« VorigeDoorgaan »
the argument is held to be weakened by the very circumstance which imparts greater force to it. *** A direct testimony to the miracles of the New Testament from the mouth of a heathen is not to be expected. We cannot satisfy this demand of the infidel; but we can give him a host of much stronger testimonies than he is in quest of the testimonies of those men who were heathens, and who embraced a hazardous and a disgraceful profession, under a deep conviction of those facts to which they gave their testimony. “O, but now you land us in the testimony of Christians.” This is very true; but it is the very fact of their being Christians, in which the strength of the argument lies. In the Fathers of the Christian church we see men who, if they had not been Christians, would have risen to as high an eminence as Tacitus in the literature of the times; and whose direct testimony as to the Gospel history would, in that case, have been most impressive even to the mind of an infidel. And are these testimonies to be less impressive because they were preceded by conviction and sealed by martyrdom!
THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY. 1800-1859. (Manual,
p. 461.) FROM THE
“ESSAY ON MILTON." 341. FALLACIOUS DISTRUST OF LIBERTY.
Ariosto tells a pretty story of a fairy, who, by some mysterious law of her nature, was condemned to appear at certain seasons in the form of a foul and poisonous snake. Those who injured her, during the period of her disguise, were forever excluded from participation in the blessings which she bestowed. But to those who, in spite of her loathsome aspect, pitied and protected her, she afterwards revealed herself in the beautiful and celestial form which was natural to her, accompanied their steps, granted all their wishes, filled their houses with wealth, made them happy in love, and victorious in war. Such a spirit is Liberty. At times she takes the form of a hateful reptile. She growls, she hisses, she stings. But woe to those who in disgust shall venture to crush her! And happy are those who, having dared to receive her in her degraded and frightful shape, shall at length be rewarded by her in the time of her beauty and her glory.
There is only one cure for the evils which newly acquired freedom produces — and that cure is freedom! When a prisoner leaves his cell, he cannot bear the light of day; he is unable to discriminate colors, or recognize faces. But the remedy is not to remand him into his dungeon, but to accustom him to the rays of the sun. The blaze of truth and liberty may at first dazzle and bewilder nations which have become half blind in the house of bondage. But let them gaze on, and they will soon be able to bear it. In a few years men learn
to reason. The extreme violence of opinion subsides. Hostile theories correct each other. The scattered elements of truth cease to conflict, and begin to coalesce. And at length a system of justice and order is educed out of the chaos.
Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition, that no people oug to be free, till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story, who resolved not to go into the water till he had learnt to swim! If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.
FROM THE “ESSAY ON BARERE.”
342. EviLS OF THE REIGN OF TERROR. We could, we think, also show that the evils produced by the Jacobin administration did not terminate when it fell; that it bequeathed a long series of calainities to France and to Europe; that public opinion, which had during two generations been constantly becoming more and more fovorable to civil and religious freedom, underwent, during the days of Terror, a change of which the traces are still to be distinctly perceived. It was natural that there should be such a change, when men saw that those who called themselves the champions of popular rights, had compressed into the space of twelve months more crimes than the kings of France, Merovingian, Carlovingian, and Capetian, had perpetrated in twelve centuries. Freedom was garded as a great delusion. Men were willing to submit to the government of hereditary princes, of fortunate soldiers, of nobles, of priests, to any government but that of philosophers and philanthropists. Hence the imperial despotism, with its enslaved press and its silent tribune, its dungeons stronger than the old Bastile, and its tribunals more obsequious than the old Parliaments. Hence the restoration of the Bourbons and of the Jesuits, the Chamber of 1815, with its categories of proscription, the revival of the feudal spirit, the encroachments of the clergy, the persecution of the Protestants, the appearance of a new breed of De Montforts and Dominics, in the full light of the nineteenth century.
And so, in politics, it is the sure law that every excess shall generate its opposite; nor does he deserve the name of a statesman, who strikes a great blow without fully calculating the effect of the rebound. But such calculation was infinitely beyond the reach of the authors of the Reign of Terror. Violence and more violence, blood and more blood, made up their whole policy. In a few months, these poor creatures succeeded in bringing about a reaction, of which none of them saw, and of which' none of us may see, the close; and, having brought it about, they marvelled at it; they bewailed it; they execrated it; they ascribed it to everything but the real cause their own immorality, and their own profound incapacity for the conduct of great affairs.
Hugh Miller. 1802-1856. (Manual, p. 467.)
FROM “THE OLD Red SANDSTONE." 343. The Future HistorY OF MAN UPON THE GLOBE. We pursue our history no further. Its after course is comparatively well known. The huge sauroid fish was succeeded by the equally huge reptile — the reptile by the bird – the bird by the marsupial quadruped; and at length, after races higher in the scale of instinct had taken precedence in succession, the one of the other, the sagacious elephant appeared, as the lord of that latest creation which immediately preceded our own. How natural does the thought seem which suggested itself to the profound mind of Cuvier, when indulging in a similar review! Has the last scene in the series arisen, or has Deity expended his infinitude of resource, and reached the ultimate stage of progression at which perfection can arrive? The philosopher hesitated, and then decided in the negative, for he was too intimately acquainted with the works of the Omnipotent Creator to think of limiting his power; and he could, therefore, anticipate a coming period in which man would have to resign his post of honor to some nobler and wiser creature. the monarch of a better and happier world. How well it is to be permitted to indulge in the expansion of Cuvier's thought, without sharing in the melancholy of Cuvier's feelings — to be enabled to look forward to the coming of a new heaven and a new earth, not in terror, but in hope — to be encouraged to believe in the system of unending progression, but to entertain no fear of the degradation or despotism of man! The adorable Monarch of the future, with all its unsummed perfection, has already passed into the heavens, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, and Enoch and Elias are there with him, - fit representatives of that dominant race, which no other race shall ever supplant or succeed, and to whose onward and upward march the deep echoes of eternity shall never cease to respond.
