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professedly on this subject (at least as Study of Moral Evidence; or of that far as the author of this tract can learn) Species of Reasoning which relates to these hints are offered; but not as new Matters of Fact and Practice.' Hero thoughts. For in the present advanced terms are represented as synonimous state of science, little that is new can which are by no means sucli. Evidence be expected on a subject of this na- of any kind is that upon which our ture, Nor are they proposed as com- reasoning is founded; and a mind prising a complete system, but merely which may readily admit the one, as an introduction to the study of mo- may be wholly incapable of the other. ral evidence.” What reason could the They differ as cause from effect ; and reviewers have, after reading this pas- it is certain that the same moral evisage (if they did read it), to expect dence will give rise to a very different novelty of reflection ?
species of reasoning, according to the But why, it may be asked, did the stamp and extent of the understanding author publish his work, if he was to which it is submitted.” conscious that it contained nothing This I call cavilling, because it is new? That it contains nothing new, insisting on the necessity of making
I am not disposed to adnut. It em- a distinction which is unwarranted : braces a variety of topics which the by our best writers. Dr. Campbell,
reviewers have not condescended to in his Philosophy of Rhetoric, plainly notice; nor have they even given the uses the terms evidence and reasoning contents of the chapters. Now, as convertible.* Dr. Johnson thus though some of these topics may have defines the word evidence-Ist, “The been incidentally treated of by writers state of being evident, clearness, &c." on logic and the human mind, I pre- 2dly, “ Testimony, proof,” The word sume it cannot be shewn that they proof surely comprehends reasoning have all been fully discussed by any as well as facts. What phrase is more writers whatever ; nor that they have common than “ demonstrative evibeen systematically arranged for the dence?" and how can a proposition case and advantage of the student. be demonstrated without reasoning?
Whoever reads with attention the The reviewers seem to have been treatise on · Moral Evidence," and is misled by observing the practice in capable of appreciating its value, must, courts of justice, where the evidence I conceive, be convinced that the au- is always considered as a distinct thing thor's sole aim was utility: to expose from the reasoning of the counsel; the arts of sophistical disputants, and but the same distinction does not preto teach youth to reason with accu- vail in the scientific use of the word. racy on several subjects of the highest The author of this work states, with importance to their welfare; not to great perspicuity, how moral evidence supersede the excellent treatises on differs from demonstration in several logic, of which we are already pos- particulars; shews the superiority of sessed, by a" luminous exposition of the latter; and then remarks,“hence, the first principles of reasoning," as perhaps, some persons may conclude the reviewers profess to have expected. that the study of moral evidence will The different kinds of moral evidence be of little use. But however inferior are, however, clearly defined; and a it may be to demonstration, it is not distinction pointed out between those possible to avoid using it constantly ; which are in danger of being con- for it is the only light afforded us to founded, as well as particular direc- form our practical opinions and regutions respecting each of them. What late our conduct.” , “ But," say the other “exposition on the first prin- reviewers, “ does he not here conciples of reasoning" could any reader found moral evidence with the preexpect?
cepts of moral duty?" By no means. Next the reviewers cavil at the title The precepts of inoral duty are acof the book. “In the very title of knowledged to be clear and deternithis work,subjects are identified which nate. No man can entertain a doubt are in themselves extremely distinct, whether or not he ought to be just in and this necessarily creates a confused his dealings ; but a question may arise notion of the topics about to be dis
An Introduction to the • Second edition, vol. i. p. 214.
respecting the justice or injustice of mighty intended that we should cultiany particular action, which cannot rate this virtue, then, notwithstandsoʻreadily be solved. It may de- ing what the Oxford reviewers have pend on a number of minute circum- thought proper to assert to the constances which ought to be carefully trary, “ the clear light of demonstra considered; and when we have done tion would be ill adapted to the trial our utmost by these means to ascer- of our understandings on practical tain the truth, our conclusion must questions."* be founded on moral evidence : so The Oxford reviewers wish the authat the phrase under the conduct of thor of “Moral Evidence to conmoral evidence has a meaning, not- sider seriously to what his reasoning withstanding what the reviewers have amounts, when he affirms that the urged against it; and that meaning greatest talents, natural or acquired, implies nothing absurd.
