« ElőzőTovább »
“ The utilitarian hypothesis (which is the theory of natural selection applied to the mind) seems inadequate to account for the development of the moral sense. It is difficult to conceive that such an intense and mystical feeling of right and wrong (so intense as to overcome all ideas of personal advantage or utility) could have been developed out of accumulated ancestral experiences of utility.” (Pp. 352—-355.) Utilitarians must feel it somewhat strange to find arguments against them coming from this quarter. Such reasonings are indeed a novelty in a scientific work of the class to which Mr. Wallace's belongs. So much is this the case, that we almost sympathise with the bewilderment of the critic in “Nature," when he finds himself entangled in metaphysical discussion, while at the same time he allows that Mr. Wallace has shown “with great justice how mental and moral qualities must interfere with the absolute carrying out of the law of natural selection."'*
Being myself an intuitionalist in morals, I am fully sensible of the importance of testimony in support of the theory coming from such a quarter. My present object, however, is not to induce you to mark the particular stamp of theory adopted, but to afford proof of the fact that scientific inquiry is steadily tending towards close and friendly relations with mental philosophy. Preparation is in progress for the acknowledgment that the final appeal of science in connection with biological problems must be to the testimony of consciousness. The importance of the evidence now adduced seems to me so great that I have thought it well that those entering upon a winter's course of study in mental philosophy should have their attention turned towards it. The materials now presented must, I believe, carry to the mind a strong persuasion of the ultimate harmony of all scientific research ; a timely lesson on the propriety of looking hopefully on every form of investigation as to the facts of existence, in whatever direction it may seem to point; and a conviction of the high and permanent importance, both speculatively and practically, of all inquiry concerning our own nature, physical and mental.
* “Nature," vol. ii., No. 50, p. 472.
[I WAS much pleased with the last conversation, because with
the exception of some few vagaries, it kept to one subjectnamely, the scientific culture which causes men to investigate infinitesimally small things and creatures. For the same reason I like the conversation which I am about to record; because, except a little careering about of Sir John Ellesmere at the outset, it keeps to one subject. I daresay that to my readers it is sometimes amusing to see how Sir John Ellesmere and Mr. Mauleverer divert us from the main subject; but it is not always equally amusing to Mr. Milverton and his private secretary. We want to say our say, and we can hardly ever manage to get it said. We often have members of Parliament visiting us here. They would thoroughly sympathise with our difficulties. Sometimes, as they tell me, they are fullcharged with a speech which they want to have an opportunity of delivering in some great debate. When, however, they think they have a chance of doing so, up rises a minister, or some leader of a section, or some favourite of the House, or some wit, such as Mr. Bernal Osborne ; and at last it comes to this, that the speech, which has been so anxiously prepared, is not delivered at all.
It was a charmingly wet day, one of those hopelessly wet days in which one willingly resigns oneself to in-door work. We were in the study, as usual, and Sir Arthur had been urging Mr. Milverton to take this opportunity of discussing his Machiavellian branch the subject of war, which he had threatened so many times to give
Of course Sir John Ellesmere could not at once allow anything so sensible to be done, but interrupted as follows :-)
Ellesmere (in a whining tone). My beloved friends, my good brethren and sisters, I wish to address a few words of exhortation to you. Let the giddy and the frivolous depart from amongst us. Brother Cranmer, you had better go away. And if there are any young women present who are more disposed to giggle than to listen reverently to the words of wisdom, they, too, had better take their departure and employ themselves in knitting, netting, or knotting, so that they may compose their minds, and not disturb us by their presence. I am not unmindful, too, of what Brother Humgudgeon said lately on a similar occasion : that young women, while they knit, or net, or knot, should, at the same time, cease to employ their minds in preparing snares for those who are unyoked, and scourges for those who are, alas! yoked.
Cranmer. I am quite ready to consider myself as one of “ the giddy and the frivolous ;” but I don't see why I should leave the
Ellesmere (in his natural tone of voice). Don't you see that Milverton and Sandy mean business to-day ? Milverton is like an old colonel, replete with self-importance, who has smelt a great deal of powder, and who thinks military discipline the finest thing in the world; and, as for Sandy, he is just like a young recruit, with streaming ribands to his cap, strutting up and down King Street, and whose whole bearing seems to say, “ Come on, Rooshians or Prooshians : I've been and listed, and I'm a match for any dozen of you ;?~(and so he need be, considering the difference in the numbers of the respective armies !) Depend upon it, to-day it is as much as our places are worth to interrupt Milverton or Sandy in the discourse they are about to deliver to us.
