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not as involving the fulfilment or violation one of them dissented from the praise of of duties.” Now, this is exactly the same patriotic zeal, of justice, of temperance, of thing as saying that he has translated the veracity. You hear of nobody but a scouninquiry from the ought to the is; which drel Spartan (always too illiterate to write translation Sir James views as an important on Ethics) that ever thought of recommendchange; and not, as may be fancied, im- ing immodesty to young women, or the portant for the general field of philosophy, picking of pockets to boys, or the flagellabut expressly for “ the territory of Ethics." tion of innocent children as an agreeable In reality, the merest practical guide to gymnastic exercise to grown-up gentlemen. morals cannot evade continual glimpses Allowing for these denaturalized wretches into regions of pure theory. And, confin- on the banks of the Eurotas, all Greeks had ing ourselves to the great polemic systems practically the same final views in Ethics. of morality, amongst which it is that Sir What they differed in was the way of arJames's business lies, we must all be aware riving at these final views; from what founthat their differences are not with respect tains they were to be derived; and, in passto what should be done and left undone, but ing down from these fountains, through with respect to the grounds of doing and what particular obstructions or collisions of forbearing, or with respect to the method principle they had to fight their way. It is of deducing these grounds. It was a mis- the will, the ought, the practical, which is take of the same nature which led Coleridge concerned in the final maxims of Ethics; to speak scornfully of a man's fancying any but it is the intellect, the is, the theoretic, room, at this time of day, for innovation in which is concerned chiefly in the early Ethics, whether in the way of improvenient stages of its deduction. or addition. To be novel, to be original, One consequence, and an unfortunate was upon this view unavoidably to be false ; consequence, from what I have here noticed and no road, it seems, is open to truth in as an oversight in Sir James, is, that he has morals, except through the monotony of an- not examined the various opinions among cient common-places. But all this I vehe- the ancient Greek schools as to the Summently deny. In days of old, the Academ- mum Bonum; nor apparently has adverted ic, the Peripatetic, the Stoic, the Epicu- to the importance of such an examination. rean, sought for originality-not by patron. These conflicting opinions formed for them izing separate modes of action, but by de. the rudders, or regulative principles, of riving from separate principles the same their moral theories. We in Christendom modes, or by unfolding the various relations have two concurrent sets of such theories : of objects that were still the same.* Not one of worldly ethics, in which “vice” and
* In speaking of Ethics, and of the room which of their new country, rights of the aborigines as it allows for vast variety of views, 1 confine my against the colonists,—these questions, with count. self naturally in the text to the part which con- less others of the same class, are rising by germs cerns theory and speculation ; that being the part und fractions in every newspaper that one takes with which Sir James is occupied, and that being up. Civil society is a vast irregular encampment, precisely the part which Coleridge overl.oked in that even now, whils: we speak, is but beginning the passage referred to.
But, even as regards the to take up its ground scientifically, to distribute practical part, I cannot forbear calling the reader's its own parts, and to understand its own econoattention to the gross blindness of that common my. In this view, one may quote with pleasure sentiment which bids us look for nothing new in a sentence from David Hartley, which is justly Ethics. What an instance of“ seeing but not per- praised by Sir James Mackintosh—“The rule of ceiving, hearing but not under-tanding!" so far life, drawn from the practice and opinions of manfrom being stavionary, Ethics, even as a practical kind, corrects and improves itself perpetually.” system, is always moving and advancing ; and And as it does this by visiting, searching, trying, without ail, or needing aid, from colleges or pro purifying, every section and angle of the social fessors. A great part of our political life and system, it happens in the end that this very sys. struggling is but one vast laboratory for sifting tem, which had been the great nidus of evil and and ascertaining the rights, the interests, the du- wrong, becomes itself a machinery for educatiug ties, of the unnumbered and increasing parties to the moral sense. With this eternal expansion in our complex form of social life. Questions of new duties arising, or old ones ascertained, comrights (and consequently of duties) that were bine also the unlimited invitition held out by never heard of one and iwo centuries ago, rights growing knowledge to the recasting as to parts, or of captives, rights of public criminals, rights of the resettlement as to foundations, of ethical the. pauperism, rights of daily labor, rights of private ories,—and you begin to look with amazement property among, belligerents, rights of children upon the precipitate judgment of Coleridge. If born in camps, rights of creditors, rights of debt. there is any part of knowledge that could be really ors, rights of colonists as against the mother coun. condemned io stagnation, probably it would soon try, rights of colonists as against the aborigines die altygether.
