It is impossible to believe that the Spartan Burr, whose life was one of incessant labor and whose kindliness toward every one was so well known, should have deserved a commentary like this. The charge of immorality is so easily made and so difficult of disproof that it has been flung promiscuously at all the great men of history, including, in our own country.
Can it truly be said that most men find the wishes of their youth satisfied in later life? Ten years ago, I should have utterly denied it, and could have brought what seemed to me abundant evidence in its disproof. And as regards myself, is it not by mere happy accident that I pass my latter years in such enjoyment of all I most desired? Accident but there is no such thing.
Neither is this uncertainty to be thought strange, seeing the manner of the death of Scipio Africanus, who died at his own home after supper, has been found capable neither of proof or disproof; for some say he died a natural death, being of a sickly habit; others, that he poisoned himself; others again, that his enemies, breaking in upon him in the night, stifled him.
On the other hand, the hypothesis of mutative periods is by no means irreconcilable with the observed facts of constancy. Such casual changes can be proved by observations such as those upon the evening-primrose, but it is obvious that a disproof can never be given.
Now the only possible disproof of a libel is the proof that it is a libel, that it is either untruthful, or malicious, or both; and, since a libel is both a civil injury and a criminal offence, the proof of its libellous character cannot be established without reflecting upon the personal character of the libeller. Hence Dr.
Only at first sight for, if like Beatrice, you were the possessor of a face so uncommon in type that your lover might, with little fear of disproof, declare, at all events in England, that there was none other like it, you might grow superstitious as you looked at an anticipation so creepily identical, and conceive strange fancies of re-incarnation.
Nobles also employed clerks. Altogether there seems to have been in the fifteenth century good provision for higher education. The people of the Middle Ages were not illiterate. That there was as large a public ready and eager to buy the books that printing from type made possible has been regarded as a disproof of general illiteracy.
To remove them requires not disproof of this or that fact, but an intellectual discipline which is rare even among the educated classes. A religious creed survives, as poetry or art survives, not so long as it contains apparently true statements of fact but so long as it is congenial to the whole social state. A philosophy indeed is a poetry stated in terms of logic.
On the whole, it was no longer defect of proof Which presented itself, but positive disproof of the primitive and fundamental claim. I could not for a moment allow weight to the topic, that "it is dangerous to disbelieve wrongly;" for I felt, and had always felt, that it gave a premium to the most boastful and tyrannizing superstition: as if it were not equally dangerous to believe wrongly!
And if it be argued that lack of public opinion is no disproof of the existence of a real desire for independence, the rejoinder springs at once to the tongue, that independence would be a sham where public opinion is impossible.