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present we are bound to say only that we think so, till somebody shows us a reason for thinking otherwise.
"How then are we to
Mr. Bentham's answer to us is simple assertion. He must not think that we mean any discourtesy by meeting it with a simple denial. The fact is, that almost all the governments that have ever existed in the civilized world, have been, in part at least, monarchical and aristocratical. The first government constituted on principles approaching to those which the Utilitarians hold, was, we think, that of the United States. That the poor have never combined to plunder the rich in the governments of the old world, no more proves that they might plunder the rich under a system of universal suffrage, than the fact, that the English kings of the House of Brunswick have been Neros and Domitians, proves that sovereigns may safely be intrusted with absolute power. Of what the people would do in a state of perfect sovereignty, we can judge only by indications, which, though rarely of much moment in themselves, and though always suppressed with little difliculty, are yet of great significance, and resemble those by which our domestic animals sometimes remind us that they are of kin with the fiercest monsters of the forest. It would not be wise to reason from the behaviour of a dog crouching under the lash, which is the case of the Italian people, or from the behaviour of a dog pampered with the best morsels of a plentiful kitchen, which is the case of the people of America, to the behaviour of a wolf, which is nothing but a dog run wild, after a week's fast among the snows of the Pyrenees. No commotion, says Mr. Bentham, was ever really produced by the wish of levelling: the wish has been put forward as a blind; but something else has been the real object. Grant all this. But why has levelling been put forward as a blind in times ing to of commotion, to conceal the real objects of puzzlin the agitators? Is it with declarations which ants, t involve "a suicide of hope," that men attempt and t to allure others? Was famine, pestilence, the se slavery, ever held out to attract the people? micr If levelling has been made a pretence for dis- lutely turbances, the argument against Mr. Bentham's gold doctrine is as strong as if it had been the real object of the disturbances.
But the great objection which Mr. Bentham ces inakes to our review, still remains to be noticed. wa
"The pith of the charge against the author wa of the Essays is, that he has written an elaborate Treatise on Government,' and deliced us the whole science from the assumptio cer- n tain propensities of human nature.' the name of Sir Richard Birnie, and from what else should it be deduce did ever anybody imagine to be the and design of government as it the same operation, on an extende that meritorious chief magistra a limited one at Bow Street; venting one man from injuring gine, then, that the whigue trise up aga
xness in which other were stronomical Tent of the gect of legis 5, morality was by the conduct gy, the happirality of nations. rities, which had n the first formams whose steps had -heads among the -elves at the sound : connection and of ated band, where all : force. What men , while they saw it bu , was made the object ge and lively appre sages and of patriots - that what they dimly tad become the world's And the great result was atural means, nor pro elable concatenation of d by no oracles, and s; but was brought about reterated exercise of God's
scovery does not, as we able to show, approach in
f gravitation, to which he Les Mr. Bentham seems 2 Sir Isaac Newton would
had gone about boasting best person who taught brick
always must pursue
done any thing, is
for his happiness to
le run thus-pursue the mankind, whether it be ppiness or not? This is e, and Mr. Bentham himso. But if the principle of these two ways, we canis to be stated at all. Stated ys, it is an identical proposi terly barren of consequences. r way, it is a contradiction in atham has distinctly declined Are we then to suppose that he m?
thus, it seems, two great truths litarian philosophy is to commuankind-two truths which are to revolution in morals, in laws, in is, in literature, in the whole system .he first of these is speculative; the practical. The speculative truth is, reatest happiness is the greatest hapThe practical rule is very simple, for its merely that men should never omit, ney wish for any thing, to wish for it, or they do any thing, to do it! It is a great ort for us to think, that we readily assentthe former of these great doctrines as as it was stated to us; and that we have rendeavoured, as far as human frailty would mit, to conform to the latter in our practice. we are, however, inclined to suspect, that the alamities of the human race have been owing ess to their not knowing that happiness was happiness, than to their not knowing how to obtain it-less to their neglecting to do what they did, than to their not being able to do what they wished, or not wishing to do what they ought.
