Puslapio vaizdai

and he, true friend, deceived me not, but told me I must suffer many things, live many woeful days, and die at length in torment. That were but little, seeing that Bianca knows the lesson well. But for thee

"Farewell, Filippo. Forget not the scudo thou hast vowed thy God. I die happy. Methinks thy God is merciful-He may forgive

— me, for the sake of thee. Take my dagger ; I told thee it should serve thee.

“ Thou wilt not win to-day: I know it well. Did never good come of that cursed Lotto.

“There is a necklace here upon the table. I loose it from my neck for thee. Sell that, or keep it, as thou wilt. If any pleasing reaches where I go, 'twill please me best so thou wilt sell it.

“ And so go free. And when thou prayest to thy God, to-day, tomorrow, in the years to come, plead for a sinner-a poor sinner-who sinning loves thee still, and dies."


I have heard say, that that same night in Rome there was a sound of heavy footsteps in that upper chamber—a sound as of a rusty key that turned a lock—a sound as of the footsteps, slow and heavy, passing adown the marble stair.

And then, behind, there came a sound as of a dog that followed silently; and then below the opening of the outer door.

And I have heard that, since that night, Rome knows nought of Filippo the painter.



Ir is matter of the most familiar knowledge that men and women differ in their notions of right and wrong. Some of the most striking of their differences are among the commonplaces of literature. Every child has been called upon to wonder at the savage or halfsavage who thinks it a sacred duty to kill his aged parents, or to expose

them to die on the banks of a sacred river ;-at the Spartan boy trained to steal adroitly ;—at the Grand Custom of Dahomey ;at the Happy Dispatch of Japan ;-and all the rest of it. persons of course know more of these matters than are disclosed in detail to the young; and most cultivated adults have been told, and many of them have believed, that there is not a single act which has not been recognized at different times and places by different races as a crime and a virtue.

On the other hand we may hope that there are but few thoughtful persons on whom such commonplaces have imposed. It has been admitted, even by those who have been inclined for speculative reasons to make the most of these discrepancies of moral practice, that the good men and heroes of every race which has had good men and heroes, have been wonderfully alike, and kept in their places by wonderful unanimity of suffrage on the part of the majority. Nor has it been hidden from candid eyes that the moral motives of some very abnormal actions have been similar in kind to those of the most normal. Thus, the motive for training youth to dexterity in theft may have been patriotic, and referring solely to exigencies of war; and the reason for killing or exposing an aged parent may have been a pious one, (however mistaken) having some reference to his welfare in a future state, or to something else of supreme import in the eyes of the children. These also are commonplaces, and, as far as they go, they help to restore our faith in certain bases of morality common to the race.

Not the less, however, do they introduce us to fresh difficulties. It seems, upon this showing, that errors of opinion upon very difficult matters may lead to wrong practice of the most dreadful kind : and a fortiori that errors of judgment may lead us astray in minor matters. Missionaries will tell us of savages who have expressed the most conscientious grief at having neglected to kill and eat certain persons. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was one of the best men that ever lived, and he persecuted the Christians from the most conscientious motives. From similar motives a Torquemada denounces his own daughters to the Inquisition, and helps to light the pile that burns them to death.


It is just the same in minor matters. The best of us know what it is to have to say, "I did wrong on such and such occasions, but it was from error of judgment; I thought I was right." In the ordinary affairs of life, as regulated by law in different countries, we find very diverse standards. And in fixing those standards varieties of sentiment or feeling have acted in the most perplexing manner. The feelings of a Chinaman, or even of a Frenchman towards his mother, strike an Englishman as being exaggerated. To swear by the soul of your mother-je jure par l'âme de ma mère !-has been described as indicating quite an advanced stage of French piety. Yet there is little in France, and less than nothing in China, in the general level of feeling towards women, to account for this. The tendency of the German tribes to associate the highest and purest ideas with women has long been a commonplace-(it is not affected by any recent ethnological speculations)-and among the German youths there are societies bound together by pledges of chastity. Yet, opposed as such a concomitant may be to English notions of right and wrong, divorce is easy in Protestant Germany, and the tendency of the northern races has always been to make it so. Take what we call "politics; "-here, indeed, we are misled by a word, for, though we do not usually think of politics as matters of right or wrong in the sense in which kindness and fidelity rank in those categories, politics are in reality as much "stuff o' the conscience" as all the rest. In the question of the marriage laws, as between England and Scotland, we have an obvious and instant case to illustrate the way in which what is ordinarily called morality and what is ordinarily called politics osculate. Whether the marriage law of Scotland shall by main force on the part of the English majority in the common parliament be assimilated to the marriage law of England, is a question brulante in politics, to which some of the wisest and best of Scotchmen say no, upon moral grounds. And here the difference goes to the very root of the contract.

