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THESE Lectures, since they are in a great measure historical, will inevitably suggest to the reader the elaborate work on The History of European Morals, which has obtained so much and such deserved celebrity during the last year. Much as I might have learned from Mr. Lecky's volumes I determined not to look at them till I had completed my own task. I might have been tempted to borrow unlawfully from them I might have confused my method by frequent attempts to shew wherein it differed from his. can now read what he has written without either of these dangers, and therefore with all the interest which an author so wise and serious must inspire. I can, however I may dread the comparison, encourage my readers to consider carefully his statements and arguments even when they are most at variance with
With regard to Statements, it will be seen that I am not likely to complain of Mr. Lecky for being too severe on practices and notions which have been grafted on Christian Morality and have been supposed to form a part of it. The value of such exposures— the duty of making them and of not confining them to those from whose opinions we dissent-I have recognised throughout these Lectures. Some will think that I have gone further than Mr. Lecky, that I have
exhibited the failure of Greek, of Latin, of Teutonic Christianity more conspicuously, if in less detail and with far less learning, than he has done. I felt myself bound to do so, because I was asserting a Theological basis for Morality, and because the tendency, it seems to me, in all these 'Christianities' has been to devise another basis for it. Mr. Lecky not proposing this object to himself could afford to be more tolerant of our offences than I have been.
Tolerance is not what I think any Christian ought to crave for himself or for the Society to which he belongs. But looking at the lives of those whom he reverences most as examples of a Christian life, he may ask that they should be allowed to explain what they meant. Such men as Chrysostom, Bernard, Leighton, believed in Christ, not in their Christianity. They complained of their own Christianity and of the Christianity of their times, because they believed in Christ. It seems to me that if I apply this distinction to the case about which I am most interested, I may arrive at a method of treating all opinions which will do greater justice to them and to those who hold them. Mr. Lecky claims a right to test Utilitarianism, and all the other isms, by their moral effects. At the same time he makes large allowances for the influence of the surrounding atmosphere, and of opinions not included in the ism, in determining the characters of men and their action upon their contemporaries. Unquestionably I think we ought to reverence a man much more than any System which he boasts of as his, and which cuts him off from other men. But he cannot accept the compliment that he is better than his System. He feels that it has taught him that which makes him more a man than he would otherwise be, he feels that he is below the standard which it sets
before him. Is it not possible to justify this belief of his; to ask what it is that has made each man's system dear to him, what connects it with his human life, and not with the narrow, selfish tendencies in him, which are inhuman? May not Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius have perceived something much higher than the word Stoicism can express—an actual governing principle for the life, not a congeries of opinions to be maintained against all challengers ? May not the Humanity which the Comtist dreams of be much more to him than all his Positivism, than all the volumes which set it forth? Believing that the true centre of Humanity is He whom all Christian teachers and Societies have professed to acknowledge, I must feel their delinquencies more than those of other men, in so far as they have fallen into Inhumanity. In the object of their belief I find the reconciliation of the principles which have been discovered to all the seekers after some maxim for their guidance and the guidance of mankind.
I do not pretend that I have given an example in this volume of the method which I perceive to be the right one. But I have aimed at it and so have been prevented from adopting the classification of opinions which Mr. Lecky deems satisfactory. I cannot regard the Utilitarian merely or chiefly as the antagonist of 'independent Morality.' He may often speak as if he were so; the younger champions of the sect whose main desire is to trample out every belief which existed in the world before Bentham was born into it, may gladly accept this negative representation of their office. But older defenders of Utility, to whom years have brought the philosophic mind-the philosophic mind being I suppose the equitable one-would perhaps be more ready to die for the conviction which they embraced
in their childhood than their more passionate allies, because they entertain it as a conviction and because they have learnt to reverence the convictions of their neighbours as well as their own. If I had no youthful recollections which gave me a regard and affection for some of these I should feel simply as a student that I was bound to recognise their contribution as well as that of the independent Moralist' to Moral Science and Moral Practice.
The watchword 'independent Morality,' though I recognise its worth, and accept it as an heirloom from Dr. Whewell, I could never inscribe on my banner. It must always be an awkward one for a writer on Social Morality. His subject must continually remind him of dependencies. According to me it begins from fixed relations; we only learn by degrees in what sense and under what great limitations independence is possible. I appreciate the importance of the stage in our existence when this word acquires significance. But I cannot separate it from the obligations to the Nation or from the affections of the Family out of which the Nation is developed. A thoroughly independent Moralist would I conceive be most immoral.
I should be very ungrateful if I did not confess how much I owe to Sir H. Maine's work on Ancient Lawnot exactly for suggesting to me the method of this book, but for assuring me that in adopting it I should not depart from the most considerate judgment of men aiming at different objects from mine, and possessing a much wider culture. I can scarcely express how great is my delight that an eminent lawyer should find himself obliged simply by his legal studies to abandon the atomic theory of Society and to accept the fact of Family Existence as its starting-point. I am bound to acquit Sir H. Maine of all responsibility