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TRE A TISE
CH A P. I.
A brief ACCOUNT of the Death of JOHN
HE murder of John Calas, committed at Toulouse with the sword of
justice, the oth of March 1762, is an event, which, on account of its fingularity, calls for the attention of the present age, and that of pofterity. We foon forget the croud of victims who bave fallen in the course of innumerable battles, not only because this is
a destiny inevitably connected with a life of warfare, but because those who thus fall might also have given death to their enemies, and did not lose their lives till after having first stood in their own defence. Where the danger and the advantage are equal, our wonder ceases, and even pity itself is in some measure lessened; but where the father of an innocent family is delivered up to the sword of error, prejudice, or enthusiasm, where the accused person has no other defence but his conscious virtue ; where the arbiters of his destiny have nothing to hazard in putting him to death, but the having been mistaken, and where they may murder with impunity under the sanction of a judicial process; then every one is ready to cry out, every one brings the case home to himself, and fees with fear and trembling, that no person's life is in safety in a court erected to watch over the lives of the subject; the public unite in demanding vengeance.
In this strange affair, we find religion, self-murder and parricide blended. The object of enquiry was, whether a father aod a mother had murdered their own son with a view to please God, and whether a brother had murdered his brother, or a friend his friend; or whether the
judges had to reproach themselves with having publickly executed an innocent father, or with having acquitted a guilty mother, brother, and friend,
John Calas, a person of fixty-eight years of age, had followed the profession of a merchant at Toulouse for upwards of forty years, and had always borne the character of a tender parent in his family and neighbourhood: he was himself by religion a protestant, as was also his wife, and all his children, one son only excepted, who had abjured herefy, and to whom the father allowed a small annuity; indeed, the good man appeared so far from being infected with that absurd zeal, which destroys the bands of society, that he even approved of the converfion of his fon Lewis Calas: he had for above thirty years kept in his house a maid servant, who was a zealous catholic, and who had brought up all his children.
Another of his sons, whose name was Mark Anthony, was a man of letters, but, at the same time, of a restless, gloomy, and impetuous dirpofition. This young man finding, that he had no prospect of getting into business as a merchant, for which indeed he was very unfit,