صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

injuriously affected. To take an oath to do a certain servation that the military oath is sui genrris. So prescribed act, and then to do only just that which far at least as my information extends, no other custom happens to prescribe, is to ensnare the con- oath is imposed which promises unconditional obescience and practically to diminish the sanctions of dience to other men; no other oath exists by which veracity. The evil may be avoided either by dis- a man binds himself to violate the laws of God. using all previous promises to speak the truth, or to Why does the military oath thus stand alone, the adapt the terms of the promise (if that can be done) explicit contemner of the obligations of morality ?-to the duties which the law or which custom ex- Because it belongs to a custom which itself contemns pects. “ You shall true answer make to all such morality. Because it belongs to a custom which questions as shall be asked of you,” is the form repeals all the principles of virtue.” Because it when a person is sworn upon a voir dire ; and if belongs to War. There is a lesson couched in this, this is all that the law expects when he is giving which he who has ears to hear will find to be pregevidence, why not use the same form? If how- nant with instruction. ever, in deference to the reasonings against the use OATH AGAINST BRIBERY AT ELECTIONS.-" I do of any oaths, the oath in evidence were abolished, swear I have not received, or had, by myself or any no difficulty could remain: for to promise in any person whatsoever in trust for me, or for my use form to speak the truth, is, as we have seen, and benefit, directly or indirectly, any sum or sums absurd.

of money; office, place, or employment; gift or Whilst the oath in evidence continues to be im- reward; or any promise or security for any money, posed, it is ot an easy task to determine in what office, employment, or gift, in order to give my vote sense the witness should understand it. If you de

at this election." This is an attempt to secure incide by the meaning of the legislature which imposed corruptness by extreme accuracy in framing the the oath, it appears manifest that he should tell all oath. With what success, public experience tells. he knows, whether asked or not. But what, it may No bribery oath will prevent bribery. It wants be asked, is the meaning of a law, but that which the efficient sanctions--punishment by the law or reproauthorized expounders of the law determine! And bation by the public. A man who possesses a vote if they habitually admit an interpretation at variance in a close borough, and whose neighbours and their with the terms of the oath, is not their sanction an fathers have habitually pocketed a bribe at every authoritative explanation of the legislature's mean- election, is very little under the influence of public ing? These are questions which I pretend not with opinion. That public with which he is connected, confidence to determine. The mischiefs which re- does not reprobate the act, and he learns to imagine sult from the uncertainty, are to be charged upon it is of little moral turpitude. As to legal penalties, the legislatures which do not remove the evil. I they are too unfrequently inflicted or too difficult of would, however, suggest that the meaning of a form infliction to be of much avail. Why then is this in such cases is to be sought, not so much in the nursery of perjury oontinued? Which action should meaning of the original imposers, as in that of those we most deprecate, that of the voter who perjures who now sanction the form by permitting it to ex- himself for a ten-pound note, or that of the legisist. This doubtless opens wide the door to extreme lator who so tempts him to perjury by imposing an licentiousness of interpretation. Nor can that door oath which he knows will be violated ! If bribery be be closed. There is no other remedial measure wrong, punish it; but it is utterly indefensible to than an alteration of the forms or an abolition of exact oaths which every body knows will be broken. the oath.

Not indeed that any thing in the present state of the MILITARY Oath.-" I swear to obey the orders representation will prevent bribery. We may mulof the officers who are set over me : So help me tiply oaths and denounce penalties without end, yet God." And suppose an officer orders him to do bribery will still prevail. But though bribery be something which morality forbids—his oath then inseparable from the system, perjury is not. We stands thus: “I swear to obey man rather than should abolish one of the evils if we do not or canGod.” The profaneness is shocking. Will any ex- not abolish both. tenuation be offered, and will it be said that the As to those endless contrivances by which electors military man only swears to obey the virtuous orders avoid the arm of the law, and hope to avoid the of his superior! We deny the fact : the oath nei- guilt of perjury, they are, as it respects guilt, all ther means nor is intended to mean, any such thing. and always vain. The intention of the Legislature It may indeed by possibility happen that an officer was to prevent bribery, and he who is bribed, viomay order his inferior to do a thing which a court- lates his oath whether he violates its literal terms martial would not punish him for refusing to do.

