« PreviousContinue »
upon us; for, if these idle persons were employed, we need not cry out of the exportation of wool, neither would industrious foreigners have that encouragement to work here, if we would mind it ourselves; but, if we will not improve our manufactures, we cannot blame others for doing of it.
Now, it will be supposed, that, by those laws for setting idle people to work, punishing vagrants, and rectifying disorders in publick.houses, all this might be prevented: this commonly is our last shift, and thus are we apt to excuse ourselves, and lay the burden of our own faults upon the shoulders of our governors. We may be very sensible, that we have in this kingdom as good laws as in any place in the world; we live under such a king, that, for prudence and wisdom, no empire or kingdom can make comparison with us; nor can laws be better exe. cuted than in this kingdom : but it is impossible that the eye of magis. tracy can see into every corner; every single person bath a corpora. tion within himself; every family is a petty principality, of which the master or mistress is vicegerent; it lies upon every private person to put in execution those laws of nature within himself, that will inform him, what he ought to do, and what he ought not to do. Every governor or governess of a family should take care, by their good examples, to instruct their families; and severely to punish such disorders as shall be committed in their house or houses, as far as their power doth extend ; the remainder they may leave to the magistrates, who will not be wanting on their parts. 1
Now since every one is guilty, let us endeavour to mend, and no longer complain of want, since it is in our own power to inrich ourselves and our country. The industrious hand needs not make a leg to For. tune for wealth ; nor the honest heart bend his knee to Flattery, to gain him a reputation. These are the heads of what afterwards I shall present you with, methodically handled in a treatise, which, as this finds acceptance, will, before long, see the light.
In the mean time, I am
A LETTER TO A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT;
TWO DISCOURSES INCLOSED IN IT: 1. The One shewing the Reason why a Law should pass to punish
Adultery with Death. 2. The Other shewing the Reasons why the Writ, de Hæretico Combu.
rendo, should be abolished.
Consiliis inimica tuis, ignavia fallar.
THE PUBLISHER'S ADVERTISEMENT. These papers are made publick, not in presumption to inform the parliament, but only to give them an occasion to think of the subjects they treat of, it being wholly unimaginable but that the united wisdom of the nation will find out better and other reasons for the establishment of the things they propose.
The following short letter contains two proposals for the improvement
of our laws, of which, that, for the abolition of the writ de Hæretico Comburendo, was soon after complied with. Among the arguments for punishing adultery with death, he omits the
authority of Cromwell, aud his parliament, who passed the same law, which he so warmly recommends. As this writer, whoever he was, could not be probably much a favourer of the court-principles of that time, it is probable that he forgot this precedent rather than con. temned it, or perhaps he might think, that the introduction of a name, so odious as that of Cromwell, would make his arguments less re. garded. - *.
MY DEAR FRIEND, W HEN I review alone the grand entertainments of learning I used
V , to meet with in your conversation, the wit of the poets, the reason of the philosophers, your excellent observations upon the actions of per. sons illustrious in arms, who have lived in the several ages of the world, my affliction is almost unimaginable to be separated from you. When you went up to the parliament, there was nothing could have staid me (who can scarce be happy a moment without you) behind you in the country, but my infirmity of health, and a certain desire of enjoying the comfort and pleasures of the spring. You know, when we parted, how I conjured you always to bear in mind that grand rule, inter peri. cula libertatis, aut veritatis, silent amicitiæ et inimicitiæ, and then the light of your own mind will dispel and overcome the darkness of others without noise or tumult. This world is governed by particular hatreds and friendships, not by the reasons of things; and there is nothing can keep you constant in your integrity, but the having a per. petual eye to that rule. I also then told you, you should look abroad as well as at home, keeping your eye on foreign affairs; for although Hannibal be not yet ad portas, Philip is at Olynthus. I have herein inclosed the papers I promised you, in which I claim no property against your absolute power over them, do what you will with them : you know, the one contains a discourse shewing the reasons why adultery should be punished with death; the other, why the writ, de hæretico comburendo, should be abolished. Adultery is the greatest of all thefts, a theft of which no restitution can be made:
Nulla reparabilis arte,
Læsa pudicitia est, deperit illa semel. Marriage of late hath been looked upon as an engine, a toil to catch mankind in; the magistrate had need to encourage it, to prevent depopulations ; and to be always secure and certain of our wives, is, in my judgment, the best of encouragements. As to the abolishing the writ
de hæretico comburendn, you know, I ever have hadi a pity and charity for mankind, acknowledging in all a communion of minds and morality, and particularly for those that dissent from me in religion, omnis ani. mus veritate invitus privatur: no beauty is so pleasant, so agreeable to the eye, as truth is to the soul; and all would love it, if they could discover it: As there is but one certain existence of things, so there is but one determinate truth of them, the same to all understandings, God's and man's both. If, after all my search and labour in knowledge, I cannot discover a beam of truth to guide and lead me into an unity of mind with God, am I to be made a criminal, and dealt with as a male. factor? he is infinite, and knows all things; but my poor understanding knows one thing, and doubts of a thousand : we are here in the body, tristi et obscuro domicilio ; and the inspired apostle himself saith, we see darkly, and but through a glass.' God hath unfolded himself in as great variety in the minds of men, as he hath done in the material world : the seed of religion springs up variously in human souls, as we see the seminal forms do out of the earth : and would it not be madness or follv to destroy and cut up all trees and plants but the oak ? I am not without all jealousy that it is possible, we in England may return back to the church of Rome, not only because I see in history monarchies more subject to changes than common-wealths in matters of religion, and observe how indefatigable that infallible church in its own judgment) is to revenge our schism from it upon us, and so may weary us out at last, and how unsafe they apprehend themselves at Rome, while the power of the sea is in the hands of the hereticks; but chiefly from the wild philosophy and atheism of the present age, atheism being a preparation to receive any colour or tincture in religion. I would have the law of burning of hereticks repealed, lest we should see that day. It is a law sanguinary with a witness, written like Draco's in characters of blood, as barbarous as as that of Ordeal, or Tryal by Battail, built upon no reason, but upon a self-opinion every sect hath, that it hath a monopoly of God to itself, and upon no scripture I know of, but the monkish gloss, hæreticos de vita.
