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are men of integrity, because they are solely engaged in the pursuit of truth, and despise and neglect those considerarations which others value, and which mankind are wont to contend for among themselves.” For, while they abstain from hurting any by the infliction of injury, they indeed assert one species of honesty or justice, but they fail in another; because, being entangled in the pursuits of learning, they abandon those they ought to protect. Some, therefore, think that they would have no concern with the government unless they were forced to it; but still, it would be more just that it should be done voluntarily; for an action which is intrinsically right is only morally good in so far as it is voluntary. There are others who, either from a desire to improve their private fortune, or from some personal resentments, pretend that they mind their own affairs only that they may appear not to do wrong to another. Now such persons are free from one kind of injustice, but fall into another; because they abandon the fellowship of life by employing in it none of their zeal, none of their labor, none of their abilities. Having thus stated the two kinds of dishonesty or injustice, and assigned the motives for each kind, and settled previously the considerations by which justice is limited, we shall easily (unless we are extremely selfish) be able to form a judgment of our duty on every occasion.
For, to concern ourselves in other people's affairs is a delicate matter. Yet Chremes, a character in Terence, thinks, that there is nothing which has a relation to mankind in which he has not a concern. Meanwhile, because we have the quicker perception and sensation of whatever happens favorably or untowardly to ourselves than to others, which we see as it were at a greater distance, the
* The principle of the spontaneousness and intelligence of all actions being essential to their moral character, seems, if it be admitted, at once fatal to those numerous schemes of ethics, which make the moral character of conduct to depend on its essential utility—inasmuch as on the latter showing a morally good action may not only be performed under compulsion, but even with the deliberate and sole intention of producing the opposite results, namely, those which aro in every aspect the most mischievous
2 Heautontimorumenos, Act I., Scene 1: Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto. . Augustin, who was made bishop of Hippo, A.D. 395, mentions the universal applause with which this admirable sentiment was judgment we form of them is very different from what we form of ourselves. Those therefore are wise monitors who teach us to do nothing of which we are doubtful, whether it is honest or unjust; for whatever is honest manifests itself by its own luster, but doubt implies the entertainment of irjustice.
X. But occasions frequently happen in which those duties which are most worthy of an honest, and of such as we call a worthy man, are altered and changed to their contraries. For example, to return a deposit, to perform a promise, and other matters that are relative to truth and honesty, sometimes alter so that it is just they should not be observed ; for it is proper to have recourse to those fundamentals of honesty which I laid down in the commencement: in the first place, that of injuring no person; and, secondly, that of being subservient to the public good. When these conditions are altered by circumstances, the moral obligation, not being invariably identical, is similarly altered.
A promise, as a paction, may happen to be made, the perforrnance of which may be prejudicial either to the party promising, or to the party to whom the promise is made. For (as we see in the play) had not Neptune performed his promise to Theseus, the latter would not have been bereaved of his son Hippolytus; for it is recorded, that of three wishes to be granted him, the third, which he made in a passion, was the death of Hippolytus, which, having been granted, he sunk into the most dreadful distress. Therefore, you are not to perform those promises which may be prejudicial to the party to whom you promise, nor if they may be more hurtful to you than they can be serviceable to him. It is inconsistent with our duty that the greater obligation should be postponed to the less. For instance, suppose you should promise to appear as the advocate of another person while his cause is depending: now, if your son was to be seized violently ill, in the mean time, it would be no breach of duty received in the theater. He himself has left us an expression of the same idea in the following words:
“Omnis homo est omni homini proximus, nec ulla cogitanda est longinquitas generis ubi est natura communis."
"Every man is most closely connected with his every fellow man, nor should any distance of relativusnip enter into consideration where there is a common nature."
in you not to perform what you promise; the other person would rather depart from his duty if he should complain that he had been abandoned. Who, then, does not see that a man is not bound by those promises which he makes either when coerced by fear,' or seduced by deceit? Many such promises are cancelled by the edict of the prætor's court, some by the laws; for very often wrongs arise through a quirk, and through a too artful but fraudulent construction of the law. Hence, “the rigor of law is the rigor of injustice,” is a saying that has now passed into a proverb. Many injuries of this kind happen even in state affairs : thus, when a general has concluded a truce with his enemy for thirty days, yet ravaged that enemy's territories every night, because the truce was only for so many days, not for the nights. Nor, indeed, if it is true, is the conduct of our countryman, Quintus Fabius Labeo, to be approved of, or whoever he was (for I have the story only by report), who, being appointed an arbiter by the senate to settle a boundary between the people of Nola and those of Naples, counseled each of those people separately to do nothing covetously, and that each ought rather to draw back than advance. Both of them taking this advice, a space of unoccupied ground was left in the middle. He, therefore, adjudged to each people the boundary to which they had confined themselves, and all that was in the middle to the people of Rome. This was not to give judgment, but to cheat; wherefore we ought to avoid all chicane of that kind in every transaction.'
See conclusion of note, pp. 19, 20. ? With these imperfect, and in some respects most faulty, notions touching the obligations of promises, it will be instructive to compare the principles of modern moralists. The following is a brief digest of these principles as given by Paley (** Moral and Political Philosophy," book 3, chap. 5): “They who argue from innate moral principles, suppose a sense of the obligation of promises to be one of them; but without assuming this, or any thing else, without proof, the obligation to perform promises may be deduced from the necessity of such a conduct to the well-being, or the existence, indeed, of human society...
