"The mind is a compact, multiply connected thought mass with internal connections of the most intimate kind. It grows continuously as new thought masses enter it, and this is the means by which it continues to develop."

Bernhard Riemann On Psychology and Metaphysics ca. 1860

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Sunday, May 06, 2012

Abraham Lincoln's Assassination, Colley Cibber, Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift

When Lincoln complained about the removal of a pivotal soliloquy from Shakespeare's Richard III "Now is the winter of our discontent, " he perhaps inadvertently took aim at Alexander Pope's "dunce" Colley Cibber. It was Cibber who played fast and loose with the Bard, in his day, giving way to the base peculiarities of popular sentiment for a pretty speech.

Pope, that ally of very same Jonathan Swift who has reached out from the grave, as it were, to indite Prince Phillip and his Malthusian oligarchic ilk in their bestial hatred of the procreation of "useless eaters," with his great satire "A Modest Proposal." Pope and Lincoln were linked in their revulsion against the liberties that Cibber took that mocked the sense of Shakespeare for mere "sound and fury" loved by the mob.

Swift, who did everything in his power to thwart the evil designs of the British Empire against his beloved Ireland through his influence over Queen Anne. And in his exposure in Gulliver of the British colonial method of a war of "each against all," he limned a great lesson for our yet to be Republic.

How tragically à propos was it then that a lunatic conspirator, and product of Colley Cibber's "dumbing down" of Shakespeare, John Wilkes Booth, should be the instrument of such evil? Had Lincoln lived, it is nearly a certainty that he would have taken the war against Britain "carried forthwith into Africa."

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