Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

Locke. Come, come, you yourself know the difference be. tween the foundations on which the credit of those systems, and that of Newton is placed. Your scepticism is more af. fected than real. You found it a shorter way to a great reputation, (the only wish of your heart,) to obje&, than to defend ; to pull down, than to set up. And your talents were admirable for that kind of work. Then your hud. dling together in a Critical Dictionary, a pleasant tale, or obscene jest, and a grave argument against the Christian religion, a witty confutation of some absurd author, and an artful fophism to impeach fome respectable truth, was particularly commodious to all our young smarts and fmatterers in free thinking. But what mischief have you not done to human society? You have endeavoured, and with some degree of success, to shake those foundations, on which the whole moral world, and the great fabric of social happiness, entirely rest. How could you, as a philosopher, in the fober hours of reflection, answer for this to your con. science, even fupposing you had doubts of the truth of a fystem, which gives to virtue its sweetest hopes, to impeni. tent vice its greatest fears, and to true penitence its best consolations; which restrains even the least approaches to guilt, and yet makes those allowances for the infirmities of our nature, which the stoic pride denied to it, but which its real imperfection, and the goodness of its infinitely benevolent Creator, so evidently require ?

Bay. The mind is free; and it loves to exert its free. don. Any restraint upon it is a violence done to its na. ture, and a tyranny, against which it has a right to rebel.

Locke. The mind, though free, has a governor within itself, which may and ought to limit the exercise of its freedom. That governor is reason.

Bay. Yes: but reason, like other governors, has a pol. icy more dependent upon uncertain caprice, than upon any fixed laws. And if that reason, which rules my mind or yours, has happened to set up a favourite notion, it not only submits implicitly to it, but defires that the same respect should be paid to it by all the rest of mankind.

Now I hold that any man may lawfully oppose this desire in another ; and that, if he is wife, he will use his utmost endeavours to check it in himself.

Locke. Is there not also a weakness of a contrary na. ture to this you are now ridiculing? Do we not often take a pleasure in showing our own power, and gratifying our own pride, by degrading the notions set up by other men, and generally respected ?

Bay. I believe we do ; and by this means it often happens, that, if one man builds and consecrates a temple to folly, another pulls it down.

Locke. Do you think it beneficial to human society, to have all temples pulled down?

Bay. I cannot say that I do.

Locke. Yet I find not in your writings any mark of distinction, to shew us which you mean to save.

Bay. A true philosopher, like an impartial historian, must be of no fect.

Locke. Is there no medium between the blind zeal of a fectary, and a total indifference to all religion?

Bay, With regard to morality, I was not indifferent.

Locke. How could you then be indifferent with regard to the sanctions religion gives to morality? How could you publish what tends to directly and apparently to weaken in mankind the belief of those sanctions ? Was not this facrific. ing the great interests of virtue to the little motives of vanity?

Bay. A man may act indiscreetly, but he cannot do wrong, by declaring that, which, on a full discullion of the question, he fincerely thinks to be true.

Locke. An enchufiaft, who advances doctrines prejudi. cial to fociety, or opposes any that are useful to it, has the Atrength of opinion, and the heat of a disturbed imagina. tion, to plead in alleviation of his fault. But your cool head, and found judgment, can have no such excuse. I know very well there are paffages in all your works, and those not a few, where you talk like a rigid moralist. I have also heard that your character was irreproachably good. But when, in the most laboured

parts your writings, you fap the furest foundations of all moral duties ; what avails it that in others, or in the conduct of your life, you appeared to respect them? How many, who have stronger pallions than you had, and are desirous to get rid of the curb that restrains them, will lay hold of your scepticism, to set themselves loose from all obligations of virtue! What a misfortune it is to have made such a use of such talents ! It would have been better for you and for mankind, if you had been one of the dullest of Dutch theologians, or the most credulous monk in a Portuguese convent. The riches of the mind, like those of fortune, may be employed fo perversely, as to become

L

of

a nuisance and peft, instead of an ornament and support, to society.

Bay. You are very severe upon me. But do you count it no merit, no service to mankind, to deliver them from the frauds and fetters of priestcraft, from the deliriums of fanaticifm, and from the terrors and follies of superstition ? Consider how much mischief these have done to the world! Even in the last age, what massacres, what civil wars, what convulsions of government, what confusion in fociety, did they produce ? Nay, in that we both lived in, though much more enlightened than the former, did I not see them occasion a violent persecution in my own country? and can you blame me for Atriking at the root of these evils ?

