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A Hero and Some Other Folks by William A. Quayle

Bigotry is an excess of a virtue


Just

two people Philip gave consideration to--himself and the pope. His narrow nature, while not capable of enthusiasm, was capable of a tenacious and unflagging loyalty. What in a manly spirit or in a martyr would have bloomed into nobility, devotion, and self-sacrifice, in a man like Philip became a settled cruelty and bigotry which finds few parallels in the annals of the world. He was a creature of the Church, as he conceived all in his dominions were creatures to him. Free will and the right to conviction he did not claim for himself and would not consider for others. The world was an autocracy, universal, necessary, the pope as chief tyrant and Philip under-lord--he must obey the pope; the people must obey him. To Philip these conclusions were axiomatic, and therefore not subjects for debate. That all his subjects did not readily concede to him the right to be the director of their conscience was looked upon as unreasoning stubbornness, to be punished with block and rack, and prison and stake.

Philip is anomalous. We can not get into a mind like his. Statesman he was not; for the nurture of national wealth, such as Cromwell and Caesar planned for, he was incapable of. His idea of statesmanship was that his kingdom was a cask, into which he should insert a spigot and draw. This was government of an ideal order, Philip being judge. The divine right of kings was a foregone conclusion, antagonism to which was heresy. Here let us not blame

Philip; for this was the temper of his era, and to have anticipated in him larger views than those of his contemporaries is not just. To this notion was his whole nature keyed. He commanded the Netherlands to be faithful Catholics. What more was needed? Let this be the end. So reasoned the Spanish autocrat; and fealty to religious convictions on his subjects' part seemed to him nothing but settled obstinacy, to be burned out with martyrs' fires or cut out with swords swung by Alva's cruel hands.

Philip was the ideal bigot. How far bigotry is native to the soul may well be a question for grave discussion, demanding possibly more attention than has been accorded it hitherto. And how far is bigotry to be looked on as a vice? Though this question will be laughed down, as if to ask it were to stultify the asker; but not so fast, since bigotry is not all bad. To hold an opinion is considered a virtue. To hold an opinion of righteousness against all odds for conscience' sake, we rightly account heroism. Is not a lover or a patriot a bigot? Or if not, where does he miss of being? We are to hold opinion and not become opinionated, a thing discovered to be difficult in an extreme degree.

Bigotry is an excess of a virtue, and to pass from conscientiousness to bigotry is not a long nor difficult journey. All views are not equally true. This every sane mind holds as self-evident. There is a liberalism at this point which would run, if let go its logical course,


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