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there be no executioner where the jailer can be sufficient.
They continue, “But society must avenge itself, society must punish."
Neither one nor the other; vengeance is an individual act, and punishment belongs to God. Society is between the two; punishment is above its power, retaliation beneath it. Society should not punish, to avenge itself; it should correct, to ameliorate others!
Their third and last reason remains, the theory of example. “We must make examples. By the sight of the fate inflicted on criminals, we must shock those who might otherwise be tempted to iinitate them!"
Well, in the first place, I deny the power of the example. I deny that the sight of executions produces the desired effect. Far from edifying the common people, it demoralizes and ruins their feeling, injuring every virtue; proofs of this abound and would encumber my argument if I chose to cite them. I will allude to only one fact, amongst a thousand, because it is of recent occurrence. It happened only ten days back from the present moment; namely, on the 5th of March, the last day of the Carnival. At St. Pol, immediately after the execution of an incendiary named Louis Camus, a group of masqueraders came and danced round the still reeking scaffold!
Make, then, your fine examples! Shrove Tuesday will turn them into jest!
If, notwithstanding all experience, you still hold to the theory of example, then give us back the Sixteenth Century; be in reality formidable. Restore to us a variety of suffering; restore us the sworn torturers; restore us the gibbet, the wheel, the block, the rack,
the thumb-screw, the live-burial vault, the burning cauldron; restore us in the streets of Paris, as the most open shop among the rest, the hideous stall of the Executioner, constantly full of human flesh; give us back Montfaucon, its caves of bones, its beams, its crooks, its chains, its rows of skeletons; give us back, in its permanence and power, that gigantic outhouse of the Paris Executioner! This indeed would be wholesale example; this would be “punishment by death,” well understood; this would be a system of execution in some proportion, -which, while it is horrible, is also terrible!
H! my people—thou heart of my heart, thou life of
my life-to thee are bent the thoughts of my mind, and they will remain bent to thee, though all the world may frown..
Thou art oppressed, O my fatherland! because the principles of Christianity have not been executed in practice; because the duties of Christianity have not been fulfilled; because the precepts of Christianity have not been obeyed; because the law of Christianity did not control the policy of nations; because there are many impious governments to offend the law of Christ, but there was none to do the duties commanded by Christ.
Thou art fallen, O my country, because Christianity has yet to come; but it is not yet come—nowhere! Nowhere on earth! And with the sharp eye of misfortune piercing the dark veil of the future, and with the tongue of Cassandria relating what I see, I cry it out to high Heaven, and shout it out to the Earth"Nations, proud of your momentary power; proud of your freedom; proud of your prosperity-your power is vain, your freedom is vain, your industry, your wealth, your prosperity are vain; all these will not save you from sharing the mournful fate of those old nations, not less powerful than you, not less free, not less prosperous than you—and still fallen, as you yourself will fall—all vanished as you will vanish, like a bubble thrown up from the deep! There is only the law of Christ, there are only the duties of Christianity, which can secure your future, by securing at the same time humanity."
Duties must be fulfilled, else they are an idle word. And who would dispute that there is a positive duty in that law, "Love thy neighbour as thou lovest thyself. Do unto others as thou wouldst that others do unto thee." Now, if there are duties in that law comprised, who shall execute them, if free and powerful nations do not execute them? No government can meddle with the private relations of its millions of citizens so much as to enforce the positive virtue of Christian charity, in the thousand-fold complications of private life. That will be impossible; and our Saviour did not teach impossibilities. By commanding charity toward fellow-men in human relations, He commanded it also to governments.
Yes, gentlemen, as long as the principles of Chris. tian morality are not carried up into the international relations—as long as the fragile wisdom of political exigencies overrules the doctrines of Christ, there is no freedom on earth firm, and the future of no nation
But let a powerful nation like yours raise Christian morality into its public conduct, that nation will have a future against which the very gates of hell itself will not prevail. The morality of its policy will react upon the morality of its individuals, and preserve it from domestic vice, which, without that prop, ever yet has attended too much prosperity, and ever yet was followed by a dreadful fall. The morality of its policy will support justice and freedom on earth, and thus augmenting the number of free nations, all acting upon the same principle, its very future will be placed under the guarantee of them all, and preserve it from foreign danger-which is better to prevent than to repel. And its future will be placed under the guarantee of the Almighty himself, who, true to His eternal decrees, proved, through the downfall of so many mighty nations, that He always punished the fathers in the coming generations; but alike bountiful as just, will not and cannot forsake those to whom He gave power to carry out His laws on earth, and who willingly answered His divine call. Power in itself never yet was sure. It is right which makes power firm; and it is community which makes right secure. The task of PETER'S apostolate is accomplished—the Churches are founded in the Christian world. The task of PAUL'S apostolate is accomplished-the abuses of fanaticism and intolerance are redressed. But the task of him whom the Saviour most loved, is not yet accomplished. The gospel of charity rules not yet the Christian world; and without charity, Christianity, you know, is "but sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal."
Which is the nation to achieve that triumph of Christianity by protecting justice out of charity? Which shall do it if not yours? Whom the Lord has blessed above all, from whom He much expects, because He has given her much.
Ye Ministers of the Gospel, who devote your lives to expound the eternal truths of the book of life, remember my humble words, and remind those who, with pious hearts, listen to your sacred words, that half virtue is no virtue at all, and that there is no difference in the duties of charity between public and private life.
Ye Missionaries, who devote your lives to the propagation of Christianity, before you embark for the dangers of far, inhospitable shores, remind those