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MORAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
the natural passions. Thus it allows of fornication, adultery, drunkenness, prodigality, duelling, and of revenge in the extreme; and lays no stress upon the virtues opposite to these.
The Law of the Land. MORAL Philosophy, Morality, Ethics, Casuistry, Natural Law, mean all the same thing; Law of Honour, often make the Law of the Land
That part of mankind, who are beneath the namely, that science which teaches men their duty their rule of life'; that is, they are satisfied with and the reasons of it.
The use of such a study depends upon this, themselves, so long as they do or omit nothing, that, without it, the rules of lite, by which men
for the doing or omitting of which the law can are ordinarily governed, oftentimes mislead them, punish them. through a defect, either in the rule, or in the ap-sidered as a rule of live, labours under the two
Whereas every system of human laws, conplication.
These rules are, the Law of Honour, the Law following defects; of the Land, and the Scriptures.
I. Human laws omit many duties, as not objects of compulsion; such as piety to God, bounty to the poor, forgiveness of injuries, education of
children, gratitude to benefactors. CHAPTER II.
The law never speaks but to command, nor
commands but where it can compel: consequently, The Law of Honour.
those duties, which by their nature must be rolun
tary, are left out of the statute book, as lying beThe Law of Honour is a system of rules con- yond the reach of its operation and authority. structed by people of fashion, and calculated to II. Human laws permit, or which is the same Excilitate their intercourse with one another; and thing, suffer to go unpunished, many crimes, befor no other purpose.
cause they are incapable of being defined by any Consequently, nothing is adverted to by the previous description. Of which nature are luxury, Law of Honour, but what tends to incommode prodigality, partiality in voting at those elections this intercourse.
in which the qualifications of the candidate ought Hence this law only prescribes and regulates to determine the success, caprice in the disposition the duties betwixt equals; omitting such as relate of men’s fortunes at their death, disrespect to to the Supreme Being, as well as those which we parents, and a multitude of similar examples. ove to our inferiors. For which reason, profane For, this is the alternative: either the law must Desz, neglect of public worship or private devotion, define beforehand, and with precision, the offences cruelty to servants
, rigorous treatment of tenants which it punishes; or it must be left to the discreor other dependants, want of charity to the poor, tion of the magistrate, to determine upon each injuries done to tradesrnen by insolvency, or delay particular accusation, whether it constitute that of payment, with numberless examples of the same offence which the law designed to punish, or not; kini, are accounted no breaches of honour; be which is, in effect, leaving to the magistrate to cauze a man is not a less agreeable companion for punish, or not to punish, at his pleasure, the inthese vices, nor the worse to deal with, in those dividual who is brought before him; which is just concerns which are usually transacted between so much tyranny. Where, therefore, as in the in. one gentleman and another.
stances above mentioned, the distinction between Again; the Law of Honour, being constituted right and wrong is of too subtile, or of too secret, by men occupied in the pursuit of pleasure, and a nature, to be ascertained by any preconcerted for the mutual conveniency of such men, will \ language, the law of most countries, especially of be found), as might be expected from the character free states, rather than commit the liberty of the and design of the law-makers, to be, in most in- subject to the discretion of the magistrateg, leaves stances, favourable to the licentious indulgence of men in such cases to themselves.
Besides this, the Scriptures commonly pre-supThe Scriptures.
pose in the person to whom they speak, a know
ledge of the principles of natural justice; and are WHOEVER expects to find in the Scriptures a employed not so much to teach new rules of specific direction for every moral doubt that arises, morality, as to enforce the practice of it by new looks for more than he will meet with. And tó sanctions, and by a greater certainty; which last what a magnitude such a detail of particular pre- seems to be the proper business of a revelation cepts would have enlarged the sacred volume, from God, and what was most wanted. may be partly understood from the following con Thus the “unjust, covenant-breakers, and exsideration : -The laws of this country, including tortioners," are condemned in Scripture, supposing the acts of the legislature, and the decisions of our it known, or leaving it, where it admits of doubt, supreme courts of justice, are not contained in a to moralists to determine, what injustice, extortion, fewer than fifty folio volumes. And yet it is not or breach of covenant, are. once in ten attempts that you can find the case The above considerations are intended to prove you look for, in any law book whatever: to say that the Scriptures do not supersede the use of the nothing of those numerous points of conduct, con- science of which we profess to treat, and at the cerning which the law protesses not to prescribe same time to acquit them of any charge of imper. or determine any thing. Had then the same par- fection or insufficiency on that account. ticularity, which obtains in human laws so far as they go, been attempted in the Scriptures, throughout the whole extent of morality, it is manifest they would have been by much too bulky to be
CHAPTER V. either read or circulated; or rather, as St. John
The Moral Sense. says, even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."
