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sions to be treated with contempt. To the unthinking it becomes a plenary indulgence to the occasional tampering with veracity in affairs of daily occurrence, that they are not upon their oath ; and we may affirm without risk of error, that there is no cause of insincerity, prevarication, and falsehood more powerful, than this practice. It treats veracity in the scenes of ordinary life as unworthy to be regarded. It takes for granted that no man, at least no man of plebeian rank, is to be credited upon his bare affirmation; and what it takes
for granted it has an irresistible tendency to pro· duce.
Wherever men of uncommon energy and dig. nity of mind have existed, they have felt the degradation of binding their assertions with an oath. The English constitution recognises in a partial and imperfect manner the force of this principle, and therefore provides, that, while the common herd of mankind shall be obliged to swear to the truth, nothing more shall be required from the order of the nobles than a declaration upon honour. Will reason justify this distinc
* Men will never act with that liberal justice and conscious integrity which is their highest ornament, till they come to understand what men are. He that containinates his lips with an oath, must have been thoroughly fortified with previous moral instruction, if he be able afterwards to un
derstand the beauty of an easy and simple integrity. If our political institutors had been but half so judicious in perceiving the manner in which excellence and worth were to be generated, as they have been ingenious and indefatigable in the means of depraving mankind, the world, instead of a slaughter-house, would have been a paradise..
What are the words which we are taught in this instarce to address to the creator of the universe ? “ So help me, God, and the contents of his holy “ word.” It is the language of imprecation. I pray him to pour down his everlasting wrath and curse upon me if I utter a lie.--It were to be wished that the name of that man were recorded, who first invented this 'mode' of binding men to veracity. He had surely himself but very light and contemptuous notions of the Supreme Being, who could thus tempt men to insult him by braving his justice. If it be our duty to invoke his blessing, yet there must surely be something insupportably profane in wantonly and unnecessarily putting all that he is able to inflict upon us upon conditions.
Political Justice, b. vi. ch. v. Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but
shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths : • But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by Heaven, for it is God's throne:
Nor by the earth; for it is his footstoo! : neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king: * ! " .'? 91, is
Neither shalt thou' swear by thy head, because thou canst sot make one hair white or black is
But let your communication' be yea, yea's nay; nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
to New TEST.MENT.
:: St. Matthew, c4P, V. Words are very rascals since bonds disgraced them.
: SHAKESPEARE i Twelfth Nigbt, act ül. .
. It is great sin to swear unto a sing l
But greater sin to keep a sinful oath; . Who can be bound by any solemn vow,
To do a murderous deed, to rob a man, • To force a spotless virgin's chastity,
To reave the orphan of his patrimony,.
No not an oath : If not the face of men,
As I am sure they do, bear fire enough, . .
If we want oaths to join us, Swift let us part, from pole to pole asunder, A cause like ours is its own sacrament; Truth, justice, reason, love, and liberty, si The eternal links that clasp the world are in it, ." And he who breaks their sanction, breaks all law, And infinite connection..
BROOKE ? Gustavus Vasa, act
I am not one of those oriental slaves who deem it unlawful presumption to look their kings in the face; neither am I swayed by my Lord Bacon's authority to think this custom good and reasonable in its meaning, though it savours of barbarism in its institution. Ritu quidem barbarus, sed significatione bonus. Much otherwise. It seems to me that no secrets are so important to be known, no hearts deserve to be pried into with more curiosity and atttention than those of princes.
I Find myself so occupied by those grand affairs which the philosophers call absurdities, that I have not yet leisure to think when I please, which is the only real good of life. I imagine that the deity created asses, doric pillars, and kings, to bear the burthens of this world; in which so many other beings are created to enjoy the good he has bestowed. Here am I arguing with twenty Machiavels, all more or less dangerous. One talks to me of limits, another of claims, a third of indemnification, a fourth of auxiliaries, marriage