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69. Idle Hope . . . . . . . .
99. Projectors Injudiciously Censured and Applauded
108. On the Uncertainty of Human Things . . 110
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
No. 148. SATURDAY, AUGUST 17, 1751.
Me pater sævis oneret catenis
My crime, that I, a loyal wife, In kind compassion, sav'd my husband's life.--FRANCIS. aspOLITICIANS remark, that no oppres
sion is so heavy or lasting as that $ which is inflicted by the perversion
u and exorbitance of legal authority. The robber may be seized, and the invader repelled, whenever they are found ; they who pretend no right but that of force, may by force be punished or suppressed. But when plunder bears the name of impost, and murder is perpetrated by a judicial sentence, fortitude is intimidated, and wisdom confounded : resistance
1 Horace, 3 Odes, xi. 45.
shrinks from an alliance with rebellion, and the villain remains secure in the robes of the magistrate.1
Equally dangerous and equally detestable are the cruelties often exercised in private families, under the venerable sanction of parental authority2; the power which we are taught to honour from the first moments of reason ; which is guarded from insult and violation by all that can impress awe upon the mind of man ; and which therefore may wanton in cruelty without controul, and trample the bounds of right with innumerable transgressions, before duty and piety will dare to seek redress, or think themselves at liberty to recur to any other means of deliverance than supplications by which insolence is elated, and tears by which cruelty is gratified.
It was for a long time imagined by the Romans, that no son could be the murderer of his father ; and they had therefore no punishment appropriated to parricide. They seem likewise to have believed with equal confidence, that no father could be cruel to his child; and therefore they allowed every man the supreme judicature in his own house, and put the lives of his offspring into his
1 “Robes and furr'd gowns hide all.”
-King Lear, Act iv., sc. 6, 1. 169. 2 In The Rambler, No. 39, Johnson, considering the harsh" control often exercised by parents over their daughters in marrying, says :-" It may be urged in extenuation of this crime which parents, not in any other respect to be numbered with robbers and assassins, frequently commit, that, in their estimation, riches and happiness are equivalent terms."
hands. But experience informed them by degrees, that they determined too hastily in favour of human nature ; they found that instinct and habit were not able to contend with avarice or malice; that the nearest relation might be violated ; and that power, to whomsoever intrusted, might be ill employed. They were therefore obliged to supply and to change their institutions; to deter the parricide by a new law, and to transfer capital punishments from the parent to the magistrate.
There are indeed many houses which it is impossible to enter familiarly, without discovering that parents are by no means exempt from the intoxications of dominion; and that he who is in no danger of hearing remonstrances but from his own conscience, will seldom be long without the art of controuling his convictions, and modifying justice by his own will.
If in any situation the heart were inaccessible to malignity, it might be supposed to be sufficiently secured by parental relation. To have voluntarily become to any being the occasion of its existence, produces an obligation to make that existence happy. To see helpless infancy stretching out her hands, and pouring out her cries in testimony of dependence, without any powers to alarm jealousy, or any guilt to alienate affection must surely awaken tenderness in every human mind; and tenderness once excited will be hourly increased by the natural contagion of felicity, by the repercussion of communicated pleasure, by the consciousness of the dignity of benefaction. I believe no generous or benevolent man can see