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without ringing, but, at the end of that short time, the bell would be rung a second time, for five minutes more. I could not calculate time. A minute and an hour were of equal duration. I feared to rise, lest the five minutes should have elapsed, and the ringing be again commenced, in which case I should be crushed, before I could escape, against the walls or framework of the bell. I therefore still continued to lie down, cautiously shifting myself, however, with a careful gliding, so that my eye no longer looked into the hollow. This was of itself a considerable relief. The cessation of the noise had, in a great measure, the effect of stupifying me, for my attention, being no longer occupied by the chimeras I had conjured up, began to flag. All that now distressed me was the constant expectation of the second ringing, for which, however, I settled myself with a kind of stupid resolution. I closed my eyes, and clenched my teeth as firmly as if they were screwed in a vice. At last the dreaded moment came, and the first swing of the bell extorted a groan from me, as they say the most resolute victim screams at the sight of the rack, to which he is for a second time destined. After this, however, I lay silent and lethargic, without a thought. Wrapt in the defensive armour of stupidity, I defied the bell and its intonations. When it ceased, I was roused a little by the hope of escape. I did not, however, decide on this step hastily, but, putting up my hand with the utmost caution, I touched the rim. Though the ringing had ceased, it still was tremulous from the sound, and shook under my hand, which instantly recoiled as from an electric jar. A quarter of an hour probably elapsed before I again dared to make the experiment, and then I found it at rest. I determined to lose no time, fearing that I might have lain then already too long, and that the bell for evening service would catch me. This dread stimulated me, and I slipped out with the utmost rapidity, and arose. I stood, I suppose, for a minute, looking with silly wonder on the place of my imprisonment, penetrated with joy at escaping, but then rushed down the stony and irregular stair with the ve
locity of lightning, and arrived in the bell-ringer's room. This was the last act I had power to accomplish. I leant against the wall, motionless and deprived of thought, in which posture my companions found me, when, in the course of a couple of hours, they returned to their occupation.
They were shocked, as well they might, at the figure before them. The wind of the bell had excoriated my face, and my dim and stupified eyes were fixed with a lack-lustre gaze in my raw eye-lids. My hands were torn and bleeding; my hair dishevelled; and my clothes tattered. They spoke to me, but I gave no answer. They shook me, but I remained insensible. They then became alarmed, and hastened to remove me. He who had first gone up with me in the forenoon, met them as they carried me through the church-yard, and through him, who was shocked at having, in some measure, occasioned the accident, the cause of my misfortune was discovered. I was put to bed at home, and remained for three days delirious, but gradually recovered my senses. You may be sure the bell formed a prominent topic of my ravings, and if I heard a peal, they were instantly increased to the utmost violence. Even when the delirium abated, my sleep was continually disturbed by imagined ringings, and my dreams were haunted by the fancies which almost maddened me while in the steeple. My friends removed me to a house in the country, which was sufficiently distant from any place of worship, to save me from the apprehensions of hearing the churchgoing bell; for what Alexander Selkirk, in Cowper's poem, complained of as a misfortune, was then to me as a blessing. Here I recovered; but, even long after recovery, if a gale wafted the notes of a peal towards me, I start ed with nervous apprehension. I felt a Mahometan hatred to all the bell tribe, and envied the subjects of the Commander of the Faithful the sonorous voice of their Muezzin. Time cured this, as it does the most of our follies; but, even at the present day, if, by chance, my nerves be unstrung, some particular tones of the cathedral bell have power to surprise me into a momentary start.
ON COPLESTONE'S INQUIRY INTO THE DOCTRINES OF NECESSITY AND
TO CHRISTOPHER NORTH, ESQ.
DEAR SIR,-Having endeavoured to shew that philosophical necessity is inconsistent with activity, the next step of the Rev. Inquirer is to try to prove it to be destructive of morality. "It cannot be denied (he goes on to observe,) that in the habitual judgment of all mankind, the moral quality of actions depends upon the freedom of the agent. Praise and blame, reward and punishment, uniformly imply that we think the party who is the object of them might have acted otherwise; and as soon as it is discovered that he acted under compulsion, we no longer measure the action by the standard of duty. It is in fact the first excuse which a culprit makes, if he can, that his will had no share in the deed. The deed may, it is true, though proceeding from ignorance, or from an extraneous power, still lie culpable to a certain degree-if that ignorance were not inevitable, or if the person placed himself voluntarily in that state of subjection which deprived him of choice. But still our judgments in these matters, all have respect to one principle that man is not accountable for what was not in his own power."
