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the character of benevolence: and what is benevolence at all, must in him be infinite benevolence, by reason of the infinite, that is to say, the incalculably great, number of objects, upon which it is exercised.
Of the Origin Of Evil, no universal solution has been discovered; I mean, no solution which reaches to all cases of complaint. The most comprehensive is that which arises from the consideration of general rules. We may, I think, without much difficulty, be brought to admit the four following points: first, that important advantages may accrue to the universe from the order of nature proceeding according to general laws: secondly, that general laws, however well set and constituted, often thwart and cross one another: thirdly, that from these thwartings and crossings, frequent particular inconveniencies will arise: and, fourthly, that it agrees with our observation to suppose, that some degree of these inconveniencies takes place in the works of nature. These points may be allowed; and it may also be asserted, that the general laws with which we are acquainted, are directed to beneficial ends. On the other hand, with many of these laws we are not acquainted at all, or we are totally unable to trace them in their branches, and in their operation; the effect of which ignorance is, that they cannot be of importance to us as measures by which to regulate our conduct. The conservation of them may be of importance in other respects, or to other beings, but we are uninformed of their value or use; uninformed, consequently, when, and how far, they may or may not be suspended, or their effects turned aside, by a presiding and benevolent will, without incurring greater evils than those which would be avoided. The consideration, therefore, of general laws, although it may concern the question of the origin of evil very nearly (which I think it does), rests in views disproportionate to our faculties, and in a knowledge which we do not possess. It serves rather to account for the obscurity of the subject, than to supply us with distinct answers to our difficulties. However, whilst we assent to the above-stated propositions as rinciples, whatever uncertainty we may nd in the application, we lay a ground for believing, that cases of apparent evil, for which we can suggest no particular reason, are governed by reasons, which are more general, which lie deeper in the order of
second causes, and which on that account are removed to a greater distance from us.
The doctrine of imperfectians, or, as it is called, of evils of imperfection, furnishes an account, founded, like the former, in views of universal nature. The doctrine is briefly this :—It is probable, that creation may be better replenished by sensitive beings of different sorts, than by sensitive beings all of one sort. It is likewise probable, that it may be better replenished by different orders of beings rising one above another in gradation, than by beings possessed of equal degrees of perfection. Now, a gradation of such beings, implies a gradation of imperfections. No class can justly complain of the imperfections which belong to its place in the scale, unless it were allowable for it to complain, that a scale of being was appointed in nature ; for which appointment there appear to be reasons of wisdom and goodness.
In like manner, finiteness, or what is resolvable into finiteness, in inanimate subjects, can never be a just subject of complaint; because if it were ever so, it would be always so: we mean, that we can never reasonably demand that things should be larger or more, when the same demand might be made, whatever the quantity or number was.
And to me it seems, that the sense of mankind has so far acquiesced in these reasons, as that we seldom complain of evils of this class, when we clearly perceive them to be such. What I have to add, therefore, is, that we ought not to complain of some other evils, which stand upon the same foot of vindication as evils of confessed imperfection. We never complain, that the globe of our earth is too small: nor should we complain, if it were even much smaller. But where is the difference to us, between a less globe, and part of the present being uninhabitable? The inhabitants of an island may be apt enough to murmur at the sterility of some parts of it, against its rocks, or sands, or swamps: but no one thinks himself authorized to murmur, simply because the island is not larger than it is. Yet these are the same griefs.
The above are the two metaphysical answers which have been given to this great question. They are not the worse for being metaphysical, provided they be founded (which I think they are) in right reasoning: but they are of a nature too wide to be brought under our survey, and it is often difficult to apply them in the detail. Our speculations, therefore, are perhaps better employed when they confine themselves within a narrower circle.
The observations which follow, are of this more limited, but more determinate, kind.
Of bodily pain, the principal observation, no doubt, is that which we have already made, and already dwelt upon, viz. "that it is seldom the object of contrivance; that when it is so, the contrivance rests ultimately in good."
To which, however, may be added, that the annexing of pain to the means of destruction is a salutary provision ; inasmuch as it teaches vigilance and caution; both gives notice of danger, and excites those endeavours which may be necessary to preservation. The evil consequence, which sometimes arises from the want of that timely intimation of danger which pain gives, is known to the inhabitants of cold countries by the example of frost-bitten limbs. I have conversed with patients who had lost toes and fingers by this cause. They have in general told me, that they were totally unconscious of any local uneasiness at the time. Some I have heard declare, that, whilst they were about their employment, neither their situation, nor the state of the air, was unpleasant. They felt no pain; they suspected no mischief; till, by the application of warmth, they discovered, too late, the fatal injury which some of their extremities had suffered. I say that this shows the use of pain, and that we stand in need of such a monitor. I believe also that the use extends farther than we suppose, or can now trace; that to disagreeable sensations we, and all animals, owe, or have owed, many habits of action which are salutary, but which are become so familiar, as not easily to be referred to their origin.
