« AnteriorContinuar »
in all communities the interest of a king must derstands the words, “interest of the combe opposed to that of the people, but also that, munity.” in all communities, it must be more directly It does not appear very easy, on Mr. Mill's opposed to the interest of the people than to principles, to find out any mode of making the the interest of the aristocracy. Bat he has not interest of the representative body identical shown this. Therefore he has not proved his with that of the constituent body. The plan proposition on his own principles. To quote proposed by Mr. Mill is simply that of very history would be a mere waste of time. Every frequent election. “As it appears,” says hé, school-boy, whose studies have gone so far as " that limiting the duration of their power is a the abridgments of Goldsmith, can mention in- security against the sinister interest of the stances in which sovereigns have allied them- people's representatives, so it appears that it selves with the people against the aristocracy, is the only security of which the nature of the and in which nobles have allied themselves case admits.” But all the arguments by which with the people against the sovereign. In ge- Mr. Mill has proved monarchy and aristocracy deral, when there are three parties, every one to be pernicious, will, as it appears to us, of which has much to fear from the others, it equally prove this security to be no security is not found that two of them combine to plun- at all. Is it not clear that the representatives, der :he third. If such a combination be formed, as soon as they are elected, are an aristocracy, it scarcely ever effects its purpose. It soon be with an interest opposed to the interest of the comes evident which member of the coalition community? Why should they not pass a law is likely to be the greater gainer by the trans. for extending the term of their power from one action. He becomes an object of jealousy to year to ten years, or declare themselves sena. his ally, who, in all probability, changes sides, tors for life? If the whole legislative power and compels him to restore what he has taken. is given to them, they will be constitutionally Everybody knows how Henry VIII. trimmed competent to do this. If part of the legislative between Francis and the Emperor Charles. power is withheld from them, to whom is that But it is idle to cite examples of the operation part given? Is the people to retain it, and to of a principle which is illustrated in almost express its assent or dissent in primary assemevery page of history, ancient or modern, and blies? Mr. Mill himself tells us that the comto which almost every state in Europe has, at munity can only act when assembled, and that, one time or another, been indebted for its in- when assembled, it is incapable of acting. Or dependence.
is it to be provided, as in some of the AmeriMr. Mill has now, as he conceives, demon- can republics, that no change in the fundastrated that the simple forms of government mental laws shall be made without the consent are bad, and that the mixed forms cannot pos- of a convention, specially elected for the pursibly exist. There is still, however, it seems, pose? Still the difficulty recurs: Why may a hope for mankind.
not the members of the convention betray their “In the grand discovery of modern times, trust, as well as the members of the ordinary the system of representation, the solution of all legislature? When private men, they may the difficulties, both speculative and practical, have been zealous for the interests of the comwill perhaps be found. If it cannot, we seem munity. When candidates, they may have to be forced upon the extraordinary conclusion, pledged themselves to the cause of the constithat good government is impossible. For as tution. But as soon as they are a convention, there is no individual or combination of indi- as soon as they are separated from the people, viduals, except the community itself, who would as soon as the supreme power is put into their not have an interest in bad government, if in- hands, commences that interest, opposite to the trusted with its powers, and as the community interest of the community, which must, accorditself is incapable of exercising those powers, ing to Mr. Mill, produce measures opposite to and must intrust them to certain individuals, the interests of the community. We must find the conclusion is obvious: the community it- some other means, therefore, of checking this self must check those individuals, else they check upon a check ; some other prop to carry will follow their interest, and produce bad the tortoise, that carries the elephani, that cargovernment. But how is it the cominunity ries the world. can check! The community can act only We know well that there is no real danger when assembled; and when assembled, it is in such a case. But there is no danger, only incapable of acting. The community, how because there is no truth in Mr. Mill's princiever, can choose representatives."