“ virtue" are the prevailing terms; another others of his faction made between utility of Christian ethics, in which the terms are as a test or criterion of morality, and utility “sin" and "holiness.” And singular it is, as a ground of morality. Taking it even that these separate systems flow oftentimes in the limited sense of a test, (that is, as quite apart, each deaf to the other, and the means by which we know an act to be nobody taking any notice of their colli- moral, but not therefore as any ground or sions, or seeking for any harmony between reason which makes the act to be moral,) them. The first class reposes chiefly on the doctrine is a mere barren theorem, pergood sense, and the prudential experience fectly inert and without value for practical of life; the second, upon the revealed will application ; since the consequences of all of God. But, upon any graver or more important actions expand themselves solemn interest of morals coming forward, through a series of alternate undulations, recourse is usually had to some principles expressing successfully good and evil; and or other, more or less truly stated, profess- of this series no summation is possible to a ing to derive themselves from revelation. finite intellect. In its earliest and instinct So that, in modern Europe, the Scriptures effects, a given act shall be useful : in its are a primary source of morals to some secondary effects, which we may distinguish theorists, and a supplementary source to all. as the undulation B, it shall become perhaps But the ancients, it must be remembered, mischievous (mischievous, I mean, now that had no such resources in revelation. Real it has reached a new order of subjects :) or pretended revelation never existed for in C, the tertiary undulation, it shall revive them; consequently, the revealed will of into beneficial agencies; and in remoter God, which at once settles, ainongst us, cycles travel again into evil. Take for what is the true summum bonum for man instance the French Revolution, or any and his race, could not be appealed to, either single act by which a disinterested man as furnishing a foundation for ethical sys- should have deliberately hastened on that tems, or as furnishing their integration. awful event; in what blindness must he In default of such a resource, never, in fact, have stood at the time, say about 1789, as having heard or conceived of such a re- to the ultimate results of his own daring source, which way could the Greeks turn step! First came a smiling dawn and the themselves ? Naturally, and indeed neces- loveliest promise of good for man. Next sarily, they set themselves to investigate came a dreadful overcasting, in which the summum bonum, so far as it was fitted nothing could be seen distinctly; storms for a human nature. What was the su- and darkness, under cover of which innopreme object after which man should cent blood was shed like water, fields were strive ? Was it pleasure, was it power, fought, frenzies of hatred gathered among wisdom, happiness, or freedom from pas- nations, such as cried to heaven for help sion ? Because, according to the decision, and for retribution. That woe is past; the arose a corresponding economy of morals. second undulation is gone by: and now, The supreme good, whatever that were when the third is below our eyes, we are found to be, forined the nucleus around becoming sensible that all that havock and which the system of moralities crystallized fury, though sad to witness or to remember, and arranged themselves. Sir James re- were not thrown away; the chaos has setgrets, with reason, the wrecked condition tled into order, and a new morning with a in which all the elder systems of Greek new prospect has arisen for man. Yet even ethics are now lying. Excepting the Pla- here the series of undulations is not comtonic remains generally, and the two works plete. It is perhaps barely beginning : of Aristotle on this subject, we have no other undulations, moving through other authentic documents to steer by. But by revolutions, and perhaps fiercer revolutions, collecting all the fragments, and looking will soon begin to travel forward. And if back to the presiding view of the summum a man should fancy that he would wait for bonum, we might rebuild the ontlines of the final result, before he made up his mind the old ethics; at least, as a fossil megathe- as to the question of moral verdict to be rium is rebuilt, -not so as to display its liv- pronounced upon the original movement, ing power, but enough of its structure to he would make a resolution like that of a furnish a basis for coinparison.
