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2. Events and states of things.
3. Affirmative and negative.
ence can only be ascertained either by confession of the party whose mind is their seat, on the principle "index animi sermo" (1), or by presumptive inference from physical ones (m).
§ 13. There are two other divisions of facts which deserve to be noted. One of these is, that they are either events or states of things (n). By an "event" is meant some motion or change considered as having come about either in the course of nature, or through the agency of human will; in which latter case it is called " an act," or an action." The fall of a tree is an event," the existence of the tree is "a state of things;" but both are alike "facts" (o). The remaining division of facts is into positive or affirmative, and negative: a distinction which,
unlike the former, does not belong to the nature of the facts themselves, but to that of the discourse which we employ in speaking of them (p). The existence of a certain state of things is a positive or affirmative fact, the non-existence of it is a negative fact. But the only really existing facts are positive ones-for a negative fact is nothing more than the non-existence of a positive one, and the non-existence of a negative fact is equivalent to the existence of the correspondent and opposite positive fact (g).
§ 14. Our persuasion of the existence or non-existence belief in facts. of facts has its source, or efficient cause, either in the operation of our own perceptive or intellectual faculties, or in the supposed operation of the like faculties on the part of others, evidenced to us either by discourse or deportment. The former of these may be called evidence ab intrà; the latter, evidence ab extrà (r). The immense
(1) 5 Co. 118 b.
(m) Mascard. de Probationibus, Concl. 94 and 309; 1 Benth. Jud. Ev. 82, 145; 3 Id. 6.
(n) 1 Benth. Jud. Ev. 47.
(0) 1 Benth. Jud. Ev. 48.
(9) Id. 49, 50.
(r) Id. 51, 52.
part which evidence ab extrà bears in forensic procedure, as well as in almost everything else, makes it advisable that we should consider somewhat at large the grounds of belief in human testimony, and the dangers to be avoided when dealing with it.
mind to believe
§ 15. The existence of a strong tendency in the human Natural tenmind to accept as true what has been related by others dency of the is universally admitted, and confirmed by every day's human testiobservation; and it may be laid down as equally certain mony. that one cause of this tendency is our experience of the great preponderance of truth over falsehood in human testimony, taken as a whole. But whether this is the sole cause has given rise to some difference of opinion. Writers on natural law describe man as endowed by nature with a sort of moral instinct, which prompts him to act in certain cases where vigour and expedition are required and the faculties of reason and reflection are either immatured, or, if matured, would be too slow (s): and most authors think that a tendency to believe the statements of others is to be found among the operations of this instinct. Man, they argue, is so constituted that the knowledge which he can acquire through his personal experience is necessarily very limited, and, unless by some effective provision of nature he were enabled, and indeed compelled, to avail himself of the knowledge and experience of others, the world could neither be governed nor improved. The instinctive character of the tendency in question, they say, appears from the undoubted fact that it is immeasurably strongest in childhood, and diminishes when experience has made us acquainted with falsehood and deception (t). Others, however, deny all this; and reply that the implicit belief so observable in children is owing to their experience
(s) Burlamaqui, Principes du Droit Naturel, part. 2, chap. 3.
(t) 1 Greenl. Ev. § 7, 4th Ed., and the authorities there cited.
Sanctions of truth.
sanction of truth.
being all, or nearly all, on one side-namely, in favour of the truth of what they hear (u).
§ 16. However this may be, it is certain that the enunciation of truth and eloignment of wilful falsehood among men in their intercourse with each other, are secured by three guarantees or sanctions-the natural sanction, the moral or popular sanction, and the religious 1st. The natural sanction (v). And, first, of the natural sanction. Mutual confidence between man and man being indispensable to the acquisition of knowledge, the happiness of our race, and indeed to the very existence of society, the great Creator has planted the springs of truth very deep in the human breast. According to Bentham, the natural sanction is altogether physical in its character, arising out of the love of ease, - memory being prompter than invention (x). "To relate incidents as they have really happened," he says (y), "is the work of the memory: to relate them otherwise than as they have really happened, is the work of the invention. But, generally speaking, comparing the work of the memory with that of the invention, the latter will be found by much the harder work. The ideas presented by the memory present themselves in the first instance, and as it were of their own accord : the ideas presented by the invention, by the imagination, do not present themselves without labour and exertion. In the first instance come the true facts presented by the memory, which facts must be put aside: they are constantly presenting themselves, and as constantly must
(u) 1 Benth. Jud. Ev. 127— 130. See also Paley's Moral and Political Philosophy, bk. 1, ch. 5. (v) 1 Benth. Jud. Ev. 198; 5 Id. 635, 636. See Bonnier, Traité des Preuves, §§ 181, 182. The legal or political sanction of truth, and oaths, which are only a peculiar application of the reli
gious sanction, being both artificial in their nature, will be more properly considered in the next section.
