From Book XII of The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding, on the natural human tendency to be persuaded by mere repetition of arguments (Chapter ix, "Containing little more than a few odd observations"):

Two to one are odds at every other thing as well as at foot-ball. But the advantage which this united force hath in persuasion or entreaty must have been visible to a curious observer; for he must have often seen, that when a father, a master, a wife, or any other person in authority, have stoutly adhered to a denial against all the reasons which a single man could produce, they have afterwards yielded to the repetition of the same sentiments by a second or third person, who hath undertaken the cause, without attempting to advance anything new in its behalf. And hence, perhaps, proceeds the phrase of seconding an argument or a motion, and the great consequence this is of in all assemblies of public debate. Hence, likewise, probably it is, that in our courts of law we often hear a learned gentleman (generally a serjeant) repeating for an hour together what another learned gentleman, who spoke just before him, had been saying.

(see also CatfightClub (5 Sep 2003), FlagranteDelictoPhilosopher (19 Sep 2003), AntientCommons (3 Nov 2003), ... )

TopicLiterature - TopicHumor - 2003-11-18

(correlates: SubtopicTomJones, ImpossibleUsage, DavidCopperfieldInFashion, ...)