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ment; and who controlled an almost painful exquisiteness of taste by a warmth of heart, which in the practical relations of life made allowances for faults as quickly as the moral taste detected them; a warmth of heart, which was indeed noble and pre-eminent, for alas! the genial feelings of health contributed no spark toward it. Of these qualities I may speak, for they belonged to all mankind.-The higher vitues, that were blessings to his friends, and the still higher that resided in and for his own soul, are themes for the energies of solitude, for the awfulness of prayer!-virtues exercised in the barrenness and desolation of his animal being; while he thirsted with the full stream at his lips, and yet with unwearied goodness poured out to all around him, like the master of a feast among his kindred in the day of his own gladness! Were it but for the remembrance of him alone and of his lot here below, the disbelief of a future state would sadden the earth around me, and blight the very grass in the field.
Χαλεπὸν, ὦ δαιμόνιε, μὴ παραδείγμασι χρώμενον, ἱκανῶς ἐνδείκνυσθαί τι τῶν μειζόνων. κινδυνεύει γὰρ ἡμῶν ἔκαςος, οἷον ὄναρ, εἰδὼς ἅπαντα, πάντ' αὖ πάλιν ὥσπερ ὕπαρ ἀγνοεῖν. PLATO, Politicus.
It is difficult, excellent friend! to make any comprehensive truth completely intelligible, unless we avail ourselves of an example. Otherwise we may, as in a dream, seem to know all, and then, as it were awaking, find that we know nothing.
AMONG my earliest impressions I still distinctly remember that of my first entrance into the mansion of a neighboring baronet, awfully known to me by the name of the great house,* its exterior having been long connected in my childish imagination with the feelings and fancies stirred up in me by the perusal of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments.† Beyond all other objects,
* Escot, near Ottery St. Mary, Devon, then the seat of Sir George Young, and since burnt down, in 1808.-Ed.
As I had read one volume of these tales over and over again before my fifth birth-day, it may be readily conjectured of what sort these fancies
I was most struck with the magnificent staircase, relieved at wellproportioned intervals by spacious landing-places, this adorned with grand or showy plants, the next looking out on an extensive prospect through the stately window, with its side-panes of rich blues and saturated amber or orange tints: while from the last and highest the eye commanded the whole spiral ascent with the marble pavement of the great hall, from which it seemed to spring up as if it merely used the ground on which it rested. My readers will find no difficulty in translating these forms of the outward senses into their intellectual analogies, so as to understand the purport of The Friend's landing-places, and the objects I proposed to myself, in the small groups of essays interposed under this title between the main divisions of the work.
My best powers would have sunk within me, had I not soothed my solitary toils with the anticipation of many readers-(whether during my life, or when my grave shall have shamed my detractors into a sympathy with its own silence, formed no part in this self-flattery) who would submit to any reasonable trouble rather than read, as in a dream seeming to know all, to find on awaking that they know nothing.' Having, therefore, in the three preceding essays selected from my conservatory a few plants, of somewhat gayer petals and a livelier green, though like the geranium tribe of a sober character in the whole physiognomy and odor, I shall first devote a few sentences to a catalogue of my introductory lucubrations, and the remainder of the essay to the prospect, as far as it can be seen distinctly from our present site. Within a short distance, several ways meet and at that point only does it appear to me that the reader will be in danger of mistaking the road. Dropping the metaphor, I would say that there is one term, reason, the meaning of which has become unsettled. To different persons it conveys a different notion, and not seldom to the same person at different times; while the force, and to a certain extent, the intelligibility of the follow
and feelings must have been. The book, I well remember, used to lie in a corner of the parlor-window at my dear father's vicarage-house: and I can never forget with what a strange mixture of obscure dread and intense desire I used to look at the volume and watch it, till the morning sunshine had reached and nearly covered it, when, and not before, I felt the courage given me to seize the precious treasure and hurry off with it to some sunny corner in our play-ground.
ing sections depend on its being interpreted in one sense exclusively.
