Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Liberty as seen by Percy Bysshe Shelley...

Liberty and freedom are natural rights that all men share by virtue of their humanity. Natural rights have no artificial boundaries or nationalities. Here are Percy Bysshe Shelley's thoughts on liberty.


The fiery mountains answer each other;
Their thunderings are echoed from zone to zone;
The empestuous oceans awake one another,
And the ice-rocks are shaken round winter’s zone
When the clarion of the Typhoon is blown.
From a single cloud the lightning flashes,
Whilst a thousand isles are illumined around,
Earthquake is trampling one city to ashes,
An hundred are shuddering and tottering; the sound
Is bellowing underground.
But keener thy gaze than the lightning’s glare,
And swifter thy step than the earthquake’s tramp;
Thou deafenest the rage of the ocean; thy stare
Makes blind the volcanos; the sun’s bright lamp
To thine is a fen-fire damp.
From billow and mountain and exhalation
The sunlight is darted through vapour and blast;
From spirit to spirit, from nation to nation,
From city to hamlet thy dawning is cast,—
And tyrants and slaves are like shadows of night
In the van of the morning light.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, Posthumous Peoms (1824).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

All humanity is free and equal: Thoughts of John Milton

In 1660s, when the English monarchy was restored and the Republican government ended, John Milton was concerned with both how monarchists would treat the English people and how the English people would face their descendants. Here are Milton’s thought:

“But admitt, that monarchy of it self may be convenient to som nations, yet to us who have thrown it out, received back again, it cannot but prove pernicious. For [the] kings to com, never forgetting thir former ejection, will be sure to fortifie and arme themselves sufficiently for the future against all such attempts heerafter from the people: who shall be then so narrowly watch’d and kept so low, [as that besides the loss of all thir blood, and treasure spent to no purpose,], that though they would never so fain and at the same rate of thir blood and treasure, they never shall be able to regain what they now have purchasd and may enjoy, or to free themselves from any yoke impos’d upon them. nor will they dare to go about it; utterly disheartn’d for the future, if these thir highest attempts prove unsuccesfull; which will be the triumph of all tyrants heerafter over any people that shall resist oppression; and thir song will then be, to others, how sped the rebellious English? to our posteritie, how sped the rebells your fathers?”

[From John Milton, The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth (1660).]