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which we had already exemplified, and rendered familiar to the reader, in the former parts of this. In a word, if there appear to any one too great a diversity, or too wide a distance, between the subjects treated of in the course of the present volume, let him be reminded, that the doctrine of general rules pervades and connects the whole.
It may not be improper, however, to admonish the reader, that, under the name of politics, he is not to look for those occasional controversies, which the occurrences of the present day, or any temporary situation of public affairs, may excite ; and most of which, if not beneath the dignity, it is beside the purpose, of a philosophical institution to advert to. He will perceive that the several disquisitions are framed with a reference to the condition of this country, and of this government: but it seemed to me to belong to the design of a work like the following, not so much to discuss each altercated point with the particularity of a political pamphlet upon the subject, as to deliver those universal principles, and to exhibit that mode and train of reasoning in politics, by the due application of which every man might be enabled to attain to just conclusions of his own. I am not ignorant of an objection that has been advanced against all abstract speculations concerning the origin, principle, or limitation of civil authority ; namely, that such speculations possess little or no influence upon the conduct either of the state or of the subject, of the governors or the governed; nor are attended with any useful consequences to either : that in times of tranquillity they are not wanted ; in times of confusion they are never heard. This representation, however, in my opinion, is not just. Times of tumult, it is true, are not the times to learn; but the choice which men make of their side and party, in the most critical occasions of the commonwealth, may nevertheless depend upon the lessons they have received, the books they have read, and the opinions they have imbibed, in seasons of leisure and quietness, Some judicious persons, who were present at Geneva during the troubles which lately convulsed that city, thought they perceived, in the contentions there carrying on, the operation of that political theory, which the writings of Rousseau, and the unbounded esteem in which these writings are holden by his countrymen, had diffused amongst the people. Throughout the political disputes that have within these few years taken place in Great Britain, in her sister-kingdom, and in her foreign dependencies, it was impossible not to observe, in the language of party, in the resolutions of public meetings, in debate, in conversation, in the general strain of those fugitive and diurnal addresses to the public which such occasions call forth, the prevalency of those ideas of civil authority which are displayed in the works of Mr. Locke. The credit of that great name, the courage and liberality of his principles, the skill and clearness with which his arguments are proposed, no less than the weight of the arguments themselves, have given a reputation and currency to his opinions, of which I am persuaded, in any unsettled state of public affairs, the in/uence would be felt. As this is not a place for examining the truth or tendency of these doctrines, I would not be understood by what I have said, to express any judgment concerning either. I mean only to remark, that such doctrines are not without effect; and that it is of practical importance to have the principles from which the obligations of social union, and the extent of civil ubedience, are derived, rightly explained, and well understood. Indeed, as far as I have observed, in political, beyond all other subjects, where men are without some fundamental and scientific principles to resort to, they are liable to have their understandings played upon by cant phrases and unmeaning terms, of which every party in every country possesses a vocabulary. We appear astonished when we see the multitudě led away by sounds; but we should remember that, if sounds work miracles, it is always upon ignorance. The influence of names is in exact proportion to the want of knowledge.
These are the observations with which I have judged it expedient to prepare the attention of my reader. Concerning the personal motives which engaged me in the following attempt, it is not necessary that I say much; the nature of my academical situation, a great deal of leisure since my retirement from it, the recommendation of an honoured and excellent friend, the authority of the venerable prelate to whom these labours are inscribed, the not perceiving in what way I could employ my time or talents better, and my disapprobation, in literary men, of that fastidious indolence which sits still because it disdains to do little, were the considerations that directed my thoughts to this design. Nor have I repented of the undertaking. Whatever be the fate or reception of this work, it owes its author nothing. In sickness and in health I have found in it that which can alone alleviate the one, or give enjoyment to the other,--occupation and engagement.
DEFINITION AND USE OF THE SCIENCE.
no breaches of honour ; because a man is not a less agreeable companion for these vices, nor the worse to deal witn, in those
concerns which are usually transacted beMoral Philosophy, Morality, Ethics, tween one gentleman and another. Casuistry, Natural Law, mean all the same Again; the Law of Honour, being con. thing; namely, that science which teaches stituted by men occupied in the pursuit of men their duty and the reasons of it, pleasure, and for the mutual conveniency of
The use of such a study depends upon such men, will be found, as might be exthis, that, without it, the rules of life, by pected from the character and design of the which men are ordinarily governed, often law-makers, to be, in most instances, favourtime mislead them, through a defect either able to the licentious indulgence of the in the rule, or in the application.
natural passions. These rules are, the Law of Honour, the Thus it allows of fornication, adultery, Law of the Land, and the Scriptures. drunkenness, prodigality, duelling, and of
revenge in the extreme ; and lays no stress upon the virtues opposite to these.
