« السابقةمتابعة »
sufficient virtue to refuse to be the agents of a vici- Opinion appears to be inaccurate, and upon the ous government-but they are few. If they were
consequent obligation upon individuals not to pernumerous, especially if they were as numerous as
petuate that inaccuracy and its attendant evils by they ought to be, history, even very modern history, their conduct or their language. Of the positire would have had a far other record to frame than
part of the obligation—that which respects the that which now devolves to her. Can it be needful
active correction of common opinions, little will be to argue upon such things ? Can it be needful to said. He who does not promote the evil can scarcely prove that, neither the commands of ministers, nor fail of promoting the good. A pan often must “systems of policy,” nor any other circumstance, deliver his sentiments respecting the principles exempts a public man from the obligations of the and actions of others, and if he delivers them, 59 Moral Law ? Public men often act as if they as not to encourage what is wrong, he will practithought that to be a public man was to be brought cally encourage what is right. under the jurisdiction of a new and a relaxed mo- It might have been presumed of a people who assent rality. They often act as if they thought that to the authority of the Moral Law, that their notions of not to be the prime mover in political misdeeds, the merit or turpitude of actions would have been colwas to be exempt from all moral responsibility for formable with the doctrines which that law delivers. those deeds. A dagger, if it could think, would Far other is the fact. The estimates of the Moral think it was not responsible for the assassination Law and of public opinion are discordant to excess. of which it was the agent. A public man may Men have practised a sort of transposition with the be a political dagger, but he cannot, like the moral precepts, and have assigned to them arbitrary dagger, be irresponsible.
and capricious, and therefore new and mischievous, These illustrations of Immoral Agency and of stations on the moral scale. The order both of the the obligation to avoid it might be multiplied, if vices and the virtues is greatly deranged. enough had not been offered to make our sentiments,
Suppose, with respect to vices, the highest degree and the reasons upon which they are founded, of reprobation in the Moral Law to be indicated by obvious to the reader. Undoubtedly, in the present 20, and to descend by units, as the reprobation bestate of society, it is no easy task, upon these sub- came less severe, ard suppose, in the same manner, jects, to wash our hands in innocency. But if we
we put 20 for the highest offence according to popucannot avoid all agency, direct or indirect, in evil lar opinion, and diminish the number as it accounts things, we can avoid much; and it will be suffici.
less of the offence, we should probably be presented ently early to complain of the difficulty of com..
with some such graduation as this : plete purity, when we have dismissed from our conduct as much impurity as we can.
Unchastity, if of Men............... 18
Lying for particular purposes
persons......... Public notions of morality-Errors of public opinion : their Resentment
(and every inferior effects-Duelling-Scottish Bench--Glory-Military virtues
gradation - Military talent-Bravery--Courage-Patriotism not the Profaneness
jand every infcrior soldier's motive-Military fame-Public opinion of unchas.
gradation, tity : In women: In men-Power of character-Character in Legal men-Fame--Faults of Great men- The Press
We might make a similar statement of the virtces. Newspapers--History : Its defects : Its power.
This indeed is inevitable in the case of those virtues That the influence of Public Opinion upon the
which are the opposites of some of these vices. Re
specting others we may say, practice of virtue is very great, needs no proof. Of this influence the reader has seen some remark
Moral Public able illustrations in the discussion of the Efficacy
Law. Opinion. of Oaths in binding to veracity. There is, indeed,
3 (and lapsing into a almost no action and no institution which Public
Fortitude Opinion does not affect, In moral affairs it makes
Courage men call one mode of human destruction murder- Bravery ous and one honourable ; it makes the same action
Placability. abominable in one individual and venial in another : in public institutions, from a village workhouse to the constitution of a state, it is powerful alike for
How, it may reasonably be asked, do these strange evil or for good. If it be misdirected, it will
incongruities arise! First, men practise a sort o. strengthen and perpetuate corruption and abuse : voluntary deception on themselves : they persuade if it be directed aright, it will eventually remove
themselves to think that an offence which they decorruptions and correct abuses with a power which
sire to commit, is not so vicious as the Moral Law
indicates, or as others to which they have little no power can withstand.
