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Now for the writing of this werke,
I, who am a lonesome clerke,
Purposed for to write a book
After the world, that whilome took
Its course in olde days long passed:
But for men sayn, it is now lassed
In worser plight than it was tho,
I thought me for to touch also
The world which neweth every day—
So as I can, so as I may,
Albeit I sickness have and pain,
And long have had, yet would I fain
Do my mind's hest and besiness,
That in some part, so as I guess,
The gentle mind may be advised.

Qower, Pro. to the Confess. Amantis.




Ja, ich bin der Atheist und Gottlose, der einer imaginären Berechnungslehre, einer blossen Einbildung von allgemeinen Folgen, die nie folgen können, zuwideilügen will, wie Desdemona sterbend log; lügen und betrügen will, wie der für Orest sich darstellende Pylades; Tempelraub unternehmen, wie David; ja, Aehren ausraufen am Sabbath, auch nur darum, weil mich hungert, und das Gesetz um des menschen willen gemacht ist, nicht der Mensch um des Gesetzes willen.

Yes, I am that atheist, that godless person, who in opposition to an imaginary doctrine of calculation, to a mere ideal fabric of general consequences, that can never be realized, would lie, as the dying Desdemona lied ;* lie and deceive as Pylades when he personated Orestes; would commit sacrilege with David; yea and pluck ears of corn on the sabbath, for no other reason than that I was fainting from lack of food, and that the law was made for man and not man for the law.

Jacobi's Letter To Fiohte.

If there be no better doctrine,—I would add! Much and often have I suffered from having ventured to avow my doubts concerning the truth of certain opinions, which had heen sanctified in the minds of my hearers by the authority of some reigning great name; even though in addition to my own reasons, I had all the greatest names from the Reformation to the Revolution on my side. I could not, therefore, summon courage, without some previous pioneering, to declare publicly, that the principles of morality taught in the present work will be in direct opposition to the system of the late Dr. Paley. This confession I should have deferred to a future time, if my opinions on the grounds of international morality had not been contradictory to a fundamental point in Paley's system of moral and political philosophy. I mean that chapter which treats of general consequences, as the chief and best criterion of the right or wrong of particular actions.* Now this doctrine I conceive to be neither tenable in reason nor safe in practice: and the following are the grounds of my opinion.

* Emilia.—0 who hath done This deed?

Desd. Nobody; I myself; farewell; Commend me to my kind Lord.—0—farewell.

Othello.—You heard her say yourself, it was not I.

Emilia.—She said so ; I must needs report the truth.

Othello.—She's, like a liar, gone to burning hell;
'twas I that killed her.

Emilia.—Oh ! the more angel she!

Othello, Act v. sc. 1.


First: this criterion is purely ideal, and so far possesses no advantages over the former systems of morality; while it labours under defects, with which those are not ,justly chargeable. It is ideal: for it depends on, and must vary with, the notions of the individual, who in order to determine the nature of an action is to make the calculation of its general consequences. Here, as in all other calculation, the result depends on that faculty of the soul in the degrees of which men most vary from each other, and which is itself most affected by accidental advantages or disadvantages of education, natural talent, and acquired knowledge—the faculty, I mean, of foresight and systematic comprehension. But surely morality, which is of equal importance to all men, ought to be

* Moral and Political Philosophy. B. II. the first eight chapters. —Ed.

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