Images de page

the natural moral law of the man, kills the sheep as food for man. He does not observe the law of the sheep because he is not subject to it, and he does all that natural law binds him to do if he observes the law of the man. A man who kills sheep does not then break any natural law by which he is bound, and the truth is, that no man can break a rule which does not apply to him. The axiom, therefore, that every being severally loves itself by a natural law lends no countenance to any theory of universal benevolence.

In his second objection, Dr. Cleary confuses inclinations which arise from nature with those which are the outcome of some failure or disease of nature. That certain functions are natural and others morbid, I thought no one would question. Teeth grind food, and sometimes ache, but one function is natural, and the other is unnatural and morbid. This elementary distinction is as well known to the physiologist as to the psychologist. It is a principle of the utmost importance to the epistemologist, for no one can separate trustworthy from untrustworthy perceptions who has not mastered it. To the moralist, the distinction is simply essential. A moral philosopher who could not distinguish natural inclinations from those due to failure has still to learn the most elementary truths of his science. The very principle of self-love is at once the root of all good and, when disordered, the root of all evil. Dr. Cleary does not seem to know how to distinguish a truly natural inclination from a diseased one, and as these inclinations are the language in which the natural law is written on our hearts, he is quite unable to distinguish the natural law from what St. Thomas calls the 'lex fomitis,' the law of sin. Readers of the I. E. RECORD will be pleased to know that St. Thomas supplies an answer to both these doubts, in one article of the Summa Theologica.1

There is an argument in pages 266, 267 to show that theologians do not hold, as is commonly supposed, that suicide is intrinsically wrong. This is a question of fact, and might be settled by quotation. Let Dr. Cleary make a list of those who maintain that suicide is not naturally wrong, and that it is a sin only by positive legislation or on account of the consequences that would attend on its being permitted. The list will be a short one. Dr. Cleary's argument is no more conclusive than would be the inference

1 la IIae, Q. xci. Art. 6.

that, because a boy got a wrong answer to a difficult arithmetical exercise, he had doubts of the principles of the table-book.

I devoted a very considerable part of my article to a consideration of the morality of exposing one's life to danger from the action of others, as soldiers do, and of the similar but distinct act of incidentally killing oneself. The study was strictly not necessary, but I thought it right to deal with these questions before I came to the arguments against the hunger-strike. I wished, in the first place, to lead up to the point gradually, and to prepare readers to appreciate the argument; secondly, I wanted to show by contrast with lawful actions what exactly was the difference between them and hunger-strike, and to determine precisely the line between right and wrong in those matters, so that everyone might see on which side of it the hungerstrike lay. I had too much confidence in my case to fear difficulties, and I beg readers to consider that all these cases, with the solutions I give, are difficulties against my own theory of the hunger-strike, and not arguments for it. If I have magnified my own difficulties, it is not for my opponents to complain, yet here precisely my critic gets fierce against me and speaks of my revolting expedients as if I were caught propping up my own tottering case, instead of making liberal concessions to his. I am glad of this unwitting testimony to my truth and honesty. But my critic has simply lost his bearings. Take as an instance the following: 'Candidly, I never could see my way to let that Carthusian kill himself.' I have no interest in saving the Carthusian -my critic has, if he only knew it. If the Carthusian is a suicide, the case against hunger-strike is already decided à fortiori.

Again, every theologian who has written on this department of morals, has found it to be one in which the most subtle reasoning and the finest distinctions are necessary. Father Rickaby writes:

In a nice point of law and intricate procedure, the lawyer is aware that scarcely more than the thickness of the paper on which he writes lies between the case going for his client or for the opposite party. To rail at these fine technicalities argues a lay mind, unprofessional and undiscerning. Hair-splitting, so far as it is a term of real reproach, means splitting the wrong hairs. The expert in any profession knows what things to divide and distinguish finely, and what things to take in the gross. But there are lines of division exceeding fine and nice in natural morality no less than in positive law. The student must not

take scandal at the fine lines and subtle distinctions that we shall be obliged to draw in marking off lawful from unlawful action touching human life.1

It is in this department, of all others, that Dr. Cleary relies on his common sense and sense of humour! These are not loci Theologici, and deserve little respect as instruments of Science, but as a court of appeal in the kind of discussion that we are engaged on here, they are quite singularly inept. The difficulties that they enable Dr. Cleary to make, present nothing that could detain any student a longer time than it takes to write out the answer. Thus :

He could picture for himself a man, with razor in hand, saying, as he cuts his throat: 'I merely cut my throat, it is the pressure of the muscles on the blood-vessels which will cause my death,' or, in other circumstances: 'I merely set this match to the fuse: it is the explosion of the mine, a thing altogether outside me, which will kill me. I have no doubt of what will kill me.'

