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Now, the only mode in which we can conceive it possible to deduce a theory of govern ment from the principles of human nature, is this. We must find out what are the motives which, in a particular form of government, impel rulers to bad measures, and what are those which impel them to good measures. We must then compare the effect of the two classes of motives; and according as we find the one or the other to prevail, we must pronounce the form of government in question good or bad.
rest" applies to all the synonymes and circum- | about the whole species, the impossibility of locutions which are employed to convey the answering is still more evident. Man differs same meaning; pain and pleasure, happiness from man; generation from generation; naand misery, objects of desire, and so forth. tion from nation. Education, station, sex, age, The whole art of Mr. Mill's essay consists accidental associations, produce infinite shades in one simple trick of legerdemain. It con- of variety. sists in using words of the sort which we have been describing, first in one sense and then in another. Men will take the objects of their desire if they can. Unquestionably-but this is an identical proposition: for an object of desire means merely a thing which a man will procure if he can. Nothing can possibly be inferred from a maxim of this kind. When we see a man take something, we shall know that it was an object of his desire. But till then, we have no means of judging with certainty what he desires, or what he will take. The general proposition, however, having been admitted, Mr. Mill proceeds to reason as if men had no desires but those which can be gratified only by spoiliation and oppression. It then becomes easy to deduce doctrines of vast importance from the original axiom. The only misfortune is, that by thus narrowing the meaning of the word desire, the axiom becomes false, and all the doctrines consequent upon it are false likewise.
When we pass beyond those maxims which it is impossible to deny without a contradiction in terms, and which, therefore, do not enable us to advance a single step in practical knowledge, we do not believe that it is possible to lay down a single general rule respecting the motives which influence human actions. There is nothing which may not, by association or by comparison, become an object either of desire or of aversion. The fear of death is generally considered as one of the strongest of our feelings. It is the most formidable sanction which legislators have been able to devise. Yet it is notorious that, as Lord Bacon has observed, there is no passion by which that fear has not been often overcome. Physical pain is indisputably an evil; yet it has been often endured, and even welcomed. Innumerable martyrs have exulted in torments which made the spectators shudder; and, to use a more homely illustration, there are few wives who do not long to be mothers.
Now let it be supposed that, in aristocrat.cal and monarchical states, the desire of wealth, and other desires of the same class, always tend to produce misgovernment, and that the love of approbation, and other kindred feelings, always tend to produce good government Then, if it be impossible, as we have shown that it is, to pronounce generally which of the two classes of motives is the more influential, it is impossible to find out, a priori, whether a monarchical or aristocratical form of govern ment be good or bad.
Mr. Mill has avoided the difficulty of making the comparison, by very coolly putting all the weights into one of the scales,-by reasoning as if no human being had ever sympathized with the feelings, been gratified by the thanks, or been galled by the execrations, of another.
The case, as we have put it, is decisive against Mr. Mill; and yet we have put it in a manner far too favourable to him. For in fact, it is impossible to lay it down as a general rule, that the love of wealth in a sovereign always produces misgovernment, or the love of approbation good government. A patient and far-sighted ruler, for example, who is less desirous of raising a great sum immediately, than of securing an unencumbered and progressive revenue, will, by taking off restraints from trade, and giving perfect security to property, encourage accumulation, and entice capital from foreign countries. The com. Is the love of approbation a stronger motive mercial policy of Prussia, which is perhaps than the love of wealth? It is impossible to superior to that of any government in the answer this question generally, even in the world, and which puts to shame the absurdi. case of an individual with whom we are very ties of our republican brethren on the other intimate. We often say, indeed, that a man side of the Atlantic, has probably sprung from loves fame more than money, or money more the desire of an absolute ruler to enrich himthan fame. But this is said in a loose and self. On the other hand, when the popular popular sense; for there is scarcely a man estimate of virtues and vices is erroneous, who would not endure a few sneers for a great which is too often the case, the love of approsum of money, if he were in pecuniary dis-bation leads sovereigns to spend the wealth of tress; and scarcely a man, on the other hand, who, if he were in flourishing circumstances, would expose himself to the hatred and contempt of the public for a trifle. In order, therefore, to return a precise answer, even about a single human being, we must know what is the amount of the sacrifice of reputation demanded, and of the pecuniary advantage offered, and in what situation the person to whom the temptation is proposed stands at the time. But when the question is propounded generally
the nation on useless shows, or to engage in wanton and destructive wars. If, then, we can neither compare the strength of two motives, nor determine with certainty to what descrip tion of actions either motive will lead, how can we possibly deduce a theory of government from the nature of man?