The shopkeeper who sells a yard of cloth But if the law intends to allow such exceptions, to a candidate for twenty pounds, is just as truly what excuse is there for making the terms of the bribed, and he just as truly commits perjury, as if oath absolute! Is it not teaching military men to the candidate had said, I give you this twenty-pound swear they care not what, thus to make the terms note to tempt you to vote for me.

These men may of the oath one thing and its meaning another ? evade legal penalties; there is a power which they But the real truth is, that neither the law nor cannot evade. courts-martial allow any such limitations in the OATH AGAINST SIMONY.--The substance of the meaning of the oath as will bring it within the oath is, “ I do swear that I have made no simoniacal limits of morality, or of even a decent reverence to payment for obtaining this ecclesiastical place: So Him who commands morality to man. They do not help me God through Jesus Christ !” The patronintend to allow the Moral Law to be the primary age of livings, that is, the legal right to give a man rule to the soldier. They intend the contrary: the ecclesiastical income of a parish, may, like other and the soldier does actually swear that, if he is property, be bought and sold. But though a person ordered so to do, he will violate the law of God. may legally sell the power of giving the income, he of this impiety what is the use ? Does any one may not sell the income itself; the reason it may be imagine that a soldier obeys his superiors because presumed being, that a person who can only give he has sworn to obey them? It were ridiculous. the income, will be more likely to bestow it upon When courts-martial inflict a punishment, they inflict such a clergyman as deserves it, than if he sold it not for perjury but for disobedience.

it to the highest bidder. It may however be obI would devote two or three sentences to the ob- served in passing, that the security for the judicious

or not.

SUBSCRIPTION TO ARTICLES OF RELIGION.

presentation of church preferment is extremely im- | this, and refused to take these oaths, the legislatura perfect; for the law, whilst it tries to take care that would presently do its duty. It needs not to be preferment shall be properly bestowed, takes no feared that it would suffer the doors of the collega care that the power of bestowing it shall be en- to be locked up, because students were too consci. trusted to proper hands. The least virtuous man entious to swear falsely. Thus, although the oblior woman in a district may possess this power; and gation upon the legislature is manifest, it possesses it were vain to expect that they will be very soli- some semblance of an excuse for refraining from recitous to assign careful shepherds to the Christian form, since those who are immediately aggriesed, flocks.

and who are the immediate agents of the offence, ai* To prevent the income from being bought and so little concerned hat they do not address ere i a sold, the law requires the acceptor of a living to petition for interference. That some good men feel swear that he has made no simoniacal payment for aggrieved is scarcely to be doubted : let these reit. What then is simony? To answer this question member their obligations : let them remember, that the clergyman must have recourse to the definitions compliance entails upon posterity the evil and the of the law. Simony is of various kinds, and the offence, and sets, for the integrity of successors, a clergyman who is under strong temptation to make perpetual snare. some contract with, or payment to the patron, is It is an unhappy reflection that men endeavour manifestly in danger of making them in the fearing, rather to pacify the misgiving voice of conscience doubting, hope, that they are not simoniacal. And under a continuance of the evil, than exert themso he makes the arrangement, hardly knowing whe- selves to remove it. Unschooled persons will alwiya ther he has committed simony and perjury or not. think that the usage is wrong. In truth, even after This evil is seen and acknowledged: “ The oath," the licentious interpretations of the oaths have been says a dignitary of the church, “ lays a snare for resorted to-after it has been shown what he who the integrity of the clergy; and I do not perceive takes them does not promise, what imaginable secu. that the requiring of it, in cases of private patronage, rity is there that he will perform that which he does produces any good effect sufficient to compensate promise—that he will even know what he promises? for this danger."

