Imágenes de página


absolute certainty and necessity is not claration to that effect must be abso

It is formally laid down, I lutely true; and that truth must be as believe, in Kirwan's Metaphysical Es- necessary as any thing which now says, and probably occurs, more or exists is necessary. It follows, then, less directly, elsewhere. It seems to that he may declare of the event, be this--that though it may be known “ that it certainly shall be," and also that a future event certainly shall be, “ that it has an equal chance not to yet it does not follow that such future be;" and that both these declarations event necessarily must be. It is an are necessary, absolute, and existing endeavour to shew that the terms, truths.

certainly shall be,” and “necessari The doctrine of contingency must ly must be,” are not identical, or da not, however, be assumed, as it has not include each other. Let us see generally been, without examination. how this can consist. If it be gene. Of the existence of such things as abrally and merely known to be not true solutely contingent events, there has that a future event necessarily must never been the shadow of a proof.+ be, there is an equal chance for the con- Absolute contingency is a mere “ Ens verse of the proposition being true, viz. Rationis,”. (a phrase sufficiently clouthat it necessarily must not be; and if dy;) nay, it is hardly even that. What there is an equal chance that the pro- definition of contingency has ever been position “ it necessarily must not be" offered, from which any distinct ideas shall be true, then of course an asser can be drawn? What is to become of tion, " that the event may not hap- the reasonings founded upon cause and pen," is as likely as “ that it may effect, if events may take place withhappen.” Now, if it be true of this out causes, or causeś may be followed same event, that it certainly shall be by no effects, or by contrary effects? this would exclude the truth of the Dr Coptestone, very properly no douht, negative, that it certainly shall not be, submits, (p. 40,) that if we mean and also of the contingent, that it cer- by the word contingent, that which tainly may not be. If, then, the Sú- cannot be known beforehand; we only preme Being know of a future sup- say that what cannot be known before posed event, that it is not necessary, hand, cannot be known beforehandhe a's certainly knows that it may not which is saying nothing; therefore nobe; and, of course, if he knows also thing is denied of the Deity." Grantthat its non-occurrence isnot necessary, ed: but what better meaning can the then he has a complete knowledge of advocates of free-will put upon it? its contingency; he knows that neither In fact, they are driven to assume, eithe assertion“ it may be," nor the ther this sort of absolute contingence, assertion “ it may not be,” is necessa- which, as they allow, excludes the dirily untrue. If, 'in addition to this, vine foreknowleilge; or else another he know that the event certainly shall sort, the definition of which includes a be, then he knows that a present de contradiction ; that is to say, they de

* Hobbes, who, by the way, was perhaps the first who had clear ideas of necessity, complains of the want of novelty in the objections to it. In fact, most of the arguments against the doctrine are to be found in the older writers, however science may have suggested improved methods of answering them. The following passage from Baronius embodies the distinction in question. . He endeavours to make out future certainty to be only a sort of contingent necessity! It occurs in Seć. XII. “ De Necessario et Contingenti.”

“ Hoc modo---necesse est “Socratem ambulare,' factâ hac suppositione quod ambuleť hoc item modo, necesse fuit · Adamum peccare,' suppositâ præscientiâ Divinâ, quia scil: Dei præscientia non potest falli. Interim, hujusmodi necessitas non aceidit ratione alicujus principii motivi vel impulsivi; neque enim Deus per præscientiam suam effecit ut homo peccaret; sicut homo qui præscit aliquam Rem futuram, per suam præscientiam non efficit ut Res futura sit, sed, quia Res futura est, ideo praescit. Cum ergo, Necessarium variis modis dicatur, tenendum est, non omnes hos modos necessitatis comprehendi sub necessario proprie dicto, sed plerosque eorum nihil aliud esse quam modos quosdam contingentis, præ se ferentis speciem necessitatis.It is precisely South's distinction between the Church of Rome and that of England one was infallible; the other never in the wrong!

+ See Edwards on Free-will, Chap. “ On Cause and Effect." Berkeley “ De Motu,” &c. &c.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


