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so it has been applied, has signally increased the power and knowledge of our species, by that method for which our new philosophers would 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, vary
ing 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
of nations,—which, of all sciences, most tends to expand and invigorate the mind,-which draws nutriment and ornament from every part 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. 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 immeasurably 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 call 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 ignoble hand.
Of Mr. Benthan himself, we shall endeavour, even while defending ourselves against his reproaches, to speak with the respect to which his venerable age, his genius, and his blic services entitle him. If any harsh expression should escape us, we trust that he will attribute it to inadvertence, to the momentary warmth of controversy, to any thing, in short, rather than to a design of affronting him. Though we have nothing in common with the crew of Hurds and Boswells, who, either from interested motives, or from the habit of intellectual servility and dependence, pamper and vitiate his appetite with the noxious sweetness of their undiscerning praise, we are not perhaps less competent than they to appreciate his merit, or less sincerely disposed to acknowledge it. Though we may sometimes think his reasonings on moral and political questions seeble 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 peneiration, the exuberant fertility with which his mind pours forth arguments and illustrations.
*The Westminster Review, No. XXI., Article XVI. Edinburgh Review, No. WCWII., Article on Mill's Essays tor Government. &c
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 proceedings 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 without reading it. And we feel quite convinced that Mr. Bentham would never have written the article before us, if he had, before he began, perused our review with attention, and compared it with Mr. Mill's Essay. He has utterly mistaken our object and meaning. He seems to think that we have undertaken to set up some theory of government in opposition to that of Mr. Mill. But we distinctly disclaimed any such design. From the beginning to the end of our article, there is not, as far as we remember, a single sentence which, when fairly construed, can be considered as indicating any such design. If such an expression can be found, it has been dropped by inadvertence. Our object was to prove, not that monarchy and aristocracy are good, but
...that Mr. Mill had not proved them to be bad;
not that democracy is bad, but that Mr. Mill had not proved it to be good. The points in issue are these, Whether the famous Essay on Government be, as it has been called, a perfect solution of the great political problem, or a series 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, “First, “that it is not true that all despots govern ill:”—whereon the world is in a mistake, and the whigs have the true light. And for proof, principally,–that the king of Denmark 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 superhuman merit in his being so, than in the case of a rural squire who does not shoot his landsteward, or quarter his wife with his yeomanry sabre. “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
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 absolute 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 considel that Mr. Mill has demonstrated the chance to be as infinity to one against the existence of such a balanced contest. 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 possibly be for the interest of the monarchy and democracy to join against the aristocracy; and that wherever the three parties exist, the king and the aristocracy will combine against the people. This, Mr. Mill assures us, is as certain as any thing which depends upon human will. 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 government. We have no dispute on these heads with Mr Bentham. On the contrary, we think his ex
planation true—or, at least, true in part; and
we heartily thank him for lending us his assistance to demolish the essay of his follower. His wit and his sarcasm are sport to us; but they are death to his unhappy disciple. 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
being, except the tools of the sovereign, possess more than the necessaries of life, and that the most intense degree of terror is kept up by constant cruelty. This, we say, is untrue. It is not merely a rule to which there are exceptions: but it is not the rule. Despotism is bad; but it is scarcely anywhere so bad as Mr. Mill says that it is everywhere. This, we are sure, Mr. Bentham will allow. If a man were to say that five hundred thousand people die every year in London of dram-drinking, he would not assert a proposition more monstrously false than Mr. Mill's. Would it be just to charge us with defending intoxication because we might say that such a man was grossly in the wrong? We say with Mr. Bentham that despotism is a bad thing. We say with Mr. Bentham that 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 d 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 hypothen use might be. less than the squares of the sides, we must reject the forty-seventh proposition of Euclid altogether. We willingly adopt Mr. Bentham's lively illustration about the wolf; and we will say, in passing, that it gives us real pleasure to see how little old age has diminished the gayety of this eminent man. We can assure him that his merriment gives us far more pleasure on his account, than pain in our own. We say with him, keep the wolf out of the nursery, in spite of the story of Romulus and Remus. But if the shepherd who saw the wolf licking and suckling those famous twins, were, after telling this story to his companions, to assert that it was an infallible rule that no wolf ever had spared, or ever would spare, any living thing which might fall in its way— that its nature was carnivorous—and that it could not possibly disobey its nature, we think 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. Mr. Bentham proceeds to attack another position which he conceives us to maintain :“Secondly, That a government not under the control of the community (for there is no question 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, £acus, and Radamanthus, be aroused upon
