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to bias such a decision, but yet it might be clearly an act of the will.

Just such a case was that of Mutius Scævola, which is quoted by Mirabaud; he thrust his hand into the fire, but it was an act of his own will: and had he placed his hand on King Porsena's crown, instead of the firepan, no one could have any difficulty in recognizing it as such. Mirabaud says, that by his motives 'he was as much necessitated as if strong men had held his arm;' which is, in fact, only to say, that his internal resolution was as strong in acting against the dictates of common and natural feelings, (what people call their wishes,) as any external force could have been. Mirabaud is deceived by the expression: M. Scævola's ideas were his own, and his will was his own, up to the very moment when the deed was committed, and therefore the action was his own. If we say that it was not a free choice, because bound within certain limits, we only assert a sort of truism which is known to be applicable not to this action merely, but to every action of man: all that man can do is within certain limits, broader and narrower, it

But

is true, in one instance than another, but still they are limits. It is a truism also that is perfectly irrelevant to the purpose, for these limits have nothing to do with man's will, regarded on the only score in which a moralist looks upon it, namely, his responsibility: the other part of the subject regards altogether his physical powers or physical restraints, not moral ones.

The instance which Mirabaud has chosen is an unfortunate one; for if ever there was a man who had a share in creating the circumstances in which he stood, it was Mutius Scævola. Besides, to speak of inducements on one side or the other, which Mirabaud does, as making the will otherwise than free, is absurd; for it is in this very susceptibility as to such inducements that freedom consists. If there were a perfect indifference, we must allow we should be necessary beings-we should be as vegetables which have no volition, and follow certain laws, and could not then be said to have possession of that which renders us accountable beings. Perhaps if we take the trouble to analyze more precisely the conditions which attend upon an act of

volition on our part, we shall attain to something like a comfortable assurance of the ground on which our general prepossessions on this subject seem to rest.

That which we call our will, is in fact divisible into two distinct agencies: it is composed partly of the stimulus afforded by external circumstances, and partly of the power responding to those circumstances, resident within ourselves; or, in other words, the action of external circumstances upon the mind, and the reaction of the mind upon them. As far as the mind obeys circumstances, it may be said to obey necessity, or at least, which is the same thing in effect to the individual himself, it obeys that which is independent of him, and over which he has no controul. Thus passion may sometimes get the mastery over reason, or reason over passion; and circumstances acting through these channels may offer powerful inducements either on one side or the other. But in no case can circumstances necessarily usurp the whole power; the positive act of volition, which is neither reason nor passion nor circumstances, abstractedly considered,

must result from an union of the two: it is by its own consenting reaction that it can be overwhelmed only, and therefore it must be in fact to the very last moment, in one sense, its own arbiter.

Those who attribute the whole power to circumstances should recollect that there are cases, and those by no means few in number, where they become operative or inoperative, on account of that with which they have no concern. Suppose a person's mind to dwell for a time upon circumstances in themselves very trivial and of little interest; and suppose he gets warm, and is thereby incited to action; now it is open for any one to say, that had he not so dwelt upon them, they would, in all human probability, have had no effect, and no action would have followed. Here then the circumstances being unchanged, action ensues or does not ensue, merely in consequence of the active power of the mind, which is wholly distinct from them; and certainly it is within a man's power whether he will so dwell upon them or not; that is, in short, whether the consequence follows or does not. This seems then clearly

to show the existence of our free-will, as it is called.

But there is another argument to be drawn from the further examination of the mind, which, whatever else may be its force, seems at least to cut off most effectually the supposed chain of necessary actions. There is a sort of buoyancy and elasticity of spirit belonging to the human mind; there is a self-acting force, which seems to show that it possesses powers wholly independent of any intercourse with the circumstances in which it is placed. It is able to suggest ideas of itself; and if it shall appear that this suggestion of its own is in any case the cause of any man's actions, our purpose will have been answered.

We may, it is true, trace the majority of our ideas to some train of associations between our thoughts, and account, through links of this nature, for suggestions that might otherwise excite our utmost admiration and astonishment. But how many ideas are there springing up every now and then, unbidden and uncalled? thoughts that cannot in any way be explained on any known law of mind-to all

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