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censemus eam esse demonstrandi formam, quæ holding this doctrine that we blamed them. In sensum, tuetur, et naturam premit, et operibus attacking them we no more meant to attack imminet, ac fere immiscetur. Itaque ordo the “greatest happiness principle," than when quoque demonstrandi plane invertitur. Adhuc we say that Mohammedanism is a false religion, enim res ita geri consuevit, ut a sensu et par- we mean to deny the unity of God, which is the ticularibus primo loco ad maxime generalia first article of the Mohammedan creed;-10 advoletur, tanquam ad polos fixos, circa quos more than Mr. Bentham, when he sneers at the disputationes vertantur; ab illis cætera, per whigs, means to blame them for denying the media, deriventur; viâ certe compendiariâ, sed divine right of kings. We reasoned throughout præcepiti
, et ad naturam imperviâ, ad disputa- our article on the supposition that the end of iiones proclivi et accommodatâ. At, secundum government was to produce the greatest happi. nos, axiomata continenter et gradatim excitan-ness to mankind. tur, ut non, nisi postremo loco, ad maxime Mr. Bentham gives an account of the manner generalia veniatur.” Can any words more in which he arrived at the discovery of the exactly describe the political reasonings of Mr. “greatest happiness principle.” He then proMill than those in which Lord Bacon thus de- ceeds to describe the effects which, as he conscribes the logomachies of the schoolmen? ceives, that discovery is producing, in language Mr. Mill springs at once to a general principle so rhetorical and ardent, that, if it had been of the widest extent, and from that general | written by any other person, a genuine Utilitaprinciple deduces syllogistically every thing rian would certainly have thrown down the which is included in it. We say with Bacon- book in disgust. "non, nisi postremo loco, ad maxime generalia “The only rivals of any note to the new veniatur.” In the present inquiry, the science principles which were brought forward, were of human nature is the “maxime generale.” those known by the names of the 'moral sense," To this the Utilitarian rushes at once, and from and the 'original contract.' The new principle this he deduces a hundred sciences. But the superseded the first of these, by presenting it true philosopher, the inductive reasoner, travels with a guide for its decisions; and the other, up to it slowly, through those hundred sciences, by making it unnecessary to resort to a remote of which the science of government is one. and imaginary contract, for what was clearly
As we have lying before us that incompar- the business of every man and every hour. able volume, the noblest and most useful of all Throughout the whole horizon of morals and the works of the human reason, the Novum of politics, the consequences were glorious Organum, we will transcribe a few lines, in and vast. It might be said, without danger of which the Utilitarian philosophy is portrayed exaggeration, that they who sat in darkness to the life.
had seen a great light. The mists in which Syllogismus ad principia scientiarum non mankind had jousted against each other were adhibetur, ad media axiomata frustra adhibetur, swept away, as when the sun of astronomical curn sit subtilitati naturæ longe impar. As-science arose in the full development of the sensum itaque constringit, non res. Syllogis- principle of gravitation. If the object of legismus ex propositionibus constat, propositiones lation was the greatest happiness, morality was ex verbis, verba notionum tesseræ sunt. Itaque the promotion of the same end by the conduct si notiones ipsæ, id quod basis rei est, confusæ of the individual; and by analogy, the happisint, et temere a rebus abstractæ, nihil in iis ness of the world was the morality of nations. quæ superstruuntur est firmitudinis. Itaque · All the sublime obscurities, which had spes est una in Inductione vera. In notionibus haunted the mind of man from the first formanil sani est, nec in Logicis nec in physicis. tion of society,—the phantoms whose steps had Non substantia, non qualitas, agere, pati, ipsum been on earth, and their heads among the esse, bonæ potiones sunt: multo minus grave, clouds,-marshalled themselves at the sound leve, densum, tenue, humidum, siccum, gene- of this new principle of connection and of ratio, corruptio, attrahere, fugare, elementum, union, and stood a regulated band, where all materia, forma, et id genus, sed omnes phan- was order, symmetry, and force. What men tasticæ et male terminatæ."
