William Edward Hartpole Lecky.

The map of life, conduct, and character online

. (page 1 of 25)
Online LibraryWilliam Edward Hartpole LeckyThe map of life, conduct, and character → online text (page 1 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

E-text prepared by Delphine Lettau, Martin Pettit, and the Project
Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team (


* * * * *


The Rt. Hon. W. E. H. LECKY.

Library Edition. 8vo. Vols. I. and II. 1700-1760. 36s. Vols.
III. and IV. 1760-1784. 36s. Vols. V. and VI. 1784-1793. 36s.
Vols. VII. and VIII. 1793-1800. 36s.
Cabinet Edition. ENGLAND. 7 vols. Crown 8vo. 6s. each.
IRELAND. 5 vols. Crown 8vo. 6s. each.

2 vols. Crown 8vo. 12s.

HISTORY of the RISE and INFLUENCE of the
2 vols. Crown 8vo. 12s.

Library Edition. 2 vols. 8vo. 36s.
Cabinet Edition. 2 vols. Crown 8vo. 12s.

THE MAP OF LIFE: Conduct and Character.
Library Edition. 8vo. 10s. 6d.
Cabinet Edition. Crown 8vo. 5s. net.

POEMS. Fcp. 8vo. 5s.

39 Paternoster Row, London, and Bombay.

* * * * *


Conduct and Character



'La vie n'est pas un plaisir ni une douleur, mais une affaire grave
dont nous sommes chargés, et qu'il faut conduire et terminer à
notre honneur' TOCQUEVILLE

New Impression

Longmans, Green, and Co.
39 Paternoster Row, London
New York and Bombay

All rights reserved

Bibliographical Note.

_First printed_, _8vo_, _September 1899_. _Reprinted November
1899_; _December 1899_; _January 1900 (with corrections)_. _Cabinet
Edition_, _Crown 8vo_, _February 1901_. _Reprinted December, 1902_.
_July, 1904_



How far reasoning on happiness is of any use 1
The arguments of the Determinist 2
The arguments for free will 3
_Securus judicat orbis terrarum_ 5


Happiness a condition of mind and often confused with
the means of attaining it 7
Circumstances and character contribute to it in different
degrees 7
Religion, Stoicism, and Eastern nations seek it mainly by
acting on disposition 7
Sensational philosophies and industrial and progressive
nations seek it chiefly in improved circumstances 8
English character 8
Action of the body on happiness 10
Influence of predispositions in reasonings on life 12
Promotion of health by legislation, fashion and self-culture 12
Slight causes of life failures 14
Effects of sanitary reform 14
Diminished disease does not always imply a higher level of
health 15
Two causes depressing health 16
Encroachments on liberty in sanitary legislation 16
Sanitary education - its chief articles - its possible
exaggeration 17
Constant thought about health not the way to attain it 18


Some general rules of happiness - 1. A life full of
work. - Happiness should not be the main object of pursuit 19
Carlyle on Ennui 20
2. Aim rather at avoiding suffering than attaining pleasure 21
3. The greatest pleasures and pains in spheres accessible to
all 22
4. Importance and difficulty of realising our blessings while
they last 24
Comparison and contrast 26
Content not the quality of progressive societies 27
The problem of balancing content and the desire for progress 28
What civilisation can do for happiness 28


The relation of morals to happiness. - The Utilitarian
justification of virtue insufficient 30
Power of man to aim at something different from and higher
than happiness 32
General coincidence of duty and happiness 33
The creation of unselfish interests one of the chief elements
of happiness 34
Burke on a well-ordered life 35
Improvement of character more within our power than
improvement of intellect 36
High moral qualities often go with low intellectual power 36
Dangers attaching to the unselfish side of our nature. - Active
charity personally supervised least subject to abuse 37
Disproportioned compassion 38
Treatment of animals 41


