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´╗┐Title: The Fallen Star, or, the History of a False Religion by E.L. Bulwer; And, A Dissertation on the Origin of Evil by Lord Brougham
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron, 1803-1873, Brougham and Vaux, Henry Brougham, Baron, 1778-1868
Language: English
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by E. L. Bulwer



by Lord Brougham


RELIGION, says Noah Webster in his _American Dictionary of the English
Language_, is derived from "Religo, to bind anew;" and, in this _History
of a False Religion_, our author has shown how easily its votaries were
insnared, deceived, and mentally bound in a labyrinth of falsehood and
error, by a designing knave, who established a new religion and a new
order of priesthood by imposing on their ignorance and credulity.

The history of the origin of one supernatural religion will, with slight
alterations, serve to describe them all. Their claim to credence rests
on the exhibition of so-called miracles--that is, on a violation of
the laws of nature,--for, if religions were founded on the demonstrated
truths of science, there would be no mystery, no supernaturalism, no
miracles, no skepticism, no false religion. We would have only verified
truths and demonstrated facts for the basis of our belief. But this
simple foundation does not satisfy the unreasoning multitude. They
demand signs, portents, mysteries, wonders and miracles for their faith
and the supply of prophets, knaves and impostors has always been found
ample to satisfy this abnormal demand of credulity.

Designing men, even at the present day, find little difficulty in
establishing new systems of faith and belief. Joseph Smith, who invented
the Mormon religion, had more followers and influence in this country
at his death, than the Carpenter's Son obtained centuries ago from the
unlettered inhabitants of Palestine; and yet Smith achieved his success
among educated people in this so-called enlightened age, while Jesus
taught in an age of semi-barbarism and faith, when both Jews and Pagans
asserted and believed that beasts, birds, reptiles and even fishes
understood human language, were often gifted with human speech, and
sometimes seemed to possess even more than ordinary human intelligence.

They taught that the serpent, using the language of sophistry, beguiled
Eve in Eden, who in turn corrupted Adam, her first and only husband. At
the baptism of Jesus by John in the river Jordan, the voice of a dove
resounded in the heavens, saying, quite audibly and distinctly, "Thou
art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." Balaam disputed with
his patient beast of burden, on their celebrated journey in the land
of Moab, and the ass proved wiser in the argument that ensued than the
inspired prophet who bestrode him, The great fish Oannes left his
native element and taught philosophy to the Chaldeans on dry land.
One reputable woman, of Jewish lineage,--the mother of an interesting
family--was changed to a pillar of salt in Sodom while another female of
great notoriety known to fame as the celebrated "Witch of Endor," raised
Samuel from his grave in Ramah. Saint Peter found a shilling in the
mouth of a fish which he caught in the Sea of Galilee, and this lucky
incident enabled the impecunious apostle to pay the "tribute money" in
Capernaum. Another famous Israelite,--so it is said,--broke the record
of balloon ascensions in Judea, and ascended into heaven in a chariot of

In an age of ignorance wonders abound, prodigies occur, and miracles
become common, The untaught masses are easily deceived, and their
unreasoning credulity enables them to proudly boast of their
unquestioning faith. When their feelings are excited and their passions
aroused by professional evangelists, they even profess to believe that
which they cannot comprehend; and, in the satirical language of Bulwer,
they endeavor to "_assist their ignorance by the conjectures of their

Among the multitudes of diverse and opposing religions which afflict
mankind, it is self-evident that but one religion may justly claim the
inspiration of truth, and it is equally evident to all reasoning minds
that that religion is the religion of kindness and humanity,--the
religion of noble thoughts and generous deeds,--which removes the
enmities of race and creed, and "makes the whole world kin!" And which,
in its observance is blessed with sympathy, friendship, happiness and

This religion needs no creed, no profession of faith, no incense, no
prayer, no penance, no sacrifice. Its whole duty consists in comforting
the afflicted, assisting the unfortunate, protecting the helpless, and
in honestly fulfilling our duties to our fellow mortals. In the language
of Confucius, the ancient Chinese Sage, it is simply "to behave to
others as I would require others to behave to me."

"Do unto others as you would they should do unto you," says Jesus; and
in the Epistle of James, we are told that "Pure Religion and undefiled
before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in
their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

The same benign and generous conduct is commended in even grander and
nobler language in the lectures to the French Masonic Lodges: "Love one
another, teach one another, help one another. That is all our doctrine,
all our science, all our law."

It is believed that the learned dissertation of Lord Brougham on
the _Origin of Evil_, which is annexed to this work, will need no
commendation to ensure its careful perusal.

                         PETER ECKLER.


by E. L. Bulwer


And the Stars sat, each on his ruby throne, and watched with sleepless
eyes upon the world. It was the night ushering in the new year, a night
on which every star receives from the archangel that then visits the
universal galaxy, its peculiar charge.

The destinies of men and empires are then portioned forth for the coming
year, and, unconsciously to ourselves, our fates become minioned to the

A hushed and solemn night is that in which the dark gates of time
open to receive the ghost of the dead year, and the young and radiant
stranger rushes forth from the clouded chasms of eternity. On that
night, it is said that there are given to the spirits that we see not, a
privilege and a power; the dead are troubled in their forgotten graves,
and men feast and laugh, while demon and angel are contending for their

It was night in heaven; all was unutterably silent, the music of the
spheres had paused, and not a sound came from the angels of the stars;
and they who sat upon those shining thrones were three thousand and ten,
each resembling each.

Eternal youth clothed their radiant limbs with celestial beauty, and on
their faces was written the dread of calm, that fearful stillness which
feels not, sympathizes not with the dooms over which it broods.

War, tempest, pestilence, the rise of empires, and their fall, they
ordain, they, compass, unexultant and uncompassionate. The fell and
thrilling crimes that stalk abroad when the world sleeps--the parricide
with his stealthy step, and horrent brow, and lifted knife; the unwifed
mother that glides out and looks behind, and behind, and shudders, and
casts her babe upon the river, and hears the wail, and pities not--the
splash, and does not tremble!

These the starred kings behold--to these they lead the unconscious step;
but the guilt blanches not their lustre, neither doth remorse wither
their unwrinkled youth.

Each star wore a kingly diadem; round the loins of each was a graven
belt, graven with many and mighty signs; and the foot of each was on a
burning ball, and the right arm dropped over the knee as they bent down
from their thrones; they moved not a limb or feature, save the finger
of the right hand, which ever and anon moved slowly, pointing, and
regulated the fates of men as the hand of the dial speaks the career of

One only of the three thousand and ten wore not the same aspect as his
crowned brethren; a star, smaller than the rest, and less luminous. The
countenance of this star was not impressed with the awful calmness of
the others; but there were sullenness and discontent upon his mighty

And this star said to himself--"Behold, I am created less glorious
than my fellows, and the archangel apportions not to me the same lordly
destinies. Not for me are the dooms of kings and bards, the rulers of
empires, or, yet nobler, the swayers and harmonists of souls. Sluggish
are the spirits and base the lot of the men I am ordained to lead
through a dull life to a fameless grave. And wherefore?--Is it mine own
fault, or is it the fault which is not mine, that I was woven of beams
less glorious than my brethren? Lo! when the archangel comes, I will
bow not my crowned head to his decrees. I will speak, as the ancestral
Lucifer before me: _he_ rebelled because of his glory, _I_ because of
my obscurity; _he_ from the ambition of pride, and _I_ from its

And while the star was thus communing with himself, the upward heavens
were parted as by a long river of light, and adown that stream swiftly,
and without sound, sped the archangel visitor of the stars; his vast
limbs floated in the liquid lustre, and his outspread wings, each plume
the glory of a sun, bore him noiselessly along; but thick clouds veiled
his lustre from the eyes of mortals, and while above all was bathed in
the serenity of his splendor, tempest and storm broke below over the
children of the earth:

"He bowed the heavens and came down, and darkness was under his feet."

And the stillness on the faces of the stars became yet more still, and
the awfulness was humbled into awe. Right above their thrones paused
the course of the archangel; and his wings stretched from east to west,
overshadowing with the shadow of light the immensity of space. Then
forth in the shining stillness, rolled the dread music of his voice:
and, fulfilling the heraldry of god, to each star he appointed the duty
and the charge, and each star bowed his head yet lower as he heard the
fiat, while his throne rocked and trembled at the majesty of the
word. But at last, when each of the brighter stars had, in succession,
received the mandate, and the viceroyalty over the nations of the earth,
the purple and diadems of kings--the archangel addressed the lesser star
as he sat apart from his fellows.

"Behold," said the archangel, "the rude tribes of the north, the
fishermen of the river that flows beneath, and the hunters of the
forests, that darken the mountain-tops with verdure! these be thy
charge, and their destinies thy care. Nor deem thou, O star of the
sullen beams, that thy duties are less glorious than the duties of thy
brethren; for the peasant is not less to thy master and mine than the
monarch; nor doth the doom of empires rest more upon the sovereign than
on the herd. The passions and the heart are the dominion of the stars--a
mighty realm; nor less mighty beneath the hide that garbs the shepherd,
than the jewelled robes of eastern kings."

Then the star lifted his pale front from his breast, and answered the

"Lo!" he said, "ages have past, and each year thou hast appointed me to
the same ignoble charge. Release me, I pray thee, from the duties that I
scorn; or, if thou wilt that the lowlier race of men be my charge, give
unto me the charge not of many, but of one, and suffer me to breathe
into him the desire that spurns the valleys of life, and ascends its
steeps. If the humble are given to me, let there be amongst them one
whom I may lead on the mission that shall abase the proud; for, behold,
O Appointer of the Stars, as I have sat for uncounted years upon my
solitary throne, brooding over the things beneath, my spirit hath
gathered wisdom from the changes that shift below. Looking upon the
tribes of earth, I have seen how the multitude are swayed, and tracked
the steps that lead weakness into power; and fain would I be the ruler
of one who, if abased, shall aspire to rule."

As a sudden cloud over the face of noon was the change on the brow of
the archangel.

"Proud and melancholy star," said the herald, "thy wish would war with
the courses of the invisible destiny, that, throned far above, sways
and harmonizes all; the source from which the lesser rivers of fate are
eternally gushing through the heart of the universe of things. Thinkest
thou that thy wisdom, of itself, can lead the peasant to become a king?"

And the crowned star gazed undauntedly on the face of the archangel, and

"Yea!--grant me but one trial!"

Ere the archangel could reply, the farthest centre of the heaven was
rent as by a thunderbolt; and the divine herald covered his face with
his hands, and a voice low and sweet, and mild with the consciousness of
unquestionable power, spoke forth to the repining star:

"The time has arrived when thou mayest have thy wish. Below thee, upon
yon solitary plain, sits a mortal, gloomy as thyself, who, born under
thy influence, may be moulded to thy will."

The voice ceased, as the voice of a dream. Silence was over the seas of
space, and the archangel, once more borne aloft, slowly soared away into
the farther heaven, to promulgate the divine bidding to the stars of
far-distant worlds.

But the soul of the discontented star exulted within itself; and it
said, "I will call forth a king from the valley of the herdsmen, that
shall trample on the kings subject to my fellows, and render the charge
of the contemned star more glorious than the minions of its favored
brethren; thus shall I revenge neglect--thus shall I prove my claim
hereafter to the heritage of the great of earth!"

At that time, though the world had rolled on for ages, and the
pilgrimage of man had passed through various states of existence, which
our dim traditionary knowledge has not preserved, yet the condition of
our race in the northern hemisphere was then what _we_, in our imperfect
lore, have conceived to be among the earliest.


By a rude and vast pile of stones, the masonry of arts forgotten, a
lonely man sat at midnight, gazing upon the heavens. A storm had just
passed from the earth--the clouds had rolled away, and the high stars
looked down upon the rapid waters of the Rhine; and no sound save the
roar of the waves and the dripping of the rain from the mighty trees,
was heard around the ruined pile: the white sheep lay scattered on the
plain, and slumber with them. He sat watching over the herd, lest the
foes of a neighboring tribe seized them unawares, and thus he communed
with himself:

"The king sits upon his throne, and is honored by a warrior race, and
the warrior exults in the trophies he has won; the step of the huntsman
is bold upon the mountain-top, and his name is sung at night round the
pine-fires, by the lips of the bard; and the bard himself hath honor in
the hail. But I, who belong not to the race of kings, and whose limbs
can bound not to the rapture of war, nor scale the eyries of the eagle
and the haunts of the swift stag; whose hand cannot string the harp, and
whose voice is harsh in the song; _I_ have neither honor nor command,
and men bow not the head as I pass along; yet do I feel within me the
consciousness of a great power that should rule my species--not obey.
My eye pierces the secret hearts of men--I see their thoughts ere their
lips proclaim them; and I scorn, while I see, the weakness and the vices
which I never shared. I laugh at the madness of the warrior--I mock
within my soul at the tyranny of kings. Surely there is something in
man's nature more fitted to command--more worthy of renoun, than the
sinews of the arm, or the swiftness of the feet, or the accident of

As Morven, the son of Osslah, thus mused within himself, still looking
at the heavens, the solitary man beheld a star suddenly shooting from
its place, and speeding through the silent air, till it as suddenly
paused right over the midnight river, and facing the inmate of the pile
of stones.

As he gazed upon the star strange thoughts grew slowly over him. He
drank, as it were, from its solemn aspect, the spirit of a great design.
A dark cloud rapidly passing over the earth, snatched the star from his
sight; but left to his awakened mind the thoughts and the dim scheme
that had come to him as he gazed.

When the sun arose one of his brethren relieved him of his charge over
the herd, and he went away, but not to his father's home. Musingly he
plunged into the dark and leafless recesses of the winter forest; and
shaped out of his wild thoughts, more palpably and clearly, the outline
of his daring hope.

While thus absorbed, he heard a great noise in the forest, and, fearful
lest the hostile tribe of the Alrich might pass that way, he ascended
one of the loftiest pine-trees, to whose perpetual verdure the winter
had not denied the shelter he sought, and, concealed by its branches, he
looked anxiously forth in the direction whence the noise had proceed.

And IT came--it came with a tramp and a crash, and a crushing tread upon
the crunched boughs and matted leaves that strewed the soil--it came--it
came, the monster that the world now holds no more--the mighty mammoth
of the North!

Slowly it moved in its huge strength along, and its burning eyes
glittered through the gloomy shade: its jaws, falling apart, showed the
grinders with which it snapped asunder the young oaks of the forest;
and the vast tusks, which, curved downward to the midst of its massive
limbs, glistened white and ghastly, curdling the blood of one destined
hereafter to be the dreaded ruler of the men of that distant age.

The livid eyes of the monster fastened on the form of the herdsman,
even amidst the thick darkness of the pine. It paused--it glared upon
him--its jaws opened, and a low deep sound, as of gathering thunder,
seemed to the son of Osslah as the knell of a dreadful grave. But after
glaring on him for some moments, it again, and calmly, pursued its
terrible way, crashing the boughs as it marched along, till the last
sound of its heavy tread died away upon his ear.

Ere yet, however, before Morven had summoned the courage to descend the
tree, he saw the shining of arms through the bare branches of the wood,
and presently a small hand of the hostile Alrich came into sight. He was
perfectly hidden from them; and, listening as they passed him, he heard
one say to another:

"The night covers all things; why attack them by day?"

And he who seemed the chief of the band, answered "Right. To-night, when
they sleep in their city, we will upon them. Lo! they will be drenched
in wine, and fall like sheep into our hands."

"But where, O chief," said a third of the band, "shall our men hide
during the day? for there are many hunters among the youth of the
Oestrich tribe, and they might see us in the forest unawares, and arm
their race against our coming."

"I have prepared for that," answered the chief. "Is not the dark
cavern of Oderlin at hand? Will it not shelter us from the eyes of the

Then the men laughed, and shouting, they went their way adown the

When they were gone Morven cautiously descended, and, striking into a
broad path, hastened to a vale that lay between the forest and the river
in which was the city where the chief of his country dwelt.

As he passed by the warlike men, giants in that day, who thronged the
streets (if streets they might be called), their half garments parting
from their huge limbs, the quiver at their backs, and the hunting spears
in their hands, they laughed and shouted out, and, pointing to him,

"Morven, the woman! Morven, the cripple! what dost thou among men?"

For the son of Osslah was small in stature and of slender strength, and
his step had halted from his birth; but he passed through the warriors

At the outskirts of the city he came upon a tail pile, in which some old
men dwelt by themselves, and counseled the king when times of danger,
or when the failure of the season, the famine, or the drought, perplexed
the ruler, and clouded the savage fronts of his warrior tribe.