" The father of Caius Toranius had been proMorality is taught in Scripture in this wise.- scribed by the triumvirate. Caius Torunius General rules are laid down, of piety, justice, coming over to the interests of that party, disbenevolence, and purity: such as worshiping God covered to the officers, who were in pursuit of his in spirit and in truth; doing as we would be done father's life, the place where he concealed himself, by; loving our neighbour as ourself; forgiving and gave them withal a description, by which others, as we expect forgiveness from God; that they might distinguish his person, when they mercy is better than sacritice; that not that which found him. The old man, more anxious for the entereth into a man, (nor, by parity of reason, safety and fortunes of his son, than about the little any ceremonial pollutions, but that which pro- that might remain of his own life, began immeceedeth from the heart, detileth him. These rules diately to inquire of the officers who seized him, are occasionally illustrated, either by fictitious ex- whether his son was well, whether he had done amples, as in the parable of the good Samaritan; his duty to the satisfaction of his generals. “That and of the cruel servant, who refused to his fellow-son (replied one of the officers,) so dear to thy servant that indulgence and compassion which affections, betrayed thee to us; by his information his master had shown to him: or in instances thou art apprehended, and diest.' The officer which actually presented themselres, as in Christ's with this, struck a poniard to his heart, and the reproof of his disciples at the Samaritan village; unhappy parent fell, not so much affected by his his praise of the poor widow, who cast in her last fate, as hy the means to which he owed it.'** mite; his censure of the Pharisees, who chose out Now the question is, whether, if this story were the chief rooms,—and of the tradition, whereby related to the wild hoy caught, some years ago, in they evaded the command to sustain their indigent the woods of Hanover, or to a savage without parents : or, lastly, in the resolution of questions, experience, and without instruction, cut ofl
' in his which those who were about our Saviour proposed infancy from all intercourse with his species, and, to him; as his answer to the young man who consequently, under no possible influence of exasked him, “What lack I yet ?" and to the honest ample, authority, education, sympathy or habit ; scribe, who had found out, even in that age and whether, I say, such a one would feel, upon the country, that “to love God and his neighbour, relation, any degree of that sentiment of disapwas more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacri- probation of Toranius’s conduct which we teel, fice.”
or not? And this is in truth the way in which all prac They who maintain the existence of a moral tical sciences are taught, as Arithmetic, Grammar, sense; of innate maxims; of a natural conscience; Navigation, and the like.--Rules are laid down that the love of virtue and hatred of vice are inand examples are suljoined: not that these ex-stinctive; or the perception of right and wrong amples are the cases, much less all the cases, intuitive; (all which are only different ways of which will actually occur; but by way only of expressing the same opinion,) affirm that he explaining the principle of the rule, and as so
would. many specimens of the method of applying it.The chief difference is, that the examples in *"Caius Toranius triumvirum partes secutus, proScripture are not annexed to the rules with the scripti patris sui prætorii et ornati viri latebras, atatem, didactic regularity to which we are now-a-days notasque corporis, quibus agnosci posset, centurionibus accustomed, but delivered dispersedly, as particular edidit, quicun, persecuti sunt. Senex de filii magis vita occasions suggested them; which gave them, incolumis esset, et an impratoribus satisfaceret, inter. bowever, (especially to those who heard them, rogare eos coepit. E quibus imus: Ab illo,' inquit, and were present to the occasions which produced quem tantopere diligis, deinonstratus nostro ministerio, them,) an energy and persuasion, much beyond fili indicio occideris: protinusque pectus ejus gladio what the same or any instances would have ap- quam ipsa caede, miserior."-VALER. MAX. lib. ix
trajecit. Collapsus itaque est infelix, auctore cælis peared with, in their places in a system.
