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[257] laws of society should do no more than reprove the
Chap VII.}
breach of its decorum. Blasphemy is the crime of despair. One hopeless sufferer commits suicide; another curses Divine Providence for the evil which is in the world, and of which he cannot solve the mystery. The best medicine for intemperate grief is compassion; the keenest rebuke for ribaldry, contempt.

But the design of the law of Maryland was undoubtedly to protect freedom of conscience; and, some years after it had been confirmed, the apologist of Lord Baltimore could assert, that his government, in conformity with his strict and repeated injunctions, had never given disturbance to any person in Maryland for matter of religion;1 that the colonists enjoyed freedom of conscience, not less than freedom of person and estate, as amply as ever any people in any place of the world.2 The disfranchised friends of prelacy from Massachusetts, and the Puritans from Virginia, were welcomed to equal liberty of conscience and political rights in the Roman Catholic province of Maryland.3

An equal union prevailed between all branches of

1650 April
the government in explaining and confirming the civil liberties of the colony. In 1642, Robert Vaughan, in the name of the rest of the burgesses, had desired, that the house might be separated, and thus a negative secured to the representatives of the people. Before 1649, this change had taken place; and it was confirmed by a statute.4 The dangerous prerogative of declaring martial law was also limited to the precincts of the camp and the garrison;5 and a perpetual act declared, that no tax should be levied upon the freemen

1 Langford, 11.

2 Ibid. 5.

3 Chalmers, 219. Langford, 3. Hammond, 20.

4 Bacon, 1649, c. XII, and note 1650, c. i.

5 Bacon, 1650, c. XXVI.

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