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CHAPTER XIII.: FACTITIOUS HONOUR. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 9 (Constitutional Code) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 9.
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By the appellation factitious honour, a general conception of what is meant by it will, without difficulty, be brought to view.
By factitious honour understand, honour procured, or endeavoured to be procured, at the hands of the public at large, in favour of some particular individual, by means of some token or tokens, giving an intimation to them to that effect, by the functionary by whom the honour is said to be conferred. On this occasion, a word for the most part interconvertible with honour is dignity. The idea conveyed by the word honour is, however, that of a fictitious entity, extraneous to the individual in question: the idea conveyed by the word dignity, a fictitious entity, a quality, the seat of which is within him.
Dignity is the name given to a quality in the human character. The idea annexed to it seems not to be altogether a very determinate one,—it is that quality which is such, that, by the opinion of its existence, respect is produced on the part of others, as towards him in whom it is regarded as existing. Say, for shortness, dignity is the efficient cause of respect.
The dignity may be styled natural, in so far as the respect, of the tokens of which the possessor is the object, has for its efficient cause the opinion entertained by him who pays it, in relation to the conduct, and thence the frame of mind, of him who is the object of it.
The dignity is factitious in so far as it has for its efficient cause the act of another person: a person other than he in whom the quality is considered as having its existence.
Of this factitious sort the distinctive character is this: namely, that by it respect may be caused to be shown to men in unlimited numbers, to no one of whom, in so far as depends upon his conduct and frame of mind, respect would be paid: to whom, but for the operation by which this dignity is conferred, no respect at all would ever be paid by any one.
For giving of the desired intimation to the public at large signs of various sorts are in use. One sort of sign is of the purely visible sort: of this sort are ensigns of honour; another as being verbal, are at once audible as well as visible: of this sort are the signs called titles of honour.
Titles may be and are unaccompanied with ensigns: ensigns can scarcely exist without corresponding titles. In both forms they may be either purely personal or successional. Of the successional class, the most obvious subclass is the hereditary. Ensigns are not so apt to be successional as titles are.
Howsoever designated, they may be seen standing in some cases singly, in others in a climax of various length: or occupying any number of degrees rising one above another in a scale.
A factitious honour is seen sometimes in conjunction with a lot of power received at the same time with it, as in the case of a member of the English House of Lords: sometimes without power as in the case of a Spanish grandee: sometimes without power but with privilege, as in the case of the titled noblesse of France: sometimes without power or privilege, as in most Christian flations, in the case of the orders of knighthood, which are designated by ensigns that are worn about the person; and in the simple knighthood of England, distinguished by an appellative, but without any ensign worn about the person. When combined with power, in some cases elevation in the climax of honour, carries with it elevation in the climax of power, as in the case of bishoprics and archbishoprics in the English House of Lords. In some cases the honours rise in a climax, the power remaining unvaried, as in the case of the lay lords of the English House of Lords, the power being annexed to the lowest degree in the climax of of honour, termed a barony; while above that rise other degrees in a climax, namely, a viscounty, an earldom, a marquisate, and a dukedom.
In some cases it is or has been seen conjoined with property in land, as in the case of some of the Spanish orders, and also in the case of some English baronies. In others with landed property in the dominions of different states, and a share in the supreme operative power in one state, as in the case of the knights of Malta before the cession of the power to Great Britain, in consequence of the conquest made of the island.
In some cases it is seen conjoined with pensions, as in the case of the French Legion of Honour instituted by Napoleon.
Infinite in number and variety are the compounds of power, privilege, landed property and pecuniary property, in which it is an ingredient. The cases above given, are given as examples only, and to aid conception: in those examples incorrectnesses might probably be found in abundance. With the facts belonging to the subject, folios upon folios have been filled. An analytical view of it, that should be at once clear, correct, and all-comprehensive, would be matter for a work of months; and the whole together, so much paper and time employed in waste. The task would bear a resemblance to that of a set of industrious labourers, who may be seen in London occupied in watching the rubbish and refuse of all sorts, as it is conveyed from the various dwelling-houses, to a spot allotted for the purpose, in carts called dust-carts. The compound is analyzed, and the individuals belonging to the several species of matter collected in heaps. Between the one task and the other, there would be this difference. When rightly assorted, the contents of the dust-cart have all of them their modes and degrees of usefulness: those of the budget of honour, their modes and degrees (as will be seen) of mischievousness.
As to the compounds in which this article is an ingredient, the consideration of them need not add to the trouble; though, in fact, conjoined with the several other articles, in idea there will be no difficulty in keeping it separate.
Primarily-seated, and in an extravasated state,—say in one word, extravasated,—by these two words, the distinction of greatest importance in respect of usefulness or mischievousness, will be brought to view. Primarily-seated, the honour may be said to be, in the instance of the individual on whom, by an appropriate act of power, it has been first conferred: extravasated in the instance of the individual, who, without any additional act of power, has received the honour in virtue of a relation borne by him, in some mode or other, to him on whom it was conferred: genealogical relationship is one of those modes; official is another.
The origin of extravasated reward may be traced to three sources: viz. favouritism, rapacity, and sinister policy: in what proportion they have contributed to the effect cannot in every instance be determined.
In England, seats in the oligarchical body, which, after having been called the council, settled at last under the name of parliament, (a speaking place,) became appendages to the vast portions of territory, which the rapacity of the monarch was, from time to time, obliged to give up to the rapacity of the lesser tyrants, his subordinates.
A time at length arrived, when the prodigality of the monarch having left him no territory with which to satisfy this or that favourite, instead of the title and the seat, with the land, the favourite received the one and the other without land.
As prodigality and rapacity went on their course, all such portions of land, valuable enough to support the expense attendant on a seat, being all gone, and the demand for money being pressing, title and seat were not merely conferred without land, but money was taken for them: they were in a word sold.
When baronies, together with the higher titles in which they are included, first came to be sold, the money, with or without privity and connivance on the part of the monarch, went wholly or principally into the pockets of the brokers in the transaction—the favourites.
The occasion on which, for the first time, the money went avowedly into the pocket of the monarch, was that of the creation of the order of baronets by James I. An appellation, by which these men and their first-born for ever, were confounded with the order of knights—this appellation, with or without title to precedence above knights, was all that the purchasers of the article got for their money, some thousands a-piece: to such a pitch had the fascinating power of this instrument of delusion arrived already in that age.
In a monarchy, so long as there has been either a lawyer or a priest in office under it, (and no monarchy has there ever been without both,) the policy, which consists in the endeavour to cause established vice to be venerated under the name of virtue, has never been neglected.
Man’s elevation in the scale of virtue—real and useful virtue—is, as it has been shown, as his altitude in the conjunct scales of power, opulence, and factitious honour or dignity, not directly, but inversely. But if this which is so incontrovertibly true, were universally or very generally perceived, monarchy, though it would still have for its supports force, intimidation, and corruptive influence, would be limited to those supports: it would be left destitute of the support afforded to it by delusive influence.
It was not without great exertion, that men’s eyes could be kept shut from the truth of a position which was demonstrated by experience no less universal and constant than the opposite falsehood.