In proportion to the greatness of its power is the temptation. They persuade themselves again, that necessity of rectifying Public Opinion itself. To a virtue which is easily practised, is of great wortb; contribute to its rectitude is to exercise exalted
because they thus flatter themselves with complacent philanthropy—to contribute to its incorrectness notions of their excellences at a cheap rate. Virtues is to spread wickedness and misery in the world.
which are difficult they, for the same reason, depro
ciate. This is the dictate of interest. It is mani. The purpose of the preseut chapter is to remark upon some of those subjects on which the Public festly good policy to think lightly of the value of a
quality which we do not choose io be at the cost of • Essay 2, chap. 7.
possessing; and who would willingly think there
6_4 or 1 17
INFLUENCE OF INDIVIDUALS UPON
NOTIONS OF MORALITY,
10 14 20 20 4
was much evil in a vice which he practised every | gate is formed; and that it can only be by the delay!—That which a man thus persuades himself to ductions of individuals that it will be done away. hink a trivial vice or an unimportant virtue, he Duelling.-If two boys who disagreed about a of course speaks of as such amongst his neighbours. game of marbles or a penny tart, should therefore They perhaps are as much interested in propagating walk out by the river side, quietly take off their he delusion as he : they listen with willing ears, and clothes, and when they had got into the water, each herish and proclaim the grateful falsehood. By try to keep the other's head down until one of them hese and by other means the public notions become was drowned, we should doubtless think that these nfluenced ; a long continuance of the general chi- two boys were mad. If, when the survivor returned anery at length actually confounds the Public Opi- to his schoolfellows, they patted him on the shoullion; and when once an opinion has become a public der, told him he was a spirited fellow, and that, pinion, there is no difficulty in accounting for the if he had not tried the feat in the water, they would perpetuation of the fallacy.
never have played at marbles or any other game If sometimes the mind of an individual recurs to with him again, we should doubtless think that these the purer standard, a multitude of obstacles present boys were infected with a most revolting and disthemselves to its practical adoption. He hopes that gusting depravity and ferociousness. We should under the present circumstances of society an exact instantly exert ourselves to correct their principles, obedience to the Moral Law is not required; he and should feel assured that nothing could ever tries to think that the notions of a kingdom or a
induce us to tolerate, much less to encourage, such continent cannot be so erroneous; and at any rate abandoned depravity. And yet we do both tolerate trusts that as he deviates with millions, millions will and encourage such depravity every day. Change hardly be held guilty at the bar of God. The mis- the penny tart for some other trifle; instead of boys direction of Public Opinion is an obstacle to the put men, and instead of a river, a pistol-and we virtae even of good men. He who looks beyond encourage it all. We virtually pat the survivor's the notions of others, and founds his moral principles shoulder, tell him he is a man of honour, and that, if upon the Moral Law, yet feels that it is more diffi- he had not shot at his acquaintance, we would never cult to conform to that law when he is discounte-have dined with him again. “Revolting and disnanced by the general notions than if those notions gusting depravity” are at once excluded from our supported and encouraged him. What then must vocabulary. We substitute such phrases as "the the effect of such misdirection be upon those to course which a gentleman is obliged to pursue whom acceptance in the world is the principle con- “it was necessary to his honour"_" one could not cern, and who, if others applaud or smile, seem to
have associated with him if he had not fought." be indifferent whether their own hearts condemn We are the schoolboys, grown up; and by the abthem?
