It is due to justice; due to humanity; due to truth; to the sympathies of our nature; in fine, to our character as a people, both abroad and at home, that they should be considered, as much as possible, in the light of human beings, and not as mere property.
(James Madison (1751-1836), U.S. president. Speaking of the slaves in Virginia. The Mind of the Founder: Sources of the Political Thought of James Madison, p. 514, ed. Marvin Meyers, Indianapolis (1973).)
... while many people pride themselves, and with no exaggeration, on their ability to hear with sympathy of the downfall, sickness, and death of others, very few people seem to know what to do with a report of joy, happiness, good luck.
(Jessamyn West (1902-1984), U.S. novelist. To See the Dream, part 2 (1956).)
While it may not heighten our sympathy, wit widens our horizons by its flashes, revealing remote hidden affiliations and drawing laughter from far afield; humor, in contrast, strikes up fellow feeling, and though it does not leap so much across time and space, enriches our insight into the universal in familiar things, lending it a local habitation and a name.
In their sympathies, children feel nearer animals than adults. They frolic with animals, caress them, share with them feelings neither has words for. Have they ever stroked any adult with the love they bestow on a cat? Hugged any grownup with the ecstasy they feel when clasping a puppy?
(Jessamyn West (1907-1984), U.S. novelist and autobiographer. The Life I Really Lived, part 1 (1979).)
It is by a wise economy of nature that those who suffer without change, and whom no one can help, become uninteresting. Yet so it may happen that those who need sympathy the most often attract it the least.
For the bright side of the painting I had a limited sympathy. My visions were of shipwreck and famine; of death or captivity among barbarian hordes; of a lifetime dragged out in sorrow and tears, upon some gray and desolate rock, in an ocean unapproachable and unknown.
(Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), U.S. author. Pym, the narrator, in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, ch. 2, Harper and Brothers (1838).
Youthful fantasies of wild and extreme adventures.)
Thus to him, to this schoolboy under the bending dome of day, is suggested that he and it proceed from one root; one is leaf and one is flower; relation, sympathy, stirring in every vein. And what is that root? Is not that the soul of his soul?
(Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Oration, August 31, 1837, delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts. "The American Scholar," repr. In Emerson: Essays and Lectures, ed. Joel Porte (1983).)