None. Being himself the interpreter of the oath, UNIVERSITY OATHS.—The various statutes of col. and having resolved that the oath does not mean leges, of which every member is obliged to promise what it says, he is at liberty to think that it means the observance on oath, are become wholly or partly any thing; or, which I suppose is the practical opiobsolete; some are needless and absurd, some illegal, nion, that it means nothing. If we would remore and to some, perhaps, it is impossible to conform. the evil we mast abolish the oath. Yet the oath to perform them is constantly taken. A man swears that he will speak, within the

college, no language but Latin; and he speaks English in it every day. He swears he will employ so many hours Bishop CLAYTON said, “I do not only doubt out of every twenty four in disputations; and does whether the compilers of the Articles, but even whenot dispute for days or weeks together. What re- ther any two thinking men, ever agreed exactly in mains, then, for those who take these oaths to do? their opinion not only with regard to all the Arti. To show that this is not perjury. Here is the field cles, but even with regard to any one of them."* for casuistry; here is the field in which ingenuity Such is the character of that series of propositions may exhibit its adroitness ! in which sophistry may in which a man is required to declare his belief bedelight to range! in which Duns Scotus, if he were fore he can become a minister in a Christian comagain in the world, might rejoice to be a combatant!munity. The event may easily be foreseen; some - And what do Ingenuity, and Casuistry, and So- will refuse to subscribe; some will subscribe though phistry do? Oh! they discover consolatory truths; it violates their consciences; some will subscribe they discover that if the act which you promise to regardless whether it be right or wrong; and some perform is unlawful, you may swear to perform it of course will be found to justify subscription. with an easy conscience; they discover that there Of those who on moral grounds refuse to subscribe is no harm in swearing to jump from Dover to Calais, to that which they do not believe, it may be prebecause it is “impracticable;" they discover that it sumed that they are conscientious men—men who is quite proper to swear to do a foolish thing because prefer sacrificing their interests to their duties. it would be “ manifestly inconvenient” and “preju- These are the men whom every Christian church dicial” to do it.-In a word, they discover so many should especially desire to retain in its communion; agrecable things that if the book of Cervantes were and these are precisely the men whom the Articles appended to the oath, they might swear to imitate exclude from the English church. all the deeds of his hero, and yet remain quietly and As it respects those who perceive the impropriets innocently in a college all their lives.

of subscription and yet subscribe, whose consciences That nothing can be said in extenuation of those are wronged by the very act which introduces them who take these oaths, cannot be affirmed; yet that into the church-the evil is manifest and great. the taking them is wrong, every man who simply Chillingworth declared to Shelden that "if he subconsults his own heart will know. Even if they were scribed, he subscribed his own damnation," yet not wrong upon no other ground they would be so upon long afterwards Chillingworth was induced to subthis, that if men were conscientious enough to refuse scribe. Unhappy, that they who are about to preach to take them, the“ necessity" for taking them would virtue to others, should be initiated by a violation of soon be withdrawn. No man questions that these the Moral Law! oaths are a scandal to religion and to religious men; With respect to those who subscribe heedlessly, no man questions that their tendency is to make the and without regard to their belief or disbelief of the public think lightly of the obligation of an oath. They Articles—of what use is subscription ? ought therefore to be abolished. It is imperative signed to operate as a test; but what test is it to him upon the legislature to abolish them, and it is impera who would set his name to the Articles if they were tive upon the individual, by refusing to take them, to exactly the contrary of what they are ? If consci. evince to the legislature the necessity for its inter-entiousness keeps some men out of the church, the ference. Nothing is wanted but that private Christians should maintain Christian fidelity. If they did do

• Confessional, 3d Edit. p. 246.

It is de

+

rant of conscientiousness lets others in. The con- allow private opinion the liberty of thinking some of triranee is admirably adapted to an end; but to what them to be “ against the Word of God.” This was end! To the separation of the more virtuous from precisely the liberty which the legislature intended the less, and to the admission of the latter.

to preclude. The modern explanations affirm the A reader who was a novice in these affairs would Articles to be conditional, and in fact, that they ask, in wonder, For what purpose is subscription impose only a few general obligations; but unconFracted ? If the Articles are so objectionable, and ditional subscription was the very thing which the if subscription is productive of so much evil, why are legislature required. If a person should now exnot the Articles revised, or why is subscription press the condition which Smyth, as reported by required at all! These are reasonable questions. Coke, expressed, and should say, I believe the Ar. They involve, however, political considerations; and ticles so far as they are accordant with Christian in the Political Essay we hope to give such an en- Truth-it appears that his subscription would not quirer satisfaction respecting them.