(x) 2 Benth. Jud. Ev. 2.
(y) 1 Benth. Jud. Ev. 202, 203. See also 1 Stark. Ev. 14, 3rd Ed. & Id. 20, 4th Ed.
the door be shut against them. The false facts, for which the imagination is drawn upon, are not to be got at without effort: not only so, but, if, in the search made after them, any at all present themselves, different ones will present themselves for the same place: to the labour of investigation is thus added the labour of selection." It is, however, very doubtful whether this, although true as far as it goes, embraces the full extent of the natural sanction. Bonnier, in his Traité des Preuves (z), severely attacks the passages just quoted, and says that the natural sanction for the veracity of witnesses is to be found in a certain powerful feeling in the human mind which impels man to speak the truth, and makes him do violence to himself whenever he betrays it; that the true and the just are two poles towards which the human mind, when uncorrupted, continually points (a). In another part of his work, however (b), Bentham mentions the sympathetic sanction as a branch of the natural one, describing it to be the feeling by which we are deterred from falsehood by regret for the pain and injury which it may cause others. He also considers the imperfection of the natural sanction to consist in its being better calculated to prevent falsehood in toto than to secure circumstantial truth in particulars (c): which, taking his definition of that sanction, is no doubt the case.
§ 17. The moral sanction may be described in a word. 2nd. The moral Men having found the advantages of truth and the incon- sanction of truth. veniences of falsehood in their mutual intercourse, and,
(z) § 181. In another place, § 13, he says, "Sans doute il y a une tendance naturelle des esprits vers le vrai, comme des corps vers le centre de la terre; mais l'homme, étant libre, peut obéir ou ne pas obéir à cette tendance, et il n'arrive que trop
souvent que ses déclarations sont
(a) See further on this subject,
(b) 5 Benth. Jud. Ev. 636.
3rd. The re
perhaps, further actuated by the reflexion that truth is in conformity with the will of God and the laws of nature, they have by general consent affixed the brand of disgrace on voluntary departure from it; and hence, as observed by several authors, the infamy attached to the word "liar" (d). One great objection to the moral sanction is, that deriving, as it does, all its force from the value men set on the opinion of others, it naturally teaches them to conceal their faults from public view, even at the sacrifice of truth (e).
§ 18. Lastly, there is the religious sanction; which is ligious sanction founded on the belief that truth is acceptable and falsehood abhorrent to the Governor of the Universe, and that he will, in some way, reward the one and punish the other. All forms of religious belief acknowledge this great principle; and the following argument has been used to show that it is a precept of natural religion. "We are so constituted that obedience to the law of veracity is absolutely necessary to our happiness. Were we to lose either our feeling of obligation to tell the truth, or our disposition to receive as truth whatever is told to us, there would at once be an end to all science and all knowledge, beyond that which every man had obtained by his own personal observation and experience. No man could profit by the discoveries of his contemporaries, much less by the discoveries of those men who have gone before him. Language would be useless, and we should be but little removed from the brutes. Every one must be aware, upon the slightest reflexion, that a community of entire liars could not exist in a state of society. The effects of such a course of conduct upon the whole, show us what is the will of God in the indi
(d) See Pufendorf, De Jure Naturæ et Gentium, lib. 4, cap. 1, § 8; 1 Benth. Jud. Ev. bk. 1,
ch. 11, sect. 5, and Bacon's Essay on Truth.
(e) 1 Benth. Jud. Ev. 212-216.