Images de page

guaranteed; and that, so far as they are able, they reduce society to its elements, where every man's hand is against his neighbour, and each person looks out for a snare concealed behind the specious acts and words of every other.

The line of defence assumed by Roman doctors is uniformly the same. Each man has a right, they say, to act upon the defensive; he has a right to keep guard over the knowledge which he has, in the same way that he may defend his goods; and, as for there being any deceit in the matter-why, soldiers use stratagems in war, and opponents use feints in fencing.1

We have already pointed out that the use of equivocation and mental restriction is allowed aggressively, as well as on the defensive, but we will pass that by, and examine this argument on its own grounds as chosen by our opponents. It will be seen that there are two things asserted. The first is, that we may keep guard over our knowledge, and not necessarily give it up to every one who asks questions of us. This is no doubt true, provided that we use no unjustifiable means for doing so, in the same way that we may defend our goods, not by every means good or bad, but only by righteous means. The second thing asserted is, that all kinds of equivocation and non-pure mental restriction are justifiable means, and this is argued for on the grounds that similar measures are taken in war, and its imitation, fencing.


But mark what this implies. No less than that we are living under the curse of Ishmael-that we are always at war with every one about us-that we are fencing-that we look upon our brother-Christians and countrymen as enemies, whom, as in the battle-field or in the gymnastic-room, (where such dealings are expected, and therefore free from culpability,) we may fairly take in by feints, and stratagems, and amphibologies. We are thankful to know that Englishmen do not regard one another in this light; but wherever this state of society does exist, there the natural consequence is lying. In several continental countries this is so. In Spain, for example, the mere fact of asking the simplest question does impose upon the speaker the character of an aggressor and assailant. We have jogged along the roads of Spain, talking amicably and frankly with a chance passenger. Presently, by way of conversation, we have asked a question,

1 This is the traditional line of defence, handed down from times past to the present day. Thus in Parsons' Treatise tending towards Mitigation we find,And here I ask Thomas Morton further what he will say to all the stratagems in war, for so much as there may be as well lying in facts as in words, according as 6 our S. Thomas and other divines do hold? How will T. M. excuse their stratagems, that is to say, policies, deceits, and dissimulations of enemies in wars, from lies? Will he condemn all such stratagems as sinful? Why, then, do the Prostant captains and leaders use them?-P. 290.

Donde se va? Immediately there has fallen a cloud of suspicion on the traveller's face: he has curtly replied with the name of some place far from his present direction, and then the conversation has ended; he has pushed on or dropped behind, and would have no more to say. Indeed, it is one of the arts of the guides, by which a good guide is known from an indifferent one, to be ready with a plausible lie in regard to the direction of his master's journey, when questions are asked at the posadas. The reason of this is, that men feel at war with one another. And so in Italy, lying is taught on the grounds that the inquirer must be dealt with by stratagem. The following anecdote is given in a note to the fourth chapter of Cases of Conscience :

[ocr errors]

The Abbate Bricconi was tutor to the son of an English Roman Catholic gentleman of the old school. One day in Rome, explaining the liberty of simulation, he said, "Suppose I am going to Naples, but do not wish it to be known where I am going, and my interrogator has no right to question me, I answer, I am going to Genoa." Ma Signor Abbate," said the noble English boy, but half a Papist, "mi pare questo sarebbe una bugia." He was called an impertinente, and given a good penance.'-P. 77.

[ocr errors]

It may be that if Liguorian morality spread, (and let us recollect that it is the morality which is taught in every Romish confessional in England,) this happy state of war and fencing may be produced here, and then, having generated the evil, Rome's theologians will justify their morality by its existence. How thankful ought we not to be at the prospect of first being reduced from robust health to the diseased state of Naples and Spain, and then of being supplied with a cup of Liguori's mixture to make us better! By a new application of the Homœopathic system, immorality must be called in to cure the vice which it will itself have caused.

But to return to our text-book. At least it will be thought that sufficient care has been taken for allowing men to lie with a safe conscience, and to break faith without any troublesome scruples, by means of the Equivocations, Mental Restrictions, Conditions, Distinctions, Probable Opinions, and other scaffolding, which we have seen provided for them. But this is only the beginning. There may be tender consciences, over which the force of truth may yet hold some sway, and still further provision must be made for their necessities. Accordingly there remain Dispensations, Irritations, Commutations, Relaxations, Cessations, and Remissions. Now, at least, we are safe-now we are quite secure against having to keep our promises, to perform our vows, or to fulfil our oaths.