Changes of morals chiefly in the proportionate value attached
to different virtues 44
Military, civic, and intellectual virtues 44
The mediæval type 45
Modifications introduced by Protestantism 47
Bossuet and Louis XIV. 48
Persecution. - Operations at childbirth. - Usury 50
Every great religion and philosophic system produces or
favours a distinct moral type 51
Variations in moral judgments 51
Complexity of moral influences of modern times. - The industrial
type 53
Qualified by other influences 54
Unnecessary suffering 57
Goethe's exposition of modern morals 58
Morals hitherto too much treated negatively 59
Possibility of an over-sensitive conscience 60
Increased sense of the obligations of an active life 61


In the guidance of life action more important than pure
reasoning 62
The enforcement of active duty now specially needed 62
Temptations to luxurious idleness 63
Rectification of false ideals. - The conqueror 64
The luxury of ostentation 64
Glorification of the demi-monde 66
Study of ideals 67
The human mind more capable of distinguishing right
from wrong than of measuring merit and demerit 67
Fallibility of moral judgments 68
Rules for moral judgment 73


The school of Rousseau considers man by nature wholly
good 76
Other schools maintain that he is absolutely depraved 76
Exaggerations of these schools 78
The restraining conscience distinctively human. - Comparison
with the animals 79
Reality of human depravity. - Illustrated by war 81
Large amount of pure malevolence. - Political crime. - The
press 83
Mendacity in finance 85
The sane view of human character 86
We learn with age to value restraints, to expect moderately
and value compromise 86


Moral compromise a necessity in life. - Statement of Newman 88
Impossibility of acting on it 88
Moral considerations though the highest must not absorb
all others 90
Truthfulness - cases in which it may be departed from 91

_Moral compromise in war_
War necessarily stimulates the malevolent passions and
practises deception 92
Rights of war in early stages of civilisation 93
Distinction between Greeks and Barbarians 94
Roman moralists insisted on just causes of war and on
formal declaration 95
Treatment of prisoners. - Combatants and non-combatants 95
Treatment of private property 96
Lawful and unlawful methods of conducting war 96
Abdication by the soldier of private judgment and free
will 98
Distinctions and compromises 99
Cases in which the military oath may be broken. - Illegal
orders 100
Violation of religious obligations. - The Sepoy mutiny 101
The Italian conscript. - Fenians in the British army 104


_Moral compromise in the law_
What advocates may and may not do 108
Inevitable temptations of the profession 109
Its condemnation by Swift, Arnold, Macaulay, Bentham 109
Its defence by Paley, Johnson, Basil Montagu 110
How far a lawyer may support a bad case. - St. Thomas
Aquinas and Catholic casuists 111
Sir Matthew Hale. - General custom in England 113
Distinction between the etiquette of prosecution and
of defence 113
The case of Courvoisier 114
Statement of Lord Brougham 115
The license of cross-examination. - Technicalities defeating
justice 116
Advantage of trial by jury 119
Necessity of the profession of advocate 119

_Moral compromise in politics_
Necessity of party 120
How far conscientious differences should impair party
allegiance 121
Lines of conduct adopted when such differences arise 121
Parliamentary obstruction 123
Moral difficulties inseparable from party 124
Evil of extreme view of party allegiance. - Government
and the Opposition 125
Relations of members to their constituents 127
Votes given without adequate knowledge 131
Diminished power of the private member 134



Duty of a statesman when the interests and wishes of his
nation conflict 136
Nature and extent of political trusteeship 137
Temperance questions 138
Legitimate and illegitimate time-serving 141
Education questions 141
Inconsistency in politics - how far it should be condemned 147
The conduct of Peel in 1829 and 1845 148
The conduct of Disraeli in 1867 149
Different degrees of weight to be attached to party
considerations 151
Temptations to war 153
Temptations of aristocratic and of democratic governments 155
Necessity of assimilating legislation 157
Legislation violating contracts. - Irish land legislation 158
Questions forced into prominence for party objects 164
The judgment of public servants who have committed
indefensible acts 165
The French _coup d'état_ of 1851 166
Judgments passed upon it 177
Probable multiplication of _coups d'état_ 182
Governor Eyre 184
The Jameson raid 185
How statesmen should deal with political misdeeds 190
The standard of international morals - questions connected
with it 191
The ethics of annexation 195
Political morals and public opinion 196