What could not but add, in no small degree to the difficulty of the process was, that in the writings universally recognised as dictated by the Almighty himself, so far as opulence was in question, its incompatibility with what they saw represented not merely as meritorious service, but as almost the only meritorious service, namely piety, stands asserted: asserted in terms, if any such there are in the language, by much too clear to admit of the possibility of mistake. But of these writings the priests were the interpreters; authoritative and sole authoritative interpreters: and as in other instances, so in this, for the guide to their interpretation, they found neither conscience nor anything else to restrain them from employing the rule of contraries. Into the kingdom of God no man who trusts in rulers can ever enter. But the place that a Church of England priest wants to enter into, is a seat in the House of Lords, with the title of bishop or archbishop, and £20,000 a-year tacked to it. Accordingly, no sooner does it please the Almighty, than he sits himself down in this same seat: and as to the entrance into the kingdom of God, he leaves it to all those, who by the track which he has chalked out to them, can find their way to it.
The circumstance to which they have been indebted for their success was this: to their class belonged, either as principals or as dependents, all men from whom, either by the ear or by the eye, men of other classes were capable of receiving instruction.
The case where the distinction in question has been received in the way of succession, after the manner of property in a pecuniary shape, is an altogether curious one.
Wastefulness and absurdity vie with each other in the composition of this arrangement. It is among the fruits of monarchy. As, on the one hand, mis-seated punishment abounds in a monarchy, so on the other hand does mis-seated reward: in both instances, the contempt with which the people and their happiness are regarded, alike manifests itself.
Aptly-seated punishment, is aptly or say rightly-seated, in so far as the individual on whom it falls has been a partaker in the misdeed. Punishment is unaptly-seated, or say mis-seated, in so far as it falls on any individual, who has not been a partaker in the offence.
Of mis-seated punishment, the absurdity as well as the atrocity is to such a degree flagrant, as not to be capable of remaining unrecognised by any mind not blinded by terror or terror-begotten prejudice. With as much justice as any one non-misdoing individual is punished, so may every other.
Mis-seated punishment has been termed vicarious: it has place where an individual who has been a partaker in the misdeed, not being subjected to punishment in consideration of it; one who has not been a partaker, is subjected to punishment in his stead.
Mis-seated punishment may be termed extravasated, where an individual or individuals who were not partakers in the misdeed, are subjected to punishment in conjunction with those who were.
Punishment in a vicarious shape is no less opposed to nature, than it is repugnant to reason and general utility.
In consequence of the various connexions of interest and sympathy, (more especially domestic ones,) by which men are linked together, punishment in an extravasated state is, to an indefinite extent, unhappily unavoidable. By evil to this amount, a moderate appetite for the spectacle of human suffering would have been satisfied. Not so in the eyes of English lawyers. To reconcile men to the view of the boundless quantity produced by them under the orders of the monarch for the gratification of the kindred appetites of rapacity and vengeance, they have pointed to that unhappy abundance of mis-seated punishment which no human ingenuity, under the orders of human benevolence, is able altogether to exclude.
Tax not with irrelevancy what is here said of mis-seated punishment. Partly in the way of suggestion, partly in the way of supposed or pretended justification, injustice in the application of the matter of evil, leads to injustice in the application of the matter of good. To be lavish of punishment, and lavish of reward, belongs to the same mind, and to the same form of government. Prodigality, whatsoever be the subject-matter of it, prodigality by which others suffer, is the offspring of contempt—of the contempt, with which they are regarded, who suffer by it.
Vicarious reward is an absurdity that, even in the most barbarous state of society, appears not to have been exemplified.*
The deficiency has however been amply compensated for, by the amplitude of the field in which extravasated reward, with its waste and absurdity, have been and continue to be exhibited.
Where for the waste made of reward, in the shape of factitious honour, anything in the shape of a justification is adduced, it is the remuneration, and by means of the remuneration, the production of extra meritorious public service that is stated as the good produced by it. But where the individual to whom the reward is given is a person other than him by whom the supposed service is supposed to have been performed, the plea such as it is, is manifestly without application, and such is the case, in so far as the reward is in a state of extravasation.
In the case of punishment, at the time when the extravasated mass was added, the addition had, if not a sufficient justification, at any rate a partial one, and at the worst a pretence: in the case of reward, reward in the shape here in question, there is not so much as that pretence. For in the case of punishment, forfeiture being the mode, there was in the first place, in the case of offences against government, need of self-preservation, on the one part; need of disablement on the other part: disablement for the commission of the like offences at the same hands: there was also need of intimidation, as a further means of prevention, should the other fail.
Thereupon what may here be said is this: whatsoever fear, has for its object evil in the case of its being borne immediately by a man himself, a source from which it cannot fail to receive an addition, is evil about to be eventually suffered by a party dear to him—a party who is the object of his sympathetic affection.
Extravasated factitious honour, aggravates the evil of inequality; and does so, without necessity and without use. All inequality is a source of evil: for by the inferior more is lost in the account of happiness, than is gained by the superior.
Inequality in the scale of power is a source of evil: but inequality in this scale is necessary to the existence of society: still the less there is of it, consistently with the wellbeing of society in other respects, the better.
Inequality in the scale of opulence is necessary to a certain degree to the very being of society, for any continuance: for habitual superabundance is necessary as a security against such casual deficiency, of which famine and mortality would be the results: and unless men in general were permitted to give increase to their respective portions of superabundance, no aggregate of superabundance could have place.
Inequality in the scale of moral virtue, of moral accomplishments of a nature useful to society, may even be a source of evil. But inequality is the inseparable result of competition: and competition is the parent of increase: and only in proportion to increase in such accomplishments, can general felicity increase.
Inequality in the scale of intellectual and active accomplishments is a source of evil, for the reason above given. But here too, inequality is the inseparable result of competition: competition is the parent of increase: and in intellectual accomplishments, in so far as they are kept in subservience to, and under, the control of moral accomplishments, general felicity finds an increase.
To the inequality produced by extravasated factitious honour, no such necessity attaches: no such use. To the evils of which it is the source, no compensation attaches itself in any shape.
Extravasated factitious honour, has place most commonly in the instance of the same individual, with superiority in power, or opulence, or both. It produces none of the benefits of either: but it adds to the evils produced by both.
As to power: To the account of the benefits conferred by power, are to be placed over and above those which may be termed direct, those which may be termed indirect. The direct are those which are derived from the exercise of it, and from the idea of being able to give exercise to it; the indirect, consist in the respect entertained for it: the respect, the parent of good offices, that is, of beneficial service in all its various shapes.
As it is with power, so it is with opulence. In the case of power, indirect benefits follow in the train of the direct: so is it, in the case of opulence. The direct consist in the possession and use of the instruments of enjoyment and security, purchased by it; the indirect, consist in the services, which other individuals are disposed voluntarily and spontaneously to render to the possessor, for the hope of being let into a participation of the use made of those instruments,—the house, the table, the library, the garden, the instruments of locomotion and conveyance.
Suppose not only no extravasated factitious honour, but no superiority by power, no superiority by opulence to have place—sympathy, and esteem, and thence free and spontaneous service in all its shapes, would attach itself to superiority in the scale of genuine moral virtue: of effective benevolence, in harmony and alliance with self-regarding prudence. This order is disturbed by power: it is disturbed by opulence: it experiences further disturbance from extravasated factitious honour: and in so far as that order is disturbed by them, those instruments of felicity, are every one of them, instruments of moral corruption.*
Of all modifications of factitious honour, the most curious is that which has place in the way of what in the physical world—in the world of realities—used to be called equivocal generation,—made without a maker. So many hundred years ago, a man’s supposed ancestor, was, it is supposed, numbered among those, whose whole life, was a life of oppression and depredation, embellished with incidental acts of murder, upon a scale more or less extensive: for this cause it is, that by himself and others, respect is required to be paid, to this descendant of that same malefactor. In this case the honour cannot be said to be extravasated: for, were the receptacle in which it was primarily seated looked for, by the supposition, no such receptacle would be to be found.