surdity, and more than absurdity of our phrases and Now, with a participation in the evils which the actions, shooting or drowning (it matters not which) misdirection of public opinion occasions, every one
becomes the practice of the national school. is chargeable who speaks of moral actions accord- It
not a trifling question that a man puts to ing to a standard that varies from that which Chris- himself when he asks, What is the amount of my tianity has exhibited. Here is the cause of the evil, contribution to this detestable practice? It is by and here must be its remedy. “ It is an important individual contributions to the public notions respectmaxim in morals as well as in education to call things ing it that the practice is kept up. Men do not fire by their right names.” “ To bestow good names at one another because they are fond of risking their on bad things, is to give them a passport in the own lives or other men's, but because public notions world under a delusive disguise.” | « The soft are such as they are. Nor do I think any deducnames and plausible colours under which deceit, tion can be more manifestly just, than that he who sensuality, and revenge are presented to us in com- contributes to the misdirection of these notions is mon discourse, weaken by degrees our natural sense responsible for a share of the evil and the guilt. of the distinction between good and evil.” | Pub- When some offence has given probability to a duel, lic notions of morality constitute a sort of line of every man acts immorally who evinces any disposidemarcation, which is regarded by most men in their tion to coolness with either party until he has repractice as a boundary between right and wrong. solved to fight; and if eventually one of them falls, He who contributes to fix this boundary in the he is a party to his destruction. Every word of wrong place, who places evil on the side of virtue, unfriendliness, every look of indifference, is positive or goodness on the side of vice, offends more deeply guilt; for it is such words and such looks that drive against the morality and the welfare of the world, men to their pistols. It is the same after a victim than multitudes who are punished by the arm of law. has fallen. “I pity his family, but they have the If moral offences are to be estimated by their con- consolation of knowing that he vindicated his honsequences, few will be found so deep as that of habi. our,” is equivalent to urging another and another tually giving good names to bad things. It is well to fight. Every heedless gossip who asks, “ Have indeed for the responsibility of individuals that their you heard of this affair of honour ?” and every contribution to the aggregate mischief is commonly reporter of news who relates it as a proper and nesmail
. Yet every man should remember that it is cessary procedure, participates in the general crime. by the contribution of individuals that the aggre.
If they who hear of an intended meeting amongst their friends hasten to manifest that they will con
tinue their intercourse with the parties though they Rees's Encyclop. Art. Philos. Moral. + Knox's Essays, No. 34.
Blair, Serm. 9. do not fight—if none talks of vindicating honour by
demanding satisfaction if he who speaks and he who Dr Carpenter insists upon similar truths upon somewhat different subjects. “If children hear us express as much ap
writes of this atrocity, speaks and writes as reason probation, and in the same terms, of the skill of a gentlemen and morals dictate, duelling will soon disappear from coach.driver, of the abilities of a philosopbica) lecturer, and of the world. To contribute to the suppression of the an individual who has just performed an elevated act of disinterested virtue, is it possible that they should not feel great
custom is therefore easy, and let no man, and let no confusion of ideas? If each is termed a noble fellorr, and with woman, who does not, as occasion offers, express the same emphasis and animation, how can the youthful understanding calculate with sufficient accuracy so as to appre
reprobation of the custom, think that their hands ciate the import of the expression in the same way that we
are clear of blood. They especially are responsible should do 7" Principles of Education--Conscience.
for its continuance whose station or general charace
ter gives peculiar influence to their opinions in its fact contributing, according to the speaker's power, favour. What then are we to think of the conduct to desolate provinces and set villages in flames, to of a British Judge who encourages it from the ruin thousands and destroy thousands—to inflict, in bench? A short time ago a person was tried on the brief, all the evils and the miseries which war inPerth circuit for murder, having killed another in a flicts. “Splendours,"_“ Glories,”—“ Honours !". duel. The evidence of the fact was undisputed. the listening soldier wants to signalize himself like Before the verdict was pronounced, the judge is said the heroes who are departed; he wants to thrust his to have used these words in his address to the jury: sickle into the fields of fame and reap undying lau“ The character you have beard testified by so many rels :—How shall he signalize himself without a war, respectable and intelligent gentleman this day, is as and on what field can he reap glory but in the field high as is possible for man to receive, and I consider of battle ? The consequence is inevitable: Multithat throughout this affair the panel has acted up to tudes desire war ;-they are fond of war--and it reit.” So that it is laid down from the bench that the quires no sagacity to discover, that to desire and to man who shoots another through the heart for love it is to make it likely to happen. Thus a perstriking him with an umbrella, acts up to the highest petual motive to human destruction is created, of possible character of man! The prisoner, although which the tendency is as inevitable as the tendency every one knew he had killed the deceased, was of a stone to fall to the earth. The present state of acquitted, and the judge is reported to have ad public opinion manifestly promotes the recurrence of dressed him thus: “ You must be aware that the wars of all kinds, necessary (if such there are) and only duty I have to perform is to dismiss you from unnecessary It promotes wars of pure aggression, that bar with a character unsullied." * If the of the most unmingled wickedness; promoted the judge's language be true, Christianity is an idle fic- wars of the departed Louises and Napoleons. It tion. Who will wonder at the continuance of duel- awards“ glory to the soldier wherever be his ling, who will wonder that upon this subject the achievements and in whatever cause. Moral Law is disregarded, if we are to be told that Now, waiving the after consideration as to the “ unsullied character”-nay, that “the highest pos- nature of Glory itself, the individual may judge of sible character of man," is compatible with tramp- his duties with respect to public opinion by its effects. ling Christianity under our feet?