_Moral compromise in the Church_
Difficulties of reconciling old formularies with changed
beliefs 198
Cause of some great revolutions of belief. - The Copernican
system. - Discovery of Newton 198
The antiquity of the world, of death, and of man 200
The Darwinian theory 201
Comparative mythology. - Biblical criticism. - Scientific
habits of thought 201
General incorporation of new ideas into the Church 204
Growth of the sacerdotal spirit 204
The two theories of the Reformation 205
Modern Ritualism 210
Its various elements of attraction 211
Diversity of teaching has not enfeebled the Church 213
Its literary activity. - Proofs that the Church is in
touch with educated laymen 214
Its political influence - how far this is a test of
vitality 218
Its influence on education 219
Its spiritual influence 220
How far clergymen who dissent from parts of its
theology can remain within it 221
Newman on a Latitudinarian establishment 223
Obligations imposed on the clergy by the fact of
Establishment 224
Attitude of laymen towards the Church 225
Increasing sense of the relativity of belief 226
This tendency strengthens with age 227
The conflict between belief and scepticism 229
Power of religion to undergo transformation 229
Probable influence of the sacerdotal spirit on the
Church 231



A sound judgment of our own characters essential to moral
improvement 235
Analogies between character and taste 236
The strongest desire generally prevails, but desires may be
modified 238
Passions and habits 239
Exaggerated regard for the future. - A happy childhood 239
Choice of pleasures. - Athletic games 240
The intellectual pleasures 242
Their tendency to enhance other pleasures. - Importance of
specialisation 243
And of judicious selection 243
Education may act specially on the desires or on the will 245
Modern education and tendencies of the former kind 245
Old Catholic training mainly of the will. - Its effects 247
Anglo-Saxon types in the seventeenth century 248
Capriciousness of willpower - heroism often succumbs to vice 249
Courage - its varieties and inconsistencies 250
The circumstances of life the school of will. - Its place in
character 251
Dangers of an early competence. - Choice of work 252
Choice of friends. - Effect of early friendship on character 254
Mastery of will over thoughts. - Its intellectual importance 255
Its importance in moral culture 255
Great difference among men in this respect 256
Means of governing thought 258
The dream power - its great place in life 258
Especially in the early stages of humanity 261
Moral safety valves - danger of inventing unreal crimes 262
Character of the English gentleman 266
Different ways of treating temptation 266



Henry Taylor on its relation to character 268
Difference between real and professed beliefs about money 268
Its relation to happiness in different grades of life 269
The cost of pleasures 275
Lives of the millionaires 281
Leaders of Society 284
The great speculator 287
Expenditure in charity. - Rules for regulating it 288
Advantages and disadvantages of a large very wealthy class
in a nation 292
Directions in which philanthropic expenditure may be best
turned 296



Its importance and the motives that lead to it 300
The moral and intellectual qualities it specially demands 302
Duty to the unborn. - Improvident marriages 305
The doctrine of heredity and its consequences 306
Religious celibacy 308
Marriages of dissimilar types often peculiarly happy 309
Marriages resulting from a common weakness 310
Independent spheres in marriage. - Effect on character 311
The age of marriage 312
Increased independence of women 314



Success depends more on character than on intellect 316
Especially that accessible to most men and most conducive
to happiness 317
Strength of will, tact and judgment. - Not always joined 317
Their combination a great element of success 318
Good nature 319
Tact: its nature and its importance 320
Its intellectual and moral affinities 323
Value of good society in cultivating it. - Newman's description
of a gentleman 324
Disparities between merit and success 326
Success not universally desired 326