"Men act from expectation. Expectation is, in most cases, determined by the assurances and engagements which are received from others. Ir no dependence could be placed upon these assurances, it would be impossible to know what judgment to form of many future events, or how to regulate our conduct with respect to them. Confidence, therefore, in promises is essential to the intercourse of human life; because without it the greatest part of our conduct would proceed upon chance. But there could bɔ no confidence in promises, if men were not obliged to
XI. Certain duties are also to be observed, even toward those who have wronged you; for there is a mean even in perform them; the obligation, therefore, to perform promises is essential to the same ends, and in the same degree. Where the terms of promise admit of more senses than one, the promise is to be performed 'in that sense in which the promiser apprehended at the time that the promiser received it.'” Dr. Paley sums up his argument in the following words: “From the account we have given of the obligation of promises, it is evident that this obligation depends upon the expectations which we knowingly and voluntarily excite. Consequently, any action or conduct toward another, which we are sensible excites expectations in that other, is as much a promise, and creates as strict an obligation, as the most express assurances.” The exceptions which Paley admits to the obligation of promises are the following; “1. Promises are not binding where the performance is impossible. 2. Promises are not binding where the performance is unlawful. 3. Promises are not binding where they con tradict a former promise. 4. Promises are not binding before accept ance; that is, before notice given to the promisee. 5. Promises are not binding which are released by the promiseo. And, 6. Erroneous promises are not binding in certain cases; as where the error proceeds from the mistake or misrepresentation of the promisee; or, secondly, When the promise is understood by the promisee to proceed upon a certain supposition, or when the promiser apprehended it to be so understood, and that supposition turns out to be false; then the promise is not bind.. ing." It is only necessary to cite another passage with reference to extorted promises. It seems obvious here to remark, that in the case of promises, or even declarations, unjustly extorted—as by the highway. man or the inquisitor-a doubt may very naturally arise, whether the absence of all right on the part of the extorting party, does not involve a correlative freedom on the part of the victim, to declare the truth, or to fulfill the promise. This point Dr. Paley leaves (unnecessarily, as I think), undecided. “It has," he says, “ long beer controverted among moralists, whether promises be binding which are extorted by violence or fear. The obligation of all promises results, we have seen, from the necessity or the use of that confidence which mankind repose in them. The question, therefore, whether these promises are binding, will depend upon this: whether mankind, upon the whole, are benefited by the confidence placed on such promises ? A highwayman attacks you, and being disappointed of his booty, threatens or prepares to murder you. You promise, with many solemn asseverations, that if he will spare your life he shall find a purse of money left for him at a place appointed. Upon the faith of this promise he forbears from further violence. Now, your life was saved by the confidence reposed in a promise extorted by fəar; and the lives of many others may be saved by the same. This is a good consequence. On the other hand, confidence in promises like these greatly facilitates the perpetration of robberies; they may be made the instruments of almost unlimited extortion, This is a bad consequence; and in the question between the importance of these opposite consequences, resides the doubt concerning the obligations of such promises.". revenge and punishments. Nay, I am not certain whether it is not sufficient for the person who has injured you to repent of the wrong done, so that he may never be guilty of the like in future, and that others may not be so forward to offend in the same manner. Now, in government the laws of war are to be most especially observed; for since there are two manners of disputing, one by debating, the other by fighting, though the former characterizes men, the latter, brutes, if the former can not be adopted, recourse must be had to the latter. Wars, therefore, are to be undertaken for this end, that we may live in peace without being injured ; but when we obtain the victory, we inust preserve those enemies who behaved without cruelty or inhumanity during the war: for example, our forefathers received, even as members of their state, the Tuscans, the Æqui, the Volscians, the Sabines, and the Hernici, but utterly destroyed Carthage and Numantia. I am unwilling to mention Corinth ; but I believe they had some object in it, and particularly they were induced to destroy it, lest the advantages of its situation should invite the inhabitants to make war in future times. In my opinion, we ought always to consult for peace, which should have in it nothing of perfidy. Had my voice been followed on this head, we might still have had some form of government (if not the best), whereas now we have none. And, while we are bound to exercise consideration toward those whom we
"The insolence and brutality of anger, when we indulge its fury without check or restraint is, of all objects, the most detestable. But we admire that noble and generous resentment which governs its pursuit of the greatest injuries, not by the rage which they are apt to excite in the breast of the sufferer, but by the indignation which they naturally call forth in that of the impartial spectator; which allows no word, no gesture, to escape it beyond what this more equitable sentiment would dictate; which never, even in thought, attempts any greater vengeance, nor desires to inflict any greater punishment, than what every indifferent person would rejoice to see executed."-Smith's “Moral Sentiments,” part 1, chap. 5.
“The nobleness of pardoning appears, upon many occasions, superior even to the most perfect propriety of resenting. When either proper acknowledgments have been made by the offending party, or even without any such acknowledgments, when the public interest requires that the most mortal enemies should unite for the discharge of some important duty, the man who can cast away all animosity, and act with confidence and cordiality toward the person who had most grievously offended him, secms justly to merit our highest admiration.”-Id. part 6 section 3.