The more respect a man receives on account of factitious honour and dignity, or on account of ancestry, the less the inducement he has to practise those self-denials, those labours, and those abstinences, which are more or less necessary to a man’s rendering himself serviceable to mankind: the less therefore is likely to be his aggregate appropriate aptitude, with relation to the habit of such serviceableness, or, in a word, in relation to virtue, public and private.
Oh, no! cries the man of ancestry. I possess a title to your esteem and confidence,—a title such as no man who is not equally gifted in this respect, can pretend to. For good conduct in all its modifications, I have an inducement in which no other man, whose ancestry is not so illustrious as mine, can pretend to have an equal share. Nothing dishonourable could I ever do, without tarnishing the lustre of my family—the lustre shed on it by my ancestors.
How supremely silly is all such language: supposing it sincere, how perfect the blindness it betrays of the ruling principle of human conduct. What he has in common with all others is, the being dependent for no small part of his comforts upon the good opinion, the good-will, and the good offices, positive and negative, of men in general, and particularly of those individuals, with whom it happens to him to have most intercourse. By anything otherwise than honourable, by any act of his, that has anything dishonourable in it, whatsoever kindness may be in their sentiments and affections, in relation to him, will be lessened. Suppose this inducement to have lost all force, what force in that same tutelary direction can be exerted by those empty sounds? If his care for himself be so little, on what ground can it be regarded as any greater, for a set of men whom he never saw, of whom he knows comparatively nothing, from whom he never could have received any token of kindness, and to whom his qualities and his very existence were alike perfectly unknown?
In relation to this artificial product of the power of government in the field of society, the general conclusions are as follows:—They constitute so many reasons why the here proposed exclusion should have place.
Every institution of this sort is needless: needless with reference to all purposes contributory to the greatest happiness of the greatest number, and in particular to the production of extraordinarily meritorious public service.
For all such purposes, as far as dignity suffices, natural dignity, if aptly made known, suffices.
All factitious honour is mischievous everywhere.
Factitious honour in a monarch is, in a political point of view, mischievous, by making addition to a power otherwise excessive.
In a political point of view, factitious honour conferred by a monarch, is mischievous, as being an instrument of corruptive influence.
In a political point of view, factitious honour conferred by a monarch is mischievous, as being an instrument of delusive influence.
In a moral point of view, factitious honour is mischievous by counteracting the influence of the public-opinion tribunal, and thereby by lessening moral worth in the dignified and the undignified.
In its character of a certificate, a document of this sort does not so extensively or so immediately operate on men’s minds, as in the character of an order for respect. Its character of a certificate is rather a character ascribed to it, to reconcile men to it in the character of an order for respect, than a character which belongs to it of course.
The reader will presently be in a condition to judge whether, with exceptions in a very minute proportion, in so far as it is a certificate of meritorious service, the certificate is not false: as also, whether in so far as it is true, any effect which it has in the way of affording payment as a reward for such service already rendered, and thereby giving increased probability to the rendering of the like service to an indefinite extent in future, is not capable of being produced in a much greater degree, and to much greater certainty, by other means, as also what those other means are.
Also, whether this alleged mode of procuring beneficial service be not pregnant with evil in a variety of distinguishable shapes: and whether that evil be not so much net evil, without any good attached to it; or, if there be any good in any shape attached to it, whether by the evil, such good is not greatly outweighed, in such sort as to leave a net quantity of evil on the evil side of the account.
The benefits produced to the possessor by factitious honour, whether primarily seated or extravasated, are considerable and unquestionable: individually and separately taken, they may seem trifling: not so the aggregate which is composed of them.
They either consist in, or are produced and conferred by, free and spontaneous service, in so many various shapes: as for example:—
On every occasion the most commodious seat or standing-room.
The faculty of being heard in preference.
The faculty of being addressed in preference.
The faculty of taking the lead in conversation: and thus choosing and determining the subject matters of it: the subjects from the discussion of which he expects most benefit to himself, whether in the way of amusement at the present, or with reference to the future.
The satisfaction of observing in men’s words, countenance, and deportment, those tokens of respect which, with more or less reason, express a general promise of free and spontaneous service in all shapes.
Power is purely mischievous, whatsoever of it is not needful; but factitious honour is in the whole of it, purely mischievous. As at the expense of the whole of the community is all power created and conferred, so at the expense of the whole is all factitious honour created and conferred. Of operative power, the immediate effect is not only obsequiousness, but obedience on the part of him on whom it is exercised. Of factitious honour, an effect is, not obedience indeed, but obsequiousness on the part of those at whose expense it is created and conferred. In so far as it is productive of this effect, it is by producing in the minds of those at whose expense it is created, the opinion of the existence of superiority in respect of moral and intellectual endowments, of power and opulence, separately or collectively, on the part of him on whom it is conferred.
In so far as it is productive of obsequiousness, though without actual obedience, it does not indeed confer power on the individual on whom it is conferred, but in his favour, it produces the effect of power—viz. conformity as towards his will. At the same time it creates and confers power, and in much greater quantity in favour of him by whom it is itself created and conferred, say, in favour of the patron of the dignity. For the patron of the dignity is himself the most dignified of all the dignitaries.
The respect of which factitious honour is productive, has, for its more remote cause, a confused and undeterminate mass of opinions or conceptions, of which the following seem to be the ingredients:—
Opinion of the existence of pre-eminent power on the part of the dignitary.
Opinion of the existence of pre-eminent opulence on the part of the dignitary.
Opinion of the dignitary’s being in the habits of personal converse with other persons possessed of equal and even superior dignities, and thence of equal and even superior masses of power and opulence.
Opinion of the dignitary’s having a place in the esteem or affection, or both, of the patron of the dignity: thence of his having a chance, more or less considerable, of obtaining for other persons such benefits as it is in the power of such patron to bestow.
Opinion of his being in a pre-eminent degree in possession of qualities extensively useful, such as, while they afford him the power or means, confer on him the disposition to render his faculties conducive to the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
All but the last of these opinions are, in a degree more or less considerable, sure to be well-founded. Only in the instance of the last, is it ill-founded, the opposite being the opinion that, as above, has truth on its side.
The cause of this last opinion is altogether curious—deplorable, considering how mischievous it is. The dignity has in every instance for its immediate efficient cause, or rather instrument, some symbol perceptible to sense—to the sense of hearing at the least; an appellation,—most commonly in addition to it some symbol perceptible to the sense of sight, an embroidered imitation of a star, a ribbon of a particular shape and colour, a medal. Of this power of symbols or signs over opinions the cause lies in the association of ideas—in the principle of association between idea and idea.
The curious circumstance is, the irresistible force with which, in this instance, the cause operates in the production of the effect. Here are a set of men whom, taken in the aggregate, I cannot, upon reflection, look upon as fit objects of a greater portion of esteem and respect, nor even of so great a portion as an equal number of men taken at random. At the same time, spite of myself, by the idea of any one possessed of any one of these symbols, a greater degree of those social affections is excited than is excited by the idea of any one not possessed of any one of those symbols. Whence this inconsistency? By a continually renewed train of association, commencing at the earliest dawn of reason, this opinion of the constant connexion between the possession of the external symbol in question and the mental quality in question, has been created and confirmed: for the revival of the erroneous opinion, a single instant suffices at all times: for the expulsion of it, nothing less than a train of reflection can suffice.