To minister to the popular notions of glory is to enHow happy would it be for our country and for courage needless wars; it is therefore his duty not the world, how truly glorious for himself, if the king to minister to those notions. Common talk by a would act towards the duellist as his mother acted man's fireside contributes its little to the universal towards women who had lost their reputation. She evil, and sbares in the universal offence. Of the rigidly excluded them from her presence. If the writers of some books it is not too much to supBritish Monarch refused to allow the man who had pose, that they have occasioned more murders than fought a duel to approach him, it is probable that all the clubs and pistols of assassins for ages have erelong duelling would be abolished, not merely in effected. Is there no responsibility for this? this country but in the Christian world. Nor will But perhaps it will afford to some men new ideas true Christian respect be violated by the addition, if we enquire what the real nature of the military that in proportion to the power of doing good is the virtues is. They receive more of applause than virresponsibility for omitting it.
tues of any other kind. How does this happen? GLORY: MILITARY VIRTUES.-- To prove that war We must seek a solution in the seeming paradox, that is an evil were much the same as to prove that the their pretensions to the characters of Virtues are light of the sun is a good. And yet, though no one few and small. They receive much applause because will dispute the truth, there are few who consider, they merit little. They could not subsist without it; and fey who know how great the evil is. The and if men resolve to practise war, and consequently practice is encircled with so many glittering fic- to require the conduct which gives success to war, tions, that most men are content with but a they must decorate that conduct with glittering fievague and inadequate idea of the calamities, moral, tions, and extol the military virtues though they be physical, and political, which it inflicts upon our neither good nor great. Of every species of real species. But if few men consider how prodigious excellence it is the general characteristic that it is its mischiefs are, they see enough to agree in not anxious for applause. The more elevated the the conclusion, that the less frequently it happens virtue the less the desire, and the less is the public the better for the common interests of man. Sup- voice a motive to action. What should we say of posing then that some wars are lawful and unavoid- that man's benevolence who would not relieve a able, it is nevertheless manifest, that whatever tends neighbour in distress unless the donation would be to make them more frequent than necessity requires, praised in a newspaper ? What should we say of that must be very pernicious to mankind. Now, in con- man's piety who prayed only when he was seen of sequence of a misdirection of public notions, this men?" But the military virtues live upon applause; needless frequency exists. Public opinion is favour- | it is their vital element and their food, their great able, not so much to war in the abstract or in prac- | pervading motive and reward. Are there, then, tice, as to the profession of arms; and the inevitable amongst the respective virtues such discordances of consequence is this, that war itself is greatly pro- character-such total contrariety of nature and esmoted without reference to the causes for which it sence ? No, No, But how, tben, do you account for may be undertaken. By attaching notions of honour the fact, that whilst all other great virtues are into the military profession, and of glory to military dependent of public praise and stand aloof from it, achievements, three wars probably have been occa- the military virtues can scarcely exist without it! sioned where there otherwise would have been but It is again a characteristic of exalted Virtue, that
To talk of the “ splendours of conquest," and it tends to produce exalted virtues of other kinds. the “ glories of victory,” to extol those who “ fall He that is distinguished by diffusive benevolence, is covered with honour in their country's cause,” is to rarely chargeable with profaneness or debauchery. occasion the recurrence of wars, not because they are The man of piety is not seen drunk. The man of necessary, but because they are desired. It is in candour and humility is not vindictive or unchaste.
