It will be very long before political subjects will be reduced to geometric certitude. At present the reasoning on them is a kind of arithmetic of infinity, when the best information, the coolest head, and clearest mind can only approach the truth. A cautious man should therefore give only sibylline predictions, if, indeed, he should hazard any. But I am not a cautious man. I therefore give it as my opinion that they will issue the paper currency, and substitute thereby depreciation in the place of bankruptcy, or, rather, suspension. Apropos of this currency, this papier terré, now mort et enterré, the Assembly have committed many blunders which are not to be wondered at. They have taken genius instead of reason for their guide, adopted experiment instead of experience, and wander in the dark because they prefer lightning to light.
— Gouverneur Morris, letter to William Short, The Diary and Letters of Gouverneur Morris, Vol. 1
Oh, that concluding sentence! Those old-time poet-statesmen make me swoon like a teenage girl. They weren’t just lawyers and they weren’t MBA’s: they had literary educations that included a knowledge of Greek and Latin. They knew poetry not as gut-spilling splotches of formless free verse but as a craft with a prosody that included rhyme and meter. They were taught to read it and write it, in English and the Classical languages. They didn’t have TV and the Internet so they had nothing to do with their spare time but read Shakespeare, Gibbon and Thucydides. Three cheers for progress! We have cable news and Twitter.