To this case I feel a very conformable parallel may be seen in the case of ghosts and other fabulous maleficent beings, which the absence of light presents to my mind’s eye. In no man’s judgment can a stronger persuasion of the non-existence of these sources of terror have place than in mine; yet no sooner do I lay myself down to sleep in a dark room than, if no other person is in the room, and my eyes keep open, these instruments of terror obtrude themselves; and, to free myself from the annoyance, I feel myself under the necessity of substituting to those more or less pleasing ideas with which my mind would otherwise have been occupied, those reflections which are necessary to keep in my view the judgment by which the non-existence of these creatures of the imagination has so often been pronounced. The cause of these illusions were the stories told by servants in my childhood.
The tale of the apparition of ghosts and vampires is not more fabulous than is in general the tale of worth, moral or intellectual, as applied to these creatures of a monarch who form the class of state dignitaries.
In what circumstance did this erroneous opinion find its cause? The answer has in it neither doubt nor difficulty. One word, adulation, suffices for the expression of it. At first by the pen, it is now by the press, that opinions are chiefly disseminated. In proportion to the quantity possessed by them of the objects of desire and sources of power, have writers beheld in the hands of their readers those instruments by which the happiness of the writers has been dependent on their will. In some readers do all writers behold those on whose will, in some way or other, their happiness depends. In some readers do writers, accordingly, behold those in whose favour it is their interest, and consequently their endeavour, to ingratiate themselves, and obtain a place—the higher the better. In one word, they behold their patrons. Thus the opinions to which a writer so circumstanced gives utterance will be determined, not by the opinions really entertained by him, but by the degree of kindness or unkindness, of which he regards it as likely to be productive in the breast of those on whose kindness and unkindness his happiness is thus dependent.
If even in the early stages of society the fascinations produced by factitious honour were ever conducive to the creation and preservation of government, no argument can thence be deduced for the preservation of this delusion with its instruments in the present stage of society. That they are in various respects mischievous, has been proved above: that they are altogether needless, has been proved by an experiment on a large scale, and continued during so long a period,—viz. by the experiment made in the Anglo-American United States. From the several other elements of effective power in the hands of the ruling few this element has been detached and excluded, and the result is the aptitude of the system of government not impaired but improved.
In the character of a testimonial or certificate, what are the matters of fact which, with relation to the individual so honoured, it renders more or less probable? They are:
That either immediately or unimmediately, namely, through the intervention of some other or others, to the individual by whom the honour has been conferred, he was at the time of its being conferred an object of sympathy, that is to say, in a monarchy, to the monarch. This, however, it is evident, cannot be a matter of complete certainty.
That, if not an object of sympathy, at any rate not an object of antipathy: for if yes, the functionary would not have subjected himself to the pain necessarily attendant on the conferring it.
That, partly by gratitude for this past favour, partly by hope of further favours, he is attached to the person of the functionary by whom the benefit was conferred on him: disposed to contribute according to the measure of his faculties, to the advancement of the particular interest of this same patron: disposed to be obsequious to his will: disposed to concur in the advancement of that particular interest at the expense and by the sacrifice of all conflicting interests in general.
That whatsoever in this respect may have antecedently been the case, the individual thus honoured has the faculty of mixing in society with other individuals possessing factitious honour of the same species and the same rank, still more assuredly with all those below him in the same line: and, in all probability, with others, if any such there are, who, in relation to him, are superior in rank. To speak in general terms, he is known to have access to persons occupying an elevated situation in the community.
That, as his interests are in alliance with, so his affections sympathize with, the interests and affections of that portion of the community whose station is thus elevated: and that in so far as between the higher and the lower orders, (in consequence of such difference of interests and affections,) a difference of judgment naturally has place—his judgment will, on each occasion, side with theirs; his judgment, and, in consequence, his conduct. In a word, that, in his character of member of the public-opinion tribunal, it is to the aristocratical section of that judicatory that he belongs.
But the interest, consequently the affection and judgment, of the monarch, as such, are adverse to the general interest of the community: so are those of the aristocracy in all its modifications: not contributory, but detrimental to the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
In relation to these several matters, the evidence thus afforded is not conclusive evidence; it is capable of being rebutted and outweighed by other evidence: but in so far as it has any operation, such is the tendency of it: whatsoever be the degree of probability in relation to each part, such is the side on which it is situated.
Why, as a testimony of meritorious service, is it essentially unapt and fallacious?
It is given without any published proof of the particular nature of the meritorious service, if any, that is supposed to have been rendered: without any published proof of the fact of the man’s having rendered any such meritorious service.
It is given for aught that appears, without any proof received by him by whom the honour is conferred, of service in any shape as having been rendered to any one, by him on whom it is conferred. In a word, the act by which it is conferred is essentially an arbitrary act.
It is with relation to reward, that is to say, to the good that is done,—that which, in relation to evil, punishment is, in so far as inflicted without trial, without judicial inquiry as to the ground of it, without reference to the conduct of him to whom it is applied.
The consequence is, that by every such honour so conferred, injustice is done: not, indeed, to the individual to whom the reward is applied, as in the case of punishment to the individual to whom the punishment is applied—not to him, indeed, but to others, namely to those at whose expense it is applied.
One case alone can be mentioned in which it affords any just ground for supposing that, in its character of a certificate of meritorious service, it may perhaps not be false: and that is the case where it is conferred as a reward for military service. But even in this case, it cannot but be frequently false:—false perhaps in more instances than those in which it is true: and if so, absolutely unapt: at any rate, comparatively unapt—comparison had with a method in which the most efficient means are employed for preventing it from being given where it would be false; while, where given, as it has everywhere as yet been actually given, no such means are employed.
When arbitrarily conferred, it is conferred either without so much as an indication of service in any specific shape, rendered to the public, or if with any such indication, without proof made and published of the reality of the facts, on the supposed reality of which it is grounded.
If conferred without indication of service to the public, that which is indicated by it is—that the individual on whom it is conferred, is an object of favour to the person or persons by whom it has been conferred. In this case it is mischievous on the following accounts:
There are two sets of persons, at whose expense is conferred every honour that is conferred: all the members of the community at large,—the whole number of them; and those particular ones, if any, among whom benefits in this shape have been shared.
By the members at large, of any donation of this sort, taken singly, the expense is in but a small degree, if in any degree, felt. But when viewed in the aggregate, the expense to which communities have been subjected in this shape, will, by every man, be more or less clearly perceived, and acutely felt in proportion as he thinks of it.
Evil 1. Burthen to the unhonoured at large.
By those who, at the time, when in the individual instance in question, the honour was conferred, were already in possession of it, the expense is felt in a much more intense degree. Witness the Duchess of Northumberland, who, in the days of George the Second, durst not spit out of her coach as she passed along the streets, for fear of spitting upon a lord.
Evil 2. Burthen to the co-honoured.
