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spires them, deadens the sentiment of pain; nothing they are obliged to suffer for its sake, however aggravated, occasions them surprize; the knowledge of their own strength enables them to bear every thing, while they are persuaded that the grace of God supports them. Though the executioner appear before them, and exhibit to their view the sword and the stake, their minds are undaunted; and regardless of the sufferings that are preparing for them, they are attentive solely to their duty: all their happiness is in themselves, and external objects make upon them but a feeble impression.
If Epicurus, whose system has been so much decried by other philosophers, has said of the sage, that if he were shut up in the brazen bull of Phalaris, he would not fail to declare: "this fire affects me not, it is not I that burn:" do we imagine that less courage was conspicuous in those who by various torments were put to death a century ago, or that less will be displayed by future martyrs, if persecution be continued? What was said and done by one of them, when he was fastened to the stake in order to be burned, is worthy our notice. Being upon his knees, he began to sing a psalm, which the smoke and the flame could scarcely interrupt; and as the executioner, for fear of terrifying him, lighted the fire behind, he turned and said: "Come and kindle it before me: if fire could have terrified me, I should not be here; it depended on myself alone to avoid it”
I AM Conscious how many wars heresies have occasioned but was it not because we were desirous of persecuting heresies? The man who believes with sincerity, believes also with more firmness, when you would oblige him to change his creed, without at the same time convincing him, and becomes obstinate his obstinacy kindles his zeal, his zeal inflames him. You wished to make a convert, you have made a fanatic and a madman. Men ask nothing more for their opinions than freedom : if you would take it from them, you put arms into their hands; grant it them, they will remain tranquil, as do the Lutherans at Strasbourgh. It is then the unity of religion to which we would compel men, and not the multiplicity of opinions which we tolerate, that occasions commotions and civil wars. The Pagans tolerated every opinion, the Chinese do the same: Prussia excludes no sect, Holland includes all, and these nations have never experienced a religious war. England and France have wished to have but one religion, and London and Paris have seen the blood of their inhabitants flowing in streams.
HISTORY is full of religious wars; but we must take care to observe, it was not the multiplicity of religions that produced these wars, it was the intolerating spirit which animated that which thought she had the power of governing.
Persian Letters, let. 65.
WHOSOEVER designs the change of religion in a country or government, by any other means than that of a general conversion of the people, or the greatest part of them, designs all the mischiefs to a nation that use to usher in or attend the two greatest distempers of a state, civil war or tyranny; which are violence, oppression, cruelty, rapine, intemperance, injustice; and, in short, the miserable effusion of human blood, and the confusion of all laws, orders, and virtues among men. Such consequences as these, I doubt, are something more than the disputed opinions of any man, or any particular assembly of men, can be worth.
SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.
CHARLES the Fifth, they say, repented of have ing persecuted the Lutherans. He said to himself, I have thirty watches on my table,. and no two of them mark precisely the same time: how could I then imagine, that in matters of religion I could make all men think alike? What folly and pride! HELVETIUS.
De l'Homme, vol. i. sect. iv. ch.17•
To subdue th' unconquerable mind,
To make one reason have the same effect Upon all apprehensions; to force this, Or that man, just to think, as thou and I do; 105 Impossible! unless souls were alike
In all, which differ now like human faces. guu be
Tamerlane, act iv.
LIBERTY OF THE PRESS.
WITHOUT freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom, and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech: which is the right of every man, as far as by it he does not hurt and controul the right of another; and this is the only check which it ought to suffer, and the only bounds which it ought to know,
Whoever would overturn the liberty of the nation must begin by subduing freedom of speech.
To do public mischief without hearing of it is the prerogative and felicity of tyranny.
All ministers therefore who were oppressors, or intended to be oppressors, have been loud in their complaints against freedom of speech, and the license of the press; and always restrained or endeavoured to restrain both. In consequence of this they have brow-beaten writers, punished them violently and against law, and burnt their works, By all which they showed how much truth alarmed them, and how much they were at enmity with truth.
Freedom of speech produces excellent writers, and encourages men of fine genius. Tacitus, tells us, that the Roman commonwealth bred great and numerous authors, but when it was enslaved those great wits were no more. Tyranny had usurped the place of equality, which is the soul of liberty, and
and destroyed public courage. The minds of men, terrified by unjust power, degenerated into all the vileness and methods of servitude: abject sycophancy and blind submission grew the only means. of preferment, and indeed of safety; men durst not open their mouths but to flatter.
Pliny the younger observes that this dread of tyranny had such effect, that the senate, the great Ronan senate, became at last stupid and dumb. And in one of his Epistles, speaking of the works of his uncle, he makes an apology for eight of them, as not written with the same vigour which was to be found in the rest; for that these eight were written in the reign of Nero, when the spirit of writing was cramped by fear.
GORDON. Cato's Letters, vol. i. No. 15.
As long as there are such things as printing and writing, there will be libels: it is an evil arising out of a much greater good. However it does not follow that the press is to be sunk for the errors of the press :—for it is certainly of much less consequence that an innocent man should now and then be aspersed than that all men should be enslaved.
Many methods have been tried to remedy this evil. In Turkey and the Eastern monarchies, all printing is forbid; which does it with a witness; for if there can be no printing at all there can be no libels printed; and by the same reason there ought to be no talking, lest people should talk treason, blasphemy, or nonsense; and for a stronger