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Sect. II.: Concerning the Immediate Motive to Virtuous Actions. - Lewis Amherst Selby-Bigge, British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, vol. 1 
British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, edited with an Introduction and analytical Index by L.A. Shelby-Bigge in two volumes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897). Vol. 1.
Part of: British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, 2 vols.
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ConcerningtheImmediate MotivetoVirtuous Actions.
80 The Motives of human Actions, or their immediate Causes, would be best understood after considering the Passions and Affections but here we shall only consider the Springs of the Actions which we call virtuous, as far as:t is necessary to settle the general Foundation of the Moral Sense.
I. Every Action, which we apprehend as either morally good or evil, is always suppos'd to flow from some Affection toward rational Agents; and whatever we call Virtue or Vice, is either some such Affection, or some Action consequent upon it. Or it may perhaps be enough to make an Action, or Omission, appear vitious, if it argues the Want of such Affection toward rational Agents, as we expect in Characters counted morally good. All the Actions counted religious in any Country, are suppos'd, by those who count them so, to flow from some Affections toward the Deity; and whatever we call social Virtue, we still suppose to flow from Affections toward our Fellow-Creatures: for in this all seem to agree, 'That external Motions, when accompany'd with no Affections toward God or Man, or evidencing no Want of the expected Affections toward either, can have no moral Good or Evil in them.'
Ask, for instance, the most abstemious Hermit, if Temperance of it self would be morally good, supposing it shew'd no Obedience toward the Deity, made us no fitter for Devotion, or the Service of Mankind, or the Search after Truth, than Luxury; and he will easily grant, that it would be no moral Good, the still it might be naturally good or advantageous to Health: And mere Courage, or Contempt of Danger, if we conceive it to have no regard to the Defence of the Innocent, or repairing of Wrongs, or Self-Interest, wou'd only entitle its Possessor to Bedlam. When such sort of Courage is sometimes admir'd, it is upon some secret Appehension of a good Intention in the use of it, or as a natural Ability capable of an useful Application. Prudence, if it was only employ'd in promoting private Interest, is never imagined to be a Virtue: and Justice, or observing a strict Equality, if:t has no regard to the Good of Mankind, the Preservation of Rights, and securing Peace, is a Quality properer for its ordinary Gestamen, a Beam and Scales, than for a rational Agent. So that these four Qualitys, commonly call'd Cardinal Virtues, obtain that Name, because they are Dispositions universally necessary to promote publick Good, and denote Affections toward rational Agents, otherwise there would appear no Virtue in them.
90 II. Now if it can be made appear, that none of these Affections which we call virtuous, spring from Self-love, or Desire of private Interest; since all Virtue is either some such Affections, or Actions consequent upon them; It must necessarily follow, 'That Virtue is not pursued from the Interest or Self-love of the Pursuer, or any Motives of his own Advantage.'
The Affections which are of most Importance in Morals. are Love and Hatred: All the rest seem but different Modifications of these two original Affections. Now in discoursing of Love toward rational Agents, we need not be cautlon'd not to include that Love between the Sexes, which, when no other Affections accompany it, is only Desire of Pleasure, and is never counted a Virtue. Love toward rational Agents, is subdivided into Love of Complacence or Esteem, and Love of Benevolence: And Hatred is subdlwded into Hatred of Displicence or Contempt, and Hatred of Mahce. Concerning each of these separately we shall consider, 'Whether they can be influenc'd by Motives of Self-Interest.'
91 Love of Complacence, Esteem, or Good-liking, at first view appears to be disinterested, and so the Hatred of D]sphcence or Dislike; and are entirely excited by some moral Qualitys, Good or Email, apprehended to be in the Objects; which Qualitys the very Frme of our Nature determines us to love or hate, to approve or disapprove, according to the moral Sense above explam'd1 . Propose to a Man all the Rewards in the World, or threaten all the Punishments, to engage him to love with Esteem and Complacence, a third Person entirely unknown, or if known, apprehended to be cruel, treacherous, ungrateful; you may procure external Obsequiousness, or good Offices, or Dissimulation of Love; but real Love of Esteem no Price can purchase. And the same is obvious as to Hatred of Contempt, which no Motive of Advantage can prevent. On the contrary, represent a Character as generous, kind, faithful, humane, the in the most distant Parts of the World, and we cannot avoid loving it with Esteem, and Complacence. A Bribe may make us attempt to ruin such a Man, or some strong Motive of Advantage may excite us to oppose his Interest; but it can never make us hate him, while we apprehend him as morally excellent. Nay, when we consult our own Hearts, we shall find, that we can scarce ever persuade our selves to attempt any Mischief against such Persons, from any Motive of Advantage, nor execute it, without the strongest Reluctance, and Remorse, until we have blinded our selves into a bad Opinion of the Person in a moral Sense.
