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world : yet only three centuries since, for want of stable government, it was a land of robbers and ruffians.
Camden, in his Brittania, speaking of the robberies committed by the Scotch Borderers, in the 16th century, says: “ They sally out of their own borders in the night, in troops, through unfrequented by-ways, and inany intricate windings.-All the day-time, they refresh themselves and their horses in lurking-holes they had pitched upon before, till they arrive, in the dark, at those places they have a design upon. As soon as they have seized upon the booty, they, in like manner, return home in the night, through blind ways, and fetching many a compass. The more skilful any captain is to pass through those wild deserts, crooked turnings, and deep precipices, in the thickest mists and darkness, his reputation is the greater, and he is looked upon as a man of an excellent head. And they are so very cunning, that, they seldom have their booty taken from them, unless sometimes, when, by the help of blood-hounds, following them exactly upon their tracks, they may chance to fall into the hands of their adversaries. When being taken, they have so much persuasive eloquence, and so many smooth and insinuating words at command, that if they do not move their judges, nay, even their adversaries (notwithstanding the severity of their natures) to have mercy, yet they incité them'to admiration and compassion."
Two important particulars clearly follow from these historic sketches. The one is, that since we live in an age of regulated government and superior civilization, in which lifc, character and property, are well secured by law, we cannot too highly prize those blessings : and the other, it behooves that all persons possessing any regard for religion, or morals, or even for their own personal interests, should use their best endeavours to preserve social order, and to set their faces steadfastly against all wanton violations of good and wholesome laws. Neither is it an unimportant part of christian education, to learn and habituate children to prize and venerate the wholesome institutions of government and law.
The Prussian Frederick the Great is said to have remarked, that the laws of a whole realm might be comprised in a pocket volume. And even so it might be in an absolute despotism, but in a free, and a rich, cominercial country, the laws must needs be voluminous, and the professors of law numerous. This body of men, whatever be their aberrations in any other respects, have ever been found the strenuous advocates and powerful defenders of civil liberty. The reason is obvious, and a cogent one : it is in a free country only, that the lawyers can obtain wealth and consequence ; for where the judges are the creatures of a despot, it is not the pleading of the advocate that avails, but the bribe of the client.
Before I come to the end of my tether, it is proper to mention the absolute necessity of an impartial and vigilant administration of the laws, without which they are useless, and, sometimes, worse than useless. And here, instead of argument, I will merely transcribe a wholesome anecdote from Malcom's history of Persia.
From the year 1757 until the period of his death in 1778, Carim Khan reigned, with great reputation, over the whole of Persia with the exception of two provinces. Carim one day was on the point of retiring from his judgment seat, harrassed and fatigued with a long attendance, when a man rushed forward in apparent distraction, calling out in a loud voice for justice. 66 Who are you?” said Carim. “I am a merchant," replied the man, and have been robbed and plunder
ed, by thieves, of all I possess.”—“What were you about,” said the Prince," when you were robbed P”“I was asleep," answered the man.-—" And why did you sleep ?” exclaimed Carim, in a peevish and impatient tone." Because,” said the undaunted Persian, 66 I made a mistake, and thought you were awake.”
Of a disputatious temper and habit.
It is a saying often quoted as Dr. Franklin's, that . “ by the collision of different sentiments, sparks of truth are struck out, and light is obtained.” But it seems to have been current, though in another manner of phrase, before it came from the pen of the justly celebrated Doctor. In an Almanack dated one hundred and fourteen years back, I have met with the following homely, but pithy verse :
“ But quill to quill, like flints on steele do smite,
Which kindle sparks, and those sparks give us light."* On the other hand, a writer possessed of masterly powers of reasoning, who flourished in the beginning of the last century, appears to have thought that, disputing, whether by means of the quill, or otherwise, is apt to produce a great deal less of light, than of heat and smoke.
Mr. Locke, in his Treatise of Education, observes, “ If the use and end of right reasoning be to have right notions and a right judgment of things ; to distinguish betwixt truth and falsehood, right and wrong, and to
* Daniel Leed's Almanack, published in New-York, 1701,
act accordingly, be careful not to let your son be bred up in the art and formality of disputing."--And, as a reason for that conclusion, he goes on to describe the wretched manner in which disputes were generally managed :" Whether pertinent or impertinent, sense or nonsense, agreeing with or contrary to, what he had said before it matters not : for this, in short, is the way and perfection of logical disputes, that the opponent never takes any answer, nor the respondent ever yields to any argument. This, neither of them must do, whatever becomes of truth or knowledge, unless he would pass for a poor baffled wretch, and lie under the disgrace of not being able to maintain whatever he has once affirmed, which is the great aim and glory of disputing.”
Here we find a 6 collision of different sentiments” on the very question whether disputing tends to advance correct knowledge or to retard it:
Now, to do justice to both sides, it must, I think, be granted that each is in the right, provided allowance be made for the opposite views in which the subject presents itself. Were disputing conducted as it ought, with sincere and paramount love of truth, and a benignity of temper, there might spring from it much good, without any considerable mixture of evil. But conducted, as most commonly it has been, with acrimonious feeling, and the fierceness and obstinacy of pugilists, rather than with the honest candor that is willing in all cases to yield to evidence ; it too often serves but to exasperate and mislead : so that nothing is less desirable in youth, or less to be encouraged, than a disa putatious or cavilling temper.
In certain memoirs of the life of Frederick the Great, it is related, that aspiring after the fame of a philosophical reasoner, he was much inclined to exercise his tal
ents now and then in disputing with the learned men of bis court. Accordingly he used, at his leisure, to send for the philosophers whom he kept in waiting, to reason with them ; professing, the meanwhile, that he laid by the monarch and put himself on equal footing, and encouraging them to be free and do their best. But if any one of them happened to invalidate his own arguments, or to get the better of him in any way, he instantly flew into a violent passion, and bestowed upon the offender the most scurrilous epithets. The memoirs further relate, that at one of his literary entertainments, when, in order to promote free conversation, he reminded the circle that there was no monarch present, the conversation chanced to turn upon the faults of different governments and rulers. General censures were passing from mouth to mouth with a kind of freedom which such hints were calculated, and apparently intended, to inspire. But Frederick presently put a stop to the topic, by exclaiming, “ Hold your peace, gentlemen, be upon your guard, else the king will be among you."
This instance, while it speaks the imperious, insolent, despot, is characteristical of our general nature. Of disputants, in all ages of the world, there have been but few that were scrupulous of using all the means in their power, to baffle, bear down, and silence, their opponents; but few, whose unfairness of manner and bitterness of temper have not furnished clear proof that they were more actuated by the proud desire of victory than by a sincere regard to truth ; very few, who have shown themselves willing, in all cases, to give truth fair play. Contrariwise, men, that are naturally, or by custom, of a disputatious temper, seldom are so, for truth's sake. Generally, something else than the love of truth, has the strongest hold of their hearts.