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love took down the loaded rifle from its rest, her nerves firm as those of a veteran hunter about to shoot his ordinary game. She saved her child and her own life. In a strong man, the act would have been a matter of course. In her, it was one of heroism, faith, religion.
It may be said that the she-tiger would do as much. Well, what if this were true? So much the better for the tigress! All that brutes do, as has already been urged, is not in the opprobrious sense brutal; else the fidelity of the dog to his fallen master, and many a piece of quadruped holiness and heroism, would fall under ban. But, after all, the cases are in no degree parallel. The tigress has no tender, shrinking nerves to be informed by love with a hardihood not their own; no horror of bloodshed; no gentle charities and sweet reluctances; but glares fury from her sullen eyes by mere enhancement of her usual mood. The instinct of resistance, then, has just that dignity which is afforded by the affections that support and surround it; and there may be love and pity in blows, when there is treachery in kisses.
It is, however, asserted - and were it true, all further argument would be cut off-that human life is inviolable, that it can under no circumstances be touched without blame. Is, however, more than a moment's inspection requisite, to make clear the contrary? If a man swallow arsenic, does Nature say, "Human life is inviolable," and therewith dismiss him without consequences? Nature takes life in mere fidelity to physiological law: can human life be amenable to this, and not amenable to the more sacred law of justice? Nature draws her line and says, "On the one side is life, and on the other death": may not justice, speaking by the hearts and working by the hands of innocent men, in like manner draw her bounds, and utter her solemn warning, "Pass this limit, and you pass forbearance"? It may be said that there is no parity between these cases. No parity? Nature may commission the stone with the discharge of her supreme purposes, with the administration and vindication of her weightiest laws, but man she may not honor with an equal trust? Man, who is her consummate and central expression, in whom, as a comprehensive and articulate symbol, she has poured out
and uttered her whole heart; whom, by endowing him with reason, conscience, choice, she has made her steward, and taken into her confidence, he forsooth, is less intrusted with the use of penalties and enforcement of laws than agents that are wholly blind, that between fool and sage, between saint and caitiff, cannot choose! We think otherwise.
Of course, dissent is here intimated from the ordinary argument against capital punishment, from the dogma that society has no lawful power over the lives of its members. Every one must indeed covet deliverance from the practice of such penalties; but let them be set aside, if at all, for other and better reasons; this one is radically vicious. For, on the contrary, the state and every social body is bound by sacred obligations to indicate, and to indicate with emphasis, a more precious estimation of justice, freedom, and the honor and innocence of man and woman, than of mere physical life, or of property, or of aught else; and failing flagrantly to do this, it is erelong weighed in the balances, and found wanting.
But perhaps the final intrenchment of the extreme upholders of peace is found in the doctrine of Plato, that evil must not be rendered for evil, or in the stronger demand of the New Testament, which is also that of Marcus Antoninus, that good shall be rendered for evil, and enmity met only with love. Very clear it is, indeed, that the good man will do good, and not evil, not evil, but good, to all men, and under all circumstances; which is the same as to say that the sun will give out light, and not darkness, and the rose shed sweet, and not noisome odors. He is good to none who is not so to all; and he is so to all who is, in the best sense, good to one; for none can be, in the deepest sense, good in action, who is not such in essence; while he that is good intrinsically must needs express this essential quality in all actions and relations whatsoever. And, to say truth, one need not be very deeply instructed in rectitude, nor very powerfully swayed by goodwill, to rise beyond all imagination of doing essential harm to any in revenge of private injury; and the least proclivity to this egotism is rather what a decent soul should blush to feel, than plume itself upon wanting.
But what is a doing evil? To confront perfidy with peril,
is that evil? To apply the great laws of retribution, is this a doing of evil? If so, the universe itself is chargeable with guiltiness; for of the universe it is, as all men see, the law, that danger, danger to life and limb, danger to the top of menace, shall confront iniquity. Either therefore the universe is in fault, or the principle of making wrong-doing dangerous to the wrong-doer stands vindicated.
In truth, it is the crime itself, not the pains and penalties which oppose it, that is hurtful to the criminal. It is among the fundamental axioms of Plato, and of morals, that to do wrong is the worst which can befall any man; next worst it is, not to be directly punished for the wrong, having done it. In like manner we may say that he is among the most miserable who has made up his mind to an evil deed; but yet more miserable is he if he prosper in his undertaking. The better success in baseness one has, the worse success he has. Prosperity in crime is failure in life, and the very flowering of disaster. If the ship be not wrecked that has put finally from port laden with fiends' freight, what escape for her crew? For him who sails resolutely hellward, heaven lies at the bottom of the sea. Destroying storm is his only fair weather; the heavens can smile upon him but by their blackness, and bless him only as they blow ruin in his face; and the billows that rise white in wrath and leap for his life are surges of his happier destiny.