Every honour that has been conferred on any man, in whose instance it is not clear that extraordinary service to the public has in any shape been done, is conferred in a more particular manner, at the expense of all those by whom extraordinary service to the public has really been rendered: it is felt by them as an injury. It has always for its tendency, and to an unmeasurable extent for its effect, the preventing men in general from taking on themselves any extraordinary burthen, for the purpose of rendering to the public, in any shape, extraordinary service. Publication of service secures to every extraordinarily meritorious individual, for services past, and thence for services to come, the exact portion of honour, which, in a comparative as well as absolute point of view, is most apt with relation to the service. No injury does it to any man: to men in any number it may produce uneasiness: but in no instance can the uneasiness be productive of, or accompanied by, any such sensation as the conception of injustice—of injustice done to any one, by him, to whom the honour has been adjudged.
Evil 3. Burthen to the meritorious unhonoured.
When monarchy was specially on the carpet, in the account given of the several external instruments of felicity, in their eventual character of instruments of corruptive influence, this one had its place.
Considered in comparison with the other articles, it will be found to stand upon a very different footing from both of them. Power is necessary to the very existence of government: it is the very matter of which the means of government are made. Excluded it cannot be: the utmost that can be done, is to limit it.
So again, money—money at the disposal of government. Without it, government in a political community of any considerable extent, could not be carried on. To exclude it, is altogether impossible. To exclude the difference between what is necessary, and what is not necessary,—and to take care that that which is necessary should, according to its destination, be applied to the service of government, and to no other purpose—this is the utmost of what can be done.
Evil 4. Evil by contribution to the corruptive fund.
On the same occasion it has been seen, how, by the possession and eventual expectation of them, the external instruments of felicity contribute as such to the general debasement of the moral part of man’s frame, in private life as well as in public. Of those same objects of general desire, this is not less true of this one than of either of the other two above-mentioned.
Evil 5. Evil by demoralising influence: or say, evil of demoralisation by sinister independence.
When factitious honour has been raised to a certain level, thereupon has come the observation, that money is needed for the support of it. On this occasion, dignity is the term that seems most commonly employed. But it is out of the pockets of the people that, as for all other purposes so for this, the money has come. If, in conjunction with this factitious dignity, the man has opulence of his own, in a certain degree of plentitude,—in a degree sufficient for the support of the imaginary burthen,—it is sometimes held sufficient, sometimes not, as it may happen: but if he has not,—if this be an agreed matter, money in such quantity as shall be sufficient, must, at all events, and at any rate, be found for him. Thus it is, that when obtained by swindling, honour carries depredation along with it.
For this application of public money, there are sundry reasons, more really operative than readily avowed.
When, from this factitious title to respect, the support given to it by money is taken away, contempt will be apt to substitute itself to the respect. By the decomposition thus made, the false colour will vanish. Men will be led to say to themselves—a man may bear this mark upon him, and yet be a poor creature, what then is it good for? and thus its worthlessness being seen in the case of this poor man, may, by degrees, come to be recognised in the case of the rich ones.
In place of the respect they have been accustomed to receive, these, his fellow dignitaries, will be apprehensive of sharing in the contempt under which they see him suffering.
The more generous of them will feel a pain of sympathy from the observation of what they see him suffering.
Evil 6. Evil by pretence for depredation.
As a certificate of merit on the part of the wearer, we have seen that it is false; combined with this false certificate, is a draught drawn upon the members of the community for value received: a draught payable, in tokens of respect; value received in the shape of meritorious service.
The functionaries by whom this deceptious instrument is uttered, are, by the practice of uttering it, and the habit of seeing it accepted, encouraged to act in the character of impostors. It operates in this way on their moral faculties, as an instrument of demoralisation.
Evil 7. Evil by sanction given to imposture.
Delusion is the counterpart of the last preceding evil. In so far as the fraud passes upon them undetected,—in so far as they are imposed upon by it, and bestow respect where respect is undue, and the payment of it mischievous, mischievous to themselves and to everybody,—it operates upon their intellectual faculties: it operates as an instrument of intellectual depravation.
Evil 8. Evil by propagation of delusion.
Whether it be in the scale of power, or in the scale of opulence, it has been seen elsewhere that by every degree of distance from the point of equality, the loss to the inferior in the account of happiness, is greater than the profit to the superior. In the scale of power, inequality to a certain degree is, as has been observed above, matter of indispensable necessity: so likewise in the scale of opulence: in both those instances the evil is therefore compensated, and over-compensated by the good. In this case it stands altogether uncompensated.
Evil 9. Evil by aggravation of inequality.
In the chapter relating to the public-opinion tribunal, will be seen, how much the interest and influence of the aristocratical section of that tribunal is at variance with that of the democratical: the small minority with that of the vast majority.
Evil 10. Evil by addition to the anti-social force of the aristocratical section of the public-opinion tribunal.
Specific reasons for extra respect not having place, the greatest happiness of the greatest number requires, that in the scale of respect (in pursuance of the principle of practicable equality) the superiority should be attached to age. For, on this plan, all will, in their turn, enjoy the benefit of it: all suspicion of injustice is excluded by it: all envy and jealousy are excluded by it: time and labour of contestation are saved by it: a compensation is afforded, as far as it goes, for the diminution produced in the account of felicity by the age of caducity, and thence by every ulterior approach that is made to it.
Evil 11. Evil by usurpation of respect due to age.
It has been seen in how many ways the disposition thus made of the matter of good in this shape presents to view the picture of injustice. There is a burthen without compensation imposed on the members of the community at large. Burthen imposed in a more particular manner on those who have rendered meritorious service, to whom benefit, in this same shape, is justly due. Burthen by injustice to age. Burthen by useless and avoidable addition to unavoidable inequality. The example of injustice produced by the joint influence of all these causes, is itself a thing distinct from all of them. Bad is that government where, injustice having place, discontent has place in consequence: still worse that, where injustice having place, no discontent is excited by it.
By the spectacle of established injustice in any one shape, injustice in every other shape is promoted. By habit, those at whose expense it is committed, are lulled into acquiescence under it, and by the spectacle of this acquiescence, the authors of the baleful habit are encouraged to persevere in it.
Evil 12. Evil by the spectacle of injustice.
As in the case of injustice, so in the case of waste. By the same disposition by which waste, in any one shape, is produced, waste in every other shape is produced: and by the example of waste in any one shape, waste in every other is promoted. By habit, those at whose expense it is committed, are lulled into acquiescence under it; and by the spectacle of this acquiescence, the authors of the waste are encouraged to persevere in it.
The wasting hand is like the blasting pestilence. Under a monarchy, neither good nor evil in any shape escape it: money, power, punishment, pardon, respect of the people. The security of the people is wasted by blind pardons: their respect by factitious honour.
Evil 13. Evil by the spectacle of waste.
In any one nation, let evil in this shape be produced, it spreads itself, as it were by contagion, over all other nations. Among all nations in whose instance any habit of intercourse has place—in a word, among all civilized nations, the draught drawn in any one by its ruler upon his own subjects for the appropriate quantity of mechanically-paid respect, is, to a greater or less degree, honoured in every other.
True it is—not inconsiderable are the diversities of which the quantity of respect paid in other countries to the possessor of an article of this kind, belonging to the country in question, is susceptible. To this variation, two circumstances are contributory: 1, the different degrees of honour designated, and thence the different quantities of respect drawn for, by the same denomination or mark, in different countries: 2, the different degrees of appropriate information possessed in each such foreign country, by different individuals, in relation to the true import of the article, and the proportion borne by the value of it, to the several other articles belonging to the aggregate list. But, at any rate, if so it be, that his appellation presents to view a title of honour, or his person a mark of honour, he is recognised as belonging to the caste of the privileged orders: to that caste in which, no individual, who not belonging to it, has any tolerably correct conception of the nature and effects of it, can fail to behold a species of men by whom, a comparatively small mass of felicity is possessed at the expense of a more than equiponderant mass of infelicity to others,—whose existence is an injury to all others, and, in one word, a universal nuisance.