THE LAW OF HONOUR.
THE LAW OF THE LAND.
The Law of Honour, is a system of rules constructed by people of fashion, and calculated to facilitate their intercourse with That part of mankind, who are beneath the one another ; and for no other purpose. Law of Honour, often make the Law of the
Consequently, nothing is adverted to by Land their rule of life; that is, they are the Law of Honour, but what tends to satisfied with themselves, so long as they do incommode this intercourse.
or omit nothing, for the doing or omitung of Hence this law only prescribes and regu- which the law can punish them. lates the duties betwixt equals : _omitting Whereas every system of human laws, such as relate to the Supreme Being, as considered as a rule of life, labours under well as those which we owe to our inferiors. the two following defects :
For which reason, profaneness, neglect of I. Human laws omit many duties, as not public worship or private devotion, cruelty objects of compulsion ; such as piety to God, to servants, rigorous treatment of tenants or bounty to the poor, forgiveness of injuries, other dependents, want of charity to the education of children, gratitude to benepoor, injuries done to tradesmen by insol- factors. vency or delay of payment, with numberless The law never speaks but to command, examples of the same kind, are accounted nor commands but where it can compel ; consequently those duties, which by their particularity which obtains in human laws, nature must be voluntary, are left out of the so far as they go, been attempted in the statute-book, as lying beyond the reach of Scriptures, throughout the whole extent or its operation and authority.
morality, it is manifest they would have II. Human laws permit, or, which is the been by much too bulky to be either reaa same thing, suffer to go unpunished, many or circulated; or rather, as St. John says, crimes, because they are incapable of being “ even the world itself could not contain the defined by any previous description.—Of books that should be written.” which nature are luxury, prodigality, par- Morality is taught in Scripture in this tiality in voting at those elections in which wise. - General rules are laid down, of the qualifications of the candidate ought to piety, justice, benevolence, and purity : suca determine the success, caprice in the dis- as, worshipping God in spirit and in truth, position of men's fortunes at their death, doing as we would be done by; loving our disrespect to parents, and a multitude of neighbour as ourself; forgiving others, as similar examples.
we expect forgiveness from God; that mercy For, this is the alternative : either the is better than sacrifice; that not that which law must define beforehand and with pre- entereth into a man (nor, by parity of reacision the offences which it punishes; or it son, any ceremonial pollutions), but that must be left to the discretion of the magis- which procedeth from the heart, defileth trate, to determine upon each particular him. These rules are occasionally illusaccusation, whether it constitutes that of- trated, either by fictitious examples, as in fence which the law designed to punish, or the parable of the good Samaritan; and of not; which is, in effe leaving to the the cruel servant, who refused to his fellowmagistrate to punish or not to punish, at his servant that indulgence and compassion pleasure, the individual who is brought be- which his master had shown to him : or in fore him ; which is just so much tyranny. instances which actually presented them. Where, therefore, as in the instances above selves, as in Christ's reproof of his disciples mentioned, the distinction between right at the Samaritan village; his praise of the Eind wrong is of too subtile or of too secret poor widow, who cast in her last mite ; his a nature to be ascertained by any precon- censure of the Pharisees who chose out the certed language, the law of most countries, chief rooms,- and of the tradition, whereby especially of free states, rather than commit they evaded the command to sustain the'r the liberty of the subject to the discretion of indigent parents : or, lastly, in the resoiuthe magistrate, leaves men in such cases to tion of questions, which those who were themselves.
about our Saviour proposed to him; as his
scribe, who had found out, even in that are CHAPTER IV.
and courtry, that “ to love God and nis neighbour, was more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifice.”