They gave the counsels of experience, and when experience failed, they
drew, in their believing ignorance, assurances and omens from the winds
of heaven, the changes of the moon, and the flights of the wandering
birds. Filled (by the voices of the elements, and the variety of
mysteries which ever shift along the face of things, unsolved by the
wonder which pauses not, the fear which believes, and that eternal
reasoning of all experience, which assigns causes to effects) with
the notion of superior powers, _they assisted their ignorance by the
conjectures of their superstition_. But as yet they knew no craft
and practiced no _voluntary_ delusion; they trembled too much at the
mysteries, which had created their faith, to seek to belie them. They
counselled as they believed, and the bold dream had never dared to cross
men thus worn and grey with age, of governing their warriors and their
kings by the wisdom of deceit.

The son of Osslah entered the vast pile with a fearless step, and
approached the place at the upper end of the hall, where the old men sat
in conclave.

"How, base-torn and craven limbed!" cried the eldest, who had been
a noted warrior in his day; "darest thou enter unsummoned amidst the
secret councils of the wise men? Knowest thou not, scatterling! that the
penalty is death?"

"Slay me, if thou wilt," answered Morven "but hear!

"As I sat last night in the ruined palace of our ancient kings, tending,
as my father bade me, the sheep that grazed around, lest the fierce
tribe of Alrich should descend unseen from the mountains upon the herd,
a storm came darkly on; and when the storm, had ceased and I looked
above on the sky, I saw a star descend from its height towards me, and
a voice from the star said, 'Son of Osslah, leave thy herd and seek the
council of the wise men, and say unto them, that they take thee as one
of their number, or that sudden will be the destruction of them, and

"But I had courage to answer the voice, and I said, 'Mock not the poor
son of the herdsman. Behold they will kill me if I utter so rash a word,
for I am poor and valueless in the eyes of the tribe of Oestrich, and
the great in deeds and the grey of hair alone sit in the council of the
wise men.'

"Then the voice said, 'Do my bidding, and I will give thee a token that
thou comest from the powers that sway the seasons and sail upon the
eagles of the winds. Say unto the wise men that this very night if they
refuse to receive thee of their band, evil shall fall upon them, and the
morrow shall dawn in blood.'

"Then the voice ceased, and a cloud passed over the star; and I communed
with myself, and came, O dread fathers, mournfully unto you. For I
feared that ye would smite me because of my bold tongue, and that ye
would, sentence me to the death, in that I asked what may scarce be
given even to the sons of kings."

Then the grim elders looked one at the other and marvelled much, nor
knew they what answer they should make to the herdsman's son.

At length one of the wise men said, "Surely there must be truth in the
son of Osslah, for he would not dare to falsify the great lights of
heaven. If he had given unto men the words of the star, verily we
might doubt the truth. But who would brave the vengeance of the gods of

Then the elders shook their heads approvingly; but one answered and

"Shall we take the herdsman's son as our equal? No!"

The name of the man who thus answered was Darvan, and his words were
pleasing to the elders.

But Morven spoke out:

"Of a truth, O councilors of kings! I look not to be an equal with
yourselves. Enough if I tend the gates of your palace, and serve you as
the son of Osslah may serve;" and he bowed his head humbly as he spoke.

Then said the chief of the elders, for he was wiser than the others,
"But how wilt thou deliver us from the evil that is to come? Doubtless
the star hath informed thee of the service thou canst render to us if we
take thee into our palace, as well as the ill that will fall on us if we

Morven answered meekly: "Surely, if thou acceptest thy servant, the star
will teach him that which may requite thee; but as yet he knows only
what he has uttered."

Then the sages bade him withdraw, and they communed with themselves and
they differed much; but though fierce men and bold at the war cry of a
human foe, they shuddered at the prophecy of a star. So they resolved
to take the son of Osslah, and suffer him to keep the gate of the

He heard their decree and towed his head, and went to the gate, and sat
down by it in silence.

And the sun went down in the west, and the first stats of the twilight
began to glimmer, when Morven started front his seat, and a trembling
appeared to seize his limbs. His lips foamed; an agony and a fear
possessed him; he writhed as a man whom the spear of a foeman has
pierced with a mortal wound, and suddenly fell upon his face on the
stony earth.

The elders approached him; wondering, they lifted him up. He slowly
recovered as from a swoon; his eyes rolled wildly.

"Heard ye not the voice of the star?" he said.

And the chief of the elders answered, "Nay, we heard no sound."

Then Morven sighed heavily.

"To me only the word was given. Summon instantly, O councilors of the
king! summon the armed men, and all the youth of the tribe, and let them
take the sword and the spear, and follow thy servant. For lo! the star
hath announced to him that the foe shall fall into our hands as the wild
beast of the forests."

The son of Osslah spoke with the voice of command, and the elders were

"Why, pause ye?" he cried. "Do the gods of the night lie? On my head
rest the peril if I deceive ye."

Then the elders communed together; and they went forth and summoned the
men of arms, and all the young of the tribe; and each man took the sword
and the spear, and Morven also. And the son of Osslah walked first,
still looking up at the star; and he motioned them to be silent, and
move with a stealthy step.

So they went through the thickest of the forest, till they came to the
mouth of a great cave, overgrown with aged and matted trees, and it was
called the cave of Oderlin; and he bade the leaders place the armed men
on either side the cave, to the right and to the left, among the hushes.

So they watched silently till the night deepened, when they heard a
noise in the cave and the sound of feet, and forth came an armed man;
and the spear of Morven pierced him, and he fell dead at the mouth of
the cave. Another and another, and both fell! Then loud and long was
heard the warcry of Alrich, and forth poured, as a stream over a narrow
bed, the river of armed men.

And the Sons of Oestrich fell upon them, and the foe were sorely
perplexed and terrified by the suddenness of the battle and the darkness
of the night; and there was a great slaughter.

And when the morning came, the children of Oestrich counted the slain,
and found the leader of Alrich and the chief men of the tribe amongst
them, and great was the joy thereof.

So they went back in triumph to the city, and they carded the brave son
of Osslah on their shoulders, and shouted forth, "Glory to the servant
of the star."

And Morven dwelt in the council of the wise men.

Now the king of the tribe had one daughter, and she was stately amongst
the women of the tribe, and fair to look upon. And Morven gazed upon her
with the eyes of love, but he did not dare to speak.

Now the son of Osslah laughed secretly at the foolishness of men; he
loved them not, for they had mocked him; he honored them not, for he had
blinded the wisest of their elders.

He shunned their feasts and merriment and lived apart and solitary.

The austerity of his life increased the mysterious homage which his
commune with the stars had won him, and the boldest of the warriors
bowed his head to the favorite of the gods.

One day he was wandering by the side of the river, and he saw a large
bird of prey rise from the earth, and give chase to a hawk that had not
yet gained the full strength of its wings. From his youth the solitary
Morven had loved to watch, in the great forests and by the banks of the
mighty stream, the habits of the things which nature had submitted to
man; and looking now on the birds, he said to himself, "Thus is it ever;
by cunning or by strength each thing wishes to master its kind."

While thus, moralizing, the larger bird had stricken down the hawk, and
it fell terrified and panting at his feet.

Morven took the hawk in his hands, and the vulture shrieked above him,
wheeling nearer and nearer to its protected prey; but Morven scared away
the vulture, and placing the hawk in his bosom, he carried it home, and
tended it carefully, and fed it from his hand until it had regained its
strength; and the hawk knew him, and followed him as a dog.

And Morven said, smiling to himself, "Behold, _the credulous fools
around me put faith in the flight and motions of birds_. I will teach
this poor hawk to minister to my ends."

So he tamed the bird, and tutored it according to its nature; but he
concealed it carefully from others, and cherished it in secret.

The king of the country was old and like to die, and the eyes of the
tribe were turned to his two sons, nor knew they which was the worthier
to reign.

And Morven passing through the forest one evening, saw the younger of
the two, who was a great hunter, sitting mournfully under an oak, and
looking with musing eyes upon the ground.

"Wherefore musest thou, O swift footed Siror?" said the son of Osslah;
"and wherefore art thou sad?"

"Thou canst not assist me," answered the prince, sternly; "take thy

"Nay," answered Morven, "thou knowest not what thou sayest; am I not the
favorite of the stars?"

"Away, I am no graybeard whom the approach of death makes doting: talk
not to inc of the stars; I know only the things that my eye sees and my
ear drinks in."

"Hush," said Morven, solemnly, and covering his face; "hush! lest the
heavens avenge thy rashness. But, behold, the stars have given unto me
to pierce the secret hearts of others; and I can tell thee the thoughts
of thine."

"Speak out, base-born!"

"Thou art the younger of two, and thy name is less known in war than the
name of thy brother; yet wouldst thou desire to be set over his head,
and to sit at the high seat of thy father?"

The young man turned pale.

"Thou hast truth in thy lips," said he, with a faltering voice.

"Not from me, but from the stars, descends the truth."

"Can the stars grant my wish?"

"They can; let us meet to-morrow." Thus saying, Morven passed into the

The next day, at noon, they met again.

"I have consulted the gods of night, and they have given me the power
that I prayed for, but on one condition."

"Name it."

"That thou sacrifice thy sister on their altars thou must build up a
heap of stones, and take thy sister into the wood, and lay her on the
pile, and plunge thy sword into her heart; so only shalt then reign."

The prince shuddered, and started to his feet, and shook his spear at
the pale front of Morven.

"Tremble," said the son of Osslah, with a loud voice. "Hark to the gods,
who threaten thee with death, that thou hast dared to lift thine arm
against their servant!"

As he spoke, the thunder rolled above; for one of the frequent storms of
the early summer was about to break.

The spear dropped from the prince's hand; he sat down and cast his eyes
on the ground.

"Wilt thou do the bidding of the stars, and reign?" said Morven.

"I will!" cried Siror, with a desperate voice.

"This evening, then, when the sun sets, thou wilt lead her hither,
alone; I may not attend thee. Now, let us pile the stones."

Silently the huntsman bent his vast strength to the fragments of rock
that Morven pointed to him, and they built the altar, and went their

And beautiful is the dying of the great sum when the last song of the
birds fades into the lap of silence; when the islands of the cloud are
bathed in light, and the first star springs up over the grave of day.

"Whither leadest thou my steps, my brother?" said Gina; "and why doth
thy lip quiver? and why dost thou tarn away thy face?"

"Is not the forest beautiful; doth it not tempt us forth, my sister?"

"And wherefore are those heaps of stone piled together?"

"Let others answer; _I_ piled them not."

"Thou tremblest brother: we will return."

"Not so; by those stones is a bird that my shaft pierced to-day; a bird
of beautiful plumage that I slew for thee."

"We are by the pile: where hast thou laid the bird?"

"Here!" cried Siror; and he seized the maiden in his arms, and, casting
her on the rude altar, he drew forth his sword to smite her to the

Right over the stones rose a giant oak, the growth of immemorial ages;
and from the oak, or from the heavens; broke forth a loud and solemn

"Strike not, son of kings! the stars forbear their own: the maiden thou
shalt not slay; yet shalt thou reign over the race of Oestrich; and thou
shall give Orna as a bride to the favorite of the stars. Arise, and go
thy way!"

The voice ceased: the terror of Orna had overpowered for a time the
springs of life; and Siror bore her home through the wood in his strong

"Alas!" said Morven, when, at the next day, he again met the aspiring
prince; "alas! the stars have ordained me a lot which my heart desires
not; for I, lonely of life, and crippled of shape, am insensible to the
fires of love; and ever, as thou and thy tribe know, I have shunned the
eyes of women, for the maidens laughed at my halting step and my sullen
features; and so in my youth I learned betimes to banish all thoughts
of love. But since they told me (as they declared to _thee_), that only
through that marriage, thou, O beloved prince! canst obtain thy fatter's
plumed crown, I yield me to their will."

"But," said the prince, "not until I am king can I give thee my sister
in marriage; for thou knowest that my sire would smite me to the dust,
if I asked him to give the flower of our race to the son of the herdsman

"Thou speakest the words of truth. Go home and fear not: but, when thou
art king, the sacrifice must be made, and Orna mine. Alas! how can
I dare to lift my eyes to her! But so ordain the dread kings of the
night!--Who shall gainsay their word?"

"The day that sees me king, sees Orna thine," answered the prince.

Morven walked forth, as was his wont, alone; and he said to himself,
"the king is old, yet may he live long between me and mine hope!" and he
began to cast in his mind how he might shorten the time.

Thus absorbed, he wandered on so unheedingly, that night advanced, and
he had lost his path among the thick woods, and knew not how to regain
his home; so he lay down quietly beneath a tree, and rested till day

Then hunger came upon him and he searched among the bushes for such
simple roots as those with which, for he was ever careless of food, he
was used to appease the cravings of nature.

He found, among other more familiar herbs and roots, a red berry of
a sweetish taste, which he had never observed before. He ate of it
sparingly, and had not proceeded far in the wood before he found his
eyes swim, and a deadly sickness come over him. For several hours he lay
convulsed on the ground expecting death; but the gaunt spareness of his
frame, and his unvarying abstinence, prevailed over the poison, and he
recovered slowly, and after great anguish: but he went with feeble steps
back to the spot where the berries grew, and, plucking several, hid them
in his bosom, and by nightfall regained the city.

The next day he went forth among his father's herds, and seizing a lamb,
forced some of the berries into its stomach, and the lamb, escaping, ran
away, and fell down dead. Then Morven took some more of the berries and
boiled them down, and mixed the juice with wine, and he gave the wine in
secret to one of his father's servants, and the servant died.

Then Morven sought the king, and coming into his presence alone, he said
unto him, "How fares my lord?"

The king sat on a couch, made of the skins of wolves, and his eye was
glassy and dim; but vast were his aged limbs and huge was his stature,
and he had been taller by a head than the children of men, and none
living could bend the bow he had bent in youth. Grey, gaunt and worn, as
some mighty bones that are dug at times from the bosom of the earth--a
relic of the strength of old.

And the king said, faintly, and with a ghastly laugh:

"The men of my years fare ill. What avails my strength? Better had I
been born a cripple like thee, so should I have had nothing to lament in
growing old."

The red flash passed over Morven's brow; but he bent humbly--

"O king, what if I could give thee back thy youth? What if I could
restore to thee the vigor which distinguished thee above the sons of
men, when the warriors of Alrich fell like grass before thy sword?"

Then the king uplifted his dull eyes, and he said:

"What meanest thou, son of Osslah? Surely I hear much of thy great
wisdom, and how thou speakest nightly with the stars. Can the gods of
the night give unto thee the secret to make the old young?"

"Tempt them not by doubt," said Morven, reverently. "All things are
possible to the rulers of the dark hour; and, lo! the star that loves
thy servant spake to him at the dead of night, and said, 'Arise, and go
unto the king; and tell him that the stars honor the tribe of Oestrich,
and remember how the king bent his bow against the Sons of Alrich;
wherefore, look thou under the stone that lies to the right of thy
dwelling--even beside the pine-tree, and thou shalt see a vessel of
clay, and in the vessel thou wilt find a sweet liquid, that shall make
the king thy master forget his age forever.'

"Therefore, my lord, when the morning rose I went forth, and looked
under the stone, and behold the vessel of clay; and I have brought it
hither to my lord, the king."

"Quick--slave--quick! that I may drink and regain my youth!"

"Nay, listen, O king! farther said the star to me:

"'It is only at night, when the stars have power, that this their gift
will avail; wherefore, the king must wait till the hush of the midnight,
when the moon is high, and then may he mingle the liquid with his wine.

"'And he must reveal to none that he hath received the gift from the
hand of the servant of the stars. For THEY do their work in secret, and
when men sleep; therefore they love not the babble of mouths, and he who
reveals their benefits shall surely die.'"

"Fear not," said the king, grasping the vessel; "none shall know: and,
behold, I will rise on the morrow; and my two sons--wrangling for my
crown--verily, I shall be younger than they!"

Then the king laughed loud; and he scarcely thanked the servant of the
stars, neither did he promise him reward: for the kings in those days
had little thought--save for themselves.

And Morven said to him, "Shall I not attend my lord? for without me,
perchance, the drug might fail of its effect."

"Aye," said the king, "rest here."

"Nay," replied Morven; "thy servants will marvel and talk much, if they
see the son of Osslah sojourning in thy palace. So would the displeasure
of the gods of night perchance be incurred. Suffer that the lesser door
of the palace be unbarred, so that at the night hour, when the moon is
midway in the heavens, I may steal unseen into thy chamber, and mix the
liquid with thy wine."

"So be it," said the king. "Thou art wise though thy limbs are crooked
and curt; and the stars might have chosen a taller man."

Then the king laughed again; and Morven laughed too, but there was
danger in the mirth of the son of Osslah.

The night had began to wane, and the inhabitants of Oestrich were buried
in deep sleep, when, hark! a sharp voice was heard crying out in the
streets, "Woe, woe! Awake ye sons of Oestrich--woe!"