92 III. As to the Love of Benevolence, the very Name excludes Self-Interest. We never call that Man benevolent, who is in fact useful to others, but at the same time only intends his own Interest, without any desire of, or delight in, the Good of others. If there be any Benevolence at all, it must be disinterested; for the most useful Action imaginable, loses all appearance of Benevolence, as soon as we discern that it only flowed from Self-Love or Interest. Thus, never were any human Actions more advantageous, than the Inventions of Fire, and Iron; but if these were casual, or if the Inventor only intended his own Interest in them, there is nothing which can be call'd Benevolent in them. Wherever then Benevolence is suppos'd, there it is imagin'd disinterested, and design'd for the Good of others.
93 But it must be here observ'd, That as all Men have Self-Love, as well as Benevolence, these two Principles may jointly excite a Man to the same Action; and then they are to be consider'd as two Forces impelling the same Body to Motion; sometimes they conspire, sometimes are indifferent to each other, and sometimes are in some degree opposite. Thus, if a Man have such strong Benevolence, as would have produc'd an Action without any Views of Self-Interest; that such a Man has also in View private Advantage, along with publick Good, as the Effect of his Action, does no way diminlsh the Benevolence of the Action. When he would not have produc'd so much publick Good, had it not been for Prospect of Self-lnterest, then the Effect of Self-Love is to be deducted, and his Benevo fence is proportion'd to the remainder of Good, which pure Benevolence would have produc'd." When a Man's Benevolence is hurtful to himself, then Self-love is opposite to Benevolence, and the Benevolence is proportion'd to the Sum of the Good produc'd, added to the Resistance of Self-Love surmounted by it. In most Cases it is impossible for Men to know how far their Fellows are influenc'd by the one or other of these Principles but yet the general Truth AS sufficiently certain, That this is the way in which the Benevolence of Actions is to be computed. Since then, no Love to rational Agents can proceed from Self-lnterest, every Action must be disinterested, as far as it flows from Love to rational Agent_.
94 If any enquire, 'Whence arises this Love of Esteem, or Benevolence, to good Men, or to Mankind in general, if not from some nice Views of Self-Interest? Or, how we can be mov'd to desire the Happiness of others, without any View to our own? 'It may be answel'd, 'That the same Cause which determines us to pursue Happiness for our selves, determines us both to Esteem and Benevolence on their proper Occasions even the very Frame of our Nature, or a generous Instruct, which shall be afterwards explain'd.
95 IV. Here we may observe, That as Love of Esteem and Complacence is always join'd with Benevolence, where there is no strong Opposition of Interest so Benevolence seems to presuppose some small degree of Esteem, not indeed of actual good Qualitys; for there may be strong Benevolence, where there is the Hatred of Contempt for actual Vice; as a Parent may have great Benevolence to a most abandon'd Chad, whose Manners he hates with the greatest Displicence: but Benevolence supposes a Being capable of Virtue. We judge of other rational Agents by our selves. The human Nature is a lovely Form we are all conscious of some morally good Qualities and Inclinations in our selves, how partial and imperfect soever they may be we presume the same of every thing in human Form, nay almost of every living Creature: so that by this suppos'd remote Capacity of Virtue, there may be some small degree of Esteem along with our Benevolence, even when they incur our greatest Displeasure by their Conduct.
96 As to Malice, Human Nature seems scarce capable of mahclous dismterested Hatred, or a sedate Delight in the Misery of others, when we imagine them no way pernicious to us, or opposite to our Interest: And for that Hatred which makes us oppose those whose Interests are opposite to ours, it is only the effect of Self-Love, and not of disinterested Mahce. A sudden Passion may give us wrong Representations of our Fellow-Creatures, and for a little time represent them as absolutely Evil; and during this Imagination perhaps we may give some Evidences of disinterested Malice: but as soon as we reflect upon human Nature, and form just Conceptions, this unnatural Passion is allay'd, and only Self-Love remains, which may make us, from Self-Interest, oppose our Adversarys.