And this is in truth the way in which Whoever expects to find in the Scriptures all practical sciences are taught, as Aritha specific direction for every moral doubt metic, Grammar, Navigation, and the like. that arises, looks for more than he will meet -Rules afe laid down, and examples are with. And to what a magnitude such a subjoined . not that these examples are the detail of particular precepts would have cases, much less all the cases, which will enlarged the sacred volume, may be partly actually occur ; but by way only of explainunderstood from the following consideration : ing the principle of the rule, and as so many -The laws of this country, including the specimens of the method of applying it. acts of the legislature, and the decisions of The chief difference is, that the examples in our supreme courts of justice, are not con- Scripture are not annexed to the rules with tained in fewer than fifty folio volumes ; the didactic regularity to which we are and yet it is not once in ten attempts that now-a-days accustomed, bu. delivered disyou can find the case you look for, in any persedly, as particular occasions suggested law-book whatever : to say nothing of those them; which gave them, however (espenumerous points of conduct, concerning cially to those who heard them, and were which the law professes not to prescribe or present to the occasions which produced determine any thing. Had then the same them), an energy and persuasion, much
beyond what the same or any instances Now the question is, whether, if this would have appeared with, in their places in story were related to the wild boy caught a system.
some years ago in the woods of Hanover, Beside this, the Scriptures commonly pre- or to a savage without experience, and withsuppose in the persons to whom they speak, out instruction, cut off in his infancy from a knowledge of the principles of natural all intercouse with his species, and, consejustice ; and are employed not so much to quently, under no possible influence of teach new rules of morality, as to enforce example, authority, education, sympathy, or the practice of it by new sanctions, and by a habit; whether, I say, such a one would greater certainty ; which last seems to be feel, upon the relation, any degree of that the proper business of a revelation from sentiment of disapprobation of Toranius's God, and what was most wanted.
conduct which we feel, or not? Thus the “ unjust, covenant-breakers, They who maintain the existence of a and extortioners,” are condemned in Scrip- moral sense; of innate maxims; of a natural ture, supposing it known, or leaving it, conscience ; that the love of virtue and where it admits of doubt, to moralists tó hatred of vice are instinctive, or the percepdetermine, what injustice, extortion, or tion of right and wrong intuitive; (all breach of covenant, are.
which are only different ways of expressing The above considerations are intended to the
same opinion), affirm that he would. prove that the Scriptures do not supersede They who deny the existence of a moral the use of the science of which we profess sense, &c. affirm that he would not. to treat, and at the same time to acquit them
upon this, issue is joined. of any charge of imperfection or insufficiency As the experiment has never been made, on that account,
and from the difficulty of procuring a subject (not to mention the impossibility of proposing the question to him, if we had one), is
never likely to be made, what would be the CHAPTER V.
event, can only be judged of from probable
They who contend for the affirmative,
observe, that we approve examples of gene“ The father of Caius Toranius had been rosity, gratitude, fidelity, &c. and condemn proscribed by the triumvirate. Caius Tora- the contrary, instantly, without deliberation, nius, coming over to the interests of that without having any interest of our own party, discovered to the officers, who were concerned in them, oft-times without being in pursuit of his father's life, the place conscious of, or able to give any reason for, where he concealed himself, and gave them our approbation: that this approbation is withal a description, by which they might uniform and universal, the same sorts of distinguish his person, when they found conduct being approved or disapproved in him. The old man, more anxious for the all ages and countries of the world ;-cirsafety and fortunes of his son, than about cumstances, say they, which strongly indithe little that might remain of his own life, cate the operation of an instinct or moral began immediately to inquire of the officers sense. who seized him, whether his son was well, On the other hand, answers have been whether he had done his duty to the satis- given to most of these arguments, by the faction of his generals. That son (replied patrons of the opposite system; and, one of the officers), so dear to thy affections, First, as to the uniformity above alleged, betrayed thee to us; by his information they controvert the fact. They remark, from thou art apprehended, and diest.' The authentic accounts of historians and travelofficer with this struck a poniard to his lers, that there is scarcely a single vice heart, and the unhappy parent fell, not so which, in some age or country of the world, much affected by his fate, as by the means has not been countenanced by public opi: to which he owed it.”*
nion: that in one country, it is esteemed * “ Caius Toranius triumvirům partes secu. ribus satisfaceret, interrogare eos coepit. E tus, proscripti patris sui prætorii et ornati quibus unus : Ab illo, inquit, ' quem tantoviri latebras, ætatem, notasque corporis, qui- perè diligis, demonstratus nostro ministerio, bus agnosci posset, centurionibus edidit, qui filii indicio occideris ;' protinusque pectus ejus eum persecuti sunt. Senex de filii magis vità gladio trajecit. Collapsus itaque est infelix, et incrementis quàm de reliquo spiritu suo auctore cædis, quàm ipsâ cæde, miserior." solicitus, an incolumis esset, et an imperato- Valer. Max. lib. ix. cap. 11.