are calculated rather to promote that It was observed, that the necessity delusion which sets our duty and our of acting on this inferior species of desires at variance (this is an inaccuevidence is suited to the state in which racy of the reviewers :- the author we are placed; a state in which all had said, “if a man wish to make his the faculties received from the Creator are put to the trial. Now the clear
Respecting the nature of the evilight of demonstration would be ill dence for a future state, the following adapted to the trial of our understand- sentiments of archdeacon Paley are ings on practical questions; because submitted to the reader's attention. it could scarcely fail of compelling us Had they ever attracted the notice of to a right judgment even in spite of the Oxford reviewers, they would the most perverse inclinations or the probably have charged the archdeagreatest insincerity. But, being un- con with gravely affirming that the der the conduct of moral evidence, excellence of this evidence consisted our sincerity is continually put to the in its defect and imperfection.' test. Hence, if a man wish to make
Irresistible proof would restrain his views of duty consist with his in- the voluntary powers too much; clinations or present interests, he can would not answer the purpose of trial seldom want a pretext for so doing; and probation; would call for no exand the greatest talents, natural or ac- ercise of candour, seriousness, huquired, will not secure him against mility, inquiry; no submission of this delusion, but, on the contrary, passions, interests, and prejudices to rather promote it; for they only serve inoral evidence and to probable truth; him with more able counsel to de- no habits of reflection, none of that ceive himself.” On this the reviewers previous desire to learn and to obey remark, “ Surely no writer ever be the will of God, which forms, perfore gravely athirmed that the practical haps, the test of the virtuous princiexcellence of moral evidence consisted ple."-"May it not be said that irrein its detect and imperfection.” In- sistible evidence would confound all stead of making any reply to this per- characters and all dispositions ? would verse remark, I shall entreat my subvert rather than promote the true readers to consider, first, whether a purpose of the divine councils; which sincere desire to know, in all cases, is not to produce obedience by a force what is incumbent on us as rational, little short of mechanical constraint, social, and accountable creatures, be (which obedience would be regularity, not a virtue ? and, secondly, whether not virtue, and would perhaps hardly they could have equal scope for the differ from that which inanimate boexercise of this virive, had it been dies pay to the laws imposed upon practicable to ascertain, in every in- ti eir nature) but to lead moral agents stance, the path of duty with as great agreeably to what they are; which is Clearness and certainty as we can as- done when light and motives are of certain the truth of a proposition in such a nature and imparted in such Euclid's Elements ? To me it is evi- ineasures that the influence of them
dent, that, on such a supposition, depends on the recipients themselves." there would be little room for the -Evidences of Christianity, ed edition, exercise of sincerity; and if the Allol. II. pages368-371.
views of duty consist with bis incli- me is how it could be missed. For nation or present interests,' wbich is was not the king of Siam misled by a totally different thing], than to se- relying on his own constant expecure us against it. Does it not imply rience, and that of all those with that the divine gift of reason becomes whom he had been previouslyacquaintdestructive in proportion as it is im- ed? Was he not induced by it to disproved, and that knowledge is the pa- credit the testimony of the Dutch am. rent of vice and error?-Let me ask bassador, notwithstanding its truth? the reviewers if they never heard of What then can be more evident than such a thing as sophistry? and whe- that the most constant and uniform ther they do not know that by means experience does not amount to abof it a man may impose upon his solute certainty? own understanding as well as “ This writer," the reviewers af. others? If they admit this fact, why firm, “is moreover incorrect in stat. do they insinuate that, according to the ing that the King of Siam rejected the principles inculcated by the author of evidence of the Dutch ambassador for
Noral Evidence,' the faculty of rea- the existence of ice. He only dis$ou ought not to be cultivated, when credited his assertion," is testimony he only cautions his readers against then no evidence? In courts of jus. its abuse?