How, then, are we to arrive at just conclusions on a subject so important to the happiness of mankind? Surely by that method which, in every experimental science to which
of philosophy and literature, and dispenses, in return, nutriment and ornament to all. We are sorry and surprised when we see men of good intentions and good natural abilities abandon this healthful and generous study, to pore over speculations like those which we have been examining. And we should heartily rejoice to find that our remarks had induced any person of this description, to employ, in researches of real utility, the talents and industry which are now wasted on verbal sophisms, wretched of their wretched kind.
It has been applied, has signally increased the | of nations,-which, of all sciences, most tends power and knowledge of our species,-by that to expand and invigorate the mind,-which method for which our new philosophers would draws nutriment and ornament from every part substitute quibbles scarcely worthy of barbarous respondents and opponents of the middle ages, by the method of induction;-by observing the present state of the world,-by assiduously studying the history of past ages,— by sifting the evidence of facts,-by carefully combining and contrasting those which are authentic,-by generalizing with judgment and diffidence, by perpetually bringing the theory which we have constructed to the test of new facts, by correcting, or altogether abandoning it, according as those new facts prove it to be partially or fundamentally unsound. Proceeding thus,-patiently, diligently, candidly, we may hope to form a system as far inferior in pretensions to that which we have been examining, and as far superior to it in real utility, as the prescriptions of a great physician, varying with every stage of every malady, and with the constitution of every patient, to the pill of the advertising quack, which is to cure all human beings, in all climates, of all diseases.
This is that noble science of politics, which is equally removed from the barren theories of the Utilitarian sophists, and from the petty craft, so often mistaken for statesmanship by minds grown narrow in habits of intrigue, jobbing, and official etiquette;-which, of all sciences, is the most important to the welfare
As to the greater part of the sect, it is, we apprehend, of little consequence, what they study, or under whom. It would be more amusing, to be sure, and more reputable, if they would take up the old republican cant, and declaim about Brutus and Timoleon, the duty of killing tyrants, and the blessedness of dying for liberty. But, on the whole, they might have chosen worse. They may as well be Utilitarians as jockeys or dandies. And though quibbling about self-interest and motives, and objects of desire, and the greatest happiness of the greatest number, is but a poor employment for a grown man, it certainly hurts the health less than hard drinking, and the fortune less than high play: it is not much more laughable than phrenology, and is immeasu rably more humane than cock-fighting.
BENTHAM'S DEFENCE OF MILL.*
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, JUNE, 1829.]
We have had great reason, we think, to be gratified by the success of our late attack on the Utilitarians. We could publish a long list of the cures which it has wrought, in cases previously considered as hopeless. Delicacy forbids us to divulge names; but we cannot refrain from alluding to two remarkable instances. A respectable lady writes to inform us, that her son, who was plucked at Cambridge last January, has not been heard to caH Sir James Mackintosh a poor ignorant fool more than twice since the appearance of our article. A distinguished political writer in the Westminster and Parliamentary Reviews has borrowed Hume's History, and has actually got as far as the battle of Agincourt. He assures us that he takes great pleasure in his new study, and that he is very impatient to learn how Scotland and England became one kingdom. But the greatest compliment that we have received is, that Mr. Bentham himself should have condescended to take the field in defence of Mr. Mill. We have not been in the habit of reviewing reviews; but as Mr. Bentham is a truly great man, and as his party have thought fit to announce in puffs and placards that this article is written by him, and contains not only an answer to our attacks, but a development of the "greatest happiness principle," with the latest improvements of the author, we shall for once depart from our general rule. However the conflict may terminate, we shall at least not have been vanquished by an igno
However sharply he may speak of us, we can never cease to revere in him the father of the philosophy of Jurisprudence. He has a full right to all the privileges of a great inventor; and, in our court of criticism, those privileges will never be pleaded in vain. But they are limited in the same manner in which, fortunately for the ends of justice, the privileges of the peerage are now limited. The advantage is personal and incommunicable. A nobleman can now no longer cover with his protection every lackey who follows his heels, or every bully who draws in his quarrel; and, highly as we respect the exalted rank which Mr. Bentham holds among the writers of our time, yet when, for the due maintenance of literary police, we shall think it necessary to confute sophists, or to bring pretenders to shame, we shall not depart from the ordinary course of our preceedings because the offenders call themselves Benthamites.