Then forth, wild--haggard--alarmed--spear in hand, rushed the giant sons
of the rugged tribe, and they saw a man on a height in the middle of the
city, shrieking, "Woe!" and it was Morven, the son of Osslah!

And he said unto them, as they gathered round him, "Men and warriors,
tremble as ye hear.

"The star of the west hath spoken to me and thus saith the star:

"'Evil shall fall upon the kingly house of Oestrich--yea, ere the
morning dawns; wherefore, go thou mourning into the streets, and wake
the inhabitants to woe!'

"So I rose and did the bidding of the star."

And while Morven was yet speaking, a servant of the king's house ran up
to the crowd, crying loudly:

"The king is dead!"

So they went into the palace and found the king stark upon his couch,
and his huge limbs all cramped and crippled by the pangs of death,
and his hands clenched as if in menace of a foe--the foe of all living

Then fear came on the gazers, and they looked on Morven with a deeper
awe than the boldest warrior would have called forth: and they bore him
back to the council-hall of the wise men, wailing and clashing their
arms in woe, and shouting, ever and anon:

"_Honor to Morven, the prophet!_"

And that was the first time the word PROPHET was ever used in those

At noon, on the third day from the king's death, Siror sought Morven,
and he said:

"Lo, my father is no more, and the people meet this evening at sunset
to elect his successor, and the warriors and the young men will surely
choose my brother, for he is more known in war. Fail me not, therefore."

"Peace, boy!" said Morven, sternly; "nor dare to question the truth of
the gods of night."

For Morven now began to presume on his power among the people, and to
speak as rulers speak, even to the sons of kings.

And the voice silenced the fiery Siror, nor dared he to reply.

"Behold," said Morven, taking up a chaplet of colored plumes, "wear
this on thy head, and put on a brave face--for the people like a hopeful
spirit--and go down with thy brother to the place where the new king is
to be chosen, and leave the rest to the stars.

"But, above all things, forget not that chaplet; it has been blessed by
the gods of night."

The prince took the chaplet and returned home.

It was evening and the warriors and chiefs of the tribe were assembled
in the place where the new king was to be elected.

And the voices of the many favored Prince Voltoch, the brother of Siror,
for he had slain twelve foeman with his spear; and verily, in those
days, that was a great virtue in a king.

Suddenly there was a shout in the streets, and the people cried out:

"Way for Morven, the prophet, the prophet!"

For the people held the son of Osslah in even greater respect than did
the chiefs.

Now, since he had become of note, Morven had assumed a majesty of air
which the son of the herdsman knew not in his earlier days; and albeit
his stature was short, and his limbs halted, yet his countenance was
grave and high.

He only of the tribe wore a garment that swept the ground, and his head
was bare, and his long black hair descended to his girdle, and rarely
was change or human passion seen in his calm aspect.

He feasted not, nor drank wine, nor was his presence frequent in the

He laughed not, neither did he smile, save when alone in the forest--and
then he laughed at the follies of his tribe.

So he walked slowly through the crowd, neither turning to the left nor
to the right, as the crowd gave way; and he supported his steps with a
staff of the knotted pine.

And when he came to the place where the chiefs were met, and the two
princes stood in the centre, he bade the people around him proclaim

Then mounting on a huge fragment of rock, he thus spake to the

"Princes, wantons and bards! ye, O council of the wise men! and ye, O
hunters of the forests, and snarers of the fishes of the streams! harken
to Morven, the son of Osslah.

"Ye know that I am lowly of race, and weak of limb; but did I not give
into your hands the tribe of Alrich, and did ye not slay them in the
dead of night with a great slaughter?

"Surely, ye must know that this of himself did not the herdsman's son;
surely he was but the agent of the bright gods that love the children of

"Three nights since, when slumber was on the earth, was not my voice
heard in the streets?

"Did I not proclaim woe to the kingly house of Oestrich? and verily the
dark arm had fallen on the bosom of the mighty, that is no more.

"Could I have dreamed this thing merely in a dream, or was I not as the
voice of the bright gods that watch over the tribes of Oestrich?

"Wherefore, O men and chiefs! scorn not the son of Osslah, but listen to
his words; for are they not the wisdom of the stars?

"Behold, last night, I sat alone in the valley, and the trees were
hushed around, and not a breath stirred; and I looked upon the star that
counsels the son of Osslah; and I said:

"'Dread conqueror of the cloud! thou that bathest thy beauty in the
streams and piercest the pine-boughs with thy presence; behold thy
servant grieved because the mighty one hath passed away, and many foes
surround the houses of my brethren; and it is well that they should have
a king valiant and prosperous in war, the cherished of the stars.

"'Wherefore, O star! as thou gavest into our hands the warriors
of Alrich, and didst warn us of the fall of the oak of our tribe,
wherefore, I pray thee, give unto the people a token that they may
choose that king whom the gods of the night prefer!'

"Then a low voice sweeter than the music of the bard, stole along the

"'Thy love for thy race is grateful to the stars of night: go then, son
of Osslah, and seek the meeting of the chiefs and the people to choose a
king, and tell them not to scorn thee because thou art slow to the chase
and little known in war; for the stars give thee wisdom as a recompense
for all.

"'Say unto the people that as the wise men of the council shape their
lessons by the flight of birds, so by the flight of birds stall a token
be given unto them, and they shall choose their kings.

"'For,' said, the star of right, 'the birds are children of the winds,
they pass to and fro along the ocean of the air, and visit the clouds
that are the warships of the gods.

"'And their music is but broken melodies which they gleam from the harps

"'Are they not the messengers of the storm?

"'Ere the stream chafes against the bank, and the rain descends, know ye
not, by the wail of birds and their low circles over the earth, that the
tempest is at hand?

"'Wherefore, wisely do ye deem that the children of the air are the fit
interpreters between the sons of men and the lords of the world above.

"'Say then to the people and the chiefs, that they shall take, from
among the doves that nest in the roof of the palace, a white dove, and
they shall let it loose in the air, and verily the gods of the night
shall deem the dove as a prayer coming from the people, and they shall
send a messenger to grant the prayer and give to the tribes of Oestrich
a king worthy of themselves.'

"With that the star spoke no more."

Then the friends of Voltoch murmured among themselves, and they said,
"Shall this man dictate to us who shall be king?"

But the people and the warriors shouted:

"Listen to the star; do we not give or deny battle according as the
bird flies--shall we not by the same token choose him by whom the battle
should be led?"

And the thing seemed natural to them, for it was after the custom of the

Then they took one of the doves that built in the roof of the palace,
and they bought it to the spot where Morven stood, and he, looking up to
the stars and muttering to himself, released the bird.

There was a copse of trees a little distance from the spot, and as the
dove ascended, a hawk suddenly rose from the copse and pursued the dove;
and the dove was terrified, and soared circling high above the crowd,
when, lo, the hawk, poising itself one moment on its wings, swooped with
a sudden swoop, and, abandoning its prey, alighted on the plumed head of

"Behold," cried Morven in a loud voice, "behold your king!"

"Hail, all hail the king!" shouted the people. "All hail the chosen of
the stars!"

Then Morven lifted his right hand, and the hawk left the prince, and
alighted on Morven's shoulder.

"Bird of the gods!" said he, reverently, "hast thou not a secret message
for my ear?" Then the hawk put its beak to Morven's ear, and Morven
bowed his head submissively; and the hawk rested with Morven from that
moment and would not be scared away.

And Morven said:

"The stars have sent me this bird, that, in the day-time, when I see
them not, we may never be without a counsellor in distress."

So Siror was made king, and Maven the son of Osslah was constrained by
the king's will to take Orna for his wife; and the people and the chiefs
honored Morven, the prophet, above all the elders of the tribe.

One day Morven said unto himself, musing, "Am I not already equal with
the king? nay, is not the king my servant? did I not place him over the
heads of his brothers? am I not, therefore, more fit to reign than he
is? shall I not push him from his seat?

"It is a troublesome and stormy office to reign over the wild men of
Oestrich, to feast in the crowded hail, and to lead die warriors to the

"Surely, if I feasted not, neither went out to war, they might say,
'This is no king, but the cripple Morven;' and some of the race of Siror
might slay me secretly.

"But can I not be greater far than kings, and continue to choose and
govern them, living as now at mine own ease?

"_Verily, the stars shall give me a new palace, and many subjects_."

Among the wise men was Darvan; and Morven feared him, for his eye often
sought the movements of the son of Osslah.

And Morven said "It were better to TRUST this man than to BLIND, for
surely I want a helpmate and a friend."

So he said to the wise man as he sat alone watching the setting sun:

"It seemeth to me, O Darvan! I that we ought to build a great pile in
honor of the stars and the pile should be more glorious than all the
palaces of the chiefs and the palaces of the king; for are not the stars
our masters?

"And thou and I should be the chief dwellers in this new palace, and we
would serve the gods of night, and fatten their altars with the choicest
of the herd, and the freshest of the fruits of the earth."

And Darvan said:

"Thou speakest as becomes the servant of the stars. But will the people
help to build the pile, for they are a war-like race and they love not

And Morven answered:

"_Doubtless the stars will ordain the work to be done. Fear not_."

"In truth thou art a wondrous man, thy words ever come to pass," answered
Darvan; "and I wish thou wouldest teach me, friend, the language of the

"Assuredly if thou servest me thou shalt know," answered the proud
Morven; and Darvan was secretly wroth that the son of the herdsman
should command the service of an elder and a chief.

And when Morven returned to his wife he found her weeping much.

Now she loved the son of Osslah with an exceeding love, for he was not
savage and fierce as the men she had known, and she was proud of his
fame among the tribe; and he took her in his arms and kissed her, and
asked her why she wept.

Then she told him that her brother, the king, had visited her and had
spoken bitter words of Morven.

"He taketh from me the affection of my people," said Siror, "and
blindeth them with lies. And since he hath made me king, what if he take
my kingdom from me? Verily, a new tale of the stars might undo the old."

And the king had ordered her to keep watch on Morven's secrecy, and to
see whether truth was in him when he boasted of his commune with the
Powers of Night.

But Orna loved Morven better than Siror, therefore she told her husband

And Morven resented the king's ingratitude, and was troubled much, for
a king is a powerful foe; but tie comforted Orna, and bade her dissemble
and complain also of him to her brother, so that he might confide to her
unsuspectingly whatsoever he might design against Morven.

There was a cave by Morven's house in which he kept the sacred hawk,
and wherein he secretly trained and nurtured other birds against future
need, and the door of the cave was always barred.

And one day he was thus engaged when he beheld a chink in the wall, that
he had never noted before, and the sun came playfully in; and while he
looked he perceived the sunbeam was darkened, and presently he saw a
human face peering in through the chink.

And Morven trembled, for he knew he had been watched.

Morven ran hastily from the cave, but the spy had disappeared among the
trees, and Morven went straight to the chamber of Darvan and sat himself

Darvan did not return home till late, and he started and turned pale
when he saw Morven.

But Morven greeted him as a brother, and bade him to a feast, which, for
the first time, he purposed giving at the full of the moon, in honor of
the stars.

And going out of Darvan's chamber, he returned to his wife, and bade her
hair, and go at the dawn of day to the king, her brother, and complain
bitterly of Morven's treatment, and pluck the black schemes from the
breast of the king. "For surely," said he, "Darvan hath lied to thy
brother, and some evil awaits me that I would fain know."

So the next morning Orna sought the king, and she said:

"The herdsman's son hath reviled me, and spoken harsh words to me; stall
I not be avenged?"

Then the king stamped his feet and shook his mighty sword.

"Surely thou shalt be avenged, for I have learned from one of the elders
that which convinceth me that the man hath lied to the people, and the
base-born shall surely die.

"Yea, the first time that he goeth alone into the forest my brother and
I will fall upon him and smite him to the death."

And with this comfort Siror dismissed Orna.

And Orna flung herself at the feet of her husband.

"Fly now, O my beloved!--fly into the forests afar from my brethren, or
surely the sword of Siror will end thy days."

Then the son of Osslab folded his arms, and seemed buried in black
thoughts; nor did he heed the voice of Orna, until again and again she
had implored him to fly.

"Fly!" he said at length. "Nay, I was doubting what punishment the stars
should pour down upon our foe. Let warriors fly. Morven, the prophet,
conquers by arms mightier than the sword."

Nevertheless Morven was perplexed in his mind, and knew not how to save
himself from the vengeance of the king.

Now, while Morven was musing hopelessly, he heard a roar of waters;
and behold the river, for it was now the end of autumn, had burst its
bounds, and was rushing along the valley to the houses of the city.

And now the men of the tribe, and the women, and the children, came
running, and with shrieks to Morven's house, crying:

"Behold the river has burst upon us!--Save us, O ruler of the stars!"

Then the sudden thought broke upon Morven and he resolved to risk his
fate upon one desperate scheme.

And he came out from the house calm and sad, and he said:

"Ye know not what ye ask; I cannot save ye from this peril: ye have
brought it on yourselves."

And they cried: "How? O son of Osslah--we are ignorant of our crime."

And he answered:

"Go down to the king's palace and wait before it, and surely I will
follow ye, and ye shall learn wherefore ye have incurred this punishment
from the gods."

Then the crowd rolled murmuring back, as a receding sea; and when it was
gone from the place, Morven went alone to the house of Darvan, which was
next his own: and Darvan was greatly terrified, for he was of a great
age, and had no children, neither friends, and he feared that he could
not of himself escape the waters.

And Morven said to him, soothingly:

"Lo, the people love me, and I will see that thou art saved for verily
thou hast been friendly to me, and done me much service with the king."

And as he thus spake, Morven opened the door of the house and looked
forth, and saw that they were quite alone; then he seized the old man by
the throat, and ceased not his grip till he was quite dead.

And leaving the body of the elder on the floor, Morven, stole from the
house and shut the gate.

And as he was going to his cave he mused a little while, when, hearing
the mighty roar of the waves advancing, and afar off the shrieks of
women, he lifted up his head, and said proudly:

"No! in this hour terror alone shall be my slave; I will use no art save
the power of my soul."

So, leaning on his pine staff, he strode down to the palace.

And it was now evening, and many of the men held torches, that they
might see each other's faces in the universal fear.

Red flashed the quivering flames on the dark robes and pale front of
Morven; and he seemed mightier than the rest, because his face alone was
calm amidst the tumult.

And louder and hoarser came the roar of the waters; and swift rusted the
shades of night over the hastening tide.

And Morven said in a stern voice:

"Where is the king; and wherefore is he absent from his people in the
hour of dread?"

Then the gate of the palace opened; and, behold Siror was sitting in the
hall by the vast pine-fire and his brother by his side, and his chiefs
around him: for they would not deign to come amongst the crowd at the
bidding of the herdsman's son.

Then Morven, standing upon a rock above the heads of the people (the
same rack whereon he had proclaimed the king), thus spake:

"Ye desired to know, O sons of Oestrich! wherefore the river hath burst
its bounds, and the peril hath come upon you.

"Learn then, that the stars resent as the foulest of human crimes an
insult to their servants and delegates below.

"Ye are all aware of the manner of life of Morven, whom ye have surnamed
the Prophet!

"He harms not man or beast; he lives alone; and, far from the wild joys
of the warrior tribe, he worships in awe and fear the Powers of Night!

"So is he able to advise ye of the coming danger--so is he able to save
ye from the foe. Thus are your huntsmen swift and your warriors bold;
and thus do your cattle bring forth their young, and the earth its

"What think ye, and what do ye ask to hear?

"Listen, men of Oestrich!--they have laid snares for my life; and there
are amongst you those who have whetted the sword against the bosom that
is only filled with love for you.

"Therefore have the stern lords of heaven loosened the chains of the
river--therefore doth this evil menace ye.

"Neither will it pass away until they who dig the pit for the servant of
the stars are buried in the same."

Then, by the red torches, the faces of the men looked fierce and
threatening; and ten thousand voices shouted forth:

"Name them who conspired against thy life, O holy prophet! and surely
they shall be torn limb from limb."

And Morven turned aside, and they saw that he wept bitterly; and he

"Ye have asked me, and I have answered: but now scarce will ye believe
the foe that I have provoked against me; and by the heavens themselves
I swear, that if my death would satisfy their fury, nor bring down
upon yourselves, and your children's children, the anger of the throned
stars, gladly would I give my bosom to the knife. Yes," he cried,
lifting up his voice, and pointing his shadowy arm towards the hall
where the king sat by the pine-fire--"yes, thou whom by my voice the
stars chose above thy brother--yes, Siror, the guilty one! take thy
sword, and come hither--strike, if thou hast the heart to strike, the
Prophet of the Gods!"

The king started to his feet, and the crowd were hushed in a shuddering

Morven resumed:

"Know then, O men of Oestrich, that Siror and Voltoch, his brother, and
Darvan, the elder of the wise men, have purposed to slay your prophet,
even at such hour as when alone he seeks the shade of the forest to
devise new benefits for you. Let the king deny it, if he can!"

