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April 5th—I am almost devoured by ennui. Pundit is the only conversible person on board; and he, poor soul! can speak of nothing but antiquities. He has been occupied all the day in the attempt to convince me that the ancient Amriccans governed themselves!—did ever anybody hear of such an absurdity? —that they existed in a sort of every-man-for-himself confederacy, after the fashion of the “prairie dogs” that we read of in fable. He says that they started with the queerest idea conceivable, viz: that all men are born free and equal . . . Every man “voted,” as they called it —that is to say meddled with public affairs—until , at length, it was discovered that what is everybody’s business is nobody’s, and that the Republic (so the absurd thing was called) was without a government at all.

Edgar Allan Poe, from “Mellonta Tauta”