97 V. Having offer'd what may perhaps prove, That our Love either of Esteem, or Benevolence, is not founded on Self-Love, or wews of Interest, let us see 'ff some other Affections, in which Virtue may be plac'd, do arise from Self-Love;' such as Fear, or Reverence, arising from an Apprehension of Goodness, Power, and Justice. For no body apprehends any Virtue in base Dread and Servitude toward a powerful Evil Being: This is indeed the meanest Selfishness. Now the same Arguments which prove Love of Esteem to be dismtcrested, will prove this honourable Reverence to be so too; for it plainly arises flora an Apprehension of amiable Qualitys in the Person, and Love toward him, which raises an Abhorrence of offending him. Could we reverence a Being because it was our Interest to do so, a third Person might bribe us into Reverence toward a Being neither Good, nor Powerful, which every one sees to be a Jest. And this we might shew to be common to all other Passions, which hae rational Agents for their Objects.
98 VI. There is one Objection against disinterested Love, which occurs from conserving, 'That nothing so effectually excites our Love toward rational Agents, as their Beneficence to us; whence we are led to imagine, that our Love of Persons, as well as irrational Objects, flows entirely from Self-Interest.' But let us here examine our selves more narrowly. Do we only love the Beneficent, because it is our Interest to love them? Or do we choose to love them, because our Love is the means of procuring their Bounty? If it be so, then we could indifferently love any Character, even to obtain the Bounty of a third Person; or we could be brlb'd by a third Person to love the greatest Villain heartily, as we may be brib'd to external Offices: Now this is plainly impossible.
99 But further, is not our Love always the Consequent of Bounty, and not the Means of procuring it? External Shew, Obsequiousness, and Dissmmlation may precede an Opinion of Beneficence but real Love always presupposes it, and shall necessarily arise even when we expect no more, fiom consideration of past Benefits. Or can any one say he only loves the Beneficent, as he does a Field or Garden, because of its Advantage? His Love then must cease toward one who has ruin'd himself in kind Offices to him, when he can do him no more; as we cease to love an inanimate Object which ceases to be useful, unless a Poetical Prosopopceia animate it, and rinse an imaginary Gratitude, which is indeed pretty common. And then again, our Love would be the same towards the worst Characters that 'tis towards the best, if they were equally bountiful to us, which is also false, Beneficence then must raise our Love as it is an amiable moral Quality: and hence we love even those who are beneficent to others.
100 It may be further alledg'd, 'That Bounty toward our selves is a stronger Incitement to love, than equal Bounty toward others.' This is true for a Reason to be offer'd below1 : but it does not prove, that in this Case our Love of Persons is from Views of Interest; since this Love is not prior to the Bounty, as the means to procure it, but subsequent upon it, even when we expect no more. In the Benefits which we receive our selves, we are more fully sensible of their Value, nnd of the Circumstances of the Action which are Evidences of a generous Temper in the Donor; and from the good Opinion we have of our selves, we are apt to look upon the Kindness as better employ'd, than when it is bestow'd on others, of whom perhaps we have less favourable Sentiments. It is however sufficient to remove the Objection, that Bounty from a Donor apprehended as morally Evil, or extorted by Force, or conferr'd with some View of Self-Interest, will not procure real Love nay, it may false Indignation, if we suspect Dissimulation of Love, or a Design to allure us into any thing Dishonourable: whereas wisely employ'd Bounty is always approv'd, and gains love to the Author from all who hear of it.
If then no Love toward Persons be influene'd by Self-Love, or Views of Interest, and all Virtue flows from Love toward Persons, or some other Affection equally disinterested; it remains, 'That there must be some other Motive than Self-Love, or Interest, which excites us to the Actions we call Virtuous.'
