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Bluely ascending from the cottage roof,
DEAR BIR, AMONGST the numerous pretty sonnets with which your Miscellany abounds, I am surprised to find that I cannot recollect one Anacreontic. The following attempts, therefore, however destitute they may be of other recommendations, will perhaps be allowed their claim of insertion on the score of novelty. I
T. D. October 31,
HERE sit thee down,-give o'er that peeling wail,
And as we quaff, beneath our vineyard's screen,
I'll tell thee, lover, why I am serene,–
They seem to shrink with apprehensive mien,
And midst the leaves, as fearing to be seen,
Despite their coyness, with unsparing hand,
And with this rosy juice, of magic bland,
I tell thee, I would have thee understand,
Dry moralists still rail at drinking let them
They might rail better, could we but persuade them
How well their courtesy would be repaid them,
Just as the pebbles of the mountain river,
In wild variety, as the current bore them.--
Look ten times richer, more than ten times brighter,
ON THE IGNAVA RATIO OF THE STOICS.
MR EDITOR, The doctrines which belong to the out with supposing that the truth of systeins of freewill and philosophical the doctrine of necessity is impressed necessity, have been so long and large- upon our minds so strongly as to bely discussed, that no one, who has come a practical principle, then molooked into the science of metaphysics, tives of all sorts must cease to operate can want some general ideas on the -and, as motive is strictly necessary subject. These doctrines, however, to action, we should, in that case, have led into a field of argument so cease to act; a conclusion which canwide, and are capable of being contro not arise out of a true system, and yet verted in so many ways, that I know no other can be legitimately drawn not whether many of their bearings from the
hypothesis which we are ophave, even yet, received a complete posing. For instance-take one event, discussion. A persuasion, that one viz.: death-including, in that word, branch of the argument, at least, will the time of that event; suppose that support a further weight of controversy, this is already fixed, and that we abemboldens me to venture to submit solutely believe it to be so fixed, then the following remarks. It is, of course, no situation nor circumstance whatsofar from my intention to enter into ever, can operate as a motive induce the general philosophical question of us to use the slightest endeavour, by freewill and necessity. To do so would any exertion of our own, either to require a volume. It has stood un- lengthen or shorten the period of our settled for some centuries, and, for existence, its duration being, accordaught I see, is likely to remain so. ing to the supposition, already and However presumptuous it might be to irrevocably determined, and we ourdecide, it is certainly safe enough to selves knowing this to be the case. volunteer an opinion on either side. This argument is of long standing, This, however, I leave to others, from and is known by the name of the whom such an opinion may come with Ignava Ratio. It appears to have better grace. The object of the pre- been first made use of by the Stoic sent coinmunication is, merely to detail philosophers, in opposition to Epicua few remarks, relative to one argu rus and his disciples, who were fatament connected with this question- lists; for the doctrine, which is now and which appears to me not to have comprehended under the term philosobeen sufficiently investigated, or, at phical necessity, was then very imperall events, not to have been exhausted. fectly developed. It is slightly advert
The opponents of the doctrine of ted to by Hobbes, in his letter of the philosophical necessity, amongst the Marquis of Newcastle, in reply to the multitude of arguments on their side Bishop of Worcester. of the question, have early attempted somehow or other, to have left the to infer that, if the doctrine be ad- argument short; at least, his conclumitted, certain consequences follow, si is much less satisfactory than the absurdity of which consequences usual. President Edwards, in his must effectually discredit the system celebrated treatise on freewill, has not from whence they necessarily flow. omitted to examine this argument;
he The argument is intended to drive the has also added a postscript, with a view advocates of the necessitarian hypo- to the work of Lord Kaimes, which, thesis to a Reductio ad absurdum, and amongst other things, goes into this may be stated as follows. If we set part of the controversy at some length.