tice, if I mistake not, it is deemed a I should intrude too much on the species of evidence, and in many linits of your publication, and per- cases considered as perfectly satistachaps exhaust the patience of your tory. And why it should not in readers, were I to notice every passage every case that scarcely admits of any in this review, in which I conceive the other, it is not easy to conceive. But treatise on Moral Evidence to be the reviewers seem determined to treated with injustice. I pass on, find fault, whether opportunity offers therefore, to the case of the King of or not. Siam, who, because he had never ex- They proceed as follows: "The perienced the effects of extreme cold very next paragraph contains a speon water, nor knew any one who cimen of" false and inconclusive had experienced it, rejected such an reasoning, which, notwithstanding account from the Dutch ambassador; that we have already transgressed our and was therefore mentioned as an limits, we shall proceed to notice, be. instance of the fallibility of conclu- cause it involves in it an error which sions drawn fiom experience. “ His tends to contound and perplex the own experience,” says the author of first truths of moral science. They Moral Evidence,' and that of all then quote the following passage:others, as far as he could learn, were “This evidence (arising from exin direct contradiction to the am- perience) is also interior io demonbassador's assertion; he had therefore stration, if the propositions affirm the as strong reasons for disbelieving him event of things in particular cases; as the most
constant experience for, as it was observed, the conclus could afford, yet he was inistaken.” sion which my own constant expe
On this the reviewers observe, rience, and that of others atford, 're" How the proposition that what our specting these events, is that they own constant experience and the ex- happen according to some established perience of others confirm still falls law of nature. Now the laws of nashort of absolute certainty, is at all il- ture depend upon the will of God; lustrated by an instance of a person but we cannot be certain that it is who rejected as untrue what his own his will that they should always conconstant experience and that of all tinue the saine, He may have been others within bis knowledge had uni- willing to suspend them on certain tormly contradicted, is nore than we occasions, where it seemed fit to his. can di cover." And yet it seems to infinite wisdom. He may even deTepuisé very little penetration to make termine that they shall be totally * this discovery, if such it can be called, changed or abolished.
Hence we wlien it was so clearly pointed out, cannot be certain that events which that the only matter of surprise with depend upon these laws will always
UNIVERSAL MAG. VOL. VII. 2 S
continue the same.-Consequently, the chair of instruction; to assume the evidence we have for these events the office of rectifying the reason and is inferior to demonstration.". modelling the understanding of
In order to give their objection to others.” They therefore, we may this passage a greater air of plausibi- presume, cannot be unwilling to Jity, the reviewers represent the pre. bring their opinions to the test of exmises as reterring to the future, and amination; nor can they be reasonthe conclusion to the past. “ Are ably displeased at the freedom with we not certain of a past fact,” say which I have treated their remarks. they, “because we cannot pronounce Intreating your pardon for having upon the future? Are our senses less detained you so long, I remain, Sir, to be trusted with the truths arising. Maidstone, Yours, &c. out of the known and visible laws of March 6, 1807. Rd. ALLCHIN. nature, because for aught that we can It may be proper to mention here, tell it may possibly please infinite wis- that the author of Moral Evidence' is dom at some period or other to alter the Rev. Mr. Gambier, of Langley, or suspend thein ? &c. &c." But do in Kent; and that the 2d number of not the words which they quote, “he the Oxford Review, in which the may have l'een willing, &c.", clearly work was noticed, was published the refer to the past? And are they not first day of February last. These part of the premises? If the Al- circumstances are mentioned lest the inighty may have been willing to sus- references at the bottom of the first pend the laws of nature on certain page should not be sufficient. occasions, how can we have evidence equal to demonstration for events THE COFFEE-Room.--No.II. which depend on those laws? In- Oh, blindness to the future! kuudly giv'n, deed, if that were the case, unbe. That each 11.ay fill the circle mark'd by lievers might demonstrate the false- Heav'n.
POPE. hood of christianity, for it is founded
TITHOUT controverting the on a series of events which could celebrated maxim of the aunever have happened according to thor, from whose writings I have sethe regular course of nature.
my motto, namely, that what, If " the laws of nature depend ever is is right,' it must be acknow. upon the will of God," and if “ we ledged, that many of those principles cannot be certain that it is his will by which Heaven usually directs the that they should always continue the events of the world, can be reconciled saine,” I would refer it to the deci- to our ideas of justice only by consision of any one who understands the dering them as parts of the large and meaning of the terms, whether the complicated moral machine which reevidence which we have for these gulates the universe. Immediate and events must not necessarily be in- particular effect is not, in this view of ferior to demonstration? Yet the re- the subject, so much to be considered viewers aflirm, that they have not as remote and general tendency: and often witnessed a grosser instance of consequently, until man acquires a false induction;" and that this rea- sufficient comprehension of faculty to soning “involves in it an error understand the enlarged whole, it is which tends to confound and perplex rashness for him 10 venture the centhe first truths of moral science!"" sure of any component part.