Nor can we stop here. For at this point we are forced to confront other and still nicer questions, which show how widely all matters of morality strike their roots, and how widely men and women of equal goodness, and apparently equal acuteness, may differ about them. If the majority of mankind were satisfied that some of the deepest questions of morality are altogether outside of the sphere of government, there would be an end, abstractly, of much controversy, —of course a practical doubt as to the consequences is assumed in the facts as they are,--but civilized men and women cannot yet, as a rule, even agree to differ in such matters; and we have thus a state of facts which is most confusing to all but those who are accustomed to look speculative duties in the face. Into the innermost confusions of that confusion we will not go,-it is on the very surface quite bad enough to alarm one. In questions of morality, those who know and think the most have the deepest and most painful doubts, as

well as the highest and most joyful certainties. The question of the right to subsistence, which means existence, is in all conscience high enough and deep enough, and yet this question, and no other, is the ultimate translation of this capital-and-labour question, of which we hear so much. Not merely the right to appropriate a park or a game cover or a salmon stream, but the right to appropriate an ironfield or the product of an iron-field, is ultimately a question of the same order as the right to have standing room on the surface of the planet.

Where, indeed, shall we stop? What means have we for deciding any questions of this kind? Do we employ even the same instruments when we work out such decisions as we do in fact attain to?

I have already said, and I repeat with emphasis, that in the series of papers to which this belongs, the reader is not asked to assume the truth of what is called “the science of Phrenology” or even of Cranioscopy; I assume nothing as to the division of the brain into “ organs;" nothing about the correspondence of the outer and inner plates of the skull ; and nothing as to the completeness of the psychology of the phrenologist. I do not ask the reader actually to assume anything in these matters, but merely that he will permit me to use, for a while, the ordinary language of the phrenological text-books and speak, to avoid circumlocution, of the organ of this and the organ of that, when it suits my purpose. It is, however, my opinion that great clearness of view is obtained by using the phrenological classification of the faculties; or else I should not be writing these papers.

As everybody who has looked at a marked bust, or read a list of the “organs” knows, the phrenologists have a specific organ of Conscientiousness. They say it is associated with the sentiment of justice, and no doubt it is, though I never could find their diagnosis perfectly clear as to the function of the faculty. For the reader's sake I refrain from discussions which would be out of place here, and keep as close to the outskirts of the subject as is consistent with my general purpose. It is believed, then, that where the organ of Conscientiousness is large, we find in the possessor a sense more than usually keen of the rights of others and of the duties which come under the head of truthfulness of character. The organs which are least commonly found in high development are Ideality (the sense of sublimity and beauty), Causality (the deductive faculty), and Conscientiousness. * You find plenty of kind men and women, plenty who are religious; but you find comparatively few who are just —that poets and good reasoners are scarce, need not be added. We hear and read a great deal about the fairness of mankind; their justice in the long run ; the substantial accuracy of their moral decisions ; the confidence with which you may look to the verdict of your fellows--and all the rest of the kindred commonplaces. But

* In using language of this kind, I bespeak the indulgence of the scientific psychologist. But, in truth, the case is not so bad as his impatience may at first suggest

to him.

these things will not bear looking at. At the first touch of a resolute analysis they are pulverised. This world is, in stubborn fact, a very hard world indeed, in which the chances are heavily against the best consciences ; a world in which, after wearily indefinite struggles, a very little bit of justice gets done somehow ; largely by what looks like downright blunders. I should be the first to protest, not merely with earnestness, but with passion, against putting these facts to any cynical use : but they are facts. On the one hand there is a real truth which is roughly represented by such fine phrases as "the great heart of mankind,”—“this wise world of ours,"—and their like; but, on the other, it is not implied in that real truth that the sense of justice is quick in the mass of the human race, even when that race is most highly developed. The greater part of what “ goes on” beneath the sun, the very staple of history, the main warp and weft of the social activities that proceed under your eyes and mine,--exists and flourishes, under whatever fine names,-in defiance of the first dicta of the instinct of simple justice. If all the admissions which the human mind has let fall from time to time in this matter were collected in a volume, what a Book of Anguish they would make! However, I do not want to get sentimental ; but merely to state the fact that the prime element for deciding questions of justice is weak in the majority of human beings. A very strong love of truth and justice for their own sake is as rare as the love of abstract reasoning, and nearly as rare as the poetic instinct.

As the poetic instinct enters largely into our notions of right and wrong, and I have said that a large organ of Ideality is only more rare than a large organ of Conscientiousness, I may as well diverge for a moment to expose a common fallacy. We often hear or read of “the fund of poetry that there is in almost every human heart.” Now the proper response to this cant is,-Fund of fiddlesticks! There is in nearly every human heart more or less of what may,

in proper hands, become material of poetry ; but that there is a fund of poetry in every human bosom is about as true as that there is a fund of mathematical genius in every human bosom.

To return. In the group of organs especially distinguished as moral (the whole classification is objectionable, except as matter of convention and expediency) there is an organ of Veneration. The story of the placing of this organ is like that of most of the others fixed upon by Dr. Gall, who proceeded empirically.* He noticed that in many “religious " persons, the summit of the head was elevated

* That is to say, he noticed developmen of the skull in groups, and made the best induction he could. Spurzheim often adopted another method. Thus, supposing the organ of Locality fixed, he would say, “Well, there is probably an organ Order somewhere in the neighbourhood—let us look for it." Or, again, supposing Ideality, and Causality-(the latter giving the sense of rational or necessary sequence) he would say, “ It is probable that the organ of Wit or Humour lies between these two." And the indications of the busts do, in fact, correspond with these lines of pursuit.


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