صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

that the Moral Law had not yet been discovered at the close of the seventeenth century. Leibnitz and Bossuet also, as the "eclectic" Jouffroy (Cours de Droit Naturel, 1835, Legon XVI.) admits, treats Ethics as the investigation of Happiness, and the means to its attainment. So also the moralists of the eighteenth century conceive of Ethics quite in the spirit of the ancients. Rousseau himself, notwithstanding the celebrated passage on Conscience, deals always with virtue rather than with obligation. And by Rousseau's contemporaries, the notion of virtue is almost ridden to death, just as it was in the days of Seneca and Plutarch.

It is not till we come to Kant and the modern eclectics who endeavour to harmonise his ideas with those of the ancients, that the doctrine of Duty as Obligation assumes the importance now generally attributed to it. I am far from wanting to deny the importance of this doctrine, and I certainly recognize its high practical value. Nor would I be disposed to quarrel with the assertion that its explicit recognition marks an important advance in philosophical thought. This will, I hope, appear more clearly in the course of the ensuing discussion. Of a truth my objection to the ordinary view of duty, and its place in a philosophy of morals, is in the main a methodological one. What I demand is some kind of proof of the fact of Obligation itself. It is little short of monstrous that moralists, whose views on moral science are fundamentally opposed to the whole trend of philosophical tradition, should present as a first principle, and label it self-evident,” a notion for which

a notion for which the only justification attempted is its alleged agreement with ordinary “common. sense,” and which, moreover, the great mass of philosophers of all ages have either ignored or explicitly rejected.

Another remarkable peculiarity of "eclectic” moralists is that no sooner have they propounded their definition of Ethics than they quietly drop it altogether, and not content with committing a petitio principii, proceed to contradict their own fundamental assertion. For if Duty be the formal object of Ethical Science, then surely mere consistency demands that all other ethical conceptions, and in particular the ideas of right and wrong, should be deduced from the principle. In other words, in order to be consistent, "eclectic ” Ethics should declare with Kant that the right is what is commanded, and

not what is commanded is right. Nevertheless, as we shall see later, the writers in question have invariably refused to follow Kant in this particular. They, on the contrary, declare that certain actions are commanded, and others forbidden precisely because the former are right while the latter are wrong. Thus, even on their own showing, would it not be better to confess at once with Aristotle and the “plain ” man (as Sidgwick calls him), that the object of Ethics is the summum Bonum, and then, if you think it well, to go on to shew that we are commanded to pursue the good, instead of prejudicing the whole question at the outset, by an arbitrary definition, and treating as self-evident what obviously needs to be proved ?



Prone on the plain the mighty Pharaoh lies,

Around him spread the tawny glistening sands,

Above him, tall, the feathery palm-tree stands,
And mournful flutters when the night-wind sighs.
Into his face, like sombre memories,

The scornful centuries have burnt their brands,

More bitter than the work of foeman's hands,
Stone-deaf forgetfulness, starved fame that dies.

Yet this was he whose far-stretched sceptre swayed

A hundred vassal kingdoms, whose mere nod,
Millions of troops, and toiling slaves obeyed,

Nile's sun-clad conqueror and demi-god ;-
Some gaping guide-book-tourist on the wing,

Wonders :-“Who was he?”—Oh! some old Egyptian king !


Views and Reviews.

PANAMA V. NICARAGUA. One of the most important questions engaging the attention of the American people has just now reached its final stage. The Senate has empowered the President to purchase from the French Panama Canal Company all its rights, and has also supplied him with funds for beginning the work. In the event of his failing to secure the rights of the Panama, he is empowered to negotiate for the construction of an interoceanic, via Nicaragua. It may, therefore, be of interest to briefly review the points urged before the Commission appointed by the United States in favour of the rival claims of Panama and Nicaragua as canal routes. From the engineers' standpoint the Panama route is undoubtedlysuperior. In the first place, it is much shorter, the distance from deep water on the east to deep water on the west being not quite 50 miles, while at Nicaragua the distance would exceed 180 miles. It is true that at Nicaragua the San Juan river, when canalised, would supply 50 miles, and Lake Nicaragua 20 miles, of the total distance, while Lake Bohio, on the Panama route, supplies 11 miles only, but there would remain nearly 74 miles to be excavated at Nicaragua, as against less than 40 at Panama. It must also be remembered that at Panama much of the preliminary work has been done by the old French company. The summit level on the proposed Nicaragua canal would be about 110 feet, while at Panama it would be 20 feet less, and at Panama only five locks would be required, while at Nicaragua eight would be necessary. In one particular the Nicaragua route presents less difficulty than the Panama, and that is the making of the dam which it is necessary to construct to contain the head waters on both routes. At Nicaragua this dam would be 1,270 feet in length, and the depth to be excavated to reach a rock foundation would be comparatively small, while at Lake Bohio on the proposed Panama Canal the dam should be 2,550 feet in length, of which over 1,300 feet should be constructed by the pneumatic process, while the depth to a good rock foundation would be greater than at Nicaragua. The termini of the Panama Canal are furnished with natural harbours which would require little attention, while at Nicaragua artificial harbours should be built. At Panama the water level would be maintained automatically, while at Nicaragua skilled operators would be required to regulate the level, and much more extensive water ways should be constructed to dispose of the surplus waters. The Panama Canal would be much straighter than the proposed canal at Nicaragua, and the curves would also be less sharp. This is a very important point when we bear in mind that the tendency now-a-days is to build ships of great length. As regards the actual carrying out of operations, the balance seems to be somewhat in favour of Panama, for fewer points of operations would be necessary on the shorter line, and the character of the work can be more accurately forecast.

