[Ads-l] Saying: The test of a nation's civilization is its care of its weakest members.

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 14 17:29:49 EDT 2017

More from the late 19th century...

"Buddhism and Christianity," New Englander, Apr. 1874, p. 284
The true test of a civilization is in its elevation of the masses, its
exaltation of the average of the masses, its exaltation of the average man
in comfort, in culture, in morals; in all that makes a man.

"The Next Step," Christian Union, Oct. 21, 1886, p. 3
The supreme test of a civilization is the manner in which it treats its
weak and helpless subjects.

Women are also used as the civilizational test...

"Colliers and Collieries," The American Eclectic, Sep. 1842, p. 330
[From the Quarterly Review, June 1842]
The state of women is the true test of civilization in every community.

"The Burden-Bearers of the Old World," The Ladies' Repository, Jan. 1875,
p. 50
Indeed, we are accustomed in some measure, to gauge the Christianity of a
country by the way it treats its women.

On Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 1:28 PM, Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at gmail.com> wrote:

> “The true test of civilization is not the census, nor the size of cities,
> nor the crops, but the kind of man that the country turns out.”--Ralph
> Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude, 1870.
> On Mar 13, 2017 4:58 PM, "ADSGarson O'Toole" <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > There is a large family of sayings that present a metric for
> > evaluating a society. Here is an example.
> >
> > Year: 1913
> > Title: Proceedings of The National Conference of Charities and
> > Correction at the Fortieth Annual Session Held in Seattle, Washington,
> > July 5-12, 1913
> > Article: Probation, Prisons and Parole: The Honor System of Prison Labor
> > Author: Mrs. Millie R. Trumbull, Portland, Oregon (Representing
> > Governor Oswald West)
> > Start Page 116, Quote Page 116
> > Printer: Fort Wayne Printing Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana
> >
> > https://books.google.com/books?id=haY5AQAAMAAJ&q=%
> 22weakest+members%22#v=
> > snippet&
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > The test of a nation's civilization is its care of its weakest members.
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > The expression is highly variable. The first part might refer to a
> > society, nation, government, or civilization. The latter part might
> > refer to the poor, the less fortunate, the helpless, or the lowest.
> >
> > Perhaps a list member would be willing to share some earlier examples
> > and/or examples from prominent individuals. I see claims that it is
> > biblical or ancient, but would like precise citations.
> >
> >

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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