had struggled for and bled, while they saw it bu Substitute for the “substantia,” the “gene- as through a glass darkly, was made the object ratio," the "corruptio,” the “elementum,” the of substantial knowledge and lively appre“materia” of the old schoolmen, Mr. Mill's hension. The bones of sages and of patriots pain, pleasure, interest, power, objects of stirred within their tombs, that what they dimly desire, and the words of Bacon will seem to saw and followed had become the world's suit the current year as well as the beginning common heritage. And the great result was of the seventeenth century.
wrought by no supernatural means, nor proWe have now gone through the objections duced by any unparallelable concatenation of that Mr. Bentham makes to our article; and events. "It was foretold by no oracles, and we submit ourselves on all the charges to the ushered by no portents; but was brought about judgment of the public.
by the quiet and reiterated exercise of God's The rest of Mr. Bentham's article consists first gift of common sense.' uf an exposition of the Utilitarian principle, Mr. Bentham's discovery does not, as we or, as he decrees that it shall be called, the think we shall be able to show, approach in "greatest happiness principle.” He seems to importance to that of gravitation, to which he think that we have been assailing it. We compares it. At all events, Mr. Bentham seems uever said a syllable against it. We spoke to us to act much as Sir Isaac Newton would slightingly of the Utilitarian sect, as we thought have done, if he had gone about boasting of them, and think of them; but it was not for that he was the first person who taught brick
layers not to jump off scaffolds and break do it. Will the principle run thus-pursue the their legs.
greatest happiness of mankind, whether it be Does Mr. Bentham profess to hold out any your own greatest happiness or not? This is new motive which may induce men to promote absurd and impossible, and Mr. Bentham himthe happiness of the species to which they self allows it to be so. But if the principle belong? Not at all. He distinctly admits that, be noi stated in one of these two ways, we canif he is asked why governments should attempt not imagine how it is to be stated at all. Stated to produce the greatest possible happiness, he in one of these ways, it is an identical proposican give no answer.
tion,-true, but utterly barren of consequences. “The real answer,” says he, “appeared to Stated in the other way, it is a contradiction in be, that men at large ought not to allow a go-terms. Mr. Bentham has distinctiy declined vernment to afflict them with more evil or less the absurdity. Are we then to suppose that he good than they can help. What a government adopts the truism? ought to do, is a mysterious and searching There are thus, it seems, two great truths question, which those may answer who know which the Utilitarian philosophy is to comniu. what it means; but what other men ought to nicate to mankind-iwo iruihs which are to do, is a question of no mystery at all. The produce a revolution in morals, in laws, ip. word ought, if it means any thing, must have governments, in literature, in the whole system reference to some kind of interest or motives: of life. The first of these is speculative; the and what interest a government has in doing second is practical. The speculative truth is, right, when it happens to be interested in doing that the greatest happiness is the greatest hapwrong, is a question for the schoolmen. The piness. The practical rule is very simple, for fact appears to be, that ought is not predicable it imports merely that men should never omit, of governments. The question is not why when they wish for any thing, to wish for it, or governments are bound not to do this or thai, when they do any thing, to do it! It is a great but why other men should let them if they can comfort for us to think, that we readily assent
The point is not to determine why ed to the former of these greal doctrines as the lion should not eat sheep, but why men soon as it was stated to us; and that we have should eat their own mutton if they can." long endeavoured, as far as human frailty would
The principle of Mr. Bentham, if we under- permit, to conform to the latter in our practice. stand it, is this, that mankind ought to act so as We are, however, inclined to suspect, that the lo produce their greatest happiness. The word | calamities of the human race have been owing ought, he tells us, has no meaning, unless it be less to their not knowing that happiness was ased with reference to some interest. But the happiness, than to their not knowing how to interest of a man is synonymous with hisobiain it-less to their neglecting to do what greatest happiness :—and therefore to say that they did, than to their not being able to do what a man ought to do a thing, is to say that it is they wished, or not wishing to do what they for his greatest happiness to do it. And to say ought. that mankind ought to act so as to produce their Thus frivolous, thus useless is this philosogreatest happiness, is to say that the greatest phy,—“controversiarum ferax, operum efiæta, happiness is the greatest happiness—and this ad garriendum prompta, ad generandum inis all!