fine a contingent event to be something, believe this to be a fair statement; the occurrence of which is certainly but it is not so. Before going into the known to be uncertain, and yet, of question, however, it is necessary to which the certain occurrence is, or extend the quotation, in order that the may be, certainly known. That the scope and drift of the argument may existence of absolutely contingent be fully understood. The Discourse events is a gratuitous supposition, can- proceeds thus: “ If we cast our eyes not be denied. No one has ever been upon the world, we readily perceive, able to point out any such event in that the activity and energy of men is nature. Experience, on the contrary, encreased by a persuasion, that they has constantly taught, that events hap- have it in their power to attain certain pen in a continued chain of cause and ends, and that they never think of at effect. Nor has one single occurrence, tempting that which they know to be either of motion, thought, or existence impossible, or beyond their reach, or of any sort, been ascertained to have not capable of being obtained or avertshewn itself independent of some prior ed by any thing they can do. To be connecting event, which acted neces- taking measures for procuring a fertile sarily as a 'cause or reason. But a con- season, or for stopping the mouth of a tingent event is either without a cause, volcano, would be certain proof of ins or else its cause co-exists with it, and sanity. Men do indeed often engage is included in it. On the latter sup- in vain and chimerical undertakings, position, the event would not be con but it is under a belief of their practitingent, since it was influenced by cability; as soon as they discover their something else, and the contingency error, they leave off. ********** would be transferred to the co-existent of the two grand motives which actu

There is no end of this; and ate reasonable beings, hope and fear, we must either at once boldly deny the the influence is always diminished, in doctrine of cause and effect, or be con- proportion to the opinion men have of tent to be lost (like the Niger in its the unalterable conditions under which sands) in the wilderness of infinite se. they are placed. ries.

fact, it is presumed, will hardly be The next point to which the reve denied, that when men really believe, rend author directs his attention, is and the belief is present in their minds, best gleaned from his own words. that a decree has passed upon them, Whatever has been, is, or will be, their own motives to action are weakcould (not as some say) be otherwise. ened, if not wholly extinguished."* We, vain and insignificant creatures,

The above sentences are probably full of our own importance, imagine, sufficient to shew, that the argument that we act from ourselves, that we can here intended is the favourite point in deliberate, choose, reject, command, the pamphlet of Mr Dawson, quoted obey, forbid, contrive, hasten, or hin- in the preface. It is of old standing, der a thousand things—when, in fact, and is neither more nor less than that this is all delusion. We are but mem- celebrated cavil with which the Epibers of the machine, like the rest; and cureans puzzled and twitted the Stoics, though we may please ourselves with and which is known by the name of thinking that we act an independent Ignava Ratio. It is plausible, and is part, the real truth is, we have no so from its including more than one yoice, no power, no control, in what fallacy. The first fallacious supposiis going on; all would take its course tion is that of the kind of necessity

same, whether for good or for which the mind of the person subjectill, were we to give ourselves no con- ed to this principle of inaction, must cern whatever in the matter. Such, imagine to itself. The principle rests I believe, is a fair statement of the upon the mind assuming some insuladoctrine of philosophical necessity, or ted event or events, as being arbitrapredestination, confined to this life.” rily fixed and decreed; without the The reverend author, no doubt, may necessity, also, of the means which are

* * The

just the

* This branch of the controversy is considered at length in vol. VIII. p. 172 of this Magazine, article “ Igitava Ratio ;” and I take the opportunity of correcting a sentence in the first page, in which, from an inadvertence, the term “ fatalists” is applied to the followers of Epicurus, instead of the Stoios.

to lead to the occurrence of such events, in the mind of the necessitarlan agent, being adverted to. Now, this is noto- it is not better known, and more frem riously at variance with the necessi, quently pointed out? Why,–because tarian hypothesis, which supposes, men easily analyse their mental prothat causes are decreed as well as ef- cesses; and because men in general fects, and means as well as ends. And follow up the means to an end, mereunless this arbitrary and partial sort of ly because they evidently seem to lead necessity be supposed, the accusation to it. They do not stop to inquire of inaction being consequent on a be whether they are making a path, or lief in necessity, includes in itself this following a path already made for glaring and direct absurdity. It sup- them. This is the plain proximate poses a Necessitarian to reason with cause of men's actions. They are himself thus : that all events being taught, by perpetual experience, that unalterable, and he being unable, by means are necessary to an end ; and, any action or exertion, either to ame under this persuasion, they eagerly liorate.or deteriorate his condition and take every preparatory step; each step, lot; therefore, he will ameliorate it by as far as it strengthens the evidence of the enjoyment of ease, and the omis- the certainty of the desired event, and sion of labour :-a direct contradiction brings the agent nearer that event, in terms; as it is saying, I cannot al. being more and more devoutly wel. ter any thing, and therefore I shall comed. Nor is it of any consequence, alter something:

