« AnteriorContinuar »
then, as his occasional superintendence would render the security more complete. And even Denmark, we think, would be better off under a constitutional form of government.
Mr. Mill proceeds like a director of police, who, without asking a single question about the state of his district, should give his orders thus: "My maxim is, that every man will take what he can. Every man in London would be a thief but for the thief-takers. This is an undeniable principle of human nature. Some of my predecessors have wasted their time in inquiring about particular pawnbrokers and particular ale-houses. Experience is altogether divided. Of people
placed in exactly the same situation, I see that one steals, and that another would sooner burn his hand off. Therefore I trust to the laws of human nature alone, and pronounce all men thieves alike. Let everybody, high and low, be watched. Let Townsend take particular care that the Duke of Wellington does not steal the silk handkerchief of the lord in waiting at the levee. A person has lost a watch. Go to Lord Fitzwilliam and search him for it; he is as great a receiver of stolen goods as Ikey Solomons himself. Don't tell me about his rank, and character, and fortune. He is a man ; and a man does not change his nature when he is called a lord.* Either men will steal or they will not steal. If they will not, why do I sit here? If they will, his lordship must be a thief." The Whiggery of Bow Street would perhaps rise up against this wisdom. Would Mr. Bentham think that the Whiggery of Bow Street was in the wrong?
We blamed Mr. Mill for deducing his theory of government from the principles of human nature. "In the name of Sir Richard Birnie and all saints," cries Mr. Bentham, "from what else should it be deduced?" In spite of this
* "If government is founded upon this as a law of human nature, that a man, if able, will take from others anything which they have and he desires, it is sufficiently evident that when a man is called a king he does not change his nature: so that, when he has power to take what he pleases, he will take what he pleases. To suppose that he will not is to affirm that government is unnecessary, and that human beings will abstain from injuring one another of their own accord."-MILL on Government.
solemn adjuration, we shall venture to answer Mr. Bentham's question by another. How does he arrive at those principles of human nature from which he proposes to deduce the science of government? We think that we may venture to put an answer into his mouth; for in truth there is but one possible answer. He will say, By experience. But what is the extent of this experience? Is it an experience which includes experience of the conduct of men intrusted with the powers of government; or is it exclusive of that experience? If it includes experience of the manner in which men act when intrusted with the powers of government, then those principles of human nature from which the science of government is to be deduced can only be known after going through that inductive process by which we propose to arrive at the science of government. Our knowledge of human nature, instead of being prior in order to our knowledge of the science of government, will be posterior to it. And it would be correct to say that by means of the science of government, and of other kindred sciences-the science of education, for example, which falls under exactly the same principle-we arrive at the science of human nature.
If, on the other hand, we are to deduce the theory of government from principles of human nature, in arriving at which principles we have not taken into the account the manner in which men act when invested with the powers of government, then those principles must be defective. They have not been formed by a sufficiently copious induction. We are reasoning from what a man does in one situation to what he will do in another. Sometimes we may be quite justified in reasoning thus. When we have no means of acquiring information about the particular case before us, we are compelled to resort to cases which bear some resemblance to it. But the most satisfactory course is to obtain information about the particular case; and, whenever this can be obtained, it ought to be obtained. When first the yellow - fever broke out, a physician might be justified in treating it as he had been accustomed to treat those complaints which, on the whole, had the most symptoms in common with it. But what
should we think of a physician who should now tell us that he deduced his treatment of yellow-fever from the general theory of pathology? Surely we should ask him, Whether, in constructing his theory of pathology, he had or had not taken into the account the facts which had been ascertained respecting the yellow-fever? If he had, then it would be more correct to say that he had arrived at the principles of pathology partly by his experience of cases of yellow-fever than that he had deduced his treatment of yellow-fever from the principles of pathology. If he had not, he should not prescribe for us. If we had the yellow-fever, we should prefer a man who had never treated any cases but cases of yellow-fever, to a man who had walked the hospitals of London and Paris for years, but who knew nothing of our particular disease.
Let Lord Bacon speak for us: " Inductionem 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 præcipiti, et ad naturam imperviâ, ad disputationes proclivi et accommodatâ. At, secundum nos, axiomata continenter et gradatim excitantur, ut non, nisi postremo loco, ad maxime generalia veniatur." Can any words more exactly describe the political reasonings of Mr. Mill than those in which Lord Bacon thus describes the logomachies of the schoolmen? Mr. Mill springs at once to a general principle of the widest extent, and from that general principle deduces syllogistically everything which is included in it. We say with Bacon, " 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:
"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 sint, et temerè a rebus abstractæ, nihil in iis quæ superstruuntur est firmitudinis. Itaque spes est una in Inductione vera. In notionibus nil sani est, nec in Logicis nec in Physicis. Non substantia, non qualitas, agere, pati, ipsum esse, bonæ notiones sunt; multo minus grave, leve, densum, tenue, humidum, siccum, generatio, corruptio, attrahere, fugare, elementum, materia, forma, et id genus, sed omnes phantasticæ et male terminatæ."
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 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 Mahometanism is a false religion we mean to deny the unity of God, which is the first article of the Mahometan 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 happiness to mankind.
Mr. Bentham gives an account of the manner in which he
arrived at the discovery of the "greatest happiness principle." He then proceeds to describe the effects which, as he conceives, that discovery is producing in language so rhetorical and ardent that, if it had been written by any other person, a genuine Utilitarian would certainly have thrown down the book in disgust.
"The only rivals of any note to the new principle 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 legislation was the greatest happiness, morality was the promotion of the same end by the conduct of the individual; and by analogy, the happiness of the world was the morality of nations.
". . . All the sublime obscurities which had haunted the mind of man from the first formation of society-the phantoms whose steps had been on earth, and their heads among the clouds-marshalled themselves at the sound of this new principle of connection and of union, and stood a regulated band, where all was order, symmetry, and force. What men had struggled for and bled, while they saw it but as through a glass darkly, was made the object of substantial knowledge and lively apprehension. 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."
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 bricklayers not to jump off scaffolds and break their legs.