valida.”* The humble mechanic who discoDoes Mr. Bentham's principle tend to make vers some slight improvement in the construcany man wish for any thing for which he would tion of safety lamps or steam vessels, does not have wished, or do any thing which he more for the happiness of mankind than the would not have done, if the principle had “magnificent principle," as Mr. Bentham calls never been heard of? If not, it is an utterly it, will do in ten thousand years. The mechanic useless principle. Now, every man pursues teaches us how we may, in a small degree, be his own happiness or interest-call it which better off than we were. The Ulilitarian adyou will. If his happiness coincides with the vises us, with great pomp, to be as well off as happiness of the species, then, whether he ever heard of the “greatest happiness principle” or The doctrine of a moral sense may be very not, he will, to the best of his knowledge and unphilosophical, but we do not think that it can ability, attempt to produce the greatest happi- be proved to be pernicious. Men did not enter : ness of the species. But, if what he thinkstain certain desires and aversions because they his happiness be inconsistent with the greatest believed in a moral sense, but they gave the happiness of mankind, will this new principle name of moral sense to a feeling which they convert him to another frame of mind ? Mr. found in their minds, however it came there. Bentham himself allows, as we have seen, that if they had given it no name at all, it would he can give no reason why a man should pro- still have influenced their actions: and it will mote the greatest happiness of others, if their not be very easy to demonstrate that it has in. greatest happiness be inconsistent with what fluenced their actions the more, because they he thinks his own. We should very much like have called it the moral sense. The theory of to know how the Utilitarian principle would the original contract is a fiction, and a very run, when reduced to one plain imperative absurd fiction; but in practice it meant, what proposition. Will it run thus-pursue your the “greatest happiness principle,” if ever own happiness? This is superfluous. Every it becomes a watch word of political warfare man pursues it, according to his light, and will mean-that is to say, whatever served the always has pursued it, and always must pursue turn of those who used it. Both the one exit. To say that a man has done any thing, is to say that he thought it for his happiness 10
* Bacon, Novum Organum.
pression and the other sound very well in de- / were to be a radical insurrection to-morrow, bating clubs ; but in the real conflicts of life, the original contract” would stand just as well our passions and interests bid them stand aside for annual parliaments and universal suffrage. and know their place. The “greatest happi- The “Glorious Constilution” again, has meant ness principle" has always been latent under every thing in turn : the Habeas Corpus Act the words, social contract, justice, benevo- the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, the lence, patriotism, liberty, and so forth, just Test Act, the Repeal of the Test Act. There as far as it was for the happiness, real or ima- has not been for many years a single important gined, of those who used these words to pro- measure which has not been unconstitutional mote the greatest happiness of mankind. And with its opponents, and which its supporters of this we may be sure, that the words “the have not maintained to be agreeable to the true greatest happiness" will never, in any man's spirit of the constitution. Is it easier to ascer. mouth, mean more than the greatest happiness tain what is for the greatest happiness of the of others which is consistent with what he human race than what is the constitution of thinks his own. The project of mending a bad England ? If not, the “greatest happiness world, by teaching people to give new names principle” will be what the “principles of the to old things, reminds us of Walter Shandy's constitution" are, a thing to be appealed to by scheme, for compensating the loss of his son's everybody, and understood by everybody in nose by christening him Trismegistus. What the sense which suits him best. It will mean society wants is a new motive—not a new cant. cheap bread, dear bread, free trade, protecting If Mr. Bentham can find out any argument yet duties, annual parliaments, septennial parliaundiscovered which may induce men to pursue ments, universal suffrage, Old Sarum, trial by the general happiness, he will indeed be a great jury, martial law, every thing, in short, good, bad, benefactor to our