In how many ways can the obligation of a vow be removed? In two ways-1. Without the intervention of any one's authority, and that either by the change of matter, (as if the matter had been before good and became

bad, or indifferent, or an obstacle to a greater good, owing to a new circumstance, or prohibition, or absolutely or morally impossible,) or by the cessation of the condition on which it depended. 2. By the intervention of human authority, and that in three ways, by Irritation, Commutation, and Dispensation. This is the common opinion. Hence you may conclude, that, although it is by your own fault that the matter has become impossible, useless, &c., yet, since it has become so, the obligation ceases, and it is enough to be sorry for your fault.-4. 3. 225.

[ocr errors]

Dispensation is the absolute doing away with the obligation of a vow, and is made in the name of God. Good reason is required for its validity, such as,-1. The good of the Church, or the common welfare of the republic, and even of a family, or the greater advantage of the man who has vowed. 2. A notable difficulty in observing the vow. 3. Imperfection of act, or levity, or easiness from which the vow proceeded.'—4. 3. 250.

A sufficient cause for dispensation is danger of transgression on account of the particular indisposition of the person who has made the vow, or on account of the common frailty of man. Great difficulty in the execution is also a sufficient reason, not only if the difficulty was unforeseen, as Sanchez, Palao, and Suarez say, but also if it was foreseen, as the Salamanca doctors think with Leander and Tamburini.... It is a sufficient reason, too, if the man under the vow is troubled with great scruples. Besides, even if there is no danger of transgression, and no great difficulty in the execution, still it is a sufficient reason if the vow was made immaturely, with too great facility, with imperfect consideration, or without perfect liberty.'-4. 2. 252.

Those who can dispense are the following:-1. The Pope, with respect to all the faithful. 2. A Bishop, with respect to those under him, but not a parish priest. 3. Regular Prelates, who are exempt, in respect to their monks and novices. . . . By privilege from the Pope, the confessors of the Mendicant Orders, subject to the permission and regulation of their supe

rior.'-4. 2. 256.

A Prelate seeing, and not contradicting when he easily can, seems to give a dispensation, says Sa.'—4. 2. 254.

How can the obligation of oaths be taken away by means of irritation dispensation, commutation, or remission?... If an oath cannot be kep without common damage, or be about a contract forbidden by law, in trui such oaths do not require relaxation, as they are null in themselves. Bu suppose they are valid, they can be relaxed by the Church, and under th name of the Church come not only the Pontiff, but also Bishops, Chapte while Sees are vacant, and others with Episcopal jurisdiction, and also c fessors with a delegated faculty of dispensing in vows, for they can relax oaths of this kind.'-4. 2. 192.

[merged small][ocr errors]



take a supposed case, and see how these principles would work. a way which we otherwise find difficult. We will, therefore, Let us suppose that some hundred gentlemen have been admitby oath to act in a particular way in connexion with a certain ted to certain privileges on the condition of binding themselves subject. Let us further suppose, by way of clearness, that such privileges were, sitting and legislating in the Houses of Parliament, and that the condition which they have sworn to the Established Church of England and Ireland. Having picobserve was, that they should do nothing to the detriment of

tured such a case to ourselves, let us also suppose the same gentlemen, who have taken this imaginary oath, to be zealous and earnest persecutors of the said Established Church in parliament and out of parliament; let us suppose them to be straining every nerve for its overthrow and utter destruction. Let us go so far as to conceive by a stretch of imagination that such language as the following might be found in their mouths :Enormous abuse,'-'Incubus on the country,'-' Hideous injustice, The levelling of which will alone give peace to Ireland,' and other phrases of a similar nature. Having made these imaginary suppositions, let us further suppose that these gentlemen were called upon before the bar of their own consciences, or the outraged public opinion of their fellow-countrymen, to justify their actions and their words, and to show how they were in accordance with the solemn oaths which they had sworn. Would S. Alfonso de' Liguori's principles of Morality, sanctioned as they are in the fullest manner by an authority invested with the halo of infallibility, in which these gentlemen are bound to believe, would the principles which we have been drawing out be such as they might shelter themselves under in their hour of trial? Let us draw up the curtain, and we may have the following scene:

Judge, loquitur.-Gentlemen, you are charged with a want of good faith, and you must sit down under this imputation, unless you can free yourselves from it by appealing to the rules laid down in S. Alfonso's "Moral Theology," which I am bound to hold sacred and sufficient to justify you, provided you can show that your conduct has been in accordance with them.'

Culprit 1.-I used a word which would bear two meanings.' Acquitted.-4. 151.

