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million of perjuries committed in this kingdom annually. This is one of the most atrocious of our national iniquities.

PRICE. Importance of Amer. Revolution, p.81. CUSTOM-HOUSE oaths now a days go for nothing. Not that the world grows more wicked, but because no body lays any stress upon them. The duty on French wine is the same in Scotland and in England. But as we cannot afford to pay this high duty, the permission, underhand, to pay Spanish duty for French wine, is found more beneficial to the revenue than the rigour of the law. The oath, however, must be taken, that the wine we import is Spanish, to enticle us to the ease of the Spanish duty. Such oaths at first were highly çriminal, because directly a fraud against the pubJicy, but now that the oath is only exacted for form's sake, without any faith intended to be given or received, it becomes very little different from saying in the way of civility, I am, sir, your friend, or obedient servant!!

Kaimes. Loose Hints on Education, App.p.362. CAN there be a practice more pregnant with false morality than that of administering oaths in a court of justice? The language it expressly holds is, " You are not to be believed upon your mere << word;" and there are few men resolute enough to preserve themselves from contamination, when they are accustomed, upon the niost solemn occa



sions to be treated with contempt. To the unthinking it becomes a plenary indulgence to the occasional tampering with veracity in affairs of daily occurrence, that they are not upon their oath; and we may afirm without risk of error, that there is no cause of insincerity, prevarication, and falsehood more powerful, than this practice. It treats veracity in the scenes of ordinary life as unworthy to be regarded. It takes for granted that no man, at least no man of plebeian rank, is to be credited upon his bare affirmation; and what it takes for granted it has an irresistible tendency to produce.

Wherever men of uncommon energy and dig: nity of mind have existed, they have felt the degradation of binding their assertions with an oath. The English constitution recognises in a partial and imperfect manner the force of this principle, and therefore provides, that, while the common herd of mankind shall be obliged to swear to the truth, nothing more shall be required from the order of the nobles than a declaration

Will season justify this distinction?

Men will never act with that liberal justice and conscious integrity which is their highest ornament, till they come to understand what men are. He that contaminates his lips with an oath, must have been thoroughly fortified with previous moral instruction, if he be able afterwards to un


upon honour.

derstand the beauty of an easy and simple integrity. If our political institutors had been but half so judicious in perceiving the manner in which excellence and worth were to be generated, as they have been ingenious and indefatigable in the means of depraving mankind, the world, instead of a slaughter-house, would have been a paradise.

What are the words which we are taught in this instance to address to the creator of the universe ? " So help me, God, and the contents of his holy “ word.” It is the language of imprecation. I pray him to pour down his everlasting wrath and curse upon me if I utter a lie.--It were to be wished that the name of that man were recorded, who first invented this 'mode of binding men to veracity. He had surely himself but very light and contemptuous notions of the Supreme Being, who could thus tempt men to insult him by braving his justice. If it be our duty to invoke his blessing, yet there must surely be something insupportably profane in wantonly and unnecessarily putting all that he is able to inflict upon us upon conditions.

Godwin. Political Justice, b. vi. ch. .


Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths :

But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by Heaven, for it is God's throne :

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Nor by the earth"; for it is his footstool : neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king:

Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black :

But let your communication be yea, yea, nay, nay : for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.


St. Mattbew, chap, v.

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Words are very rascals since bonds disgraced them.

SHAKESPEAR! Twelfth Nigbt, act ül.

It is great sin to swear unto a sin,
But greater sin to keep a sinful oath;
Who can be bound by any solemn vow,
To do a murderous deed, to rob a man,

To force a spotless virgin's chastity,
To reave the orphan of his patrimony,
To wring the widow from her custom'd right,
And have no other reason for his wrong,
But that he was bound by a solemn oath?

Second Part, Henry VI. actu.

No not an oath : If not the face of men,
The sufferance of our souls, the time's abuse-
If tliese be motives weak, break off betimes,
And every man hence to his idle bed ;
So let high-sighted tyranny range on,
Till each man drop by lottery. But if these,


As I am sure they do, bear fire enough,
To kindle cowards, and to steel with valour
The melting spirits of women; then, countryinen,
What need we any spur, but our own cause,
To prick us to redress? What other bond
Than secret Romans, that have spoke the word,
And will not palter? And what other oath,
Than honesty to honesty engag’d,
That this shall be, or we will fall for it?
Swear priests, and cowards, and men cautelous,
Old feeble carrions, and such suffering souls
Thar welcome wrongs ; unto bad causes swear
Such creatures as men doubt: but do not stain
The even virtue of our enterprize,
Nor tbe insuppressive metal of our spirits,
To think, that, or our cause, or our performance,
Did need an oath ; when every drop of blood,
That every Roman bears, and nobly bears,
Is guilty of a several bastardy,
If he do break the smallest particle
Of any promise that hath past from him.


Julius Cæsar, act, i. If we want oaths to join us, Swift let us part, from pole to pole asunder, A cause like ours is its own sacrament; Truth, justice, reason, love, and liberty, The eternal links that clasp the world are in it, And he who breaks their sanction, breaks all law, And infinite connection..

BROOKE. Gustavus Vasa, act

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