Thus frivolous, thus useless is this philoso-
ch he more for the happiness of mankind than the
pursues teaches us how we may, in a small degree, be
er he ever inciple" or The doctrine of a moral sense may be very owledge and unphilosophical, but we do not think that it can atest happi- be proved to be pernicious. Men did not enterat he thinks tain certain desires and aversions because they the greatest believed in a moral sense, but they gave the new principle name of moral sense to a feeling which they of mind? Mr. found in their minds, however it came there. have seen, that If they had given it no name at all, it would an should pro- still have influenced their actions: and it will of others, if their not be very easy to demonstrate that it has instent with what fluenced their actions the more, because they : very much like have called it the moral sense. The theory of principle would the original contract is a fiction, and a very plain imperative absurd fiction; but in practice it meant, what Gas-pursue your the "greatest happiness principle," if ever Superfluous. Every it becomes a watchword of political warfare
g to his light, and
will mean-that is to say, whatever served the
turn of those who used it. Both the one ex
Bacon, Novum Organum.
holding this doctrine that we blamed them. In attacking them we no more meant to attack the "greatest happiness principle," than when we say that Mohammedanism is a false religion, we mean to deny the unity of God, which is the first article of the Mohammedan creed;-no more than Mr. Bentham, when he sneers at the whigs, means to blame them for denying the divine right of kings. We reasoned throughout our article on the supposition that the end of government was to produce the greatest happi
censemus eam esse demonstrandi formam, quæ sensum, tuetur, et naturam premit, et operibus imminet, ac fere immiscetur. Itaque ordo quoque demonstrandi plane invertitur. Adhuc enim res ita geri consuevit, ut a sensu et particularibus primo loco ad maxime generalia advoletur, tanquam ad polos fixos, circa quos disputationes vertantur; ab illis cætera, per media, deriventur; viâ certe compendiariâ, sed præcepiti, et ad naturam imperviâ, ad disputationes proclivi et accommodatâ. At, secundum 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 Utilita principle 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 veniatur." In the present inquiry, the science of human nature is the "maxime generale." To this the Utilitarian rushes at once, and from this he deduces a hundred sciences. But the true philosopher, the inductive reasoner, travels up to it slowly, through those hundred sciences, of which the science of government is one.
As we have lying before us that incomparable volume, the noblest and most useful of all the works of the human reason, the Novum Organum, we will transcribe a few lines, in which the Utilitarian philosophy is portrayed to the life.
"The only rivals of any note to the new principles which were brought forward, were those known by the names of the 'moral sense,' and the original contract.' The new principle superseded the first of these, by presenting it with a guide for its decisions; and the other, by making it unnecessary to resort to a remote and imaginary contract, for what was clearly the business of every man and every hour. Throughout the whole horizon of morals and of politics, the consequences were glorious and vast. It might be said, without danger of exaggeration, that they who sat in darkness had seen a great light. The mists in which mankind had jousted against each other were swept away, as when the sun of astronomical science arose in the full development of the principle of gravitation. If the object of legis lation was the greatest happiness, morality was the promotion of the same end by the conduct
"Syllogismus ad principia scientiarum non adhibetur, ad media axiomata frustra adhibetur, cum sit subtilitati naturæ longe impar. Assensum itaque constringit, non res. Syllogismus ex propositionibus constat, propositiones ex verbis, verba notionum tesseræ sunt. Itaque si notiones ipsæ, id quod basis rei est, confusæ of the individual; and by analogy, the happisint, et temere a rebus abstractæ, nihil in iisness 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 notiones 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 as through a glass darkly, was made the object of substantial knowledge and lively appre hension. The bones of sages and of patriots stirred within their tombs, that what they dimly saw and followed had become the world's common heritage. And the great result was wrought by no supernatural means, nor produced by any unparallelable concatenation of events. It was foretold by no oracles, and ushered by no portents; but was brought about by the quiet and reiterated exercise of God's first gift of common sense."
Substitute for the "substantia,” the “ generatio," the "corruptio," the "elementum," the "materia" of the old schoolmen, Mr. Mill's pain, pleasure, interest, power, objects of desire, and the words of Bacon will seem to suit the current year as well as the beginning of the seventeenth century.
We have now gone through the objections that Mr. Bentham makes to our article; and we submit ourselves on all the charges to the Judgment of the public.
The rest of Mr. Bentham's article consists of an exposition of the Utilitarian principle, or, as he decrees that it shall be called, the "greatest happiness principle." He seems to think that we have been assailing it. We never said a syllable against it. We spoke slightingly of the Utilitarian sect, as we thought of them, and think of them; but it was not for
Mr. Bentham's discovery does not, as we think we shall be able to show, approach in importance to that of gravitation, to which he compares it. At all events, Mr. Bentham seems to us to act much as Sir Isaac Newton would have done, if he had gone about boasting that he was the first person who taught brick
layers not to jump off scaffolds and break their legs.
Does Mr. Bentham profess to hold out any new motive which may induce men to promote the happiness of the species to which they belong? Not at all. He distinctly admits that, if he is asked why governments should attempt to produce the greatest possible happiness, he can give no answer.
do it. Will the principle run thus-pursue the greatest happiness of mankind, whether it be your own greatest happiness or not? This is absurd and impossible, and Mr. Bentham himself allows it to be so. But if the principle be not stated in one of these two ways, we cannot imagine how it is to be stated at all. Stated in one of these ways, it is an identical proposi tion, true, but utterly barren of consequences. Stated in the other way, it is a contradiction in terms. Mr. Bentham has distinctly declined the absurdity. Are we then to suppose that he adopts the truism?
