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ever, 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 sinall 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 wish — though we fear it has but little chance of reaching Mr. Bentham – that he would endeavour 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,
(Edinburgh Review, October 1829.)
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 consummate 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 them selves to be enslaved.
The Utilitarians have sometimes been abused as intolerant, arrogant, irreligious, - as enemies of literature, of the fine arts, and of the domestic charities.
1 Westminster Review, (XXII. Art. 16,) on the Strictures of the Edinburgh Review (XCVIII. Art. 1) on the Utilitarian Theory of Government, and the “Greatest Happiness Principle.”
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 scrutinised, the world would see that it had been under a mistake respecting them.
We have made the experiment; and it has succeeded far beyond our most sanguine expectations. A chosen champion of the School has come forth against us. specimen of his logical abilities now lies before us; and we pledge ourselves to show that no prebendary at an anti-Catholic meeting, no true-blue baronet after the third bottle at a Pitt Club, ever displayed such utter incapacity of comprehending or answering an argument as appears in the speculations of this Utilitarian apostle; that he does not understand our meaning, or Mr. Mill's meaning, or Mr. Bentham's meaning, or his own meaning; and that the various parts of his system if the name of system can be so misapplied directly contradict each other.
Having shown this, we intend to leave him in undisputed possession of whatever advantage he may derive from the last word. We propose only to convince the public that there is nothing in the far-famed logic of the Utilitarians of which any plain man has reason to be afraid ; that this logic will impose on no man who dares to look it in the face.
The Westminster Reviewer begins by charging us with having misrepresented an important part of Mr. Mill's argument.
“ The first extract given by the Edinburgh Reviewers from the essay was an insulated passage, purposely despoiled of what had preceded and what followed. The author had been observing, that some profound and benevolent investigators of human affairs had adopted the conclusion that, of all the possible forms of government, absolute monarchy is the best.' This is what the reviewers have omitted at the beginning. He then adds, as in the extract, that · Experience, if we look only at the outside of the facts, appears to be divided on this subject;' there are Caligulas in one place, and kings of Denmark in another. As the surface of history affords, therefore, no certain principle of decision, we must go beyond the surface, and penetrate to the springs within.' This is what the reviewers have omitted at the end.”
It is perfectly true that our quotation from Mr. Mill's essay was, like most other quotations, preceded and followed by something which we did not quote. But, if the Westminster Reviewer means to say that either what preceded or what followed would, if quoted, have shown that we put a wrong interpretation on the passage which was extracted, he does not understand Mr. Mill rightly.
Mr. Mill undoubtedly says that, “as the surface of history affords no certain principle of decision, we must go beyond the surface, and penetrate to the springs within." But these expressions will admit of several interpretations. In what sense, then, does Mr. Mill use them? If he means that we ought to inspect the facts with close attention, he means what is rational. But, if he means that we ought to leave the facts, with all their apparent inconsistencies, unexplained
to lay down a general principle of the widest extent, and to deduce doctrines from that principle by syllogistic argument, without pausing to consider whether those doctrines be or be not consistent with the facts, then he means what is irrational; and this is clearly what he does mean: for he immediately begins, without of
fering the least explanation of the contradictory appearances which he has himself described, to go beyond the surface in the following manner :
66 That one human being will desire to render the person and property of another subservient to his pleasures, notwithstanding the pain or loss of pleasure which it may occasion to that other individual, is the foundation of government The desire of the object implies the desire of the power necessary to accomplish the object.” And thus he proceeds to deduce consequences directly inconsistent with what he has himself stated respecting the situation of the Danish people.
If we assume that the object of government is the preservation of the persons and property of men, then we must hold that, wherever that object is attained, there the principle of good government exists. If that object be attained both in Denmark and in the United States of America, then that which makes government good must exist, under whatever disguise of title or name, both in Denmark and in the United States. If men lived in fear for their lives and their possessions under Nero and under the National Convention, it fol. lows that the causes from which misgovernment proceeds existed both in the despotism of Rome and in the democracy of France. What, then, is that which, being found in Denmark and in the United States, and not being found in the Roman Empire or under the administration of Robespierre, renders governments, widely differing in their external form, practically good ? Be it what it may, it certainly is not that which Mr. Mill proves a priori that it must be, a democratic representative assembly. For the Danes have no such assembly.
The latent principle of good government ought to