Can the same thing be predicated of the tendency of • The Trial is reported in the Caledonian Mercury o: Sep
military virtues? Do they tend powerfully to the tember 25, 1826.
i production of all other virtues ? Is the brave man
peculiarly pious ? Is the military patriot peculiarly | aright. Yet the popular notion appears to be, that haste ? Is he who pants for glory and acquires it, the display of talent in a military leader is, per se, listinguished by unusual placability and temperance ? entitled to praise. You might as well applaud the No no. How then do you account for the fact, that dexterity of a corrupt minister of state. The truth vhilst other virtues thus strongly tend to produce is, that talent, as such, is not a proper subject of end to foster one another,* the military virtues have moral approbation any more than strength or beauty. ittle of such tendency, or none ?
But if we thus take away from the “ glories ” of The simple truth, however veiled and however un- military leaders all but that which is founded upon pelcome, is this, that the military virtues will not the causes in which their talents were engaged, what ndure examination. They are called what they are will remain to the Alexanders, and the Cæsars, and lot, or what they are in a very inferior degree to the Jenghizes, and the Louises, and the Charleses, hat which popular notions imply. It would not and the Napoleons, with whose “ glories" the idle erve the purposes of war to represent these quali- voice of fame is filled ?" Tout ce qui peut être comies as being what they are; we therefore dress mun aux bons et aux méchans, ne le rend point vé. bem with factitious and alluring ornaments; and ritablement estimable.” Cannot military talents be hey have been dressed so long that we admire the exhibited indifferently by the good and the bad ! how, and forget to enquire what is underneath. Are they not in fact as often exhibited by vicious Dur applauses of military virtues do not adorn them men as by virtuous ? They are, and therefore they ike the natural bloom of loveliness; it is the paint are not really deserving of praise. But if any man of that which, if seen, would not attract, if it did not should say that the circumstance of a leader's exert. 'epel us. They are not like the verdure which ing his talents “ for his king and country” is of itdorns the meadow, but the greenness that conceals self a good cause, and therefore entitles him to praise, · boy. If the reader says that we indulge in decla- | I answer that such a man is deluding himself with nation, we invite, we solieit him to investigate the idle fictions. I hope presently to show this. Meanruth. And yet, without enquiring further, there is while it is to be remarked, that if this be a valid conclusive evidence in the fact, that glory, that claim to approbation, “ king and country” must alpraise, is the vital principle of military virtue. Let ways be in the right. Who will affirm this ? And is take sound rules for our guides of judgment, and yet, if it is not shown, you may as well applaud the t is not possible that we should regard any quality brigand chief with his thirty followers as the greater us possessing muc i virtue which lives only or chiefly marauder with his thirty thousand. apon praise. And who will pretend that the ranks Valour and bravery, however, may be exhibited by of armies would be filled if no tongue talked of the many-not by generals and admirals alone, but bravery and glory, and no newspaper published the by ensigns and midshipmen, by seamen and by priachievements of a regiment ? +
What then is valour, and what is bravery? “ Truth is a naked and open daylight, that doth“ There is nothing great but what is virtuous, nor not show the masques and mummeries and triumphs indeed truly great but what is composed and quiet.” * of the world half so stately and daintily as candle. There is much of truth in this. Yet where then is lights." | Let us dismiss, then, that candlelight exa- the greatness of bravery, for where is the composure mination which men are wont to adopt when they and quietude of the quality ? “ Valour or active contemplate military virtues, and see what appears courage is for the most part constitutional, and ance they exhibit in the daylight of truth. Military therefore can have no more claim to moral merit talent, and active courage, and patriotism, or some that wit, beauty, or health." + Accordingly, the cther motive, appear to be the foundations and the question which we have just asked respecting milisubjects of our applause.
tary talent, may be especially asked respecting With respect to talent little needs to be said, since bravery. Cannot bravery be exhibited in common few have an opportunity of displaying it. An able by the good and the bad ? -Yet further. general may exhibit his capacity for military affairs; great weakness for a man to value himself upon any but of the mass of those who join in battles and par- thing wherein he shall be outdone by fools and ticipate in their “ glories,” little more is expected brutes.” Is not the bravery of the bravest outdone than that they should be obedient and brave. And even by brutes. When the soldier has vigouras to the few who have the opportunity of displaying ously assaulted the enemy, when though repulsed talent and who do display it, it is manifest that their he returns to the conflict, when being wounded he claims to merit, independently of the purpose to
still brandishes his sword, till it drops from his grasp which their talent is devoted, is little or none. A by faintness or death--he surely is brave.