This statement, I must take the liberty of saying, is extremely loosely worded. The emphatic terms are employed without any prior definition of the precise meaning intended to be conveyed by them, and the whole passage is consequently so completely. equivocal, that neither Libertarian nor Necessitarian need hesitate to assent to it, as it stands. The question is, what sort of freedom is requisite to determine the quality of actions? What sort of compulsion is destructive of responsibility? What is the rational meaning of the word blame, and what the philosophy of punishment? Punishment is the application of the fear of pain, naturally inherent in men, as a motive to controul the will of those, whose tendencies to bad ac
tions are not restrained by the motives which commonly act as restraints upon the evil propensities of mankind. Now, how do we estimate the moral value of a good action, or the fitness for punishment of an apparently bad one? We inqulre whether or not it was performed under a state of absolutely forcible compulsion, fear, or ignorance. We first make this inquiry, merely because, if the causes of compulsion, fear, or ignorance can be otherwise removed, punishment becomes unnecessary. For as pain, and the apprehension of pain are applied medicinally to controll that will which is found to be permanently uncontrollable by other motives, so it is, of course, requisite to ascertain that the will has become inveterately diseased before the stimulus of punishment is applied; and this is done precisely upon the principles which lead a surgeon to apply a plaister to a green wound, or electricity to a contracted sinew: nor does the judge who pronounces sentence, think of inquiring whether the depravity of the will of the culprit, is a necessary depravity, and could not have been otherwise, any more than the surgeon would of inquiring whether the disease he cures could have been, or could not have been avoided. The same reasoning equally applies to voluntary ignorance, or to wilfully subjecting oneself to extraneous power. The depraved will, which chuses ignorance or subjection to improper power, must be cured or neutralized by the counteracting motives of fear and shame.
It is in obedience to this rule that those crimes which confessedly spring from ignorance and ill education, and which are as inevitable, and as much the creatures of necessity as a life of ill example and wicked instruction can make them, are for the good of society punished equally with those committed by men of more enlarged minds
*Soldiers are punished for cowardice on strict necessitarian principles. The cer tainty of ignominious death is a stronger motive to stand, than the risk of honourable death is to run away.
and liberal education. If we pity the ignorant malefactor more, it is because the unavoidable tendency to crime is, in him, brought more directly and certainly into view, and because we also see that in him punishment must probably be less efficacious, and be required again and again, and with increasing severity. The mind of a criminal who possesses knowledge, and = who, of course, has a larger store of motives, good and bad, is generally =curable by punishment. Whilst his evil propensities are held in abeyance by fear, his mind reposes upon its better tendencies, which consequently gain strength as the others fade. The ignorant reprobate may be kept by fear from mischief for a time, until the impression wears off. But he has no better knowledge-no more = enlightened affections to cultivate, and I punishment is to him merely what the heated wires of the cage are to the ravenous cat. It is also to be observed, that the crimes of an intellectual man, are for the most part, caused only by complicated and singularly unfortunate combinations of cir=cumstances, which, when once interrupted, are less likely to be renewed.