Pain also itse,( is not without its alleviations. It may be violent and frequent; but it is seldom both violent and long-continued: and its pauses and intermissions become positive pleasures. It has the power of shedding a satisfaction over intervals of ease, which, I believe, few enjoyments exceed. A man resting from a fit of the stone or gout, is, for the time, in possession of feelings which undisturbed health cannot impart. They may be dearly bought, but still they are to be set against the price. And, indeed, it depends upon the duration and urgency of the pain, whether they be dearly bought or not. I am far from being
sure, that a man is not a gainer by suffering a moderate interruption of bodily ease for a couple of hours out of the four-and-twenty. Two very common observations favour this opinion: one is, that remissions of pain call forth, from those who experience them, stronger expressions of satisfaction and of gratitude towards both the author and the instruments of their relief, than are excited by advantages of any other kind: the second is, that the spirits of sick men do not sink in proportion to the acuteness of their sufferings; but rather appear to be roused and supported, not by pain, but by the high degree of comfort which they derive from its cessation, or even its subsidency, whenever that occurs; and which they taste with a relish, that diffuses some portion of mental complacency over the whole of that mixed state of sensations in which disease has placed them.
In connection with bodily pain may be considered bodily disease, whether painful or not. Few diseases are fatal. I have before me the account of a dispensary in the neighbourhood, which states six years' experience as follows:
And this I suppose nearly to agree with what' other similar institutions exhibit. Now, in all these cases, some disorder must have been felt, or the patients would not have applied for a remedy; yet we see how large a proportion of the maladies which were brought forward, have either yielded to proper treatment, or, what is more probable, ceased of their own accord. We owe these frequent recoveries, and, where recovery does not take place, this patience of the human constitution under many of the distempers by which it is visited, to two benefactions of our nature. One is, that she works within certain limits; allows of a certain latitude within which health may be preserved, and within the confines of which it only suffers a graduated diminution. Different quantities of food, different degrees of exercise, different portions of sleep, different states of the atmosphere, are compatible with the possession of health. So likewise it is with the secretions and excretions, with many internal functions of the body, and with the state, probably, of most of its internal organs. They may vary considerably, not only without destroying life, but without occasioning any high degree of inconveniency. The other property of our nature, to which we are still more beholden, is its constant endeavour to restore itself, when disordered, to its regular course. The fluids of the body appear to possess a power of separating and expelling any noxious substance which may nave mixed itself with them. This they do, in eruptive fevers, by a kind of despumation, as Sydenham calls it, analogous in some measure to the intestine action by which fermenting liquors work the yest to the surface. The solids, on their part, when their action is obstructed, not only resume that action, as soon as the obstruction is removed, but they struggle with the impediment . They take an action as near to the true one, as the difficulty and the disorganization, with which they have to contend, will allow of.
Of mortal diseases, the great use is to reconcile us to death. The horror of death proves the value of life. But it is in the power of disease to abate, or even extinguish, this horror; which it does in a wonderful manner, and, oftentimes, by a mild and imperceptible gradation. Every man who has been placed in a situation to observe it, is surprised with the change which has been wrought in himself, when he compares the view which he entertains of death upon a sick-bed, with the heart-sinking dismay with which he should some time ago have met it in health. There is no similitude between the sensations of a man led to execution, and the calm expiring of a patient at the close of his disease. Death to him is only the last of a long train of changes; in his progress through which, it is possible that he may experience no shocks or sudden transitions.
Death itself, as a mode of removal and of succession, is so connected with the whole order of our animal world, that almost every thing in that world must be changed, to be able to do without it. It may seem likewise impossible to separate the fear of death from the enjoyment oflife, or the perception of that fear from rational natures. Brutes are in a great measure delivered from all anxiety on this account by the inferiority of their faculties; or rather they seem to be armed with the apprehension of death just sufficiently to put them upon the means of preservation, and no farther. But would a human being wish to purchase this immunity at the expense of those mental powers which enable him to look forward to the future?