Rebellion of human nature against the essential conditions
of life 328
Time 'the stuff of life' 330
Various ways of treating it 330
Increased intensity of life 331
Sleep 332
Apparent inequalities of time 335
The tenure of life not too short 337
Old age 341
The growing love of rest. - How time should be regarded 341



Death terrible chiefly through its accessories 343
Pagan and Christian ideas about it 344
Premature death 349
How easily the fear of death is overcome 351
The true way of regarding it 352



One of the first questions that must naturally occur to every writer who
deals with the subject of this book is, what influence mere discussion
and reasoning can have in promoting the happiness of men. The
circumstances of our lives and the dispositions of our characters mainly
determine the measure of happiness we enjoy, and mere argument about the
causes of happiness and unhappiness can do little to affect them. It is
impossible to read the many books that have been written on these
subjects without feeling how largely they consist of mere sounding
generalities which the smallest experience shows to be perfectly
impotent in the face of some real and acute sorrow, and it is equally
impossible to obtain any serious knowledge of the world without
perceiving that a large proportion of the happiest lives and characters
are to be found where introspection, self-analysis and reasonings about
the good and evil of life hold the smallest place. Happiness, indeed,
like health, is one of the things of which men rarely think except when
it is impaired, and much that has been written on the subject has been
written under the stress of some great depression. Such writers are
like the man in Hogarth's picture occupying himself in the debtors'
prison with plans for the payment of the National Debt. There are
moments when all of us feel the force of the words of Voltaire:
'Travaillons sans raisonner, c'est le seul moyen de rendre la vie

That there is much truth in such considerations is incontestable, and it
is only within a restricted sphere that the province of reasoning
extends. Man comes into the world with mental and moral characteristics
which he can only very imperfectly influence, and a large proportion of
the external circumstances of his life lie wholly or mainly beyond his
control. At the same time, every one recognises the power of skill,
industry and perseverance to modify surrounding circumstances; the power
of temperance and prudence to strengthen a naturally weak constitution,
prolong life, and diminish the chances of disease; the power of
education and private study to develop, sharpen and employ to the best
advantage our intellectual faculties. Every one also recognises how
large a part of the unhappiness of most men may be directly traced to
their own voluntary and deliberate acts. The power each man possesses in
the education and management of his character, and especially in the
cultivation of the dispositions and tendencies which most largely
contribute to happiness, is less recognised and is perhaps less
extensive, but it is not less real.

The eternal question of free will and determinism here naturally meets
us, but on such a subject it is idle to suppose that a modern writer can
do more than define the question and state his own side. The
Determinist says that the real question is not whether a man can do
what he desires, but whether he can do what he does not desire; whether
the will can act without a motive; whether that motive can in the last
analysis be other than the strongest pleasure. The illusion of free
will, he maintains, is only due to the conflict of our motives. Under
many forms and disguises pleasure and pain have an absolute empire over
conduct. The will is nothing more than the last and strongest desire; or
it is like a piece of iron surrounded by magnets and necessarily drawn
by the most powerful; or (as has been ingeniously imagined) like a
weathercock, conscious of its own motion, but not conscious of the winds
that are moving it. The law of compulsory causation applies to the world
of mind as truly as to the world of matter. Heredity and Circumstance
make us what we are. Our actions are the inevitable result of the mental
and moral constitutions with which we came into the world, operated on
by external influences.

The supporters of free will, on the other hand, maintain that it is a
fact of consciousness that there is a clear distinction between the Will
and the Desires, and that although they are closely connected no sound
analysis will confuse them. Coleridge ingeniously compared their
relations to 'the co-instantaneous yet reciprocal action of the air and
the vital energy of the lungs in breathing.'[1] If the will is

Online LibraryWilliam Edward Hartpole LeckyThe map of life, conduct, and character → online text (page 1 of 25)