Then Voltoch, of the giant limbs, strode forth from the hall, and his
spear quivered in his hand.

"Rightly hast thou spoken, base son of my father's herdsman! and for
thy sins shalt thou surely die; for thou liest when thou speakest of thy
power with the stars, and thou laughest at the folly of them who hear
thee: wherefore put him to death."

Then the chiefs in the hall clashed their arms, and rushed forth to slay
the son of Osslah.

But he, stretching his unarmed hands on high, exclaimed:

"Hear him, O dread ones of the night--hark how he blasphemeth."

Then the crowd took up the word, and cried:

"He blasphemeth--he blasphemeth against the prophet!"

But the king and the chiefs who hated Morven, because of his power with
the people, rushed into the crowd; and the crowd were irresolute, nor
knew they how to act, for never yet had they rebelled against their
chiefs, and they feared alike the prophet and the king.

And Siror cried:

"Summon Darvan to us, for he bath watched the steps of Morven, and he
shall lift the veil from my people's eyes."

Then three of the swift of foot started forth to the house of Darvan.

And Morven cried out with a loud voice:

"Hark! thus saith the star who, now riding through yonder cloud breaks
forth upon my eyes--'For the lie that the elder hath uttered against my
servant, the curse of the stars shall fall upon him.' Seek, and as ye
find him, so may ye find ever the foes of Morven and the gods."

A chill and an icy fear fell over the crowd, and even the cheek of Siror
grew pale; and Morven, erect and dark above the waving torches, stood
motionless with folded arms.

And hark--far and fast came on the war-steeds of the wave--the people
heard them marching to the land, and tossing their white manes in the
roaring wind.

"Lo, as ye listen," said Morven, calmly, "the river sweeps on. Haste,
for the gods will have a victim, be it your prophet or your king."

"Slave!" shouted Siror, and his spear left his hand, and far above the
heads of the crowd sped hissing beside the dark form of Morven, and rent
the trunk of the oak behind.

Then the people, wroth at the danger of their beloved seer, uttered a
wild yell, and gathered round him with brandished swords, facing their
chieftains and their king.

But at that instant, ere the war had broken forth among the tribe, the
three warriors returned, and they bore Darvan on their shoulders, and
laid him at the feet of the king, and they said tremblingly:

"Thus found we the elder in the centre of his own hall."

And the people saw that Darvan was a corpse, and that the prediction of
Morven was thus verified.

"So perish the enemies of Morven and the Stars!" cried the son of
Osslah. And the people echoed the cry.

Then the fury of Siror was at its height, and waving his sword above his
head, he plunged into the crowd:

"Thy blood, base-born, or mine."

"So be it!" answered Morven, quailing not. "People, smite the
blasphemer. Hark how the river pours down upon your children and your
hearths. On, on, or ye perish!"

And Siror fell, pierced by five hundred spears.

"Smite! smite!" cried Morven, as the chiefs of the royal house gathered
round the king.

And the clash of swords, and the gleam of spears, and the cries of the
dying, and the yell of the trampling people, mingled with the roar of
the elements, and the voices of the rushing wave.

Three hundred of the chiefs perished that night by the swords of
their own tribe. And the last cry of the victors was, "_Morven the
prophet_--MORVEN THE KING!"

And the son of Osslah, seeing the waves now spreading over the valley,
led Orna his wife, and the men of Oestrich, their women and their
children, to a high mount, where they waited the dawning sun.

But Orna sat apart and wept bitterly, for her brothers were no more, and
her race had perished from the earth.

And Morven sought to comfort her in vain.

When the morning rose, they saw that the river had overspread the
greater part of the city, and now stayed its course among the hollows of
the vale.

Then Morven said to the people: "The star kings are avenged, and their
wrath appeased. Tarry only here until the water have melted into the
crevices of the soil."

And on the fourth day they returned to the city, and no man dared to
name another, save Morven, as the king.

But Morven retired into his cave and mused deeply; and then assembling
the people, he gave them new laws; and he made them build a mighty
temple in honor of the stars, and made them heap within it all that the
tribe held most precious.

And he took unto him fifty children from the most famous of the tribe;
and he took also ten from among the men who had served him best, and
he ordained that they should serve the stars in the great temple: and
Morven was their chief.

And he put away the crown they pressed upon him, and he chose from among
the elders a new king.

And he ordained that henceforth the servants only of the stars in the
great temple should elect the king and the rulers, and hold council,
and proclaim war: but he suffered the king to feast, and to hunt, and to
make merry in the banquet halls.

And Morven built altars in the temple, and was the first who, in the
North, _sacrificed the beast and the bird, and afterwards human flesh_,
upon the altars.

And he drew auguries from the entrails of the victim, and made schools
for the science of the prophet; and Morven's piety was the wonder of the
tribe, in that he refused to be a king.

And Morven, the high-priest, was _ten thousand times mightier than the

He taught the people to till the ground, and to sow the herb; and by
his wisdom, and the valor that his prophecies instilled into men, he
conquered all the neighboring tribes.

And the sons of Oestrich spread themselves over a mighty empire, and
with them spread the name and the laws of Morven.

And in every province which he conquered, he ordered them to build a
temple to the stars.

But a heavy sorrow fell upon the years of Morven.

The sister of Siror bowed down her head and survived not long the
slaughter of her race.

And she left Morven childless.

And he mourned bitterly and as one distraught, for her only in the world
had his heart the power to love.

And he sat down and covered his face, saying:

"Lo: I have conquered and travailed; and never before in the world did
man conquer what I have conquered.

"Verily, the empire of the iron thews and the giant limbs is no more;
I have found a new power, that henceforth shall sway the lands;--_the
empire of plotting brain and a commanding mind_.

"But, behold, my fate is barren, and I feel already that it will grow
neither fruit nor tree as a shelter to mine old age.

"Desolate and lonely shall I pass away unto my grave.

"O Orna! my beautiful! my loved! none were like unto thee, and to thy
love do I owe my glory and my life.

"Would for thy sake, O sweet bird! that nestled in the dark cavern of my
heart--would for thy sake that thy brethren had been spared, for verily
with my life would I have purchased thine.

"Alas! only when I lost thee did I find that thy love was dearer to me
than the fear of others."

And Morven mourned night and day, and none might comfort him.

But from that time forth he gave himself solely to the cares of his
calling; and his nature and his affections, and whatever there was left
soft in him, grew hard like stone; and he was a man without love, _and
he forbade love and marriage to the priest_.

Now, in his latter years, there arose OTHER prophets; for the world had
grown wiser even by Morven's wisdom, and some did say unto themselves:

"Behold Morven, the herdsman's son, is a king of kings: this did the
stars for their servant; shall we not, therefore, be also servants to
the star?"

And they wore black garments like Morven, and went about prophesying of
what the stars foretold them.

And Morven was exceeding wroth; for he, more than other men, knew
that the prophets lied; wherefore he went forth against them with the
ministers of the temple, and he took them and burned them by a slow
fire: for thus said Morven to the people:

"_A true prophet hath honor, but I only am a true prophet!_"

"To all false prophets there shall be surely death."

And the people applauded the piety of the son of Osslah.

And Morven educated the wisest of the children in the mysteries of the
temple, so that they grew up to succeed him worthily.

And he died full of years and honor; and they carved his effigy on a
mighty stone before the temple, and the effigy endured for a thousand
ages, and whoso looked on it trembled; for the face was calm with the
calmness of unspeakable awe!

And Morven was the first mortal of the North that made _Religion the
stepping stone to Power_.

Of a surety Morven was a great man!


It was the last night of the old year, and the stars sat, each upon his
ruby throne, and watched with sleepless eyes upon the world. The
night was dark and troubled, the dread winds were abroad, and fast and
frequent hurried the clouds beneath the thrones of the kings of night.
But ever and anon fiery meteors flashed along the depths of heaven, and
were again swallowed up in the graves of darkness.

And far below his brethren, and with a lurid haze around his orb, sat
the discontented star that had watched over the hunters of the North.
And on the lowest abyss of space there was spread a thick and mighty
gloom, from which, as from a caldron, rose columns of wreathing smoke;
and still, when the great winds rested for an instant on their paths,
voices of woe and laughter, mingled with shrieks, were heard booming
from the abyss to the upper air.

And now, in the middest night, a vast figure rose slowly from the abyss,
and its wings threw blackness over the world. High upward to the throne
of the discontented star sailed the fearful shape, and the star trembled
on his throne when the form stood before him face to face. And the shape
said: "Hail, brother!--all hail!"

"I know thee not," answered the star: "thou art not the archangel that
visitests the kings of night."

And the shape laughed loud. "I am the fallen star of the morning.--I am
Lucifer, thy brother. Hast thou not, O sullen king, served me and mine?
and hast thou not wrested the earth from thy Lord who sittest above
and given it to me by _darkening the souls of men with the religion
of fear?_ Wherefore come, brother, come;--thou hast a throne prepared
beside my own in the fiery gloom. Come.--The heavens are no more for
thee." Then the star rose from his throne, and descended to the side of
Lucifer. For ever hath the spirit of discontent had sympathy with the
soul of pride.

And slowly they sank down to the gulf of gloom. It was the first night
of the new year, and the stars sat each on his ruby throne, and watched
with sleepless eyes upon the world. But sorrow dimmed the bright faces
of the kings of night, for they mourned in silence and in fear for a
fallen brother.

And the gates of the heaven of heavens flew open with a golden sound,
and the swift archangel fled down on his silent wings; and the archangel
gave to each of the stars, as before, the message of his Lord; and to
each star was his appointed charge.

And when the heraldry seemed done, there came a laugh from the abyss of
gloom, and half way from the gulf rose the lurid shape of Lucifer, the

"Thou countest thy flock ill, O radiant shepherd. Behold! one star is
missing from the three thousand and ten."

"Back to thy gulf, false Lucifer!--the throne of thy brother hath been

And lo! as the archangel spake, the stars beheld a young and all
lustrous stranger on the throne of the erring star; and his face was so
soft to look upon, that the dimmest of human eyes might have gazed upon
its splendor unabashed; but the dark fiend alone was dazzled by its
lustre, and, with a yell that shook the flaming pillars of the universe,
he plunged backwards into the gloom.

Then, far and sweet from the arch unseen, came forth the voice of God:

"Behold! _on the throne of the discontented star sits the star of hope;
and he that breathed into mankind the Religion of Fear hath a successor
in him who shall teach earth the Religion of Love._"

And evermore the Star of Fear dwells with Lucifer, and the Star of Love
keeps vigil in heaven.


By Lord Brougham


The question which has more than, any other harassed metaphysical
reasoners, but especially theologians, and upon which it is probable
that no very satisfactory conclusion will ever be reached by the human
faculties, is the Origin and Sufferance of Evil.

Its existence being always assumed, philosophers have formed various
theories for explaining it, but they have always drawn very different
inferences from it.

The ancient Epicureans argued against the existence of the Deity,
because they held that the existence of Evil either proved him to be
limited in power or of a malignant nature; either of which imperfections
is inconsistent with the first notions of a divine being.

In this kind of reasoning they have been followed both by the atheists
and sceptics of later times.

Bayle regarded the subject of evil as one of the great arsenals from
whence his weapons were to be chiefly drawn. None of the articles in his
famous Dictionary are more labored than those in which he treats of
this subject. _Monichian_, and still more _Paulician_, almost assume the
appearance of formal treatises upon the question; and both _Marchionite_
and _Zoroaster_ treat of the same subject. All these articles are of
considerable value; they contain the greater part of the learning upon
the question; and they are distinguished by the acuteness of reasoning
which was the other characteristic of their celebrated author.

Those ancient philosophers who did not agree with Epicurus in arguing
from the existence of evil against the existence of a providence that
superintended and influenced the destinies of the world, were put to no
little difficulty in accounting for the fact which they did not deny,
and yet maintaining the power of a divine ruler. The doctrine of a
double principle, or of two divine beings of opposite natures, one
beneficent, the other mischievous, was the solution which one class of
reasoners deemed satisfactory, and to which they held themselves driven
by the phenomena of the universe.

Others unable to deny, the existence of things which men denominate
evil, both physical and moral, explain them in a different way. They
maintained that physical evil only obtains the name from our imperfect
and vicious or feeble dispositions; that to a wise man there is no such
thing; that we may rise superior to all such groveling notions as make
us dread or repine at any events which can befall the body; that pain,
sickness, loss of fortune or of reputation, exile, death itself, are
only accounted ills by a weak and pampered mind; that if we find the
world tiresome, or woeful, or displeasing, we may at any moment quit
it; and that therefore we have no right whatever to call any suffering
connected with existence on earth an evil, because almost all sufferings
can be borne by a patient and firm mind; since if the situation we are
placed in becomes either intolerable, or upon the whole more painful
than agreeable, it is our own fault that we remain in it.

But these philosophers took a further view of the question which
especially applied to moral evil. They considered that nothing could be
more groundless than to suppose that if there were no evil there could
be any good in the world; and they illustrated this position by asking
how we could know anything of temperance, fortitude or justice, unless
there were such things as excess, cowardice and injustice.

These were the doctrines of the Stoics, from whose sublime and
impracticable philosophy they seemed naturally enough to flow. Aulus
Gellius relates that the last-mentioned argument was expounded by
Chrysippus, in his work upon providence. The answer given by Plutarch
seems quite sufficient: "As well might you say that Achilles could not
have a fine head of hair unless Thersites had been bald; or that one
man's limbs could not be all sound if another had not the gout."

In truth, the Stoical doctrine proceeds upon the assumption that all
virtue is only the negative of vice; and is as absurd, if indeed it
be not the very same absurdity, as the doctrine which should deny the
existence of affirmative or positive truths, resolving them all into the
opposite of negative propositions. Indeed, if we even were to admit this
as an abstract position, the actual existence of evil would still be
unnecessary to the idea, and still more to the existence, of good. For
the conception of evil, the bare idea of its possibility, would be quite
sufficient, and there would be no occasion for a single example of it.

The other doctrine, that of two opposite principles, was embraced by
most of the other sects, as it should seem, at some period or other
of their inquiries. Plato himself, in his later works, was clearly
a supporter of the system; for he held that there were at least two
principles, a good and an evil; to which he added a third, the moderator
or mediator between them.

Whether this doctrine was, like many others, imported into Greece from
the East, or was the natural growth of the schools, we cannot ascertain.
Certain it is that the Greeks themselves believed it to have been taught
by Zoroaster in Asia, at least five centuries before the Trojan war; so
that it had an existence there long before the name of philosophy was
known in the western world.

Zoroaster's doctrine agreed in every respect with Plato's; for besides
Oomazes, the good, and Arimanius, the evil principle, he taught that
there was a third, or mediatory one, called Mithras. That it never
became any part of the popular belief in Greece or Italy is quite clear.
All the polytheism of those countries recognized each of the gods
as authors alike of good and evil. Nor did even the chief of the
divinities, under whose power the rest were placed, offer any exception
to the general rule; for Jupiter not only gave good from one urn and ill
from another, but he was also, according to the barbarous mythology of
classical antiquity, himself a model at once of human perfections and of
human vices.

After the light of the Christian religion had made some way toward
supplanting the ancient polytheism, the doctrine of two principles was
broached; first by Marcion, who lived in the time of Adrian and Antonius
Pius, early in the second century; and next by Manes, a hundred years
later. He was a Persian slave, who was brought into Greece, where he
taught this doctrine, since known by his name, having learned it, as is
said, from Scythianus, an Arabian. The Manichean doctrines, afterwards
called also Paulician, from a great teacher of them in the seventh
century, were like almost all the heresies in the primitive church, soon
mixed up with gross impurities of sacred rites as well as extravagant
absurdities of creed.

The Manicheans were, probably as much on this account as from the spirit
of religious intolerance, early the objects of severe persecution; and
the Code of Justinian itself denounces capital punishment against any of
the sect, if found within the Roman dominions.

It must be confessed that the theory of two principles, when kept free
from the absurdities and impurities which were introduced into the
Manichean doctrine, is not unnaturally adopted by men who have no
aid from the light of revelation,[1] and who are confounded by the
appearance of a world where evil and good are mixed together, or seem to
struggle with one another, sometimes the one prevailing, and sometimes
the other; and accordingly, in all countries, in the most barbarous
nations, as well as among the most refined, we find plain traces of
reflecting men having been driven to this solution of the difficulty.