They conclude their account of this No circumstance of life more imwork, by observing very justly, that periously demands the support of this “ to bring his opinions to the test of consoling recollection, than the neexamination is the duty of every one lancholy truth that of those who in who puts in his claim to sense and various ways have wrought most pubreason; but it is a duty more imme- lic good, few have had their labours diately incumbent on him who seats rewarded by individual advantage; himself in the chair of instruction, Columbus who in discovering a world and assumes to rectify the reason and shared with Heaven the glory of creatmodel the understanding of others." ing it, and Gallileo who liberated na Reviewers may, in a peculiar man- ture from shackles forged by the ipsa pier, be said to “ seat themselves in dixit of pedants, were recompensed;
the navigator by the supercilious dis- the depravity of the human race, or pleasure of a court, the philosopher the uncertainty of event, can be made in the silent dungeons of the inquisi- to bear the blame, each in his turn tion. Were the trouble and anxiety becomes a moral philosopher, or as previously necessary, and the invi- the elegant Beattie expresses it, dious calúmnies subsequently attached • Thinks as a sage, while he feels as a to the successful accomplishment of man. As I dare not venture to deenterprise, foreseen by youthful aspi- scribe myself as belonging to that enrers to fame, exertion would doubt. viable class of authors who remark on less be palsied by their dread of fail- human frailty without participating in ure, or disgust at ingratitude. Fortu- it; and who discuss the effects of pasnately, however, where Certainty is sion or habit with the calmness of an wanting, her place in this world insulated naturalist making experiis ever supplied by Hope, and we ments on electricity; I scruple not seldom open our eyes on calamity frankly to confess, that those reflectill we feel the pressure of her hand. tions on the general unworthy treats Man, debarred from prying into futu- ment of aspiring merit with which I rity with the telescope vt prediction, have ushered in the second number of contentedly amuses himself with the the “Coffee-Room," originate solely magical lanthorn of fancy; and, al- in the censure occasioned by the pub
though the images presented by the lication of the first. If they but af* latter are unreal and delusive, yet ford as much instruction to others as
they stimulate effort by raising desire, they have bestowed consolation on while the former, disclosing a gloomy myself, my readers can have no reaperspective of misfortune, would only son to urge the objection of their depress. It is to this want of fore- springing from disappointment. It is sight, then, by so many thoughtlessly not that I have as yet to complain of arraigned, that we owe those various any peculiar severity from the world improvements which the inspirations at large. The extreme youth, and of genius, or the labours of assiduity perhaps the insignificance of my unhave from time to time brought a- dertaking have hitherto shielded it bout. And thus it is that we con- from general criticism. But, alas! tinue to suck the delicious sweetness my hopes have failed in their very of the honey, while the industrious foundation ; and the spot I had antistorer of the hive lies crushed at our cipated as the chief scene of my feet.
triumph has become the centre of my Mankind are seldom or never so disgrace. After having experienced much inclined to moralize as when the almost unanimous disapprobation smarting under a recent disappoint- of the members of the Coffee-Room, ment. A lusty gentleman who had, I feel public applause or blame a matwith great labour, almost mastered ter of minor importance. And this the acclivity of a steep eminence, was, confession ought to be taken rather by the effects of a talse step, rolled as a mark of candour than of disreheadlong to the bottom. Bruised and spect. The circle in which our torn by the rudeness of the descent, hopes, fears, wishes, and disappointhe seated himself on a stone at the ments move, with a fluctuating and foot of the height to which he had irregular revolution, is far less eccenaspired, and, looking wishfully up- tric than many are willing to acknows ward, as he wiped the dirt and sweat ledge. Universal fame and unbounded from his forehead, exclaimed, “Ah! glory are doubtless high sounding this is all owing to the law of gravita- words, and have ever been adopted tion.” His own unwieldy clumsi- as themes of panegyric, and held out ness, and imprudence in attempting as prospects to excite. But those such an unsuitable enterprise, never who appear most anxious in their occurred to his mind as the true ursuit regard them as means rather causes of his misfortune. Thus it is ihan ends of attainment. It is bewith men in general, if they can cause importance is acquired at home trace the failure of their expectations by the possession of influence abroad, to any source rather than their own that this latter is so eagerly sought miscvnduct; if the laws of nature, atter; and the applause of the muny