My dear friend, although gentlemen of fine parts are sooner debauched in popular assemblies under a monarchy, than men of plainer wisdom ; as native beauty is less subject to be tempted by others, than beauty accompanied with the ornaments of art: I doubt not at all your integrity in this parliament, you are not a man of fluttering principles betwixt knavery and honesty, you will herd in your vote with no cabal, but go with the squadron volante, as reason upon every debate appears to you. I know you account a liberty of judgment in an uninterested in difference of mind, without fears or hopes, a grandeur and excellence above the rewards of wealth from the Court, or of fame from the people; nor am I afraid that, amidst the pleasure or business of the city, you will depart from the contemplative life, but be alone with your own mind, and drink of the spring of truth there, which overflowed so constantly your conversations with me in the country:
Non Venus, aut vinum sublimia pectora fregit,
And as for our friendship, which has been a communion of minds and fortunes for several years, I have no cloud, no umbrage of jealousy towards you, Friends in this world are not like satyrs or centaurs, without real existence, as Cardan under a melancholy complains they are; I am sure I have found one, which, as he says, he never was so happy in his life to do. I will detain you no longer from the care of the publick affairs.
I am, dearest sir,
Your most sincerely affectionate friend.. April 17, 1675.
A SHORT DISCOURSE WHY A LAW SHOULD PASS IN
Publicus assertor, vitiis suppressa levabo
TT will be necessary, before I give my reasons why such a law should 1 pass, that I do explain what adultery is, the notion of it being ordinarily mistaken.
Adultery is the lying of a single or married man with another man's wife, and not the lying of a married man with a single woman. Thus it was constantly apprehended among the Jews, to whom God gave the law, Thou shalt not commit adultery'. And David's sin was the taking of the poor man's ewe-lamb from him, which lay in his bosom, when he had flocks enough of his own. I presume, there is none doubts the Christian magistrate's power to make such a law ; death is already amongst us the penalty for less crimes : we punish boldly with death a horse-stealer, or a cut-purse, without any scruple at all; and is not my property in my wife of dearer and nearer concern to me, than my horse, or a little pocket-money?
The primary law of nature is the observance of our contracts; for indeed, without this, there could be no government ; the state of na. ture would still have continued ; this crime intrenches highly on this law, dissolving the family-government; it is a breach of the solemnest con. tract (entered into pro buno publico, marriage being seminarium rei. publicæ imaginable. That is the nature of the crime, but the magis. trate is chiefly to concern himself in the consequences of it; and they are more mischievous where the woman breaks the contract on her part; for thereby a spurious issue, that robs the husband by wholesale of his estate, of all his own and his ancestors acquisitions, is brought into his family. The crime is then a complication of all the wickedness in lust, breach of faith, and robbery; and therefore I may justly infer, that, seeing men equally concur with women to transact it, they are justly equally punishable.
If a man shall violate the companion of the king, or the companion of the eldest son and heir of the king, it is high-treason: by this we see the care of the law, no spurious issue should inherit the
crown. Should we not take some proportionable care of our own estates? '
. We may do well to reflect upon the example of other nations, as of the Jews (for many ages the only known people of God) amongst whom adultery was punished with death ; upon the example of the gentes mo. ratiores among the Heathens; of the Athenians, who, upon Solon's law punished this crime capitally; of the Romans, who, in imitation of Solon's law, set down for their law in the twelve tables, Mæchum in adulterio deprehensum necato. Afterwards in the Roman state it was lawful for the husband, until the Ler Julia in his Augustus's time, Uxores in adulterio deprehensas sine judicio impuné necare.
We may also consider what the Christian church has done for the sup. pression of this sin. In the first and best times of Christianity they did all they could, having not jus vitæ & necis against it. The penance then for it was perpetual to the hour of death. Zepherinus, bishop of Rome, Anno 216, moderated the penance; but the African churches, and particularly the grand Tertullian, opposed it as an innovation.
The Ancyran council, Anno 315, ordains seven years penance for it. And the council of Eliberis ordains, that he, that commits adul. tery again after penance for the first fault, should not be taken into communion at the hour of death.
In after ages, when the Roman church was resolved upon a celibacy in her clergy, it was necessary the sin should be looked on with a gentle eye, and now it is dwindled down into a peccadillo, but is, in truth, like ihe peccadillo of not believing in God at all; for, if ever he gave a law to man, it is one to prohibit adultery. Several of the reformed countries, who have recovered themselves from under the empire of wit and fraud over their consciences by that church, punish the crime at this day with death.
As for us in England, our present law is not without the infusions of the Roman church upon it in this case; all the remedy, the injured husband bath by our law, is to sue a divorce in the spiritual court, and to be cousened with a sentence of separation a mensa & thoro, a crafty invention against the plain gospel.
If the husband kill the adulterer, or his wife, found by him in ipso actu, the law excuseth him in this case from murder, but condemns him of man-slaughter, and hangs him, if he cannot read. What a poor remedy hath the injured man? If he kill the adulterer deliberately, not provoked by ocular demonstration, it is murder. Besides all this, the present law being so defective, the crime grows upon it; it is common, and this age gives it the soft and gentle French names of gallantry and divertisement, in apology for it: what ought the magistrate to do in this case, but to pursue this crime as far as his hand can reach, to the grave itself, and then expectet Deum ultorem?