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both of God and Man, made a very strong express ion of their feelings on this subject to the legislature ; and from the wisdom and justice of that body, the friends of humanity may confidently hope soon to see this blackest in the catalogue of human crimes, pursued with appropriate punishment.
In proceeding to pass the sentence, which the law provided for your defence, I confess, I never felt more forcibly the want of power, to make respected the laws of my country whose minister I am. You have already violated the majesty of those lawsyou have profanely pleaded, the law under which stand convicted-as a justification of your crimeyou have held that law in one hand, and brandished your bloody axe in the other, impiously contending that the one gave a licence to the unconstrained use of the other.
But though you will go off unhurt in person by the present sentence, expect not to escape with impunity: your bloody deed has set a mark upon you, which I fear the good actions of your life will not efface. You will be held in abhorrence by an impartial world, and shunned as a monster by every honest manyour unoffending posterity will be visited for your iniquity, by the stigma of deriving their origin from an unfeeling murderer-your days which will be few, will be spent in wretchedness ;-and, if your conscience is not steeled against every virtuous emotion; if you be not entirely abandoned to hardness of heart, the mangled, and mutilated corpse of your murdered slave will be ever present in your imagination: obtruding itself into all your amusements, and haunting you in the house of silence and repose.
But should you not regard the reproaches of an offended world; should you bear with callous insensibility the gnawing of a guilty conscience; yet remember! I charge you remember! that an awful period is fast approaching, and with you is close at hand when you must appear before a tribunal, whose want of power can afford you no prospect of impuni
ty; when you must raise your bloody hands at the bar of an impartial, omnipotent judge! Remember! I pray you remember! whilst you have time, that God is just, and that his vengeance will not sleep for
Speech dictated by Doctor Johnson in defence of a school-master, in Scotland, charged with severity in the chastisement of his scholars, who had been deprived of his office by an inferior court, and afterwards restored by the court of Session; the court considering it to be dangerous to the interests of learning and education, to lessen the dignity of teachers, and make them afraid of too indulgent parents, instigated by the complaints of their children; which was appealed against by his enemies to the House of Lords.
The charge is, that he has used immoderate and cruel correction :-Correction in itself is not cruel; yet as good things become evil by excess, correction, by being immoderate, may become cruel. But when is correction immoderate? When is it more frequent, or more severe than is required for reformation and instruction? No severity is cruel which obstinacy makes necessary; for the greatest cruelty would be to desist, and leave the scholar too careless for instruction, and too much hardened for reproof. Locke, in his treatise on education, mentions a mother, with applause who corrected her child eight times beforeshe subdued it; for had she stopped at the seventh act of correction, her daughter, says he, would have been ruined.
The degrees of obstinacy in young minds are very different as different must be the degrees of persevering severity. A stubborn scholar must be cor
rected till he is subdued. The discipline of a school is military. There must be either unbounded licence, or absolute authority. The master, who punishes, not only consults the future happiness of him who is the immediate subject of correction, but propagates obedience through the whole school; and establishes regularity by exemplary justice. The victorious obstinacy of a single boy would make his future endeavours of reformation or instruction totally ineffectual. Obstinacy, therefore, must never be victoriYet it is well known, that there sometimes occurs a sullen and hardy resolution, that laughs at all common degrees of pain. Correction must be proportioned to occasions. The flexible will be reformed by gentle discipline, and the refractory must be subdued by harsher methods. The degrees of scholastic, as of military punishment, no stated rules can ascertain. It must be enforced till it overpowers temptation; till stubbornness becomes flexible, and perverseness regular..
Custom and reason have, indeed, set some bounds to scholastic penalties. The school-master inflicts no capital punishments; nor enforces his edicts by either death or mutilation. The civil law has wisely determined, that a master who strikes at a scholar's eye shall be considered as a criminal. But punishments, however severe, that produce no lasting evil, may be just and reasonable, because they may be necessary. Such have been the punishments used by the respondent. No scholar has gone from him either blind or lame, or with any of his limbs or powers injured or impaired. They were irregular and he punished them; they were obstinate, and he enforced his punishment, But, however provoked, he never exceeded the limits of moderation, for he inflicted nothing beyond present pain; and how much of that was required, no man is so little able to determine, as those who have determined against him ;-the parents of the offenders. It has been said, that he used unprecedented and improper instruments of, correction.
Of this accusation the meaning is not very easy to be found. No instrument of correction is more proper than another, but as it is better adapted to produce present pain, without lasting mischief. Whatever were his instruments, no lasting mischief has ensued ; and therefore, however unusual, in hands so cautious they were proper.
In a place like Campbell-town, it is easy for one of the principal inhabitants to make a party. It is easy for that party to heat themselves with imaginary grievances. It is easy for them to oppress a man poorer than themselves, and natural to assert the dignity of riches, by persisting in oppression. The argument which attempts to prove the impropriety of restoring the respondent to the school, by alledging that he has lost the confidence of the people, is not the subject of juridical consideration; for he is to suffer, if he must suffer, not for their judgment, but for his own actions. It may be convenient for them to have another master, but it is a convenience of their own making. It would be likewise convenient for him to find another school; but this convenience he cannot obtain.-The question is not what is now convenient, but what is generally right. If the people of Campbell-town be distressed by the restoration of the respondent, they are distressed only by their own fault; by turbulent passions and unreasonable desires; by tyranny, which law has defeated, and by malice, which virtue has surmounted.
PART OF THE SPEECH OF THE HONOURABLE THOMAS
(NOW LORD) ERSKINE, FOR THE PROSECUTION AGAINST WILLIAMS, PUBLISHER OF PAINE'S AGE OF REASON.
How any man can rationally vindicate the publication of such a book, in a country where the chris
tian religion is the very foundation of the law of the land, I am totally at a loss to conceive, and have no ideas for the discussion of? How is a tribunal, whose whole jurisdiction is founded upon the solemn belief and practice of what is denied as falsehood, and reprobated as impiety, to deal with such an anomalous defence? Upon what principle is it even offered to the court, whose authority is contemned and mocked at? If the religion proposed to be called in question, is not previously adopted in belief and solemnly acted upon, what authority has the court to pass any judgment at all of acquittal or condemnation? Under what sanction are the witnesses to give their evidence, without which there can be no trial? Under what obligation can I call upon you, (the jury representing your country) to administer justice? Surely upon no other than that you are sworn to administer it under the oaths you have taken.
The whole judicial fabric from the king's sovereign authority to the lowest office of magistracy, has no other foundation. The whole is built both in form . and substance, upon the same oath of every one of its ministers, to do justice, as God shall help them hereafter. What God? and what hereafter? That God undoubtedly, who has commanded kings to rule, and judges to decree justice; who has said to witnesses not only by the voice of nature, but in revealed commandments-thou shalt not bear false testimony against thy neighbour; and who has enforced obedience to them by the revelation of the unutterable blessings which shall attend their observances, and the awful punishments which shall wait upon their transgressions.
But it seems this is an age of reason, and the time and the persons are at last arrived, that are to dissipate the errors which have overspread the past generations of ignorance. The believers in christianity are many, but it belongs to the few that are wise to correct their credulity. Belief is an act of reason, and superior reason may, therefore, dictate to the weak.