101 VII. There may perhaps still remain another Suspicion of Self-lnterest in our Prosecution of Virtue arising from this, 'That the whole Race of Mankind seems persuaded of the Existence of an Almighty Being, who will certainly secure Happiness either now, or hereafter, to those who are Virtuous, according to their several Notions of Virtue in various Places: and upon this Persuasion, Virtue may in all Cases be pursu'd from Views of Interest V Here again we might appeal to all Mankind, whether there be no Benevolence but what flows from a View of Reward from the Deity? Nay, do we not see a great deal of it among those who entertain few if any Thoughts of Devotion at all? Not to say that this Benevolence scarce deserves the Name, when we desire not, nor delight in the Good of others, further than it serves our own Ends.
But if we have no other Idea of Good, than Advantage to our selves, we must imagine that every rahonal Being acts only for its own Advantage; and however we may call a beneficent Being, a good Being, because it acts for our Advantage, yet upon this Scheme we should not be apt to think there is any beneficent Being in Nature, or a Being who acts for the Good of others. Pamcularly, if there is no Sense of Excellence in publick Love, and promoting the Happiness of others, whence should this Persuasion arise, 'That the Deity wlll make the Virtuous happy?1 Can we prove that it is for the Advantage of the DeitV to do so? This I fancy will be look'd upon as very absurd, unless we suppose some beneficent Disposltions essential to the Deity, which determine him to consult the publick Good of his Creatures, and reward such as cooperate with his kind Intention. And if there be such Dispositions in the Deity, where is the impossibility of some small degree of this publick Love in his Creatures? And why must they be suppos'd incapable of acting but from Self-Love? 102 In short, without acknowledging some other Principle of Action in rational Agents than Self-Love, I see no Foundation to expect Beneficence, or Rewards from God, or Man, further than it is the Interest of the Benefactor; and all Expectation of Benefits from a Being whose Interests are independent on us, must be perfectly ridiculous. What should engage the Deity to reward Virtue? Virtue is commonly suppos'd, upon this Scheme, to be only a consulting our own Happiness in the most artful way, conslstently with the Good of the Whole; and in Vice the same thing is foolishly pursu'd, in a manner which will not so probably succeed, and which is contrary to the Good of the Whole. But how is the Deity concern'd in this Whole, if every Agent always acts from Self-Love? And what Ground have we, from the Idea of a God it self, to beheve the Deity is good in the Christian Sense, that is, studious of the Good of his Creatures? Perhaps the Misery of his Creatures may give him as much Pleasure, as their Happiness: And who can find fault, or blame such a Being to study their Misery; for what else should we expect? A Mamchean Evil God, is a Notmn which Men would as readily run mto, as that of a Good one, if there is no Excellence in disinterested Love, and no Being acts but for its own Advantage unless we prov'd that the Happiness of Creatures was advantageous to the Deity.
103 VIII. The last, and only remaining Objection against what has been said, is this, 'That Virtue perhaps is pursu'd because of the concomitant Pleasure.' To which we may answer, first, by observing, that this plainly supposes a Sense of Vmue antecedent to Ideas of Advantage, upon which this Advantage is founded; and that from the very Frame of our Nature we are determin'd to perceive Pleasure in the practice of Virtue, and to approve it when practis'd by our selves, or others.
104 But further, may we not justly question, whether all Virtue is pleasant? Or, whether we are not determin'd to some amiable Actions in which we find no Pleasure? 'Tis true, all the Passions, and Affections justify themselves; or, we approve our being affected in a certain manner on certain Occasions, and condemn a Person who is otherwise affected. So the Sorrowful, the Angry, the Jealous, the Compassionate, think it reasonable they should be so upon the several Occasions which move these Passions; but we should not therefore say that Sorrow, Anger, Jealousy, or Pity are pleasant, and that we chuse to be in these Passions because of the concomitant Pleasure. The matter is plainly this. The Frame of our Nature, on such Occasions as move these Passions, determines us to be thus affected, and to approve our being so. Nay, we dislike any Person who is not thus affected upon such occasions, notwith-standing the uneasiness of these Passions. This uneasiness determines us to endeavour an Alteration in the state of the Object; but not otherwise to remove the painful Affection, while the occasion is unalter'd: which shews that these Affections are neither chosen for their concomitant Pleasure, nor voluntarily brought upon our selves with a view to private Good. The Actions which these Passions move us to, tend generally to remove the uneasy Passion by altering the state of the Object; but the Removal of our Pain is seldom directly intended in the uneasy Benevolent Passions nor is the Alteration intended in the State of the Objects by such Passions, imagin'd to be a private Good to the Agent, as it always is in the selfish Passions. If our sole Intention, in Compassion or Pity, was the Removal of our Pain, we should run away, shut our Eyes, divert our Thoughts from the miserable Object, to avoid the Pain of Compassion, which we seldom do: nay, we croud about such Objects, and voluntarily expose our selves to Pain, unless Reason, and Reflection upon our Inability to relieve the Miserable, countermand our Inclination or some selfish Affection, as fear of Danger, overballances it.