their benches, if the “light wings of saffron and of blue' should bear this theory into their grim domains ! Why do not the owners of pocket-handkerchiefs try to “saturate ' Why does not the cheated publican beg leave to check the gulosity of his defrauder with a repetatur haustus, and the pummelled plaintiff neutralize the malice of his adversary, by requesting to have the rest of the beating in presence of the court,-if it is not that such conduct would run counter to all the conclusions of experience, and be the procreation of the mischief it affected to destroy? Woful is the man whose wealth depends on his having more than somebody else can be persuaded to take from him; and woful also is the people that is in such a case "" . 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 frcon 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 become a thief; but a man cannot become a king or a member of the aristocracy whenever he chooses. The number of the depredators is limited ; and therefore the amount of depredation, so far as physical pleasures are concerned, must be limited also. Now, we make the remark which Mr. Bentham censures with reference to physical pleasures only. The pleasures of ostentation, of taste, of revenge, and other pleasures of the same description, have, we distinctly allowed, no limit. Our words are these:—“A king or an aristocracy may be supplied to satiety with corporal pleasures, at an expense which the rudest and poorest community would scarcely feel.” Does Mr. Bentham deny this 1 Is he does, we leave him to Mr. Mill. “What,” says that philosopher, in his Essay on Education, “what are the ordinary pursuits of wealth and power, which kindle to such a height the ardour of mankind? Not to mere love of eating and of drinking, or all the physical objects together which wealth can purchase or power command. With these every man is in the long run speedily satisfied.” 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 not strike us as very pure English; but, as Mr. Mill used it, we supposed it to be good Benthamese. With the latter language we are not critically acquainted, though, as it has many roots in comm, n with our mother tongue, ww. can contrive, by the help of a converted Utili. tarian, 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,
... kings and nobles wrong the people 1
Mr. Bentham next represents us as maintaining, “Thirdly, That ‘though there may be some tastes and propensities that have no point of saturation, there exists a sufficient check in the desire of the good opinion of others.’ The misfortune of this argument is, that no man cares for the good opinion of those he has been accustomed to wrong. If oysters have opinions, it is probable they think very ill of those who eat them in August; but small is the effect upon the autumnal glutton that engulfs their gentle substances within his own. The planter and the slave-driver care just as much about negro opinion as the epicure about the sentiments of oysters. M. Ude throwing live eels into the fire as a kindly method of divesting them of the unsavoury oil that lodges beneath their skins, is not more convinced of the immense aggregate of good which arises to the lordlier parts of the creation, than is the gentle peer who strips his fellow-man of country and of family for a wild fowl slain. The goodly landowner, who lives by morsels squeezed indiscriminately from the waxy hands of the cobbler and the polluted ones of the nightman, is in no small degree the object of both hatred and contempt; but it is to be feared that he is a long way from feeling them to be intolerable. The principle of “..At mihi plaudo ipse domi, simul ac mummos contemplorin arcă,’ is sufficient to make a wide interval between the opinions of the plaintiff and defendant in such cases. In short, to banish law and leave all plaintiffs to trust to the desire of reputation on the opposite side, would only be transporting the theory of the whigs from the House of Commons to Westminster Hall.” Now, in the first place, we never maintained the proposition which Mr. Bentham puts into our mouths. We said, and say, that there is a certain check to the rapacity and cruelty of men, in their desire of the good opinion of others. We never said that it was sufficient. Let Mr. Mill show it to be insufficient. It is enough for us to prove that there is a set-off against the principle from which Mr. Mill deduces the whole theory of government. The balance may be, and, we believe, will be, against despotism and the narrow forms of aristocracy. But what is this to the correctness or incorrectness of Mr. Mill's accounts : The question is not, whether the motives which lead rulers to behave ill, are stronger than those which lead them to behave well;-but whether we ought to form a theory of government by looking only at the motives which lead rulers to behave ill, and never noticing those which lead them to behave well. Absolute rulers, says Mr. Bentham, do not care for the good opinion of their subjects; for no man cares for the good opinion of those whom he has been accustomed to wrong. By Mr. Bentham's leave, this is a plain begging of the question. The point at issue is this:—Will The argument in favour of kings and nobles is this: —they will not wrong the people, because they care for the good opinion of the people. But this argument Mr. Bentham meets thus:–they will not care for the good opinion of the peo
ple, because they are accustomed to wrong the people. Here Mr. Mill differs, as usual, from Mr. Bentham. “The greatest princes,” says he, in his Essay on Education, “the most despotical masters of human destiny, when asked what they aim at by their wars and conquests, would answer, if sincere, as Frederic of Prussia answered, pour fair parler de soi;—to occupy a large space in the admiration of mankind.” Putting Mr. Mill's and Mr. Bentham's principles together, we might make out very easily that “the greatest princes, the most despotical masters of human destiny,” would never abuse their power. A man who has been long accustomed to injure people, must also have been long accustomed to do without their love, and to endure their aversion. Such a man may not miss the pleasure of popularity; for men seldom miss a pleasure which they have long denied themselves. An old tyrant does without popularity, just as an old water-drinker does without wine. But though it is perfectly true that men who, for the good of their health, have long abstained from wine, feel the want of it very little, it would be absurd to infer that men will always abstain from wine, when their health requires that they should do so. And it would be equally absurd to say, because men who have been accustomed to oppress care little for popularity, that men will therefore necessarily preser the pleasures of oppression to those of Polo, hen, again, a man may be accustomed to wrong people in one point, and not in another. He may care for their good opinion with regard to one point, and not with regard to another. The Regent Orleans laughed at charges of impiety, libertinism, extravagance, idleness, disgraceful promotions. But the slightest allusion to the charge of poisoning threw him into convulsions. Louis the Fifteenth braved the hatred and contempt of his subjects during many years of the most odious and imbecile misgovernment. But when a report was spread that he used human blood for his baths, he was almost driven mad by it. Surely Mr. Bentham's position, “that no man cares for the good opinion of those whom he has been accustomed to wrong,” would be objectionable, as
far too sweeping and indiscriminate, even if it .
did not involve, as in the present case we have shown that it does, a direct begging of the question at issue.
Mr. Bentham proceeds:—
“Fourthly, The Edinburgh Reviewers are of opinion, that “it might, with no small plausibility, be maintained, that, in many countries, there are two classes which, in some degree, answer to this description;' [viz.] ‘ that the poor compose the class which government is established to restrain, and the people of some property, the class to which the powers of government may without danger be confided.”
“They take great pains, it is true, to say this, and not to say it. They shuffle and creep about, to secure a hole to escape at, if ‘whal they do not assert’ should be found in any degree inconvenient. A man might waste his