species. But those whose or indifferent, of which any person, from rahappiness is identical with the general happi- pacity or from benevolence, chooses to under. ness, are even now promoting the general hap- take the defence. It will mean six and eightpiness to the very best of their power and know- pence with the attorney, tithes at the rectory, ledge; and Mr. Bentham himself confesses and game-laws at the manor-house. The stathat he has no means of persuading those tute of uses, in appearance the most sweeping whose happiness is not identical with the gene- legislative reform in our history, was said to ral happiness, to act upon his principle. Is have produced no other effect than that of addnot this, then, darkening counsel by words ing three words to a conveyance. The uniwithout knowledge? If the only fruit of the versal admission of Mr. Bentham's great prin“magnificent principle” is to be, that the op- ciple would, as far as we can see, produce no pressors and pilferers of the next generation other effect than that those orators who, while are to talk of seeking the greatest happiness waiting for a meaning, gain time (like bankers of the greatest number, just as the same class paying in sixpences during a run) by uttering of men have talked in our time of seeking to words that mean nothing, would substitute uphold the Protestant Constitution—just as “the greatest happiness,” or rather, as the they talked under Anne of seeking the good longer phrase, “the greatest happiness of the of the Church, and under Cromwell, of seek-greatest number,” for, “ under existing circum. ing the Lord—where is the gain? Is not every stances,”—“now that I am on my legs,”—and, great question already enveloped in a saffi-“ Mr. Speaker, I, for one, am free to say.” In ciently dark cloud of unmeaning words? Is it fact, principles of this sort resemble those so difficult for a man to cant some one or more forms which are sold by law-stationers, with of the good old English cants which his father blanks for the names of parties, and for the and grandfather canted before him, that he special circumstances of every case-mere must learn, in the school of the Utilitarians, a customary headings and conclusions, which new sleight of tongue, to make fools cap and are equally at the command of the most honest wise men sneer? Let our countrymen keep and of the most unrighteous claimant. It is on their eyes on the neophytes of this sect, and see the filling up that every thing depends. whether we turn out to be mistaken in the pre- The "greatest happiness principle" of Mr. diction which we now hazard. It will before Bentham is included in the Christian morality; long be found, we prophesy, that, as the cor- and, to our thinking, it is there exhibited in an ruption of a clunce is the generation of an infinitely more sound and philosophical form Utilitarian, so is the corruption of an Utilita- than in the Utilitarian speculations. For in rian the generation of a jobber.
the New Testament it is neither an identical The most elevated station that the “greatest proposition, nor a contradiction in terms; and, happine:s principle” is ever likely to attain is as laid down by Mr. Bentham, it must be either this, that it may be a fashionable phrase among the one or the other. “Do as you would be newspaper writers and members of Parliament done by: Love your neighbour as yourself;" --that it may succeed to the dignity which has these are the precepts of Jesus Christ. Underbeen enjoyed by the“ original contract,” by the stood in an enlarged sense, these precepts are, “constilution of 1688," and other expressions in fact, a direction to every man to promote of the same kind. We do not apprehend that the greatest happiness of the greatest number. it is a less flexible cant than those which have But this direction would be utterly unmeanpreceded it, or that it will less easily furnish a ing, as it actually is in Mr. Bentham's philosopretext for any design for which a pretext may phy, unless it were accompanied by a sanction. be required. The original contracı” meani, in the Christian scheme, accordingly, it is acin the Convention Parliament, the co-ordi- companied by a sanction of immense force. rate authority of the Three Estates. If there To a man whose greatest happiness in this
worid is inconsistent with the greatest happi- sect. He discovered truths; all that they have ness of the greatest number, is held out the done has been to make those truths unpopular. prospect of an infinite happiness hereafter, He investigated the philosophy of law; he from which he excludes himself by wronging could teach them only to snarl at lawyers. his fellow-creatures here.
