Distribution Automatique

Tuesday, June 15

"Tyranny and bigotry are the same they
ever were; we have seen what havoc they made
when left to themselves, and had everything
their own way; and they would still have it
so if they could. Are they not still at their
old work as far as they dare- striving to
continue every exclusive privilege and invidious
distinction as they formerly strove to usurp
and extend them? Not a thing will they suffer
to pass unresisted, undegraded, that is
recommended by reason: they are always against
it. If we look back to former periods, do
we not find them uniformly opposing every
reform, every liberal measure and principle-
wreaking their fury on it in the first instance,
and shrinking with cowardly malignity before it
as it gathers strength, and at last making a merit
of granting what they can no longer prevent by
force or cunning? Their object is to gain time with
the prescriptive and lordly advantages of the few.
When we find kings and priests running before
public opinion, urging moderation, inquiry, reform,
detaching themselves from the interested and powerful,
then it will be soon enought to believe that their
temper and principles have changed with the times,
that they are to be trusted like other men, and that
the side on which they are found is not longer a
sure sign that the lovers of truth and freedom
ought to be on the opposite one. The *Quarterly
Review* some time back made a triumphant peroration
(after a detailed and elaborate survey of the growing
prosperity of the country) to show that neither the
Crown nor its Ministers nor Parliament nor the Clergy
nor Gentry had anything to do with it, but they remained
just as they were, and that all these astonishing
improvements in every other department had taken place
in spite of them. So it is, and so it will be.'To do
aught good will never be the task' of those who profit
from the contrary. They will always stand in the way,
and oppose the *vis inertia* of custom and indolence
(at least) to every project of amelioration and reform,
just as the proprietor of an old house or rotten
tenement holds out against the improvement of a street
or city..."

"The Influence of Books on the Progress of Manners"
William Hazlitt
*New Monthly Magazine*
May, 1828