be accepted; and yet this is what is done by perAnd with respect to the justifications that are haps every clergyman in England—with this differoffered of subscribing to doctrines which are not ence only, that the reservation is secretly made and believed, it is manifest, that they must set out with not frankly expressed. So that in reality, and acthe assumption that the words of the Articles mean cording to the principles laid down by the apologists nothing-that we are not to seek for their meaning of subscription,* almost every subscriber subscribes in their terms, but in some other quarter. It is hardly falsely. necessary to remark, that when this assumption is But what, it will be asked, is to be done? Remade, the enquirer is launched upon a boundless fuse to subscribe. There is no other means of mainocean, and though he has to make his way to a port, taining your purity, and perhaps no other means of possesses neither compass nor helm, and can see nei- | procuring an abolition of the Articles. At least ther sun nor star. Who can assign any limit to this means would be effectual. We may be sure license of interpretation, when it is once agreed that that the legislature would revise or abolish them if the words themselves mean nothing ? The world is it was found that no one would subscribe. They all before us, and we have to seek a place of rest would not leave the pulpits empty in compliment to from pyrrhoniem wherever we can find it. We are a barbarous relic of the days of Elizabeth. Perhaps told to go back to Queen Elizabeth's days, and to it will be said, that although men of virtue refusea find out, if we can, what the legislature who framed to subscribe, the pulpits would still be filled with the Articles meant : always premising that we are

unprincipled men. The effect would speedily be not to judge of what they meant by what they said. the same: the legislature would not continue to How is it discovered that they did not mean what impose subscription for the sake of excluding from they said ? By a process of most convincing argu- the ministry all but bad men. Those who subscribe, nentation; which argumentation consists in this, therefore, bind the burden upon their own shoulders " It is difficult to conceive how” they could have and upon the shoulders of posterity. The offence meant it!* These are agreeable and convenient is great: the scandal to religion is great: and even solutions ; but they are not true.

if refusal to subscribe would not remove the evil, * They who contend that nothing less can justify the question for the individual is not wbat may be subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles, than the the consequences of doing his duty, but what his actual belief of each and every separate proposition duty is. We want a little more Christian fidelity; contained in them, must suppose that the legislature

a little more of that spirit which made our foreexpected the consent of ten thousand men and that fathers prefer the stake to tampering with their in perpetual succession, not to one controverted pro

consciences. position but to many hundreds. It is difficult to conceive how this could be expected by any who observed the incurable diversity of human opinion upon all subjects short of demonstration.”+ Now it appears that the Legislature of Elizabeth actually

CHAPTER IX. did require uniformity of opinion upon these contro verted points. Such has been the decision of the Judges.* “ One Smyth subscribed to the said Thirtynine Articles of religion with this addition-so far Publication and circulation of books--- Seneca- Circulating forth as the same were agreeable to the word of God; Libraries-Public-houses-Prosecutions-Political affairs. and it was resolved by Wray, Chief-Justice in the King ́s Bench, and all the Judges of England, that

A great portion of the moral evil in the world, this subscription was not according to the statute of is the result not so much of the intensity of indivi13th Eliz. Because the statute required an absolute dual wickedness, as of a general incompleteness in subscription, and this subscription made it condi

the practical virtue of all classes of men. If it were tional: and that this act was made for avoiding di possible to take away misconduct from one half of versity of opinions, &c.; and by this addition, the

the community and to add its amount to the remainparty might, by his own private opinion, take some

der, it is probable that the moral character of our of them to be against the Word of God, and by this

species would be soon benefited by the change. means, diversity of opinions should not be avoided,

Now, the ill dispositions of the bad are powerfully which was the scope of the statute ; and the very act

encouraged by the want of upright examples in made, touching subscription, of none effect.” 1

those who are better. A man may deviate consiThis overthrows the convenient explanations of derably from rectitude, and still

be as good as his modern times. It is agreed by those who offer these neighbours. From such a man, the motive to exexplanations, that the meaning of Elizabeth's legis- • Theso principles are, that the meaning of a promise or lature is that by which they are bound. That mean- an oath is to be determined by the meaning of those who im. ing then is declared by all the Judges of England

IMMORAL AGENCY.