The highest service that we can ever render a human being is so to breed and incite him to virtue, that flagitious thoughts shall be foreign from his heart; next to this, the highest service lies in so bringing home good considerations to one's mind, as to dissuade him from carrying into act an evil intent, though it have been harbored in his bosom ; but these being excluded, the only remaining service consists in opposing with impassable barriers a wicked will, to which considerations of reason and right are no barrier. Should it therefore at any time become your office to withhold success by force from accursed purposes, be sure that, though you are compelled to meet them with the most biting, inexorable edge of resistance, you still bless where you smite, and are infinitely kinder to the culprit than he to himself. And whenever men shall arise
resolute beyond persuasion to banish justice, to enchain freedom, and slaughter innocence, then charity toward them, no less than championship of the right, houses only in the edge of the sword; and whoever whets this to a subduing sharpness gives point and prevailing to mercy at the same time. The hindrance, accordingly, which arrests a villain's course, however poignant and seeming fatal, can never be so fatal as an indulgence of the vicious will which makes him a villain, It never be fatal at all in the same deep and fearful sense. is the vis a tergo, it is the Devil's push from within and behind, that, while seeming to favor, really slays him; and you who, by the necessary means, resist him, are really fighting on his side, you are with him against his demons. Justice befriends all, even the unjust whom she condemns and tramples under her feet; nor is there any creature in the universe to whom she is not favorable. Moreover, Justice is one and the same with the deep and most real nature of every man; and therefore to confront any one with her weapons, and pierce him with needful sharp persuasions of her sovereignty, is to be in alliance with all in him that is man. As physicians create an irritation on the surface to counteract congestion or inflammation of vital organs within, so he that meets with hurt the destroying hands of wickedness delivers from peril and oppression the deeper life. It is an act of truest comity. When a great fire occurs in the woods, the only way, says Mr. Thoreau, to subdue it, is to select a suitable place on the line of its advance, clear the leaves carefully away, and set counter-fires; and those who thus contend against it, though in kindling fires where none were before they might seem the enemies of the forest, are manifestly its friends. So you who set fires in front of conflagrant crime are, under the semblance of destroying, in reality vanquishing destruction.
To remove, therefore, any one of the perils necessary to hold in check incipient iniquity, is cruelty most of all just there where it is commonly esteemed a kindness. For, in the absence of this effectual remonstrance, the thought of wickedness becomes a deed, the deed a habit, the habit confirmed and tyrannical. The hope of impunity is the nurse of crime, and one success breeds a thousand attempts. We therefore
betray our brother, bearing to him fruits meet, not for love, but for malevolence, when we make it safe, or less than utterly unsafe, for him to become a villain; and society is merciless to every one who may be tempted toward malignant aims and murderous deeds, if it fail to pronounce and remonstrate against the same with its keenest prohibition, with its total and extreme force.
But the objection will surely be made, that, since prevention of the crime destroys not the intention, it can confer no benefit upon him by whom the criminal intent is cherished. But is it a correct assumption on which this objection rests? Is it true that forcible hindrance of crime avails only against the overt act, and does nothing to abate the purpose? Assuredly not true. In fact, no purpose, lawful or unlawful, is ever definitely formed, save under the expectation of opportunity. No man purposes to sail up Niagara, or to walk to Australia. Wall up the doors of opportunity, not by penalties and coercions alone, not by these chiefly, but by these as accessory to other prohibitions, and you stifle criminal wishes ere they can become aims. For if evil wishes cannot ripen into resolutions, they perish; since all wishes begin to die so soon as they are not fanned by expectation. There is no nature in which evil can feed itself. It must promise itself an issue in deed, and a good thereby to be gained, or it cannot survive. The acorn is an acorn; but keep it out of the sod, and it will never become an oak, and in due time will lose its germinal power.
Nor is the benefit conferred by suppression of evil wishes merely negative. There is no nature so barren of seeds of worthiness, none so slow to virtue, but it will at length bring forth its tardy crop of good, if only the seeds of ill be not suffered to grow. The force of body which is now turned to the nourishment of a malignant tumor will go to the production of healthy tissue, if the tumor can be effectually removed. There is in most men a vast deal of indifferent force, which will go up or down, according as it finds avenues open. Yonder inveterate slave-trader, who, shaken now these many years as it were in sieves of hell, is sifted clean of love and pity, of remorse for his own evil and respect for others' good,