Whether Mr. Mill has much reason to thank Mr. Bentham for undertaking his defence, our readers, when they have finished this article, will perhaps be inclined to doubt. Great as Mr. Bentham's talents are, he has, we think, shown an undue confidence in them. He should have considered how dangerous it is for any man, however eloquent and ingenious he may be, to attack or to defend a book with out reading it. And we feel quite convinced that Mr. Bentham would never have written the article before us, if he had, before he be gan, perused our review with attention, and compared it with Mr. Mill's Essay.
Of Mr. Bentham himself, we shall endeavour, even while defending ourselves against He has utterly mistaken our object and his reproaches, to speak with the respect to meaning. He seems to think that we have which his venerable age, his genius, and his undertaken to set up some theory of govern public services entitle him. If any harsh ex- ment in opposition to that of Mr. Mill. But we pression should escape us, we trust that he distinctly disclaimed any such design. From will attribute it to inadvertence, to the momen- the beginning to the end of our article, there is tary warmth of controversy,-to any thing, in not, as far as we remember, a single sentence short, rather than to a design of affronting him. which, when fairly construed, can be considered Though we have nothing in common with the as indicating any such design. If such an excrew of Hurds and Boswells, who, either from pression can be found, it has been dropped by interested motives, or from the habit of intel- inadvertence. Our object was to prove, not lectual servility and dependence, pamper and that monarchy and aristocracy are good, but vitiate his appetite with the noxious sweetness that Mr. Mill had not proved them to be bad; of their undiscerning praise, we are not per- not that democracy is bad, but that Mr. Mill haps less competent than they to appreciate had not proved it to be good. The points in his merit, or less sincerely disposed to acknow-issue are these, Whether the famous Essay on ledge it. Though we may sometimes think his reasonings on moral and political questions feeble and sophistical-though we may sometimes smile at his extraordinary language-we can never be weary of admiring the amplitude of his comprehension, the keenness of his penesration, the exuberant fertility with which his mind pours forth arguments and illustrations.
*The Westminster Review, No. XXI., Article XVI. Edinburgh Review, No. XCVII., Article on Mill's Essays Op Government, &c.
Government be, as it has been called, a perfect solution of the great political problem, or a se ries of sophisms and blunders; and whether the sect which, while it glories in the precision of its logic, extols this Essay as a masterpiece of demonstration, be a sect deserving of the respect or of the derision of mankind. These, we say, are the issues; and on these we with full confidence put ourselves on the country.
It is not necessary, for the purposes of this investigation, that we should state what our
political creed is, or whether we have any political creed at all. A man who cannot act the most trivial part in a farce has a right to his Romeo Coates-a man who does not know a vein from an artery may caution a simple neighbour against the advertisements of Doctor Eady. A complete theory of government would, indeed, be a noble present to mankind; but it is a present which we do not hope, and do not pretend, that we can offer. If, however, we cannot lay the foundation, it is something to clear away the rubbish-if we cannot set up truth, it is something to pull down error. Even if the subjects of which the Utilitarians treat were subjects of less fearful importance, we should think it no small service to the cause of good sense and good taste, to point out the contrast between their magnificent pretensions and their miserable performances. Some of them have, however, thought fit to display their ingenuity on questions of the most momentous kind, and on questions concerning which men cannot reason ill with impunity. We think it, under these circumstances, an absolute duty to expose the fallacy of their arguments. It is no matter of pride or of pleasure. To read their works is the most soporific employment that we know; and a man ought no more to be proud of refuting them than of having two legs. We must now come to close quarters with Mr. Bentham, whom, we need not say, we do not mean to include in this observation. He charges us with maintaining,
trusting to arbitrary power on the credit of these specimens."
Now, in the first place, we never cited the case of Denmark to prove that all despots do not govern ill. We cited it to prove that Mr. Mill did not know how to reason. Mr. Mill gave it as a reason for deducing the theory of government from the general laws of human nature, that the king of Denmark was not Caligula. This we said, and we still say, was absurd.
