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is either not present at all, when a powerful impulse leads to the commission of a violent act; or that it is commonly overwhelmed by a conviction of the certainty of escape. And, by the nature of the case, fear of capital punishment cannot prevent sudden and strictly unintentional acts of homicide, which, according to circumstances, are liable to be treated by our courts as murder.
4. Even if a large number of acts of violence were prevented by the fear of the death penalty, we might well doubt whether it would not be at the cost of producing a much larger number of such acts: whether mercy would not immediately, as well as in the long run, prevent more murders than are now prevented by severity. We are here in the region of moral probability where moral disposition and bias determine our judgments; and a man whose benevolent and merciful moral principles extend to the tempted and the erring will not doubt for a moment from which of the two, harshness or clemency, he may expect the most favorable results.
5. Past experience does in no wise belie the anticipations of our moral sentiments. Statistics cannot, from the complex character of this class of phenomena, generally speaking, supply us with convincing proofs of our theories. But so far as they go they justify us in making the following inferences:
(1.) The increasing humaneness of the penal codes of Western Europe has not led to an increase of those crimes in respect of which the severity of the punishment has been relaxed.
(2.) In particular, certain homicidal acts, formerly punished as murder, have not increased in frequency since they have been treated more leniently. In those cases, even if an increase in the crime took place, few, if any, would suggest a return to the old policy of severity.
(3.) The experience of those countries where capital punishment has been expressly or in effect abolished is, in the main, favorable to abolition. The Protestant Cantons of Switzerland, Portugal, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Scotland, for example, do not compare unfavorably, to say the least, as regards statistics of violent crime, with Spain, France, Germany, England, and Ireland.
8 In the case of murder, the chances of escaping the supreme penalty would seem from statistics to be very great indeed.
(4.) The abolition of capital punishment does not, of itself, secure a community against outbreaks of violent crime. But it is equally obvious that its retention does not protect either : homicidal crime is increasing, not diminishing, in England, France, and Germany; and the last few years are among the worst on record.
(5.) Even comparative failure would not discourage a community which had deliberately committed itself to a merciful and reformative policy; it would only be an incentive to apply the new principle more amply and consistently in all departments of criminal law and administration, and of individual and national life.
George Eliot, to whom the principle of gentleness towards the erring is so deeply indebted, allowed herself, in a reactionary moment, to express a fear that much thinking over the causes of crime might make us unfit to punish the criminal. We face the reproach which such words commonly convey, without fear or shame. We believe that it is only by thinking wisely, patiently, and anxiously of the causes of crime, and the real character of the criminal, that the deliverance of society from evil passion and violence can come. We believe, too, that much thinking or even a little thinking would make much of our punishing seem inhuman and preposterous; and even if the policy which our thinking brought us to adopt should appear, in many if not in all cases, to be anything but “punishment,” we would joyfully abandon the name as well as the thing. We are confident that the victory over evil in others can be won only as we eliminate evil in ourselves: especially as we become conscious of an ever-increasing debt of gratitude to those who have forgiven us and of responsibility towards those whom we must forgive; as we realize that cruel and degrading acts do not cease to be our own, because we do not like reading about them, or would rather have nothing to do with the agents whom we hire to perform them; as we believe more and more fully that the mercy of man to his fellow is able and mighty to heal and to save.
* In Italy homicide is still very frequent, but enlightened opinion in Italy is in no wise inclined, in spite of the recent assassination of the King, to ascribe this frequency to the absence of capital punishment. On the contrary, murder was more frequent in Italy under the severe régime, and we hear of progress in this matter as well as in others with the diffusion of the sense of good and humane government in the peninsula.
W. J. ROBERTS. UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, CARDIFF.
THE MORAL EDUCATION OF THE YOUNG AMONG
Muslim pedagogy at its best, like the best of all phases of Muslim civilization, is a legitimate and worthy descendent from the Greek stock. Plato and Aristotle were its parents. These two, indeed, turned Turk and speaking Arabic, form the intellectual life of Islām. True, this is only of things at the best. The Western comment is to the point that in the East the young idea is taught not to shoot, but to shout. Still more significant and full flavored with the sub-acid religious humor of Islām is the tradition from Muhammad, “Verily, the green rod is of the trees of Paradise."
