Images de page

to know whether he came from London or no. This man, the very light of nature would clear from perjury.'-P. 30.

Three ways are assigned by doctors whereby a man may restore another's character when he has made public a crime of his which he has committed.... The third is, for the speaker to assert " that he had said what was false, that he had made a mistake, that he was deceived, or that he had lied." And though Soto, Cajetan, Bannez, and Sylvius, say that this way must not be used, thinking that these are real lies, yet "probably" Lugo, Sanchez, Wigandt, Lessius, Roncaglia, Mazzotta, with the "common" opinion, as he says, and the Salamanca doctors, with Villalobos, Trulenchius, Ledesma, Serra, Tapia, Prado, Sayrus, Navarrus, think that the aforesaid words are not lies but real amphibologies; for, as S. Thomas says, "Some


sins are called in Scripture falsehoods and lies, as in the fourth Psalm, Why do ye love vanity and seek after a lie?' And there is the same in Jeremiah viii. 10, From the prophet to the priest they all perform a lie,' i.e. sins. In like manner, then, a man who has sinued, [or done wrong, which the individual in question has, by divulging a truth when he ought not to have divulged it,] can well say that he has told a lie,' or made a mistake.'" So in the case which we have put, we may well, nay, if there is need, we are bound, to make use of such ambiguous words.-Theol. Mor. 4. 6. 992.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

We are not bound, says Cardenas, with Lessius, to answer to the meaning of the man who asks the question, if there is good reason.'— 4. 2. 165.

If a man has received a loan, and afterwards repaid it, he may say that be has not received the loan, understanding aside, so as to have to pay it.' - 4. 2. 159.

Whenever a man is bound to hide another man's disgrace, he may lawfully say, I do not know, namely, (aside) I have no knowledge which is of use for answering: or, I do not know it as a thing which I can declare.'

--4. 2. 153.

[ocr errors]

If a guest is asked if his dinner is good when really it is bad, he may answer that it is good, namely, (aside) for mortification.-4. 2. 160.

Utinam his nugis!-We call attention to the following case, and the reasoning upon which it is founded:

[ocr errors]

May an unfaithful wife declare to her husband that she has not committed adultery, meaning (aside) so as to have to tell him? She may equivocally assert that she has not broken the marriage, for it still exists. And if she has sacramentally confessed her adultery, she may answer, "I am innocent of this crime;" because it has already been taken away by confession. So Cardenas, who remarks, however, that she may not make that affirmation with an oath, because, for asserting anything, probability of the fact is sufficient, but for swearing, certainty is required. But it is replied that moral certainty is enough for swearing, as we said above with the Salamanca doctors, Lessius, Suarez, Sanchez, and the common opinion. And this moral certainty of the remission of the siu can be had whenever a person has received the sacrament of penance in a good moral disposition. But for the question in hand, the Salamanca doctors say, with Soto, that a woman cannot deny her adultery, because it would be pure mental restriction. Cardenas, however, admits that in danger of death it is allowable for her to use a metaphor which is common in Scripture, where adultery is taken for idolatry, as in Ezek. xxiii. 37, That they have committed adultery... and with their idols have they committed adultery." Nay, if the crime is really hidden, "probably," with Busembaum, Lessius, Trulenchius, Sanchez, Soto, Sayrus, and Peter of


Aragon, the woman may deny with an oath, and say, "I have not committed it," in the same way as a culprit can say to the judge who does not legitimately interrogate him, "I have not committed the crime," understanding (aside) that he has not so committed it as to be bound to declare it to him.'-4. 2. 162.

It thus appears that four answers are allowed to the unfaithful wife:-1. That she has not broken the marriage. 2. I am innocent of this crime. 3. I have not committed adultery, meaning (aside) I have not been guilty of idolatry. 4. I have not done it (aside) so as to tell you. It will be seen that the first three replies are equivocations, increasing in the intensity of their folly and iniquity, and that the last, without the aside, which only makes matters worse, is a downright lie. The equivocation in the first reply is on the word broken. The second embodies a principle which we know is of but too universal application in Ireland. The equivocation lies in the word crime, as meaning both the act and the guilt of the act. And so, in Ireland, men lift up their heads to heaven and swear that they are as innocent as babes unborn, whilst their hand is still red with their neighbour's blood. They have been absolved the guilt has been washed away- they are innocent of the guilt of the murder, in their own estimation, and therefore of the murder according to their equivocating logic. The third reply unites in a novel combination, a subtle ingenuity, exerted in discovering the argument, brutish folly in thinking that any one could deceive either himself or any one else by it, profanity in appealing to Holy Scripture for such a purpose, cemented together into a compound of hypocritical mendacity. The fourth reply, putting aside the damaging understood clause, is, as we have said, a straightforward untruth; and we could more casily make allowance for a woman who under such circumstances succumbed to her temptations and told a plain lie, than for one who, equally telling the lie, attempted also to pass off a sophism upon herself by any of the first three methods, and so destroy her sense of the sin of untruthfulness, of which her previous sin had driven her to be guilty.

