Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

tistics embodied in this, the first “ Iron- the Infinite God. Voluntary and disinterested Manufacturer's Guide"; but the subject is obedience to this law constitutes the Virtue as inexhaustible as the mineral wealth of

of all finite creatures. Virtue is capable of the country, and we shall look for the fu- infinite growth, of endless approach to the

Divine nature and to perfect conformity with ture publications of the society with much

the law. interest.

God has made all rational free agents for virtue, and all worlds for rational free agents. The Moral Lan, therefore, not

only reigns throughout His creation, (all its beAn Essay on Intuitive Morals. Being an

hests being enforced thereon by His omnipoAttempt to Popularize Ethical Science.

tence,) but is itself the reason why that creation Part I. Theory of Morals. First Amer- exists." — pp. 62-63. ican Edition, with Additions and Corrections by the Author. Boston: Crosby, This is certainly good defining, and the Nichols, & Co. 1859. pp. 294.

passage we have Italicized has the true

Transcendental ring. Indeed, the book is Four years ago last March this book a system of Kantian Ethics, as the author appeared in England, published by Long- herself says in her Preface; and the tough man; a thin octavo, exciting little atten- old Königsberg professor has no reason to tion there, and scarcely more on this side complain of his gentle expounder. Unlike the water, where the best English books most British writers,-with the grand exhave of late years found their first appre- ception of Sir William Hamilton, the greatciation. The first notice of it printed in est British metaphysician since Locke and this country, so far as we know, appeared Hume,- she understands Kant, admires and in the “ Harvard Magazine” for June, loves him, and so is worthy to develop his 1855,-a publication so obscure, that, to knotty sublimities. This alone would be most readers of the ATLANTIC, this will high praise; but we think she earns a be their first knowledge of its existence. more original and personal esteem. About two years later, Part II. appeared The question of the second chapter she in England, and then both books were re

thus answers :viewed in the “Christian Examiner”; yet,

“ The Moral Law is found in the Intuitions to all intents and purposes, this new edi

of the Human Mind. These Intuitions are tion is a new book, and we shall treat it as

natural; but they are also revealed. Our. such. We have as yet a reprint of Part I.

Creator wrought them into the texture of our only, but we trust the publishers will soon souls to form the groundwork of our thoughts, give us the other,—“The Practice of Mor

and made it our duty first to examine and als,”- which, if less valuable than this, is then to ereet upon them by reflection a Scistill so much better than most works of ence of Morals. But He also continually aids its kind as to demand a republication. us in such study, and He increases this aid in The author - a woman — (for, to the

the ratio of our obedience. Thus Moral Intushame of our virile secus be it said, a woin

itions are both Human and Divine, and the an has written the best popular treatise on

paradoxes in their nature are thereby solved. Ethics in the language) - divides her First Part into four chapters :

This statement may, perhaps, be re

ceived without cavil by most readers ; but I. What is the Moral Law? II. Where the Moral Law is found.

the reasoning on which it depends is the III. That the Moral Law can be obeyed.

weakest part of the book, and we shall be IV. Why the Moral Law should be obeyed.

surprised if some hard-headed divine, who

fears that this doctrine of Intuition will This, as will be seen, is an exhaustivo pester his Church, does not find out the analysis. To the great question of the flaws in the argument. It will be urged, first chapter, after a full discussion, she for instance, that, in confessing that the gives this answer :

Science of Morals can never be as exact “ The Moral Law is the resumption of the

as that of Mathematics, because we have eternal necessary Obligation of all Rational

no terminology for Ethics so exact as for Free Agents to do and feel those Sentiments Geometry, she, in effect, yields the whole which are Right. The identification of this question, and leaves us in the old slough law with His will constitutes the Holiness of of doubt where Pyrrho and Pascal delights

- p. 136.

ed to thrust us, and where the Church motive, the spring of our resolution, the threatens to keep us, unless we will pay ground of our obedience. Deep from our her tolls and pick our way along her turn

inmost souls comes forth the mandate, the pike. But though her major and minor

bare and simple law, claiming the command

of our whole existence merely by its proper premises may not be on the best terms with each other, -even though they may

right, and disdaiving alike to menace or to

bribe." remind us of that preacher of whom Pierrepont Edwards said, “If his text had the The terms Euthumism and Eudaimonism smallpox, his sermon would not catch it,” are, perhaps, peculiar to this essay, and - her conclusion is sound, and as inspiring may need some explanation. The Euthunow as when the poet said,

mist is one who assumes moral pleasure “Est Deus in nobis, agitante calescimus illo," —

as a sufficient reason why virtue should

be sought; the Eudaimonist believes we or when George Fox trudged hither and should be virtuous for the sake of affecthither over Europe with the same noble tional, intellectual, and sensual pleasure ; tune sounding in his ears.