Locke. The root of these evils, you well know, was false religion : but you struck at the true. Heaven and hell are not more different, than the system of faith I defended, and that which produced the horrors of which you speak. Why would you fo fallacioufly confound them together in fom of your writings, that it requires much more judgment, and a more diligent attention, than ordinary readers have, to separate them again, and to make the proper distinctions ? This, indeed, is the great art of the molt celebrated free-thinkers. They recommend them. selves to warm and ingenuous minds, by lively strokes of wit, and by arguments really strong, against superstition, enthusiasm, and priestcraft. But, at the same time, they insidiously throw the colours of these upon the fair face of true religion; and dress her out in their garb, with a malignant intention to render her odious or defpicable, to those who have not penetration enough to discern the im. pious fraud. Some of them may have thus deceived themselves, as well as others. Yet it is certain, no book, that ever was written by the most acute of these gentlemen, is fo repugnant to priestcraft, to spiritual tyranny, to all absurd fuperftitions, to all that can tend to disturb or injure fociety, as that gospel they fo much affe&t to defpife.

Bay. Mankind are so made, that, when they have been over-heated, they cannot be brought to a proper temper again, till they have been over-cooled. My scepticism might be necessary, to abate the fever and frenzy of false religion.

Locke. A wise prescription, indeed, to bring on a paralytical state of the mind, (for such a scepticism as yours is

a pally, which deprives the mind of all vigour, and deadens its natural and vital powers,) in order to take off a fever, which temperance, and the milk of the evangelical doctrines, would probably cure !

Bay. I acknowledge that those medicines have a great power. But few doctors apply them untainted with the mixture of some harsher drugs, or some unfafe and ridiculous noftrums of their own.

Locke. What you now say is too true. God has given us a molt excellent physic for the soul, in all its diseases ; bat bad and interelted physicians, or ignorant and conceited quacks, administer it so ill to the rest of mankind, that much of the benefit of it is unhappily lost.

LORD LYTTLETON ,

CHAP. VIII.
PUBLIC SPEECHES.

SECTION I.

Cicero against Verres. The time is come, Fathers, when that which has long been wished for, towards allaying the envy your order has been subject to, and removing the imputations against trials, is effe&ually put into your power. An opinion has long prevailed, not only here at home, but likewise in foreign countries, both dangerous to you, and pernicious to the state, that, in prosecutions, men of wealth are al. ways fafe, however clearly convicted.

There is now to be brought upon his trial before you, to the confusion, I hope, of the propagators of this flanderous imputation, one whose life and actions condemo him in the opinion of all impartial persons ; but who, according to his own reckoning and declared dependence upon his riches, is already acquitted ; I mean Caius Verres. I demand jus. tice of you, Fathers, upon the robber of the public treafury, the oppressor of Asia Minor and Pamphylia, the invader of the rights and privileges of Romans, the fcourge and curfe of Sicily. If that sentence is passed upon him which his crimes deserve, your authority, Fathers, will be venerable and sacred in the eyes of the public ; but if his great riches should bias you in his favour, I shall fill gain one point, to make it apparent to all the world, that

what was wanting in this case, was not a criminal nor a prosecutor, but justice and adequate punishment.

To pass over the shameful irregularities of his youth, what does his quæstorship, the first public employment he held, what does it exhibit, but one continued scene of villanies ? Cneius Carbo plundered of the public money by his own treasurer, a conful stripped and betrayed, an army deserted and reduced to want, a province robbed, the civil and religious rights of a people violated. The employment he held in Asia Minor and Pamphylia, what did it produce but the ruin of those countries in which houses, cities, and temples were robbed by him. What was his conduct in his prætorship here at home? Let the plundered temples, and public works neglected, that he might embezzle the money intended for carrying them on, bear witness. How did he discharge the office of a judge ? Let those who suffered by his injustice answer. But his prætorship in Sicily crowns all his works of wickedness, and finishes a lasting monument to his infamy. The mis. chiefs done by him in that unhappy country, during the three years of his iniquitous administration, are such, that, many years, under the wiselt and best of præiors, will not be sufficient to restore things to the condition in which he found them; for it is notorious, that, during the time of his tyranny, the Sicilians neither enjoyed the protection of their own original laws; of the regulations made for their benefit by the Roman fenate, upon their coming under the protection of the commonwealth ; nor of the natural and unalienable rights of men. His nod las decided all causes in Sicily for these three years. And his decisions have broken all law, all precedent, all right. The sums he has, by arbitrary taxes and unhcard of impositions, extort. ed from the industrious poor, are not to be computed. The most faithful allies of the commonwealth have been treated as enemies. Roman citizens haye, like flaves, been put to death with tortures. The most atrocious criminals, for money, have been exempted from the deserved punishments; and men of the most unexceptionable characters, condemned and banished unheard. The har bours, though sufficiently fortified, and the gates of strong towns, have been opened to pirates and ravagers. The foldiery and failors, belonging to a province under the protection of the commonwealth, have been starved to death. Whole Heets, to the great detriment of the province, fuf

« FöregåendeFortsätt »