No Fear Act 4 Scene 1
No Fear Act 4 Scene 1 Page 7

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So, if a son that is by his father sent about merchandise do sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the imputation of his wickedness, by your rule, should be imposed upon his father that sent him. Or if a servant, under his master’s command transporting a sum of money, be assailed by robbers and die in many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the business of the master the author of the servant’s damnation. But this is not so. The king is not bound to answer the particular endings of his soldiers, the father of his son, nor the master of his servant, for they purpose not their death, when they purpose their services. Besides, there is no king, be his cause never so spotless, if it come to the arbitrament of swords, can try it out with all unspotted soldiers. Some, peradventure, have on them the guilt of premeditated and contrived murder; some, of beguiling virgins with the broken seals of perjury; some, making the wars their bulwark, that have before gored the gentle bosom of peace with pillage and robbery. Now, if these men have defeated the law and outrun native punishment, though they can outstrip men, they have no wings to fly from God. War is His beadle, war is His vengeance, so that here men are punished for before-breach of the king’s laws in now the king’s quarrel. Where they feared the death, they have borne life away; and where they would be safe, they perish. Then, if they die unprovided, no more is the king guilty of their damnation than he was before guilty of those impieties for the which they are now visited. Every subject’s duty is the king’s, but every subject’s soul is his own. Therefore should every soldier in the wars do as every sick man in his bed: wash every mote out of his conscience. And, dying so, death is to him advantage; or not dying, the time was blessedly lost wherein such preparation was gained. And in him that escapes, it were not sin to think that, making God so free an offer, He let him outlive that day to see His greatness and to teach others how they should prepare.


The king isn’t responsible for the particular end each soldier comes to, nor is the father responsible for his son’s final end or the master for his servant’s. The father and the master and the king didn’t order their subordinates' deaths when they ordered their services. Besides, there’s no king, however pure his cause, who, if it comes to a trial by combat, can rely on using completely blameless soldiers. Perhaps some may be guilty of plotting murder, some of seducing maidens with lies and then abandoning them; some, of looting and stealing before they were even hired as soldiers. Even if these men have escaped the law and punishment at home, they cannot escape God. War is God’s agent of justice. War is vengeance. So there are men here who have broken the king’s law earlier and are punished now in his war. When they feared death, they escaped with their lives; and now where they imagine they’re safe, they perish. So, if they die unprepared, the king is no more guilty of their damnation than he was guilty of the earlier crimes they’re finally being punished for. Every subject’s duty is the king’s, but every subject’s soul is his own. Therefore, every soldier should do as any man who is sick in his bed would do: clear his conscience of any stain. Then if he dies, his death serves him. Or, if he doesn’t die, the time he spent preparing himself was at least blessed. And in the case of the man who survives, one could be forgiven for supposing that God spared him exactly because he was so ready to die; now he can live to appreciate God’s greatness and teach others to prepare.By this reasoning, if a son is sent by his father on business and drowns at sea while still in a state of sin, his wickedness is his father’s fault. Or if a servant, carrying a sum of money for his master, is attacked by robbers and dies without confessing his sins, we can say that the master’s business is to blame for the servant’s damnation. But that isn’t so.