It has been always, and, as it seems to me, most strangely, a favourite idea of the advocates of Freewill, that their theory is necessary for the explanation of punishment, and for the hypothesis of this life being a state of trial. Yet it is difficult, if not impossible, to conceive what sort of freedom other than the freedom to do what we will, can be requisite to justify punishment, or to afford room for moral discipline. In fact, Philosophical Freewill is perfectly incompatible with both. The denial of the necessary influence of motives on conduct, is essential to the libertarian system. But the system of punishment is an attempt to influence the conduct by means of the motives of a fear of pain and of shame, and it is only upon the supposition, that these motives have a certain and necessary tendency to bring about a given line of conduct, that pain can be reasonably inflicted. Nor does it help the advocates of liberty out of their difficulty, to say, as some of them have done, that though punishment certainly produces a tendency to a better line of conduct, yet the object still has the power to overcome that tendency, by an exertion of the free
dom of his will. The infliction of punishment must render the chusing of this evil exertion of Freewill more difficult-or it must not. If it does, this is to admit that the motive in question has some power to neutralise according to its strength, that perfect freedom of will which is contended for. If this be so, it is utterly inconceiveable how the mind which is necessarily biased to one side of an alternative, can by possibility chuse the other side, unless some opposite motive of equal force exert a similar influence towards the other side, and thus restore that balance which is necessary to the display of Freewill. If it does not render the chusing more difficult-if it be said, that the mind yields to the motive only of Freewill, and may from the same Freewill with undiminished ease, set it at defiance and act in opposition to it-then this is saying, that there is always inherent in the mind an unvarying and complete power to act, not only without, but against motives. If this be so, I ask, where then can be the utility either of punishment, or any kind of discipline? For according to this supposition, the object is as likely to act wrong if it is applied, as he is likely to act right if it is omitted, and he is as likely to do either of these things as the contrary, having an absolute, unalterable, and complete power to do either or any of them. Nor is it admissible to say that-although he has the power, he is not so likely to exert it, as to refrain from exerting it-for wherein does the likelihood lie? If motives have not a certain, and necessary influence on the ultimate decisions of the mind, then they have an uncertain and contingent influence, (if influence it can be called,) which may be either submitted to or not; and it is impossible to predict when it shall, and when it shall not be submitted to, the powers of chusing either side of an alternative being always equal, according to the doctrine of Freewill. If an appeal be made to experience, that where no evident, powerful, contradictory motives intervene, punishment is, in fact, generally followed by reformation; this is only putting one of the strongest arguments, for the probability of a necessary influence being exerted over the will, inasmuch as constant sequence is all we have to prove even
the doctrine of Cause and Effect, which is one of the principal foundations of human reasoning. The source of the notion of Freewill being necessary to justify punishment, is probably to be found in the still more common notion of punishment, as being merely vindictive. We are, for the most part, early possessed with a confused idea that there exists some essential, and natural connection between crime and punishment, independently of any future or present good to be attained by the infliction. Now when the word "crime" is defined-viz: to be that voluntary human action which is the cause of suffering either to others, or to the agent himself, or to both, the doctrine of vindictive punishment turns out to be merely this—an assertion that, because a man has been the means through which suffering has been experienced by others, or by himself, therefore he shall experience more suffering. To say that because some pain has occurred, therefore more pain ought to occur, is a dictum, which, in itself, carries no proof of its truth. The wherefore remains to be shewn. To render the assertion at all rational, we must answer, either, that this is a means of lessening the amount of suffering on the whole,-or, that God has so willed it, for reasons above our comprehension.
In his second discourse, (the text of which is Deut. viii. 5,) Dr Coplestone attempts to point out the compatibility of a general controlling Providence with free-will. During the course of his argument, the following passage occurs: The only argument brought against it, is borrowed from the difficulty of accounting for evil as mixed with God's creation, and of conceiving free-will in his creatures. But difficulties can never be listened to against the evidence of facts. The fact of the existence of evil no one denies; and the existence of free-will is, by the concurrent unreflecting testimony of all mankind, admitted to be a fact, opposed only by the metaphysical objections of a few. That all mankind act, speak, and think, as if the will were free, admitted by these few themselves.' This is "unreflecting testimony" with a witness! If we inquire rigidly into these two assertions, we shall find, I believe, that they are directly opposite to the truth. What does this general unreflecting testimony," (as the reverend gentleman terms it) testify?
