« PředchozíPokračovat »
happiness, let them not take away the solace of our affliction."
Mr.'s heart was smitten; and I have heard him long after confess that there were moments when the remembrance overcame him even to weakness; when, amidst all the pleasures of philosophical discovery, and the pride of literary fame, he recalled to his mind the venerable figure of the good La Roche, and wished that he had never doubted.
[THE principal works of WILLIAM PALEY D. D. are his Moral Philosophy, Horae Paulinae, Evidences of Christianity, and Natural Theology. The first of the following extracts is from his Moral Philosophy. The latter is from the Natural Theology.]
If you should see a flock of pigeons in a field of corn, and if (instead of each picking where and what it liked, taking just as much as it wanted, and no more) you should see ninety-nine of them gathering all they got into a heap, reserving nothing for themselves but the chaff and the refuse, keeping this heap for one, and that the weakest, perhaps the worst pigeon of the flock; sitting round, and looking on all the winter, whilst this one was devouring, throwing about and wasting it; and if a pigeon, more hardy or hungry than the rest, touched a grain of the hoard, all the
others instantly flying upon it and tearing it to pieces; if you should see this, you would see nothing more than what is every day practised and established among men. Among men you see the ninety-andnine toiling and scraping together a heap of superfluities for one (and this one too, oftentimes, the feeblest and the worst of the whole set—a child, a woman, a madman, or a fool), getting nothing for themselves all the while but a little of the coarsest of the provision which their own industry produces: looking quietly on while they see the fruits of all their labour spent or spoiled; and if one of the number take or touch a particle of the hoard, the others joining against him, and hanging him for the theft.
There must be some very important advantages to account for an institution which, in the view of it above given, is so paradoxical and unnatural.
The principal of these advantages are the following:
I. It increases the produce of the earth.
The earth, in climates like ours, produces little without cultivation; and none would be found willing to cultivate the ground, if others were to be admitted to an equal share of the produce. The same is true of the care of flocks and herds of tame animals.
Crabs and acorns, red deer, rabbits, game and fish, are all which we should have to subsist upon in this country, if we trusted to the spontaneous productions of the soil; and it fares not much better with other countries. A nation of North American savages, consisting of two or three hundred, will take up and be half-starved upon a tract of land which in Europe,
and with European management, would be sufficient for the maintenance of as many thousands.
In some fertile soils, together with great abundance of fish upon their coasts, and in regions where clothes are unnecessary, a considerable degree of population may subsist without property in land; which is the case in the islands of Otaheite: but in less favoured situations, as in the country of New Zealand, though this sort of property obtain in a small degree, the inhabitants, for want of a more secure and regular establishment of it, are driven oftentimes by the scarcity of provision to devour one another.
II. It preserves the produce of the earth to maturity.
We may judge what would be the effects of a community of right to the productions of the earth, from the trifling specimens which we see of it at present. A cherry-tree in a hedge-row, nuts in a wood, the grass of an unstinted pasture, are seldom of much advantage to anybody, because people do not wait for the proper season of reaping them. Corn, if any were sown, would never ripen; lambs and calves would never grow up to sheep and cows, because the first person that met them would reflect that he had better take them as they are than leave them for another.
III. It prevents contests.
War and waste, tumult and confusion, must be unavoidable and eternal where there is not enough for all, and where there are no rules to adjust the division. IV. It improves the conveniency of living.
This it does two ways. It enables mankind to divide themselves into distinct professions, which is impossible, unless a man can exchange the produc
tions of his own art for what he wants from others, and exchange implies property. Much of the advantage of civilized over savage life depends upon this. When a man is, from necessity, his own tailor, tentmaker, carpenter, cook, huntsman, and fisherman, it is not probable that he will be expert at any of his callings. Hence the rude habitations, furniture, clothing, and implements of savages, and the tedious length of time which all their operations require.
It likewise encourages those arts by which the accommodations of human life are supplied, by appropriating to the artist the benefit of his discoveries and improvements, without which appropriation ingenuity will never be exerted with effect.
Upon these several accounts we may venture, with a few exceptions, to pronounce that even the poorest and the worst provided, in countries where property and the consequences of property prevail, are in a better situation with respect to food, raiment, houses, and what are called the necessaries of life, than any are in places where most things remain in common.
The balance, therefore, upon the whole, must preponderate in favour of property with a manifest and great excess.
Inequality of property, in the degree in which it exists in most countries of Europe, abstractedly considered, is an evil; but it is an evil which flows from those rules concerning the acquisition and disposal of property, by which men are incited to industry, and by which the object of their industry is rendered secure and valuable. If there be any great inequality unconnected with this origin, it ought to be corrected.
The World made with a Benevolent Design.
It is a happy world after all. The air, the earth, the water, teem with delighted existence. In a spring noon or a summer evening, on whichever side I turn my eyes, myriads of happy beings crowd upon my view. "The insect youth are on the wing." Swarms of new-born flies are trying their pinions in the air. Their sportive motions, their wanton mazes, their gratuitous activity, their continual change of place without use or purpose, testify their joy and the exultation which they feel in their lately-discovered faculties. A bee amongst the flowers in spring is one of the most cheerful objects that can be looked upon. Its life appears to be all enjoyment; so busy and so pleased: yet it is only a specimen of insect life, with which, by reason of the animal being half domesticated, we happen to be better acquainted than we are with that of others. The whole winged insect tribe, it is probable, are equally intent upon their proper employments, and under every variety of constitution, gratified, and perhaps equally gratified, by the offices which the Author of their nature has assigned to them.
But the atmosphere is not the only scene of enjoyment for the insect race. Plants are covered with aphides, greedily sucking their juices, and constantly, as it should seem, in the act of sucking. It cannot be doubted but that this is a state of gratification: what else should fix them so close to the operation, and so long? Other species are running about with an alacrity in their motions which carries with it every mark