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CH A P. V.
THE MORAL SENSE.
“ THE father of Caius Toranius had been " T proscribed by the triumvirate. Caius “ Toranius, coming over to the interests of that “ party, discovered to the officers, who were in “ pursuit of his father's life, the place where he “ concealed himself, and gave them withal a de“ scription, by which they might distinguish “ his person, when they found him. The old “ man, more anxious for the safety and for“ tunes of his son, than about the little that “ might remain of his own life, began imme“ diately to inquire of the officers who seized “ him, whether his son was well, whether he “ had done his duty to the satisfaction of his “ generals. That son, replied one of the of“ ficers, so dear to thy affections, betrayed thee " to us; by his information thou art appre“ hended, and diest. The officer with this “ ftruck a poniard to his heart, and the un" happy parenț fell, not so much affe&ted by
“ his fate, as by the means to which he owed u it.”*
Now the question is, whether, if this story were related to the wild boy, caught some years ago in the woods of Hanover, or to a favage, without experience and without instruction, cut off in his infancy from all intercourse with his species, and, consequently, under no possible influence of example, authority, education, sympathy, or habit; whether, I say, such a one would feel, upon the relation, any degree of that sentiment of disapprobation of Toranius's conduet which we feel, or not.
They who maintain the existence of a moral sense of innate maxims--of a natural conscience--that the love of virtue and hatred of vice are instinctive or the perception of right and wrong intuitive, (all which are only different
* « Caius Toranius triumvirum partes fecutus, proscripti « patris fui prætorii et ornati viri latebras, ætatem, notasque s corporis, quibus agnosci posset, centurionibus edidit, qui 5 eum perfecuti sunt. Senex de filii magis vita, et incremen6 tis, quam de reliquo fpiritu fuo sollicitus ; an incolumis " esset, et an imperatoribus fatisfaceret, interrogare eos cæpit. “ E quibus unus : ab illo, inquit, quem tantopere diligis, de« monstratus, nostro ministerio, filii indicio occideris : pro“ tinusque pectus ejus gladio trajecit. Collapsus itaque est « infelix, auctore cædis, quam ipfa cæde, miserior.” VALER. Max. Lib. IX. Cap. 11.
ways of expressing the fame opinion) affirm that he would.
They who deny the existence of a moral sense, &c. affirm that he would not.
And upon this issue is joined.
As the experiment has never been made; and from the difficulty of procuring a subject (not to mention the impossibility of proposing the question to him, if we had one) is never likely to be made, what would be the event, can only be judged of from probable reasons.
Those who contend for the affirmative observe, that we approve examples of generosity, gratitude, fidelity, &c. and condemn the contrary, instantly, without deliberation, without having any interest of our own concerned in them, ofttimes without being conscious of, or able to give, any reason for our approbation : that this approbation is uniform and universal; the same forts of conduct being approved or disapproved in all ages and countries of the world-circumstances, say they, which strongly indicate the operation of an instinct or moral sense.
On the other hand, answers have been given to most of these arguments, by the patrons of the opposite system: and, First, as to the uniformity above alledged, they
controvert the fact. They remark, from autliena tic accounts of historians and travellers, that there is scarcely a single vice, which in some age or country of the world, has not been countenanced by public opinion: that in one country it is esteemed an office of piety in children to sustain their aged parents, in another to dispatch them out of the way; that suicide in one age of the world has been heroism, is in another felony; that theft, which is punished by most laws, by the laws of Sparta was not unfrequently rewarded; that the promiscuous commerce of the sexes, although condemned by the regulations and cenfure of all civilized nations, is practised by the savages of the tropical regions without reserve, compunction, or disgrace; that crimes, of which it is no longer permitted us even to speak, have had their advocates amongst the sages of very renowned times; that, if an inhabitant of the polished nations of Europe is delighted with the appearance, wherever he meets with it, of happiness, tranquillity, and comfort, a wild American is no less diverted with the writhings and .contortions of a victim at the stake; that even amongst ourselves, and in the present improved state of moral knowledge, we are far from a perfedt consent in our opinions or feelings; that you shall hear duelling alternately reprobated and applauded, according to the sex, age, or station of the person you converse with ; that the forgiveness of injuries and insults is accounted by one sort of people magnanimity, by another meanness: that in the above instances, and perhaps in most others, moral approbation follows the fashions and institutions of the country we live in; which fashions also and institutions themselves have grown out of the exigencies, the climate, situation, or local circumstances of the country; or have been set up by the authority of an arbitrary chieftain, or the unaccountable caprice of the multitude--all which, they observe, looks very little like the steady hand and indelible characters of nature. But,
. . Secondly, because, after these exceptions and abatements, it cannot be denied, but that some forts of actions command and receive the esteem of mankind more than others; and that the approbation of them is general, though not universal: as to this they say, that the general approbation of virtue, even in instances where we have no interest of our own to induce us to it, may be accounted for, without the assistance of a moral sense, thus : , “ Having experienced, in some instance, a.