We entertain no apprehensions of danger to This is practical philosophy, as practical as the institutions of this country from the Ctilithat on which penal legislation is founded. A larians. Our fears are of a different kind. We man is told to do something which otherwise dread the odium and discredit of their alliance. he would not do, and is furnished with a new We wish to see a broad and clear line drawn be. motive for doing it. Mr. Bentham has no new tween the judicious friends of practical reform motive to furnish his disciples with. He has and a sect which, having derived all its influence talents sufficient to effect any thing that can be from the countenance which they have impru. effected. But to induce men to act without an dently bestowed upon it, hates them with the inducement is too much even for him. He deadly hatred of ingratitude. There is not, should reflect that the whole vast world of and we firmly believe that there never was, in morals cannot be moved, unless the mover this country, a party so unpopular. They can obtain some stand for his engines beyond have already made the science of political it. He acts as Archimedes would have done, economy-a science of vast importance to the if he had attempted to move the earth by a welfare of nations-an object ci disgust to the ever fixed on the earth. The action and re- majority of the community. The question of action neutralize each other. The artist la- parliamentary reform will share the same fate, bours, and the world remains at rest. Mr. if once an association be formed in the public Bentham can only tell us to do something mind between Reform an Utilitarianism. which we have always been doing, and should We bear no enmity to any member of the still have continued to do, if we had never sect: and for Mr. Bentham we entertain very heard of the “greatest happiness principle,”— high admiration. We know that among his or else to do something which we have no con- followers there are some well-intentioned men, ceivable motive for doing, and therefore shall and some men of talents : but we cannot say not do. Mr. Bentham's principle is at best that we think the logic on which they pride no more than the golden rule of the Gospel themselves likely to improve their heads, or without its sanction. Whatever evils, there the scheme of moraliiy which they have adoplfore, have existed in societies in which the au. ed likely to improve their hearts. Their theory thority of the Gospel is recognised, may, à for- of morals, however, well deserves an article to tiori, as it appears to us, exist in societies in itself; and perhaps, on some fuiure occasion, which the Utilitarian principle is recognised. we may discuss it more fully than time and We do not apprehend that ii is more difficult space at present allow. for a tyrant or a persecutor to persuade him. self and others that, in putting to death those who oppose his power or differ from his opi- The preceding article was written, and was nions, he is pursuing “the greatest happiness,” actually in types, when a letter from Mr. Benthan that he is doing as he would be done by. tham appeared in the newspapers, importing, Bit religion gives him a motive for doing as that “though he had furnished the Westminster he would be done by: and Mr. Bentham fur- Review with some memoranda respecting the pishes him with no motive to induce him to greatest happiness principle,' he had nothing propiote the general happiness. If, on the to do with the remarks on our former article. other hand, Mr. Bentham's principle mean only We are truly happy to find that this illustrious that every man should pursue his own great- man had so small a share in a performance est happiness, he merely asserts what every- which, for his sake, we have treated with far body knows, and recommends what everybody greater lenity than it deserved. The mistake, does.
however, does not in the least affect any part It is not upon this "greatest happiness prin- of our arguments; and we have therefore ciple" that the fame of Mr. Bentham will rest thought it unnecessary to cancel or cast anew He has not taught people to pursue their own any of the foregoing pages. Indeed, we are happiness; for thai they always did. He has not sorry that the world should see how renot taught them to promote the happiness of spectfully we were disposed to treat a great others at the expense of their own; for that they man, even when we considered him as the auwill not and cannot do. But he has taught thor of a very weak and very unfair attack on them how, in some most important points, to ourselves. We wish, however, to intimate to promote their own happiness; and if his school the actual writer of that attack, that our civilihad emulated him as successfully in this re- ties were intended for the author of the spect as in the trick of passing off truisms for “Preuves Judiciaires," and the “Defence of discoveries, the name of Benthamite would Usury,"--and not for him. We cannot con. have been no word for the scoifer. But few clude, indeed, without expressing a wish, of those who consider themselves as in a more though we fear it has but little chance of especial manner his followers, have any thing reaching Mr. Bentham,—that he would endea. in common with him but his faults. The vour to find betler editors for his compositions whole science of jurisprudence is his. He has If M. Dumont had not been a rédacteur of a dif done much for political economy; but we are ferent descrip:ion from some of his successors, nut aware that in either department any im- Mr. Bentham would never have attained the provement has been made by members of his distinction of even giving his wame to a sect
UTILITARIAN THEORY OF GOVERNMENT."
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, OCTOBER, 1829.)