child who proposes to chase the rainbow. It is singular that Sir James, with all As a criterion, therefore, the principle of his scholastic subtlety, should not have re- utility could not be of any practical value marked the confusion which Paley and for appraising an act or system of acts; since this utility is never known, even by because the latter sort of debt cannot be approximation, until long after the election recovered compulsorily; but the other may. of the act must have been made. But a This power in the creditor, though it does worse fault in Paley is, that he has mistaken not relieve you from the duty of paying his own position, and lost in his perplexity him, most properly relieves you from the the real object which he was then in search stress upon your honor. Honor creates a of. This was exactly what the schoolmen sancti in that only which is confided to would have called the form, i. e. formal the keeping and sanction of honor. It is principle or essence of virtue; the ratio good for so much as it undertakes. But, if essendi; what, in fact, it is that constitutes this were even otherwise, how is Paley enthe common ground, or internal principle titled to presume, in any law, a counteof agreement between two acts, (one, sup- nance to crimes of which that law simply pose, an act of justice, one an act of tem- takes no cognizance ? “ His chapter,' perance,) so as to bring them equally under (says Sir James,)“ on what he calls the the common denomination of virtue.* Law of Honor, is unjust even in its own
Perhaps the perfection of acuteness ap- small sphere, because it supposes Honor to pears in Sir James Mackintosh's refutation allow what it does not forbid; though the of Paley upon the law of honor. Rarely truth be that the vices enumerated by him has a false idea been more suddenly caused are only not forbidden because they are not to founder and to show out. At one sling within its jurisdiction.” Honor tells a man it is dispersed into smoke. And the reader to repay a friend who lent him money at a is the more gratified, because in fact Paley critical moment of distress, and who holds was doing a bit of sycophancy to public no voucher for that money; but honor never cant when he said the thing which Mackin- told a man not to pay his shoemaker. That tosh exposes. What he said was this :- sort of debt indeed honor does not enforce, the principle called the law of honor coun- though far from discountenancing its paytenances many criminal acts. An ordinary ment, simply because such a case does not debt, for instance, to a tradesman may be fall within its proper cognizance. But as neglected with no wound to a man's honor: well might the court of Chancery be renot so a gaming debt; this becomes an proached for not trying the crime of murobligation of honor. And very properly : der, or the chief justice of the Queen's
Bench for not lecturing defendants in cases * Paley's error was therefore, when scholastic-of crim. con. ally expressed, a confusion between the ratio es
There are two most weighty remarks at sendi, and the rario cognoscendi. About a hundred years ago, Daries and some other followers p. 106, connected by Sir James, with this of Leibuitz and Wolff, made an effort to recall subject of Paley. One is—that, even if the this important distinction; that is, to force the at-law of honor ceased as a separate mode of tention upon the importance of keeping apart the obligation (not contradicting general moral index or criterion of any object from its essential laws, but only unequally enforcing them), or differential principle. Some readers may fancy still there would remain a natural and tranit more easy to keep these ideas apart, than systematically to confound them. But very many scendent law of sexual morality, as much cases, and this of Paley's in particular, show that distinct from the higher ethics as the worldthere is a natural tendency to such a confusion. ly principle of honor, viz., that morality And upon looking more rigorously, I perceive that Sir James Mackintosh bas not overlooked it; which makes the characteristic virtue of a he has in fact expressed it repeatedly; but always man to lie in courage, of a woman in chasin terms that would hardly have conveyed the tity. Great good is done, and much of sofull meaning to my mind, if I had not been ex- cial welfare is upheld, by such a morality; pressly seeking for such a meaning. At p. 14, and also, as by the rule of honor, some (vol. i.) he thus distinguishes :-" These momentous inquiries relate to at least two perfectly dis- wrong—because much practical partiality, tinct subjects :- 1. The nature of the distinction and oftentimes inuch disproportion in our between Right and Wrong in human conduct; judgments. Yet here is a mode of moraliRight and Wrong are contemplated by human ty, imperfect as honor is imperfect, but not beings. The discriinination has seldom been therefore false, and which still works for made by moral philosophers; the difference be good, and which all the Paleys in this tween the two problems has never been uniformly world will fortunately never be able to observed by any of them.” At p. 15, he taxes shake. both Paley and Bentham with having confounded them; and subsequently, at p. 193, he taxes the
