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observed or violated, without any effect upon a man's
a honour, or reputation for honour, one way or other. Of this kind the following are examples :—the cruel and barbarous treatment of our domestic servants-the worreting them out of their happiness by causeless or immoderate anger, habitual punishments, groundless suspicion, wanton restraint, harsh, scornful, or opprobrious language. It is not to be computed the quantity of misery a fierce, over-bearing temper may produce in his family and amongst his dependents by these means. Yet what has all this to do with his honour? He is not the worse accounted as a man of honour for this behaviour. Notwithstanding, the justifiableness of such behaviour no one will assert; for a conduct which occasions so much unnecessary misery to any, no matter to whom, must be criminal.
Bounty to the poor is a Christian duty; no one doubts it : but I do not find it affects a man's honour either way, whether he is bountiful to the poor or not bountiful. And not only want of charity, but want of justice, is tolerated and connived at by the law of honour. The great and grievous injuries done to tradesmen by delay of payment, oftener by not paying their just demands at all, and by persons of rank and distinction, and who assume the name of men of honour, however inconsistent they be with any principle of moral probity and every pretension to it, are not inconsistent with the reputation of honour, provided the man be careful of his conduct amongst his equals, and preserve a regard to truth, fidelity, and punctuality in his dealings with his equals, or with persons of honour: for all these in. stances proceed upon and produce the same principle; to wit, the observation we set out with-that the law of honour prescribes and regulates the duties only between
equals: and though it may be right as far as it
in most instances betwixt such and amongst such, it is altogether regardless of what is due from us on the one hand to our inferiors, or from them to us on the other. And these merely are two capital defects in the law, when it is considered as, or set up for, a complete rule of life.
But this is not all; we have something further to accuse the law of honour of; and that is, in one word, the licentious indulgence of our natural passions. If I was to describe the law of honour freely, I should call it a system of rules well contrived, by persons in the higher stations of life, to facilitate their intercourse with each other. Now, such persons being occupied in a great measure in the pursuit of pleasure, it is not to be expected that they should lay down rules to themselves which trench upon their pleasures, or subject them to
, any great restraint in that which composes the business and object of their lives. And this remark will be verified by experience. The law of honour is careful to exclude all fraud, chicanery, falsehood, concealment in the mutual dealings of persons of honour; but I do not find that it lays much, if any, stress upon the virtues of chastity, sobriety, moderation, economy; because such stress would greatly check and contract the pleasures and pursuits of this description of men. There are some duties which the law of honour does embrace; but the violation of them contains not any great breach of it. These are decorum, civility, good manners, or the avoiding any of that shuffling and cunning which makes it impossible, or highly inconvenient, to deal with any man. The requiring strictness in those virtues would bear hard upon the manner of life of persons who come most within the reach and influence of the rule of
honour. It is upon the same principle that the great Christian duty of the forgiveness of injuries, of which you hear and read so much in the Scripture, has no place at all amongst the virtues of a man of honour. Indeed it is hard to say whether, if the law of honour were to decide upon it, it would be judged a virtue or a vice ; whether it would not be pronounced meanness, rather than magnanimity; an instance of weakness and pusillanimity, rather than of chastised affections or a sense of duty. Resentment is a natural passion, and it costs no little self-mortification to quell and quiet it; and mortification of any sort is not to be looked for in this class of mankind.
The substance of our assertion is, that the rule and law of honour is not alone a right or sufficient rule to go by; and I will comprise the sum of what I have delivered in support of the assertion in two or three queries :
First ; Is it not true that a person may be negligent of every act of duty to the Divine Being, of every act of service, worship, or devotion whatever, without any impeachment of his honour ?
Secondly; Is it not true, that the same person may be tyrannical and over-bearing in his family and among his servants; rigorous in the extreme in the treatment
} of his dependents ; utterly without any share of liberality to the poor? Is it not true that a person may be all these without impeachment of his honour ? Thirdly; Is it not true, that he
likewise distress or ruin his tradesmen by dilatory and irregular pay. ment, or by absolute insolvency, and yet pass for a man of honour among those who claim that title ?
Fourthly; Is it not true, that he may live in the habitual guilt of fornication, adultery, drunkenness,
prodigality, and be capable of the most desperate revenge, without impeachment of his honour ?
Fifthly and lastly; If these things be so, is the law of honour a safe rule of life? Is it enough to satisfy
a any man who is concerned for his final happiness, to be able to say of himself that he is, or to hear others call him, a man of honour; without inquiring whether he hath also fulfilled the duties, and compared himself with the measure of God's Word, explained and applied by the sound judgment of unprejudiced reason ?
PROVERBS XX. 7.
The just man walketh in his integrity.
[N.B.-Passages in it borrowed from Ogden.]
It is an old question amongst moralists, whether mere justice, or as we commonly call it, honesty, be a virtue. All allow that dishonesty is a vice, and a very great one; but whether the contrary of it be a virtue, or only a strict debt and obligation, has been sometimes controverted. Thus to steal, is a very grievous sin; but merely to keep his hand from picking and stealing, would hardly entitle a man to be called virtuous; nor the paying his lawful debts; nor the discharge of those demands which he is bound, and obliged, and compellable to discharge. None of these, it is said, though they may entitle a man to the name of honest, give him either the name or the characteristic of virtuous. On the contrary, no duties are of greater importance to society than these ; perhaps
e hardly any of so great. Society might subsist without generosity, but without honesty it could not subsist at all. Therefore human laws are all calculated to enforce honesty. There is place, there is opportunity, there is a call for, there is a want of, higher degrees of good