Panama has certainly obtained a bad name owing to the collapse of the French operations, but it must be remembered that gross mismanagement contributed largely to this result. Workmen were employed who were completely unsuited to the climatic conditions, and no sanitary precautions were taken to avoid the outbreak of disease. The French failure has taught its lesson, and a similar disaster can now be avoided, but Nicaragua has not yet been tried, and it would be unsafe to assume that it would not present as great difficulties. Considered, therefore, as an engineering work, the balance is greatly in favour of the Panama route.

From the traders' point of view, the advantage is all on the side of Panama. The time of transit via Panama being only ten hours, while at Nicaragua the passage would require thirty-three hours, there is a clear gain of a day.

And it must also be remembered that the timethirty-three hours—at Nicaragua supposes a continuous passage.

It does not appear very probable that this minimum time could ever be attained, for it might not be possible to illuminate the Nicaragua Canal effectually, and captains of the larger steamers are very averse to travelling in restricted channels, even by day, so that in all probability the estimate should be increased so as to provide for tieing up for at least one night. When we remember that a steamer covers between 450 and 500 miles in a day, the advantage of the shorter passage becomes inore apparent. Both canals would do away with the nccessity, in a voyage from Europe to the Far East, of a passage through the cold and stormy southern latitudes with the rounding of the Horn, and both would diminish the distance, but there would be a clear day in favour of Panama. Only sailing vessels follow this route to New Zealand and Australia now, but the cutting of a canal at Panama would be sure to turn a large part of the Australian and New Zealand steam traffic in that direction.

It appears then, that for the general trade of the world, the Panama route is undoubtedly the best. The American Commission naturally looked at the canal problem from the American trade standpoint. On the assumption of a continuous passage at Nicaragua that route would be shorter by from one to two days for the heavy traffic between the Eastern States and the Western Coast of N. America, while the Panama Canal would be preferable for the trade between the Eastern States and the Western Coast of S. America. The possibility of adequately lighting the Canal at Nicaragua is, as we have said, very doubtful, and should it prove impracticable, the advantage of Nicaragua for this local traffic would almost disappear. At Panama no difficulty of this kind would present itself, for the passage would be made in ten hours, and the route could be adequately illuminated. The straightness of the Panama Canal, tu which we have already alluded, would also be evidently an advantage to the larger ships. The slow travelling for 33 hours via Nicaragua as against 10 hours via Panama would also, as ships are built to travel faster, tend to diminish the apparent advantage of Nicaragua. Both canals would be practically useless for sailing ships, but when we consider that the sailing ship is not even now a serious competitor of the steamer, and that at the present rate of decline the sailer will soon have disappeared, this is not a point of very great importance.

As regaris the question of cost, the Panaina route has again the advantage. The Nicaragua Canal was estimated to cost £38,000,000,

and the Panama Canal, taking in the £8,000,000 paid to the French company, about £1,100,000 less. This is a very small difference, considering the magnitude of the whole sum involved, but it does not fully express the balance in favour of Panama ; for it is to be noted that the cost of the up-keep of the Nicaragua Canal would exceed that of the Panama Canal by about £270,000 a year, the capitalized value of which should be charged to the construction expenses at Nicaragua to make the comparison equitable.

With the facts which tell so much in favour of the Panama route before them, it would at first sight seem surprising that the U.S. Commission decided in November, 1900, and November, 1901, in favour of the Nicaragua Canal. The explanation is to be found in the political considerations involved. In these years there appeared to be no chance of coming to terms with the French company, and American control of the waterway seemed impracticable. This led to the reports of 1900 and 1901 against the Panama scheme. But by January, 1902, the situation had changed; the French company were willing to sell, and a neutralised canal on the pattern of the Suez Canal seemed to the Commissioners preferable to a completely American waterway. In fact, while the French company can give the American Government the control they need of the canal and immediately adjacent country, it appears much more difficult to acquire similar rights for Nicaragua from the Governments of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

The final report in the beginning of the present year, with the recent grant of powers to the President, make it now almost certain that the Panama route will be soon in process of construction. It is expecte i that the canal will be completed about the end of the year 1913. For the general interests of the world's commerce it will, we think, be agreed that the better route has been selected.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Lucius Flavus.An Historical Tale of the Time immediately preceding

the Destruction of Jerusalem. By the Rev. Joseph SPILLMANN, S.J.

B. Herder : Freiburg im Breisgau. 6s. Lucius Flavus is a tale of the years 66-70 A.D., the scene of which is laid in Jerusalem, Rome, and Cæsarea. Following the precedent of most historical novelists, the author takes fictitious persons for his chief characters, and, whilst treating them individuality, makes use of them as links to join the great historical events of the period, with which he is dealing, and of which it is his main object to give a vivid and graphic presentment, to clothe with flesh and blood, so to speak, the dry bones of the chronicler, so that the reader may be able to live over again the life of a byegone time with its manners, customs, ideas, and prejudices, and to feel the throb of the great passions which then agitated men's hearts, and swayed the fate of nations.

Lucius is a young Roman tribune of the twelfth legion. Brave, noble, and generous, he is a stranger to the vices to which the generality of his countrymen were addicted during the degenerate days of the Empire. During his stay in Jerusalem he is irresistibly drawn to contrast the morals of the Romans with those of the despised


« السابقةمتابعة »