What man deserves no applause for the possession or for then is the moral rank to which he has attained ? the exercise of talent as such. One man may possess
He has attained to the rank of a bull-dog. The dog, and exercise as much ability in corrupting the prin- too, vigourously assails his enemy; when tossed into ciples of his readers, as another who corrects and the air he returns to the contlict ; when gored he purifies them. One man may exhibit as much ability still continues to bite, and yields not his hold until in swindling, as another in effectually legislating he is stunned or killed. Contemplating bravery as against swindlers. To applaud the possession of ta
such, there is not a man in Britain or in Europe bent is absurd, and, like many other absurd actions, is whose bravery entitles him to praise which he must greatly pernicious. Our approbation should depend not share with the combatants of a cockpit. Of the on the objects upon which the talent is employed. moral qualities that are components of bravery, the Military talents, like all others, are only so far pro
reader may form some conception from this language per subjects of approbation as they are employed of a man who is said to be a large landed proprietor,
“ It is a
a magistrate, and a member of parliament. “ I am • " The virtues are nea: ly related, and live in the greatest one of those who think that evil alone does not reharmony with each other."--OPIE. + It is pleasant to hear an intelligent woman say, "I cannot
sult from poaching. The risk poachers run from tell how or why the love of glory is a less selfish principle than the dangers that beset them, added to their occupathe love of riches :" | and it is pleasant to hear one of our then
tion being carried on in cold dark nights, begets a principal Reviews say, “ Glory is the most selfish of all passions
hardihood of frame and contempt of danger that is except love." That which is selfish can hardly be very vir.
not without its value. I never heard or knew of a Lord Bacon: E ays. | Momoirs of late Jane Taylor, West, Rev. No. 13. + sviune Jenins : Internal E id. of Christianity, Prop. 3.
poacher being a coward. They all make good sols father is more patriotic than his neighbour, who des. diers ; and military men are well aware that two or tines his son for the bar ! Or if the boy himself three men in each troop or company, of bold and begs his father to buy an ensigncy, is it because he enterprising spirits, are not without their effect on loves his country, or is it because he dreams of glory, their comrades.” The same may of course be said and admires scarlet and plumes and swords? The of smugglers and highwaymen. If these are the officer enters the service in order that he may obtain characters in whom we are peculiarly to seek for an income, not in order to benefit his fellow citizens. bravery, what are the moral qualities of bravery | The private enters it because he prefers a soldier's itself! All just, all rational, and I will venture to life to another, or because he has no wish but tbe affirm all permanent reputation refers to the mind or wish for change. And having entered the army, to virtue; and what connexion has animal power or what is the motive that induces the private or his animal hardihood with intellect or goodness? I do superiors to fight ! It is that fighting is part of not decry courage : he who was better acquainted their business; that it is one of the conditions upon than we are with the nature and worth of human which they were hired. Patriotism is not the moactions, attached much value to courage, but he at- tive. Of those who fall in battle, is there one in a tached none to bravery.* Courage he recommended hundred who even thinks of his country's good! by his precepts and enforced by his example : bravery He thinks perhaps of glory and of the fame of his regihe never recommended at all. The wisdom of this ment-he hopes perhaps that “Salamanca” or “ Ausdistinction and its accordancy with the principles of terlitz" will henceforth be inscribed on its colours; but his r'eligion are plain. Bravery requires the exis- rational views of his country's welfare are foreign to tence of many of those dispositions which he disa!