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is related varies the degree of guilt considerably; and that slander, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, signifies the circulation of mischievous falsehoods: but truth may be made instrumental to the success of malicious designs as well as falsehood; and if the end be bad, the means cannot be innocent.
I think the idea of slander ought to be confined to the production of gratuitous mischief. When we have an end or interest of our own to serve, if we attempt to compass it by falsehood, it is fraud; if by a publication of the truth, it is not, without some additional circumstance of breach of promise, betraying of confidence, or the like, to be deemed criminal.
Sometimes the pain is intended for the person to whom we are speaking: at other times, an enmity is to be gratified by the prejudice or disquiet or a third person. To infuse suspicions, to kindle or continue disputes, to avert the favour and esteem of benefactors from their dependants, to render some one whom we dislike contemptable or obnoxious in the public opinion, are all offices of slander; of which the guilt must be measured by the intensity and extent of the misery produced.
The disguises under which slander is conveyed, whether in a whisper, with injunctions of secrecy, by way of caution, or with affected reluctance, are all so many aggravations of the offence, as they indicate more deliberation and design.
Inconsiderate slander is a different offence, although the same mischief actually follow, and although the mischief might have been foreseen. The not being conscious of that design which we have hitherto attributed to the slanderer, makes the difference.
The guilt here consists in the want of that regard to the consequences of our conduct, which a just affection for human happiness, and concern for our duty, would not have failed to have produced in us. And it is no answer to this crimination to say, that we entertained no evil design. A servant may be a very bad servant, and yet seldom or never design to act in opposition to his master's interest or will: and his master may justly punish such servant for a thought
lessness and neglect nearly as prejudicial as denejerate disobedience. I accuse you not, he may say, of any express intention to hurt me; but had not the fear of my displeasure, the care of my interest, and indeed all the qualities which constitute the merit of a good servant, been wanting in you, they would not only have excluded every direct purpose of giving me uneasiness, but have been so far present to your thoughts as to have checked that unguarded licentiousness by which I have suffered so much, and inspired you in its place with an habitual solicitude about the effects and tendency of what you did or said.-This very much resembles the case of all sins of inconsideration; and, amongst the foremost of these, that of inconsiderate slander..
Information communicated for the real purpose of warning, or cautioning, is not slander.
Indiscriminate praise is the opposite of slander, but it is the opposite extreme; and, however it may effect to be thought excess of candour, is commonly the effusion of a frivolous understanding, or proceeds from a settled contempt of all moral distinctions.
OF RELATIVE DUTIES WHICH RESULT FROM THE CONSTITUTION OF THE SEXES
THE Constitution of the sexes is the foundation of marriage.
Collateral, to the subject of marriage are fornication, seduction, adultery, incest, polygamy, divorce.
Con quential to marriage is the relation and reciprocal duty of parent and child.
We will treat of these subjects in the following order: first, of the public use of marriage institutions; secondly, of the subjects collateral to marriage, in the order in which we have here proposed them; thirdly, of marriage itself; and, lastly, of the relation and reciprocal duties of parents and children.
OF THE PUBLIC USE OF MARRIAGE
THE public use of marriage institutions consists in their promoting the following beneficial effects
1. The private comfort of individuals, especially of the female sex. It may be true, that all are not inter ested in this reason; nevertheless, it is a reason to all for abstaining from any conduct which tends in its general consequence to obstruct marriage; for whatever promotes the happiness of the majority is binding upon the whole.
2. The production of the greatest number of healthy children, their better.education, and the making of due provision for their settlement in life.
3. The peace of human society, in cutting off a principal source of contention, by assigning one o. more women to one man, and protecting his exclusive right by sanctions of morality and law.
4. The better government of society, by distributing the community into separate families, and appointing over each the authority of a master of a family, which has more actual influence than all civil authority put together.
5. The same end, in the additional security which the state receives for the good behaviour of its citizens, from the solicitude they feel for the welfare of their
children, and from their being confined to permanent habitations.
6. The encouragement of industry.
Some ancient nations appear to have been more sensible of the importance of marriage institutions than we are. The Spartans obliged their citizens to marry by penalties, and the Romans encouraged theirs by the jus trium liberorum. A man who had no child was entitled, by the Roman law, only to one half of any legacy that should be left him, that is, at the most, could only receive one half of the testator's fortune.
THE first and great mischief, and by consequence the guilt, of promiscuous concubinage, consists in its tendency to diminish marriages, and thereby to defeat the several beneficial purposes enumerated in the preceding chapter.
Promiscuous concubinage discourages marriage, by abating the chief temptation to it. The male part of the species will not undertake the incumbrance, expense, and restraint of married life, if they can gratify their passions at a cheaper price; and they will undertake any thing, rather than not gratify them.
The reader will learn to comprehend the magnitude of this mischief, by attending to the importance and variety of the uses to which marriage is subservient; and by recollecting withal, that the malignity and moral quality of each crime is not to be estimated by the particular effect of one offence, or of one person's offending, but by the general tendency and consequence of crimes of the same nature. The libertine may not be conscious that these irregularities hinder his own marriage, from which he is deterred, he may allege, by different considerations; much less does he perceive how his indulgences can hinder other men
from marrying; but what will he say would be the consequence, if the same licenciousness were universal? or what should hinder it becoming universal, if it be innocent or allowable in him?
2. Fornication supposes prostitution; and prostitution brings and leaves the victims of it to almost certain misery. It is no small quantity of misery in the aggregate, which, between want, disease, and insult, is suffered by those outcasts of human society who infest populous cities; the whole of which is a general consequence of fornication, and to the increase and continuance of which every act and instance of fornication contributes.
3. Fornication* produces habits of ungovernable lewdness, which introduce the more aggravated crimes of seduction, adultery, violation, &c. Likewise, however it be accounted for, the criminal commerce of the sexes corrupts and depraves the mind and moral character more than any single species of vice whatsoever. That ready perception of guilt, that prompt and decisive resolution against it, which constitutes a virtuous character, is seldom found in persons addicted to these indulgences. They prepare an easy admission for every sin that seeks it; are, in low life, usually the first stage in men's progress to the most desperate villanies; and, in high life, to that lamented dissoluteness of principle which manifests itself in a profligacy of public conduct, and a contempt of the obligations of religion and of moral probity. Add to this, that habits of libertinism incapacitate and indispose the mind for all intellectual, moral, and religious pleasures; which is a great loss to any man's happiness.
4. Fornication perpetuates a disease, which may be accounted one of the sorest maladies of human na
* Of this passion it has been truly said, that "irregularity has no limits; that one excess draws on another; that the most easy, therefore, as well as the most excellent way of being virtuous, is to be so entirely." Ogden, Sermon xvi.