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tion. A man is tempted by avarice to accept a bribe : if he resist upon the principle of duty, he is led by the prevailing motive: if he resist without having any reason or motive for resisting, I cannot discover any
merit in such resistance : it feems to resolve into a matter of chance or accident, whether he resist or do not refift. Where can the merit lie of refifting a vitious motive, when resistance happens by mere chance? and where the demerit of resisting a virtuous motive, when it is owing to the fame chance? If a man, actuated by no principle, good or bad, and having no end or purpose in view, should kill his neighbour, I see not that he would be more accountable, than if he had acted in his sleep, or were mad.
Human punishments are perfectly consistent with the necessary influence of motives, without fupposing a power to withstand them. If it be urged, That a man ought not to be punished for committing a crime when he could not resist: the an[wer is, That as he committed the crime intentionally and with his eyes open, he is guilty in his own opinion, and in the opinion of all men. Here is a just foun
dation for punishment. And its utility is great; being intended to deter people from committing crimes. The dread of punishment is a weight in the scale on the side of virtue, to counterbalance vitious motives.
The final cause of this branch of our nature is admirable. If the necessary influence of motives had the effect either to leffen the merit of a virtuous action, or the demerit of a crime, morality would be totally unhinged. The most virtuous action would of all be the least worthy of praise; and the most vitious be of all the least worthy of blame. Nor would the evil stop there: instead of curbing inordinate passions, we fhould be encouraged to indulge them, as an excellent excuse for doing wrong. Thus, the moral sentiments of approbation and disapprobation, of praise and blame, are found perfectly consistent with the laws above mentioned that
human actions, without necessity of recurring to an imaginary power of acting against motives.
The only plausible objection I have met with against the foregoing theory, is the remorse a man feels for a crime he sudVol. IV,
denly commits, and as suddenly repents of. During a fit of bitter remorse for having slain
favourite servant in a violent passion, without just provocation, I accuse myself for having given way to pasfion; and acknowledge that I could and ought to have restrained it. Here we find remorse founded on a system directly opposite to that above laid down ; a system that acknowledges no necessary connection between an action and its motive; but, on the contrary, supposes that it is in a man's power to resist his passion, and that he ought to resist it. What shall be said upon this point ? Can a man be a necessary agent, when he is conscious of the con-. trary, and is sensible that he can act in contradiction to motives? This objection is strong in appearance; and would be invincible, were we not happily reļieved of it by a doctrine laid down in Elements of Criticisın (a) concerning the irregular influence of passion on our opinions and sentiments. Upon examination, it will be found, that the present
be added to the many examples there given of that irregular influence. (a) Chap. 2. part 5.
In a peevish fit, I take exception at some flight word or gesture of my friend, which I interpret as if he doubted of my veracity. I am instantly in a flame : in vain he protests that he had no meaning, for impatience will not suffer me to listen. I bid him draw, which he does with reluctance; and before he is well prepared, I give him a mortal wound. Bitter remorse and anguish succeed instantly to rage. “ What have I done? I have murdered my innocent, my
best friend ; and yet “ I was not mad- with that hand I did “ the horrid deed; why did not I rather
turn it against my own heart?" Here every impression of necessity vanishes : my mind informs me that I was absolutely free, and that I ought to have smothered my pasfion. I put an opposite cafe. A brutal fellow treats me with great indignity, and proceeds even to a blow. My passion rises beyond the possibility of restraint: I can fcarce forbear so long as to bid him draw ; and that moment I stab him to the heart. I am sorry for having been engaged with a ruffian; but have no contrition nor remorse. In this case, I never once dream that I could have resisted the impulse of
passion : on the contrary, my thoughts and words are,
“ That flesh and blood $ could not bear the affront; and that I « must have been branded for a coward, $ had I not done what I did.” In realiry, both actions were equally necessary. Whence then opinions and sentiments so opposite to each other? The irregular influence of passion on our opinions and sentiments, will folve the question. All violent passions are prone to their own gratification. A man who has done an action that he repents of and that affects him with anguish, abhors himself, and is odious in his own eyes : he wishes to find himself guilty; and the thought that his guilt is beyond the possibility of excuse, gratifies the passion. In the first case accordingly, remorse forces upon me a conviction that I might have restrained my passion, and ought to have restrained it. I will not give way to any
because in a severe fit of remorse, it gives me pain to be excused. In the other case, as there is no remorse, things appear in their true lighț without disguise. To illustrate this reasoning, I observe, that passion warps my judgement of the actions of o