Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/641

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KING BOMBA'S PHILOSOPHICAL CATECHISM.

to be all equal. Equality before the law, with which liberal philosophers seek to flatter the vanity and excite the passions of the populace, is also a chimera. To punish all persons equally for the same overt acts would be manifestly unjust. Throwing a handful of mud at a common laborer should not be visited with as severe a penalty as throwing a handful of mud at a nobleman, because in the case of the laborer the act only occasions a slight inconvenience, while in the case of the nobleman it involves a grievous insult. By such plausible but wholly impertinent illustrations the shrewd archbishop seeks to shirk the main principle, and to impose upon the simple-minded, who may not have wit enough to detect the fallacies of his reasoning, and to perceive that equality before the law does not imply the necessity of ignoring all circumstances, motives, and effects attending a culpable action. He admits, in conclusion, that all men should be equal in the eye of justice, but asserts that "such an equality is already enjoyed by the inhabitants of the whole civilized world, so that there is no need of the liberal philosophers wasting their breath in proclaiming it." If some persons now and then suffer wrong, "this is due to the wickedness of the human heart, and not to any defects of institutions and laws." That it is, however, the object of laws and institutions to restrain the wickedness of the human heart, and that so far as they fail to do this they are defective, is a point wholly ignored.

After the close of the Franco-German War, the cities of the fatherland began to grow with unwonted rapidity, and many persons of the baser sort became owners of urban habitations, and in their pride of acquisition waxed exceedingly arrogant. A citizen of Munich, who had suddenly risen from the low estate of a handicraftsman to the dignity of a householder, posted up in the lower halls of his tenements a long list of printed rules and regulations to be observed by his tenants, who were not only informed when they must clean and light the stairs, and when they might or might not play on musical instruments, but also received definite and minute instructions touching their personal relations to himself, how they must greet him in passing, and must treat him with proper respect on all occasions. Having specified all the cases which he could think of, and fearing lest any loophole should be left by which obligations might be evaded, he laid down, in a concluding paragraph, the following general principle: "In short, the tenant has no rights, but only duties."

According to Monsignore Apuzzo, God has regulated the universe on the same principle, and man has no rights in opposition to the sovereigns who rule over him, but only duties toward them. "The law of God commands kings and rulers not to be tyrannical and not to oppress their subjects unnecessarily, and thereby guar-