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till he has proved, that it is for the interest of | are sick, it seems, like the children of Israel, the people io respect property, he only makes of the objects of our old and legitimate wormatiers worse, by proving that they understand ship. We pine for a new idolatry. All that their interests. But we cannot refrain from is costly and all that is ornamental in our intreating our readers with a delicious bonne tellectual treasures must be delivered up, and bouche of wisdom, which he has kept for the cast into the furnace-and there comes out last moment.
this calf! “The opinions of that class of the people Our readers can scarcely mistake our object who are below the middle rank are formed, and in writing this article. They will not suspect their minds are directed, by that intelligent, that us of any disposition to advocate the cause of virtuous rank, who come the most immediately absolute monarchy, or of any narrow form in contact with them, who are in the constant of oligarchy, or to exaggerate the evils of po. habit of intimate communication with them, to pular government. Our object at present is, whom they tly for advice and assistance in all not so much to attack or defend any particular their numerous difficulties, upon whom they system of polity, as to expose the vices of a feel an immediate and daily dependence in kind of reasoning utterly unfit for moral and health and in sickness, in infancy and in old political discussions; of a kind of reasoning age, to whom their children look up as models which may so readily be turned to purposes for their imitation, whose opinions they hear of falsehood, that it ought to receive no quarter, daily repeated, and account it their honour to even when by accident it may be employed on adopt. There can be no doubt that the middle the side of truth. rank, which gives to science, to art, and 10 Our objection to the essay of Mr. Mill is jegislation itself, their most distinguished orna. fundamental. We believe that it is utterly ments, and is the chief source of all that has impossible to deduce the science of govern. exalted and refined human natnre, is that por ment from the principles of human nature. tion of the commuuity, of which, if the basis What proposition is there respecting human of representation were ever so far extended, nature which is absolutely and universally the opinion would ultimately decide. of the true? We know of only one; and that is not people beneath them, a vast majority would be only true, but identical; that men always acı sure to be guided by their advice and ex- from self-interest. This truism the Utilitarians ample.”
proclaim with as much pride as if it were new, This single paragraph is sufficient to upset and as much zeal as if it were important. But Mr. Mill's theory. Will the people act against in fact, when explained, it means only that their own interest? Or will the middle rank men, if they can, will do as they choose act against its own interest ? Or is the inte. When we see the actions of a man, we know rest of the middle rank identical with the inte- with certainty what he thinks his interest to be rest of the people? If the people act accord. But it is impossible to reason with certainty ing to the directions of the middle rank, as Mr. from what we take to be his interest to his ac. Mill says that they assuredly will, one of these lions. One man goes without a dinner, that three questions must be answered in the affir- he may add a shilling to a hundred thousand mative. But if any one of the three be answer-pounds: another runs in debt to give balls and ed in the affirmative, his whole system falls to masquerades. One man cuts his father's throat the ground. If the interest of the middle rank to get possession of his old clothes : another be identical with that of the people, why should hazards his own life to save that of an eneiny. not the powers of government be intrusted to One man volunteers on a forlorn hope: anthat rank? If the powers of government were other is drummed out of a regiment for cowintrusted to that rank, there would evidently ardice. Each of these men has, no doubt, be an aristocracy of wealth; and “to constitute acted from self-interesi. But we gain nothing an aristocracy of wealth, though it were a very by knowing this, except the pleasure, if it be numerous one, would,” according to Mr. Mill, one, of multiplying useless words. In faci, leave the community without protection, and this principle is just as recondite, and just as exposed to all the “evils of unbridled power.” important, as the great truth, that whatever is, Will not the same motives which induce the is. If a philosopher were always to state facts middle classes to abuse one of kind of power, in the following form—“There is a shower : induce them to abuse another? If their interest but whatever is, is; therefore, there is a shower," be the same with that of the people, they will his reasoning would be perfectly sound; but govern the people well. If it be opposite to we do not apprehend that it would materially that of the people, they will advise the people enlarge the circle of human knowledge. And ill. The system of universal suffrage, there it is equally idle to attribute any importance to fore, according to Mr. Mill's own account, is a proposition, which, when interpreted, means only a device for doing circuitously what a only that a man had rather do what he had representative system, with a pretty high qua- rather do. lification, would do directly.