THE MORAL SENSE.
an office of piety in children to sustain their though the private advantage which first aged parents ; in another, to despatch then excited it no longer exist.' out of the way: that suicide, in one age of And this continuance of the passion, after the world, has been heroism, is in another the reason of it has ceased, is nothing more, felony: that theft, which is punished by say they, than what happens in other cases; most laws, by the laws of Sparta was not especially in the love of money, which is in unfrequently rewarded : that the promiscu- no person so eager as it is oftentimes found ous commerce of the sexes, although con- 10 be in a rich old miser, without family to demned by the regulations and censure of provide for, or friend to oblige by it, all civilized nations, is practised by the and to whom consequently it is no longer savages of the tropical regions withont (and he may be sensible of it too) of any reserve, compunction, or disgrace; that real use or value ; yet is this man as much crimes, of which it is no longer permitted us overjoyed with gain, and mortified by losses, even to speak, have had their advocates as he was the first day he opened his shop, amongst the sages of very renowned times: and when his very subsistence depended that, if an inhabitant of the polished nations upon his success in it. of Europe be delighted with the appearance, By these means the custom of approving wherever he meets with it, of happiness, certain actions commenced ; and when once tranquillity, and comfort, a wild American is such a custom hath got footing in the world, no less diverted with the writhings and con- it is no difficult thing to explain how it is tortions of a victim at the stake; that even transmitted and continued ; for then the amongst ourselves, and in the present im- greatest part of those who approve of virtue, proved state of moral knowledge, we are far approve of it from authority, by imitation, from a perfect consent in our opinions or and from a habit of approving such and such feelings: that you shall bear duelling alter- actions, inculcated in early youth, and renately reprobated and applauded, according ceiving, as men grow up, continual accesto the sex, age, or station, of the person you sions of strength and vigour, from censure converse with : that the forgiveness of in- and encouragement, from the books they juries and insults is accounted by one sort read, the conversations they hear, the curof people magnanimity, by another mean- rent application of epithets, the general turn ness: that in the above instances, and of language, and the various other causes perhaps in most others, moral approbation by which it universally comes to pass, that follows the fashions and institutions of the a society of men, touched in the feeblest country we live in; which fashions also degree with the same passion, soon comand institutions themselves have grown out municate to one another a great degree of of the exigencies, the climate, situation, or it.* This is the case with most of us at local circumstances of the country; or have present; and is the cause also, that the been set up by the authority of an arbitrary process of association, described in the last chieftain, or the unaccountable caprice of paragraph but one, 'is little now either the multitude :-all which, they observe, perceived or wanted. looks very little like the steady hand and Amongst the causes assigned for the conindelible characters of Nature. But, tinuance and diffusion of the same moral
Secondly, Because, after these exceptions sentiments amongst mankind, we have menand abatements, it cannot be denied bift tioned imitation. The efficacy of this printhat some sorts of actions command and ciple is most observable in children : indeed, receive the esteem of mankind more than if there be any thing in them which deserves others; and that the approbation of them is general though not universal : as to this *“ From instances of popular tumults, sedi they say, that the general approbation of tions, factions, panics, and of all passions virtue, even in instances where we have no
which are shared with a multitude, we may interest of our own to induce us to it, may
learn the influence of society, in exciting
and supporting any emotion ; whilst the most be accounted for, without the assistance of ungovernable disorders are raised, we find, a moral sense ; thus:
by that means, from the slightest and most
frivolous occasions. He must be more or less Having experienced, in some instance,
than man, who kindles not in the common a particular conduct to be beneficial to our- blaze. What wonder then, that moral sentiselves, or observed that it would be so, a sen. ments are found of such influence in life, timent of approbation rises up in our minds; though springing from principles which may which sentiment afterwards accompanies the
appear, at first sight, somewhat small and
delicate ?"-Hume's Inquiry concerning the idea or mention of the same conduct, al. Principles of Morals, Séct. ix. p. 326.