PLEASURES OF A LIFE OF LABOR.
I was as light of heart the next morning as any of my brother workmen. There had been a smart frost during the night, and the rime lay white on the grass as we passed onwards through the fields;. but the sun rose in a clear atmosphere, and the day mellowed, as it advanced, into one of those delightful days of early spring, which give so pleasing an earnest of whatever is mild and genial in the better half of the year. All the workmen rested at midday, and I went to enjoy my half hour alone on a mossy knöll in the neighboring wood, which commands through the trees a wide prospect of the bay and the opposite shore. There was not a wrinkle on the water nor a cloud in the sky, and the branches were as moveless in the calm
as if they had been traced on canvas. From a wooded promontory that stretched half way across the frith, there ascended a thin column of smoke. It rose straight as the line of a plummet for more than a thousand yards, and then, on reaching a thinner stratum of air, spread out equally on every side like the foliage of a stately tree. Ben Wyvis rose to the west, white with the yet unwasted snow of winter, and as sharply defined in the clear atmosphere as if all its sunny slopes and blue retiring hollows had been chiselled in marble. A line of snow ran along the opposite hills; all above was white, and all below was purple. They reminded me of the pretty French story, in which an old artist is described as tasking the ingenuity of his future son-inlaw, by giving him as a subject for his pencil a flower-piece composed of only white flowers, of which the one half were to bear their proper color, the other half a deep purple hue, and yet all be perfectly natural; and how the young man resolved the riddle and gained his mistress, by introducing a transparent purple vase into the picture, and making the light pass through it on the flowers that were drooping over the edge. I returned to the quarry, convinced that a very exquisite pleasure may be a very cheap one, and that the busiest employments may afford leisure enough to enjoy it.
JEREMY BENTHAM. 1748-1832. (Manual, p. 473.)
344. JARGON OF THE ENGLISH LAW. Every sham science, of which there are so many, makes to itself a jargon, to serve for a cover to its nothingness, and, if wicked, to its wickedness: alchemy, palmistry, magic, judicial astrology, technical jurisprudence. To unlicensed depredators, their own technical language, the cant or flash language, is of use, not only as a cover, but as a bond of union. Lawyers' cant, besides serving them as a cover and as a bond of union, serves them as an instrument, an iron crow or a pick-lock key, for collecting plunder in cases in which otherwise it could not be collected: for applying the principle of nullification, in many a case in which it could not otherwise have been applied.
The best of all good old times, was when the fate of Englishmen was disposed of in French, and in a something that was called Latin. For having been once in use, language, however, is not much the worse, so it be of use no longer. The antiquated notation of time suffices of itself to throw a veil of mystery over the system of procedure. Martin and Hilary, saints forgotten by devotees, are still of use to lawyers. How many a man has been ruined, because his lawyer made a mistake, designed or undesigned, in reckoning by the almanac! First of January, second of January, and so forth, — where is the science there? Not a child of four years old that does not understand it. Octaves, quindecims, and morrows of All Souls, St. Martin, St. Hilary, the Purification, Easter day, the Ascension, and the Holy Trinity; Essoign day, day of Exception, Retorna Brevium day, day of Appearance - alias Quarto die post — alias Dies amoris; there you have a science. Terms – Michaelmas, Hilary, Easter, and Trinity, each of them about thirty days, no one of them more than one day; there you have not only a science, but a mystery: do as the devils do, believe and tremble.
From “LAW AS IT is,” &c. Works, Vol. V. 345. ImpossIBILITY OF A KNOWLEDGE OF THE COMMON LAW
BY THE PEOPLE. Scarce any man has the means of knowing a twentieth part of the laws he is bound by. Both sorts of law are kept most happily and carefully from the knowledge of the people: statute law by its shape and bulk; common law by its very essence. It is the Judges (as we have seen) that make the common law. Do you know how they make it? Just as a man makes laws for his dog. When your dog does anything you want to break him of, you wait till he does it, and then beat him for it. This is the way you make laws for your dog: and this is the way the Judges make laws for you and me. They won't tell a man beforehand what it is he should not do — they won't so much as allow of his being told: they lie by till he has done something which they say he should not have done, and then they hang him for it. What way, then, has any man of coming at this dog-law? Only by watching their proceedings: by observing in what cases they have hanged a man, in what cases they have sent him to jail, in what cases they have seized his goods, and so forth. These proceedings they won't publish themselves; and if anybody else publishes them, it is what they call a contempt of court, and a man may be sent to jail for it.
RICHARD WHATELEY. 1787–1856. (Manual, p. 466.)
FROM "THE LECTURES ON POLITICAL ECONOMY."
On the whole, then, there seems every reason to believe, that, as a general rule, that advancement in National Prosperity which mankind are, by the Governor of the universe adapted, and impelled to
1 These barbarous names, in bad Latin or old French, were the legal titles of certain days on which important steps were to be taken in prosecuting a suit; the latter four designated the terms, of three or four weeks each, during which the English courts were wont to sit, at different seasons, for the administration of justice.