ples. If men were what he represents them The next question is-How must the repre- to be, the letter of the very constitution which sentative body be constituted ? Mr. Mill lays he recommends would afford no safeguard down two principles, about which, he says, “it against bad government. The real security is is unlikely that there will be any dispute.” this, that legislators will be deterred by the
“First, The checking body must have a de- fear of resistance and of infamy from acting gree of power sufficient for the business of in the manner which we have described. But checking
restraints, exactly the same in kind, and differ“Secondly, it must have an identity of inte-ing only in degree, exist in all forms of go. rest with the community. Otherwise, it will vernment. That broad line of distinction make a mischievous use of its power.” which Mr. Mill tries to point out between
The first of these propositions certainly monarchies and aristocracies on the one side, admits of no dispute. As to the second, we and democracies on the other, has in fact no shall hereafter take occasion to make some existence. In no form of government is there remarks on the sense in which Mr. Mill un- an absolute identity of interest between the people and their rulers. In every form of go-| terest of a Chinese the same with that of the vernment the rulers stand in some awe of the wonian whom he harnesses to his plough? people. The fear of resistance and the sense Is the interest of an Italian the same with that of shame operate, in a certain degree, on the of the daughter whom he devotes to God? most absolute kings and the most illiberal oli. The interest of a respectable Englishman may garchies. And nothing but the fear of resist- be said, without any impropriety, to be identi. ance and the sense of shame preserves the cal with that of his wife. But why is it so ? freedom of the most democratic communities Because human nature is not what Mr. Mill from the encroachments of their annual and conceives it to be; because civilized men, biennial delegates.
pursuing their own happiness in a social state, We have seen how Mr. Mill proposes to are not Yahoos fighting for carrion; because render the interest of the representative body there is a pleasure in being loved and es. identical with that of the constituent body. teemed, as well as in being feared and serThe next question is, in what manner the in- vilely obeyed. Why does not a gentleman reterest of the constituent body is to be rendered strici his wife to the bare maintenance which identical with that of the community. Mr. the law would compel him to allow her, that Mill shows that a minority of the community, he may have more to spend on his personal consisting even of many thousands, would be pleasures ? Because, if he loves her, he has a bad constituent body, and, indeed, merely a pleasure in seeing her pleased; and because, numerous aristocracy.
even if he dislikes her, he is unwilling that -“The benefits of the representative system,” the whole neighbourhood should cry shame on says he, “are lost in all cases in which the in- his meanness and ill-nature. Why does not terests of the choosing body are not the same the legislature, altogether composed of males, with those of the community. It is very evi- pass a law to deprive women of all civil prident that, if the community itself were the vileges whatever, and reduce them to the state choosing body, the interest of the community of slaves ? By passing such a law, they would and that of the choosing body would be the gratify what Mr. Mill tells us is an inseparable same.”
part of human nature, the desire to possess On these grounds Mr. Mill recommends that unlimited power of inflicting pain upon others. all males of mature age, rich and poor, edu- That they do not pass such a law, though they cated and ignorant, shall have votes. But have the power to pass it, and that no man in why not the women too? This question has England wishes to see such a law passed, often been asked in parliamentary debate, and proves that the desire to possess unlimited has never, to our knowledge, received a plau- power of inflicting pain is not inseparable sible answer. Mr. Mill escapes from it as fast from human nature. as he can. But we shall take the liberty to If there be in this country an identity of indwell a little on the words of the oracle. “One terest between the two sexes, it cannot possi. thing,” says he, “is pretty clear, that all those bly arise from any thing but the pleasure of individuals whose interests are involved in being loved, and of communicating happiness. those of other individuals may be struck off For that it does not spring from the mere inwithout inconvenience.