If the doctrine that men always act from So ends the celebrated essay. And such is self-interest be laid down in any other sense this philosophy, for which the experience of than this—if the meaning of the word selfthree thousand years is to be discarded; this interest be narrowed so as to exclude any one philosophy, the professors of which speak as of the motives which may by possibility act if it had guided the world to the knowledge of on any human being,—the proposition ceases navigation and alphabetical writing; as if, be to be identical; but at the same time it ceases fore its dawn, the inhabitants of Europe had to be true. lived in caverns and eaten each other! We What we have said of the word “self-inte
rest” applies to all the synonymes and circum- | about the whole species, the impossibility of locutions which are employed to convey the answering is still more evident. Man differs same meaning; pain and pleasure, happiness from man; generation from generation ; Da. and misery, objects of desire, and so forth. tion frodi nation. Education, station, sex, age,
The whole art of Mr. Mill's essay consists accidental associations, produce infinite shades in one simple trick of legerdemain. It con- of variety. sists in using words of the sort which we have Now, the only mode in which we can conbeen describing, first in one sense and then in ceive it possible to deduce a theory of gevern. another. Men will take the objects of their ment from the principies of human nature, 13 desire if they can. Unquestionably :—but this this. We must find out what are the motives is an identical proposition: for an object of which, in a particular form of government, desire means merely a thing which a man will impel rulers to bad measures, and what are procure if he can. Nothing can possibly be those which impel them to good measures. inferred from a maxim of this kind. When We must then compare the effect of the iwo we see a man take soniething, we shall know classes of motives; and according as we find that it was an object of his desire. But till the one or the other to prevail, we must prothen, we have no means of judging with cer-nounce the form of government in question tainty what he desires, or what he will take. good or bad. The general proposition, however, having been Now let it be supposed that, in aristocral.ca admitted, Mr. Mill proceeds to reason as if and monarchical states, the desire of wealth, men had no desires but those which can be and other desires of the same class, always gratified only by spoiliation and oppression. It tend to produce misgovernment, and that the then becomes easy to deduce doctrines of vast love of approbation, and other kindred feelings, importance from the original axiom. The always tend to produce good governaenl only misfortune is, that by ihus narrowing the Then, if it be impossible, as we have shows meaning of the word desire, the axiom be- that it is, to pronounce generally which of the comes false, and all the doctrines consequent two classes of motives is the more influential, upon it are false likewise.
it is impossible to find out, a priori, whether a When we pass beyond those maxims which monarchical or aristocratical form of govern. it is impossible to deny without a contradiction ment be good or bad. in terms, and which, therefore, do not enable Mr. Mill has avoided the difficulty of making us to advance a single step in practical know the comparison, by very coolly putting all the ledge, we do not believe that it is possible to weights into one of the scales,- by reasoning lay down a single general rule respecting the as if no human being had ever sympathized 10 olives which influence human actions. There with the feelings, been gratified by the thanks, is nothing which may not, by association or by or been galled by the execrations, of another. comparison, become an object either of desire The case, as we have put il, is decisire or of aversion. The fear of death is generally against Mr. Mill; and yet we have put it in a considered as one of the strongest of our feel- manner far too favourable to him. For in ings. It is the most formidable sanction which fact, it is impossible to lay it down as a general legislators have been able to devise. Yet rule, that the love of wealth in a sovereign it is notorious that, as Lord Bacon has ob- always produces misgovernment, or the love served, there is no passion by which that fear of approbation good government. A patient has not been often overcome. Physical pain and far-sighted ruler, for example, who is less is indisputably an evil; yet it has been often desirous of raising a great sum immediately, endured, and even welcomed. Innumerable than of securing an unencumbered and promartyrs have exulted in torm.ents which made gressive revenue, will, by taking off restraints the spectators shudder; and, to use a more from trade, and giving perfect security to pro homely illustration, there are few wives who perty, encourage accumulation, and entice do not long to be mothers.
