of a conscience?
a true conscience or a false one? “Conscience is the most changing of rules; conscience is presumptuous in the strong, timid in the weak and unhappy, wavering in the undecided; obedient organ of the sentiment which sways us and of the opinions which govern us; more misleading than reason and nature.”
So says one of the noblest and purest of moralists, Vauvenargues; and terrible as it may be to the popular Protestanism
and of America
to hear it, Vauvenargues thus describes with perfect truth that conscience to which popular Protestanism appeals as its supposed unshakable ground of reliance.
And now, having up to this point neglected all the arts of the controversialist, having merely made inquiries of my American friends as to the real state of their civilization, inquiries which they are free to answer in their own favor if they like, I am going to leave the advantage with them to the end. They kindly offered me the example of their civilization as a help to mend ours; and I, not with any vain Anglicism, for I own our insular civilization to be very unsatisfactory, but from a desire to get at the truth and not to deceive myself with hopes of help from a quarter where at present there is none to be found, have inquired whether