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least intelligent nor the least respectable enough to resist the shock, the vessel is members of the community, there is an crushed between rock and wave, the men irresistible temptation to look for some are drowned, the causes and effects are all scientific morality, founded on what is physical, there is really no moral aspect of permanent and unquestionable, that is, on the matter. It would be easy to hold up what are called the laws of Nature. Mo- Nature as an example of everything that rality would then become a positive sci- human beings ought to avoid. It has been ence. There is, however, already a posi- said that she sets an example of incalculable tive science of morality which is entirely waste joined to what, in human beings, different from this. It states what the vari- would be criminal neglect. Millions of ous moralities have been in the past, and animals and thousands of poor or delicate what the surviving moralities are in the people perish every year from cold, while present; but it supplies no rule for a fixed at the same time there is a prodigious morality in the future. It says simply dissipation of solar heat, lost in infinite that at such a time, in such a country, cer- space, a very minute fraction of which tain actions were approved as right and would suffice to keep all shivering creatures others considered wrong. It studies and in comfort. Some philosophers have writdescribes the difference between the notion ten prettily about the beautiful economy of patriotism in the time of the great of Nature, the anxious care with which Condé, and the notion of patriotism in the everything is utilized, the merciful provi. time of Thiers and Gambetta. It observes sion for all creatures, and other such that the notion of honor for gentlemen and poetical imaginings. The only rational officers was quite different when“ Manon course is simply to abstain from attributLescaut”' was written from the same no. ing either virtue or vice to the processes of tion when Octave Feuillet composed his the natural universe, as they have no connovels, and, again, that Feuillet's notion section with either. We, being human, of an artist's honor differed widely from ought not to follow Nature as a model. any English conception of the same. This She has her own work to do as we have is the scientific study of morality ; but We may at least admire her great when you appeal to Science for any per- forces and her regularity ; but we are not manent and universal rule that is to settle called upon to imitate her indifference. It all moral questions whatever, her only an is only too much imitated already by the swer can be that Nature does not supply indifference of the conqueror, the trapper, the rule, and that morality belongs to and the vivisector. When Napoleon said human experience. This is the weak to Metternich, “What do I care for the point of Natural Religion, which might lives of a million of men ?” he was going otherwise have had a considerable success, further in the imitation of Nature than any especially in the present day, when the human being has a right to go. Nature study of Nature has become general. The never disputes the right of the cleverest Universe is, no doubt, of inexhaustible in- and the strongest to torture and oppress terest as a study in mechanics, in chemis- the weak ; but it is not a moral right. try, and in biology ; but if we want to Slave-bunting in Africa is a convenient be

a study morality we find it only in the in- cause persistent example. I need not deperfect experiments of Man. It may ex- scribe the horrors of it, and indeed know ist elsewhere, beyond our world, among them only by the reports of others; but superior races of whom nothing is known if these reports are even partially trne,

The disappointment caused by the slave-hunting must be a diabolical combiabsence of morality in Nature has led some nation of many cruelties, and it has been writers, especially M. Renan, to speak of going on from time immemorial. During her “transcendent immorality." "To me all that time what bas Nature done, what it seems that the word “immorality” con- part bas she had in the matter? The an. veys also an erroneous impression in its swer could be little more than an account application to Nature. The action of the of physical processes. After the infliction natural forces is neither moral nor im- of wounds the natural processes have in moral ; it is perfectly neutral in this re- some cases been followed by death, and in spect. When the sea dashes a vessel on others by tedious sufferings and partial or the rocks it does not commit murder ; the complete recovery. When the slaves were wind raises the waves, the rocks are strong put into ships some were asphyxiated by


to us.

ful. *

want of oxygen in the hold, others were Sicilian settles the question in his own drowned after being flung into the sea. opinion by the answer, “ The beast has As for the slave-hunters they underwent not been baptized, it is not a Christian." fatigue ; they bore hot and toilsome If the Church does not teach him considmarches, and consequently they perspired. eration for animals (and she does not)

