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There is something vastly English in Paley's way of treating the subject. A German is always burrowing and mining, a Frenchman is always flying; but an Englishman walks on the flat solid earth, anxious only to keep in a clear straight path there, and not to fall into any of the German miner's pits. And the doctor's book throughout sticks to this dead level of practical life. “I have examined no points,” he says, “I have discussed no obscurities, I have encountered no errors, I have adverted to no controversies but what I have seen actually to exist;" and all his disquisitions on political philosophy are, as he tells us elsewhere in his preface, “framed with a reference to the condition of this country and of this government.” In laying the foundations of his moral philosophy, he omits any judgment on the one question of speculative interest,—we mean, as to the existence of a moral sense,—and remits it with somewhat of contempt "to those who are more inquisitive than we are concerned to be about the natural history and constitution of the human species” (p. 22). Englishmen do not like moral philosophy at all; but if they must read it, they feel it a great relief to find a writer who is so thoroughly practical and free from the sin of speculation as Paley.
The very selfishness of the principles which Paley advocates has also, we believe, recommended his treatise to Englishmen. It is not that Englishmen are less generous than other men, but they are perhaps less consciously so. The generous emotions of a Frenchman or a German go off at intervals with a bang, which he cannot help hearing, and of which he generally makes a note in his journal, or a story in his memoirs ; but in an Englishman generosity is more an every-day affair, is more interwoven with his whole life, and therefore with his self-love and self-interest. Whether this be the cause or not, it is certain that in England a sort of dislike exists to the mention of any other feelings than self-interest; and a man who talks much of any generous sentiments is apt to be taken either for a knave or a fool. Paley's philosophy and the Manchester creed in politics are both genuine utterances of this side of our national character.
Besides all these questionable recommendations to his reader, Paley has one real merit—that he is always intelligible and clear: you feel perpetually that he is shallow, sometimes that he is self-contradictory, but you never doubt what is the meaning of the passage you are reading. It is this quality in his writings that has made them so popular with several generations of English readers, and has fitted him to be the expositor, the poońtns as the Greeks would say, of several profounder minds on several subjects. For he is, even less perhaps than he tells us or is generally supposed, by no means
an original writer. His Evidences of Christianity are dug out of the great repertory of Lardner's learning ; his Natural Theology was taken largely, but with very insufficient acknowledgment, from Dr. Derham's Physico-Theology; and his Moral Philosophy is, as he himself tells us, borrowed very extensively from other writers, and especially from Tucker.
The very shallowness of Paley's philosophy has no doubt helped to make his work acceptable: for all superficial systems, whether the utilitarian in morals or the sensuous in mental philosophy, have a great apparent advantage over schemes of thought which recognise the unfathomable depths of the human heart and soul. The former are clear, luminous, and systematic, admitting no mysteries, confessing no ignorance, asking for no faith: the latter are confessedly oftentimes obscure, dealing with considerations and thoughts that transcend the logic and the speech of man; they admit mysteries, they confess ignorance, they demand faith. The first treat the nature of man as if it were a straight and level highway, where all may travel with ease and pleasure, with nothing to astonish, nothing to explore; the others conceive of it as an almost boundless land, wherein are
“ Antres vast and desarts idle, Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven." But then these latter theories more than compensate for all the weariness, the uncertainty, and the toil which they bring on the traveller by their truth, and therefore their adaptation to the cravings of man's intellectual life: men never can live and grow to their perfect stature on the dry husks of a utilitarian morality on which the swine of the world are feeding; their very hearts and words, be their theories what they may, confess to the inadequacy of this shallower creed.
It is not very easy to understand the extent of agreement between the author and the editor of the book now before us. The Archbishop thinks it worth while to bestow his time and thought on this edition of the doctor's celebrated work; he thinks it ought to be retained as one of the text-books in our universities; he thinks the errors of Paley are chiefly those of omission (p. 27): but yet he differs from him on the great, one might almost say the only, question in morality, -we mean, the existence and authority of the moral sense. This may, indeed, be called an error of omission, as building a house without foundations might also be called an error of omission; but it is one which destroys the value of the whole structure, and not only 50, but leads to positive error in the substitution of another principle and motive for morality: so that it is an error of omission necessitating an error of commission.
"I am far from thinking that Paley's work ought not to be one of the text-books employed,” says the Archbishop, in speaking of our universities, “ but the study of it should be accompanied with cautions to the young student against adopting the whole of his system” (Preface, p. 6). It is difficult to understand what part of his system should be adopted by a person who, like Dr. Whately, professes to differ from him as to the well-spring and origin of morality, because the false definition of moral obligation which Paley gives is applied by him to the details of morality, and leads, in our opinion, to false particulars; indeed, it cannot be but that a fundamental error as to the nature of moral obligation should taint every page of a treatise on moral philosophy. The Archbishop's position is like that of a man who, denying the axioms of Euclid, should still teach the great geometrician's Elements, but accompanied with cautions against adopting the whole of his system. For our part, we should
rejoice to see Paley's work excluded from the curriculum of all our universities, though it be true that no other systematic treatise is in existence which could entirely take its place. Till this deficiency be supplied, we had far rather that our students should be trained on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, and Butler's Sermons on Human Nature, than that they should be instructed in such a morality as that of Paley
Dr. Whately's annotations are of course sensible and clear, and, we think, more free from merely verbal distinctions than most of his productions; for the Archbishop belongs to that school of writers-beginning, if we mistake not, with the late Bishop Coppleston—who attach an undue importance to the ambiguity that lurks in some conspicuous word, and fancy that the strifes that have divided mankind, and will divide it as long as man is what he is, spring from double middles, and are to be settled by exposing that fallacy. True it is that these great dividing ques. tious often result in the double significance of a term, but they do not spring from it: their root is not in words, but in the hearts and thoughts of men.