if he means the pleasure of all mankind, In the third chapter the old topics are he is a Public Eudaimonist; but if he treated, which, according to Milton, the means the pleasure of the individual, he fallen angels discussed before Adam set- is a Private Eudaimonist. Democritus is tled the debate by sinning,

reckoned the first among Euthumists; and

in England this school has been repre“ Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute,"

sented, among others, by Henry More and

Cumberland, by Sharrock,* Hutcheson, and it is concluded that the Moral Law

and Shaftesbury. Paley thrust himself can be obeyed :

among Public Eudaimonists, and our au. * 1st. Because the Human Will is free.

thor well exposes his grovelling morals, 2d. Because this freedom, though involving aiming to produce the "greatest happiness present sin and suffering, is foreseen by God

of the greatest number,” a system which to result eventually in the Virtue of every

has too long been taught among the stucreature endowed there with."

dents of our colleges and high schools. In this chapter the history of the com- But he properly belongs to the Private mon doctrine of Predestination is admira- Eudaimonists ; for this interpreter of ethbly sketched, (pp. 159-164, note,) and the ics to the ingenuous youth of England and grounds for our belief in Free Will more

America says,

“ Virtue is the doing good clearly stated than we remember to have to mankind in obedience to the will of seeu elsewhere. Especially fine is her God, and for the sıke of everlasting happiness. method of reducing Foreordination to sim- According to which definition,.the good of ple Ordination, by directing attention to mankind is the subject, the will of God the the fact that with God there is no Past

rule, and everlasting happiness the molive of and Future, but an Endless Now; as Ten- virtue." nyson sings in “ In Memoriam,”

It is such keresies as this, and the still "Oh, if indeed that eye foresee,

grosser pravities into which the ethics Or see, (in Him is no before,)"

of expediency run, that this book will do and as Dante sang five centuries ago. much to combat. Nothing is more needed But it is the last chapter which best

in our schools for both sexes than the sysshows the power of the author and the tematic teaching of the principles here set pure and generous spirit with which the forth; and we have no doubt this volume whole book is filled. Here she shows why could be used as a text-book, at least with the Moral Law should be obeyed; and some slight omissions and additions, such dividing the advocates of Happiness as as a competent teacher could well furnish. a motive into three classes, Euthumists,

Portions of it, indeed, were some years Public Eudaimonists, and Private Eudai- since read by Mrs. Lowell to her classes, monists, she refutes them all and estab

* Sharrock is a name unfamiliar to most lishes her simple scheme, which she states

readers. His ‘Y TOOLS hoern, published in in these words :

1660, contains the first clear statement of Eu“ The law itself, the Eternal Right, for thumism made by any Englishman. See p. right's own sake, that alone must be our 223.

We per

and are now incorporated in her admira- and truth, and to treat the weakest of his felble book, “Seed Grain"; nor does there

low-creatures with generosity and courtesy. seem to be any good reason why it should Recurring to its true character, the not be introduced at Cambridge. With

Law of Honor, when duly enlarged and reoa short introduction containing the main

tified, becomes highly valuable. principles of metaphysics, and with the

ceive, that, amid all its imperfections and

aberrations, it has been the truest voice of omission of some rhetorical passages un

intuition, amid the lamentations of the besuited to a text-book, it might supplant

liever in 'total depravity,' and the bargainthe books of both intellectual and moral

ing of the expediency-seeking experimentalphilosophy now in use in our higher ist. While the one represented Virtue as & schools.

Nun and the other as a Shopwoman, the Law But it is not as a school-book that this of Honor drew her as a Queen, - faulty, peressay is to be considered ; it will find a haps, but free-born and royal. Much serlarge and increasing circle of readers

vice has this law done to the world; it has among the mature and the cultivated, and made popular modes of thinking and acting these will perceive that few have thought

far nobler than those inculcated from many so profoundly or written so clearly on

a pulpit; and the result is patent, that many

a 'publican and sinner,' many an opera-frethese absorbing topics. Take, for exam

quenting, betting, gambling man of the world, ple, the classification of possible beings,

is a far safer person with whom to transact made in the first chapter :

business than the Pharisee who talks most “ Proceeding on our promises, that the om

feelingly of the frailties of our fallen nanipotence of God is not to be supposed to in

ture.'”-pp. 267-270. clude self-contradictions, we observe at the The learning shown in the book, though outset, that (so far as we can understand sub- not astonishing, like Sir William Hamiljects so transcendent) there were only, in a ton's, is sufficient and always at the au. moral point of view, three orders of beings pos- thor's service. The text throughout, and sible in the universe:-1st. One Infinite Being.