[ocr errors]

pose it. This as a general rule is true; but I repeat the doubt to be, that subscribers should believe the proposi

whether, in the case of antiquated forms, a proper standard of

their meaning is not to be sought in the intention of the le. The modern explanations gislatures which now perpetuate those forms. This doubt,

Lowever, in whatever way it preponderates, will not afford a .Mor. and Pol, Phil, b. 3 p. 1. c. 22.

* Id. justification of subscribing to forms of which the terms are Coke : Instit. 4 cap. 74. p. 324.

notoriously disregarded.

tions of the Articles.

[ocr errors]

more.

cellence which the constant presence of virtuous tioned at all. We speak not of those abandoni example supplies, is taken away. So that there is publications which all respectable men condemn, but reason to believe, that if the bad were to become of those which, pernicious as they are confessed to worse, and the reputable to become proportionably be, furnish reading-rooms and libraries, and are better, the average virtue of the world would speed- habitually sold in almost every bookseller's shop. ily be increased.

Seneca says, “ He that lends a man money to carry One of the modes by which the efficacy of exam- him to a bawdy-house, or a weapon for his revenge, ple in reputable persons is miserably diminished, is makes himself a partner of his crime.” He, too, wird by what we have called Immoral Agency-by their writes or sells a book which will, in all probability, being willing to encourage, at second hand, evils injure the reader, is accessory to the mischief whicl, which they would not commit as principals. Linked may be done; with this aggravation, when compared together as men are in society, it is frequently diffi- with the examples of Seneca, that whilst the money cult to perform an unwarrantable action withnut would probably do mischief but to one or two persome sort of co-operation from creditable men. sons, the book may injure a hundred or a thousand This co-operation is not often, except in flagrant of the writers of injurious books, we need say no cases, refused; and thus not only is the commis

If the inferior agents are censurable, the sion of such actions facilitated, but a general relax- primary agent must be more censurable. A printer ation is induced in the practical estimates which men or a bookseller should, however, reflect, that to be form of the standard of rectitude.

not so bad as another, is a very different thing from Since, then, so much evil attends this agency in un- / being innocent. When we see that the owner of a warrantable conduct, it manifestly becomes a good press will print any work that is offered to him, man to look around upon the nature of his inter. with no other concern about its tendency than whecourse with others, and to consider whether he is ther it will subject him to penalties from the law, we not virtually promoting evils which his judgment de- surely must perceive that he exercises but a very imprecates, or reducing the standard of moral judg- perfect virtue. Is it obligatory upon us not to proment in the world. The reader would have no dif- mote:ill principles in other men ? He does not fulfil ficulty in perceiving that, if a strenuous opponent of the obligation. Is it obligatory upon us to promote the slave trade should establish a manufactory of rectitude by unimpeachable example! He does not manacles, and thumbscrews, and iron collars for the exhibit that example. If it were right for my neighslave merchants, he would be grossly inconsistent bour to furnish me with the means of moral injury, with himself. The reader would perceive too, that it would not be wrong for me to accept and to emhis labours in the cause of the abolition would be ploy them. almost nullified by the viciousness of his example, I stand in a bookseller's shop, and observe his and that he would generally discredit preten- customers successively coming in. One orders a sions to philanthropy. Now that which we desire lexicon, and one a work of scurrilous infidelity; the reader to do is, to apply the principles which one Captain Cook's Voyages, and one a new licenthis illustration exhibits to other and less flagrant tious romance. If the bookseller takes and exe

Other cases of co-operation with evil may cutes all these orders with the same willingness, be less flagrant than this; but they are not, on that I cannot but perceive that there is an inconsistency, account, innocent. I have read, in the life of a man an incompleteness, in his moral principles of action. of great purity of character, that he refused to draw Perhaps this person is so conscious of the mischieup a will or some such document because it contained vous effects of such books, that he would not allow a transfer of some slaves. He thought that slavery | them in the hands of his children, nor suffer them was absolutely wrong; and therefore would not, to be seen on his parlour table. But if he thus knows even by the remotest implication, sanction the sys- the evils which they inflict, can it be right for him tem by his example.* I think he exercised a sound to be the agent in diffusing them ? Such a person Christian judgment; and if all who prepare such does not exhibit that consistency, that completeness documents acted upon the same principles, I know of virtuous conduct, without which the Christian not whether they would not so influence public opi- character cannot be fully exhibited. Step into the nion as greatly to hasten the abolition of slavery shop of this bookseller's neighbour, a druggist, and itself. Yet where is the man who would refuse to there, if a person asks for some arsenic, the tradesdo this, or to do things even less defensible than man begins to be anxious. He considers whether it this?