The editor's share in this volume is, like too many of his books, deformed by needless and wearisome repetitions, by italics and by vanity-(perhaps there is a closer connection between these things than may at the first sight appear). It might be thought enough for an author that he more often quotes himself, and refers to his own works, than to those of any other writer, and probably of all other writers put together; but the way in which Dr. Whately thinks fit to do so has an originality about it. It is not enough to cite himself simply; he cites himself (p. 63) as extracted, with his permission, by another learned and reverend author. Nor are his references to his own writings less striking. One meets with such passages as these: “ As is ob
served in the Lessons on Morals” (p. 27); “see Lessons on Reasoning” (p. 23); “ the second series of Essays” (p. 165). An ignorant, very ignorant, reader may at first sight be inclined to ask, what are the Lessons on Morals ? THE Lessons on Reasoning? But he has only to turn to the advertisements at the end of the book, and he finds that they are productions of the fertile pen of the Archbishop himself, and may each be had for the moderate price of ls. 6d. When (at p. 31) we found a footnote referring to “the Politics," we were sadly puzzled; and it was only after searching in vain for such a book amongst Dr.
a Whately's works, and a direct reference in the text to Aristotle, that we felt assured that “the Politics” meant what it used to mean.
If these annotations were intended for the use of students, it is greatly to be regretted that their author has not been at the pains to give definite references to the passages of other writers to whom allusion is made; because nothing more necessarily deters from research, not the idle student only, but the one who carefully husbands his time. Such references as those at p. 61 to Aristotle, “in his Ethics,” and “ Cicero, in his De Officiis,” are as good as useless; nor are such as the one at p. 27, “ Eth. Nicom. b. v.,” much more useful to any student who has not already so mastered the treatise as to require no reference at all to guide him to the familiar passage. Such is the style of quotation throughout Dr. Whately’s notes, except, indeed, where he cites himself, where the manner is usually, though not uniformly, far more praiseworthy; as, for instance, at p. 26,“ See Lessons on Morals, less. xviii. § 4, note.” The point may seem a trifling one, but the definiteness of reference often makes the difference between a book useful or useless to the student; and the habit of recurring to the original passages can never be too greatly encouraged in any study whatever.
But to leave the annotator, for the consideration of the work which he has annotated.
Paley has devoted a long chapter to the discussion of the existence of a moral sense, in which he has stated what he conceives to be the arguments on the two sides of the question, but without expressing any decision either the one way or the other, because the desired result can, in his opinion, be arrived at by a surer road than the moral sense presents, assuming it to exist; so that the question becomes, in Paley's system, “a question of pure curiosity” (p. 22). When we arrive at the second book, we find what this surer road is; for there the author expounds his celebrated theory of moral obligation, or obligation only, as we should rather say, as the word 'moral' has no place in the definition given, or the motives suggested. “ A inan is said to be obliged,” says our author (p. 57), “when he is urged by a violent motive resulting from the command of another." “ Then let it be asked,” he proceeds, in the following chapter (p. 59), " why am I obliged to keep my word? and the answer will be, because I am urged to do so by a violent motive (namely, the expectation of being after this life rewarded if I do, or punished for it if I do not), resulting from the command of another (namely, of God).” The next inquiry, therefore, is as to the commands of God, which are to be come at in two ways: first, by His
declarations in Scripture; and secondly, " by what we can discover of His designs and disposition from His works" (p. 70). Of these the first requires no discussion: the second is discussed by our author in his chapter on the Divine Benevolence; and his determination on the matter, and application of it to the rule of conduct, are thus stated: “We conclude, therefore, that God wills and wishes the happiness of His creatures; and this conclusion being once established, we are at liberty to go on with the rule built upon it, namely, that the method of arriving at the will of God concerning any action ly the light of nature, is to inquire into the tendency of that action to promote or diminish the general happiness” (p. 76). This is the whole scheme of moral obligation propounded by Paley in his second book.
In this scheme every thing, it will be observed, is made to hang on the selfish motive of the hope of reward or the fear of pain. Every thing, except where there is an express declaration in Scripture, depends on a calculation of the tendency of an action to promote or diminish the general happiness,—not because this general happiness in any wise commends itself to our hearts and minds, or is a thing which in itself we desire, but solely because to pursue it will be pleasing to Him who dispenses rewards and punishments, and so may get us gain hereafter. The simple utilitarian code of morals is generous and noble in comparison of this theory. “From this account of obligation it follows," as Paley observes, " that we can be obliged to nothing but what we ourselves are to gain or lose something by” (p. 58). On this scheme, too, moral approbation and disapprobation of an action
for nothing, are of no moment or account whatsoever. It is a strange thing that men should go on debating and discussing whether there be a moral sense or not; or whether the Scriptures and utility be our only rules. Did not morality exist long before the New Testament was written? Had not the idea of the great end and destiny of man, as a moral being; seized hold of Socrates, and so wrought in him that he could not choose but preach this great truth, day by day, in the agora of Athens, and in the workshops of Piræus,-arguing ever that as each trade and craft had its definite end and object, so man