Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 6.djvu/53

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BURKE


from the exercise of vigilance, providence, and fortitude: and, therefore, that they may sleep on their watch, they consent to take some one division of the society into partnership of the tyranny over the rest. But let government, in what form it may be, comprehend the whole in its justice, and restrain the suspicious by its vigilance; let it keep watch and ward; let it discover by its sagacity, and punish by its firmness, all delinquency against its power, whenever delinquency exists in the overt acts; and then it will be as safe as ever God and nature intended it should be. Crimes are the acts of individuals, and not of denominations, and therefore arbitrarily to class men under general descriptions, in order to proscribe and punish them in a lump for a presumed delinquency, of which perhaps but a part, perhaps none at all, are guilty, is indeed a compendious method, and saves a world of trouble about proof; but such a method, instead of being law, is an act of unnatural rebellion against the legal dominion of reason and justice, and this vice, in any constitution that entertains it, at one time or other, will certainly bring on its ruin.

We are told that this is not a religious persecution, and its abettors are loud in disclaiming all severities on account of conscience. Very fine, indeed! then let it be so! they are not persecutors; they are only tyrants. With all my heart! I am perfectly indifferent concerning

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