In the second place, it was not we, but Mr. Mill, who said that the king of Denmark was a despot. His words are these:-"The people of Denmark, tired out with the oppression of an aristocracy, resolved that their king should be absolute; and under their absolute monarch are as well governed as any people in Europe." We leave Mr. Bentham to settle with Mr. Mill the distinction between a despot and an abso lute king.
In the third place, Mr. Bentham says, that there was in Denmark a balanced contest between the king and the nobility. We find some difficulty in believing that Mr. Bentham seriously means to say this, when we consider that Mr. Mill has demonstrated the chance to be as infinity to one against the existence of such a balanced contest.
the people. This, Mr. Mill assures us, is as certain as any thing which depends upon human will.
Fourthly, Mr. Bentham says, that in this balanced contest the people turned the scale in favour of the king against the aristocracy. But Mr. Mill has demonstrated, that it cannot "First, that it is not true that all despots possibly be for the interest of the monarchy govern ill-whereon the world is in a mis- and democracy to join against the aristocracy; take, and the whigs have the true light. And and that wherever the three parties exist, the for proof, principally,-that the king of Den-king and the aristocracy will combine against mark is not Caligula. To which the answer is, that the king of Denmark is not a despot. He was put in his present situation, by the people turning the scale in his favour, in a balanced contest between himself and the nobility. And it is quite clear that the same power would turn the scale the other way, the moment a king of Denmark should take into his head to be Caligula. It is of little consequence by what congeries of letters the majesty of Denmark is typified in the royal press of Copenhagen, while the real fact is, that the sword of the people is suspended over his head in case of ill-behaviour, as effectually as in other countries where more noise is made upon the subject. Everybody believes the sovereign of Denmark to be a good and virtuous gentleman; but there is no more superhu- We have no dispute on these heads with Mr man merit in his being so, than in the case of Bentham. On the contrary, we think his exa rural squire who does not shoot his land-planation true-or, at least, true in part; and steward, or quarter his wife with his yeomanry we heartily thank him for lending us his as sabre. sistance to demolish the essay of his follower. His wit and his sarcasm are sport to us; but they are death to his unhappy disciple.
"It is true that there are partial exceptions to the rule, that all men use power as badly as they dare There may have been such things as amiable negro-drivers and sentimental masters of press-gangs; and here and there, among the odd freaks of human nature, there may have been specimens of men who were No tyrants, though bred up to tyranny. But it would be as wise to recommend wolves for nurses at the Foundling, on the credit of Romulus and Remus, as to substitute the exception for the general fact, and advise mankind to take to
Fifthly, Mr. Bentham says, that if the king of Denmark were to oppress his people, the people and nobles would combine against the king. But Mr. Mill has proved that it can never be for the interest of the aristocracy to combine with the democracy against the king. It is evidently Mr. Bentham's opinion, that "monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, may balance each other, and by mutual checks produce good government." But this is the very theory which Mr. Mill pronounces to be the wildest, the most visionary, the most chimerical, ever broached on the subject of govern. ment.