Now there are several morally amiable Acnons. which flow from these Passions which are so uneasy; such as Attempts of relieving the Distress'd, of defending the Injur'd, of repairing of Wrongs done by ourselves. These Actions are of accom-pany'd with no Pleasure in the mean time, nor have they any subsequent Pleasure, except as they are successful; unless it be that which may arise from calm Refection, when the Passion is over, upon our having been in a Disposition, which to our moral Sense appears lovely and good: but this Pleasure is never intended in the Heat of Action, nor is it any Motive exciting to it.
105 Besides, In the pleasant Passions, we do not love, because it is pleasant to love; we do not chuse this State, because it is an advantageous, or pleasant State: This Passion necessarily arises from seeing its proper Object, a morally good Character. And if we could love, whenever we see it would be our Interest to love, Love could be brib'd by a third Person and we could never love Persons in Distress, for then our Love gives us Pain. The same Observation may be extended to all the other Affections from which Virtue is suppos'd to flow: And from the whole we may conclude, 'That the virtuous Agent is never apprehended by us as acting only from Views of his own Interest, but as principally influenc'd by some other Motive.'
106 IX. Having remov'd these false Springs of virtuous Actions, let us next establish the true one, viz. some Determination of our Nature to study the Good of others; or some Instinct, antecedent to all Reason from Interest, which influences us to the Love of others; even as the moral Sense above explain'd1 , determines us to approve the Actions which flow from this Love in our selves or others. This disinterested Affection, may appear strange to Men impress'd with Notions of Self-Love, as the sole Motive of Action, from the Pulpit, the Schools, the Systems, and Conversations regulated by them: but let us consider it in its strongest, and simplest Kinds and when we see the Possibility of it in these Instances, we may easily discover its universal Extent.
An honest Farmer will tell you, that he studies the Preservation and Happiness of his Children, and loves them without any design of Good to himself. But say some of our Philosophers, 'The Happiness of their Children give Parents Pleasure, and their Misery gives them Pain; and therefore to obtain the former, and avold the latter, they study, from Self-Love, the Good of their Children.' Suppose several Merchants join'd in Partnership of their whole Effects; one of them is employ'd abroad in managing the Stock of the Company; his Prosperity occasions Gain to all, and his Losses give them Pain from their Share in the Loss: is this then the same Kind of Affection with that of Parents to their Children? Is there the same tender, personal Regard? I fancy no Parent will say so. In this Case of Merchants there is a plato Conjunction of Interest; but whence the Conjunction of Interest between the Parent and Child? Do the Child's Sensations give Pleasure or Pain to the Parent? Is the Parent hungry, thirsty, sick, when the Child is so? 'No, but his Love to the Child makes him affected with his Pleasures or Pains.' This Love then is antecedent to the Conjunction of Interest, and the Cause of it, not the Effect: this Love then must be disinterested. 'No, says another Sophist, Children are Parts of our selves, and in loving them we but love our selves in them.' A very good Answer! Let us carry it as far as it will go. How are they Parts of our selves? Not as a Leg or an Am: We are not conscious of their Sensations. 'But their Bodys were form'd from Parts of ours.' So is a Fly, or a Maggot which may breed in any discharg'd Blood or Humour: Very dear Insects surely 'There must be something else then which makes Children Parts of our selves; and what is this but that Affection which Nature determines us to have towards them? This Love makes them Parts of our selves, and therefore does not flow from their being so before. This is indeed a good Metaphor; and wherever we find a Determination among several rational Agents to mutual Love, let each Individual be look'd upon as a Part of a great Whole, or System, and concern himself in the publick Good of it.