We have long been of opinion that the Uti- | be afraid ;--that this logic will impose on no litarians have owed all their influence to a man who dares to look it in the face. mere delusion—that, while professing to have The Westminster Reviewer begins by charge submitted their minds to an intellectual disci- ing us with having misrepresented an importpline of peculiar severity, to have discarded all ant part of Mr. Mill's argumert. sentimentality, and to have acquired consum- " The first extract given by the Edinburgh mate skill in the art of reasoning, they are de- Reviewers from the essay was an insulaied cidedly inferior to the mass of educated men passage, purposely despoiled of what had prein the very qualities in which they conceive ceded and what followed. The author had themselves to excel. They have undoubtedly been observing, that some profound and benefreed themselves from the dominion of some volent investigators of human affairs had absurd notions. But their struggle for intel- adopted the conclusion, that of all the possible lectual emancipation has ended, as injudicious forms of government, absolute monarchy is and violent struggles for political emancipation the test. This is what the reviewers have 100 often end, in a mere change of tyrants. omitted at the beginning. He then adds, as in Indeed, we are not sure that we do not prefer the extract, that • Experience, if we look only at the venerable nonsense which holds prescrip- the outside of the facts, appears to be divided on tive sway over the ultra-tory, to the upstart this subject;' there are Caligulas in one place, dynasty of prejudices and sophisms, by which and kings of Denmark in another. “As the the revolutionists of the moral world have surface of history affords, therefore, no certain suffered themselves to be enslaved.
principle of decision, we must go beyond the surThe Utilitarians have sometimes been abused face, and penetrate to the springs within.' This as intolerant, arrogant, irreligious,-as enemies is what ihe reviewers have omitted at the of literature, of the fine arts, and of the dornes- end." tic charities. They have been reviled for some It is perfectly true, that our quotation from things of which they were guilty, and for some Mr. Mill's Essay was, like most other quotations, of which they were innocent. But scarcely preceded and followed by something which anybody seems to have perceived, that almost we did not quote. But if the Westminster Reall their peculiar faults arise from the utter want viewer means to say, that either what preceded, both of comprehensiveness and of precision in or what followed, would, if quoted, have shown their mode of reasoning. We have, for some that we put a wrong interpretation on the pastime past, been convinced that this was really sage which was extracted, he does not underthe case; and that, whenever their philosophy stand Mr. Mill rightly. should be boldly and unsparingly scrutinized, Mr. Mill undoubtedly says that, “ as the sur. the world would see that it had been under a face of history affords no certain principle of mistake respecting them.
decision, we must go beyond the surface, and We have made the experiment, and it has penetrate to the springs within." But these succeeded far beyond our most sanguine ex- expressions will admit of several interpretapectations. A chosen champion of the school tions. In what sense, then, does Mr. Mill use has come forth against us. A specimen of his them? If he means that we ought to inspect logical abilities now lies before us; and we the facts with close attention, he means what pledge ourselves to show, that no prebendary is rational. But if he means that we ought to at an Anti-Catholic meeting, no true-blue baro- leave the facts, with all their apparent incon. net after the third boitle at a Pitt Club, ever sistencies, unexplained-to lay down a general displayed such utter incapacity of comprehend-principle of the widest extent, and to deduce ing or answering an argument, as appears in doctrines from that principle by syllogistic arthe speculations of this Utilitarian apostle; gument, without pausing to consider whether that he does not understand our meaning, or those doctrines be, or he not, consistent with Mr. Mill's meaning. or Mr. Bentham's meaning, the facts,—then he means what is irrational; or his own meaning; and that the various parts and this is clearly what he does mean: for he of his system-if the name of system can be immediately begins, without offering the least su misapplied-directly contradict each other. explanation of the contradictory appearances
Having shown this, we intend to leave him in which he has himself described, to go beyond undisputed possession of whatever advantage the surface in the following manner :-"That he may derive from the last word. We pro- one human being will desire to render the perpose only to convince the public that there is son and property of another cybservient to his nothing in the far-famed logic of the Utilita- pleasures, notwithstanding the pain or loss of rians, of which any plain man has reason to pleasure which it may occasion, to that other
individual, is the foundation of government Westminster Review, (XXII. Art. 16,) on the Stric. The desire of the object implies the desire of tures of the Edinburgh Review (XCVIII. Art...) on the the power necessary to accomplish the object." C.llitarian Theory of Government, and the “Greatest | And thus he proceeds to deduce consequences Happiness Principle."