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son, at a time when there could have been no possible motive for falsehood, emphatically asserted that she was unmarried: the fact that Swift led everyone to believe that he was unmarried: the fact that Esther Johnson's bosom friend and inseparable companion was satisfied that there had been no marriage: the fact that two of Swift's housekeepers, two of Stella's executors, and Dr. Lyon, were satisfied that there had been no marriage. It is easy to say that all that has been advanced merely proves that the marriage was a secret, and that the secret was well kept. But that is no answer. The question must be argued on evidence; and it is incumbent on those who insist, in the teeth of such evidence as has been adduced, that a marriage was solemnized, to produce evidence as satisfactory. This they have failed to do. Till they have done so, let us decline to charge Swift with mendacity and hypocrisy, and to convict him of having acted both meanly and treacherously in his dealings with the two women whose names will for all time be bound up with his. In itself it matters not two straws to any one whether Swift was or was not the husband of Stella. But the point of importance is this. If he was the husband of Stella, his conduct to Miss Vanhomrigh admits of no defence - it was unmanly and dishonourable. If he was not married to Stella, the fate of her rival leaves no stain on his memory. Moral courage in a man's relations with men is, it is true, quite compatible with moral cowardice in his relations with women, but that this deplorable anomaly finds illustration in Swift is at
present mere assumption. However, it is too late now to reverse, or even to modify, the verdict of the world. The story of Stella and Vanessa soon passed from essayists and biographers to novelists and poets. Not long after Swift's death appeared, dedicated to the Countess of Pembroke, a wretched fiction entitled "The Amours and Intrigues of a certain Irish Dean." Chaufepié, in his supplements to Bayle's "Dictionary," scattered, in an article on Swift, the traditions of Orrery, Delany, and Deane Swift broadcast over Europe. The romance arrested Lessing, who founded on it his famous domestic drama "Miss Sara Sampson." Then it was consecrated by the genius of Goethe, and his Stella made it a household word wherever German was spoken. It has formed the plot of more than one romance in French. It is now going the round of Mr. Mudie's readers in a three-volume novel.
WILLIAM JAMES: THE WILL TO BELIEVE
From "The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy," New York and London, 1897, pp. 1-37.1
This essay is for many reasons an admirable piece of argumentative writing. In the first place, it carefully defines its terms; and it defines them in such a way that the definition has a potent share in the argument: if the distinction between the different kinds of options between hypotheses be once accepted, the rest of the argument may be looked at as merely a shrewd and conclusive application of the definitions. In the second place, each step in the argument is carefully and distinctly labelled: every section begins with a specific connective which exactly explains the transition that is to be made. In the third place, the point at issue, on which hangs the validity of the explanation which Professor James offers, is explicitly stated and thrown into unmistakable clearness: see pp. 67 and 70. Furthermore, even in so abstract a subject the discussion is always warm with the rush of the personal feeling; in Professor James's writings ideas have more color and vitality than living men and women in most other people's; the universe is for him no cold abstraction necessary as a basis of philosophic thought, but a very real and concrete complex of sensations. Herein lies not only the charm but the power of his style: he has no words for pale unrealities of thought; he writes always in terms of the things which visibly and palpably impinge on the actual conduct of life. Accordingly the concreteness of his words stirs your feelings by putting abstract ideas into terms of physical sensation. Finally, in the substance of this argument is contained most of the wisdom of the whole art of argument.
Copyright 1896, by Professor William James.
If you can make the option before your reader seem to him living, forced, and momentous, you have gone a long way to prove your point. And when Professor James says that "our passional nature not only lawfully may, but must decide an option between propositions " he is stating the psychological cause of the part which the appeal to the feelings plays in argument. Indeed from this essay one can put together pretty much the whole psychological groundwork of argument.
The chapter on Reasoning in Professor James's "Principles of Psychology," Vol. II. p. 323, is also full of light for the maker of arguments.
IN the recently published life by Leslie Stephen of his brother, Fitz-James, there is an account of a school to which the latter went when he was a boy. The teacher, a certain Mr. Guest, used to converse with his pupils in this wise: "Gurney, what is the difference between justification and sanctification? Stephen, prove the omnipotence of God!" etc. In the midst of our Harvard free-thinking and indifference we are prone to imagine that here at your good old orthodox College1 conversation continues to be somewhat upon this order; and to show you that we at Harvard have not lost all interest in these vital subjects, I have brought with me to-night something like a sermon on justification by faith to read to you, -I mean an essay in justification of faith, a defence of our right to adopt a believing attitude in religious matters, in spite of the fact that our merely logical intellect may not have been coerced. The Will to Believe,' accordingly, is the title of my paper.
1 [The Essay is an address which was delivered to the Philosophical Clubs of Yale and Brown Universities.]
I have long defended to my own students the lawfulness of voluntarily adopted faith; but as soon as they have got well imbued with the logical spirit, they have as a rule refused to admit my contention to be lawful philosophically, even though in point of fact they were personally all the time chock-full of some faith or other themselves. I am all the while, however, so profoundly convinced that my own position is correct, that your invitation has seemed to me a good occasion to make my statements more clear. Perhaps your minds will be more open than those with which I have hitherto had to deal. I will be as little technical as I can, though I must begin by setting up some technical distinctions that will help us in the end.
Let us give the name of hypothesis to anything that may be proposed to our belief; and just as the electricians speak of live and dead wires, let us speak of any hypothesis as either live or dead. A live hypothesis is one which appeals as a real possibility to him to whom it is proposed. If I ask you to believe in the Mahdi, the notion makes no electric connection with your nature, it refuses to scintillate with any credi bility at all. As an hypothesis it is completely dead. To an Arab, however (even if he be not one of the Mahdi's followers), the hypothesis is among the mind's possibilities: it is alive. This shows that deadness and liveness in an hypothesis are not in