In 1840, in a review of Leopold von Ranke's "History of the Popes,"
British historian Thomas Babington Macaulay, who was not a Catholic,
included a famous passage about the longevity of the papacy and of the
Church that it serves:
"The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable.
"The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. ...
"Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca.
"And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's."
Three sentences from Stephen King's 1980 thriller, The Dead Zone, barely raise an eyelid: "Now the TV showed a man of about sixty-five. He was speaking to a plushy fund-raising dinner. The crowd had that plump, righteous, and slightly constipated look that seems the exclusive province of businessmen who belong to the GOP." The lazy-lid phenomenon owes much to King's masterful grasp of pace. At least as much of the credit goes, however, to the fact that, well, everyone knows that Republicans, and especially Republicans who are businessmen, are plump, righteous, and slightly constipated. What you cannot get away with is saying that Democrats are a bunch of militantly secular godless atheists. That might get you in trouble.
"Now what is the effect of this evil government?
To discredit government. When the public fails in it's duty, private men take it's place . . . . When the American government and courts are false to their trust, men disobey government, pub it in the wrong; the government is forced into all manner of false and ridiculous attitudes. Men hear reason and truth from private men who have brave hearts and great minds. this is the compensation of bad government -- the field it affords for illustrius men, and we have a great debt to the brave and faithful men who in the very hour and place of the evil act, made their protest for themselves and their countrymen, by word and by deed. They are justified and the law is condemned."
--Ralph Waldo Emmerson