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rally consume six years in studying theology; I ask twelve for Pilate, considering that he was a pagan, and that six years would not have been too many to root out all his old errors, and six more to put him in a state worthy to receive the bonnet of a doctor. If Pilate had had a well organised head, I would only have demanded two years to teach him metaphysical truths, and as these truths are necessarily united with those of morality, I flatter myself that in less than nine years Pilate would have become a truly learned and perfectly honest man.
Historical Truths. I should afterwards have said to Pilate,-Historical truths are but probabilities. If you have fought at the battle of Philippi, it is to you a truth, which you know by intuition, by sentiment; but to us who live near the desart of Syria, it is merely a probable thing, which we only know by hearsay. How can we form a persuasion from report equal to that of a man, who have ing seen the thing, can boast of feeling a kind of certainty.
He who has heard the thing told by, twelve thousand ocular witnesses, has only twelve thousand probabilities equal to one strong one, which is not equal to certainty. If
you have the thing from only one of these witnesses, you are sure of nothing-you must doubt. If the witness is dead, you must doubt still more, for you can enlighten yourself no further. If from several deceased witnesses, you are in the same state.
If from those to whom the witnesses have only spoken, the doubt is still augmented.
From generation to generation the doubt augments, and the probability diminishes, and the probability is soon reduced to zero. Of the Degrees of Truth, according to which the Accused
are judged. We can be made accountable to justice either for deeds or words.
If for deeds, they must be as certain as will be the punishment to which you will condemn the prisoner; if, for example, you have but twenty probabilities against him, these twenty probabilities cannot equal the certainty of his death. If you would have as many probabilities as are required to be sure that you shed not innocent blood, they must be the fruit of the unanimous evidences of witnesses who have no interest in deposing. From this concourse of probabilities a strong opinion will be formed, which will serve to excuse your judgment; but as you will never have entire certainty, you cannot flatter yourself with knowing the truth perfectly. Consequently you should always lean towards mercy rather than towards rigour.
If it concerns only facts, from which neither manslaughter nor mutilation have resulted, it is evident that
you should neither cause the accused to be put to death nor mutilated.
If the question is only of words, it is still more evident that you should not cause one of your fellowcreatures to be hanged for the manner in which he has used his tongue; for all the words in the world being but agitated air, at least if they have not caused murder, it is ridiculous to condemn a man to death for having agitated the air. Put all the idle words which have ever been uttered into one scale, and in the other the blood of a man, the blood will weigh down. Now, if he who has been brought before you is only accused of some words which his enemies have taken in a certain sense, all that you can do is to repeat these words to him, which he will explain in the sense he intended; but to deliver an innocent man to the most cruel and ignominious punishment, for words that his enemies do not comprehend, is too barbarous. You make the life of a man of no more importance than that of a lizard; and too many judges resemble you,
The sovereign is called a tyrant who knows no laws but his caprice; who takes the property of his subjects;
and who afterwards enlists them to go and take that of his neighbours. We have none of these tyrants in Europe. We distinguish the tyranny of one and that of many. The tyranny of several, is that of a body which would invade the rights of other bodies, and which would exercise despotism by favour of laws which it corrupts. Neither are there any tyrannies of this kind in Europe.
Under what tyranny should you like best to live? Under none; but if I must choose, I should less detest the tyranny of a single one, than that of many. A despot has always some good moments; an assemblage of despots, never. If a tyrant does me an injustice, I can disarm him through his mistress, his confessor, or his page ; but a company of tyrants is inaccessible to all seductions. When they are not unjust, they are harsh, and they never dispense favours.* If I have but one despot, I am at liberty to set myself against a wall when I see him pass, to prostrate myself, or to strike my forehead against the ground, according to the custom of the country; but if there is a company of a hundred tyrants, I am liable to repeat this ceremony a hundred times a day, which is very tiresome to those who have not supple joints. If I have a farm in the neighbourhood of one of our lords, I am crushed; if I complain against a relation of the relations of any one of our lords, I am ruined. How must I act? I fear that in this world we are reduced to being either the anvil or the hammer; happy at least is he who escapes this alternative.
TYRANT. "TYRANNOS' formerly signified“ he who had contrived to draw the principal authority to himself;" asking,' · Basileus, signified he who was charged with relating affairs to the senate.”
* The justice of these observations will be generally acknowledged ; and hence the mischief of confederacies similar to that of the Holy Alliance, even without imputing tyranny to the members composing them, being in the strictest and most injurious sense a combination to support the interests of the few under all circumstances. Satan himself could not imagine a more ominous conspiracy against maukind than a general confederacy of rulers.-T.
The acceptations of words change with time. Idiot at first meant only a hermit, an isolated man; in time it became synonymous with fool.
At present the name of tyrant is given to an usurper, or to a king who commits violent and unjust actions.
Cromwell was a tyrant of both these kinds. A citizen who usurps the supreme authority, who in spite of all laws suppresses the house of peers, is without doubt an usurper. A general who cuts the throat of a king, his prisoner of war, at once violates what is called the laws of war, the laws of nations, and those of humanity.
Charles I. was not a tyrant, though the victorious faction
gave him that name; he was, it is said, obstinate, weak, and ill-advised. I will not be certain, for I did not know him; but I am certain that he was very unfortunate.
Henry VIII. was a tyrant in his government as in his family, and alike covered with the blood of two innocent wives, and that of the most virtuous citizens ; he merits the execration of posterity. Yet he was not punished, and Charles I. died on a scaffold.
Elizabeth committed an act of tyranny, and her parliament one of infamous weakness, in causing queen Mary Stuart to be assassinated by an executioner; but in the rest of her government she was not tyrannical; she was clever and maneuvring, but prudent and strong
Richard III. was a barbarous tyrant; but he was punished.
Pope Alexander VI. was a more execrable tyrant than any of these, and he was fortunate in all his undertakings.
Christian II. was as wicked a tyrant as Alexander VI. and was punished, but not sufficently so.
If we were to reckon Turkish, Greek, and Roman tyrants, we should find as many fortunate as the contrary. When I say fortunate, I speak according to the vulgar prejudice, the ordinary acceptation of the
word, according to appearances; for that they can be really happy, that their minds can be contented and tranquil, appears to me to be impossible.
Constantine the Great was evidently a tyrant in a double sense. In the north of England he usurped the crown of the Roman empire, at the head of some foreign legions, notwithstanding all the laws, and in spite of the senate and people, who legitimately elected Maxentius. He passed all his life in crime, voluptuousness, fraud, and imposture.
He was not punished, but was he happy? God knows; but I know that his subjects were not so.
The great Theodosius was the most abominable of tyrants, when, under pretence of giving a feast, he caused fifteen thousand Roman citizens to be murdered in the circus, with their wives and children, and when he added to this horror the fancy of passing some months without going to tire himself at high
This Theodosius has almost been placed in the rank of the blessed; but I should be very sorry if he was happy upon earth. In all cases it would be well to assure tyrants that they will never be happy in this world, as it is well to make our stewards and cooks believe that they will be eternally damned if they rob us.
The tyrants of the Lower Greek empire were almost all dethroned or assassinated by one another. All these great offenders were by turns the executioners of human and divine vengeance.
Among the Turkish tyrants, we see as many deposed as those who die in possession of the throne.
With regard to subaltern tyrants, or the lower order of monsters, who burden their masters with the execration with which they are loaded, the number of these Hamans, these Sejanuses, is infinite,
DU BOULAI, in his History of the University of Paris, adopts the old, uncertain, not to say fabulous tradition, which carries its origin to the time of Char