They who deny the existence of a moral sense, of virtue, even in instances where we have no &c affirn that he would not.
interest of our own to induce us to it, may be nl upon this, issue is joined.
accounted for without the assistance of a moral As the erperiment has never been made, and, sense; thus: for the difliculty of procuring a subject (not to “Having experienced, in some instances, a parpantion the impossibility of proposing the question ticular conduct to be beneficial to ourselves, or to him, if we had one,) is never likely to be made, observed that it would be so, a sentiment of apwhat would be the event, can only be judged of probation rises up in our minds; which sentiment un probable reasons.
afterwards accompanies the idea or mention of the They who contend for the affirmative, observe, same conduct, although the private advantage that we approve examples of generosity, gratitude, which first excited it no longer exist." fillity, &c. and condemn the contrary, instantly, And this continuance of the passion, after the Trhout deliberation, without having any interest reason of it has ceased, is nothing more, say they, at our own concerned in them, oft-times without than what happens in other cases; especially in being conscious of, or able to give any reason for, the love of money, which is in no person so eager, our approbation: that this approbation is uniform as it is oftentimes found to be in a rich old miser, and universal, the same sorts of conduct being ap. without family to provide for, or friend to oblige proved and disapproved in all ages and countries of by it, and to whom, consequently, it is no longer tr Forkl; circumstances, say they, which strongly (and he may be sensible of it too) of any real use indicate the operation of an instinct or moral sense. or value; yet is this man as much overjoyed with
On the other hand, answers have been given to gain, and mortified by losses, as he was the first most of these arguments, by the patrons of the day he opened his shop, and when his very subof site system: and,
sistence depended upon his success in it. First, as to the uniformity above alleged, they By these means the custom of approving certain catrovert the fact. They remark, from authentic actions commenced : and when once such a cus2ounts of historians and travellers, that there is tom hath got footing in the world, it is no diffisaamely a single vice which, in some age or coun- cult thing to explain how it is transmitted and try of the world, has not been countenanced by continued; for then the greatest part of those who public opinion: that in one country, it is esteemed approve of virtue, approve of it from authority, by an office of piety in children to sustain their aged imitation, and from a habit of approving such and parents; in another to dispatch them out of the such actions, inculcated in early youth, and resay: that suicide, in one age of the world, has | ceiving, as men grow up, continual accessions of beca heroism, is in another felony: that theft, strength and vigour, from censure and encouragewhich is punished by most laws, by the laws of ment, from the books they read, the conversations Sprta was not unfrequently rewarded: that the they hear, the current application of epithets, the piuiniscuous coinmerce of thc sexes, although con- general turn of language, and the various other demned by the regulations and censure of all causes by which it universally comes to pass that avuized nations, is practised by the savages of the a society of men, touched in the feeblest degree tropical regions without reserve, compunction, or with the same passion, soon communicate to one dizace: that crimes, of which it is no longer another a great degree of it.* This is the case pemitted us even to speak, have had their advo- with most of us at present; and is the cause also, eztes amongst the sages of very renowned times: that the process of association, described in the that, if an inhabitant of the polished nations of last paragraph but one, is little now either perEurope be delighted with the appearance, wher-ceived or wanted. eter he meets with it, of happiness, tranquillity, Amongst the causes assigned for the continuand comfort, a wild American is no less diverted ance and diffusion of the same moral sentiments with the writhings and contortions of a victim at amongst mankind, we have mentioned imitation. the stake: that even amongst ourselves, and in The efficacy of this principle is most observable the present improved state of moral knowledge, in children: indeed, if there be any thing in them, we are far from a perfect consent in our opin- which deserves the name of an instinct, it is their ions or feelings: that you shall hear duelling propensity to imitation. Now there is nothing alternately reprobated and applauded, according