The other remark concerns the tendency Jatter still more pointedly with this capital con
of Paley's philosophy, which, having little fusion,
grandeur or enthusiasm to support it, was morbidly disposed to compromise with evil, the larva of the future chrysalis becomes and to "go for" as much good as seemed safe; whilst otherwise it is in constant conveniently to be got. Most justly does peril. Mackintosh tax it with looking in the same What suggests this train of thought is the direction as the worst ethics of the Roman fact that Machiavel was amongst the first Catholics, that is, the ethics of Escobar and who "stooped to conquer," by laying aside the most intensely worldly amongst the the pomps of a learned language; being an Jesuits. Upon that he argues that no phi- Italian, he wrote Italian; he adapted himlosophy can be so unfitted for the training self to the popular mind amongst his coun. of the moral sense, or for the culture of the trymen; he spoke to them in their mothernoble and the enthusiastic, as it exists in tongue. By such an effort a man sacrifices early manhood. Oxford, but more espe- a little momentary rank in the estimate of cially Cambridge, as carried by old connex- critics, to regain it a hundred-fold in an inion too naturally to an exaggerated estimate fluence wide and lasting over the general of Paley, would do well to think of this. heart. The choice of Machiavel was wise ; Paley's talents, within lower spheres of and yet, perhaps, not made in the spirit of speculation, were prodigious. But he want- wisdom, but of rancorous passions. He ed every thing that should have fitted him could not reach his enemies by his republifor what is subtlest in philosophy, or what can patriotism, or his fierce miso-tramontis grandest in ethics. Continue to honor anism without Italian; he could not reach the man as the most philosophic amongst his friends by counsels that should guide the essentially worldly-minded; but do not their exterminating swords, unless through ratify and countersign his hybrid morality a familiar dialect. The same malicious and by making it a chief text of your ethics, and destroying wisdom, in the same service of an examination-book for the young aristo- a vindictive heart, burns in the most famous cracy of England.
of his works, The Prince. This work it is, and the true interpretation of its reckless insensibility to the wickedness of the machinery by which it works, that probably constituted the reason to Sir James Mack
intosh for at all turning his attention upon There is a short but fine and very im- Machiavel. portant exordium* to the paper on Machi
It has always been a riddle whether The avel, exposing the relations of literature to Prince of Machiavel were meant for a Tiscience, to ethics, and to speculative phi-tan satire upon the profligacy of political losophy. That function of literature, by agents, or very seriously for a Titan theory which it reacts upon all these great inte- of evil arts as the only weapons commensurests, so as to diffuse them, to popularize rate to the unscrupulous wickedness of men them, to protect them, and to root them, is armed with power. It is Sir James Mackapt enough to escape the notice of most intosh's wish to side with the former view men, who regard literature as a mere em
of the question :-“The Prince,” says bellishment of life, not as one of its deep-he, “is an account of the means by which sunk props. And yet, as Sir James truly tyrannical power is to be acquired and preremarks, in times when the whole philoso- served; it is a theory of that class of phephic speculation of a country gathers itself nomena. It is essential to its purpose, into cloistral retreats, and when as yet there therefore, that it should contain an exposiis no general literature to diffuse its results tion of tyrannical arts. But it is also plain and to naturalize its capital problems that the calm statement of tyrannical arts is amongst the people, nothing is more liable the bitterest of all satires against them.” to sudden blights than such insulated ad- Yes, for him who has already preconceived vances in culture; which, on the other such a view of tyrannical arts; but no sahand, become ineradicable when once they tire at all for him who has reconciled himhave knit themselves on to the general mind self to such arts, as the indispensable means of the people by the intertexture of litera- of placing men upon a level with their eneture. Spinning this kind of nidus for itself, mies, and cities upun equal terms with their
rivals. When Gulliver talked with cool* Exordium," an exordium which virtually ness and smiling amateurship of every art (and in parts verbally) repeats a similar passage used in Christian warfare for hacking, hewat pp. 44-5 of Vol. I.
ing, slashing, maiming, or burning the VOL. IX. No. I.
