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vidual is constrained to kill another to save his own life. The nation invaded may not have attained a sufficient degree of moral culture to submit to quiet martyrdom, — to suffer all wrong rather than do wrong; and the violent acts by which the invasion is repelled would be regarded by the moralist with great leniency. Yet still they would produce the reflex consequences that were enumerated as flowing from the violation of ordinary moral rules in cases of individual necessity. The national morality would receive a violent shock. The moral progress of the nation would be arrested and inverted. The laws of private duty would be outraged in multitudes of instances, and for a series of years. Idleness and profligacy would make rapid inroads ; the sanctions of religion would be weakened ; and the nation, when restored to tranquillity, would demand an intense and prolonged concentration of its energies to repair the moral waste and desolation that had followed in the train of war. Such consequences have confessedly flowed from the most righteous wars. The demoralizing effects of the war of our Revolution lasted for more than one generation, and were most intensely felt and most deeply deplored by many of those whose sense of duty made them prominent in its counsels and transactions. But if war must, in the course of Providence, be uniformly attended with these calamitous results, though we may admit that it is sometimes necessary in the existing condition of moral sentiment, and though we yield to none in the honor which we would render to those who, believing in its necessity, engage in it from purely patriotic motives, we cannot defend it as in accordance with the supreme rule of right.
We would apply similar principles to the alleged right of capital punishment. The death of another may be the incidental, undesigned result of the lawful measures by which an individual prosecutes his own rights ; and in that case the manslayer is undoubtedly guiltless. In like manner, death may sometimes be the incidental, undesigned result of the lawful measures of a government in protecting the rights of its citizens. For government must needs be possessed of sufficient physical force to serve as a last resort in the execution of its laws, and in the restraint of malefactors; and physical force must have for its basis the possibility of violent death to him who resists it ; — otherwise a desperate individual might keep a whole nation at bay.
But if a person
thus loses his life, there is no need, in order to justify the state, to claiın for it the right of disobeying the law, “ Thou shalt not kill ” ; for in this case the state does not mean to kill, — nay, does not kill ; the contumacious member rushes with suicidal madness against the public sword, and “his blood is upon his own head.” A condition of things is also supposable, in which, from the difficulty of keeping the most dangerous subjects in perpetual restraint, or from the impossibility of preventing certain classes of crimes by a less fearful penalty, a state might deem itself constrained to annex capital punishment to these crimes. In this case, while we might not condemn capital punishment, we could not defend it on the ground of abstract right ; but should regard it as a case of necessity. And we should expect to trace in every instance in which capital punishment was thus inflicted, in a larger or narrower circle, the consequences resulting from the suspension of moral rules in cases of necessity. In point of fact, such consequences are to be invariably traced in connection with the gallows. Whatever effect ihe execution of a criminal may have upon the community at large, it is always morally calamitous in its immediate vicinity, outraging the moral sensibility of many, letting loose the fiercest and vilest passions of many more, and often succeeded by anomalous and unaccountable instances of violence and suicide, that are to be referred to no other cause. For these reasons, and in the absence of any principle of natural morality or any divine command conveying such a right, we should be slow in giving the right of capital punishment a place among the absolute rights of the state.
pass over the remaining right, of imposing oaths, and come to the subsequent chapters of the work, which present a summary view of the progress of government, and of the history of the Roman and the English constitution. The chief desideratum in a government is the union of the two elements of order and freedom in such proportions, that each member of the state shall have the largest liberty consistent with the rights of others. But, until this union is effected, order and freedom present themselves as opposite polarities, towards one of which the state gravitates, till it is repelled towards the other. These oscillations are violent and convulsive in the infancy of states ; but gradually become less and less so, with the growth of intelligence and of moral sentiment, No. 132.
by which those who hold the reins of government become indoctrinated with principles of liberty, while the subject classes learn to revere order as an essential condition of the highest social good. In England, as we infer from the terms of unqualified approbation in which the English constitution is described, the oscillations have ceased, and order and freedom have leaped from their opposite poles into inseparable union. But before we admit this statement in full, we should like to learn the opinions of the manufacturing operatives, the poorer tenantry, and the colliers of England, and to collect the suffrages of Ireland.