which children imitate or apply more readily than to the sex, age or station, of the person you con- expressions of affection and aversion, of approbaverse with: that the forgiveness of injuries and tion, hatred, resentment, and the like; and when insults is accounted by one sort of people magna- these passions and expressions are once connected, nimity, by another meanness: that in the above which they soon will be by the same association instances, and perhaps in most others, moral ap- which unites words with their ideas, the passion probation follows the fashions and institutions of will follow the expression, and attach upon the the country we live in; which fashions also, and object to which the child has been accustomed to institutions themselves, have grown out of the apply the epithet. In a word, when almost every exigences, the climate, situation, or local circum- thing else is learned by imitation, can we wonder stances of the country; or have been set up by the authority of an arbitrary chieftain, or the un
* “From instances of popular tumults, seditions, fac. accountable caprice of the multitude: all which, tions, panics, and of all passions which are shared with they observe, looks very little like the steady hand a multitude, we may learn the influence of society, in and indelible characters of Nature. But,
exciting and supporting any emotion; while the most
ungovernable disorders are raised, we find, by that Secondly, because, after these exceptions and means, from the slightest and most frivolous occasions. sbatements, it cannot be denied but that some sorts of actions command and receive the esteem the common blaze. What wonder then, that moral of mankind more than others; and that the appro- sentiments are found of such influence in life, though bation of them is general though not universal: springing from principles, which may appear at first as to this they say, that the general approbation concerning the Principles of Morals, Secl. ix. p. 320.
He must be miore or less than man, who kindles not in
to find the same cause concerned in the generation | ate opposition to them, without a secret remorse of our inoral sentiments ?
of conscience. But this remorse may be borne Another considerable objection to the system of with: and if the sinner choose to bear with it, for moral instincts is this, that there are no maxims the sake of the pleasure or the profit which he in the science which can well be deemed innate, expects from his wickedness; or finds the pleaas none perhaps can be assigned, which are abso sure of sin to exceed the remorse of conscience, of lutely and universally true; in other words, which which he alone is the judge, and concerning which, do not bend to circumstances. Veracity, which when he feels them both together, he can hardly seems,
if any be, a natural duty, is excused in be mistaken, the moral-instinct man, so far as many cases towards an enemy, a thief, or a mad- I can understand, has nothing more to offer. man. The obligation of promises, which is a first For if he allege that these instincts are so many principle in morality, depends upon the circum- indications of the will of God, and consequently stances under which they were inade; they may presages of what we are to look for hereafter; have been unlawful, or become so since, or incon- this, I answer, is to resort to a rule and a motive sistent with former promises, or erroneous, or ulterior to the instincts themselves, and at which extorted; under all which cases, instances may rule and motive we shall by-and-by arrive by a be suggested, where the obligation to perform the surer road :- I say surer, so long as there remains promise would be very dubious; and so of most a controversy whether there be any instinctive other general rules, when they come to be actually maximns at all; or any difficulty in ascertaining applied.
what maxims are instinctive. An argument has been also proposed on the This celebrated question therefore becomes in same side of the question, of this kind. Together our system a question of pure curiosity; and as with the instinct, there must have been implanted, such, we dismiss it to the determination of those it is said, a clear and precise idea of the object who are more inquisitive, than we are concerned upon which it was to attach. The instinct and to be, about the natural history and constitution the idea of the object are inseparable even in ima- of the human species. gination, and as necessarily accompany each other as any correlative ideas whatever: that is, in plainer terms, if we be prompted by nature to the approbation of particular actions, we must have
CHAPTER VI. received also from nature a distinct conception of the action we are thus prompted to approve;
Human Happiness. which we certainly have not received.
