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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1648
AUTHOR: Mark Twain (1835–1910)
QUOTATION: The teacher reminded us that Rome’s liberties were not auctioned off in a day, but were bought slowly, gradually, furtively, little by little; first with a little corn and oil for the exceedingly poor and wretched, later with corn and oil for voters who were not quite so poor, later still with corn and oil for pretty much every man that had a vote to sell—exactly our own history over again.
ATTRIBUTION: MARK TWAIN (Samuel L. Clemens), “Purchasing Civic Virtue,” Mark Twain in Eruption, ed. Bernard DeVoto, pp. 68–69 (1940).