capital from foreign countries. The comIs the love of approbation a stronger motive mercial policy of Prussia, which is perhaps than the love of wealth? It is impossible to superior to ihat of any government' in the answer this question generally, even in the world, and which puts to shame the absurdicase of an individual with whom we are very ties of our republican brethren on the other intimate. We often say, indeed, that a man side of the Atlantic, has probably sprung from loves fame more than money, or money more the desire of an absolute ruler to enrich him. than fame. But this is said in a loose and self. On the other hand, when the popular popular sense; for there is scarcely a man estimate of virtues and vices is erroneous, who would not endure a few sneers for a great which is too often the case, the love of approsum of money, if he were in pecuniary dis- bation leads sovereigns to spend the wealth of tress; and scarcely a man, on the other hand, the nation on useless shows, or to engage in who, if he were in flourishing circumstances, wanton and destructive wars. If, then, we can would expose himself to the hatred and con- neither compare the strength of two motives, lempt of the public for a trifle. In order, there- nor determine with certainty to what descripfore, to return a precise answer, even about a tion of actions either motive will lead, how can single human being, we must know what is the we possibly deduce a theory of government amount of the sacrifice of reputation demand from the nature of man? ed, and of the pecuniary advantage offered, How, then, are we to arrive at just conclaand in what situation the person to whom the sions on a subject so important to the happi. lemptation is proposed stands at the time. Butness of mankind? Surely by that method when the vuestion is propounded generally I which, in every experimental science to which it has been applied, has signally increased the of nations,—which, of all sciences, most tends power and knowledge of our species,-by that to expand and invigorate the mind,- which method for which our new philosophers would draws nutriment and ornament from every part substitute quibbles scarcely worthy of barba- of philosophy and literature, and dispenses, in rous respondents and opponents of the middle return, nutriment and ornament to all. We are ages,—by the method of induction ;-by observ. surry and surprised when we see men of good ing the present state of the world, -by as- intentions and good natural abilities abandon siduously studying the history of past ages, this healthful and generous study, to pore over by sifting the evidence of facts,-by carefully speculations like those which we have been combining and contrasting those which are examining. And we should heartily rejoice 10 authentic,-by generalizing with judgment and find that our remarks had induced any person diffidence,-by perpetually bringing the theory of this description, to employ, in researches or which we have constructed to the test of new real utility, the talents and industry which are facts,-by correcting, or altogether abandoning now wasted on verbal sophisms, wretched or it, according as those new facts prove it to be their wretched kind. partially or fundamentally unsound. Proceed- As to the greater part of the sect, it is, we ing thu3,-patiently, diligently, candidly,—we apprehend, of little consequence, what they may hope to form a system as far inferior in study, or under whom. It would be more pretensions to that which we have been ex- amusing, to be sure, and more reputable, if they amining, and as far superior to it in real utility, would take up the old republican cant, and as the prescriptions of a great physician, vary declaim about Brutus and Timoleon, the duty ing with every stage of every malady, and of killing tyrants, and the blessedness of dying with the constitution of every patient, to the for liberty. But, on the whole, they might have pill of the advertising quack, which is to chosen worse. They may as well be Utilitacure all human beings, in all climates, of all rians as jockeys or dandies. And though diseases.
quibbling about self-interest and motives, and This is that noble science of politics, which objects of desire, and the greatest happiness is equally removed from the barren theories of of the greatest number, is but a poor employthe Utilitarian sophists, and from the petty ment for a grown man, it certainly hurts the craft, so often mistaken for statesmanship by health less than hard drinking, and the fortune ininds grown narrow in habits of intrigue, job- less than high play: it is not much more bing, and official etiquette ;-which, of all laughable than phrenology, and is immeasu. sciences, is the most important to the welfare rably more humane than cock-fighting.
BENTHAM'S DEFENCE OF MILL.*
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, JUNE, 1829.)
