Wednesday, April 28, 2010


"To punish a man
because he has committed a crime, or because he is believed,
though unjustly, to have committed a crime, is not persecution.
To punish a man, because we infer from the nature of some
doctrine which he holds, or from the conduct of other persons who
hold the same doctrines with him, that he will commit a crime is
persecution, and is, in every case, foolish and wicked."
. . . . . . .
"If, indeed, all men reasoned in the same manner on the same data,
and always did what they thought it their duty to do, this mode
of dispensing punishment might be extremely judicious. But as
people who agree about premises often disagree about conclusions,
and as no man in the world acts up to his own standard of right,
there are two enormous gaps in the logic by which alone penalties
for opinions can be defended. . . , Man, in short, is so
inconsistent a creature that it is impossible to reason from his
belief to his conduct, or from one part of his belief to another."

from Thomas Macaulay's essay on Hallam's Constitutional History of England, 1828
in Macaulay's Critical and Historical Essays

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