But a later Author observes1 , 'That natural Affection in Parents is weak, till the Children begin to give Evidences of Knowledge and Affections.' Mothers say they feel it strong from the very first: and yet I could wish for the Destruction of his Hypothesis, that what he alledges was true as I fancy it is in some measure, the we may find in some Parents an Affection towards Idiots. The observing of Understanding and Affections in Children, which make them appear moral Agents, can increase Love toward them without prospect of Interest; for I hope this Increase of Love, is not from Prospect of Advantage from the Knowledge or Affections of Children, for whom Parents are still toiling, and never intend to be refunded their Expences, or recompens'd for their Labour, butln Cases of extreme Necessity. If then the observing a moral Capacity can be the occasion of increasing Love without Self-Interest even from the Frame of our Nature; pray, may not this be a Foundation of weaker degrees of Love where there is no preceding tie of Parentage, and extend it to all Mankind? 108 X. And that this is so in fact, will appear by considering some more distant Attachments. If we observe any Neighbours, from whom perhaps we have receiv'd no good Offices, form'd into Friendships, Familys, Partnerships, and with Honesty and Kindness assisting each other; pray ask any Mortal if he would not be better pleas'd with their Prosperity, when their Interests are no way inconsistent with his own, than with their Misery, and Ruin; and you shall find a Bond of Benevolence further extended than a Family and Children, altho the Ties are not so strong. Again, suppose a Person, for Trade, had left his native Country, and with all his Kindred had settled his Fortunes abroad, without any view of returning; and only imagine he had receiv'd no Injurys from his Country: ask such a Man, would it give him no Pleasure to hear of the Prosperity of his Country? Or could he, now that his Interests are separated from that of his Nation, as gladly hear that it was laid waste by Tyranny or a foreign Power? I fancy his Answer would show us a Benevolence extended beyond Neighbourhoods or Acquaintances. Let a Man of a compos'd Temper, out of the hurry of private Affairs, only read of the Constitution of a foreign Country, even in the most distant parts of the Earth, and observe Art, Design, and a Study of publick Good in the Laws of this Association; and he shall find his Mind mov'd in their favour; he shall be contriving Rectifications and Amendments in their Constitution, and regiet any unlucky part of it which may be pernicious to their Interest; he shall bewail any Disaster which befalls them, and accompany all their Fortunes with the Affections of a Friend. Now this proves Benevolence to be in some degree extended to all mankind, where there is no interfering Interest, which from Self-Love may obstruct it. And had we any Notions of rational Agents, capable of moral Affections, in the most distant Planets, our good Wishes would still attend them, and we should delight in their Happiness. 109 XI. Here we may transiently remark the Foundation of what we call national Love, or Love of one's native Country. Whatever place we have liv'd in for any considerable time, there we have most distinctly remark'd the various Affections of human Nature; we have known many lovely Characters; we remember the Associations, Friendships, Familys, natural Affections, and other human Sentiments: our moral Sense determines us to approve these lovely Dispositions where we have most distinctly observ'd them; and our Benevolence concerns us in the Interests of the Persons possess'd of them. When we come to observe the like as distinctly in another Country, we begin to acquire a national Love toward it also; nor has our own Country any other preference in our Idea, unless it be by an Association of the pleasant Ideas of our Youth, with the Buildings, Fields, and Woods where we receiv'd them. This may let us see, how Tyranny, Faction, a Neglect of Justice, a Corruption of Manners, or any thing which occasions the Misery of the Subjects, destroys this national Love, and the dear Idea of a Country.
We ought here to observe, That the only Reason of that apparent want of natural Affection among collateral Relations, is, that these natural Inclinations, in many Cases, are over-power'd by Self-Love, where there happens any Opposition of Interests; but where this does not happen, we shall find all Mankind under its Influence, the with different degrees of Strength, according to the nearer or more remote Relations they stand in to each other; and according as the natural Affection of Benevolence is join'd with and strengthen'd by Esteem, Gratitude, Compassion, or other kind Affections; or on the contrary, weaken'd by, Displicence, Anger, or Envy.
 See Sect. i
 See Sect. v. Art. 2.
 See above Sect. i. Art 5. Par. 5.
 See sect. 1.
 See the Fable of the Bees, page 68. 3rd Ed.