• In stinct of sex, the treatment which women exthis light women may be regarded, the interest perience over the greater part of the world of almost all of whom is involved either in abundantly proves. And if it be said that our that of their fathers, or in that of their hus- laws of marriage have produced it, this only bands."
removes the argument a step further; for If we were to content ourselves with saying, those laws have been made by males. Now, in answer to all the arguments in Mr. Mill's if the kind feelings of one-half of the species Essay, that the interest of a king is involved be a sufficient security for the happiness of the in that of the community, we should be ac-other, why may not the kind feelings of a mocused, and justly, of talking nonsense. Yet narch or an aristocracy be sufficient at least such an assertion would not, as far as we can to prevent them from grinding the people to perceive, be more unreasonable than that the very utmost of their power ? which Mr. Mill has here ventured to make. If Mr. Mill will examine why it is that woWithout adducing one fact, without taking the men are better treated in England than in trouble to perplex the question by one sophism, Persia, he may perhaps find out, in the course he placidly dogmatizes away the interests of of his inquiries, why it is that the Danes are one-half of the human race. If there be a better governed than the subjects of Caligula. word of truth in history, women have always We now come to the most important practi. been, and still are, over the greater part of the cal question in the whole Essay. Is it desiraglobe, humble companions, playthings, cap- ble that all males arrived at years of discretives, menials, beasts of burden. Except in a tion should vote for representatives, or should few happy and highly civilized communities, a pecuniary qualification be required? Mr. they are strictly in a state of personal slavery. Mill's opinion is, that the lower the qualificaEven in those countries where they are best tion the better; and that the best system is treated, the laws are generally unfavourable that in which there is none at all. 10 them, with respect to almost all the points “The qualification," says he, “must either in which they are most deeply interested. be such as to embrace the majority of the
Mr. Mill is not legislating for England or population, or something less than the ma. the United States; but for mankind. Is then jority. Suppose, in the first place, that it eni. The interest of a Turk the same with that of braces the majority, the question is, whether the girls who compose his haram? Is the in- the majority would have an interest in op
pressing those who, upon this supposition, l. It may, perhaps, be said that, in the .ong run, would be deprived of political power? If we it is for the interest of the people that property reduce the calculation to its elements, we shall should be secure, and that, therefore, they will see that the interest which they would have respect it. We answer thus:-It cannot be of this deplorable kind, though it would be pretended that it is not for the immediate in. something, would not be very great. Each terest of the people to plunder the rich. Thereman of the majority, if the majority were con- fore, even if it were quite certain that, in the stituted the governing body, would have some long run, the people would, as a body, lose by thing less than the benefit of oppressing a doing so, it would not necessarily follow that single man. If the majority were twice as the fear of remote ill consequences would overgreat as the minority, each man of the ma- come the desire of immediate acquisitions. jority would only have one-half the benefit of Every individual might flauier himself that the oppressing a single man.
punishment would not fall on him. Mr. Mill Suppose, in the second place, that the qualifi- himself tells us, in his Essay on Jurisprudence, cation did not admit a body of electors so that no quantity of evil which is remote and large as the majority, in that case, taking uncertain will suffice to prevent crime. again the calculation in its elements, we shall But we are rather inclined to think that it see that each man would have a benefit equal would, on the whole, be for the interest of the to that derived from the oppression of more majority to plunder the rich. If so, the Utilitathan one man; and that, in proportion as the rians will say, that the rich ought to be plunelective body constituted a smaller and smaller dered. We deny the inference. For, in the minority, the benefit of misrule to the elective first place, if the object of government be the body would be increased, and bad government greatest happiness of the greatest number, the would be insured."
