On Compromise eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 203 pages of information about On Compromise.

[Footnote 34:  There is, I think, nothing in this paragraph really inconsistent with De Tocqueville’s well-known and striking chapter, ’Comment les hommes de lettres devinrent les principaux hommes politiques du pays, et des effets qui en resulterent.’ (Ancien Regime, iii. i.) Thus Senac de Meilhan writes in 1795;—­’C’est quand la Revolution a ete entamee qu’on a cherche dans Mably, dans Rousseau, des armes pour sustenter le systeme vers lequel entrainait l’effervescence de quelques esprits hardis.  Mais ce ne sont point les auteurs que j’ai cites qui ont enflamme les tetes; M. Necker seul a produit cet effet, et determine l’explosion,’ ...  ’Les ecrits de Voltaire ont certainement nui a la religion, et ebranle la croyance dans un assez grand nombre; mais ils n’ont aucun rapport avec les affaires du gouvernement, et sont plus favorables que contraires a la monarchie....’  Of Rousseau’s Social Contract:—­’Ce livre profond et abstrait etait peu lu, et etendu de bien peu de gens.’  Mably—­’avait peu de vogue.’ De Gouvernment, etc., en France, p. 129, etc.]



Mr. Mill’s memorable plea for social liberty was little more than an enlargement, though a very important enlargement, of the principles of the still more famous Speech for Liberty of Unlicensed Printing with which Milton ennobled English literature two centuries before.  Milton contended for free publication of opinion mainly on these grounds:  First, that the opposite system implied the ’grace of infallibility and incorruptibleness’ in the licensers.  Second, that the prohibition of bold books led to mental indolence and stagnant formalism both in teachers and congregations, producing the ’laziness of a licensing church.’  Third, that it ’hinders and retards the importation of our richest merchandise, truth;’ for the commission of the licenser enjoins him to let nothing pass which is not vulgarly received already, and ’if it come to prohibiting, there is not aught more likely to be prohibited than truth itself, whose first appearance to our eyes, bleared and dimmed with prejudice and custom, is more unsightly and unplausible than many errors, even as the person is of many a great man slight and contemptible to see to.’  Fourth, that freedom is in itself an ingredient of true virtue, and ’they are not skilful considerers of human things who imagine to remove sin by removing the matter of sin; that virtue therefore, which is but a youngling in the contemplation of evil, and knows not the utmost that vice promises to her followers, and rejects it, is but a blank virtue, not a pure; her virtue is but an excremental virtue, which was the reason why our sage and serious poet Spenser, whom I dare be known to think a better teacher than Scotus or Aquinas, describing true temperance under the form of Guion, brings him in with his palmer through the cave of Mammon and the tower of earthly bliss, that he might see and know and yet abstain.’

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