These bare physical facts constitute Na- there is nothing in Nature to remind him ture's share in the matter. An idealist of any duty toward “ the inferior kinds." anxious to prove some theory of retribu. They suffer, perish, and are replaced ; tion would tell us that the slave-hunters these are the simple facts, and Nature has were punished by becoming coarse and never inculcated anything beyond them.* brutalized as a consequence of their way of If it is objected that this view of Nalife ; but men never feel it to be an in- ture as morally a neutral power is degradferiority in themselves to be coarse and ing and discouraging, it may be answered, brutal ; on the contrary, they pride them- firstly, that it corresponds with all the selves on it as evidence of manliness, and facts that come within the range of obthey look down with unfeigned contempt servation, and, secondly, that so far as on the gentle, the tender, and the merci- human life is concerned it is not more dis

couraging than the ideas about Nature that The absence of a moral sanction in what have been prevalent in the past. Ever we call “Nature” may be a reason for since men have been able to perceive that the frequently narrow and partial acknowl- natural operations are wanting in moral edgment of moral obligation by mankind. perfection, they have attributed inany of It is, I believe, authoritatively taught by them to maleficent powers, dangerous not the Church of Rome that we have no moral oniy to the body but to the soul of man, obligation toward the lower animals ; this and the world has seemed to them like a is, at least, a doctrine generally accepted bewildering forest set with traps and pitby Roman Catholic populations both in falls by the agency of evil spirits. Since France and Italy, and it leads to horrible man began to be intelligent and to develop cruelty, especially in Sicily. When re- his own moral sense, he has never really monstrated with for bis barbarity, the and heartily approved of Nature, and the

small respect he has paid her is shown by * An accident that happened to an acquaint- his constant disregard of what seem to be ance of one of my friends presents the sub

her plainest intentions, as, for example, by ject of natural and human action in a concentrated form. This gentleman was crossing a railway at a place where there were points.

* I once knew a French veterinary surgeon His boot slipped into the angle of the rails, so wbo described to me the education given at that it was held by the sole, and he could not Alfort which had been his own. Considered extricate it on the instant. A train was ap. as training only, it is excellent. The pupils proaching, and before coming to a standstill perform all sorts of terrible operations on liv. the engine knocked the unfortunate gentleman ing animals, the same horse undergoing as down and killed him. The incident was wit. many operations as it can recover from, till at nessed with extreme horror by many specta. last it dies. I protested against this on behalf tors on the platform. A rational account of it of the poor brutes, but my acquaintance an. is simply that a beavy body, set in motion by swered, “You are quite mistaken, there is no the expansion of steam, had acquired too much reason for regret whatever, the animals are of momentum for an instantaneous stoppage, very little value-fifty or sixty francs, per. and that it passed over a living obstacle too haps.' And I found it absolutely impossible weak to offer an effectual resistance. This is to make him understand that my protest had a sufficient explanation, without having re- no reference to money. Compassion for ani. course to an imaginary justice, aecording {to mals was a sentiment of which he had no which the victim would have rightly incurred knowledge or experience, yet he was accu. capital punishment as a suitable penalty for rately acquainted with the physical processes his carelessness in letting his boot slip between of Nature which it was his business to ob. the rails. The incident was neither just nor serve, and he found nothing in these proc. anjust, but simply natural ; nor was there any esses to suggest compassion for the brute. supernatural intervention to save the victim My own feelings of pity would have seemed from his fate. There was ample time for a childish or womanish if he could have undermiracle, but it did not occur. We have no stood them at all, but they were completely unevidence of either cruelty or pity, except that intelligible to him. Now, I cannot conceal the human spectators were shocked ; the from myself that he was much nearer to Nahuman beings behave in their own emotional

ture than I was. He took no pleasure in the way, and the natural forces with their exact torture of animals, but he had no objection to regularity and their absolute indifference. it, and in both he resembled Nature,


an egg.

his mutilation of animals in every civilized burnt or tortured, he was burnt and torcountry. It may seem ridiculous to men- tured no longer. Then came a tedious intion shaving, but if the intentions of Na- terval, during which public opinion reture were regarded as sacred, people would fused to apply physical torture to heretics, no more venture to set up their own judg. while it approved of moral inflictions in ment against hers, even in minor matters, the shape of social and political disabili. than they would alter the syllables of ties ; heretics were relieved from all apscriptures held to be inspired. It would prehension of the rack and the stake, but be a sin to destroy the germs of life ; no they were subjected to a kind of social truly pious person wonld venture to boil paralysis. They were not allowed to oc

cupy any position of importance in the It does not appear, therefore, that mod- State ; it was practically difficult for them ern opinions about Nature mark any novel even to marry and to exercise paternal opposition between what is natural and authority. In our time religious disabiliwhat is human ; on the contrary, it might ties are rapidly disappearing in England, be argued that the modern acceptation of while they have entirely disappeared in Nature's moral indifference, combined France, except as a matter of caste. The with her absolute regularity in her own change has been brought about by a more order, is more favorable to a certain re- enlightened public opinion, which does spect for Nature than all previous human not approve of forcing people into falseideas about her. The ways of the universe hood. It may possibly go a step beyond are not our ways, but they can be abso- that, and decide that nobody ought even lutely relied upon. The new element in to be tempted, though force is no longer our beliefs is not the non-human character exercised. It is immoral to make a will of Nature, but the perfect trust that can by which a large sum of money is bebe placed in her infallible regularity. If queathed to some one on condition that he she is neither tender, nor merciful, nor professes certain religious opinions. The just, she is never capricious.