Nevertheless, as I shall have no chance of interrupting, I must tell you a good story, which has just reached me in a letter from my friend Serjeant
-- Now I will tell you what I consider the merit of a good story, or a good anecdote. It is, that it should have a before and an after— that it should open to you vistas of thought. Milverton's story of the Frenchman and the map was, I must own, one of that kind. Mine, about Master Henry Spoffell’s saying, had the same merit. When you tell me some witty thing that Talleyrand said, it is generally only a thing of the day, and you soon forget it. The
story that I am going to tell you has a perennial application. Here it is. A very eminent person in the scientific world, one of the most renowned of engineers, began life, very wisely, by working in a factory. Now there was a man in that factory who had worked there for many years; who had never made any friends, never cottoned in with anybody, and was supremely silent: but he took to this young man ; and his way of showing that he had taken to him, was by coming up and saying to him these four or five emphatic words, "A sanguineous rum world, this.”—I use the word “sanguineous” because I remember that Milverton has a peculiar horror of the forcible Anglo-Saxon word it represents.—A day or two would elapse; and then the silent man would come up to his young friend again, and exclaim, “A sanguineous rum world, this.” Now, you know, upon whatever subject Milverton is about to discourse to us, this saying of the silent man will be sure to apply. I say ditto to the silent man.
Mauleverer. And I say ditto, too. Ellesmere told you some time ago how he, and Bismarck, and Nero, and Lucrezia Borgia, were misunderstood. I also am misunderstood. Do you think that mine is a mere puerile misanthropy? I feel for the evils of the world as much as you do, only I cannot sit in the seat of the praisers of the world. It seems to me that almost everything concerning human society requires to be reconsidered. Milverton. Well, my dear Mauleverer, I am going to invite
to a careful reconsideration of a very important branch of our subject, namely, the prevention of war.
War is useful to many; so says Lucan, multis utile bellum. Now; with a view to prevent war, we should look carefully into the question, as to the classes to whom war is useful; and, as I am sure Machiavelli would tell us, we should take care to encourage, or at any rate to give power to, those classes to whom war is injurious or odious. то begin with, I suppose you will admit that war is useful to soldiers and sailors, or at least is by them supposed to be so. Also, that it is useful to those who furnish the munitions of war. Also, that the agricultural community sometimes find it useful to them, or fancy that they do so. Here, however, I must guard myself from too wide an interpretation being given to those words, “ agricultural community.” I would rather confine this assertion to those who profit by the sale of agricultural produce. I do not believe that the agricultural labourer, as a rule, and with any view to his own interest, desires war.
For example, I believe that if, at the present moment, the agricultural population of France were polled, in order to ascertain their wishes and opinions as to the continuance of the war, a very large majority would be found to vote for peace on almost
What I have said above, applies to peasant proprietors, as well as to agricultural labourers.
Now as regards artisans; their interest, considering them as a body, ought to be, and, I believe, is wonderfully adverse to war.
I think it is one of the surest symptoms of progress in the present day, and one of those facts which most distinctly contradict Mauleverer's harsh views as regards the want of progress in mankind, that our British artisans, associating themselves with the artisans of other countries, stoutly protested against the continuance of the present
If we look at this matter rightly, we shall find that the artisan is, of all men, the man who, if he were guided by his interest, should be most averse from war. Look at the thousand odd ways in which artisanship is employed in an age of high civilization. The moment that war comes, all that tends to promote comfort or health, to create beauty, to delight fancy, is either restricted or abandoned in presence of the stern necessities of war.
Here, however, I am bound to declare to you a melancholy fact. It is a fact, though, which shows the greatness of mankind, and illustrates how prone men are to make light of and postpone their nearest interests to sentiment and feeling. Ellesmere has said, and very justly, that those anecdotes are valuable which are not mere present witticisms; but which have.“ a before and an after," and which, in their humble way, open up long vistas of thought. I will give you a very pregnant anecdote, showing how the artisan will postpone his own interests when he has once got a political idea into his head. A friend of mine, a physician, became entangled in the crowd at Kennington on that memorable evening when a great Chartist row was expected, and when Louis Napoleon armed himself with a constable's staff to support the cause of order. My friend observed a young man of pleasant appearance, who was very busy in the crowd, and appeared to be a leader amongst them. Gradually, by the pressure of the crowd, the two were brought near together, and the good doctor had some talk with this fiery partizan. They exchanged confidences ; and to his astonishment, the doctor found that this furious young Chartist gained his livelihood, and a very good livelihood too, by heraldic paintiny—by painting the coats-of-arms upon carriages. Now, if you can imagine this young man's darling enterprise to have been successful, if Chartism had prevailed, what would have become of the painting of arms upon carriage-panels ? I believe that my good doctor insinuated this suggestion to the young man, and that it was received with disdain. I must own therefore that the utile, even when brought home to a man's self, has much less to do with people's political opinions and