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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. Every body 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 land-steward 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
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 consider 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 anything 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 explanation 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 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. Benthain 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 a 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 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 gaiety of this eminent man. We can assure him that his merriment gives us far more pleasure on his account than pain on 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 staring. 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 Hattongarden that there is a plan for preventing injustice by saturation.' With what peals of unearthly merriment would Minos, Eacus, and Rhadamanthus 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 puminelled plaintiff neutralise 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 from dishonesty by raising them above distress would not be a better course than to employ officers against them. But the actual cases are