* Hobbes' answer to the Bishop, who asserted that necessity involves the inutility of all consultations or acts, is as follows :
“ It seemeth his Lordship reasons thus If I must do this rather than that, I shall do this rather than that, though I consult not at all, which is a false proposition, and no beter than this. If I shall live till to-morrow, I shall live till to-morrow, though I run myself through with a sword to-day. If there be a necessity that an action shall be done, or that any effect shall be brought to pass, it does not therefore follow, that there is nothing necessarily requisite as a means to bring it to pass ; and, therefore, when it is de.
The answer of Edwards is logical, trine they profess, and that their early and, to a logician, complete. He ex and intuitive feelings of liberty perpeposes the fallacy of the argument, tually overcome the impressions of the which, even from its very statement, necessitarian theory. But this is a however managed, he shews to include bare assertion, unsupported by any an inconsistency. “If (says the op- proof; and is effectually refuted, if ponent) every thing is absolutely set the mental process, under which netled, I will give myself no trouble.--Icessitarians may and do act, can be will indulge my sloth, and let events intelligibly delineated, and shewn to run as they are decreed to run.” Now, be consistent with reason. it is certainly manifest, that this in In pursuance of this, it must first volves a direct contradiction; it sets be observed, that, in the conduct of out with assuming that the events of all arguments on this question, special life are unalterable, and then contra care must be taken not to view the bedicts that assumption, by professing lief of a necessity as only applied to a control or direction over future one insulated future event, without
events—by determining the omission embracing the whole train of other * of certain actions, and the occurrence events which contribute to its produc-.
of effects that is to say, a life of in- tion. The necessitarian, in supposing action and consequent ease.
the necessity of an event, supposes This answer, however complete in also the necessity of the means of that logic, I cannot think sufficient in fact. event: he holds that, in every case, Although those who deduced such the means and end are decreed, equally consequences, or meditated such ac and together ; that the last can only tions, from the admission of the doc- happen consequently to the first, and trine of necessity, would be inconsis- that the first necessarily leads to the
tent and illogical in their conduct and last. This being premised, let us supF reasoning, still it does not follow that pose that an assertor of the necessitato the majority would not do this, inas- rian doctrine is asked, “why, if his
much as few men are logicians, and all death, including in that word the time të men liable to inconsistency both in of his death, be fixed, he troubles him-. conduct and opinion.
self about an event which can neither It appears to me, that the objection be eluded nor altered ; in short, why admits of a solution much more com- he eats and drinks, or distrusts fire and He plete, and that the process of mind water, or shuns any sort of personal i under which necessitarians may and danger, on account of its tendency to op do reasonably act, is capable of direct produce that catastrophe?" Supposing z analysis. And first it strikes me in the this question to be proposed to him,
outset, in contradiction to the assertors he answers as follows. of the Ignava Ratio, that, in fact, those In proceeding to reply to this ques
who profess to believe in the doctrine tion, it will, I doubt not, be granted Hei of philosophical necessity, do not act me, 'that, although the time of my
as described; which may be proved death may be, in itself, an event ab-. by an immediate appeal to experience. solutely fixed and determined, yet to To obviate this, I know it has been me it is, nevertheless, a contingent asserted, in repiy, that such appeal and uncertain event. It may, for only proves that necessitarians do not aught I know, be decreed to happen fully and practically believe the doc- to-morrow, or it may be decreed to
termined that one thing shall be chosen before another, 'tis determined also for what cause it shall be chosen, and therefore, consultation, &c. are not in vain.”
“ To the fifth and sixth inconveniences, that councils, acts, arms, and the like, would be superfluous—the same answer serves as the former—that is to say, that this consequence-viz: if the effect shall necessarily come to pass, then it shall come to pass without its causes--is a false one."
Tripos. pp. 290, 291. Edward's words are these : No person can draw such an inference from this doctrine, and come to such a conclusion, without contradicting himself, and going counter to the very principles he pretends to act upon ; for he comes to a conclusion, and takes a course to an end, even his ease, or the saving himself from trouble : he seeks something future, and uses means in order to a future thing, even in his drawing up that conclusion, that he will seek nothing, and use no means to any thing future ; he seeks his
future ease, and the benefit and comfort of indolence.