In England, the title of prince has never been borne by any individual who has not been a member of the Royal Family: when under this title, the member of another nation is presented to notice, this idea of blood relation to royalty, the highest order in the state, naturally presents itself: it is only by particular information that he learns by how great and various distances the rank of the bearer of this title is separated from that of royalty and sovereignty in other states: how in France, for example, the throng of princes are confounded with those of counts, viscounts, and barons: how abundant they are in various parts of Italy: how in Russia, while the title is borne by some of the most opulent, as well as ancient families, it is borne by others whose place is in almost the lowest rank in the scale of opulence.
The advantage of being thus confounded in men’s conceptions with the members of sovereign families, seems of late to have recommended it, in Germany as well as in France. Hence it is, that in the course of the Revolution undergone by France, Buonaparte’s generals received some of them indeed the title of dukes, but others the title of princes; and Talleyrand, though a member of one of the oldest, and as such, most honoured families of the noblesse of France, saw an advantage in accepting, in form, the title of prince.
In Germany, this title has been borne by several of the little sovereigns, future feudatory monarchs, with which the constitution of that confederacy still continues, even in its present altered state.
In the Prussian monarchy, made up of shreds and patches, torn at different times from their various possessors—in the Prussian monarchy, till the other day, there was nothing above a count. Of late, the monarchy being enlarged and consolidated, the treasury of honour has been enriched there with an order of prince.
In Poland, before its partition, a few of the most opulent families, that is to say the greatest landholders, though it is believed without any formal creation, used to bear in other languages, the title of princes, and continue to do so since.
In Russia, there are barons, and above them counts, but nothing higher: the princes having been such, not by creation, but some how or other, it is not generally known how. It remains for the genius of the present or some future autocrat, to import from England, the titles of duke and marquis, to sit above those of count and baron.
Evil 14. Evil by international contagion.
A few points relative to this product of government, call for explanation.
It operates, as already stated, as an order for respect: for respect to be afforded, and as it were, paid by persons in general, to him on whom the honour is said to be conferred. It operates, therefore, as a title to respect. In this particular it is in regard to respect that which an order for the payment of money—a draught, for example, on a banker—is in regard to money: but with this difference, that it is at the hands of one individual only, that the order for money calls for money: whereas, it is at the hands of all persons in general, that the title of honour—the order for respect—calls for respect.
On the occasion of each such act, it is an exercise of dominion over the many for the benefit of one: over the many,—indeed with little exception over all. The means not being coercive, it produces not that sense of oppression, which dominion in general, employing as it must do, coercion for its instrument, cannot, when directed towards so unjustifiable an end, fail to produce. It is by delusion that the effect is produced; not by force or intimidation. But the effect of it being, as will be seen, purely mischievous, the circumstance of there being one evil not produced by it, will not suffice to turn the whole mass of evil into good.
It operates as an article of documentary evidence, as a certificate of good desert or merit. Of such certificate, the effect is to cause respect in degree and quantity more or less considerable, to be entertained by the members of the community in question, towards and in relation to him who bears it: respect, or at any rate, the outward signs and tokens of that inward sentiment. This effect is produced, by ascribing dignity to him, or worthiness: by causing it to be believed that in the opinion of him, by whom the honour is conferred, he on whom it is conferred, is worthy of receiving at the hands of the members of the community in general, those same outward tokens.
It gives intimation that, in the opinion of that same functionary, the person in whose favour it is his desire that those same tokens of respect should be manifested and paid, has been and is deserving of such respect. To deserve anything good,—any instrument of felicity,—is to have a claim to it, in the character of a reward, on the score of service, in some shape or other, rendered by the individual in question to some other individual or individuals: which service, if it be real, must have been the contributing in fact or in probability, to cause him to experience pleasure in some shape, which he would not have experienced otherwise: or to be exempt from experiencing pain, which he would have experienced otherwise,
With the word merit, if any clear idea is attached to it, stands associated the idea of service: for by him to whom merit is ascribed, suppose no service rendered, or endeavoured to be rendered to anybody,—the idea of merit evaporates, and leaves the word in a state of non-significance.
If then in virtue of the dignity conferred on him, and the alleged claim to respect given to him—he has rendered service to anybody, it must have been service of the meritorious kind: service, by the rendering of which, the existence of merit, has been displayed.
Moreover this service must have had something extraordinary in it; in its nature, something whereby it stands distinguished from ordinary service,—from service in those shapes in which it is continually rendered by everybody to everybody; by every dealer, for example, to his customer, by every customer to his dealer; by every purchaser to his seller, by every seller to his purchaser.
As in the case of service, so in the case of respect, the worth of it, if it has any, must consist either of a certainty (as where the event is past) or of a probability of pleasure in some shape or other, experienced; or pain in some shape or other avoided, and not experienced.
Laying all together—the intimation conveyed by an act by which a title of honour is conferred is—that the individual on whom it is conferred, has in some determinate shape or other, rendered to some individual or individuals, or to the whole community together, service of a meritorious, and in some way or other, of an extraordinary kind, and has thereby proved himself to be possessed of dignity: i. e. by such service to have given himself a title to receive at the hands of the community in general, a token of the existence of the sentiment of respect, in relation to him, in their minds, as if in payment or part payment of such service.
In reality this question about rank is by no means so frivolous as it may appear to be: for by all its varieties it will be seen how the people are tormented and depressed.
In the several countries in which a title originally conferred by the monarch, has been assumed by men, on whom it has not, either in their own persons, or in the persons of their ancestors, been conferred, an instance may be seen of a sort of superfœtation of depravity—a fraud made to grow out of a fraud: the monarch, by the conspiracy, by which this false certificate of meritorious service has been produced, the monarch, and the individuals thus honoured by him, have swindled the public at large out of a certain quantity of respect not really due, imposing thus upon the public at large: and the usurpers of it, have on their parts imposed upon the public at large, and the monarch both, by pretending to have received from him, what in truth he never gave.
The most disastrous case is that which has place, where the title is made a pretence for depredation: for example where the monarch of a country receives the title of king. To a king, not to speak of a sceptre and a palace, belong a throne and a crown. To this pair of implements a quality called splendour is necessary: the throne must have gold about it; the crown besides gold, pieces of natural glass, called diamonds: by these ingredients or appendages with the help of a little manual labour, splendour in the physical sense is constituted. But to splendour in the physical sense, must be added splendour in a superior sense, the metaphorical or hyperphysical sense. Appetite in all snapes is stimulated by the title: the quantity of his superfluities must receive increase: the quantity of the superfluities enjoyed by his courtiers and his living instruments of government, must be increased: the number of these instruments themselves must receive increase. Being admitted into the circle and fraternity of kings, his appearance must in everything be if possible upon a par with theirs. The story of the frog and the ox is exemplified, but with a disastrous variation. It is not by themselves, but by the overgrown frog at the head of them, by the great frog with a crown on his head, that the little frogs are burst.