intensity of the suffering which a measure The first remark which we have to make on inflicts must be taken into consideration, as this argument is, that, by Mr. Mill's own ac well as the number of the sufferers. In the next count, even a government in which every place, we have to notice one most important human being should vote would still be detec- distinction which Mr. Mill has altogether overlive. For, under a system of universal suffrage, looked. Throughout his Essay, he confounds the majority of the electors return the repre- the community with the species. He talks of sentative, and the majority of the representa- the greatest happiness of the greatest number: tives make the law. The whole people may but when we examine his reasonings, we find vote, therefore, but only the majority govern. that he thinks only of the greatest number of a So that, by Mr. Mill's own confession, the most single generation. perfect system of government conceivable is Therefore, even if we were to concede, that one in which the interest of the ruling body to all those arguments of which we have exposed oppress, though not great, is something. the fallacy, are unanswerable, we might still
But is Mr. Mill in the right, when he says deny the conclusion at which the essayist that such an interest could not be very great? | arrives. Even if we were to grant that he had We think not. If, indeed, every man in the found out the form of government which is community possessed an equal share of what best for the majority of the people now living Mr. Mill calls the objects of desire, the majority on the face of the earth, we might still, without would probably abstain from plundering the inconsistency, maintain that form of governminority. A large minority would offer a ment to be pernicious to mankind. It would vigorous resistance; and the property of a still be incumbent on Mr. Mill to prove that the small minority would not repay the other interest of every generation is identical with members of the community for ihe trouble of the interest of all succeeding generations. And dividing it. But it happens that in all civilized how, on his own principles, he could do this communities there is a small minority of rich we are at a loss to conceive. men, and a great majority of poor men. If The case, indeed, is strictly analogous to that there were a thousand men with ten pounds of an aristocratical government. In an arisapiece, it would not be worth while for nine tocracy, says Mr. Mill, the few, being invested bundred and ninety of them to rob ten, and it with the powers of government, can take the would be a bold attempt for six hundred of them objects of their desires from the people. In the to rob four bundred. But if ten of them had a (same inanner, every generation, in turn, can hundred thousand pounds apiece, the case gratify itself at the expense of posterity,-priwould be very different. There would then be ority of time, in the latter case, giving an admuch to be got, and nothing to be feared. vantage exactly corresponding to that which
“That one human being will desire to render superiority of station gives in the former. the person and property of another subservient That an aristocracy will abuse its advantage, to his pleasures, notwithstanding the pain or is, according to Mr. Mill, matter of demonstra. loss of pleasure which it may occasion to that tion. Is it not equally certain that the whole other individual, is,” according to Mr. Mill, people will do the same; that, if they have the " the foundation of government.” That the power, they will commit waste of every sort on property of the rich minority can be made sub- the estate of mankind, and transmit it to posservient to the pleasures of the poor majority, terity impoverished and desolated ? will scarcely be denied. But Mr. Mill proposes How is it possible for any person who holds to give the poor majority power over the rich the doctrines of Mr. Mill to doubt, that :he rich, minority. Is it possible to doubl to what, on in a democracy such as that which he recom. his own principles, such an arrangement must mends, would be pillaged as unmercifully as lead?
Tunder a Turkish pacha? It is no doubt for the
interest of the next generation, and it may be It is scarcely necessary to discuss the effects for the remote interest of the present genera- which a general spoliation of the rich would tion, that property should be held sacred. And produce. It may indeed happen, that where a so no doubt it will be for the interest of the next legal and political system full of abuses is pacha, and even for that of the present pacha, inseparably bound up with the institution of if he should hold office long, that the inhabitants property, a nation may gain by a single conof his pachalic should be encouraged to accu- vulsion, in which both perish together. The mulate wealth. Scarcely any despotic sove- price is fearful : but if, when the shock is over, reign has plundered his subjects to a large a new order of things should arise, under extent, without having reason, before the end which property may enjoy security, the indusof his reign, to regret it. Everybody knows try of individuals will soon repair the devastahow bitterly Louis the Fourteenth, towards the tion. Thus we entertain no doubt that the close of his life, lamented his former extrava- Revolation was, on the whole, a most salutary gance. If that magnificent prince had not event for France. But would France have expended millions on Marli and Versailles, and gained, if, ever since the year 1793, she had tens of millions on the aggrandizement of his been governed by a democratic convention ? grandson, he would not have been compelled If Mr. Mill's principles be sound, we say that at last to pay servile court to low-born money almost her whole capital would by this time lenders, to humble himself before men, on have been annihilated. As soon as the first whom, in the days of his pride, he would not explosion was beginning to be forgotten, as have vouchsafed to look, for the means of sup- soon as wealth again began to germinate, as porting even his own household. Examples soon as the poor again began to compare their io the same effect might easily be multiplied. cottages and salads with the hotels and ban. But despots, we see, do plunder their subjects, quets of the rich, there would have been anthough history and experience tell them, that other scramble for property, another maximum, by prematurely exacting the means of profu- another general confiscation, another reign of sion, they are in fact devouring the seed-corn, terror. Four or five such convulsions followfrom which the future harvest of revenue is to ing each other, at intervals of ten or twelve spring. Why then should we suppose that the years, would reduce the most flourishing coun. people will be deterred from procuring imme- tries of Europe to the state of Barbary or the diate relief and enjoyment by the fear of distant Morea. calamities, of calamities which, perhaps, may The civilized part of the world has now not be fully felt till the times of their grand nothing to fear from the hostility of savage children?