The state, considered as a moral personality, not only has rights and obligations, but is also capable of virtue, and subject to positive laws of duty. The duties of the state are accordingly laid down, in correspondence with each of the cardinal virtues. The chapters devoted to this summary contain little that demands animadversion, and constitute for the most part a faultless and most admirable compend of political morality. But the duty of providing for the moral education of the people naturally suggests the subject of ecclesiastical establishments. Here the author examines cursorily, and rejects, the polity of indifference to religion on the part of government, that of protection extended to various sects, and that of ecclesiastico-secular supremacy ; and of course makes the argument turn triumphantly in favor of an established national church. It would be idle for us to join issue with him on this point ; for we can have no American readers who need to be convinced of the expediency and duty of affording equal protection to all forms of Christian belief, and all classes of conscientious worshippers. And were we writing for a Transatlantic public, we would simply ask leave to place side by side ihe ecclesiastical statistics of Great Britain and of the older American States, and would then submit the case without argument.
The closing book of the work before us treats of international law. It is brief and hurried. It barely marks out the ground covered by this designation, enumerates the points that have become settled by usage, prescription, and authority, and indicates the more numerous points still sub lite. The author enters into no discussion, gives no opinion of his own, and makes no reference to any absolute standard of right. This portion of the work, therefore, affords no
scope for comment; and for a synopsis of it, we refer the reader to the table of contents, rather than extend our article by copying it.
In commencing the perusal of this work, our first emotion was that of disappointment. We felt that we were passing over ground as familiar to us as the alphabet, renewing discussions that had been setiled long before our manhood, and at the same time gliding over, with hardly a reference to them, those deep questions which the logomachy of centuries still leaves unfathomed. But we have read the work through with growing gratitude to the author for the distinctness of his definitions, for the transparency of his statements, for his accuracy in the use of terms, and for the minuteness and thoroughness of his analysis of moral ideas and conceptions. He has given new clearness and definiteness to truths which we thought that we had fully apprehended before, has interpreted elements of selfconsciousness which were vague and dim, and has embodied in appropriate and available forms of speech glimpses and glimmerings of thought which we could not have written down. He has furnished and strengthened us for the work that he has left undone ; and no one, who would gird himself for the investigation of the more difficult and complex portions of moral science, could fail to derive the highest benefit from his labors. Yet the work has some decided faults and repulsive features. It is often needlessly minute and tediously prolix. It abounds in repetitions. The same topic is frequently treated with but little variation of detail, under different heads, when a reference to a former chapter would have been sufficient. Condensation to two thirds of its ent bulk would make the work much more readable, without any sacrifice of perspicuity, or the suppression of a single essential thought or statement.
We have said that Dr. Whewell generally stops short at the English point of moral progress. He seems perfectly satisfied with the present English standard of morality, government, and law. The chief deficiency of the work is, that, while it exhibits the great principles on which all the future moral attainments of the race must be based, there is nothing prospective in its details, - no graduated view of the successive steps yet to be taken, — no specification of rules by which its fundamental principles are to be yet more fully embodied and more perfectly realized. In the distinc
tively Anglican tone and character of his book, the author has given us an undesigned commentary on one of his own favorite topics, — the agency of a state, through its institutions and laws, in the moral education of its subjects. He has illustrated the tendency of the great body of intelligent and virtuous fellow-citizens to move onward pari passu towards a higher moral standard. He has shown us how difficult it is, even for a highly enlightened and devout mind, to rise above the average tone of sentiment and feeling of those with whom his social and national sympathies are all
We have thus been led to discern more clearly and to feel more deeply the obligation resting upon those who think that they have attained higher views and a more perfect standard, not to veil the light that is in them, but to make themselves the heaven-appointed leaders of their fellows to a loftier stage of moral progress and attainment.
In reading this book, we have often been reminded of the world-wide difference between the Englishman supreniely satisfied with every thing that is English, and the American constantly finding fault with every thing that is American; and our preference is most decidedly for the latter mood of mind. It results in part from the consciousness of power. The Englishman found his constitution ready made to his hands, and he could not hope to remodel it. Our constitution is still in the process of formation, its documentary provisions liable to change, its unwritten construction on many points still mooted ; and every citizen may have his voice in determining what it shall be, and how it shall be interpreted. Then, too, this fault-finding with our institutions corresponds with the healthful exercise of repentance for individual misdoings and shortcomings. It indicates an active sense of the possibility of something truer and better, and a latent but constant reference to the supreme standard of right. It is the spirit of progress. It is born of our political freedom ; and will give itself no rest, till it has attained the highest liberty under the most perfect supremacy of law.