English law of succession is immoral, beAgain, our most recent ideas about cause in possible cases it offers a temptahuman morality are not so new as they ap- tion to untruth, which hardly any hurnan pear. The severance of it from non- being would have strength to resist. An human nature is as ancient as the notion heir to the throne has access, by his eduof controlling a natural instinct or denying cation, to books in several languages ; as a it a satisfaction, and if we are trying now private reader he may be familiar with to form a morality, the main difference the most advanced philosophical speculabetween us and our ancestors is that some tions, or the bent of his nature may lead of us are fully conscious of the process, him away from these to the poctry of a and they were unconscious. They did, in ceremonial religion. Mentally he might reality, form and modify the moralities agree with Renan or with Cardinal Newthat were practically their rules of life. man, but to reveal his opinions, in either Religious and philosophical teachers pro- case, would be to forfeit the crown of vided them with ideal precepts, for which England. In other words the law, as it they professed admiration, but they them- at present stands, would in certain cases selves made and modified, from age to convert the crown of England into a reage, their binding codes of duty and ward for persistent dissimulation. Men honor. If it seems to us that those codes pray not to be led into temptation, yet were imperfect, we are as free to improve they tempt others into certain forms of upon them as they were to ameliorate those dishonesty. They would think it wrong of their forefathers. Aud if it is asked to tempt a servant to steal, but they spread what sanction we have to enforce our de- snares of temptation against the private cisions, the answer is that the old sanction honor and the moral dignity of the poor. exists still, and that there bas never been So with children, if we want to educate

The only efficacious sanction them into habits of truthfulness, we ought is public opinion ; even the most powerful not to tempt them into falsehood, merely of all Churches could only punish heresy because the truth would be unpleasant to when public opinion looked upon the her their elders. The experiment of allowing etic as a criminal. After public opinion young people to say what they really think decided that the heretic ought not to be has sometimes been tried, and it is found

any other,

to offer certain advantages, particularly this panied by false promises, and there is no one, that as the parents do not wish to be accompaniment of adultery more constant, deceived, they are not deceived, their chil. and, as it seems, more inevitable, than dren are really known to them. Why persistent acting and lying. If, then, it force upon them what Mr. James Payn were possible to make men honest, we calls “sham admiration in literature"? A should, with very rare exceptions, get rid boy dislikes the Latin poets, but enjoys of these two forms of sexual error. As to Shakespeare. If we know his taste, we simplicity of life, there would be good perceive that he does not yet appreciate hopes for this virtue if the penalties the labored finish of classical workmanship, against it were removed. The desire for but enjoys exuberance of invention, and luxury is not by any means universal, perwhere is the harm of knowing so much haps it is not even very common, though about the boy ?

it certainly seems to be common. That The history of public opinion is briefly which men do universally desire is human this. In simple conditions of society it is consideration, at least enough of it to unconscious, and takes the form of obedi- avoid contempt, and a multitude of people ence to a military chief and a sacerdotal are living in far more comfort and luxury authority. In a later stage public opinion than they really care about in order not to is that of a majority powerful enough to be despised. Now, it is entirely within reduce minorities to silence. In the Eng. the power of public opinion to relieve the land of Prince Albert's time public opinion world from the weariness of this burden. was that of the partially educated middle It has actually been done to a great extent class. It was then held to be the duty of with regard to the costliness of funerals, a cultivated thinkers to accept the decisions matter in which public opinion bas always of that class on all questions of politics, been very authoritative. If it will now theology, and morals. The complete permit a man to be buried simply when he emancipation of culture from the incubus is dead, why cannot it allow him to exist of middle-class opinion belongs to the last simply while he is alive? Much progress quarter of the nineteenth century. The has, in fact, already been made in this diconsequence is that public opinion has rection. A gentleman in the eighteenth gained by having an element of intelli- century was obliged to dress in a showy gence in addition to its ancient elements and expensive manner, and to drink wine ; of experience and common sense. So now he may dress with extreme simplicity, strengthened, will it be able to form a per- and drink water if reasons of health and fect morality ? That is not probable ; in- economy make him prefer it. Present deed, there are good reasons for believing social exigencies do not weigh heavily on that a perfect morality is useful only as an a gentleman so long as he is a bachelor ; ideal, that its reduction to practice can they fall upon him after marriage. In never become possible, and would never England people incur ridicule and conbe entirely desirable ; but it is likely that tempt if they marry upon such an income public opinion, with the help of outspoken as young professional men can usually and honest intellectual leaders, will im- earn ; even the newspapers sneer at them prove popular morality. There are two in articles by writers who themselves exist faults in the present condition of society precariously by journalism. There is perfor which it is not unreasonable to expect haps more absolute liberty to live rationally a continuous amendment. People may in Paris than anywhere else, but unfortu. become more truthful when there are no nately the place itself has become expenlonger any social or legal penalties against sive. The temper of public opinion that honesty, and they may live more austerely would be desirable is that of the old when they find that simplicity of life is French aristocracy toward the poorer mem. not attended by any loss of consideration. bers of the same caste, who were allowed Many and