whether or not a man is told, that in The motives, however, under which tracing this chain, he is only fulfilling the Necessitarian acts, and rationally a prior decree. It is happiness he and unavoidably acts, are capable of wants, not liberty. Suppose, by way being pointed out. Let a given event of illustration, that a messenger knocks of importance, say death, be taken as at a man's door, and informs him that an example. If this, the objector says, government intends him a pension ; be absolutely fixed to take place at and further, that he is to go immedisome certain period, and then only, ately to some certain place, where he why do you trouble yourself about an should receive the first payment, if he event which can neither be hastened arrived in time; and that if he did nor retarded ? in short, why do you not go, he should be hanged. Supeat or drink, or distrust fire or water, pose further, that at every step of his or shun personal danger, from a fear progress, the delighted pensioner was of its tendency to produce the catas- reminded that he was only fulfilling a trophe in question? The answer is decree, would that alter his satisfacshortly thus : Whether my death is to tion? on the contrary, every step which take place now, or at some distant proved to him the certainty of the time, is, I know, already fixed and de- whole series, would be eagerly taken, termined; but, not knowing how it is as bringing ncarer, and ratifying, the determined, my death, as to time, is certainty of the wished-for conclusion, to me a contingent event; for aught I To say, that a man, the events, good know, it may be now, or it may be and bad, of whose future life, were then. It will be allowed, however, decreed, and to whom the particulars that I very naturally would prefer the of that decree were known, would be latter decree to the former; and am subjected to inaction, is to put an unglad of all evidence which goes to prove natural and useless case. If the dethat the last supposed decree is, in fact, cree were independent of the will of the real decree. Now, I know that him concerning whom it was made, means are necessary to an end ; and then the supposition does not apply; when I see means and the power of because philosophical necessity is laid using them afforded, I consider that down to be in the will itself.' If the as the best evidence of the end being will be included in the decree, then intended. Therefore, I use every means there is no room for any supposeable in my power to retard the time of my alteration, either in conduct or dispodeath; using food, caution, &c. as sition. means directly tending to, and intima Against the Ignava Ratio the appeal ting the probability of a desired end. to experience is decisive ; and perhaps

As an objection to the foregoing rea- the hastiest assertion in Dr Coplesoning, it may be asked, perhaps, why, stone's book is, that “the universal if this be the process which takes place and actual tendency of such belief as


the Necessftarian inculcates, is to re- vulgar!” Now, really, if the reverend lax our exertions, in proportion as that doctor had proved his own side of the belief predominates." Let the name question with the certainty of matheof one enlightened Necessitarian be matical demonstration, this would have quoted in corroboration. Dr Coplestone made a very pretty syllogism. All who allows, that “ fatalists are ready to really believe necessity, relax in their quote instances of illustrious men, and exertions,—but these men did not reeven of whole sects, under the profes- lax; therefore, they did not really besion of fatalists, who lived exactly as lieve necessity. At present, it only other people do.". Here is the testi- reminds one of the physician in one of mony of thousands; and how does the Voltaire's tales, who, when somebody reverend author get rid of these incon- recovered under treatment which was

venient quotations ? he merely says, in opposition to his opinion, wrote a 1,1 that " these illustrious individuals and pamphlet to prove that he ought to

their sects do not really believe what have died. I am, &c. they profess,” and “ affect to talk like

T. D. philosophers," while they “ act as the

MARTIN, THE CARDER, A WEST-MEATHIAN TALE. MR EDITOR.-In the summer of whom the government and the couneighteen hundred and sixteen, when try owe much. But I will not enter, a lawless feeling was very general further into political discussion, it bethroughout Ireland, the counties of ing merely my purpose to record a noWestmeath and Longford were par- ble trait of Irish character, and a speticularly disturbed. Secret associa- cimen of Irish eloquence, somewhat diftions were formed, hostile at first, ferent from that vulgarly so called. more to the landlords and gentry than Martin was one of

the chief of these to the government, though, in a little desperadoes, and had signalized him2 time, from factious spirits, it no doubt self in taking vengeance on the marked

grew into an organized plan of re- men, and in levying far and near vasť bellion. The members gave them- contributions of arms, money being a selves the name of carders, from the booty which the fraternity disdained instrument with which they inflicted to take. One of their attacks was on punishment on their enemies, among the house of a man named Timms, which were numbered chiefly inform- who, retreating up stairs, made a gal

ers, and those who took or let land lant defence in the garret, killed some È above what they considered the fair of them, and wounded Martin. The

valuation. Harassed by the unavoid wound, and the loss of blood in conseable distress of the country, and infla- quence, caused him to faint, unnoticed med by spokesmen, who had travel- by Timms, as his companions retreatled in England in search of harvest ed.. When he came to his senses, still work, and had seen, and invidiously undiscovered, as the house was left alcompared, the comforts of the English together without light, he bethought husbandman with their own priva- himself of the best means of escaping, tions, they attributed their ills to left alone as he was, though unperceipartial government and oppression. ved, in the room with his enemy; he