Edwards on Freewill, Part iv. Sect. v.
happen ten years hence. What I am Nor is the case with respect to the
the means sonably so, with respect to the event to support life be an evidence that I of circumstances, which we know to must absolutely die now, my using have been long determined and past, those means must, e converso, be an but which yet materially affect our evidence that I shall not die now but selves. Thus, says Edwards, your hereafter; that is to say, that I have brother has perished in the great storm been fated to live, and not to die at three weeks ago, or he has not; the this particular time. Now it has been event is past and determined ; yet not allowed, that I may reasonably wish knowing which alternative has taken to find evidence of the distant futuriplace, you continue to wish, with in- ty of my death, and the possession tense anxiety,' to know which suppo- and use of the means of prolonging sition is the true one." If, then, it be life are plain evidences that life will reasonable for me to wish that the be prolonged-therefore I use the supposition that I am decreed to die ten years hence, rather than now, may It hardly need be added, that this be the true supposition, it will, I argument is applicable equally to the think, be readily granted; that it is omission, as to the performance of any reasonable for me, moreover, to wish action; the omission of any thing to ascertain, by any evidence, whether being an act, inasmuch as it includes it is or not; it being a proposition, a determination of the mind. To ask the truth or falsehood of which is of why I choose to omit the search of material consequence to me.
positive evidence of an unpleasant Now, if these premises be allowed, event, would be a superfluous queslet us suppose that, by some means or tion. It would be as rational to ask other, I am utterly deprived of the me, if I should choose the positive means of supporting life. If this be evidence, were the negative out of my supposed, it is plain that, believing, as power; for where there is no alternas I do, in the necessary connexion of tive, there is no room for the conceivcauses and effects, I shall be convinced able operation of any motive. It is that my death must follow forth with. sufficient to say, that the non-occurI shall have the strongest reason to
rence as well as the occurrence of a believe, being a necessitarian, that it future supposed event is sometimes has been decreed that I shall die now, desirable, and the omission of acts and not ten years hence. Take the leading to the latter, is evidence of converse supposition: Suppose that the the probability of the former. means of supporting life are in my As an objection to the foregoing power ; still it is plain that these reasoning, it may be asked, perhaps, means, if not used, are equivalent to how, if this be the process which takes no means at all. As long as I do not place in the mind of the necessitarian use them, their existence or non-ex agent, it happens not to have been istence cannot alter the question with better known, or more frequently respect to me. Whilst I persist, from pointed out? This cavil, however obwhatever reason, in not using them, vious, is scarcely plausible. Men folthe conclusion, that it is decreed Í low up the means to an event, merely must die now, will still hold.
because they evidently lead, or appear
to lead to it-they do not stop to in- clude a subject, which, were it newer die quire whether they are making a path, than it is, could only be interesting to
or following a path already laid out a limited number of readers. I do for them. It is neither in the power, not however know, that it has been
nor inclination of most men to discussed at all since the time of at analyse, or at all discriminate the op- Edwards, excepting in a short but inthayerations of their own minds. Who genious pamphlet, published at Came
ever did, or indeed ever could, resolve bridge, and entitled, a defence of
into their simple component percep- Freewill," of which it forms one or tan tions, all the complex ideas which the leading arguments. To me, I in form the stock of a long intellectual must own, it appears pretty clear, that
Neither do the advocates of whatever comes of the doctrine of lui Freewill generally act with a view of Freewill, it must rely upon other arTake the scheme of arguments for contin- guments than the ignava Ratio,"
gency, and the self-determining power which, however plausible, I cannot present in their minds, any more than help thinking eminently sophistical
the advocates of necessity do, with a and fallacious.--I am, &c. &c. ce se constant reference to the niceties of
T. D. Ir their own theory.
October, 31st, 1820.
The autumnal sun, with melancholy ray,
Sure never place was more forlorn:-I saw,
Hard by, in ancient times, a hamlet stood
he was tire