Death implies separation: and the loss of those whom we love, must necessarily, so far as we can conceive, be accompanied
with pain. To the brute creation, nature seems to have stepped in with some secret provision for their relief, under the rupture of their attachments. In their instincts towards their offspring, and of their offspring to them, I have often been surprised to observe how ardently they love, and how soon they forget. The pertinacity of human sorrow (upon which, time also, at length, lays its softening hand) is probably, therefore, in some manner connected with the qualities of our rational or moral nature. One thing however is clear, viz. that it is better that we should possess affections, the sources of so many virtues, and so many joys, although they be exposed to the incidents of life, as well as the interruptions of mortality, than, by the want of them, be reduced to a state of selfishness, apathy, and quietism.
Of other external evils (still confining ourselves to what are called physical or natural evils), a considerable part come within the scope of the following observation :—The great principle of human satisfaction is engagement. It is a most just distinction, which the late Mr. Tucker has dwelt upon so largely in his works, between pleasures in which we are passive, and pleasures in which we are active. And, I believe, every attentive observer of human life will assent to his position, that, however grateful the sensations may occasionally be in which we are passive, it is not these, but the latter class of our pleasures, which constitute satisfaction; which supply that regular stream of moderate and miscellaneous enjoyments, in which happiness, as distinguished from voluptuousness, consists. Now for rational occupation, which is, in other „ words, for the very material of contented existence, there would be no place left, if either the things with which we had to do were absolutely impracticable to our endeavours, or if they were too obedient to out uses. A world, furnished with advantages on one side, and beset with difficulties, wants, and inconveniences on the other, is the proper abode of free, rational, and active natures, being the fittest to stimulate and exercise their faculties. The very refractoriness of the objects they have to deal with, contributes to this purpose. A world in which nothing depended upon ourselves, however it might have suited an imaginary race of beings, would not have suited mankind. Their skill, prudence, industry; their various arts, and their best attainments, from the application of which they draw, if not
their highest, their most permanent gratifications, would be insignificant, if things could be either moulded by our volitions, or, of their own accord, conformed themselves to our views and wishes. Now it is in this refractoriness that we discern the seed and principle of physical evil, as far as it arises from that which is external to us.
Civil evils, or the evils of civil life, are much more easily disposed of, than physical evils; because they are, in truth, of much less magnitude, and also because they result, by a kind of necessity, not only from the constitution of our nature, but from a part of that constitution, which no one would wish to see altered. The case is this: Mankind will in every country breed up to a certain point of distress. That point may be different in different countries or ages, according to the established usages of life in each. It will also shift upon the scale, so as to admit of a greater or less number of inhabitants, according as the quantity of provision, which is either produced in the country, or supplied to it from other countries, may happen to vary. But there must always be such a point, and the species will always breed up to iU The order of generation proceeds by something like a geometrical progression. The increase of provision, under circumstances even the most advantageous, can only assume the form of an arithmetic series. Whence it follows, that the population will always overtake the provision, will pais beyond the line of plenty, and will continue to increase till checked by the difficulty of procuring subsistence.* Such difficulty therefore, along with its attendant circumstances, must . be found in every old country: and these circumstances constitute what we call poverty, which, necessarily, imposes labour, servitude, restraint.
It seems impossible to people a country with inhabitants who shall be all easy in circumstances. For suppose the thing to be done, there would be such marrying and giving in marriage amongst them, as wiuld in a few years change the face of affairs entirely: i. e. as would increase the consumption of those articles, which supplied the natural or habitual wants of the country, to such a degree of scarcity, as must leave the greatest part of the inhabitants unable to procure them without toilsome endeavours, or, out of the different kinds of these articles, to procure any kind except that which was
• See a statement of this subject, in a late treatise upon population.
most easily produced. And this in fact, describes the condition of the mass of the community in all countries: a condition unavoidably, as it should seem, resulting from the provision which is made in the human, in common with all animal constitutions, for the perpetuity and multiplication of the species.
It need not however dishearten any endeavours for the public service, to know that population naturally treads upon the heels of improvement. If the condition of a people be meliorated, the consequence will be, either that the mean happiness will be increased, or a greater number partake of it; or, which is most likely to happen, that both effects will take place together. There may be limits fixed by nature to both, but they are limits not yet attained, nor even approached, in any country of the world.
And when we speak of limits at all, we have respect only to provisions for animal wants. There are sources, and means, and auxiliaries, and augmentations of human happiness, communicable without restriction of numbers; as capable of being possessed by a thousand persons as by one. Such are those, which flow from a mild, contrasted with a tyrannic government, whether civil or domestic; those which spring from religion; those which grow out of a sense of security; those which depend upon habits of virtue, sobriety, moderation, order; those, lastly, which are found in the possession of well-directed tastes and desires, compared with the dominion of tormenting, pernicious, contradictory, unsatisfied, and unsatisfiable passions.