W, have had great reason, we think, to be | However sharply he may speak of us, we can gratified by the success of our late attack on never cease to revere in him the father of the ihe Utilitarians. We could publish a long list philosophy of Jurisprudence. He has a full of the cures which it has wrought, in cases right to all the privileges of a great inventor; previously considered as hopeless. Delicacy and, in our court of criticism, those privileges forbids us to divulge names; but we cannot will never be pleaded in vain. But they are refrain from alluding to two remarkable in- limited in the same manner in which, fortustances.--A respectable lady writes to inform nately for the ends of justice, the privileges of us, that her son, who was plucked at Cam- the peerage are now limited. The advantage bridge last January, has not been heard to call is personal and incommunicable. A nobleman Sir James Mackintosh a poor ignorant fool can now no longer cover with his protection more than twice since the appearance of our every lackey who follows his heels, or every article. A distinguished political writer in the bully who draws in his quarrel; and, highly Westminster and Parliamentary Reviews has as we respect the exalted rank which Mr. Benborrowed Hume's History, and has actually got tham holds among the writers of our time, yet as far as the battle of Agincourt
. He assures when, for the due maintenance of literary pous that he takes great pleasure in his new lice, we shall think it necessary to confute sa study, and that he is very impatient to learn phists, or to bring pretenders to shame, we shall how Scotland and England became one king. not depart from the ordinary course of our prodom. But the greatest compliment that we ceedings because the offenders call themselves have received is, that Mr. Bentham himself Benthamites. should have condescended to take the field in Whether Mr. Mill has much reason to thank defence of Mr. Mill. We have not been in the Mr. Bentham for undertaking his defence, our habit of reviewing reviews; but as Mr. Bentham readers, when they have finished this article, is a truly great man, and as his party have will perhaps be inclined to doubt. Great as thought fit to announce in puffs and placards Mr. Bentham's talents are, he has, we think, that ihis article is written by him, and contains shown an undue confidence in them. He not only an answer to our attacks, but a develop- should have considered how dangerous it is Inent of the “greatest happiness principle,” for any man, however eloquent and ingenious with the latest improvements of the author, we he may be, to attack or to defend a book with. shall for once depart from our general rule. out reading it. And we feel quite convinced However the conflict may terminate, we shall that Mr. Bentham would never have written at least not have been vanquished by an igno- the article before us, if he had, before he beble hand.
gan, perused our review with attention, and Of Mr. Bentham himself, we shall endea. compared it with Mr. Mill's Essay. vour, even while defending ourselves against He has utterly mistaken our object and his reproaches, to speak with the respect to meaning. He seems to think that we have which his venerable age, his genius, and his undertaken to set up some theory of governpublic services entitle him. If any harsh ex- ment in opposition to that of Mr. Mill. But we pression should escape us, we trust that he distinctly disclaimed any such design. From will attribute it to inadvertence, to the momen- the beginning to the end of our article, there is tary warmth of controversy,—to any thing, in not, as far as we remember, a single sentence short, rather than to a design of affronting him. which, when fairly construed, can be considered Though we have nothing in common with the as indicating any such design. If such an ex. crew of Hurds and Boswells, who, either from pression can be found, it has been dropped lry interested motives, or from the habit of intel- inadvertence. Our object was to prove, not lectual servility and dependence, pamper and that monarchy and aristocracy are good, but vitiate his appetite with the noxious sweetness that Mr. Mill had not proved them to be bad; of their undiscerning praise, we are not per- not that democracy is bad, but that Mr. Mill haps less competent than they to appreciate had not proved it to be good. The points in his merit, or less sincerely disposed to acknow- issue are these, Whether the famous Essay on ledge it. Though we may sometimes think his Government bé, as it has been called, a perfect reasonings on moral and political questions solution of the great political problem, or a seleeble and sophistical-though we may some- ries of sophisms and blunders; and whether times smile at his extraordinary language-we the sect which, while it glories in the precision can never be weary of admiring the amplitude of its logic, extols this Essay as a masterpiece of his comprehension, the keenness of his pene- of demonstration, be a sect deserving of the fratior, the exuberant fertility with which his respect or of the derision of mankind. These, mind pours forth arguments and illustrations. we say, are the issues; and on these we with
full confidence put ourselves on the country. *lle Westminster Review, No. XXI., Article XVI. Edinburgh Review, No. XCVII., Article on Mill's Essays I investigation, that we should stale what our
It is not necessary, for the purposes of this un Government, &c.