Mr. Bentham seems to imagine that we have said something implying an opinion favourable to despotism. We can scarcely suppose that, as he has not condescended to read that portion of our work which he undertook to answer, he can have bestowed much attention on its general character. Had he done so, he would, we think, scarcely have entertained such a suspicion. Mr. Mill asserts, and pretends to prove, that under no despotic government does any human
Now, this is certainly very pleasant writing. but there is no great difficulty in answering the argument. The real reason which makes it absurd to think of preventing theft by pensioning off thieves is this, that there is no limit to the number of thieves. If there were only a hundred thieves in a place, and we were quite sure that no person not already addicted to theft would take to it, it might become a question, whether to keep the thieves frem dishonesty by raising them above distress, would not be a better course than to employ officers against them. But the actual cases are not parallel. Every man who chooses can be come a thief; but a man cannot become a king or a member of the aristocracy whenever he chooses. The number of the depredators is
being, except the tools of the sovereign, possess their benches, if the 'light wings of saffron more than the necessaries of life, and that the and of blue' should bear this theory into their most intense degree of terror is kept up by grim domains! Why do not the owners of constant cruelty. This, we say, is untrue. It pocket-handkerchiefs try to 'saturate?' Why is not merely a rule to which there are excep- does not the cheated publican beg leave to tions: but it is not the rule. Despotism is bad; check the gulosity of his defrauder with a rebut it is scarcely anywhere so bad as Mr. Mill petatur haustus, and the pummelled plaintiff says that it is everywhere. This, we are sure, neutralize the malice of his adversary, by reMr. Bentham will allow. If a man were to say questing to have the rest of the beating in prethat five hundred thousand people die every sence of the court,-if it is not that such conyear in London of dram-drinking, he would duct would run counter to all the conclusions not assert a proposition more monstrously false of experience, and be the procreation of the than Mr. Mill's. Would it be just to charge us mischief it affected to destroy? Woful is the with defending intoxication because we might man whose wealth depends on his having more say that such a man was grossly in the wrong? than somebody else can be persuaded to take We say with Mr. Bentham that despotism is from him; and woful also is the people that is a bad thing. We say with Mr. Bentham that in such a case!" the exceptions do not destroy the authority of the rule. But this we say that a single exception overthrows an argument, which either does not prove the rule at all, or else proves the rule to be true without exceptions; and such an argument is Mr. Mill's argument against despotism. In this respect, there is a great difference between rules drawn from experience, and rules deduced à priori. We might believe that there had been a fall of snow last August, and yet not think it likely that there would be snow next August. A single occurrence opposed to our general experience would tell for very little in our calculation of the chances. But if we could once satisfy ourselves that, in any single right-angled triangle, the square of the hypothenuse might be less than the squares of the sides, we must re-limited; and therefore the amount of depreda ject the forty-seventh proposition of Euclid tion, so far as physical pleasures are concernaltogether. We willingly adopt Mr. Bentham's ed, must be limited also. Now, we make the lively illustration about the wolf; and we will remark which Mr. Bentham censures with resay, in passing, that it gives us real pleasure ference to physical pleasures only. The pleato see how little old age has diminished the sures of ostentation, of taste, of revenge, and gayety of this eminent man. We can assure other pleasures of the same description, have, him that his merriment gives us far more plea- we distinctly allowed, no limit. Our words are sure on his account, than pain in our own. these:"A king or an aristocracy may be We say with him, keep the wolf out of the supplied to satiety with corporal pleasures, at an nursery, in spite of the story of Romulus and expense which the rudest and poorest commuRemus. But if the shepherd who saw the wolf nity would scarcely feel." Does Mr. Bentham licking and suckling those famous twins, were, deny this? If he does, we leave him to Mr. after telling this story to his companions, to Mill. "What," says that philosopher, in his assert that it was an infallible rule that no Essay on Education, "what are the ordinary wolf ever had spared, or ever would spare, pursuits of wealth and power, which kindle to any living thing which might fall in its way-such a height the ardour of mankind? Not to that its nature was carnivorous-and that it mere love of eating and of drinking, or all the could not possibly disobey its nature, we think | physical objects together which wealth can that the hearers might have been excused for starting. It may be strange, but is not inconsistent, that a wolf which has eaten ninety-nine children should spare the hundredth. But the fact that a wolf has once spared a child is sufficient to show that there must be some flaw in the chain of reasoning, purporting to prove that wolves cannot possibly spare children.
purchase or power command. With these every man is in the long run speedily satis fied." What the difference is between being speedily satisfied and being soon saturated, we leave Mr. Bentham and Mr. Mill to settle together.
The word "saturation," however, seems to provoke Mr. Bentham's mirth. It certainly did Mr. Bentham proceeds to attack another po- not strike us as very pure English; but, as Mr. sition which he conceives us to maintain :- Mill used it, we supposed it to be good Ben"Secondly, That a government not under the thamese. With the latter language we are not control of the community (for there is no ques-critically acquainted, though, as it has many tion upon any other) may soon be saturated.' Tell it not in Bow Street, whisper it not in Hatton Garden-that there is a plan for preventing injustice by saturation.' With what peals of unearthly merriment would Minos, Eacus, and Radamanthus, be aroused upon
roots in common with our mother tongue, we can contrive, by the help of a converted Utilitarian, who attends us in the capacity of Moonshee, to make out a little. But Mr. Bentham's authority is of course decisive, and we bow to it.