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Supr., pp. 274, 275. Speaking of the proposition condemned in the Encyclical of 1864, to the effect that it is the right of any one to have liberty to give public utterance, in every possible shape, by every possible channel, without any let or hindrance from God or man, to all his notions whatever, I have said that it seems a light epithet for the Pope to use, when he called such a doctrine of conscience a deliramentum. Presently I add, Perhaps Mr. Gladstone will say, Why should the Pope take the trouble to condemn what is so wild? but he does, &c.

On this Mr. Gladstone remarks, Vat, p. 21, 22, It appears to me that this is, to use a mild phrase, merely trifling with the subject. We are asked to believe that what the Pope intended to condemn was a state of things which never has existed in any country in the world. Now he says he is condemning one of the commonly prevailing errors of the time, familiarly known to the Bishops whom he addresses. What bishop knows of a State which by law allows a perfectly free course to blasphemy, filthiness, and sedition?

I do not find anything to show that the Pope is speaking of States, and not of writers; and, though I {363} do not pretend to know against what writers he is speaking, yet there are writers who do maintain doctrines which carried out consistently would reach that deliramentum which the Pope speaks of, if they have not rather already reached it. We are a sober people; but are not the doctrines of even so grave and patient a thinker as the late Mr. J. S. Mill very much in that direction? He says, The appropriate region of human liberty comprises first the inward domain of consciousness; demanding liberty of conscience in the most comprehensive sense, liberty of thought and feeling, absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological. The liberty of expressing and publishing opinion may seem to fall under a different principle, since it belongs to that part of the conduct of an individual which concerns other people; but, being almost of as much importance as the liberty of thought itself, and resting in great part on the same reasons, is practically inseparable from it, &c. &c. … No society in which these liberties are not on the whole respected, is free, whatever may be its form of government. (On Liberty, Introd.) Of course he does not allow of a freedom to harm others, though we have to consider well what he means by harming: but his is a freedom which must meet with no impediment from our fellow-creatures, so long as what we do does not harm them, even though they should think our conduct foolish, perverse, or wrong. The only freedom, he continues, which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their {364} efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual.

That is, no immoral doctrines, poems, novels, plays, conduct, acts, may be visited by the reprobation of public opinion; nothing must be put down, I do not say by the laws, but even by society, by the press, by religious influence, merely on the ground of shocking the sense of decency and the modesty of a Christian community. Nay, the police must not visit Holywell Street, nor a licence be necessary for dancing-rooms: but the most revolting atrocities of heathen times and countries must for conscience-sake be allowed free exercise in our great cities. Averted looks indeed and silent disgust, or again rational expostulation, is admissible against them, but nothing of a more energetic character.

I do not impute this to Mr. Mill. He had too much English common sense to carry out his principles to these extreme but legitimate conclusions; he strove to find means of limiting them by the introduction of other and antagonist principles; but then that such a man held the theory of liberty which he has avowed, and that he has a great following, is a suggestion to us that the Holy See may have had abundant reason in the present state of the continent to anathematize a proposition, which to Mr. Gladstone seems so wild and unheard of.








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