Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/40

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Books Condemned to be Burnt.

directly or indirectly, put an end to it. In England it seems gradually to have dwindled, and to have become extinct before the end of the century. If the same was the case in other countries, it would afford another instance of the fundamental community of development which seems to govern at least our part of the civilised world, regardless of national differences or boundaries. The different countries of the world seem to throw off evil habits, or to acquire new habits, with a degree of simultaneity which is all the more remarkable for being the result of no sort of agreement. At one time, for instance, they throw off Jesuitism, at another the practice of torture, at another the judicial ordeal, at another burnings for heresy, at another trials for witchcraft, at another book-burning; and now the turn seems approaching of war, or the trade of professional murder. The custom here to be dealt with, therefore, holds its place in the history of humanity, and is as deserving of study as any other custom whose rise and decline constitute a phase in the world's development.