The man with the sense of humour here is represented as murmuring to himself two observations, which are meant to be 'posers' for me. I answer the first that it is not very intelligible, but that if he inflicts on himself intentionally a wound which would be mortal to a normal man, and dies of it, he has committed suicide, and nothing that I ever said gives any warrant for thinking anything else. To the second I reply: either, he fires the mine because he is standing on it, and this is suicide, or in spite of the fact that he is standing on it, and this admits of justification. But where is the difficulty?

I wonder if the Canon means to imply that the obligation of conserving our lives ceases to urge when death is proximately inevitable: ... and, if so, may one, like Wolfe Tone, kill himself some days before in order to escape the hangman?

What I said was that no one is obliged to take means which are obviously insufficient to preserve life-this does not warrant the extravagant inference that therefore a man may take most efficacious means to put an end to his life.

But when men like Lehmkuhl fail to see the logic of argument such as his, Canon Waters may very well pardon the uninitiated for their inability to grasp the view-point of their chaplain.

Lehmkuhl does not fail to see the logic of my arguments. The 'uninitiated,' who are unable to judge a case on

1 Moral Philosophy, Part iii. cap. 2.

its merits, may be expected to defer to proper authority, and, I will add, to their own common sense if they have nothing better.

Dr. Cleary scores a point against me on page 270, by suggesting that I regarded as magnanimous an act which is not a human act at all. His point here depends on the suppression of the very next sentence that follows his quotation, where it is evident the praise is given to the choice a man makes of himself as the victim, who is to die for his fellows. I will take one other passage:

True, one meets in his paper a statement that makes one rub one's eyes: There are goods which outweigh human life. The life of man is naturally subordinated to the welfare of the roles and should, with due consideration of individual rights, be sacrificed to the public good when necessity urges."

Evidently my critic has never seen this principle in an author of repute. He cannot, therefore, be a very close student of the Summa Theologica, in which it occurs a score of times or more, and more than once in the articles dealing with the taking of human life. It is also a commonplace of political philosophy. Patriotic citizens are pected, and may be compelled, to give their lives for the common welfare, and men do not sacrifice a greater to gain a lesser good.

There are still many things that I take exception to in this article, but I have given a fair sample of Dr. Cleary's methods and arguments. I have answered all his relevant, and most of his irrelevant, objections: I have, I hope, proved that he has failed to substantiate the claim of any hunger-strike to even the lowest degree of moral sanction.






AMONG a collection of papers recently brought to light by the Rev. Father Brendan, O.F.M., and at present housed in the Franciscan Convent, Wexford,' there is one short document in Irish which possesses considerable interest. It bears the endorsement: Testamentum Illustrissimi Domini Onelli, and embodies an abstract or epitome of the last Will of Hugh O Neill, the great Earl of Tyrone, who left Ireland in 1607 and died at Rome in 1616. The document itself appears to be a draft of a letter written by some one in the latter city, and addressed to Henry O Hagan, a former dependent of O Neill, who was in the Spanish dominions in Flanders in the years 1616-17. It is somewhat carelessly written, but not to such a degree as to be in any part ambiguous. It has no signature, nor can the writer's identity be conjectured from the contents. It is undated, but we can infer that it was written before August, 1617. O Neill had, among other bequests, granted a pension of 56 crowns a month to Henry O Hagan, and the writer states that £168 would be due to him the coming August.' This implies that the Earl had not been a whole year dead at the time of writing. His death occurred July 20, 1616.

The document consists of two distinct portions, each written on separate pages of a single sheet of paper. The first gives an account of the persons provided for in the Will, and states that it was drawn by a notary, who kept a copy. The King of Spain, Philip III, through his Ambassador at the Papal Court, was appointed trustee or executor, to carry out its provisions. In the second portion the writer complains that O Neill's Countess was appropriating more

1 Since the above was written the papers have been transferred to the Franciscan Library, Merchants' Quay, Dublin.

« PrécédentContinuer »