The language employed in reference to these kingly implements, demonstrates in how deplorable a degree the power of the intellect may be debilitated by the force of custom and prejudice. Always in the character of an object of prime necessity, is this furniture of the great baby-house,—the mass of the instruments of corruptive and delusive influence spoken of. This, which is so much worse than useless, is spoken of as of more importance than the whole aggregate of those benefits, the securing of which constitutes the only compensation for the evils necessarily produced by government. Not any the faintest colour of reason being capable of being given for it, it is on every occasion taken for granted in the character of an incontestible truth. Ask in what way it contributes, in the character of a mean, to the pretended end, no answer will you receive. Ask in what particular the governments in which there is no such splendour, lustre, or support of dignity,—ask in what particular they are the worse for the absence of it,—no answer will you receive.
As in the situation of king, honour and dignity require for their support splendour and lustre—that is to say, money taken for the purpose out of the pockets of the people—so in every situation within the reach of the royal eyes. Hence it is, that if a man in a certain rank be in want of money, whether it has been by misfortune or by prodigality that the want has been produced, the deficiency is to be supplied at the expense of the laborious part of the people,—money must be squeezed out of the productive classes. Incessant are the complaints of the expense of affording to the helpless among the productive classes those supplies, without which, starvation and death must of necessity be their fate: profound is the silence as to the expense of supplying to the extravagant in the higher orders the means of further extravagance. Grievous the complaints of the overgrowth of that part of the population, for the maintenance of which £10 a-year, all ages included, will suffice: no complaint of the overgrowth of that part, for the maintenance of which £100 a-year will not suffice.
On this occasion, the brood of kings hatched by Buonaparte, and reared by the Holy Alliance, cannot fail to present themselves. The rationale of the operation is sufficiently manifest. By the old brood, nothing has been lost on the account of honour and dignity: profit to an unlimited amount has been made in the account of money. In dignity, no loss: for the great old monarchs are not confounded with the little new ones: the distance is sufficiently wide to preserve them from misfortune in this shape: on the contrary, a contrast is visible, and by this contrast they are raised.
By the power, and for the support of the dignity, a tax, and that a perpetual one, has been imposed on Bavaria, Wirtemberg, Belgium, Saxony, and Hanover,—a tax which, though of the indirect kind, is not the less burthensome.
Such is the immediate effect. But, on the other hand, in the train of it, will come another. All these are added to the number of the nations to whom the appellation, King, will be an object of abhorrence.
The Emperors of Germany and Russia are now Emperors because they were so before; for the name of the empire Austria is substituted to Germany, because in Austria the Emperor was, as he is a despotic sovereign; whereas in Germany, taken collectively, he was but a titular one.
The King of England would not be Emperor, because the form of a concurrence by Parliament would have been necessary, and the delusion by which he is kept in his place of King might have been shaken by the discussion produced by the word Emperor. They would not make the King of France, nor did he wish to be made, Emperor; because that would have been copying the example of the usurper, whose Emperorship was the result not wholly of force and intimidation, but, in some measure, of corruption and delusion, and had the consent of no inconsiderable portion of the people for the cause of it.
Conferred, that is to say, known or supposed, or considered as being conferred, by the public-opinion tribunal,—adjudicating to the party in question the benefit designated by the words, affection, esteem, and respect, of the community at large,—of the greatest number of those under whose cognizance the meritorious services have been rendered by him,—the reward conferred is characterized and distinguished from the mass of benefit conferred by means of factitious honour, by these peculiar properties:—
The application thus made is determined by the interest common to the greatest number of the members of the community in question; at any rate, by that which is in their eyes their common interest.
In the case where the honour is primarily seated, the application made of the mass of benefit in question, in the case of factitious honour, is determined by the interest, real or supposed, of the individual by whom it is conferred.
In the case where it is seated by extravasation, on the ground of consanguinity, it is determined, as to the individual, by blind chance.
By the natural character of the class to which the possessor of it, in this its extravasated state, appertains, it is in his instance indicative of an interest, and a state of the affections and the opinions, adverse to the interest of the greatest number. It marks him out as a man who was by birth an enemy to the interest and happiness of the greatest number: a member of the privileged class; namely, of a class composed of those whose common interest is a particular and sinister interest, opposite to the universal interest.
He who is at one time an enemy, may at another time be a friend; but he who is by birth an enemy, cannot, on any sufficient grounds, be regarded as a friend, unless and until, and in so far as by such means as the nature of the case affords, he has made known the change. Of this change, one sufficient and conclusive proof the nature of the case affords: and that is, a surrender of the privilege.
In this way, and no other, can he render it manifest, that by him his interest is identified with the universal interest, his affections with the affections of the greatest number of the members of the community in question: that in his eyes the affection, esteem, and respect, which is the result of judgment unperverted by any delusion from any source, is preferred to that respect which is the joint offspring of sinister interest, caprice, imposture, and chance.
The effect, with a view to its supposed usefulness, upon which the greatest reliance seems likely to be placed, is that supposed to be produced in the character of an inducement for the production of extraordinary meritorious public service: service rendered to the community at large, whether by being rendered to government or otherwise. Employed to this end, that which will be expected of it, is—the making known to the community at large the quality and quantity of the service rendered, to the end that, by the several members of it, as occasion offers, retribution may be made to their benefactor by suitable manifestations of affection and respect, and in particular by good offices—by useful services.
Employed in this character, it is employed in the character of obtaining by purchase at the hands of such individuals in whom the power of rendering it may have place, the greatest quantity of the service in the shape in question, namely, of extraordinary meritorious service, upon the most advantageous terms: that is to say, of the greatest value possible, quality and quantity considered, and at the lowest price. Here then come two different ends, the accomplishment of both which, in so far as practicable, requires to be aimed at: 1. Of the aggregate mass of service thus obtained, to maximize the value. 2. To minimize the expense.
In the instance of every such service, the mass of reward in all its parts taken together, must afford such a mass of benefit to the individual in question, as shall be sufficient to outweigh in his mind, the burthen sustained by the rendering of it. In so far as public affection and respect enter into the composition of the means of purchase, this relation between quantity of service and quantity of reward, will require to be considered. Benefit of reward must outweigh burthen of service.
The greater the value of the service, that is to say of the benefit, the greater is the burthen, which he on whom it depends in the instance in question, will be disposed to take upon himself, for the purpose of his rendering it. The greater a service, the greater the reward worth giving for it.
If on any occasion there be two services so circumstanced, that by the individual or individuals in question, either can be performed, but not both, any two masses of reward that shall appear capable of being earned by the performance of the two services respectively, should be so apportioned, that the receipt of the more valuable reward shall be attached to the rendering the more valuable service. Of two rival services, offer greater reward for the more valuable.
Not that the only shape in which remuneration belongs to the present subject, is the honorary shape.
That it is not for service in every shape that reward in this shape will be sufficient, or even so much as apposite, is sufficiently manifest. Where, in the course of action, whereby meritorious service has been rendered, loss has been suffered by money expended, profit does not commence, reward does not commence, till compensation has been made for the full amount of the loss: and in the account of money must be comprehended that which, in the time in question, would have been received by the individual in question, in return for labour expended. Moreover, if by the reward conferred, it be intended to purchase at the hands of other individuals future contingent service, not only actual loss, but probable risk must be taken into the account.
By apt and adequate notification of past service rendered, that is, by honour thus conferred, the maximum of future service may be obtained at the minimum of expense; for the value of the reward thus rises with the value of the past service rewarded by it.
