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And chance a logger loadin there-
So by hook, or by crook, or however it was, I got down to Whitehaven at last; And a Ramsey logger they call the Map Jemmy Corkhill-I knew the chap. “ Hullo !” says 1—“Hullo !” says he ; “ It's yourself that's been on the divil's spree, And a baby at ye-well! well! good Lord !" “ All right!” says I, and heaves him aboardAnd-Bless his soul the fun ! and a chile in ! So that's the way I got to the Islan'. I landed at Ramsey and started off The soonest I could, and past Ballaugh, And Kirk Michael, and the BallacraineI hadn been there I couldn tell ye the when. And you may think how he was much of a load, . But I was checked when I come on the mountain road And I found a spot where the ling was high, And terrible thick and soft and dryAnd a big rock standin Nor-East by EastThe way of the wind-aw, a beautiful place!
So I laid me down, and the child in my arms, And the quick little breath, and the dogs at the farms, And the curlews whistlin, passin byAnd the noise of the river below, and the sigh Of the mountain breeze-I kept awake, And a star come out like a swan on a lake, White and lonely; and a sort of amazement Got hould on me, and the leads of a casement Crissed-crossed on the sky like a window-frame, And the long, long look! and the far it came !
Aw dear! I thought it was Jinny Magee
But at last I come to the shore, and I ran,
The sun was down when I left them awhile,
For I seen a man bending over a stone-
And the look, and the heave of the breast-I could see
ON THE PRINCIPLE OF AUTHORITY IN MATTERS OF OPINION.1
The idea of authority in matters of theological opinion has been rendered familiar to us by the chronic controversy between the Church of Rome and the Protestant Churches, as to the mode in which dogmatic truth may be attained.? The Roman theologians assert that the decisions of an æcumenical council, or of a pope when speaking ex cathedra, are to be received with unquestioning assent. It is not necessary, they say, that individuals should recognize the validity, or indeed understand the nature, of the reasoning by which such decisions may be defended, since the ground on which they are to be accepted does not consist in any preponderance of arguments in their favour, but in the fact of their having been promulgated by an infallible organ of dogmatic truth. Protestant divines, on the contrary, encourage the individual to reject unhesitatingly all such decisions, whether of popes or councils, as appear to his own reason and conscience, after due examination and inquiry, to be no part of Divine revelation.
We have here the principle of authority sharply distinguished from that of private judgment. The Roman controversialist claims for the former, the Protestant for the latter, a preponderating influence on religious thought. It is, perhaps, the seeming antagonism into which the two principles have been thus forced in the field of theology that has attracted almost exclusive attention to their appearance on this battle-ground of successive generations; there centres round them, when thus seen, something of the joy of conflict which gives a keener interest to
Read before the Cambridge Reform Club, on February 5th, 1873.
? I am indebted to Sir G. Cornewall Lewis' work on “ The Influence of Authority in Matters of Opinion” for the principles laid down in the following paper. The exposition and application of those principles are in the main my own.
any question about which we witness an obstinate struggle between able and well-matched antagonists. A very little consideration will, however, suffice to show that authority and private judgment also play their parts, directly or indirectly, in moulding our opinions, and through them our actions, in the great domain of matters non-theological.
The exigencies of common life are constantly placing us in positions where, of two or more alternative modes of action, we must adopt one. A boy is to be educated—what school shall he be sent to? An action at law to be commenced—what counsel shall be retained? A vacant post to be filled up which of the candidates shall be selected ?
The answer to be given to each of these questions involves the previous formation of an opinion on the subject with which it deals. The school is fixed upon because the boy's father thinks it the best he can afford; the counsel engaged because the solicitor in the case holds him to be eminently fitted to conduct it; the candidate appointed because the patron conceives him to be better qualified than his competitors. But though the formation of an opinion is unavoidable, the opinion itself may be arrived at in two extremely different ways. Let us suppose the boy's father, in the first of our three illustrations, to be a highly-educated man, well acquainted with the details of school management. Before coming to a decision he visits a number of schools, and at each questions the master, looks over the house, hears lessons given, overhauls the class-books, and talks with the boys in the playground. He then compares the advantages and defects of the several schools, and selects that which appears to him best suited to his son's powers and the length of his own purse. This is an opinion formed by private nuagment. Next let the father have enjoyed no
unusual advantages of education, and subject within his reach, and, without know nothing about schools. His course troubling himself with trains of preliis now much more expeditious. He minary reasoning, takes for granted goes to some one whom he believes to whatever statements appear to him to be well informed in matters of education, bear on the subject he has in hand. and on whose judgment and integrity There is here no independent inquiry he can rely, and asks him to recommend whatever, but unconditional submission a suitable school. If he at once makes to the principle of authority. Even up his mind that the school thus recom- within the area of a single science, the mended to him is the one he wants, his jurisdiction of the same principle is opinion is formed entirely on authority. extensive. Mathematics, for instance, It is probable, however, that if not he, has of late grown so enormously as to at any rate his wife, will contribute a make it impossible for anyone not enlittle element of private judgment to dowed with very exceptional powers of the decision by ascertaining, by personal application, and a voracious and insainspection, that the sheets are clean and tiable intellectual appetite, to acquire the beef abundant.
anything like an independent knowA passing glance at the multifarious ledge of the present condition of tbat matters on which a man is thus com- subject in all its different branches. pelled to come to some kind of conclu- The most distinguished mathematicians sion, will suffice to convince us that in would be the first to disclaim such the great majority of cases he cannot complete knowledge themselves, and to possess the knowledge of detail requisite dissuade others from the extravagant for forming a really independent opinion. and comparatively useless attempt to A man may be a guardian of the poor, acquire it. Each seeks to extend his a trustee of a school, a member of a independent knowledge of his own hospital-board, a common council man, special branch of the subject, but, bea member of Parliament. How is it yond its limits, adopts unhesitatingly, possible that he can go for himself into and without previous examination, the all the economical, social, sanitary, edu- results obtained by other investigators. cational, medical, legal, constitutional, Let us now pass beyond the boundand many more kinds of questions which aries of the so-called s exact” sciences, come before him in these capacities, on into subjects such as history, and think which, nevertheless, he is constantly for a moment what an amount of time called upon to form, and sometimes to and labour is involved in investigating express, an opinion ? Nothing is more a single question,-say the character of certain than that in nine cases out of a particular sovereign. The searching ten he must take the opinions of other for lost or undiscovered records, colmen on trust, i.e. adopt the principle of lating, deciphering, and interpreting of authority. The extent to which he will old manuscripts, sifting of evidence, have to do this is probably far greater marshalling of ascertained facts, are than those who have never examined processes requiring enormous patience the subject are at all aware of.
and systematic application, and making Let us first see how the case stands unlimited demands on the time of the with the sciences, from whose domain inquirer. To go thoroughly into a few the principle of authority is commonly such questions is work for a lifetime. supposed to have long been peremptorily. The considerations which have been banished.
adduced lead to the conclusion that An independent cultivator of any one the further the domain of human science does not generally possess a knowledge is extended, and the more first-hand acquaintance with any other. thoroughly it is cultivated, the smaller If for any purpose he requires to make will the portion of it become with use of facts belonging to a field not his which any one man can possess a own, he consults the best book on the thoroughly independent acquaintance.