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demonstration to the contrary , and is an earnest of what will be done when good circumstances only—( true principles , beneficial institutions and arrangements , and truly enlightened and good teachers)—shal l be made to operate upon such persons from their birth . Mr . Barton says that , if persons can be made rational in the midst of irrational circumstances , the doctrine of the overwhelming influence of circumstances is thereby disproved . He overlooks the existence of other circumstances also , by -which the rationalizing effect is produced—of facts , against which , -when they are comprehended , error is powerless ; and of persons by whom those facts are pointed out .
Mr . Barton asks why , if this is the case , mankind may not be regenerated without changing the constitution of society ? Because the regeneration in mind will necessarily lead to a corresponding regeneration in practice . One who has been made conscious of the errors and vices of the present state of society , and , through that consciousness , desirous for their removal , cannot be content that such a combination of practical falsehood , injustice , and wickedness should be maintained . We cannot have all the results without all the means . Mr . Barton believes that " character depends chiefly , if not entirely , upon organization or innate qualities , and cannot be materially altered by any education or external influences . " Such a belief
betrays an unconsciousness of most notorious facts . Mr . Barton thinks that the fact that the rational system has never yet existed is •* decidedly against " its truth . The same argument would have proved railways and a thousand other modern improvements impracticable before they were introduced . I will now reply as briefly as possible to Mr . Neale . The idea that we possess the power to exert or suspend our will at pleasure , the antecedents remaining the same , is a fallacy arising from an imperfect perception of the process of the formation of the will or decision to act . Whenever the will is changed , the change of will is preceded by some change of the antecedents .
If we examine the process of the formation of our will , and ask ourselves what made us will as we did will on any given occasion , we find it was the strongest feeling of the time which did so . If we examine what it was which made us will differently at another time , we find the cause to have been that at that other time another feeling was the strongest . Always the strongest feeling of the time—physical , intellectual , or moral . But it is thought that we have the power to make this or that feeling the strongest at will . If we carefully examine , however , we find that the strength of each feeling , on every occasion , is as much caused by certain antecedents , as the will was by its antecedent strongest feeling .
The immediate antecedents of our feelings areour character at the time , our physical and mental condition at the time , and the external circumstances of the time . And , if we carefully observe , we shall find that every change of feeling is preceded by a change of one or more of these antecedents : —our character changing from time to time , in a greater or less degree , through new experience , for instance ; our physical and mental condition varying as we are hungry or satiated , fatigued or the reverse , in good health or ill , &c . ; and our external circumstances being altered in endless ways;—changes which in their turn may be traced to antecedent causes . The will , therefore , is the result of a chain of causation , and not a spontaneous production .
Facts demonstrative of the truth of these statements will be cognizable to all who have acquired the power of mental self-examination , if they will call to mind their own experience , and analyze it . Henry Travis .
FREE WILL AND NECESSITY . Lincoln ' s-inn , Sept . 29 , 1850 . Sir , —I should not have troubled you with any reply to F . G / s remarks on my observations ^ as to Mr . R . Owen ' s fundamental principle , were it not that I wish to vindicate myself from the imputation of being " prodigiously" alarmed at " being told that I have no free will . " If the correctness of F . G . ' s conception of the nature of my feelings is to be taken as a test of his insight into the nature of the human will , assuredly little reliance can be placed on his judgment . With regard to the question itself , F . G . seems to consider it a sufficient answer to my remarks and
to refer me to the opinions of Jonathan Edwards Dr . Chalmers . I have much respect for both of those ingenious writers and good men , though I apprehend that the student or metaphysics would commonly bow to the authority of bpinoza with more deference than to that of either Edwards or Chalmers , in whose minds the conclusions of metaphysical speculation were subordinate to the dogmas of Calvinistic Theology . But , if the question of the Freedom of the Human Will is to be decided by authority , it can hardly be decided in F . G . 's favour . Not to refer to earlier schools of philosophy , I need only allude to the succession of profound thinkers who . from Kant to Hegel , have so recently and bo
fully explored every branch of metaphysical enquiry , to prove that the conclusions of Edwards or Chalmers are not to be taken as exponents of the opinions generally admitted by those whose opinions are entitled to the greatest consideration on such questions as that of the Freedom of the Will . I have no wish to prolong a discussion which , as F . G . justly observes , would be likely to be interminable , within any limits that you could be reasonably asked to assign to it ; and most cordially do I concur in the hope expressed by him that all who are
interested in the great cause of substituting cooperation fox competition , as the ruling principle by which the ordinary relations of life shall be regulated , may «* work together hand m hand , " notwithstanding any metaphysical points of difference between them . But , the very circumstance that we can both cherish this hope is , surely , of itself a proof that social reform requires and admits of some firmer and broader foundation than the disputed metaphysical proposition on which Mr . Owen has thought fit to rest his system . —I am , Sir , yours sincerely ,
Edward "Vansittart Neale . P . S . —I observe that in the twenty-seventh line of my former letter , the word " passage " has been substituted for " principle , " which makes nonsense of the sentence .