Of this plan, the principal feature consists in giving publicity to as great an extent as possible, (due regard being had to expense,) and with the utmost degree of clearness, correctness, and completeness possible, to the nature of the service rendered, the name of the individual by whom the service has been rendered, and the circumstances by which the degree of meritoriousness possessed by it have been constituted.
The effect of it will be a sort of judgment pronounced, opposite in its effects, but not the less analogous to, a judgment by which on the ground of delinqency, an individual is subjected to punishment.
The judgment thus pronounced ought to have evidence for its ground. For public affection and respect ought not any more than public money to be bestowed without evidence of the sufficiency of the title on which it is claimed. Upon this plan, the terms of the judgment, with the evidence on which it has been grounded, will form the matter or subject of a report. To this document, as to any other, such a degree of publicity may in each individual case be given as the nature of the case is to warrant and to call for.
As time runs on, of the several judgments here indicated, an aggregate and continually increasing body will be formed. To this aggregate, some denomination will of course be given. Let it, for example, be The Book of Good Desert, or say, The Register of Meritorious Service.
In it the several individual services will of course be ranked under general and specific heads, as likewise the names, and other circumstances appertaining to the individuals thus distinguished.
The expense attendant on the process of conferring dignity in this its natural shape, is it liable to the imputation of being excessive?
If, at the expense of but a single individual, reward in money, to the amount of any the smallest denomination of coin, were claimed, the services of the judicial establishment, for the purpose of giving effect to it, or rejecting it, are not grudged.
But in the shape in question, reward cannot, it will be seen, be given, but at the expense of all the members of the community, how impalpable soever may in each instance be the amount of the expense.
Where the value of the service shall appear not to be such as to warrant this expense, no such expense will be incurred. The individual by whom it is conceived that a service of this description has been rendered, will take his own course for the giving publicity to it.
At the expense of the public at large, and by a public functionary, without sufficient and judicial evidence of extra good desert, reward in the shape of honour ought not to be conferred.
Honour conferred as above will be natural honour, judicially conferred: conferred, as the French phrase is, en connoissance de cause.
The effects of factitious honour, in whatsoever shape it has, or can have, place, have been shown to be all-comprehensively and preponderantly pernicious. To give support to this sinister instrument of felicity itself, and increase to the utmost to its sinister effects, has at the same time been shown to be the common interest of all who share in it. But in a still greater proportion than that in which it is beneficial to those privileged few, it is burthensome to the unprivileged many. Every man, therefore, in whose instance the greatest happiness principle is at once an object of attachment and a guide to conduct, will, in proportion to his sympathy for that part of his species whose interest is deteriorated, and happiness diminished, by this irremediably sinister instrument, employ his faculties in the endeavour to suppress it.
That its unchangeable nature is that of an instrument of corruptive as well as delusive influence, in the hands of misrule, has been shown above: so likewise, that it is an instrument of corruptive influence as applied to morals and the private intercourse of society.
Moreover what on this occasion has been shown, is—that in the nature of the case, every token, emblem, evidence, visible or otherwise perceptible instrument or cause of this factitious and mischievous product of bad government, is a false certificate employed for the purpose of obtaining for the possessor a portion of respect, which is not only not due, but which, if paid, cannot but be in a preponderant degree mischievous. To issue any such instrument, is in effect to issue a general order to the several members of the community, to be accomplices with the members of the bad government in all the several acts of depredation and oppression which by this and the other incorporeal instruments of misrule they are in the habit of committing in virtue of their respective offices: acts whereby to pamper men by units, they starve men and consign them to lingering deaths by thousands. To make one in the payment of the tribute so demanded, is to aid and abet those enemies of the community in the war they never cease to be carrying on against it.
If this be so, on each occasion, the fraud which by the voluntary bearing of any one of these titles the possessor is a principal in, finds in every one who voluntarily pays the tribute thus called for in the shape of respect, either an accomplice or a dupe: if he refuses payment, an opponent; if he pays it, being at the same time conscious of the deceptiousness and mischievousness of the demand, an accomplice: if he pays it, for want of being really apprized of this, its true nature, a dupe.
In a word, the case of him who concurs in the paying of undue tribute in this shape, bears a close analogy to the case of him, who receives and puts off base and counterfeit money.
As to the ways and means of counteracting this instrument of corruption, they may be distinguished, and the aggregate mass of them divided, into such as are of a negative and quiescent nature, and such as are of a positive and active nature. Negative, the purposed omission, or say forbearance, to pay in any form, the tribute of respect endeavoured to be exacted by the possessor of the symbol or evidence of pretended title: positive, by substituting to the tribute thus endeavoured to be exacted—the tribute that would be paid by the manifestation of the outward tokens of respect, tokens of the opposite sentiment, tokens, in a word, of disrespect.
As to these same tokens, the present is not a place for the enumeration or exemplification of them in any detail.
Of one single one, it may here be not amiss to give an intimation. Among the most impressive, and, at the same time, perfectly unexceptionable ways and means, one is to present to the eyes and ears of every man by whom this unwarranted order for respect is presented, the demonstration of the invalidity of his pretensions: and this may be, by words or other signs, in the grave style, or in the gay style, in prose or verse, accompanied or not accompanied with music.
How annoying soever these demonstrations may be to the delinquent, so long as corporeal annoyance is not added to them, they will, even if they be all of them added together, be nothing more than means of self-defence against systematic and studiously elaborated injury.
Into the treasury of the means of self-defence, no individual so poor but that he may be able to cast his mite. It was by the voluntary contribution of passengers, a stone from each, that those ancient monuments, in which social sympathy found its expression in times long since past, and which are still visible to the eyes of travellers, were raised.
Already the weakening of the force of these instruments of mischief, in a perceptible degree, is by no means without example. It may be seen in France. Names are not necessary to indicate to the friends of mankind, either there or elsewhere, those who have given proof of their being so, by the manifested aversion with which any salutation expressive of these instruments of deception has been habitually received.
Everywhere the people have been in the habit of suffering to be filched from them tokens of respect in various degrees, upon false pretences. The remedy is in their own hands. It depends upon them to cease the manifestation of these tokens of respect, and if necessary, to substitute to them tokens of disrespect.
It is by so many adjudications of the aristocratical section of the public-opinion tribunal, that the several portions of respect are conferred. Above the aristocratical, in the scale of power, whensoever it thinks fit to exercise its power, stands the democratical section of that same tribunal. Let the judgments of the subordinate section be quashed and over-ruled by the democratical or superordinate: in both tribunals every member is an executive functionary as well as a judge.
[* ]In the case of punishment, the substitution of a manifestly improper object to a supposed or pretended proper one, was introduced by priestcraft. By vicarious punishment, sin was said, in English, to be atoned for: in Latin, to be expiated or expelled by piety. A god or gods was offended; but roast meat being given to their priests, the priests were satiated and the gods satisfied. Offending and non-offending were in consequence all-at-one; at-one-ment was thus made.
[* ]In the case of the female sex, another article that requires to be added to the list of the instruments of corruption, moral as well as political, is beauty. But for obvious reasons, it belongs not to the present purpose. It is not of the number of the objects of which government is the creature: good economy could not, in this case, as in those, prescribe any purposed reduction in the quantity of it. In the female sex, beauty, by the influence it exercises, serves, as a compensation for inferiority in the scale of physical strength, and as a counterforce to the sinister power, which it enables and prompts the male to exercise,—and thus to diminish the inequality produced by it.