MACKINTOSH ON MACHIAVEL.
frame-work of human bodies, he was viewed sort of reading backwards; they compose a by his royal auditor, after hearing him cool- good, honest, and straightforward assertion ly to the end, as the most horrid little mon- of wholesale wickedness as absolutely esster on the terraqueous globe. But Gulli- sential to prosperity and comfort of mind in ver had so little suspected any liability in this shocking world. Many have fancied his own opinions to such a construction, that, if challenged as an elaborate jester in that he had talked with the self-satisfied air masquerade, Machiavel would have burst of a benevolent philosopher teaching the old into explosions of laughter. Far from it; idea how to shoot.
he would have looked as angry and discon“A philosophical treatise on poisons certed as Gulliver, and would have said, would," says Mackintosh, “ determine the probably, “Oh, if you come to virtue, and quantity of each poisonous substance capa- all that sort of thing, really I pretend to no ble of producing death, the circumstances opinions on the subject; I am addressing favorable or adverse to its operation, and myself to men of sense, and simply taking every other information essential to the pur- it for granted, that, as such, in a world of pose of the poisoner, though not intended universal kicking and being kicked, they for his use." . Something like this has been will wish to kick back in every direction." pleaded on behalf of Machiavel by others. But the defect of Sir James Mackintosh's But in fact it will not bear a critical scru-paper, is the neglect of positive extracts tiny. For all depends on the mode of pre- from The Prince, given in their true con-' senting the poisonous arts. In a little nexion. Such a treatment would soon have chemico-medical manual lying before me at dispersed any doubts about the final drift of this moment, the Parisian author, speaking the work. For, suppose that, in a work on of the modes employed to color wines, says, poisons, (to adopt Mackintosh's own illus
On peut jaunir ces liquides” (white wines) iration), you met with a little section like
à l'aide du gaz acide sulfureux; cette this:-“With respect to the proper mode fraude est dangereuse, si l'acide se trouve of despatching young toothless infants, I en assez grande quantité." Now here there always set my face against the use of poiis something not strictly correct; for the son. I do so on moral principle, and also writer teaches a secret which he knows to as a man of refinement. It is evident that be profitable on one hand and dangerous on poison in such a case is quite needless : the other, with a slight caution that he you may operate more speedily by a little might easily have made a full one. The se-Llavender-water; this will be agreeable to cret is likely to be tried, it is likely to cause both parties—yourself and the child; pour danger; whilst the simple means for evad- a few spoonfuls into a slop-basin; hold the ing the danger, viz., by stating the proper little human kitten with its face downwards proportions, he is too indolent to report in this, and it will hardly have time to mew Yet still, though blameable, this author is before the trick will be done. Now, obfar above being suspected of any wish to serve the difference of circumstances with teach murderous arts. And what is the respect to an adult. How pleasing it is to proof of this? Why, that he never intro- the benign heart, that nature should have duces any substance for the mere purpose provided so vast a gamut in the art of murof showing its uses as a poison ; but, when der! To the philosophic mind it suggests other uses have obliged him to notice it, he the idea, that perhaps no two people ought takes occasion to caution the reader as to 1o be murdered in the same manner. Supthose which are dangerous. If a man were pose, for instance, the subject marked for answerable for all the indirect or inverse immediate despatch to be your uncle; a modes of reading his book, then every wri- huge, broad-shouldered monster, evidently ter on medical jurisprudence would be lia- quite unfit to live any longer. I should say, ble to indictment ; for such works may be now, that a dose of corrosive sublimate always turned to account as reversely sys- would be the correct thing for him. Phletems of poisoning; the artifices for detect. botomy would never do with such a bullock ing guilt may always be applied by a Lo- as that. He would turn a mill with his custa (Sueton. in Claudio] or a Brinvilliers blood, and the place of operating would beas so many directions for aiding its opera- come a mere shambles. If, again, you attions; just as the Lord's Prayer, read back-tempted to repeat upon him the experiment wards, was, of old times, the shortest means that had succeeded with the infant, surprise for evoking the fiend. Now, Machiavel's ing and holding him down in the water, arts of tyranny are not collected from this when washing his face, the refractory ruf