صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

The answer you make to what I writ on your Thoughts of Education, does fully satisfy me. But I assure you, sir, I was not the only person shocked at that passage. I find several stumble at it, as taking little playthings, that children are very apt to desire and ask for, to be matters of fancy and affectation within your rule. But seeing in your last letter, you confine desires of affectation and fancy to other matters, I am satisfied in this business.

I can say no more to the scheme you lay down of man's liberty, but that I believe it very just, and will · answer in all things. I long to see the second edition of your Essay; and then, if any thing offer, I will give my thoughts more fully.

I am very sensible how closely you are engaged, till you have discharged this work off your hands; and therefore I will not venture, till it be over, to press you again to what you have promised in the business of man's life, morality. But you must expect that I shall never be forgetful of that, from which I propose so great good to the world, and so much satisfaction to Your most entirely affectionate humble servant,

Will. MOLYNEUX.

Mr. Molyneux to Mr. Loche.

Sir,

Dublin, Dec, 23, 1 93. I have now read over your Essay of Human Understanding a third time, and always make new discoveries therein, of something profound. I should set upon it again, but that I will wait for your next edition, which I hope, by this time, is almost finished. The usual satisfaction I take in reading all things that come from you made me lately again run over your chapter of “ identity and diversity;" concerning the justness whereof, I have yet the same opinion as formerly. But one thought suggested itself to me, which on my first reading did not occur. It relates to sect. 22, wherein the reason you give, why the law may justly punish a sober man, for what he did when drunk, or a waking man, for what he did when walking in his sleep, though it be true and full in the case of the night-walker, yet I conceive it not so full in the case of the drunken man. For drunkenness is itself a crime, and therefore no one shall allege it an excuse of another crime. And in the law we find,“ that killing a man by chance-medley is not capital;” yet if I am doing an unlawful act, as shooting at a deer in a park, to steal it, and by chance-medley I kill a man unawares, this is capital; because the act wherein I was engaged, and which was the occasion of this mischief, was in itself unlawful, and I cannot plead it in excuse. In the case of the night-walker, your answer is true, full, and satisfactory; but that in the drunkard's case is somewhat short. The night-walking is a sort of distemper, not to be helped, or prevented, by the patient. But drunkenness is a deliberate act, which a man may easily avoid and prevent. Moreover, whatever the law appoints in this case, I think, were I on the jury of one, who walking in his sleep had killed another, I should not violate a good conscience, if I acquitted him ; for he is certainly, during those fits, "non compos mentis ;” and it were easy to distinguish, by circumstances, how far he counterfeited, or not.

You will very much oblige me by a line or two, to let me know how forward your work is, and what other things you have on the anvil before you ; amongst which, I hope you will not forget your Thoughts on Morality. For I am obliged to prosecute this request to you, being the first, I presume, that moved

you in it.

There is a gentleman in this town, one capt. Henry Monk, a nigh relation of the Albemarles, who tells me he has been known to you long ago; and on all occa

sions mentions you with the highest respects. He de-
sired me, the other day, to give you his most humble
service. I am,

Dear Sir,
Your most obedient servant,

WILL. MOLYNEUX,

Mr. Locke to Mr. Molyneux.

you do, that

[ocr errors]

HONOURED SIR,

Oates, 19 Jan,-93-4. I can take it for no other, than a great mark of your kindness to me, that you spend so much of your time in the perusal of my thoughts, when you have so much better of your own to improve it. To which you add this farther obligation, that

you read my book for my instruction, still taking notice to me of what you judge amiss in it. This is a good office that so few in the world perform in the way

that it deserves my particular acknowledgment. And I own myself no less beholden to you, when I differ from you, than when, convinced by your better judgment, you give me opportunity to mend what before was amiss; your intention being that, to which I equally, in both cases, owe my gratitude.

You doubt, whether my answer be full in the case of the drunkard. To try whether it be or no, we must consider what I am there doing. As I remember (for I have not that chapter here by me) I am there showing that punishment is annexed to personality, and personality to consciousness : how then can a drunkard be punished for what he did, whereof he is not conscious ? To this I answer, human judicatures justly punish him, because the fact is proved against him; but want of consciousness cannot be proved for him. This you think not sufficient, but would have me add the common reason, that drunkenness being a crime, one crime

[ocr errors]

cannot be alleged in excuse for another. This reason, how good soever, cannot, I think, be used by me, as not reaching my case; for what has this to do with consciousness ? Nay, it is an argument against me, for if a man may be punished for any crime which he committed when drunk, whereof he is allowed not to be conscious, it overturns my hypothesis. Your case of shooting a man by chance, when stealing a deer, being made capital, and the like, I allow to be just; but then, pray consider, it concerns not my argument; there being no doubt of consciousness in that case, but only shows, that any criminal action infects the consequences of it. But drunkenness has something peculiar in it, when it destroys consciousness; and so the instances you bring justify not the punishing of a drunken fact, that was totally and irrecoverably forgotten; which the reason that I give being sufficient to do, it well enough removed the objection, without entering into the true foundation of the thing, and showing how far it was reasonable for human justice to punish a crime of a drunkard, which he could be supposed not conscious of, which would have uselessly engaged me in a very large discourse, and an impertinent digression. For I ask you, if a man, by intemperate drinking, should get a fever, and in the frenzy of his disease (which lasted not, perhaps, above an hour), committed some crime, would you punish him for it? If you would not think this just, how can you think it just to punish him for any fact committed in a drunken frenzy, without a fever? Both had the same criminal cause, drunkenness, and both committed without consciousness. I shall not enlarge any farther into other particular instances, that might raise difficulties about the punishing, or not punishing, the crime of an unconscious, drunken man; which would not easily be resolved, without inquiring into the reason upon which human justice ought to proceed in such cases, which was beyond my present business to do. Thus, sir, I have laid before you the reasons why I have let that passage go, without any addition made to it. I desire you to lay by your friendship to me, and only to make use of your judgment in considering them. And if you are still of opinion, that I need give the reason too, that one crime cannot be alleged in excuse of another, I beg the favour of you to let me know it as soon as you can, that I may add what is necessary in this place, amongst the errata, be* fore my book comes out, which advances now apace, and I believe there are, by this time, near 150 pages of it printed. And now, sir, though I have not agreed with your opinion in this point; yet I beseech you,

believe I am as much obliged to your kindness in it as if you had shown me what, upon your reason, had appeared to me the grossest mistake; and I beg the favour of you, whenever you cast your eye upon any of my writings, to continue and communicate to me your remarks.

You write to me as if ink had the same spell upon me that mortar, as the Italians say, has

upon

others, that when I had once got my fingers into it, I could never afterwards keep them out. I grant, that methinks I see subjects enough, which way ever I cast my eyes, that deserve to be otherwise handled, than I imagine they have been ; but they require abler heads, and stronger bodies than I have, to manage them. Besides, when I reflect on what I have done, I wonder at my own bold folly, that has so far exposed me, in this nice and critical, as well as quick-sighted and learned age. I

say not this to excuse a lazy idleness, to which I intend to give up the rest of my few days. I think every one, according to what way Providence has placed him in, is bound to labour for the public good, as far as he is able, or else he has no right to eat. Under this obligation of doing something, I cannot have a stronger to determine me what I shall do, than what your desires shall engage me in. I know not whether the attempt will exceed my strength. But there being several here, who join with you to press me to it (I received a letter with the same instance, from two of my friends at London, the last post), I think, the first leisure I can get to myself, I shall apply my thoughts to it; and

« السابقةمتابعة »