Culprit 2.- I used a sentence which would bear two meanings.' Acquitted. 4. 151.

Culprit 3.-' In replying to the question put to me, I used the formula, I say, No, and confirmed it with an oath, meaning that I swore that I was making use of the word No.' Acquitted.-4. 151.

Culprit 4.-I used non-pure mental restriction.'-Judge. Are you sure that it was not pure mental restriction, which is a thing not allowable?' Quite. Indeed, my well-known abhorrence of the Establishment would in itself be a sufficient circumstance from which a prudent man might gather that I did not intend what I swore, (4. 643;) but, to make sure, I whispered something which no one overheard so as to understand.' (4. 168.) Acquitted.-4. 151.

Culprit 5.-I took no oath at all: I only swore externally, and therefore I took no oath, I joked. Η γλῶσσ ̓ ὀμώμοχ', ἡ δὲ φρὴν ἀνώμοτος. Acquitted.-4. 171.

Culprit 6.-'I took no oath: I only said I swear, and this was no oath because no question preceded it.' Acquitted.-4. 166.

Culprit 7.-'I took no oath: I only said, I declare with an oath, and that is no oath, for the same reason.' Acquitted.—4. 166.

Culprit 8.-'I took no oath: for from common usage the material NO. LXXXIII.-N.S.


writing or speaking does not seem to be counted a true oath.' Acquitted.-4. 166.

Culprit 9.- I did swear, though falsely: but I had a good reason for it, lest I, a worthy person, should be rejected.' Acquitted.-4. 166.

Culprit 10.-I swore without the intention of swearing, and that is only a venial sin.' Acquitted.-4. 172.

Culprit 11.-I swore intending to swear, but not intending to bind myself, and that is only a venial sin.' Acquitted.-4. 172.

Culprit 12.-I conscientiously object to the oath, and therefore am under no obligation from it. An oath cannot be the bond of iniquity.' Acquitted.-4. 176.

Culprit 13.-1 consider it a useless oath, and therefore I am under no obligation from it. An oath cannot be a bond of vain and idle things to which God does not wish us to be bound.' Acquitted.—4. 176.

Culprit 14. I think it to be about an indifferent matter, and therefore I am not bound by it.' Acquitted.-4. 176.

Culprit 15.- I am not bound by the oath, because the greater part of my colleagues do not act upon it.' Acquitted.-4. 180.

Culprit 16.- I hold the oath to be obsolete, and therefore am free from the obligation of observing it.' Acquitted.-4. 180.

Culprit 17. I considered the object to which I swore good at the time, but now I think that circumstances have made it unlawful.' Acquitted.-4. 187.

Culprit 18-I considered the object to which I swore good at the time, but I think that it has now become idle.' Acquitted.-4. 187.

I think that it has become a hindrance to a greater good.'

Culprit 19. Acquitted.-4. 187.

Culprit 20.- I consider that it is better that it should be omitted than fulfilled.' Acquitted.-4. 187.

Culprit 21. I swore, but I have changed my oath into a work clearly better and more pleasing to God.'-Judge. But had you not sworn something to the good of others? God does not wish man defrauded.'Culprit. No, it was to the harm of others, not their good.' Acquitted.

4. 187.

Culprit 22.-'I swore, but the state of the case has become notably changed, and therefore I am not bound to keep my oath.' Acquitted.— 4. 187.

[ocr errors]

Culprit 23.-The end proposed by the oath was doubtless the advantage of religion and of the commonwealth; now I think that the observance of the oath has become useless for this end, and therefore I am not bound by it.' Acquitted.-4. 187.

Culprit 24.- I took the oath, but I can't keep it.' Acquitted.-4. 187. Culprit 25.-Nature and the Doctors teach that every oath is taken under this condition, "Saving the rights of my Superior." The Pope being my Superior, I am bound to save his rights, and so far as the oath interferes with his rights it must give way.' Acquitted.-4. 187.

Culprit 26.- I should lose my character in Ireland if I kept it.' Acquitted. 4. 187.

Culprit 27.-' I should lose my seat, and that would be grave damage.' Acquitted.-4, 187.

Culprit 28.-The oath was in illicit matter, and therefore, ipso facto, null.' Acquitted.-4. 644.

Culprit 29.-The oath cannot be kept without common detriment.' Acquitted.-4. 192.

Culprit 30.- I have received a dispensation.'-Judge. On what grounds was the dispensation granted?'-Culprit. On the grounds that the good

« PrécédentContinuer »