The word happy is a relative term; that is, But as this argument bears alike against all when we call a man happy, we mean that he is instincts, and against their existence in brutes as happier than some others, with whom we comwell as in men, it will hardly, I suppose, produce pare him; than the generality of others; or than conviction, though it may be difficult to find an he himself was in some other situation: thus, answer to it.
speaking of one who has just compassed the obUpon the whole, it seems to me, either that ject of a long pursuit, —"Now," we say, “he is there exist no such instincts as compose what is happy;" and in a like comparative sense, comcalled the moral sense, or that they are not now pared, that is, with the general lot of mankind, we to be distinguished from prejudices and habits ; call a man happy who possesses health and comon which account they cannot be depended upon petency. in moral reasoning: I mean that it is not a safe In strictness, any condition may be denominated way of arguing, to assume certain principles as so happy, in which the amount or aggregate of pleamany dictates, impulses, and instincts of nature, sure exceeds that of pain; and the degree of and then to draw conclusions from these princi- happiness depends upon the quantity of this ples, as to the rectitude or wrongness of actions, excess. independent of the tendency of such actions, or of And the greatest quantity of it ordinarily atany other consideration whatever.
tainable in human life, is what we mean by hapAristotle lays down, as a fundamental and self-piness, when we inquire or pronounce what evident maxim, that nature intended barbarians to human happiness consists in.* be slaves; and proceeds to deduce from this maxim a train of conclusions, calculated to justify the mean by pleasure, can be atfixed to the terin“ happi
* If any positire signification, distinct from what we policy which then prevailed. And I question ness." I should take it to denote a certain state of the whether the same maxim be not still self-evident nervous system in that part of the human frame in to the company of merchants trading to the coast which we feel joy and grief, passions and affections.-of Africa.
Whether this part be the heart, which the turn of most
languages would lead us to believe, or the diaphragin, Nothing is so soon made, as a maxim; and it as Buffon, or the upper orifice of the stomach, as Van appears from the example of Aristotle, that au Helmont thought; or rather be a kind of fine nel-work, thority and convenience, education, prejudice, and lining the whole region of the pricordia, as others have general practice, have no small share in the mak- imagined; it is possible, not only that each painful
sensation may violently shake and disturb the libres ing of them; and that the laws of custom are at the time, but that a series of such may at length so very apt to be mistaken for the order of nature. derange the very texture of the system, as to produce a
For which reason, I suspect, that a system of perpetual irritation, which will show itself by fretfule morality, built upon instincts, will only find out
ness, impatience, and restlessness. It is possible also, reasons and excuses for opinions and practices sations may have such an effect upon this subtile orga.
on the other hand, that a succession of pleasurable sen. already established,—will seldom correct or reform nization, as to cause the fibres to relax, and return into either
their plnce and order, and thereby to recover, or, if not But further, suppose we admit the existence of Lives to the mind its sense of complacency and satis
lost, to preserve, that harmonions conformation which these instincts; what, it may be asked, is their
faction. This state may be denominated bappiness authority? No man, you say, can act in deliber- and is so far distinguishable from pleasure, that it doce
In which inquiry I will omit much usual | of the imagination, it hinders us from providing declaration on the dignity and capacity of our for, or acquiescing in, those gently soothing ennature; the superiority of the soul to the body, of gagements, the due variety and succession of the rational to the animal part of our constitution; which are the only things that supply a vein or upon the worthiness, refinement, and delicacy, of continued stream of happiness. soane satisfactions, or the meanness, grossness,
What I have been able to observe of that part and sensuality, of others; because I hold that of mankind, whose professed pursuit is pleasure, peasures differ in nothing, but in continuance and who are withheld in the pursuit by no reand intensity: from a just computation of which, straints of fortune, or scruples of conscience, corconfirmed by what we observe of the apparent responds sufficiently with this account. I have cheerfulness, tranquillity, and contentment, of commonly remarked in such men, a restless and men of different tastes, tempers, stations, and pur- inextinguishable passion for variety; a great part saits, every question concerning human happiness of their time to be vacant, and so much of it irk. must receive its decision.
some; and that, with whatever eagerness and It will be our business to show, if we can, expectation they set out, they become, by de. 1. What Human Happiness does not consist in: grees, fastidious in their choice of pleasure, lanIL What it does consist in.