various moral benefits to live with extreme frugality without would result from these two improvements being punished for it by contempt. This, alone. The habit of truthfulness will be it is true, was a caste feeling, yet it is confound, on considering its wide-reaching ceivable that it might be extended so as to effects on conduct, to ensure much, though include all men and women who are truly not all, of sexual morality also, for cases civilized, and whose conduct is above reof seduction are almost invariably accom- proach. There ought to be liberty to



spend, and also liberty not to spend. The will value a reputation for honesty in all frugality that the vulgar sneer at may be their transactions as much as they now dictated by the noblest motives. A lady value the soundness of their credit in may keep few servants that she may re- money matters, a time when they will no serve a margin for her charities ; a man more wish to steal things or to receive may travel in the third-class to help a poor stolen goods, than they now desire to with. relation. For an artist or a writer the hold the interest of their borrowings. A liberty to live simply may mean leisure to complete international morality would also do good work ; for a tradesman, it is the fulfil all national promises and engageliberty to be honest ; for a workwoman, it ments. is permission to be chaste.

This is dreaming, and as the dream is My belief is that the moralities of past pleasant we may go on with it and imagine ages, which were really accepted and acted what the world would be if men who npon (not those which were professed) equally believe that honesty is right could were the changing products of a public work together as heartily as those who opinion unconscious of its own force, and agree about some religious dogma, such as that we ourselves are living in a time when that of transubstantiation.

There are public opinion is passing from the uncon- already some faint signs of concord on scious state to one of lucid consciousness moral grounds in the future. On these through the influence of its intellectual grounds all honest and pure-minded men leaders. We are beginning to know that could meet. We have sometimes, even we can make our own morality, for which, now, the delicate pleasure of seeing the of course, we shall have to take the natural representatives of different religions forconsequences, whatever they may be. getting the acrimony of ancient controThere are conflicts, as when the House of versies and working together for a comCommons says that a man ought to be mon moral end. There are even signs and allowed to marry his deceased wife's sis- symptoms of a truce between the clergy ter, and the House of Lords refuses him and the philosophers. The situation is that liberty, or in France between the sec- briefly this. The clergy have an influence ular and religious spirits when one party over many men, and over a multitude of accepts civil marriage as moral while the women and children, whom the philosoother describes it as concubinage, but in phers cannot reach ; but the philosophers spite of these conflicts, or perhaps even have an influence over many inen and a with the help of the discussions to which small yet increasing number of women who they give rise, we are all working together never hear a sermon and also over many to form the morality of the coming age.

who listen to sermons like the rest. I For those of us whose term of life is not know that the ultimate purpose of the two likely to extend beyond the opening years

classes of teachers is not the same, but the of the next century, the most interesting immediate purpose is very nearly identical. of all subjects of observation is the germ The clergy promise and prepare for another of that morality which will govern Europe life, the philosophers speak exclusively of toward its close. For example, we see this. Nevertheless, both clergymen and already a desire among a few of the best philosophers do, in fact, at present live in minds for honesty and integrity in dealings the world together, and equally desire that between nations, as in Mr. Frederic Harri- present human society should be governed son's proposal to send the Elgin marbles by righteous principles. The two are like back to Greece, a proposal to do what Americans and Frenchmen travelling towould be plainly and indisputably right. gether from Paris to Havre, the Americans The return of these treasures by a strong intending to go to a distant hemisphere, nation to a weak one and by an intelligent the Frenchmen intending to stop at the nation, fully aware of the inestimable value sea-side. Their ultimate hopes are differof what she was surrendering, would be ent, but while they travel in the same an action as beautiful in morals as the train, it is their common interest and deworks themselves are beautiful in art, and sire that the railway servants should do morally it would be as precious to the their duty, and that the passengers, during world as the marbles themselves are artis- the journey, should refrain from robbery tically precious. While we are still dream- and assassination. ing we may imagine a time when nations Since the preceding lines were written,

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