So much for the value to be put on assertions. Can promises be trusted? Let Liguori speak :—

We must mark here as certain that no promise binds, although it has been accepted by the other party, if afterwards it becomes impossible, or very harmful, or unlawful, or inexpedient, and, generally speaking, whenever any notable change of circumstances takes place, so that if it had been foreseen, the promise would not have been made; because a promise is always supposed to be made under such a tacit condition.'-4. 5. 720.

'Three opinions are given, all sufficiently "probable."... The third says that a simple promise does not bind except sub levi, because it only binds of good faith, and they prove it from S. Thomas, who teaches that a promise binds

only in the way of honour, and not in the way of civil law; that is, in the way of justice, as the Salamanca doctors explain.'-Ibid.

The whole of the obligation commonly depends on the intention of the person making the promise. On this point Sa notices that scarcely any one who makes a promise intends to bind himself, or to give another the right of exacting, unless he adds an oath or makes an instrument, but generally only intends to declare his purpose.'—Ibid.

In case a man has seduced a maiden on false promise of marriage, is he bound to keep the promise, if he is much superior to the woman in birth, and she was aware of the disparity? Palao, Pontius, Croix, Layman, Navarrus, Vasquez, &c. hold that simple inequality is not enough to free the man from his promise of marriage, but that the girl must, besides, have been able to have seen the deceit by other circumstances, for men do very often marry women beneath themselves in rank: but with great 'probability' he is excused by Busembaum, Lugo, Sanchez, S. Antoninus, Navarrus, Sylvester, Angelus, Armendarius, and very many others, on the grounds that disparity of state is of itself a reason for prudently doubting the truth of the promise; and if the woman did not doubt, as she ought, that is an accident, and to be imputed to her own carelessness. . . . And in these cases a man is not bound to marriage, although he has confirmed his promise with an oath, as is said by Lugo, Sanchez, S. Antoninus, Sylvester, Cajetan, Soto, Navarrus, and very many others. The reason of this is that an oath does not bind except according to the intention of the promiser.

'But how great ought the disparity to be, to free a man from the marriage? Lessius requires him to be of far higher birth; as that he should be the son of an Earl and she the daughter of an artizan. But Sanchez, with S. Antoninus and Navarrus, says that a much smaller inequality is sufficient, as that a noble should have to marry a farmer's daughter, or that the man should be considerably the richer of the two, as Sanchez adds with Navarrus, Lopez, Antony of Cordova, Veracruz, and Lessius. For thus speaks Navarrus in his Manual: "He is bound to fulfil his promises, except they should be very unequal in birth, power, or riches; say, that he should be noble and she a farmer's or artizan's daughter." S. Antoninus teaches likewise that he must keep his promise, except their condition in life should be very different; say, that the woman should be a plebeian and the man a noble and powerful.

But in case the girl is totally ignorant of any disparity, is the seducer then bound to the marriage? Lessius and Busembaum say so 'probably,' because then the woman could not in any way discover the deception, but still it is very probably' denied by Lugo, Viva, the Salamanca doctors, Cornejo, Sanchez, Antony of Cordova, Moneta, Peter, Ledesma, and Veracruz. The grounds are that the seducer is only bound to what is equal to the injury offered: but the injury offered consists in his not fulfilling what the woman asked: so to repair the injury the man is not bound to give more than the woman asked. Now the woman, not knowing the man's condition in life, only asked that one of the same condition with herself or a little superior should marry her: if therefore a man of much better condition should marry her, he would be giving more than is equal to the injury done, by giving what she neither asked nor intended to ask: and so he is not bound to marry her, but he does quite enough if he repairs the harm done by giving her a dowry or looking after her marriage.

The same is the case, according to Sanchez, S. Antoninus, and the Salamanca doctors, if there is fear of great offence or quarrels between the relatives of the contracting parties. In a case where a man's family would feel disgraced by the marriage on account of the disparity of state, I think him to be not the least bound to marry the maiden whom he has seduced,

whether his promise was true or whether it was false: for if he promised falsely, we have just proved that he is not bound to the marriage, no, nor to compensation: and if he promised truly, not even so is he bound to marry her, because the promise is ipso facto null by being about an unlawful thing, such as a marriage which would be a disgrace to the family.... A promise cannot be valid except it be about a lawful thing, for justice cannot bind to what is unlawful; and so a promise of entering upon a marriage which would disgrace the family is not valid, because it is about a thing which is not lawful.'-4. 5. 644.