especially the notes on Causation, PreA Rational Free ent, raised by the infinitude

destination, Original Sin, and Necessary of his nature above the possibility of tempta

Truths, will amply support our opinion. tion. He is the only Holy Being. 2d. Finite

But better than either learning or logic is creatures who are Rational Free Agents, but

that noble and devout spirit pervading evexposed by the finity of their natures to continual temptations. These beings are either

ery page, and convincing the reader, that, Virtuous or Vicious. 3d. Finite creatures who

whether the system advanced be true or are not rational nor morally free. These be

false, it is the result of a genuine experiings are Unmoral, and neither virtuous nor ence, and the guide of a pure and genervicious.”—pp. 24-25.

ous life. Nothing can be shorter or more thor

The volume is neatly printed, but lacks ough than this statement, and, if accepted,

an index sadly, and shows some errors reit settles many points in theology as well

sulting from the distance between the auas in ethics.

thor and the proof-reader. Such is the Then, too, the comparison, in the last

misuse of the words “ woof” and “warp” .chapter, of the Law of Honor, considered

on page 56; evidently a slip of the pen, as a system of morals, with the systems of

since the same terms are correctly used Paley and Bentham, shows a fine percep

elsewhere in the volume. tion of the true relation of chivalry to ethics, and gives occasion for one of the most

Memoirs of the Empress Catharine II. Writeloquent passages in the book :

ten by herself. With a Preface by A. “I envy not the moralist who could treat

HERZEN. Translated from the French. disdainfully of Chivalry. It was a marvellous

New York: D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. principle, that which could make of plighted faith a law to the most lawless, of protection to weakness a pride to the most ferocious. While the Church taught that personal duty

It would seem, that, if any one of the consisted in scourgings and fastings, and so

women celebrated in history should, more cial duty in the slaughter of Moslems and

than all the others, have slirunk from writburning of Jews, Chivalry roused up a man ing her own memoirs, that woman was the to reverence himself through his own courage petty German princess whom opportunity

pp. 309,

and her own crafty ambition made abso- partly because it suited her intriguing, lutest monarch of all the Russias under managing nature, she set berself immedithe name of Catharine II. And of that ately to the acquirement of the favor of abandoned and shameless personal career the Empress on the one hand, and popuwhich has made her name a reproach to larity on the other. The first she sought her sex, and covered her memory with an by an absolute submission of her will to infamy that the administrative glories of that of Elizabeth, giving her self.negation ber reign serve only to cast into a blacker an air of grateful deference ; the latter she shadow, even she has shrunk from com- obtained, as most very popular people obmitting the details to paper. Indeed, in tain their popularity, by adroit flattery, these Memoirs, she alludes to but one of the subtlest form of which was, in her her amours,- that with Sergius Soltikoff, case, as it ever is, the manifestation of an which was the first, (if we may be sure interest in the affairs of persons utterly inthat she had a first,)— and which seems different to the flatterer. This moral emolclearly to have been elevated, if not puri- lient she applied, as popular people usufied, by a true and deep affection. That it ally do, without discrimination. She rewas so appears not by any protestation or marks that she was liked because she was even calm assertion of her own, which in “the same to every body”; and it is notean autobiography might be reasonably worthy that the same is said almost invadoubted, but from the unstudied tenderness riably of very popular persons, and in way of her allusions to him ; from the fact, of eulogy, by the very people into whose which indirectly appears, that he first cool- favor they have licked their way; the lated towards her, and the pang- not of ter always seeming to be blinded by the titwounded vanity – which this gave her; illation of their own cuticles to the fact and yet more unmistakably from the for- that the most worthless and disagreeable giveness which she, imperious and relent- individuals — those with whom they would less as she was, extended, manifestly, again scorn to be put upon a level - have reand again, to her errant lover.

ceived the same coveted evidences of perThe Memoirs are confined to events sonal regard. When will the world learn which occurred between 1744 and 1760,– that the man, of whom we sometimes hear the period of Catharine's girlhood and and read, who is absolutely without an youthful womanhood ; but although she enemy, must either be very unscrupulous brings herself before us, a young creature or very weak? Catharine's duplicity in of fifteen, “with her hair dressed à la this respect seems to have been as conMoise,” (which, in the benightment of our stant as it was artful, during the years in bearded ignorance, we suppose to mean which it was necessary for her purpose to that astounding style in which the excel. make friends, and it was rewarded, as it lent Mistress Hannah More is represented almost always is, when skilfully practised, in the frontispiece to her Memoirs, with with entire success. each particular hair standing on end,- a Catharine seems to have written these crimped glory of radiating powder,) she Memoirs partly for her own satisfaction appears no less ambitious, crafty, design and partly to justify her course to her son ing, selfish, and self-conscious then than Paul and bis successors. Therefore they when she drops her pen as she is deepen- record much that is of little value or ining the traits of the matured woman of terest to the general reader; and that, thirty. She went to Russia to be betrothed indeed, is unintelligible, except to those to the Grand Duke, afterwards Peter III., who are intimately acquainted with the to whom she was at first utterly indifferent, Russian Court during the reign of Elizaand whom she soon began to despise and beth. Such persons will find in these regard with personal aversion; and yet pages much authentic matter which will when there was a chance that she might confirm or unsettle their previous belief as be released from this union, she seems not to the secret intrigues of that court, politto have known the slightest thrill of joy ical and personal. To the great mass of or felt the least sensation of relief, although readers, the revelations of the internal she was then not sixteen years old, — so en- economy of the Court of Russia in the tirely was her mind bent upon the crown middle of the last century, and of the manof Russia. Partly to attain her end, and ners and morals of the persons who com

