Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/789

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SCIENCE AND MORALITY.

eloquently avowed, thinks the first Napoleon about the greatest enemy of his kind who ever lived. Yet in which of the attributes of perfect evolution did Napoleon fall short? Were not his actions as admirably adjusted as possible to their evil ends? Was he not in the highest degree "punctual," methodical, and exact? Was any man ever more multiform in his activities or heterogeneous in the parts which he enacted? Did any man ever keep his eye more steadily fixed on remote objects or play a longer game? No one can question the vastness of his brain-power, and his historian boasts that his head was the largest and the best-formed ever submitted to the investigation of science. History can not pretend to say anything about his "rhythm," but during a considerable part of his life, at all events, he may be said to have been in moving equilibrium, for he was always on horseback, and had so loose a seat in his saddle that he rode merely by balance, and when the horse stumbled was apt to be canted over its head, though the powers of evil always preserved his neck. He is a figure to be noted by agnostics, for, though he lived before positivism, he was a perfect positivist. He had, as he tells us himself, shut all religious ideas out of his mind as hindrances to action; he had learned to discard metaphysics and philosophy altogether as the dreams of ideologues; he insisted on positive education, and he took his own propensities as the parts of his nature which were to determine his conduct without respect for any moral conventions. There is a curious jeu d'esprit (such, no doubt, it is) which connects, across the gulf of centuries, Bonaparte with that other great positivist before positivism, Machiavelli. It is a copy of "The Prince," supposed to have been found in the Emperor's carriage at Waterloo, with a running commentary by his hand, showing the correspondence of his own policy with Machiavellism; and the likeness is very striking.

Are not "punctuality" and whatever it denotes as much shown in keeping a guilty assignation or a rendezvous of crime as in appearing at the hour fixed for a charity meeting? Was "the adjustment of an action to its end" ever more exact, were the qualities which adjust actions to their ends ever more signally displayed, than when Ravaillac, having marked his opportunity and chosen his position well, drove the knife, which he had chosen with care and thoroughly sharpened, at a single stroke into the heart of a king whose life was the hope of the world?

Mr. Spencer, in his present, work, wisely forbears touching the question of moral necessity. So far as the "Data of Ethics" is concerned, therefore, he avoids the reef marked by the wreck of the automaton man. The reasonings by which automatism is supported, it may be noted by-the-way, are simply a reproduction of those of Jonathan Edwards, who was not in quest of truth, but of a philosophic basis for his Stygian dogma, and was himself half conscious that he had reduced his own argument to an absurdity when he found himself