[ocr errors]

The moral blindness and logical acumen with which we are here brought to the Q. E. D. is charming. It is the philosophy of sin. We hope that aristocratical parents will, for their sons' sake, duly appreciate these novel privileges of the nobility.' For ourselves we are well content that the right of seducing maidens on promise of marriage, and then refusing to keep the promise, should remain a privilege of the nobles of those countries alone where Rome's religion is professed and Rome's teachers have sway. Next, for promises of secrecy :


'When you have made a promise without expressly binding yourself to keep the secret to your own detriment, it is certain that you may reveal it, since no one is thought to bind himself to a secret to his grave inconvenience. So say Layman, Roncaglia, Sporer, and Holzmann. But what is to be said if you have expressly promised not to reveal the secret, though it should cost you your life to keep it? Can you then reveal it if in peril of life? Sporer says so, and with sufficient probability, teaching that a man may, in that case, and is bound to do so, because no man is allowed to throw away his own life; and Layman attaches himself to the same view. Some doctors, however, say very probably, with Lugo, Molina, and Croix, that if you have made the promise, you have a sufficient obligation to keep the secret, even with danger of your life; for it is one thing to throw away life, another to neglect its preservation in order to keep promises.'-4. 6. 971.

Will the sanction of an oath help us? No, for we have already seen that there is nothing wrong in swearing with equivocation whenever we may use equivocation without swearing. Nay, Garnet went further, and solemnly affirmed that it was his opinion, that the speech by equivocation being saved from a lie, the same speech might be, without perjury, not only confirmed by oath, but by any other usual way, though it were by receiving the Sacrament, if just necessity so required.' Here are a few cases in which this principle is applied:

A penitent questioned by his confessor about a sin which he has confessed, can swear that he has not committed it, understanding aside, that he has not committed anything which has not been confessed. So say Cardenas, the Salamanca doctors, Sanchez, and Sporer. This must, however, be understood to hold in all cases except when the confessor is justly interrogating in order to learn the state of the penitent.'-4. 2. 157.

If any man has been forced into a marriage, he can assert before a

State Paper Office. Quoted in Preface to Treatise of Equivocation, and Lingard's History of England, Reign of James I. chap. i. A.D. 1606.

judge with an oath that he has not contracted the marriage, namely, freely, as was right.'1—4. 2. 159.

May a man, when asked to lend money, swear that he has none, when he has, understanding aside, that he has none so as to lend? The Salamanca doctors and Soto say No, on the ground that this mental restriction cannot be detected from circumstances. But this is only to be understood if the truth can in no way be detected; for if it could be conjectured from any circumstance, as the poverty or indigence of the lender, he may without difficulty understand I have not more than I want, so as to lend.'4. 2. 163.

[ocr errors]

May tradesmen swear that their goods cost them more than they did, understanding aside," together with some other goods?" Some say hey may; but the Salamanca doctors are right in denying it. Yet Croix and Gobat say that probably they may, when they do not understand the mere price of the thing, but count into it the expenses of carriage, store, &c.'—

4. 2. 164.

[ocr errors]

May men proceeding to their doctors' degree swear with equivocation that they have fufilled some condition which they have not fulfilled, as that they have been engaged for so many years on a certain science, if they are equally fit with the other doctors to proceed? See Tamburini, who answers in the affirmative, and says that there is then a good reason for swearing, lest men who are really worthy should be rejected, But however this may be, it seems a matter more than 'probable' to me that men proceeding to their doctors' degrees in Naples do not commit perjury when, as is usual, they write with their own hands, "I declare with an oath that it is the first year, &c." when it really is not; because the words I swear," or "I declare with an oath," (as we said above with the Salamanca doctors, Bonacina, Sanchez, and Suarez,) is not an oath in itself, unless it is preceded by a question about swearing, and this question at Naples is either not made at all, or is not made about the real oath, but only about the material writing, which, from common usage, does not seem to be counted as a true oath.-4. 2. 166.

Is it allowable to swear something false, adding in a low tone a truc circumstance? Yes, answer Hurtado and Prado, with others quoted by the Salamanca doctors against Torre. They say that it is enough to make the words true, that there should be some external conformity with the conception of the mind, whether shown by gesture or by a whisper, and it is a matter of accident that the other does not hear. The Salamanca doctors explain it better. They say that it is allowable if the whisper can by any means be possibly perceived by the other, although its meaning is not caught, but not if it should in every respect remain concealed from him.' -4.2. 168.2

This example is thus enlarged in the Treatise of Equivocation.' 'One being 'convented in the Bishopp's courte because he refuse to take such a one to his wyfe as he had contracted with per verba de præsenti, having contracted with ⚫ another privily before, so that he cannot be husband to her that claymeth him, may answere that he never contracted with her per verba de præsenti, under'standing, that he did not so contract that it was a marriage.'-P. 81.

2 Our readers will recollect Pascal's method of dealing with this doctrine:'Indeed, father, is that not a lie and perjury too?'No,' said the father, Sanchez and Filiutius prove that it is not; "for," says the latter, "it is the intention that determines the quality of the action." And he suggests a still surer method for avoiding falsehood, which is this: after saying aloud, I swear that I have not done that, to add in a low voice, to-day; or after saying aloud, I swear, to interpose in a whisper that I say, and then continue aloud that I have done that. This, you perceive, is telling the truth.' 'I grant it,' said I, it might possibly, however, be found to be telling the truth in a low key, and falsehood in a loud one.'— Letter IX.

« PrécédentContinuer »