ROBERT OWEN'S FIRST PRINCIPLE . Oct . 1 , 1850 . Sir , —F . G ., in common with many , perhaps all , Socialists , appears to overlook the real fact of a man being himself . F . G . writes , «• If , in no single instance , we can positively affirm that b man ' s conduct was not determined , compelled by circumstances beyond his control , such as education , physical organization , &c . If a man ' s ** physical organization" is one or many circumstances influencing his character , is it not equivalent to saying that he has the power of influencing himself ? And this I take to be true . We are all free within the limit of possibilities . O . S .
LETTERS ON UNITARIANISM . Letter I . October 1 , 1850 . Sir , —For nearly twenty years I have been interested in , or connected with , the Unitarian sect . But as I have never been satisfied with that connection , and as I see many religious and social wants which Unitarianism , unless it greatly transform itself , is inadequate to satisfy , I have thought that , perhaps , you would kindly give me space for a few miscellaneous observations on a theological system which so far has been more ambitious than successful .
Permit me to say that I write in no unfriendly spirit . Some of those whom I have known the longest and love the dearest are Unitarians . I have derived much intellectual suggestion , much spiritual profit from Unitarian influences . Though Unitarianism is not itself a high thing , yet it has been my pioneer to the highest . I should be flagrantly ungrateful , therefore , if I spoke of it either with contempt or hatred . Nor can I be blind to the services which it has rendered to the community . There have been dark hours in the history of our native land when it shrunk neither from peril nor from pain in the assertion of the Right and the True . While
aware also of its essential shallowness as a religious faith , I think that it has helped , along with other agencies , to make a religious faith of a deeper kmd possible . The earnest minds who are at present striving to lead men toward that deeper faith , forget how effective Unitarianism has been as a herald of the great religious reformation for which the world is panting , though totally unfit to take any part in the achievements thereof . And yet , in speaking thus , I may have said something harsher than the harshest enemy of Unitarianism would venture to say regarding it . For what can wound the vanity of a sect more than to tell it that it has had a vocation and a history , but that in the Present and in the Future there is no
room , no work for it r I was brought up among Calvinistic Dissenters , and though there are portions of my nature still scarred and distorted by the fiery baptism which Calvinism gives to its children , yet I do not regret that my young soul was crushed down for a season by that horrible devil-worship . The mystery of the universe might have come to me more gladly , but it could never have come to me so grandly unless I had shuddered in my boyhood at the ghastly shapes and grim terrors of Calvin's hell . Yet a bosom thirsting for the beautiful and the holy cannot dwell long in
that region of dread and damnation . Nature , the divine , is stronger than creeds , the human . The stars , the flowers , the waves , the everlasting mountains , taught me that the chains which bound me were lies gendered by the mad or the malignant brain of priests , and that the monsters before which I trembled were all of their invention . It was a year or two after I made this discovery that I formed my acquaintance with Unitarianism . Previously to this , however , I had traversed the darkest regions of doubt and denial , and hovered on the verge of Atheism . To a mind that had been grievously tormented by all which orthodoxy has that is most
cruel , and by all which scepticism has that is coldest and most despairing , there was for a time an irresistible charm in the pictures Unitarianism delights to draw of the unspoiled glory of the universe and the unstinted benevolence of God . To that charm I gladly surrendered myself , and conceived that there could be nothing nobler than battling even unto the death for doctrines so noble . But I was quickly
disenchanted . I saw that Unitarianism flattered so ardently God and the universe only that it might have an excuse for flattering itself . The universe is the best of all possible universes ; God is ^ the best of all possible gods ; and we are the wisest of men for entertaining so sublime a belief ; that I found to be Unitarian logic . Here , then , was at once unveiled to me the root of all that is wrong and