It seems upon a superficial view to be very easily deducible from
the phenomena; and as the idea of infinite power, with which it is
manifestly inconsistent, does by no means so naturally present itself to
the mind, as long as only a very great degree of power, a power which in
comparison of all human force may be termed infinite, is the attribute
with which the Deity is believed to be endued. Manichean hypothesis is
by no means so easily refuted. That the power of the Deity was supposed
to have limits even in the systems of the most enlightened heathens is
unquestionable. They, generally speaking, believed in the eternity
of matter, and conceived some of its qualities to be so essentially
necessary to its existence that no divine agency could alter them.
They ascribed to the Deity a plastic power, a power not of creating or
annihilating, but only of moulding, disposing and moving matter. So over
mind they generally give him the like power, considering it as a kind
of emanation from his own greater mind or essence, and destined to be
re-united with him hereafter. Nay, over all the gods, and of superior
potency to any, they conceived fate to preside; an overruling and
paramount necessity, of which they formed some dark conceptions, and to
which the chief of all the gods was supposed to submit. It is, indeed,
extremely difficult to state precisely what the philosophic theory of
theology was in Greece and Rome, because the wide difference between the
esoteric and exoteric doctrines, between the belief of the learned
few and the popular superstition, makes it very difficult to avoid
confounding the two, and lending to the former some of the grosser
errors with which the latter abounded. Nevertheless, we may rely upon
what has been just stated, as conveying, generally speaking, the opinion
of philosophers, although some sects certainly had a still more scanty
measure of belief.

But we shall presently find that in the speculation of the much more
enlightened moderns, Christians of course, errors of a like kind are
to be traced. They constantly argue the great question of evil upon a
latent assumption, that the power of the Deity is restricted by some
powers or qualities inherent in matter; notions analogous to that of
faith are occasionally perceptible; not stated or expanded indeed into
propositions, but influencing the course of the reasoning; while the
belief of infinite attributes is never kept steadily in view, except
when it is called in as requisite to refute the Manichean doctrines.
Some observers of the controversy have indeed not scrupled to affirm
that those of whom we speak are really Manicheans without knowing it;
and build their systems upon assumptions secretly borrowed from the
disciples of Zoroaster, without ever stating those assumptions openly in
the form of postulates or definition.

The refutation of the Manichean hypothesis is extremely easy if we
be permitted to assume that both the principles which it supposes are
either of infinite power or of equal power. If they are of infinite
power, the supposition of their co-existence involves a contradiction in
terms; for the one being in opposition to the other, the power of each
must be something taken from that of the other; consequently neither
can be of infinite power. If, again, we only suppose both to be of equal
power, and always acting against each other, there could be nothing
whatever done, neither good or evil; the universe would be at a
standstill; or rather no act of creation could ever have been performed,
and no existence could be conceived beyond that of the two antagonistic

Archbishop Tillotson's argument, properly speaking, amounts to this
last proposition, and is applicable to equal and opposite principles,
although he applies it to two beings, both infinitely powerful and
counteracting one another. When he says they would tie up each other's
bands, he might apply this argument to such antagonistic principles if
only equal, although not infinitely powerful. The hypothesis of their
being both infinitely powerful needs no such refutation; it is a
contradiction in terms. But it must be recollected that the advocates of
the Manichean doctrine endeavor to guard themselves against the attack
by contending, that the conflict between the two principles ends in a
kind of compromise, so that neither has it all his own way; there is a
mixture of evil admitted by the good principle, because else the whole
would beat a standstill; while there is much good admitted by the evil
principle, else nothing, either good or evil, would be done. Another
answer is therefore required to this theory than what Tillotson and his
followers have given.

_First_, we must observe that this reasoning of the Manicheans proceeds
upon the analogy of what we see in mortal contentions; where neither
party having the power to defeat the other, each is content to yield
a little to his adversary, and so, by mutual concession, both are
successful to some extent, and both to some extent disappointed. But in
a speculation concerning the nature of the Deity, there seems no place
for such notions.

_Secondly_, the equality of power is not an arbitrary assumption; it
seems to follow from the existence of the two opposing principles. For
if they are independent of one another as to existence, which they must
needs be, else one would immediately destroy the other, so must they
also, in each particular instance, be independent of each other, and
also equal each to the other, else one would have the mastery, and
the influence of the other could not be perceived. To say that in some
things the good principle prevails and in others the evil, is really
saying nothing more than that good exists here and evil there. It
does not further the argument one step, nor give anything like an
explanation. For it must always be borne in mind that the whole question
respecting the Origin of Evil proceeds upon the assumption of a wise,
benevolent and powerful Being having created the world. The difficulty,
and the only difficulty, is, how to reconcile existing evil with such
a Being's attributes; and if the Manichean only explains this by saying
the good Being did what is good, and another and evil Being did what is
bad in the universe, he really tells us nothing more than the fact; he
does not apply his explanation to the difficulty; and he supposes the
existence of a second Deity gratuitously and to no kind of purpose.

But, _thirdly_, in whatever light we view the hypothesis, it seems
exposed to a similar objection, namely, of explaining nothing in its
application, while it is wholly gratuitous in itself. It assumes, of
course, that creation was the act of the good Being; and it also assumes
that Being's goodness to have been perfect, though his power is limited.
Then as he must have known the existence of the evil principle and
foreseen the certainty of misery being occasioned by his existence, why
did he voluntarily create sentient beings, to put them, in some respects
at least, under the evil one's power, and thus be exposed to suffering?
The good Being, according to this theory, is the remote cause of the
evil which is endured, because but for his act of creation the evil
Being could have had, no subjects whereon to work mischief; so that
the hypothesis wholly fails in removing, by more than one step, the
difficulty which it was invented to solve.

_Fourthly_, there is no advantage gained to the argument by supposing
two Beings, rather than one Being of a mixed nature. The facts lead
to this supposition just as naturally as to the hypothesis of two
principles. The existence of the evil Being is as much a detraction from
the power of the good one, as if we only at once suppose the latter to
be of limited power, and that he prefers making and supporting creatures
who suffer much less than they enjoy, to making no creatures at all. The
supposition that he made them as happy as he could, and that not being
able to make them less miserable, he yet perceived that upon the whole
their existence would occasion more happiness than if they never had
any being at all, will just account for the phenomena as well as
the Manichean theory, and will as little as that theory assume any
malevolence in the power which created and preserved the universe. If,
however, it be objected that this hypothesis leaves unexplained the
fetters upon the good Being's power, the answer is obvious; it leaves
those fetters not at all less explained than the Manichean theory does;
for that theory gives no explanation of the existence of a counteracting
principle, and it assumes both an antagonistic power, to limit the
Deity's power, and a malevolent principle to set the antagonistic power
in motion; whereas our supposition assumes no malevolence at all, but
only a restraint upon the divine power.

_Fifthly_, this leads us to another and most formidable objection.
To conceive the eternal existence of one Being infinite in power,
"self-created and creating all others," is by no means impossible.
Indeed, as everything must have had a cause, nothing we see being
by possibility self-created, we naturally mount from particulars to
generals, until finally we rise to the idea of a first cause, uncreated,
and self-existing, and eternal. If the phenomena compels us to affix
limits to his goodness, we find it impossible to conceive limits to
the power of a creative, eternal, self-existing principle. But even
supposing we could form the conception of such a Being having his power
limited as well as his goodness, still we can conceive no second Being
independent of him. This would necessarily lead to the supposition
of some third Being, above and antecedent to both, and the creator of
both--the real first cause--and then the whole question would be to
solve over again,--Why these two antagonistic Beings were suffered to
exist by the great Being of all?

The Manichean doctrine, then, is exposed to every objection to which
a theory can be obnoxious. It is gratuitous; it is inapplicable to the
facts; it supposes more causes than are necessary; it fails to explain
the phenomena, leaving the difficulties exactly where it found them.
Nevertheless, such is the theory, how easily soever refuted when openly
avowed and explicitly stated, which in various disguises appears to
pervade the explanations, given of the facts by most of the other
systems; nay, to form, secretly and unacknowledged, their principal
ground-work. For it really makes very little difference in the matter
whether we are to account for evil by holding that the Deity has created
as much happiness as was consistent with "the nature of things," and
has taken every means of avoiding all evil except "where it necessarily
existed" or at once give those limiting influences a separate and
independent existence, and call them by a name of their own, which is
the Manichean hypothesis.

The most remarkable argument on this subject, and the most distinguished
both for its clear and well ordered statement, and for the systematic
shape which it assumes, is that of Archbishop King. It is the great
text-book of those who study this subject; and like the famous legal
work of Littleton, it has found an expounder yet abler and more learned
than the author himself. Bishop Law's commentary is full of information,
of reasoning and of explication; nor can we easily find anything
valuable upon the subject which is not contained in the volumes of
that work. It will, however, only require a slight examination of the
doctrines maintained by these learned and pious men, to satisfy us that
they all along either assume the thing to be proved, or proceed
upon suppositions quite inconsistent with the infinite power of the
Deity--the only position which raises a question, and which makes the
difficulty that requires to be solved.

According to all the systems as well as this one, evil is of two
kinds--physical and moral. To the former class belong all the sufferings
to which sentient beings are exposed from the qualities and affections
of matter independent of their own acts; the latter class consists of
the sufferings of whatever kind which arise from their own conduct. This
division of the subject, however, is liable to one serious objection;
it comprehends under the second head a class of evils which ought more
properly to be ranged under the first. Nor is this a mere question of
classification: it affects the whole scope of the argument. The second
of the above-mentioned classes comprehends both the physical evils which
human agency causes, but which it would have no power to cause unless
the qualities of matter were such as to produce pain, privation and
death; and also the moral evil of guilt which may possibly exist
independent of material agency, but which, whether independent or not
upon that physical action, is quite separable from it, residing wholly
in the mind. Thus a person who destroys the life of another produces
physical evil by means of the constitution of matter, and moral evil
is the source of his wicked action. The true arrangement then is this:
Physical evil is that which depends on the constitution of matter,
or only is so far connected with the constitution of mind as that the
nature and existence of a sentient being must be assumed in order to its
mischief being felt. And this physical evil is of two kinds; that which
originates in human action, and that which is independent of human
action, befalling us from the unalterable course of nature. Of the
former class are the pains, privations and destruction inflicted by men
one upon another; of the latter class are diseases, old age and death.
Moral evil consists in the crimes, whether of commission or omission,
which men are guilty of--including under the latter head those
sufferings which we endure from ill-regulated minds through want of
fortitude or self-control. It is clear that as far as the question
of the origin of evil is concerned, the first of these two classes,
physical evil, depends upon the properties of matter, and the last
upon those of mind. The second as well as the first subdivision of the
physical class depends upon matter; because, however ill-disposed the
agent's mind may be, he could inflict the mischief only in consequence
of the constitution of matter. Therefore, the Being, who created matter
enabled him to perpetrate the evil, even admitting that this Being did
not, by creating the mind also give rise to the evil disposition; and
admitting that, as far as regards this disposition it has the same
origin with the evil of the second class, or moral evil, the acts of a
rational agent.

It is quite true that many reasoners refuse to allow any distinction
between the evil produced by natural causes and the evils caused by
rational agents, whether as regards their own guilt, or the mischief it
caused to others. Those reasoners deny that the creation of man's will
and the endowing it with liberty explains anything; they hold that the
creation of a mind whose will is to do evil, amounts to the same thing,
and belongs to the same class, with the creation of matter whose nature
is to give pain and misery. But this position, which involves
the doctrine of necessity, must, at the very least, admit of one
modification. Where no human agency whatever is interposed, and the
calamity comes without any one being to blame for it, the mischief seems
a step, and a large step, nearer the creative or the superintending
cause, because it is, as far as men go, altogether inevitable. The main
tendency of the argument, therefore, is confined to physical evil; and
this has always been found the most difficult to account for, that is to
reconcile with the government of a perfectly good and powerful Being.
It would indeed be very easily explained, and the reconcilement would be
readily made, if we were at liberty to suppose matter independent in
its existence, and in certain qualities, of the divine control; but this
would be to suppose the Deity's power limited and imperfect, which is
just one horn of the Epicurean dilemma, _"Aut vult et non potest;"_ and
in assuming this, we do not so much beg the question as wholly give it
up and admit we cannot solve the difficulty. Yet obvious as this is, we
shall presently see that the reasoners who have undertaken the solution,
and especially King and Law, under such phrases as "the nature of
things," and "the laws of the material universe," have been constantly,
through the whole argument, guilty of this _petitio principii_ (begging
the question), or rather this abandonment of the whole question, and
never more so than at the very moment when they complacently plumed
themselves upon having overcome the difficulty.

Having premised these observations for the purpose of clearing the
ground and avoiding confusion in the argument, we may now consider that
Archbishop King's theory is in both its parts; for there are in truth
two distinct explanations, the one resembling an argument _a priori_,
the other an argument _a posteriori_. It is, however, not a little
remarkable that Bishop Law, in the admirable abstract or analysis which
he gives of the Archbishop's treatise at the end of his preface, begins
with the second branch, omitting all mention of the first, as if he
considered it to be merely introductory matter; and yet his fourteenth
note (t. cap. I s. 3.) shows that he was aware of its being an argument
wholly independent of the rest of the reasonings; for he there says
that the author had given one demonstration _a priori_, and that no
difficulties raised by an examination of the phenomena, no objection _a
posteriori_, ought to overrule it, unless these difficulties are equally
certain and clear with the demonstration, and admit of no solution
consistent with that demonstration.

The necessity of a first cause being shown, and it being evident that
therefore this cause is uncreated and self-existent, and independent of
any other, the conclusion is next drawn that its power must be infinite.
This is shown by the consideration that there is no other antecedent
cause, and no other principle which was not created by the first cause,
and consequently which was not of inferior power; therefore, there is
nothing which can limit the power of the first cause; and there being no
limiter or restrainer, there can be no limitation or restriction.

Again, the infinity of the Deity's power is attempted to be proved in
another way.

The number of possible things is infinite; but every possibility implies
a power to do the possible thing; and as one possible thing implies
a power to do it, an infinite number of possible things implies an
infinite power. Or as Descartes and his followers put it, we can have no
idea of anything that has not either an actual or a possible existence;
but we have an idea of a Being of infinite perfection; therefore,
he must actually exist; for otherwise there would be one perfection
wanting, and so he would not be infinite, which he either is actually
or possibly. It is needless to remark that this whole argument, whatever
may be said of the former one, is a pure fallacy, and a _petitio
principii_ throughout. The Cartesian form of it is the most glaringly
fallacious, and indeed exposes itself; for by that reasoning we might
prove the existence of a fiery dragon or any other phantom of the brain.
But even King's more concealed sophism is equally absurd. What ground
is there for saying that the number of possible things is infinite? He
adds, "at least in power," which means either nothing or only that we
have the power of conceiving an infinite number of possibilities. But
because we can conceive or fancy an infinity of possibilities, does it
follow that there actually exists this infinity? The whole argument is
unworthy of a moment's consideration. The other is more plausible,
that restriction implies a restraining power. But even this is not
satisfactory when closely examined. For although the first cause must
be self-existent and of eternal duration, we only are driven by the
necessity of supposing a cause whereon all the argument rests, to
suppose one capable of causing all that actually exists; and, therefore,
to extend this inference and suppose that the cause is of infinite power
seems gratuitous. Nor is it necessary to suppose another power limiting
its efficacy, if we do not find it necessary to suppose its own
constitution and essence such as we term infinitely powerful. However,
after noticing this manifest defect in the fundamental part of the
argument, that which infers infinite power, let us for the present
assume the position to be proved either by these or by any other
reasons, and see if the structure raised upon it is such as can stand
the test of examination.

Thus, then, an infinitely powerful Being exists, and he was the creator
of the universe; but to incline him towards the creation there could be
no possible motive of happiness to himself, and he must, says King, have
either sought his own happiness or that of the universe which he made.
Therefore his own ideas must have been the communication of happiness to
the creature. He could only desire to exercise his attributes without,
or eternally to himself, which before creating other beings he could not
do. But this could only gratify his nature, which wants nothing, being
perfect in itself, by communicating his goodness and providing for the
happiness of other sentient beings created by him for this purpose.
Therefore, says King, "it manifestly follows that the world is as
well as it could be made by infinite power and goodness; for since the
exercise of the divine power and the communication of his goodness are
the ends, for which the world is formed, there is no doubt but God
has attained these ends." And again, "If then anything inconvenient or
incommodious be now, or was from the beginning in it, that certainly
could not be hindered or removed even by infinite power, wisdom and

Now certainly no one can deny, that if God be infinitely powerful and
also infinitely good, it must follow that whatever looks like evil,
either is not really evil, or that it is such as infinite power could
not avoid. This is implied in the very terms of the hypothesis. It may
also be admitted that if the Deity's only object in his dispensation be
the happiness of his creatures, the same conclusion follows even without
assuming his nature to be infinitely good; for we admit what, for the
purpose of the argument, is the same thing, namely, that there entered
no evil into his design in creating or maintaining the universe. But
all this really assumes the very thing to be proved. King gets over the
difficulty and reaches his conclusion by saying, "The Deity could
have only one of two objects--his own happiness or that of his
creatures."--The skeptic makes answer, "He might have another object,
namely, the misery of his creatures;" and then the whole question is,
whether or not he had this other object; or, which is the same thing,
whether or not his nature is perfectly good. It must never be forgotten
that unless evil exists there is nothing to dispute about--the question
falls. The whole difficulty arises from the admission that evil exists,
or what we call evil, exists. From this we inquire whether or not the
author of it can be perfectly benevolent? or if he be, with what view he
has created it? This assumes him to be infinitely powerful, or at
least powerful enough to have prevented the evil; but indeed we are now
arguing with the Archbishop on the supposition that he has proved the
Deity to be of infinite power. The skeptic rests upon his dilemma, and
either alternative, limited power or limited goodness, satisfies him.

