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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

Rufus Choate 1799-1859 John Bartlett

      There was a state without king or nobles; there was a church without a bishop; 1 there was a people governed by grave magistrates which it had selected, and by equal laws which it had framed.
          Speech before the New England Society, Dec. 22, 1843.
      We join ourselves to no party that does not carry the flag and keep step to the music of the Union.
          Letter to the Whig Convention, Worcester, Oct. 1, 1855.
      Its constitution the glittering and sounding generalities 2 of natural right which make up the Declaration of Independence.
          Letter to the Maine Whig Committee, 1856.
      The courage of New England was the “courage of Conscience.” It did not rise to that insane and awful passion, the love of war for itself.
          Address at Ipswich Centennial, 1834.
Note 1.
The Americans equally detest the pageantry of a king and the supercilious hypocrisy of a bishop.—Junius: Letter xxxv. Dec. 19, 1769. Compare the anonymous poem “The Puritans’ Mistake,” published by Oliver Ditson in 1844:—
  “Oh, we are weary pilgrims; to this wilderness we bring
  A Church without a bishop, a State without a King.”

  It [Calvinism] established a religion without a prelate, a government without a king.—George Bancroft: History of the United States, vol. iii, chap. vi. [back]
Note 2.
Six years earlier, Choate gave a lecture in Providence a review of which, by Franklin J. Dickman, appeared in the Journal of December 14, 1849. Unless Choate used the words “glittering generalities,” and Dickman made reference to them, it would seem as if Dickman must have the credit of originating the catchword. He wrote:
  “We fear that the glittering generalities of the speaker have left an impression more delightful than permanent.” [back]