During the Spanish war of independence, in 1808, Saragossa was summoned by the French to surrender in these terms: " Head-quarters-Santa Engracia -Capitulation." The reply was equally succinct: "Head-quarters-Saragossa-War to the knife." At the end of sixty days the French were forced

to retire.

Perry's despatch to General Harrison after the battle of Lake Erie is a classic: "We have met the enemy, and they are ours."

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Three famous laconicisms of modern history take the reprehensible form of a pun. When the ships of the Invincible Armada turned their sails, Drake is said to have sent to Elizabeth the single word Cantharides ("the Spanish fly"). General de Bourmont's message to the French war minister in 1830 when his prisoner, the Dey of Algiers, escaped, is reported to have been Perdidi diem which translated into English means, "I have lost a dey.' But how should the French war minister be expected to translate the message into English, or understand it when translated? Both the above, indeed, are obviously apocryphal, and may have been invented long after the event, as companions to General Napier's famous despatch from India, Peccavi (“I have Scinde"), which is often given as authentic, but was really a typical joke of Punch.

Few military men were more direct, concise, and terse than General Grant. A masterpiece is the letter to General Buckner, dated at Camp Donelson, February 16, 1862:


Confed. Army.

SIR,-Yours of this date proposing Armistice, and appointing of Commissioners to settle terms of Capitulation, is just received. No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.

I propose to move immediately upon your works.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obt. servt.,

U. S. GRANT, Brig.-Gen.

Wellington sometimes put a great deal of meaning into a few words. When asked what would be the result of the military operations of De Lacy Evans in Spain, he replied, "Two volumes octavo." And to a cavalry officer, unexpectedly ordered to the Cape of Good Hope, who applied to Wellington for leave to return to England, he briefly said, "Sail or sell."

The story about Dr. Abernethy and his lady patient is a classic. He was a man of few words, and the lady knew it. Being shown into his private office, she bared her arm and said simply, "Burn."

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A poultice," said the doctor.

Next day she called again, showed her arm, and said, "Better."

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"Continue the poultice."

Some days elapsed before Abernethy saw her again. Then she said, "Well. Your fee?"

'Nothing," said the doctor, bursting into unusual loquacity. most sensible woman I ever met in my life!"

"You are the

Abernethy was once asked by a gourmand what was the best cure for the "Live upon sixpence a day, and earn it," was the answer.


This is as good as the American doctor's recipe, "A quart of sawdust, and make it yourself."

Classic also are Talleyrand's two letters to a widow. The first, written on the death of her husband, read simply, "Hélas, madame !" and the second, written some months afterwards, on receiving news of her engagement, "Ho! ho! madame."

But Taileyrand may have had in mind Boileau's criticisms on the elder Corneille. On the "Agesilaus" he wrote,

J'ai vu l'Agésilas,

A couplet short and salt, but he improved it after the dramatist's next play :

Après l'Agésilas,


Mais après l'Attila,
Hola !

That was a terse and terrible reply of Frederick the Great to the Jew banker, who, dreading subsidies and loans, prayed the king to allow him to travel for the benefit of his health:

Dear Ephraim, nothing but death shall part us.

Voltaire and Piron had challenged each other to see which could produce the shortest letter. Shortly after Voltaire left for the country, having previously despatched the following letter,

Eo rus,

which means, "I am going into the country." That will certainly do the trick, he thought. An answer came back by return,—

which is excellent Latin for "Go."


But the shortest correspondence ever known took place between Victor Hugo and his publisher, just after the publication of "Les Misérables." The poet, impatient to learn of the success of the book, sent off a letter which contained only the following:

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Every one remembers the famous advice which Punch gave "To those about to marry. Don't.”

The shortest letter that ever appeared in the London Times is said to have been the following, under the heading "How to Make Burial Harmless," December 27, 1889:

SIR,-Put in the coffin quicklime.

COOMBE, OXON., December 21.

Lord Aberdeen, the Premier of the coalition ministry, was remarkable for his taciturnity. When, by way of reconciling him to accompanying her on a sea-trip, the queen smilingly inquired, "I believe, my lord, you are not often sea-sick?" he replied significantly, "Always, madam." "But not very seasick?" "Very, madam," said the uncompromising minister.

There was succinct energy in the Jacobite curse which was written on folded slips of paper and handed to likely persons in the streets of Edinburgh during the time of the last Pretender. It ran simply, "May God damn Hanover! Vivat Jacobus!"

"Have you read my last speech?" asked a prosy parliamentarian of Curran. The answer was brief: "I hope I have." A poet who asked, "Have you seen my 'Descent into Hell'?" fared equally badly. "No, but I should like to," was Curran's rejoinder.

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