It is quite plain, therefore, that King has assumed the thing to be
proved in his first argument, or argument _a priori_. For he proceeds
upon the postulates that the Deity is infinitely good, and that he only
had human happiness in view when he made the world. Either supposition
would have served his purpose; and making either would have been taking
for granted the whole matter in dispute. But he has assumed both; and
it must be added, he has made his assumption of both as if he was only
laying down a single position. This part of the work is certainly more
slovenly than the rest. It is the third section of the first chapter.

It is certainly not from any reluctance to admit the existence of evil
that the learned author and his able commentator have been led into this
inconclusive course of reasoning. We shall nowhere find more striking
expositions of the state of things in this respect, nor more gloomy
descriptions of our condition, than in their celebrated work. "Whence
so many, inaccuracies," says the Archbishop, "in the work of a most good
and powerful God? Whence that perpetual war between the very elements,
between animals, between men? Whence errors, miseries and vices, the
constant companions of human life from its infancy? Whence good to evil
men, evil to the good? If we behold anything irregular in the work
of men, if any machine serves not the end it was made for, if we find
something in it repugnant to itself or others, we attribute that to
the ignorance, impatience or malice of the workman. But since these
qualities have no place in God, how come they to have place in anything?
Or why does God suffer his works to be deformed by them?"--Chap. ii. s.
3. Bishop Law, in his admirable preface, still more cogently puts the
case: "When I inquire how I got into the world, and came to be what
I am, I am told that an absolutely perfect being produced me out of
nothing, and placed me here on purpose to communicate some part of his
happiness to me, and to make me in some manner like himself. This end is
not obtained--the direct contrary appears--I find myself surrounded with
nothing but perplexity, want and misery--by whose fault I know not--how
to better myself I cannot tell. What notions of good and goodness can
this afford me? What ideas of religion? What hopes of a future state?
For if God's aim in producing me be entirely unknown, if it be either
his glory (as some will have it), which my present state is far from
advancing, nor mine own good, which the same is equally inconsistent
with, how know I what I have to do here, or indeed in what manner I must
endeavor to please him? Or why should I endeavor it at all? For if I
must be miserable in this world, what security have I that I shall not
be so in another too (if there be one), since if it were the will of
my Almighty Creator, I might (for aught I see) have been happy in
both."--Pref. viii. The question thus is stated. The difficulty is
raised in its full and formidable magnitude by both these learned and
able men; that they have signally failed to lay it by the argument _a
priori_ is plain. Indeed, it seems wholly impossible ever to answer by
an argument _a priori_ any objection whatever which arises altogether
out of the facts made known to us by experience alone, and which are
therefore in the nature of contingent truths, resting upon contingent
evidence, while all demonstrations _a priori_ must necessarily proceed
upon mathematical truths. Let us now see if their labors have been more
successful in applying to the solution of the difficulty the reasoning
_a posteriori._

Archbishop King divides evil into three kinds--imperfection, natural
evil and moral evil--including under the last head all the physical
evils that arise from human actions, as well as the evils which consists
in the guilt of those actions.

The existence of imperfection is stated to be necessary, because
everything which is created and not self-existent must be imperfect;
consequently every work of the Deity, in other words, everything but
the Deity himself, must have imperfection in its nature. Nor is the
existence of some beings which are imperfect any interference with
the attributes of others. Nor the existence of beings with many
imperfections any interference with others having pre-eminence. The
goodness of the Deity therefore is not impugned by the existence of
various orders of created beings more or less approaching to perfection.
His creating none at all would have left the universe less admirable and
containing less happiness than it now does. Therefore, the act of mere
benevolence which called those various orders into existence is not
impeached in respect of goodness any more than of power by the variety
of the attributes possessed by the different beings created.

He now proceeds to grapple with the real difficulty of the question. And
it is truly astonishing to find this acute metaphysician begin with an
assumption which entirely begs that question. As imperfection, says he,
arises from created beings having been made out of nothing, so natural
evils arise "from all natural things having a relation to matter, and
on this account being necessarily subject to natural evil." As long as
matter is subject to motion, it must be the subject of generation and
corruption. "These and all other natural evils," says the author, "are
so necessarily connected with the material origin of things that they
cannot be separated from it, and thus the structure of the world either
ought not to have been formed at all, or these evils must have been
tolerated without any imputation on the divine power and goodness."
Again, he says, "corruption could not be avoided without violence done
to the laws of motion and the nature of matter." Again, "All manner
of inconveniences could not be avoided because of the imperfection of
matter and the nature of motion. That state of things were therefore
preferable which was attained with the fewest and the least
inconveniences." Then follows a kind of menace, "And who but a very
rash, indiscreet person will affirm that God has not made choice of
this?"--when every one must perceive that the bare propounding of the
question concerning evil calls upon us to exercise this temerity and
commit this indiscretion.--Chap. iv. s. I, div. 7. He then goes into
more detail as to particular cases of natural evil; but all are handled
in the same way. Thus death is explained by saying that the bodies of
animals are a kind of vessels which contain fluids in motion, and being
broken, the fluids are spilt and the motions cease; "because by the
native imperfection of matter it is capable of dissolution, and the
spilling and stagnation must necessarily follow, and with it animal life
must cease."--Chap. iv. s. 3. Disease is dealt with in like manner. "It
could not be avoided unless animals had been made of a quite different
frame and constitution."--Chap. iv. s. 7. The whole reasoning is summed
up in the concluding section of this part, where the author somewhat
triumphantly says, "The difficult question then, whence comes evil? is
not unanswerable. For it arises from the very nature and
constitution of created beings, and could not be avoided without a
contradiction."--Chap. iv. s. 9. To this the commentary of Bishop Law
adds (Note 4i), "that natural evil has been shown to be, in every case,
unavoidable, without introducing into the system a greater evil."

It is certain that many persons, led away by the authority of a great
name, have been accustomed to regard this work as a text-book, and have
appealed to Archbishop King and his learned commentator as having solved
the question. So many men have referred to the _Principia_ as showing
the motions of the heavenly bodies, who never read, or indeed could
read, a page of that immortal work. But no man ever did open it who
could read it and find himself disappointed in any one particular;
the whole demonstration is perfect; not a link is wanting; nothing is
assumed. How different the case here! We open the work of the prelate
and find it from the first to last a chain of gratuitous assumptions,
and, of the main point, nothing whatever is either proved or explained.
Evil arises, he says, from the nature of matter. Who doubts it? But is
not the whole question why matter was created with such properties as
of necessity to produce evil? It was impossible, says he, to avoid it
consistently with the laws of motion and matter. Unquestionably; but
the whole dispute is upon those laws. If indeed the laws of nature, the
existing constitution of the material world, were assumed as necessary,
and as binding upon the Deity, how is it possible that any question ever
could have been raised? The Deity having the power to make those laws,
to endow matter with that constitution, and having also the power to
make different laws and to give matter another constitution, the whole
question is, how his choosing to create the present existing order of
things--the laws and the constitution which we find to prevail--can be
reconciled with perfect goodness. The whole argument of the Archbishop
assumes that matter and its laws are independent of the Deity; and the
only conclusion to which the inquiry leads us is that the Creator has
made a world with as little of evil in it as the nature of things,--that
is, as the laws of nature and matter--allowed him; which is nonsense,
if those laws were made by him, and leaves the question where it was, or
rather solves it by giving up the omnipotence of the Creator, if these
laws were binding upon him.

It must be added, however, that Dr. King and Dr. Law are not singular in
pursuing this most inconclusive course of reasoning.

Thus Dr. J. Clarke, in his treatise on natural evil, quoted by Bishop
Law (Note 32), shows how mischiefs arise from the laws of matter; and
says this could not be avoided "without altering those primary laws,
i. e., making it something else than what it is, or changing it into
another form; the result of which would only be to render it liable to
evils of another kind against which the same objections would equally
lie." So Dr. J. Burnett, in his discourses on evil, at the Boyle Lecture
(vol. ii. P. 201), conceives that he explains death by saying that the
materials of which the body is composed "cannot last beyond seventy
years, or thereabouts, and it was originally intended that we should die
at that age." Pain, too, he imagines is accounted for by observing that
we are endowed with feelings, and that if we could not feel pain,
so neither could we pleasure (p. 202). Again, he says that there are
certain qualities which "in the nature of things matter is incapable of"
(p. 207). And as if he really felt the pressure of this difficulty, he
at length comes to this conclusion, that life is a free gift, which we
had no right to exact, and which the Deity lay under no necessity to
grant, and therefore we must take it with the conditions annexed (p.
210); which is undeniably true, but is excluding the discussion and
not answering the question proposed. Nor must it be forgotten that
some reasoners deal strangely with the facts. Thus Derham, in his
_Physico-Theology_, explaining the use of poison in snakes, first
desires us to bear in mind that many venomous ones are of use
medicinally in stubborn diseases, which is not true, and if it were,
would prove nothing, unless the venom, not the flesh, were proved to be
medicinal; and then says, they are "scourges upon ungrateful and sinful
men;" adding the truly astounding absurdity, "that the nations which
know not God are the most annoyed with noxious reptiles and other
pernicious creatures." (Book ix. c. I); which if it were true would
raise a double difficulty, by showing that one people was scourged
because another had neglected to preach the gospel among them. Dr. J.
Burnett, too, accounts for animals being suffered to be killed as food
for man, by affirming that they thereby gain all the care which man is
thus led to bestow upon them, and so are, on the whole, the better for
being eaten. (Boyle Lecture, II. 207). But the most singular error has
perhaps been fallen into by Dr. Sherlock, and the most, unhappy--which
yet Bishop Law has cited as a sufficient answer to the objection
respecting death: "It is a great instrument of government, and makes men
afraid of committing such villanies as the laws of their country have
made capital." (Note 34). So that the greatest error in the criminal
legislation of all countries forms part of the divine providence, and
man has at length discovered, by the light of reason, the folly and
the wickedness of using an instrument expressly created by divine
Omniscience to be abused!

The remaining portion of King's work, filling the second volume of
Bishop Law's edition, is devoted to the explanation of Moral Evil; and
here the gratuitous assumption of the "nature of things," and the "laws
of nature," more or less pervade the whole as in the former parts of the

The fundamental position of the whole is, that man having been endowed
with free will, his happiness consists in making due elections, or in
the right exercise of that free will. Five causes are then given of
undue elections, in which of course his misery consists as far as that
depends on himself; these causes are error, negligence, over-indulgence
of free choice, obstinacy or bad habit, and the importunity of natural
appetites; which last, it must in passing be remarked, belongs to the
head of physical evil, and cannot be assumed in this discussion without
begging the question. The great difficulty is then stated and grappled
with, namely, how to reconcile these undue elections with divine
goodness. The objector states that free will might exist without the
power of making undue elections, he being suffered to range, as it were,
only among lawful objects of choice. But the answer to this seems sound,
that such a will would only be free in name; it would be free to choose
among certain things, but would not be free-will. The objector again
urges, that either the choice is free and may fall upon evil objects,
against the goodness of God, or it is so restrained as only to fall on
good objects. Against freedom of the will King's solution is, that
more evil would result from preventing these undue elections than from
suffering them, and so the Deity has only done the best he could in the
circumstances; a solution obviously liable to the same objection as that
respecting Natural Evil. There are three ways, says the Archbishop, in
which undue elections might have been prevented; not creating a free
agent--constant interference with his free-will--removing him to another
state where he would not be tempted to go astray in his choice. A fourth
mode may, however, be suggested--creating a free-agent without any
inclination to evil, or any temptation from external objects. When
our author disposes of the second method, by stating that it assumes a
constant miracle, as great in the moral as altering the course of the
planets hourly would be in the material universe, nothing can be more
sound or more satisfactory. But when he argues that our whole happiness
consists in a consciousness of freedom of election, and that we should
never know happiness were we restrained in any particular, it seems
wholly inconceivable how he should have omitted to consider the
prodigious comfort of a state in which we should be guaranteed against
any error or impropriety of choice; a state in which we should both
be unable to go astray and always feel conscious of that security. He,
however, begs the question most manifestly in dealing with the two other
methods stated, by which undue elections might have been precluded. "You
would have freedom," says he, "without any inclination to sin; but
it may justly be doubted if this is possible _in the present state of
things_," (chap. v. s. 5, sub. 2); and again, in answering the question
why God did not remove us into another state where no temptation could
seduce us, he says: "It is plain that _in the present state of things_
it is impossible for men to live without natural evils or the danger of
sinning." (_Ib_.) Now the whole question arises upon the constitution of
the present state of things. If that is allowed to be inevitable, or is
taken as a datum in the discussion, there ceases to be any question at

The doctrine of a chain of being is enlarged upon, and with much
felicity of illustration. But it only wraps up the difficulty in other
words, without solving it. For then the question becomes this--Why did
the Deity create such a chain as could not be filled up without misery?
It is, indeed, merely restating the fact of evil existing; for whether
we say there is suffering among sentient beings--or the universe
consists of beings more or less happy, more or less miserable--or there
exists a chain of beings varying in perfection and in felicity--it is
manifestly all one proposition. The remark of Bayle upon this view of
the subject is really not at all unsound, and is eminently ingenious:
"Would you defend a king who should confine all his subjects of a
certain age in dungeons, upon the ground that if he did not, many of the
cells he had built must remain empty?" The answer of Bishop Law to this
remark is by no means satisfactory. He says it assumes that more misery
than happiness exists. Now, in this view of the question, the balance is
quite immaterial. The existence of any evil at all raises the question
as much as the preponderance of evil over good, because the question
conceives a perfectly good Being, and asks how such a Being can have
permitted any evil at all. Upon this part of the subject both King
and Law have fallen into an error which recent discoveries place in a
singularly clear light. They say that the argument they are dealing with
would lead to leaving the earth to the brutes without human inhabitants.
But the recent discoveries in Fossil Osteology have proved that the
earth, for ages before the last 5,000 or 6,000 years, was left to the
lower animals; nay, that in a still earlier period of its existence no
animal life at all was maintained upon its surface. So that, in fact,
the foundation is removed of the _reductio ad absurdum_ attempted by the
learned prelates.

A singular argument is used towards the latter end of the inquiry.
When the Deity, it is said, resolved to create other beings, He must of
necessity tolerate imperfect natures in his handiwork, just as he must
the equality of a circle's radii when he drew a circle. Who does not
perceive the difference? The meaning of the word circle is that the
radii are all equal; this equality is a necessary truth. But it is not
shown that men could not exist without the imperfections they labor
under. Yet this is the argument suggested by these authors while
complaining (chap. v. s. 5, sub. 7, div. 7), that Lactantius had not
sufficiently answered the Epicurean dilemma; it is the substitute
propounded to supply that father's deficiency.--"When, therefore," says
the Archbishop, "matter, motion and free-will are constituted, the Deity
must necessarily permit corruption of things and the abuse of
liberty, or something worse, for these cannot be separated without a
contradiction, and God is no more important, because he cannot separate
equality of radii from a circle."--Chap. v. s. 5, subs. 7. If he could
not have created evil, he would not have been omnipotent; if he would
not, he must let his power lie idle; and rejecting evil have
rejected all the good. "Thus," exclaims the author with triumph and
self-complacency, "then vanishes this Herculean argument which induced
the Epicureans to discard the good Deity, and the Manicheans to
substitute an evil one." (_Ib._ subs. 7, _sub. fine._) Nor is the
explanation rendered more satisfactory, or indeed more intelligible,
by the concluding passage of all, in which we are told that "from a
conflict of two properties, namely, omnipotence and goodness, evils
necessarily arise. These attributes amicably conspire together, and yet
restrain and limit each other." It might have been expected from hence
that no evil at all should be found to exist. "There is a kind of
struggle and opposition between them, whereof the evils in nature bear
the shadow and resemblance. Here, then, and no where else, mar we find
the primary and most certain rise and origin of evils."

Such is this celebrated work; and it may safely be affirmed that a more
complete failure to overcome a great and admitted difficulty--a more
unsatisfactory solution of an important question--is not to be found in
the whole history of metaphysical science.

