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longer phrase, “ the greatest happiness of the greatest number,” for “under existing circumstances”—“now that I am on my legs ”—and “Mr. Speaker, I, for one, am free to say." In fact, principles of this sort resemble those forms which are sold by law-stationers, with blanks for the names of parties, and for the special circumstances of every case --- mere customary headings and conclusions, which are equally at the command of the most honest and of the most unrighteous claimant. It is on the filling up that everything depends.
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, it inust be either the one or the other. “Do as you would be done by: Love your neighbor as yourself :" these are the precepts of Jesus Christ. Understood 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 philosophy, unless it were accompanied by a sanction. In the Christian scheine, accordingly, it is accompanied by a sanction of immense force. To a man whose greatest happiness in this world is inconsistent with the greatest happiness of the greatest number is held out the prospect of an infinite happiness hereafter, from which he excludes himself by wronging his fellow-creatures here.
This is practical philosophy, as practical as that on which penal legislation is founded. A man is told to do something which otherwise he would not do, and is furnished with a new motive for doing it. Mr. Bentham has no new motive to furnish his disciples with. He has talents sufficient to effect anything that can be effected. But to induce men to act without an inducement is too much, even for him. He should reflect that the whole vast world of morals cannot be moved unless the mover can obtain some stand for his engines beyond it. He acts as Archimedes would have done, if he had attempted to move the earth by a lever fixed on the earth. The action and reaction neutralize each other. The artist labors, and the world remains at rest. Mr. Bentham can only tell us to do something which we have always been doing, and should still have continued to do, if we had never heard of the "greatest happiness principle" - or else to do something which we have no conceivable motive for doing, and therefore shall not do. Mr. Bentham's principle is at best no more than the golden rule of the Gospel without its sanction. Whatever evils, therefore, have existed in societies in which the authority of the Gospel is recognized may, à fortiori, as it appears to us, exist in societies in which the Utilitarian principle is recognized. We do not apprehend that it is more difficult for a tyrant or a persecutor to persuade himself and others that, in putting to death those who oppose his power or differ from his opinions, he is pursuing “the greatest happiness,” than that he is doing as he would be done by. But religion gives him a motive for doing as he would be done by; and Mr. Bentham furnishes him no motive to induce him to promote the general happiness. If, on the other hand, Mr. Bentham's principle mean only that every man should pursue his own greatest happiness, he merely asserts what everybody knows, and recommends what everybody does. It is not upon this greatest happiness principle” that the
" fame of Mr. Bentham will rest. He has not taught people to pursue their own happiness; for that they always did. He has not taught them to promote the happiness of others at the expense of their own; for that they will not and cannot do. But he has taught them how, in some most important points, to promote their own happiness; and if his school had emulated him as successfully in this respect as in the trick of passing off truisms for discoveries, the name of Benthamite wonld have been no word for the scoffer. But few of those who consider themselves as in a more especial manner his followers have anything in common with him but his faults. The whole science of Jurisprudence is his. He has done much for political economy; but we are not aware that in either department any improvement has been made by members of his sect. He discovered truths; all that they have done has been to make those truths unpopular. He investigated the philosophy of law; he could teach them only to snarl at lawyers.
We entertain no apprehensions of danger to the institutions of this country from the Utilitarians. Our fears are of a different kind. We dread the odium and discredit of their alliance. We wish to see a broad and clear line drawn between the judicious friends of practical reform and a sect which, having derived all its influence from the countenance which they have imprudently bestowed upon it, hates them with the deadly hatred of ingratitude. There is not, and we firmly believe that there never was, in this country a party so unpopular. They have already made the science of political economy-a science of vast importance to the welfare of nations—an object of disgust to the majority of the community. The question of parliamentary reform will share the same fate if once an association be formed in the public mind between Reform and Utilitarianism.
We bear no enmity to any member of the sect, and for Mr. Bentham we entertain very high admiration. We know that among his followers there are some well-intentioned men, and some men of talents; but we cannot say that we think the logic on which they pride themselves likely to improve their heads, or the scheme of morality which they have adopted likely to improve their hearts. Their theory of morals, however, well deserves an article to itself; and perhaps, on some future occasion, we may discuss it more fully than time and space at present allow.
The preceding article was written, and was actually in types, when a letter from Mr. Bentham appeared in the newspapers, importing that “ though he had furnished the Westminster Review with some memoranda respecting the greatest happiness principle,' he had nothing to do with the remarks on our former article.” We are truly happy to find that this illustrious man had so small a share in a performance which, for his sake, we have treated with far greater lenity than it deserved. The mistake, however, does not in the least affect any part of our arguments, and we have therefore thought it unnecessary to cancel or cast anew any of the foregoing pages. Indeed we are not sorry that the world should see how respectfully we were disposed to treat a great man, even when we considered him as the author of a very weak and very unfair attack on ourselves. We wish, however, to intimate to the actual writer of that attack that our civilities were intended for the author of the “Preuves Judiciaires” and the “Defence of Usury,” and not for him. We cannot conclude, indeed, without expressing a wishthough we fear it has but little chance of reaching Mr. Bentham-that he would endeavor to find better editors for his compositions. If M. Dumont had not been a rédacteur of a different description from some of his successors, Mr. Bentham would never have attained the distinction of even giving his name to a sect.
UTILITARIAN THEORY OF GOVERNMENT.
Westminster Review (XXII. Art. 16) on the Strictures of the Edinburgh
Revier (XCVIII. Art. 1) on the Utilitarian Theory of Government, and the “Greatest Happiness Principle.”
WE have long been of opinion that the Utilitarians have owed all their influence to a mere delusion—that, while professing to have submitted their minds to an intellectual discipline of peculiar severity, to have discarded all sentimentality, and to have acquired consuminate skill in the art of reasoning, they are decidedly inferior to the mass of educated men in the very qualities in which they conceive themselves to excel. They have undoubtedly freed themselves from the dominion of some absurd notions. But their struggle for intellectual emancipation has ended, as injudicious and violent struggles for political emancipation too often end, in a mere change of tyrants. Indeed, we are not sure that we do not prefer the venerable nonsense which holds prescriptive sway over the ultra-Tory to the upstart dynasty of prejudices and sophisms by which the revolutionists of the moral world have suffered themselves to be enslaved.
The Utilitarians have sometimes been abused as into nt, arrogant, irreligious-as enemies of literature, of the fine arts, and of the domestic charities. They have been reviled for some things of which they were guilty, and for some of which they were innocent.
But scarcely anybody seems to have perceived that almost all their peculiar faults arise from the utter want both of comprehensiveness and of precision in their mode of reasoning. We have for some time past been convinced that this was really the case; and that, whenever their philosophy should be boldly and unsparingly scruti