nations. Once the deluge of barbarism has These conclusions are strictly drawn from passed over it, to destroy and to fertilize; and Mr. Mill's own principles: and, unlike most of in the present state of mankind we enjoy a full the conclusions which he has himself drawn security against that calamity. That flood will from those principles, they are not, as far as no more return to cover the earth. But is it we know, contradicted by facts. The case of possible that, in the bosom of civilization itthe United States is not in point. In a country self
, may be engendered the malady which shall where the necessaries of life are cheap and the destroy it? Is it possible that institutions may wages of labour high, where a man who has be established which, without the help of earthno capital but his legs and arms may expect quake, of famine, of pestilence, or of the foreign to become rich by industry and frugality, it is sword, may undo the work of so many ages not very decidedly even for the immediate of wisdom and glory, and gradually sweep advantage of the poor to plunder the rich; and away taste, literature, science, commerce, mathe punishment of doing so would very speedily nufactures, every thing but the rude arts ne. follow the offence. But in countries in which cessary to the support of animal life? Is it the great majorities live from hand to mouth, possible, that in two or three hundred years, a and in which vast masses of wealth have been few lean and half-naked fishermen may divide accumulated by a comparatively small number, with owls and foxes the ruins of the greatest the case is widely different. The immediate of European cities—may wash their nets want is, at particular seasons, craving, impe- amidst the relics of her gigantic docks, and rious, irresistible. In our own time, it has build their huts out of the capitals of her steeled men to the fear of the gallows, and stately cathedrals? If the principles of Mr. urged them on the point of the bayonet. And Mill be sound, we say, without hesitation, that if these men had at their command that gallows, the form of government which he recommends and those bayonets, which now scarcely restrain will assuredly produce all this. But if these them, what is to be expected ? Nor is this state principles be unsound, if the reasonings by of things one which can exist only under a bad which we have opposed them be just, the higher government. If there be the least truth in the and middling orders are the natural representadoctrines of the school to which Mr. Mill be lives of the human race. Their interest may longs, the increase of population will necessa- be opposed, in some things, to that of their rily produce it everywhere. The increase of poorer contemporaries, but it is identical with population is accelerated by good and cheap that of the innumerable generations which are government. Therefore, the better the govern- to follow. ment, the greater is the inequality of condi- Mr. Mill concludes his essay, by answering tions; and the greater the inequality of con- an objection often made to the project of uniditions, the stronger are the motives which versal suffrage-that the people do not underimpel the populace to spoliation. As for stand their own interests. We shall not go America, we appeal to the twentieth century. through his arguments on this subject, because, till he has proved, that it is for the interest of are sick, it seems, like the children of Israel, the people to respect property, he only makes of the objects of our old and legitimate wormatters 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 in. treating 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 iegislation itself, their most distinguished orna, fundamental. We believe that it is utierly 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 acMill says that they assuredly will, one of these tions. 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 enemy. 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 fact, 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 ihat 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 ir 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 caverns and eaten each other! We What we have said of the word “self-inte