Among the authors who have treated of this subject, a high place is
justly given to Archdeacon Bulguy, whose work on _Divine Benevolence_ is
always referred to by Dr. Paley with great commendation. But certain it
is that this learned and pious writer either had never formed to himself
a very precise notion of the real question under discussion, namely, the
compatibility of the appearances which we see and which we consider as
evil, with a Being infinitely powerful as well as good; or he had in his
mind some opinions respecting the divine nature, opinions of a limitary
kind, which he does not state distinctly, although he constantly suffers
them to influence his seasonings. Hence, whenever he comes close to the
real difficulty he appears to beg the question. A very few instances
of what really pervades the whole work will suffice to show how
unsatisfactory its general scope is, although it contains, like
the treatise of Dr. King and Dr. Law's Commentary, many valuable
observations on the details of the subject.

And first we may perceive that what he terms a _"previous remark,"_ and
desires the reader "to carry along through the whole proof of divine
benevolence," really contains a statement that _the difficulty is to be
evaded and not met._ "An intention of producing good," says he, "will be
sufficiently apparent in any particular instance if the thing considered
can neither be changed nor taken away without loss or harm, _all other
things continuing the same._ Should you suppose _various_ things in the
system changed _at once_, you can neither judge of the possibility
nor the consequences of the changes, having no degree of experience to
direct you." Now assuredly this postulate makes the whole question as
easy a one as ever metaphysician or naturalist had to solve. For it is
no longer--Why did a powerful and benevolent Being create a world in
which there is evil--but only--The world being given, how far are its
different arrangements consistent with one another? According to this,
the earthquake at Lisbon, Voltaire's favorite instance, destroyed
thousands of persons, because it is in the nature of things that
subterraneous vapors should explode, and that when houses fall on human
beings they should be killed. Then if Dr. Balguy goes to his other
argument, on which he often dwells, that if this nature were altered,
we cannot possibly tell whether worse might not ensue; this, too, is
assuming a limited power in the Deity, contrary to the hypothesis.
It may most justly be said, that if there be any one supposition
necessarily excluded from the whole argument, it is the fundamental
supposition of the "previous remark," namely, "all other things
continuing the same."

But see how this assumption pervades and paralyzes the whole argument,
rendering it utterly inconclusive. The author is to answer an objection
derived from the constitution of our appetites for food, and his reply
is, that "we cannot tell how far it was _possible_ for the stomachs and
palates of animals to be differently formed, unless by some remedy worse
than the disease." Again, upon the question of pain: "How do we know
that it was _possible_ for the uneasy sensation to be confined to
particular cases?" So we meet the same fallacy under another form,
as evil being the result of "general principles." But no one has ever
pushed this so far as Dr. Balguy, for he says, "that in a government so
conducted, many events are likely to happen contrary to the intention
of its author." He now calls in the aid of chance, or accident.--"It is
probable," he says, "that God should be good, for evil is more likely
to be _accidental_ than appears from experience in the conduct of men."
Indeed, his fundamental position of the Deity's benevolence is rested
upon this foundation, that "pleasures only were intended, and that
the pains are accidental consequences, although the means of producing
pleasures." The same recourse to accident is repeatedly had. Thus, "the
events to which we are exposed in this imperfect state appear to be the
_accidental_, not natural, effects of our frame and condition." Now can
any one thing be more manifest than that the very first notion of a wise
and powerful Being excludes all such assumptions as things happening
contrary to His intention; and that when we use the word chance or
accident, which only means our human ignorance of causes, we at once
give up the whole question, as if we said, "It is a subject about
which we know nothing." So again as to power. "A good design is more
_difficult_ to be executed, and therefore more likely to be executed
_imperfectly_, than an evil one, that is, with a mixture of effects
foreign to the design and opposite to it." This at once assumes the
Deity to be powerless. But a general statement is afterwards made more
distinctly to the same effect. "Most sure it is that he can do all
things possible. But are we in any degree competent judges of the bounds
of possibility?" So again under another form nature is introduced as
something different from its author, and offering limits to his
power. "It is plainly not the method of nature to obtain her ends
instantaneously." Passing over such propositions as that "_useless_ evil
is a thing never seen," (when the whole question is why the same ends
were not attained without evil), and a variety of other subordinate
assumptions contrary to the hypothesis, we may rest with this general
statement, which almost every page of Dr. Balguy's book bears out, that
the question which he has set himself to solve is anything rather than
the real one touching the Origin of Evil; and that this attempt at
a solution is as ineffectual as any of those which we have been

Is, then, the question wholly incapable of solution, which all these
learned and ingenious men have so entirely failed in solving? Must
the difficulty remain forever unsurmounted, and only be approached to
discover that it is insuperable? _Must the subject, of all others the
most interesting for us to know well, be to us always as a sealed book,
of which we can never know anything?_ From the nature of the thing--from
the question relating to the operation of a power which, to our limited
faculties, must ever be incomprehensible--there seems too much reason
for believing that nothing precise or satisfactory ever will be attained
by human reason regarding this great argument; and that the bounds
which limit our views will only be passed when we have quitted the
encumbrances of our mortal state, and are permitted to survey those
regions beyond the sphere of our present circumscribed existence. The
other branch of Natural Theology, that which investigates the evidences
of Intelligence and Design, and leads us to a clear apprehension of the
Deity's power and wisdom, is as satisfactorily cultivated as any other
department of science, rests upon the same species of proof, and affords
results as precise as they are sublime. This branch will never be
distinctly known, and will always so disappoint the inquirer as to
render the lights of Revelation peculiarly acceptable, although
even those lights leave much of it still involved in darkness--still
mysterious and obscure.[2]

Yet let us endeavor to suggest some possible explication, while we admit
that nothing certain, nothing entirely satisfactory can be reached. The
failure of the great writers whose works we have been contemplating may
well teach us humility, make us distrust ourselves, and moderate within
us any sanguine hopes of success. But they should not make us wholly
despair of at least showing in what direction the solution of the
difficulty is to be sought, and whereabouts it will probably be found
situated, when our feeble reason shall be strengthened and expanded.
For one cause of their discomfiture certainly has been their aiming too
high, attempting a complete solution of a problem which only admitted of
approximation, and discussion of limits.

It is admitted on all hands that the demonstration is complete which
shows the existence of intelligence and design in the universe. The
structure of the eye and ear in exact confirmity to the laws of optics
and acoustics, shows as clearly as any experiment can show anything,
that the source, cause or origin is common both to the properties of
light and the formation of the lenses and retina in the eye--both to the
properties of sound and the tympanum, malleus, incus and stapes of the
ear. No doubt whatever can exist upon the subject, any more than, if
we saw a particular order issued to a body of men to perform certain
uncommon evolutions, and afterwards saw the same body performing those
same evolutions, we could doubt their having received the order. A
designing and intelligent and skillful author of these admirably adapted
works is equally a clear inference from the same facts. We can no more
doubt it than we can question, when we see a mill grinding corn into
flour, that the machinery was made by some one who designed by means of
it to prepare the materials of bread. The same conclusions are drawn
in a vast variety of other instances, both with respect to the parts
of human and other bodies, and with respect to most of the other
arrangements of nature. Similar conclusions are also drawn from our
consciousness, and the knowledge which it gives us of the structure of
the mind.[3] Thus we find that attention quickens memory and enables us
to recollect; and that habit renders all exertions and all acquisitions
easy, beside having the effect of alleviating pain.

But when we carry our survey into other parts, whether of the natural
or moral system, we cannot discover any design at all. We frequently
perceive structures the use of which we know nothing about; parts of the
animal frame that apparently have no functions to perform--nay, that
are the source of pain without yielding any perceptible advantage;
arrangements and movements of bodies which are of one particular kind,
and yet we are quite at a loss to discern any reason why they might not
have been of many other descriptions; operations of nature that seem to
serve no purpose whatever; and other operations and other arrangements,
chosen equally without any beneficial view, and yet which often give
rise to much apparent confusion and mischief. Now, the question is,
_first_, whether in any one of these cases of arrangement and structures
with no visible object at all, we can for a moment suppose that there
really is no object answered, or only conceive that we have been
unable to discover it? _Secondly_, whether in the cases where mischief
sometimes is perceived, and no other purpose appears to be effected,
we do not almost as uniformly lay the blame on our own ignorance, and
conclude, not that the arrangement was made without any design, and that
mischief arises without any contriver, but that if we knew the whole
case we should find a design and contrivance, and also that the apparent
mischief would sink into the general good? It is not necessary to admit,
for our present purpose, this latter proposition, though it brings us
closer to the matter in hand; it is sufficient for the present to admit,
what no one doubts, that when a part of the body, for instance, is
discovered, to which, like the spleen, we cannot assign any function in
the animal system, we never think of concluding that it is made for no
use, but only that we have as yet not been able to discover its use.

Now, let us ask, why do we, without any hesitation whatever, or any
exception whatever, always and immediately arrive at this
conclusion respecting intelligence and design? Nothing could be more
unphilosophical, nay, more groundless, than such a process of reasoning,
if we had only been able to trace design in one or two instances; for
instance, if we found only the eye to show proofs of contrivance, it
would be wholly gratuitous, when we saw the ear, to assume that it was
adapted to the nature of sound, and still more so, if, on examination,
we perceived it bore no perceptible relation to the laws of acoustics.
The proof of contrivance in one particular is nothing like a proof,
nay, does not even furnish the least presumption of contrivance in other
particulars; because, _a priori_, it is just as easy to suppose one part
of nature to be designed for a purpose, and another part, nay, all other
parts, to be formed at random and without any contrivance, as to suppose
that the formation of the whole is governed by design. Why, then, do we,
invariably and undoubtedly, adopt the course of reasoning which has been
mentioned, and never for a moment suspect anything to be formed without
some reason--some rational purpose? The only ground of this belief is,
that we have been able distinctly to trace design in so vast a majority
of cases as leaves us no power of doubting that, if our faculties had
been sufficiently powerful, or our investigation sufficiently diligent,
we should also have been able to trace it in those comparatively few
instances respecting which we still are in the dark.

It may be worth while to give a few instances of the ignorance in which
we once were of design in some important arrangements of nature, and
of the knowledge which we now possess to show the purpose of their
formation. Before Sir Isaac Newton's optical discoveries, we could not
tell why the structure of the eye was so complex, and why several lenses
and humors were required to form a picture of objects upon the retina.
Indeed, until Dolland's subsequent discovery of the achromatic effect of
combining various glasses, and Mr. Blair's still more recent experiments
on the powers of different refracting media, we were not able distinctly
to perceive the operation and use of the complicacy in the structure of
the eye. We now well understand its nature, and are able to comprehend
how that which had at one time, nay, for ages, seemed to be an
unnecessary complexity; forms the most perfect of all optical
instruments, and according to the most certain laws of refraction and of

So, too, we had observed for some centuries the forms of the orbits in
which the heavenly bodies move, and we had found these to be ellipses
with a very small eccentricity. But why this was the form of those
orbits no one could even conjecture. If any person, the most deeply
skilled in mathematical science, and the most internally convinced of
the universal prevalence of design and contrivance in the structure
of the universe, had been asked what reason there was for the planets
moving in ellipses so, nearly approaching to circles, he could not
have given any good reason, at least beyond a guess. The force of
gravitation, even admitting that to be, as it were, a condition of the
creation of matter, would have made those bodies revolve in ellipses
of any degree of eccentricity just as well, provided the angle and the
force of projection had been varied. Then, why was this form rather,
than any other chosen? No one knew; yet no one doubted that there was
ample reason for it. Accordingly the sublime discoveries of Lagrange
and La Place have shown us that this small eccentricity is one material
element in the formula by which it is shown that all the irregularities
of the system are periodical, and that the deviation never can exceed a
certain amount on either hand.

But, again, while we are ignorant of this, perhaps the most sublime
truth in all science, we were always arguing as if the system had an
imperfection, as if the disturbing forces of the different planets and
the sun, acting on one another, constantly changed the orbits of each
planet, and must, in a course of ages, work the destruction of the whole
planetary arrangement which we had contemplated with so great
admiration and with awe. It was deemed enough if we could show that
this derangement must be extremely slow, and that, therefore, the system
might last for many more ages without requiring any interposition of
omnipotent skill to preserve it by rectifying its motions. Thus one of
the most celebrated writers above cited argues that, "from the nature
of gravitation and the concentricity of the orbits, the irregularities
produced are so slowly operated in contracting, dilating and inclining
those orbits, that the system may go on for many thousand years before
any extraordinary interference becomes necessary in order to correct
it." And Dr. Burnett adds, that "those small irregularities cast no
discredit on the good contrivance of the whole." Nothing, however,
could cast greater discredit if it were as he supposed, and as all men
previous to the late discoveries supposed; it was only, they rather
think, a "small irregularity," which was every hour tending to the
destruction of the whole system, and which must have deranged or
confounded its whole structure long before it destroyed it. Yet now
we see that the wisdom, to which a thousand years are as one day, not
satisfied with constructing a fabric which might last for "many thousand
years without His interference," has so formed it that it may thus
endure forever.

Now if such be the grounds of our belief in the universal prevalence of
Design, and such the different lights which at different periods of
our progress in science we possess upon this branch of the divine
government; if we undoubtingly believe that contrivance is universal
only because we can trace and comprehend it in a great majority of
instances, and if the number of exceptions to the rule is occasionally
diminished as our knowledge of the particulars is from time to time
extended--may we not apply the same principle to the apprehension of
Benevolent purpose, and infer from the number of instances in which we
plainly perceive a good intention, that if we were better acquainted
with those cases in which a contrary intention is now apparent, we
should there, too, find the generally pervading character of Benevolence
to prevail? Not only is this the manner in which we reason respecting
the Design of the Creator from examining his works; it is the manner in
which we treat the conduct of our fellow-creatures. A man of the most
extensive benevolence and strictest integrity in his general deportment
has done something equivocal; nay, something apparently harsh and cruel;
we are slow to condemn him; we give him credit for acting with a good
motive and for a righteous purpose; we rest satisfied that "if we only
knew everything he would come out blameless." This arises from a just
and a sound view of human character, and its general consistency with
itself. The same reasoning may surely be applied with all humility and
reverence, to the works and the intentions of the great Being who has
implanted in our minds the principles which lead to that just and sound
view of the deeds and motives of men.

But let the argument be rested upon our course of reasoning respecting
divine contrivance. The existence of Evil is in no case more apparent
than the existence of Disorder seems to be in many things. To go no
further than the last example which has been given--the mathematician
could perceive the derangement in the planetary orbits, could
demonstrate that it must ensue from the mutual action of the heavenly
bodies on each other, could calculate its progress with the utmost
exactness, could tell with all nicety how much it would alter the forms
of the orbits in a given time, could foresee the time when the
whole system must be irretrievably destroyed by its operation as a
mathematical certainty. Nothing, that we call evil can be much more
certainly perceived than this derangement, of itself an evil, certainly
a great imperfection, if the system was observed by the mind of man
as we regard human works. Yet we now find, from well considering some
things which had escaped attention, that the system is absolutely free
from derangement; that all the disturbances counterbalance each other;
and that the orbits never can either be flattened or bulged out beyond
a definite or very inconsiderable quantity. Can any one doubt that
there is also a reason for even the small and limited, this regular and
temporary derangement? Why it exists at all, or in any the least degree,
we as yet know not. But who will presume to doubt that it has a reason
which would at once satisfy our minds were it known to us? Nay, who will
affirm that the discovery of it may not yet be in reserve for some later
and happier age? Then are we not entitled to apply the same reasoning to
what at present appears Evil in a system of which, after all we know of
it, so much still remains concealed from our view?

The mere act of creation in a Being of wisdom so admirable and power
so vast, seems to make it extremely probable that perfect goodness
accompanies the exertion of his perfect skill. There is something so
repugnant to all our feelings, but also to all the conceptions of our
reason, in the supposition of such a Being desiring the misery, for its
own sake, of the Beings whom he voluntarily called into existence and
endowed with a sentient nature, that the mind naturally and irresistibly
recoils from such a thought. But this is not all. If the nature of that
great Being were evil, his power being unbounded, there would be some
proportion between the amounts of ills and the monuments of that power.
Yet we are struck dumb with the immensity of His works to which no
imperfection can be ascribed, and in which no evil can be traced, while
the amount of mischief that we see might sink into a most insignificant
space; and is such as a being of inconsiderable power and very limited
skill could easily have accomplished. This is not the same consideration
with the balance of good against evil; and inquirers do not seem to
have sufficiently attended to it. The argument, however, deserves much
attention, for it is purely and strictly inductive. The divine nature
is shown to be clothed with prodigious power and incomparable wisdom and
skill,--power and skill so vast and so exceeding our comprehension that
we ordinarily term them infinite, and are only inclined to conceive the
possibility of limiting, by the course of the argument upon evil, one
alternative of which is assumed to raise an exception. But admitting on
account of the question under discussion, that we have only a right to
say that power and skill are prodigiously great, though possibly not
boundless, they are plainly shown in the phenomena of the universe to
be the attributes of a Being, who, if evil-disposed, could have made the
monuments of Ill upon a scale resembling those of Power and Skill; so
that if those things which seem to us evil be really the result of a
mischievous design in such a Being, we cannot comprehend why they are
upon so entirely different a scale. This is a strong presumption from
the facts that we are wrong in imputing those appearances to such a
disposition. If so, what seems evil must needs be capable of some other
explanation consistent with divine goodness--that is to say, would not
prove to be evil at all if we knew the whole of those facts.