Essays I. to IV. inclusively convey the design and contents of the work; my judgment respecting the style, and my defence of myself from the charges of arrogance and presumption. Say rather, that such are the personal threads of the discourse: for it will not have escaped the reader's observation, that even in these prefatory pages principles and truths of general interest form the true contents, and that amid all the usual compliments and courtesies of a first presentation to the reader's acquaintance the substantial object is still to assert the practicability, without disguising the difficulties, of improving the morals of mankind by a direct appeal to their understandings; to show the distinction between attention and thought, and the necessity of the former as a habit or discipline without which the very word, thinking, must remain a thoughtless substitute for dreaming with our eyes open; and lastly, the tendency of a certain fashionable style with all its accommodations to paralyze the very faculties of manly intellect by a series of petty stimulants. After this preparation, I proceed at once to lay the foundations common to the whole work by an inquiry into the duty of communicating truth, and the conditions under which it may be communicated with safety, from essay V. to XVI. inclusively. Each essay will, I believe, be found complete in itself, yet an organic part of the whole considered as one disquisition. First, the inexpediency of pious frauds is proved from history, the shameless assertion of the indifference of truth and falsehood exposed to its deserved infamy, and an answer given to the objection derived from the impossibility of conveying an adequate notion of the truths, we may attempt to communiThe conditions are then detailed, under which, right though inadequate notions may be taught without danger, and proofs given, both from facts and from reason, that he, who fulfils the conditions required by conscience, takes the surest way of answering the purposes of prudence. This is, indeed, the main characteristic of the moral system taught by The Friend throughout, that the distinct foresight of consequences belongs exclusively to the infinite Wisdom which is one with that Almighty Will, on which all consequences depend; but that for man-to obey the simple unconditional commandment of eschewing every act that implies a self-contradiction, or, in other words, to produce and
maintain the greatest possible harmony in the component impulses and faculties of his nature, involves the effects of prudence. It is, as it were, prudence in short-hand or cipher. A pure conscience, that inward something, that Oɛòs olxsios, which being absolutely unique no man can describe, because every man is bound to know, and even in the eye of the law is held to be a person no longer than he may be supposed to know it-the conscience, I say, bears the same relation to God, as an accurate time-piece bears to the sun. The time-piece merely indicates the relative path of the sun, yet we can regulate our plans and proceedings by it with the same confidence as if it was itself the efficient cause of light, heat, and the revolving seasons: on the self-evident axiom, that in whatever sense two things-for instance, A. and C. D. E.,—are both equal to a third thing, B., they are in the some sense equal to each other. Cunning is circuitous folly. In plain English, to act the knave is but a roundabout way of playing the fool; and the man, who will not permit himself to call an action by its proper name without a previous calculation of all its probable consequences, may be indeed only a coxcomb, who is looking at his fingers through an operaglass; but he runs no small risk of becoming a knave. The chances are against him. Though he should begin by calculating the consequences with regard to others, yet by the mere habit of never contemplating an action in its own proportions and immediate relations to his moral being, it is scarcely possible but that he must end in selfishness: for the 'you,' and the 'they' will stand on different occasions for a thousand different persons, while thel' is one only, and recurs in every calculation. Or grant that the principle of expediency should prompt to the same outward deeds as are commanded by the law of reason; yet the doer himself is debased. But if it be replied, that the reaction on the agent's own mind is to form a part of the calculation, then it is a rule that destroys itself in the very propounding, as will be more fully demonstrated in the second or ethical division of The Friend, when I shall have detected and exposed the equivoque between an action and a series of motions, by which the determinations of the will are to be realized in the world of the senses. What modification of the latter corresponds to the former, and is entitled to be called by the same name, will often depend on time, place, persons and circumstances, the consideration of which re
quires an exertion of the judgment; but the action itself remains the same, and like all other ideas pre-exists in the reason, or, in the more expressive and perhaps more precise and philosophical language of St. Paul, in the spirit, unalterable because unconditional, or with no other than that most awful condition, as sure as God liveth, it is so !
These remarks are inserted in this place, because the principle admits of easiest illustration in the instance of veracity and the actions connected with the same, and may then be intelligibly applied to other departments of morality, all of which Woollston indeed considers as only so many different forms of truth and falsehood. So far I treated of oral communication of the truth. The applicability of the same principle is then tried and affirmed in publications by the press, first as between the individual and his own conscience, and then between the publisher and the state : and under this head I have considered at large the questions of a free press and the law of libel, the anomalies and peculiar difficulties of the latter, and the only possible solution compatible with the continuance of the former: a solution rising out of and justified by the necessarily anomalous and unique nature of the law itself. I confess that I look back on this discussion concerning the press and its limits with a satisfaction unusual to me in the review of my own labors and if the date of their first publication (September, 1809) be remembered, it will not perhaps be denied on an impartial comparison, that I have treated this most important subject, so especially interesting in the present time, more fully and more systematically than it had up to that time been. Interim tum recti conscientia, tum illo me consolor, quod optimis quibusque certe non improbamur, fortassis omnibus placituri, simul atque livor ab obitu conquieverit.
Lastly, the subject is concluded even as it commenced, and as beseemed a disquisition placed as the steps and vestibule of the whole work, with an enforcement of the absolute necessity of principles grounded in reason as the basis or rather as the living root of all genuine expedience. Where these are despised or at best regarded as aliens from the actual business of life, and consigned to the ideal world of speculative philosophy and Utopian politics, instead of state wisdom we shall have state-craft, and for the talent of the governor the cleverness of an embarrassed spendthrift-which consists in tricks to shift off difficulties and dan