Tyrants and Butchers by Instinct

Benjamin Rush, Letter to John Adams, December 21 1810:

“You have made no impression upon me by your arguments in favor of the dead languages. Napoleon would have been just what he is, had he never read a page of ancient history. Rulers become tyrants and butchers from instinct, much oftener than from imitation. As well might we suppose the human race would have been extinct, had not Ovid bequeathed to modern nations his “arte amandi,” as suppose that modern Villains, are made by ancient examples. Royal Crimes, like yellow fevers spring up spontaneously under similar circumstances in every Country, and in every age. The  adoption of the former from Antiquity, is as contrary to truth & reason as the importation of the latter from foreign Countries.”

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