But it is necessary to proceed a step further, especially with a view
to the fundamental position now contended for, the extending to the
question of Benevolence the same principles which we apply to that of
Intelligence. The evil which exists, or that which we suppose to be
evil, not only is of a kind and a magnitude requiring inconceivably less
power and less skill than the admitted good of the creation--it also
bears a very small proportion in amount; quite as small a proportion
as the cases of unknown or undiscoverable design bear to those
of acknowledged and proved contrivance. Generally speaking, the
preservation and the happiness of sensitive creatures appears to be
the great object of creative exertion and conservative providence. The
expanding of our faculties, both bodily and mentally, is accompanied
with pleasure; the exercise of those powers is almost always attended
with gratification; all labor so acts as to make rest peculiarly
delicious; much of labor is enjoyment; the gratification of those
appetites by which both the individual is preserved and the race is
continued, is highly pleasurable to all animals; and it must be observed
that instead of being attracted by grateful sensations to do anything
requisite for our good or even our existence, we might have been just as
certainly urged by the feeling of pain, or the dread of it, which is a
kind of suffering in itself. Nature, then, resembles the law-giver
who, to make his subjects obey, should prefer holding out rewards
for compliance with his commands rather than denounce punishments for
disobedience. But nature is yet more kind; she is gratuitously kind; she
not only prefers inducement to threat or compulsion, but she adds more
gratification than was necessary to make us obey her calls. How well
might all creation have existed and been continued, though the air had
not been balmy in spring, or the shade and the spring refreshing in
summer; had the earth not been enamelled with flowers; and the air
scented with perfumes! How needless for the propagation of plants was
it that the seed should be enveloped in fruits the most savory to our
palate, and if those fruits serve some other purpose, how foreign to
that purpose was the formation of our nerves so framed as to be soothed
or excited by their flavor! We here perceive design, because we trace
adaptation. But we at the same time perceive benevolent design, because
we perceive gratuitous and supererogatory enjoyment bestowed. Thus,
too, see the care with which animals of all kinds are tended from their
birth. The mother's instinct is not more certainly the means of securing
and providing for her young, than her gratification in the act of
maternal care is great and is also needless for making her perform that
duty. The grove is not made vocal during pairing and incubation, in
order to secure the laying or the hatching of eggs; for if it were as
still as the grave, or were filled with the most discordant croaking,
the process would be as well performed. So, too, mark the care with
which injuries are remedied by what has been correctly called the _vis
medicatrix_. Is a muscle injured?--Suppuration takes place, the process
of granulation succeeds, and new flesh is formed to supply the gap, or
if that is less wide, a more simple healing process knits together
the severed parts. Is a bone injured?--A process commences by which
an extraordinary secretion of bony matter takes place, and the void
is supplied. Nay, the irreparable injury of a joint gives rise to
the formation of a new hinge, by which the same functions may be not
inconveniently, though less perfectly, performed. Thus, too, recovery of
vigor after sickness is provided for by increased appetite; but there
is here superadded, generally, a feeling of comfort and lightness, an
enjoyment of existence so delightful, that it is a common remark how
nearly this compensates the sufferings of the illness. In the economy
of the mind it is the same thing. All our exertions are stimulated by
curiosity, and the gratification is extreme of satisfying it. But it
might have been otherwise ordered, and some painful feeling might have
been made the only stimulant to the acquisition of knowledge. So, the
charm of novelty is proverbial; but it might have been the unceasing
cause of the most painful alarms. Habit renders every thing easy; but
the repetition might have only increased the annoyance. The loss of one
organ makes the others more acute. But the partial injury might have
caused, as it were, a general paralysis. 'Tis thus that Paley is well
justified in exclaiming, "It is a happy world after all!" The pains and
the sufferings, bodily and mental, to which we are exposed, if they
do not sink into nothing, at least retreat within comparatively narrow
bounds; the ills are hardly seen when we survey the great and splendid
picture of worldly enjoyment or ease.

But the existence of considerable misery is undeniable: and the question
is, of course, confined to that. Its exaggeration, in the ordinary
estimate both of the vulgar and of skeptical reasoners, is equally
certain. Paley, Bishop Sumner, as well as Derham, King, Ray and others
of the older writers, have made many judicious and generally correct
observations upon its amount, and they, as well as some of the able
and learned authors of the _Bridgwater Treatises_, have done much in
establishing deductions necessary to be made, in order that we may
arrive at the true amount. That many things, apparently unmixed evils,
when examined more narrowly, prove to be partially beneficial, is the
fair result of their well-meant labors; and this, although anything
rather than a proof that there is no evil at all, yet is valuable as
still further proving the analogy between this branch of the argument
and that upon design; and in giving hopes that all may possibly be
found hereafter to be good, as everything will assuredly be found to be
contrived with an intelligent and useful purpose. It may be right to add
a remark or two upon some evils, and those of the greatest magnitude
in the common estimate of human happiness, with a view of further
illustrating this part of the subject.

Mere imperfection must altogether be deducted from the account. It
never can be contended that any evil nature can be ascribed to the first
cause, merely for not having endowed sentient creatures with greater
power or wisdom, for not having increased and multiplied the sources
of enjoyment, or for not having made those pleasures which we have more
exquisitely grateful. No one can be so foolish as to argue that the
Deity is either limited in power, or deficient in goodness, because he
has chosen to create some beings of a less perfect order than others.
The mere negation in the creating of some, indeed of many, nay, of
any conceivable number of desirable attributes, is therefore no proper
evidence of evil design or of limited power in the Creator--it is no
proof of the existence of evil properly so called. But does not this
also erase death from the catalogue of ills? It might well please the
Deity to create a mortal being which, consisting of soul and body, was
only to live upon this earth for a limited number of years. If, when
that time has expired, this being is removed to another and a superior
state of existence, no evil whatever accrues to it from the change;
and all views of the government of this world lead to the important and
consolitary conclusion, that such is the design of the Creator; that he
cannot have bestowed on us minds capable of such expansion and culture
only to be extinguished when they have reached their highest pitch
of improvement; or if this be considered as begging the question by
assuming benevolent design, we cannot easily conceive that while the
mind's force is so little affected by the body's decay, the destruction
or dissolution of the latter should be the extinction of the former. But
that death operates as an evil of the very highest kind in two ways is
obvious; the dread of it often embitters life, and the death of friends
brings to the mind by far its most painful infliction; certainly the
greatest suffering it can undergo without any criminal consciousness of
its own.

For this evil, then--this grievous and admitted evil--how shall we
account? But first let us consider whether it be not unavoidable; not
merely under the present dispensation, and in the existing state of
things; for that is wholly irrelevant to the question which is raised
upon the fitness of this very state of things; but whether it be not a
necessary evil. That man might have been created immortal is not denied;
but if it were the will of the Deity to form a limited being and to
place him upon the earth for only a certain period of time, his death
was the necessary consequence of this determination. Then as to the pain
which one person's removal inflicts upon surviving parties, this seems
the equally necessary consequence of their having affections. For if
any being feels love towards another, this implies his desire that the
intercourse with that other should continue; or what is the same thing,
the repugnance and aversion to its ceasing; that is, he must suffer
affliction for that removal of the beloved object. To create sentient
beings devoid of all feelings of affection was no doubt possible to
Omnipotence; but to endow those beings with such feelings as would give
the constant gratification derived from the benevolent affections, and
yet to make them wholly indifferent to the loss of the objects of those
affections, was not possible even for Omnipotence; because it was a
contradiction in terms, equivalent to making a thing both exist and not
exist at one and the same time. Would there have been any considerable
happiness in a life stripped of these kindly affections? We cannot
affirm that there would not, because we are ignorant what other
enjoyments might have been substituted for the indulgence of them. But
neither can we affirm that any such substitution could have been found;
and it lies upon those who deny the necessary connection between the
human mind, or any sentient being's mind, and grief for the loss of
friends, to show that there are other enjoyments which could furnish an
equivalent to the gratification derived from the benevolent feelings.
The question then reduces itself to this: Wherefore did a being, who
could have made sentient beings immortal, choose to make them mortal?
or, Wherefore has he placed man upon the earth for a time only? or,
Wherefore has he set bounds to the powers and capacities which he has
been pleased to bestow upon his creatures? And this is a question which
we certainly never shall be able to solve; but a question extremely
different from the one more usually put--How happens it that a good
being has made a world full of misery and death?

In the necessary ignorance wherein we are of the whole designs of the
Deity, we cannot wonder if some things, nay, if many things, are to our
faculties inscrutable. But we assuredly have no right to say that those
difficulties which try and vex us are incapable of a solution, any more
than we have to say, that those cases in which as yet we can see no
trace of design, are not equally the result of intelligence, and equally
conducive to a fixed and useful purpose with those in which we have been
able to perceive the whole, or nearly the whole scheme. Great as have
been our achievements in physical astronomy, we are as yet wholly unable
to understand why a power pervades the system acting inversely as the
squares of the distance from the point to which it attracts, rather
than a power acting according to any other law; and why it has been the
pleasure of the almighty Architect of that universe, that the orbits
of the planets should be nearly circular instead of approaching to, or
being exactly the same with many other trajectories of a nearly similar
form, though of other properties; nay, instead of being curves of a
wholly different class and shape. Yet we never doubt that there was a
reason for this choice; nay, we fancy it possible that even on earth
we may hereafter understand it more clearly than we now do: and never
question that in another state of being we may be permitted to enjoy the
contemplation of it. Why should we doubt that, at least in that higher
state, we may also be enabled to perceive such an arrangement as shall
make evil wholly disappear from our present system, by showing that it
was necessary and inevitable, even in the works of the Deity; or, which
is the same thing, that its existence conduces to such a degree
of perfection and happiness upon, the whole, as could not, even by
Omnipotence, be attained without it; or, which is the same thing,
that the whole creation as it exists, taking both worlds together, is
perfect, and incapable of being in any particular changed without being
made worse and less perfect? Taking both worlds together--For certainly
were our views limited to the present sublunary state, we may well
affirm that no solution whatever could even be imagined of the
difficulty--if we are never again to live; if those we here loved are
forever lost to us; if our faculties can receive no further expansion;
if our mental powers are only trained and improved to be extinguished
at their acme--then indeed are we reduced to the melancholy and gloomy
dilemma of the Epicureans; and evil is confessed to checker, nay, almost
to cloud over our whole lot, without the possibility of comprehending
why, or of reconciling its existence with the supposition of a
providence at once powerful and good. But this inference is also an
additional argument for a future state, when we couple it with these
other conclusions respecting the economy of the world to which we are
led by wholly different routes, when we investigate the phenomena around
us and within us.

Suppose, for example, it should be found that there are certain purposes
which can in no way whatever--no conceivable way--be answered except
by placing man in a state of trial or probation; suppose the essential
nature of mind shall be found to be such that it could not in any
way whatever exist so as to be capable of the greatest purity and
improvement--in other words, the highest perfection--without having
undergone a probation; or suppose it should be found impossible to
communicate certain enjoyments to rational and sentient beings
without having previously subjected them to certain trials and certain
sufferings--as, for instance, the pleasures derived from a consciousness
of perfect security, the certainty that we can suffer and perish no
more--this surely is a possible supposition. Now, to continue the last
example--Whatever pleasure there is in the contrast between ease and
previous vexation or pain, whatever enjoyment we derive from the feeling
of absolute security after the vexation and uncertainty of a precarious
state, implies a previous suffering--a previous state of precarious
enjoyment; and not only implies it but necessarily implies it, so that
the power of Omnipotence itself could not convey to us the enjoyment
without having given us the previous suffering. Then is it not possible
that the object of an all powerful and perfectly benevolent being should
be to create like beings, to whom as entire happiness, as complete and
perfect enjoyment, should be given as any created beings--that is, any
being, except the Creator himself--can by possibility enjoy? This is
certainly not only a very possible supposition, but it appears to be
quite consistent with, if it be not a necessary consequence of, his
being perfectly good as well as powerful and wise. Now we have shown,
therefore, that such being supposed the design of Providence, even
Omnipotence itself could not accomplish this design, as far as one great
and important class of enjoyments is concerned, without the previous
existence of some pain, some misery. Whatever gratification arises
from relief--from contrast--from security succeeding anxiety--from
restoration of lost affections--from renewing severed connections--and
many others of a like kind, could not by any possibility be enjoyed
unless the correlative suffering had first been undergone. Nor will the
argument be at all impeached by observing, that one Being may be made
to feel the pleasure of ease and security by seeing others subjected
to suffering and distress; for that assumes the infliction of misery on
those others; it is "_alterius_ spectare laborem" that we are supposing
to be sweet; and this is still partial evil.

As the whole argument respecting evil must, from the nature of the
question, resolve itself into either a proof of some absolute or
mathematical necessity not to be removed by infinite power, or the
showing that some such proof may be possible although we have not
yet discovered it, an illustration may naturally be expected to be
attainable from mathematical considerations. Thus, we have already
adverted to the law of periodical irregularities in the solar system.
Any one before it was discovered seemed entitled to expatiate upon the
operation of the disturbing forces arising from mutual attraction,
and to charge the system arranged upon the principle of universal
gravitation with want of skill, nay, with leading to inevitable
mischief--mischief or evil of so prodigious an extent as to exceed
incalculably all the instances of evil and of suffering which we see
around us in this single planet. Nevertheless, what then appeared so
clearly to be a defect and an evil, is now well known to be the very
absolute perfection of the whole heavenly architecture.

Again, we may derive a similar illustration from a much more limited
instance, but one immediately connected with strict mathematical
reasoning, and founded altogether in the nature of necessary truth. The
problem has been solved by mathematicians, Sir Isaac Newton having first
investigated it, of finding the form of a symmetrical solid, or solid of
revolution, which in moving through a fluid shall experience the least
possible resistance. The figure bears a striking resemblance to that of
a fish. Now suppose a fish were formed exactly in this shape, and
that some animal endowed with reason were placed upon a portion of its
surface, and able to trace its form for only a limited extent, say at
the narrow part, where the broad portion or end of the moving body were
opposed, or seemed as if it were opposed, to the surrounding fluid when
the fish moved--the reasoner would at once conclude that the contrivance
of the fish's form was very inconvenient, and that nothing could be much
worse adapted for expeditious or easy movement through the waters.

Yet it is certain that upon being afterwards permitted to view THE WHOLE
body of the fish, what had seemed a defect and an evil, not only would
appear plainly to be none at all, but it would appear manifest that
this seeming evil or defect was a part of the most perfect and excellent
structure which it was possible even for Omnipotence and Omniscience
to have adopted, and that no other conceivable arrangement could by
possibility have produced so much advantage, or tended so much to
fulfill the design in view. Previous to being enlightened by such
an enlarged view of the whole facts, it would thus be a rash and
unphilosophical thing in the reasoner whose existence we are supposing
to pronounce an unfavorable opinion. Still more unwise would it be if
numerous other observations had evinced traces of skill and goodness
in the fish's structure. The true and the safe conclusion would be to
suspend an opinion which could only be unsatisfactorily formed upon
imperfect data; and to rest in the humble hope and belief that one day
all would appear for the best.



[Footnote 1: The "light of revelation," as well as the "light of the
Christian religion," has not dispelled the darkness of ignorance. The
torch of reason is a surer guide.--_Pub._]

[Footnote 2: The human race has from time immemorial been afflicted with
so-called revelations, all claiming inspiration, all conflicting, and
all being equally "mysterious and obscure." The wars arising among these
sectarians have retarded civilization, and deluged the earth in blood.
The revelations of science, founded upon reason and demonstration, have
proved the only safe and beneficent guide.--_Pub._]

[Footnote 3: While it is true that the argument of Design, here given,
places the subject one step in advance, it is still unsatisfactory,
because it fails to explain to us who designed the designer, and the
mystery of creation still remains unsolved.

"What think you of an uncaused cause of everything?" is the pertinent
question which Bishop Watson, in his _Apology for the Bible_, asked, and
vainly asked, of the celebrated deist, Thomas Paine.--_Pub._]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Fallen Star, or, the History of a False Religion by E.L. Bulwer; And, A Dissertation on the Origin of Evil by Lord Brougham" ***

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