The distinctions of civil life are apt enough to be regarded as evils, by those who sit under them; but, in my opinion, with very little reason.
In the first place, the advantages which the higher conditions of life are supposed to confer, bear no proportion in value to the advantages which are bestowed by nature. The gifts of nature always surpass the gifts of fortune. How much, for example, is activity better than attendance; beauty than dress; appetite, digestion, and tranquil bowels, than all the studies of cookery, or than the most costly compilation of forced, or far-fetched daintiesf
Nature has a strong tendency to equalization. Habit, the instrument of nature, is e great leveller; the familiarity which it induces, taking off the edge both of our pleasures and our sufferings. Indulgences which are habitual, keep us in ease, and cannot be carried much farther. So that, with respect to the gratifications of which the senses are capable, the difference is by no means proportionable to the apparatus. Nay, so far as superfluity generates fastidiousness, the difference is on the wrong side.
It is not necessary to contend, that the advantages derived from wealth are none (under due regulations they are certainly considerable), but that they are not greater than they ought to be. Money is the sweetener of human toil; the substitute for coercion; the reconciler of labour with liberty. It is, moreover, the stimulant of enterprise in all projects and undertakings, as well as of diligence in the most beneficial arts and employments. Now did affluence, when possessed, contribute nothing to happiness, or nothing beyond the mere supply of necessaries; and the secret should come to be discovered; we might be in danger of losing great part of the uses, which are, at present, derived to us through this important medium. Not only would the tranquillity of social life be put in peril by the want of a motive to attach meu to their private concerns; but the satisfaction which all men receive from success in their respective occupations, which collectively constitutes the great mass of human comfort, would be done away in its very principle.
With respect to station, as it is distinguished from riches, whether it confer authority over others, or be invested with honours which apply solely to sentiment and imagination, the truth is, that what is gained by rising through the ranks of life, is not more than sufficient to draw forth the exertions of those who are engaged in the pursuits which lead to advancement, and which, in general, are such as ought to be encouraged. Distinctions of this sort are subjects much more of competition than of enjoyment: and in that competition their use consists. It is not, as hath been rightly observed, by what the Lord Mayor feels in his coach, but by what the apprentice feels who gazes at him, that the public is served.
As we approach the summits of human greatness, the comparison of good and evil, with respect to personal comfort, becomes still more problematical; even allowing to ambition all its pleasures. The poet asks, "What is grandeur, what is power V The philosopher answers," Constraint and plague: et in maxima qiUtque fortund minimum licereJ' One very common error misleads the opinion of mankind on this head, viz. that, universally, authority is pleasant,
submission painful. In the general course of human affairs, the very reverse of this is nearer to the truth. Command is anxiety, obedience ease.
Artificial distinctions sometimes promote real equality. Whether they be hereditary, or be the homage paid to office, or the respect attached by public opinion to particular professions, they serve to confront that grand and unavoidable distinction which arises from property, and which is most overbearing where there is no other. It is of the nature of property, not only to be irregularly distributed, but to run into large masses. Public laws should be so constructed as to favour its diffusion as much as they can. But all that can be done by laws, consistently with that degree of government of his property which ought to be left to the subject, will not be sufficient to counteract this tendency. There must always therefore be the difference between rich and poor: and this difference will be the more grinding, when no pretension is allowed to be set up against it.
So that the evils, if evils they must be called, which spring either from the necessary subordinations of civil life, or from the distinctions which have, naturally, though not necessarily, grown up in most societies, so long as they are unaccompanied by privileges injurious or oppressive to the rest of the community, are such, as may, even by the most depressed ranks, be endured with very little prejudice to their comfort.
The mischiefs to which mankind are the occasion to one another, by their private wickednesses and cruelties, by tyrannical exercises of power; by rebellions against just authority; by wars; by national jealousies and competitions operating to the destruction of third countries; or by other instances of misconduct either in individuals or societies, are all to be resolved into the character of man as &free agent. Free agency in its very essence contains liability to abuse. Yet, if you deprive man of his free agency, you subvert his nature. You may have order from him and regularity, as you may from the tides or the tradewinds, but you put an end to his moral character, to virtue, to merit, to accountableness, to the use indeed of reason. To which must be added the observation, that even the bad qualities of mankind have an origin in their good ones. The case is this: Human passions are either necessary to human welfare, or capable of being made, and, in a great majority of instances, in fact