But beyond these crudities there were minds—making, alas, too little impression—which studied the psychology of youth, methods, and curricula, and followed bravely in the traces of the Greek writers upon pedagogy. The pity was the slight effects they produced. In the translations which I shall lay before you there is little from them.
Your object, if I understand rightly, is to study and advance the ethical training of the young in independence of any definite theological instruction. That would to all orthodox Muhammadans be an impious absurdity-absurd, because against the laws of thought; impious, because against the revealed Word of God—as a whole, simply unthinkable. A moment must be given to this, which conditions the whole ethical attitude of the Muslim East. With regard to it their theologians reckon three parties and three views, two orthodox and one heretical. The heretics—the Mu'tazilites—held that man had a certain sense of good and evil; that from it he could develop a knowledge of God and the moral law; that then the prophets came and strengthened this sense and drove this law home. This position Islām has definitely and finally rejected. The other two parties—the Ash'arites and Mātarīdites—both orthodox, held and hold that man has no such faculty; that the moral law depends upon the will of God and must be revealed by Him through prophets. Thus, man apart from the revelation of God cannot know whether an action is right or wrong. The two parties differ only in that the Ash'arites hold that man, unassisted by revelation, cannot even reach the knowledge of the existence of God, while the Mātaridites admit so much power in human faculties, but deny that man can go on to construct a law for himself. The effect of this, of course, is that ethics are absolutely dependent upon revealed religion, and can only be taught as contained in a sacred book and imparted by an inspired teacher.
* A lecture given in a course on "The Moral Training of the Young in Ancient and Modern Times," under the auspices of the Philadelphia Society for Ethical Culture.
Whence, then, you may ask, came the knowledge of right and wrong which is to be found among the heathen outside the circle of Islām? The answer is, roughly, two-fold. First, it must be remembered that God has been revealing Himself and His will from the beginning of the world by means of a goodly fellowship of prophets, now to one people, now to another. It is true that mankind has always been corrupting, forgetting, abandoning these prophets and their teachings. But, nevertheless, there has come thus to exist, scattered through the world, an immense mass of imperfect and mingled information as to the will of God. Only in Islām is it still retained in its purity. Further, Islām, beginning with Muhammad himself, has shown a most interesting syncretistic tendency. The sages and heroes of past times are often accepted by it as prophets in more or less regular standing. Thus Luqmān, such an early sage, and a fabulist confused inextricably with Æsop, is a prophet, even in the Qur'ān. So, too, Job, and, very differently, Alexander the Great. But, secondly, besides this great gift of prophecy scattered thus broadly through the lands, Islām teaches the existence of minor prophetic gifts closely akin to the xapicuara of the early Christian Church. These, consisting of illumination and supernatural powers, are bestowed by God on those who have striven to approach Him by ascetic exercises and utter devotion of mind and body; who, in a word, are saints. To them God reveals Himself and reveals also themselves, and it is upon the experiences and teaching of these that the whole science of ethics, as developed and taught, for example, by the Greek thinkers, is based. All your laws, then, and theories upon this subject, all your analysis of the qualities of the mind, your summing and tabulating of defects and your exercises to meet them, go back in the end to these saints of God, who have witnessed for Him and are witnessing for Him still. God has never left Himself without a witness, and other foundation than these witnesses can no man lay. These are not prophets; they are not sent with a message to deliver to mankind; they are saints, and part of their belief is in some one of God's prophets.
Let me dwell a little more fully on this fundamental point in the Muslim position, the basing of all human knowledge upon revelation from God, through prophets and saints. It solves for the Muhammadans the problem of the fate of the unevangelized heathen. If no message has come to them from God, their ignorance is to be excused; they will have a place in Paradise, but of a lower rank, as they have no works to their credit. Still it is evident that Islām felt that there was something out of joint in any people not having God preached to them, and the hypothesis of the existence of such people was only necessary for them in order to exhaust all possibilities. You will remember how, in “The Arabian Nights,” travelers sometimes come to lands beyond the mountains and to races not of the children of Adam, and yet find them worshipping Allah and confessing Muhammad. These always tell a tale how once there appeared to them a great figure clothed in green,