Why, that men are free to do as they please. That they may freely, and without any counteracting compulsion, choose, in accordance with their view of a matter, and act according to that choice. This is all that Necessitarians contend for, and all that seems necessary for human happiness; but this is not philosophical free-will. Ask any of these "unreflecting," testifiers, if they possess some such power as that of making themselves choose what they don't choose, if they choose to do so, with a power of choosing to choose against their choice, should that vagary come into their head. Define to them metaphysical liberty, in the most intelligible way that it admits of; them if they recognize this in themselves, and mark what replication they shall make. In fact, the unreflecting of all ranks of society, every day, act and reason upon the principles of philosophical necessity, though without knowing it. Ask the "young Hopeful" of low life, why he prefers going to sea, to being a tailor; and he tells you "he can't help it." Ask the accomplished Maria, why she won't marry Joseph Surface, whom all respect, but prefers his profligate brother, and she tells you "she can't help it." The freedom they recognize, is a freedom from actual and sensible compulsion; the necessary bias of the will itself, they universally admit. Instead of the advocates of philosophical necessity admitting that "Mankind act, speak, and think, as if the will was free according to the metaphysical notions of free-will"-the very advocates of free-will themselves do not admit it, in practice and effect. They would inevitably send to Bedlam any man who should act as he might sometimes be expected to act, if their system were true. Suppose Dr Coplestone were to offer a starving porter a guinea to car ry a letter twenty yards, to the post office, and the man refused and put hi refusal upon free-will, would not the reverend doctor conclude him to b mad? So habitually do we rely upo the certain influence of motive, tha where an unexpected act occurs, W immediately refer it to some hidde reason in the mind of the agent; an if there does not appear to be room fo any, we pronounce it insanity. It a swers no end to say, that though me never knowingly choose to act as if the were insane, yet they are free so to a and choose. This is a strange kind
freedom of choice. We may as well admit the necessary influence of motives, as admit that men are compelled to act =according to motive, under pain of being denounced idiotical or mad. He who is banished from Scotland, is free to go or stay, excepting-that, if he stays, he will be hanged.
For the existence of Evil, Dr Cople=stone very naturally attempts to ac=count, by supposing mankind to be in =a state of trial. The word trial, how=ever, is ambiguous; nor has the reverend doctor given any very accurate explanation of what he means by it. This is of little consequence. Whether it means that man is then going through a certain process, by which the experience of certain sorts of pain is to produce a specific change in the constitution of the mind; or whether is meant by it an ordeal or test, by which to call forth and ascertain the quantum of inherent virtue and vice-it is still more capable of rational explanation, upon necessitarian principles, than upon any other. Under the first signification, if we allow the connection of =cause and effect in the mind, as in other things; and suppose that the application of certain motives or mental stimuli, must have necessary and specific effects upon the character, then, by the discipline of misfortune and evil, certain changes may be brought about, which may, for aught we know, be unattainable by any other means. But with an uncontroulable and incomprehensible free-will, what purpose could such a process answer? The repetition of any line of conduct is no more to be certainly expected according to this system, than the repetition of a series of tones on the Æolian harp. We have no more data for knowing how free will may act on the next occasion, than how the wind may blow on the next occasion. The second signification is, for the reasons already stated, evident ly as little reconcileable with the hypothesis of free-will, as the first. The advocates of free-will are always liable to this dilemma. Either the exertion of free choice is equally easy on each side of an alternative, under any circumstances, or it is not. If it is not, then the will is not free; and if it is, then there is an equal chance for every successive exertion being wrong, as well as right. For in this case, experience either proves too much, or nothing. It either proves the necessary influence
of motives, or else it is not to be relied upon at all. Thus, if a dice-player casts a given number thrice running, it either proves the existence of some necessary cause for that number being cast, rather than another; or it is admitted that the fourth cast is not more likely to be the given number, than any other possible number. Equally inconsistent is the notion of any power in the mind of choosing against motives. Either the mind must have two methods or modes of exercising choice, which is improbable; or, the choosing against motives must be done in the same way as in choosing in accordance with motives;-that is to say, the mind must have a power of rendering to itself the unattractive side of a question appa rently the attractive one, which is more improbable. It seems absolutely inconceivable that the mind should knowingly choose that which it naturally dislikes, without feeling pain; and if the effort be painful, freedom is imperfect, because we naturally are impelled to avoid pain. If it be said we have a free power of choosing to resist this impulse; then, I reply, we must have a prior free choice, choosing that second choice, as it also would be painful; and so on, ad infinitum. With respect to any supposeable power of the mind to render that which at first was unattractive apparently attractive, the possession of such power seems to be negatived by the fact of the painful conflict which takes place when opposing motives are nearly balanced-a thing which could not be under such a power.
The words of the text which Dr Coplestone has chosen for his third discourse, are remarkably striking. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and fore-knowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands, have crucified and slain."-ACTS ii. 23. In setting out on his forlorn hope of reconciling free-will with this determinate counsel and declared fore-knowledge, the reverend author has very properly begun with some observations on the improper use of the words "certainty, possible, contingent," &c. In the tenor of all these observations, I cannot, however, agree. "One example," says Dr Coplestone, " has already been produced in the word " cer tainty," which properly relates to the mind which thinks, and is improperly transferred to the object about which