- his mind. He has scarcely a thought about the matlowed. Animosity, the desire of retaliation, the ter. He fights in battle as a horse draws in a car. disposition to injure and destroy--all this is necessary riage, because he is compelled to do it, or because to the existence of bravery, but all this is incompa- he has done it before ; buc he probably thinks no tible with Christianity. The courage which Christi- more of his country's good than the same borse, if anity requires is to bravery what fortitude is to he were carrying corn to a granary, would think he daring --an effort of the mental principles rather was providing for the comforts of his master. The than of the spirits. It is a calm steady determinate- truth therefore is, that we give to the soldier that ness of purpose, that will not be diverted by solici. of which we are wont to be sufficiently sparing-a tation or awed by fear. “ Behold, I go bound in the gratuitous concession of merit. If he but “fights spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall | bravely,” he is a patriot and secure of his praise. befall me there; save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth To sacrifice our lives for the liberties and laws in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide and religion of our native land, are undoubtedly
But none of these things move me, neither high-sounding words; but who are they that will count I my life dear unto myself.”+ What resem- do it? Who is it that will sacrifice his life for his blance has bravery to courage like this? This country? Will the senator who supports a war! courage is a virtue, and a virtue which it is difficult Will the writer who declaims upon patriotism Will to acquire or to practise; and we have heedlessly or the minister of religion who recommends the sacriingeniously transferred its praise to another quality fice? Take away war and its fictions, and there is which is inferior in its nature and easier to acquire, not a man of them who will do it. Will he sacrifice in order that we may obtain the reputation of virtue his life at home? If the loss of his life in London at a cheap rate.
or at York would procure just so much benefit to Of those who thus extol the lower qualities of our his country as the loss of one soldier's in the field, nature, few perhaps are conscious to what a degree would he be willing to lay his head upon the block ! they are deluded. In exhibiting this delusion let us Is he willing, for such a contribution to his country's not forget the purpose for which it is done. The good, to resign himself without notice and without popular notion respecting bravery does not terminate remembrance to the executioner? Alas for the ficin an innoxious mistake. The consequences are
tions of war! where is such a man? Men will not practically and greatly evil. He that has placed sacrifice their lives at all unless it be in war; and his hopes upon the praises of valour, desires of course they do not sacrifice them in war from motives of an opportunity of acquiring them, and this oppor- | patriotism. In no rational use of language, theretunity he cannot find but in the destruction of men. fore, can it be said that the soldier « dies for his That such powerful motives will lead to tbis de- | country.” struction when even ambition can scarcely find a Not that there may not be or that there have not pretext, we need not the testimony of experience to been persons who fight from motives of patriotism.
It is enough that we consider the prin- But the occurrence is comparatively rare. There ciples which actuate mankind.
may be physicians who qualify themselves for pracAnd if we turn from actions to motives, from tice from motives of benevolence to the sick; or bravery to patriotism, we are presented with similar lawyers who assume the gown in order to plead for delusions, and with similar mischiefs as their conse- the injured and oppressed; but it is an unusual moquence, To " fight nobly for our country,” to “fall tive, and so is patriotism to the soldier. covered with glory in our country's cause," to“ And after all, even if all soldiers fought out of crifice our lives for the liberties and laws and reli- zeal for their country, what is the merit of Patriotgion of our country,” are phrases in the mouth of ism itself? I do not say that it possesses no virtue, multitudes. What do they mean, and to whom do but I affirm and hope hereafter to show, that its virthey apply? We contend, that to say generally of tue is extravagantly overrated, * and that if every those who perish in war that “they have died for one who fought did fight for his country, he would their country," is simply untrue : and for this simple often be actuated only by a mode of selfishness-of reason, that they did not fight for it. It is not true selfishness which sacrifices the general interests of that patriotism is their motive. Why is a boy des- the species to the interests of a part. tined from school for the army? Is it that his Such and so low are the qualities which hare ob
tained from deluded and deluding millions, fame, “Whatever merit valour may have assumed among Pagans, honours, glories. A prodigious structure, and almost with Christians it can pretend to none." Soanne Jenyns : Internal Evid. of Christianity, Prop. 3. Acts xx. 22.
• Essay 3, c. 17.