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the slaves of the whole community, and of every part of it ; and the worst and most unmerciful men are those on whose goodness they most depend.
In this situation men not only shrink from the frowns of a stern magistrate ; but they are obliged to fly from their very species. The seeds of destruction are sown in civil intercourse, in social habitudes. The blood of wholesome kindred is infected. Their tables and beds are surrounded with snares. All the means given by Providence to make life safe and comfortable, are perverted into instruments of terror and torture. This species of universal subserviency, that makes the very servant who waits behind your chair, the arbiter of your life and fortune, has such a tendency to degrade and abase mankind, and to deprive them of that assured and liberal state of mind, which alone can make us what we ought to be, that I vow to God I would sooner bring myself to put a man to immediate death for opinions I disliked, and so to get rid of the man and his opinions at once, than to frer him with a feverish being, tainted with the jail distemper of a contagious servitude, to keep him above ground, an animated mass of putrefaction, corrupted himself, and corrupting all about him.
Speecb at Bristol, p. 34-5. I DISLIKE the cry of fear, because it has been the cry of tyrants since the beginning of the world, Tiberius was in perpetual alarm; Henry the eighth was ever surrounded with plots and assassi
nations; the proud dominion of the church in its proudesť day, when it trod on the neck of kings, and lifted its head against Heaven itself, was never free from 'salutary danger. I dislike the cry of fear when I find it attempted to be raised by the weak against the strong ; but when I find the strong cry out fear against the weak, I always know it is the preamble for some grand'injustice ; for never was
any system of injustice long conducted in the world, withoul setting up for itself some grim idol of terror, an object expressed by some frightful indefinite word, that can imean at the same tině every thing, any thing, or nothing, as best suits the purpose of those who use it.
GRATTAN, r - Speech for Reform in Irish House of Commons. There is no disposition that clings so close to despotis.n as incessant terror and alarm. What else gave birth to the armies of spies and the numerous state prisons under the late government of France?' The eye of the tyrant is never closed. How numerous are the precautions and jealousies that these terrors dictate? No man can go out or come into the country but he is watched. The press must issue no productions that have not the imprimatur of government. All coffee houses and places of public resort are objects of attention. Twenty people cannot be collected together, unless for the purposes of superstition, but it is immediately suspected that they may be conferring about their rights. No picture can be more disguseful, no state of mankind more depressing, than that in
which a whole nation is held in obedience by the mere operation of fear, in which all that is most eminent among them, and that should give example to the rest, is prevented, under the severest penalties, from expressing its real sentiments, and, by necessary consequence, of forming any sentiments that are worthy to be expressed.
GODWIN. Political Justice, b. v, cb. 7.
WHOEVER considers the number of absurd and ridiculous oaths necessary to be taken at present
in most countries, on being admitted into any society or profession whatever, will be less surprised to find prevarication still prevailing, where perjury has led the way.
While good faith reigned upon the earth, a simple promise was sufficient to insure confidence. Oaths owe their origin to perfidy. Man was not required to call upon the God that heard him to witness his veracity, till he deserved no longer to be believed. Magistrates and sovereigns, to what do your regulations tend? You either oblige the man of probity to lift up his hand, and call heaven to witness, which with him is a requisition as injurious as it is useless; or you compel an oath from the mouth of a reprobate. Of what value can the oath of such a man appear to you? If the oath be contrary to his own security, it is absurd. If it be consonant with his interest, it is superfluous. Does it argue a knowledge of the human
heart, to give the debtor his choice between his ruin and a falsehood; or the criminal his option berween death and perjury? Will the man whom motives of revenge, interest, or wickedness, have determined to give a false testimony, be deterred by the fear of committing one crime more? Is he not apprised, before he is brought up to the tribunal of justice, that this formality will be re. quired of him? And has he not from the bottom of his heart despised it, before he complied with it? Is it not a species of impiety to introduce the name of God in our wicked disputes ? Is it not a singular mode of making heaven, as it were, an accomplice in the guilt, to suffer that heaven to be called upon, which never has contradicted nor ever will contradict the oath? How intrepid, therefore, must the false witness become, when he has with impunity called down the divine vengeartce on his head, without the fear of being convicted ? Oaths seem to be so much debased and prostituted by their frequency, that false witnesses are grown'as common as robbers.
Hist. of European Settlements, b. ii. ENGLAND, in this respect, seems to be sunk to the lowest possible degree of degeneracy: Oaths among us are required on so many occasions, and so carelessly administered, as to have lost almost all their use and efficacy. It has been asserted, that, including oaths of office, oaths at elections, custom-house oaths, &c. &c. there are about a