is probable the buyer wants it for a proper purpose. PUBLICATION AND CIRCULATION OF Books. It If he does sell it, he cautions the buyer to keep it is a very common thing to hear of the evils of per- where others cannot have access to it; and, before nicious reading, of how it enervates the mind, or how he delivers the packet, legibly inscribes upon it it depraves the principles. The complaints are

Poison. One of these men sells poison to the body, doubtless just. These books could not be read, and and the other poison to the mind. If the anxiety these evils would be spared the world, if one did not and caution of the druggist is right, the indifference write, and another did not print, and another did of the bookseller must be wrong. Add to which, not sell, and another did not circulate them. Are that the druggist would not sell arsenic at all if it those then, without whose agency the mischief could were not sometimes useful; but to what readers can not ensue, to be held innocent in affording this a vicious book be useful ! agency? Yet, loudly as we complain of the evil, Suppose for a moment that no printer would comand carefully as we warn our children to avoid it, mit such a book to his press, and that no bookseller how seldom do we bear public reprobation of the would sell it, the consequence would be, that ninewriters! As to printers, and booksellers, and li- tenths of these manuscripts would be thrown into brary keepers, we scarcely hear their offences men- the fire, or rather, that they would never have been

written. The inference is obvious; and surely it is • One of the publications of this excellent man contains a not needful again to enforce the considerat on, that paragraph much to our present purpose : cerus, it is necessary that nothing we do may carry the appear.

although your refusal might not prevent vicious ance of approbation of the works of wickedness, make the books from being published, you are not therefore unrighteous more at ease in unrighteousness, or occasion the exempted from the obligation to refuse. A man Injuries committed against the oppressed to be more lightly looked over."- Considerations on the True Harmony of Man.

must do his duty whether the effects of his fidelity kind, c. 3, by John Woolman.

be such as he would desire or not. Such purity of

cases.

[ocr errors]

" In all our con.

a

conduet might, no doubt, circumscribe a man’s busi- stream. He had just left a public-house where he bess, and so does purity of conduct in some other had been intoxicated during sixty hours; and within professions; but if this be a sufficient excuse for this time the publican had supplied him (besides contributing to demoralize the world, if profit be a some spirits) with forty quarts of ale. Does any justification of a departure from rectitude, it will be reader need to be convinced that this publican had Easy to defend the business of a pickpocket. acted criminally? His crime, however, was neither

I know that the principles of conduct which these the greater nor the less because it had been the paragraphs recommend, lead to grave practical con- means of loss of life: no such accident might have sequences; I know that they lead to the conclusion happened; but his guilt would have been the same. that the business of a printer or bookseller, as it is Probity is not the only virtue which it is good ordinarily conducted, is not consistent with Chris- policy to practise. The innkeeper, of whom it was tian uprightness. A man may carry on a business known that he would not supply the means of exin select works; and this, by some conscientious cess, would probably gain: by the resort of those persons, is really done. In the present state of the who approved his integrity more than he would press, the difficulty of obtaining a considerable busi- lose by the absence of those whose excesses that ness as a bookseller without eirculating injurious integrity kept away. An inn has been conducted works may frequently be great, and it is in conse- upon such maxims. He who is disposed to make proof quence of this difficulty that we see so sew book- of the result, might fix upon an established quantity sellers amongst the Quakers. The few who do con- of the different liquors, which he would not exoeed. dact the business generally reside in large towns, If that quantity were determinately fixed, the lover where the demand for all books is so great that a of excess would have no ground of complaint when person can procure a competent income though he he had been supplied to its amount. Such honourexclades the bad.