guid in the enjoyment, yet miserable under the FIRST, then, Happiness does not consist in the want of it. pleasures of sense, in whatever profusion or va The truth seems to be, that there is a limit at pity they be enjoyed. By the pleasures of sense, which these pleasures soon arrive, and from which I mean, as well as the animal gratifications of they ever afterwards decline. They are by ne eating, drinking, and that by which the species is cessity of short duration, as the organs cannot continued, as the more refined pleasures of music, hold on their emotions beyond a certain length of painting, architecture, gardening, splendid shows, time; and if you endeavour to compensate for this theatric exhibitions; and the pleasures, lastly, of imperfection in their nature by the frequency with active sports, as of hunting, shooting, fishing, &c. which you repeat them, you suffer more than you For,
gain, by the fatigue of the faculties, and the dími. Ist. These pleasures continue but a little while nution of sensibility. at a time. This is true of them all, especially of We have said nothing in this account, of the the grosser sort of them. Laying aside the pre- loss of opportunities, or the decay of faculties, paration and the expectation, and computing which, whenever they happen, leave the voluptustruly the actual sensation, we shall be surprised ary destitute and desperate; teased by desires that to find how inconsiderable a portion of our time can never be gratified, and the memory of pleasures they occupy, how few hours in the four-and-twenty which must return no more. they are able to fill up.
It will also be allowed by those who have ex. Aly, These pleasures, by repetition, lose their perienced it, and perhaps by those alone, that relish. It is a property of the machine, for which pleasure which is purchased by the encumbrance we know no remedy, that the organs, by which of our fortune, is purchased too dear; the pleasure we perceive pleasure, are blunted and benumbed never compensating for the perpetual irritation of by being frequently exercised in the same way. embarrassed circumstances. There is hardly any one who has not found the These pleasures, after all, have their value: and difference between a gratification, when new, and as the young are always too eager in their pursuit when familiar; or any pleasure which does not of them, the old are sometimes too remiss, that is, become indifferent as it grows habitual.
too studious of their ease, to be at the pains for 3-lly, The eagerness for high and intense de them which they really deserve. lights takes a way the relish from all others; and SECONDLY, Neither does happiness consist in as such delights fall rarely in our way, the greater an exemption from pain, labour, care, business, part of our time becomes, from this cause, empty suspense, molestation, and “those evils which are and uneasy,
without;" such a state being usually attended, not There is hardly any delusion by which men are with ease, but with depression of spirits, a tastegreater sufferers in their happiness, than by their lessness in all our ideas, imaginary anxieties, and expecting too much from what is called pleasure; the whole train of hypochondriacal affections. that is, from those intense delights, which vulgarly For which reason, the expectations of those, enzross the name of pleasure. The very expec- who retire from their shops and counting-houses, tation spoils them. When they do come, we are to enjoy the remainder of their days in leisure and often engaged in taking pains to persuade our tranquillity, are seldom answered by the effect; selves how much we are pleased, rather than en- much less of such, as, in a fit of chagrin, shut joving any pleasure which springs naturally out themselves up in cloisters and hermitages
, or quit of the object. And whenever we depend upon the world, and their stations in it, for solitude and being vastly delighted, we always go home secretly repose. grieved at missing our aim. Likewise, as has Where there exists a known external cause of been observed just now, when this humour of uneasiness, the cause may be removed, and the being prodigiously delighted has once taken hold uneasiness will cease. But those imaginary dis
tresses which men feel for want of real ones (and
which are equally tormenting, and so far equally Dit refer to any particular object of enjoyment, or con real) as they depend upon no single or assignable senses, but is rather the secondary effect which such subject of uneasiness, admit oftentimes of no apcbjects and gratifications produce upon the nervous plication of relief. system, or the state in which they leave it. These con. Hence, a moderate pain, upon which the attenjartures belong not, however, to our province. comparative sense, in which we have explained the tion may fasten and spend itself, is to many a tern Happiness, is more popular, and is suiticient for refreshment; as a fit of the gout will sometimes the parpose of the present chapter.
cure the spleen. And the same of any less violent