- Project Runeberg -  Letters written during a short residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark /
154

(1889) [MARC] Author: Mary Wollstonecraft With: Henry Morley
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154 LETTERS ON SWEDEN,
to tlie survivors, have, I am persuaded, a quite contrary
effect, by hardening the heart they ought to terrify.
Besides the fear of an ignominious death, I believe,
never deterred anyone from the commission of a crime,
because, in committing it, the mind is roused to
activity about present circumstances. It is a game at
hazard, at which all expect the turn of the die in their
own favour, never reflecting on the chance of ruin till
it comes. In fact, from what I saw in the fortresses
of Norway, I am more and more convinced that the
same energy of character which renders a man a daring
villain would have rendered him useful to society, had
that society been well organised. When a strong mind
is not disciplined by cultivation it is a sense of in-
justice that renders it unjust.
Executions, however, occur very rarely at Copen-
hagen ;
for timidity, rather than clemency, palsies all
the operations of the present Government. The male-
factor who died this morning would not, probably,
have been punished with death at any other period ;
but an incendiary excites universal execration ;
and as
the greater part of the inhabitants are still distressed
by the late conflagration, an example was thought ab-
solutely necessary ; though, from, what I can gather,
the fire was accidental.
Not, but that I have very seriously been informed,
that combustible materials were placed at proper dis-
tance, by the emissaries of Mr. Pitt ; and, to corroborate
the fact, many people insist that the flames burst out
nfc once in different parts of the city ;
not allowing the
wind to have any hand in it. So much for the plot.

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