able and manly conduct might have an extensive He who is more studious to justify his conduct effect, until it influenced the practice even of the than to act aright may say, that if a person may sell lower resorts of intemperance. A sort of ill fame Do book that can injure another, he can scarcely sell might attach to the house in which a man could be. any book. The answer is, tbat although there must come drunk; and the maxim might be established be some difficulty in discrimination, though a book- by experience, that it was necessary to the respecseller cannot always inform himself what the precise tability, and therefore generally to the suceess, of a tendency of a book is-yet there can be no difficulty public-house, that none should be seen to reel out of ia judying, respecting numberless books, that their its doors. tendency is bad. If we cannot define the precise PROSECUTIONS. It is upon principles of conduct distinction between the good and the evil, we can, similar to those which are here recommended, that nevertheless, perceive the evil when it has attained many persons are reluctant, and some refuse, to proto a certain extent. He who cannot distinguish day secute offenders when they think the penalty of the from evening can distinguish it from night.

law is unwarrantably severe.

This motive operates The case of the proprietors of common circula- in our own country to a great extent: and it ought ting libraries is yet more palpable ; because the to operate. I should not think it right to give evi. mjority of the books which they contain inflict dence against a man who had robbed my house, if I injary upon their readers. How it happens that knew that my evidence would occasion him to be persons of respectable character, and who join with hanged. Whether the reader may think similarly, others in lamenting the frivolity, and worse than is of no consequence to the principle. The prin. frivolity, of the age, nevertheless daily and hourly ciple is, that if you think the end vicious and wrong, contribute to the mischief, without any apparent you are guilty of “ Immoral Agency” in contriconsciousness of inconsistency, it is difficult to ex- buting to effect that end. Unhappily, we are much plain. A person establishes, perhaps, one of these less willing to act upon this principle when our libraries for the first time in a country town. He agency produces only moral evil, than when it prosupplies the younger and less busy part of its inha- duces physical suffering. He that would not give bitants with a source of moral injury from which evidence which would take a man's life, or even hitherto they had been exempt. The girl who, till occasion him loss or pain, would, with little hesitanow, possessed sober views of life, he teaches to tion, be an agent of injuring his moral principles ; dream of the extravagances of love; he familiarizes and yet, perhaps the evil of the latter case is incomLer ideas with intrigue and licentiousness ; destroys parably greater than that of the former. her disposition for rational pursuits; and prepares

POLITICAL AFFA1R8.-The amount of Immoral her, it may be, for a victim of debauchery. These Agency which is practised in these affairs, is very evils, or such as these, he inflicts, not upon one or great. Look to any of the continental governiwo, but upon as many as he can; and yet this per- ments, or to any that have subsisted there, how few son lays his head upon his pillow, as if, in all this, he acts of misrule, of oppression, of injustice, and of was Dut offending against virtue or against man! crime, have been prevented by the want of agents

Isns.-- When in passing the door of an inn I hear of the iniquity! I speak not of notoriously bad or see a company of intoxicated men in the 6 men: of these, bad governors can usually find of riot,” I cannot persuade myself that he who sup- enough: but I speak of men who pretend to respecplies the wine, and profits by the viciousness, is a tability and virtue of character, and who are actually moral man. In the private house of a person of called respectable by the world. There is perhaps respectability such a scene would be regarded as a no class of affairs in which the agency of others is scandal. It would lower his neighbour's estimate of more indispensable to the accomplishment of a vicious the excellence of his character. But does it then act, than in the political. Very little—comparaconstitute a sufficient justification of allowing vice tively very little--of oppression and of the politiin our houses, that we get by it? Does morality cal vices of rulers should we see, if reputable men grant to a man an exemption from its obligations at did not lend their agency. These evils could not the same time as he procures his license ? Drunken- be committed through the agency of merely bad ness is immoral. If therefore, when a person is on because the very fact that bad men only the eve of intoxication, the innkeeper supplies his would abet them, would frequently preclude the demand for another bottle, he is accessory to the possibility of their commission. It is not to be preimmorality. A man was lately found drowned in a iended that no public men possess or have possessed

excess

men ;

« السابقةمتابعة »