posed it, which are freely made by the author of these imperial confessions, will constitute their principal, if not their only interest. In this respect they will well repay the attentive perusal of every person who likes the study of human nature. The picture which they present is striking, and its various parts keep alive the attention which its first sight awakens. Yet it cannot be regarded with pleasure by any reader of undepraved taste ; and a consideration of it is absolutely fatal to the faith which is cherished by many deluded minds in the social, if not in the ethical virtues of an ancient aristocracy. In this respect Catharine's "Memoirs” are not peculiar. For it is remarkable, that in all the published memoirs, journals, and con. fessions of members of royal households, (there may be an exception, but we do not remember it,) court-life within-doors has appeared devoid of every grace and beauty, and deformed by all that is coarse, brutal, sordid, and grovelling. Even that grace, almost a virtue, which has its name from courts, seems not to exist in them in a genuine form ; and instead of it we find only a hollow, glittering sham, which has but an outward semblance to real courtesy, and which itself even is produced only on occasions more or less public and for purposes more or less selfish.

Russia in its most civilized parts was half barbarous in the days of Catharine's youth, and society at the Court of St. Petersburg seems to have been distinguished from that in the other circles of the empire only by an addition of the vices of civilization to those of barbarism. The women blended the manners and tastes of Indian squaws and French marquises of the period; the men modelled themselves on Peter the Great, and succeeded in imitating him in everything except his wisdom and patriotism. The business of life was, first, to avoid being sent to Siberia or Astracan,- next and last, to get other people sent thither; its pleasure, an alternation of gambling and orgies. Catharine makes some excuse for her unrestrained sexual license, which shows that she wrote for posterity. For what need of extenuation in this regard for a woman whose immediate predecessors were Catharine I., and Anne, and Elizabeth, and who lived in a court where, on the simultaneous marriage of three of its ladies, a bet was made be

tween the Hetman Count Rasoumowsky and the Minister of Denmark,- not which of the brides would be false to her marriage vows,—that was taken for granted with regard to all, - but which would be so first! It turned out that he who bet on the Countess Anne Voronzoff, daughter of the Vice-Chancellor of the Empire, and bride to Count Strogonoff, who was the plainest of the three and at the time the most innocent and childlike, won the wager. The bet was wisely laid ; for she was likely to be soonest neglected by her husband.

What semblance of courtesy these highborn gamblers, adulterers, and selfish intriguers showed in their daily life appears in their behavior to a M. Brockdorf, against whom Catharine had ill feelings, more or less justifiable. This M. Brockdorf, who was high in favor with the Grand Duke, was unfortunately ugly having a long neck, a broad, flat head, red hair, sinall, dull, sunken eyes, and the corners of his mouth hanging down to his chin. So, among these court-bred people, “whenever M. Brockdorf passed through the apartments, every one called out after him Pelican,' "" because “this bird was the most hideous we knew of." But what regard for the feelings of a person of inferior rank could be expected from his enemies, in a court where the dearest ties and the tenderest sorrows were dashed aside with the formal brutality recorded by Catharine in the following remarkable paragraph?

" A few days afterwards, the death of my father was announced to me. It greatly afflicted me. For a week I was allowed to weep as much as I pleased; but at the end of that time, Madame Tchoglokoff came to tell me that I had wept enough, - that the Empress ordered me to leave off, -- that my father was not a king. I told her, I knew that he was not a king; and she replied, that it was not suitable for a Grand Duchess to mourn for a longer period a father who had not been a king. In fine, it was arranged that I should go out on the following Sunday, and wear mourning for six weeks.”

It is worthy of especial note that these people, though they led this sensual, selfish, heartless life, trampling on natural affection and doing as they would not be done by, prided themselves very much on the orthodoxy of their faith, were sorely

« AnteriorContinua »