odious in Unitarianism , its monstrous arrogance , its inordinate intellectual pride . This was only a degree less offensive to me than the spiritual pride of the orthodox had been . Between thinking that you alone are the Deity ' s favourite , and persuading yourself that you alone make a favourite of Deity , the practical difference is exceedingly small . The Unitheir
tarians do not consider themselves better than neighbours , nor more religious ; indeed , some of them would be rather annoyed if you thought them very religious ; but they are the pharisees of intellect , and are less inclined to pity other sects for believing what is pernicious than to despise them for believing what is absurd . Now , intellectual pride is the most fatal form of self-worship . Spiritual pride requires an enormous effort to sustain itself . And ever and anon
moments of anguish and of exhaustion come when the creature falls down prostrate and overwhelmingly humbled at the footstool of the Creator , the thick wrappage of hypocrisy is torn asunder , and the remotest retreat of the startled conscience is awed and rebuked by the majesty of God . The pride of virtue , also , how often do irresistible passions , inevitable backslidings , and weaknesses dash in pieces the tower of strength in which it exults ! But the pride of knowledge , how seldom can that be reached by the accidents of fate , how seldom can that be taught by the lessons of Providence ! The food on which it feeds is itself , and the more greedily it devours the more abundant does it find the nourishment to be .
Besides , spiritual pride and the pride of virtue can belong to none but individuals ; it is only intellectual pride with which you can infect a whole mass of men . It would be but a commonplace to admit that the humble , no less than the holy , may be found among the Unitarians . It is still true that the leprosy , deforming and destroying whatever is excellent in Unitarianism , is pride of understanding . The results of that pride are not far to seek . The selfidolatry of intellectual pride leads by . the directest path to self-isolation . Few are recognized to be be
equals , and all the rest of men are considered to deserving neither of regard nor of sympathy . How can a sect in which that spirit prevails have missionary impulse , missionary action , and missionary success ? Moreover , intellectual pride wounds more keenly than any other kind of pride the sensitive vanity of others . It is therefore more from hatred of their pride than from dislike to their tenets that the majority of the orthodox are so unwilling to lend an ear to the teachings of the Unitarians . He that is possessed by the demon of intellectual pride also what is
tries to keep all his faculties in subjection to frigidly and formally rational . And , unmoved himself , how is he likely to move otheis ? How are the hearts of those whom you address to be touched , their imaginations to be kindled , their enthusiasm to be roused , when you yourself are as passionless as a triangle ? Yet is " not religion eminently a thing of the heart , of the imagination ? a thing having its breath and being in the loftiest enthusiasm ? Intellectual pride , likewise , is as disposed to underrate the obstacles to progress , as to avoid all trouble and risk by -which those obstacles might be overcome . It is lazy and cowardly . It is amusing to hear the Unitartans of the revelations that
speaking grand are about to burst on the world while not stirring an inch from the comforts of their armchair and their Sunday newspaper . They are continually prophesying the downfal of superstition , the coming of the Lord , and the reign of universal brotherhood , yet taking care not to move their feet from the fender . All this when I joined the Unitarian sect in the first fervour of my youth filled me with a disgust and a wrath which I was not slow to express ; it now fills me with sorrow . For , in the warfare with tyranny , fanaticism , and every social and political abomination in these days , the spectacle of misdirection or inaction in any force ostensibly allied to the good cause is as grievous as to behold the triumph of the enemy . Attictjs .
Cracked Before . —Mrs . Brougham , mother of the ex-Chancellor , says an Edinburgh friend , was a most excellent and thrifty housewife . On one occasion she was much troubled with a servant addicted to dishbreaking , and who used to allege , in extenuation of her fault , «• It was crackit before . " One morning little Harry tumbled down Blairs , when the fond mother , running after him , exclaimed , " Oh , boy , have you broke your head ? " "No , ma , " said the future Chancellor , "it was crackii before . "—Glasgow Daily Mail .
Oct . 5 , 1850 J © fp * & £ && ?*? 661
Leader (1850-1860), Oct. 5, 1850, page 661, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/l/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1855/page/13/