* Worse nor I am I can't be,” was concluded by making a rush at the . the reasoning by which they prepared window, and leaping through it, very

themselves for what they called a stir. probably not recollecting the height it Besides, various prophecies and myste- was from the ground. His back was rious bodings floated about the country, broken, it seems, by the fall, yet he

that the reign of protestantism was to contrived to roll himself over the gari terminate in the year seventeen; and an den, till he was taken by some of his

interpretation of the Apocalypse, writ- friends, and conveyed to a place of seten by one Walmsey, entitled, Pastori- crecy, in one of the Islands of Lough

ni's Christian Church, was spread not Ree. I only by oral accounts, but by the vo. He was traced by his blood from the

lume itself, through the country. All place where he fell to where he rolled, their purposes, however, were happily and every exertion was used to discover

frustrated by the vigilance of the ma- the lurking place of the wounded man. #gistrates of the county, Lord C-, The search was vain for some time, Captain D-, Captain C

Captain Cm, to till an account was brought to Cap,

tain C, a most active and praise- vertheless, was taken in the wood, worthy magistrate of that county, of where he had thrown himself into a Martin's lying wounded in some of the furze bush, and in spite of the gatherislands of the lake. Early in the ing of the country people, he was semorning the Captain took the revenue cured, and at length lodged safe in the boat, well-manned, and proceeded on jail of Mullingar. his quest. While busied in searching He was tried, and condemned to die, one island, he perceived a boat putting but had frequent offers of pardon, if off from the other, rowed by two wo- he would confess and name his assomen, and a head evidently bobbing in ciates. All solicitations of the kind the stern, the wind being high, and were vain; he was resolute in betraythe water rough. All hands were calle ing none. I was present at his execued to the pursuit; and though the tion; it took place near the fatal scene boat was but a little a-head, the two of his last attack. As he ascended the lasses beat the revenue barge, with its ladder, he turned round to address the eight oars, the whole breadth of the assembled crowd, consisting of his old lake to the wood of St John's, where friends and accomplices. He eyed dropping Martin “ on dry land, up to each with a look of recognition, and his neck in the water," as they them- though pale and ghastly from his hurt selves would have said, they made and sickness, I shall never forget the down the wind, away from the dread- impressiveness with which he uttered ed magistrate. The Captain in vain these last words, --" It is a bad busiendeavoured to come up with them, ness, boys, and drop it; but, boys, I not to put them in irons, as they sup- die clane."* posed, but to help them from his Those who know what heroic sentiwhisky bottle for having so gallantly ment is, I leave to form their own outstripped him. Poor Martin, ne- conclusion.

* By clune he meant true,—that he had betrayed nothing; the expression of “ a clean heart, ” ” a clean conscience,” is very common with them.

[ocr errors]

From an Old Friend with a New Face.


On ANASTASIUS. By-Lord Byron.* MY TEAR Kır,

angry at the suppression of your wontI have been struck with wonder at edo sagacity on this occasion, as the the compassionate review of the three work, though full of a clever innate new Cantos of Don Juan in your last scoundrelism, is really not only too Number. But though you may be bad in many of its details, but calcupardoned in that instance, considering lated to profane many serious and sathe great pains poor Byron has of late cred things. But what can be said for taken to write himself down, I cannot Hope, who having been so laughed at, forgive you for the part you have hi- for his skill in contriving receptacles for therto affected to play towards the im- sitting parts, and disguises for certain postor Anastaşius. In a word, Kit, to utensils, has been beguiled to stand be familiar with you, as our ancient godfather to Byron's abandoned profriendship fully authorizes me to be, I geny? He knows that the Thomas beg to know how it is that you have Hope, who writes so dedicatorily to allowed the soft-headed world to be Louisa from Duchess Street, but whose ļieve so long that the aforesaid rascal- name is not ventured on the title-page, Jy Greek is a legitimate son of “the is meant for him who possesses so upholsterer.” You know as well as I many noseless statues and cracked clo, that the stuff and bam about dedi- pitchers of antiquity,—and that he has cating, and not dedicating to Louisa, is as little to say to the composition of a piece of quizzical

humbug to cajole the Anastasius as the Whigs have to the gullibility of the reading

public. How hospitalities of the King's reception in Byron must chuckle at the success of Ireland. Why

he should, therefore

, the device! I am, however, the more assent to the cajolery of taking in the

Anastasius, or Vemoirs of a Greck; written at the close of the eighteenth century. 3 vols. London. Murray, 1820.

« AnteriorContinuar »