political creed is, or whether we have any po- I trusting to arbitrary power on the credit of litical creed at all. A man who cannot act the these specimens.” most trivial part in a farce has a right in his Now, in the first place, we never cited the Komeo Coates—a man who does not know a case of Denmark to prove that all despois do vein from an artery may caution a simple not govern ill. We cited it to prove that Mr. neighbour against the advertisements of Doc. Mill did not know how to reason. Mr. Mill tor Eady. A complete theory of government gave it as a reason for deducing the theory of would, indeed, be a noble present to mankind; government from the general laws of human but it is a present which we do not hope, and nature, that the king of Denmark was not do not pretend, that we can offer. If, however, Caligula. This we said, and we still say, was we cannot lay the foundation, it is something absurd. lo clear away the rubbish—if we cannot set up In the second place, it was not we,.but Mr. truth, it is something to pull down error. Even Mill, who said that the king of Denmark was if the subjects of which the Utilitarians treat a despot. His words are these :-“The people were subjects of less fearful importance, we of Denmark, tired out with the oppression of should think it no small service to the cause an aristocracy, resolved that their king should of good sense and good taste, to point out the be absolute; and under their absolute monarch contrast between their magnificeni pretensions are as well governed as any people in Europe." and their miserable performances. Some of We leave Mr. Bentham to seitle with Mr. Mill them have, however, thought fit to display their the distinction between a despot and an absoingenuity on questions of the most momentous lute king. kind, and on questions concerning which men In the third place, Mr. Bentham says, that cannot reason ill with impunity. We think it, there was in Denmark a balanced contest be. under these circumstances, an absolute duty tween the king and the nobility. We find to expose the fallacy of their arguments. It some difficulty in believing that Mr. Bentham is no matter of pride or of pleasure. To read seriously means to say this, when we consider their works is the most soporific employment that Mr. Mill has demonstrated the chance to that we know; and a man ought no more to be as infinity to one against the existence of be proud of refuting them than of having two such a balanced contest. legs. We must now come to close quarters Fourthly, Mr. Bentham says, that in this with Mr. Bentham, whom, we need not say, balanced contest the people turned the scale we do not mean to include in this observation. in favour of the king against the aristocracy. He charges us with maintaining,
But Mr. Mill has demonstrated, that it cannot * First, that it is not true that all despots possibly be for the interest of the monarchy govern ill :'- whereon the world is in a mis- and democracy to join against the aristocracy; iake, and the whigs have the true light. And and that wherever the three parties exist, the for proof, principally,—that the king of Den- king and the aristocracy will combine against mark is not Caligula. To which the answer the people. This, Mr. Mill assures us, is as is, that the king of Denmark is not a despot. certain as any thing which depends upon He was put in his present situation, by the human will. people turning the scale in his favour, in a Fifthly, Mr. Bentham says, that if the king balanced contest between himself and the no- of Denmark were to oppress his people, the bility. And it is quiļe clear that the same people and nobles would combine against the power would turn the scale the other way, the king. But Mr. Mill has proved that it can moment a king of Denmark should take into never be for the interest of the aristocracy to his head to be Caligula. It is of little conse combine with the democracy against the king. quence by what congeries of letters the ma. It is evidently Mr. Bentham's opinion, that jesty of Denmark is typified in the royal press " monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, may of Copenhagen, while the real fact is, that the balance each other, and by mutual checks prosword of the people is suspended over his head duce good government." But this is the very in case of ill-behaviour, as effectually as in theory which Mr. Mill pronounces to be the other countries where more noise is made wildest, the most visionary, the most chimeriupon the subject. Everybody believes the cal, ever broached on the subject of govern. sovereign of Denmark 10 be a good and virtu- ment. ous gentleman; but there is no more superhu- We have no dispute on these heads with Mr man merit in his being so, than in the case of Bentham. On the contrary, we think his exa rural squire who does not shoot his land- planation true-or, at least, true in part; and steward, or quarter his wife with his yeomanry we heartily thank him for lending us his assabre.
sistance to demolish the essay of his follower. “It is true that there are partial exceptions His wit and his sarcasm are sport to us; but to the rule, that all men use power as badly as they are death to his unhappy disciple. they dare. There may have been such things Mr. Beniham seems to imagine that we have as amiable negro-drivers and sentimental mas- said something implying an opinion favourable ters of press-gangs; and here and there, among to despotism. We can scarcely suppose that, the odd freaks of human nature, there may have as he has not condescended to read that portion been specimens of men who were • No tyrants, of our work which he undertook to answer, he though bred up to tyranny.' But it would be can have bestowed much altention on its general as wise to recommend wolves for nurses at character. Had he done so, he would, we think, the Foundling, on the credit of Romulus and scarcely have entertained such a suspicion. Remus, as to substitute the exception for the Mr. Mill asserts, and pretends to prove, that general fact, and advise mankind to take to under no despotic government does any human