"The real answer," says he, "appeared to be, that men at large ought not to allow a government to afflict them with more evil or less good than they can help. What a government ought to do, is a mysterious and searching question, which those may answer who know what it means; but what other men ought to do, is a question of no mystery at all. The word ought, if it means any thing, must have reference to some kind of interest or motives: and what interest a government has in doing right, when it happens to be interested in doing wrong, is a question for the schoolmen. The fact appears to be, that ought is not predicable of governments. The question is not why governments are bound not to do this or that, but why other men should let them if they can help it. The point is not to determine why the lion should not eat sheep, but why men should eat their own mutton if they can."
The principle of Mr. Bentham, if we understand it, is this, that mankind ought to act so as to produce their greatest happiness. The word ought, he tells us, has no meaning, unless it be used with reference to some interest. But the interest of a man is synonymous with his greatest happiness and therefore to say that a man ought to do a thing, is to say that it is for his greatest happiness to do it. And to say that mankind ought to act so as to produce their greatest happiness, is to say that the greatest happiness is the greatest happiness-and this is all!
There are thus, it seems, two great truths which the Utilitarian philosophy is to communicate to mankind-two truths which are to produce a revolution in morals, in laws, in governments, in literature, in the whole system of life. The first of these is speculative; the second is practical. The speculative truth is, that the greatest happiness is the greatest happiness. The practical rule is very simple, for it imports merely that men should never omit, when they wish for any thing, to wish for it, or when they do any thing, to do it! It is a great comfort for us to think, that we readily assented to the former of these great doctrines as soon as it was stated to us; and that we have long endeavoured, as far as human frailty would permit, to conform to the latter in our practice. We are, however, inclined to suspect, that the calamities of the human race have been owing less to their not knowing that happiness was happiness, than to their not knowing how to obtain it-less to their neglecting to do what they did, than to their not being able to do what they wished, or not wishing to do what they ought.
Thus frivolous, thus useless is this philosophy,—“controversiarum ferax, operum effœta, ad garriendum prompta, ad generandum invalida." The humble mechanic who discovers some slight improvement in the construction of safety lamps or steam vessels, does more for the happiness of mankind than the "magnificent principle," as Mr. Bentham calls it, will do in ten thousand years. The mechanic teaches us how we may, in a small degree, be better off than we were. The Utilitarian advises us, with great pomp, to be as well off as we can.
Does Mr. Bentham's principle tend to make any man wish for any thing for which he would not have wished, or do any thing which he would not have done, if the principle had never been heard of? If not, it is an utterly useless principle. Now, every man pursues his own happiness or interest-call it which you will. If his happiness coincides with the 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 enterness of the species. But, if what he thinks tain 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 ingreatest 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 watchword 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 to
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 Constitution" 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 ascermouth, 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 is 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 parlia undiscovered 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 ra happiness is identical with the general happi- pacity or from benevolence, chooses to underness, 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 sta that 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 specia! 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 clap 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 prediction which we now hazard. It will before long be found, we prophesy, that, as the corruption of a dunce is the generation of an Utilitarian, so is the corruption of an Utilitarian the generation of a jobber.
The "greatest happiness principle" of Mr. Bentham is included in the Christian morality; and, to our thinking, it is there exhibited in an infinitely more sound and philosophical form than in the Utilitarian speculations. For in the New Testament it is neither an identical proposition, nor a contradiction in terms; and, as laid down by Mr. Bentham, must be either the one or the other. "Do as you would be done by: Love your neighbour as yourself;" these are the precepts of Jesus Christ. Under stood in an enlarged sense, these precepts are, in fact, a direction to every man to promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number But this direction would be utterly unmeaning, as it actually is in Mr. Bentham's philoso phy, unless it were accompanied by a sanction. In the Christian scheme, accordingly, it is accompanied by a sanction of immense force. To a man whose greatest happiness in this
The most elevated station that the "greatest happines principle" is ever likely to attain is this, that it may be a fashionable phrase among newspaper writers and members of Parliament --that it may succeed to the dignity which has been enjoyed by the "original contract," by the "constitution of 1688," and other expressions of the same kind. We do not apprehend that it is a less flexible cant than those which have preceded it, or that it will less easily furnish a pretext for any design for which a pretext may be required. The original contract" meant, in the Convention Parliament, the co-ordinate authority of the Three Estates. If there