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CHAPTER XVII.: SUPREME OPERATIVE. - 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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Appointment in the People.
In a political state, all power is either operative or constitutive: operative is that, by the immediate exercise of which, obsequiousness and obedience are called for at the hands of individuals: constitutive, as we have seen, is that by the exercise of which, operative power is created and conferred.
In every form of government in which the possessors of the supreme operative power have not the great body of the people for their constituents, the situation of every possessor of a share in the supreme operative power is that of an enemy of the people.
In an absolute monarchy, the situation of the monarch is at all times that of an enemy to the people.
In a limited monarchy, limited by representatives of the people, spurious or genuine, the situation of the monarch is at all times that of an enemy to the people.
In a limited monarchy, limited by a representation of the people, spurious or genuine, the tituation of a representative of the people is that of an enemy to the people.
In a limited monarchy, limited by two bodies, one composed of the representatives of the people, spurious or genuine, the other of a set of men succeeding to one another upon the principle of genealogical succession, (rendered thereby a perpetually existing aristocratical body,) the situation of every member of that body is at all times that of an enemy to the people.
A people governed in any one of all these ways, is a people governed by its enemies.
In comparison with that of a people governed by its own delegates, the condition of a people governed in any of those ways, will of necessity be at all times an infelicitous one.
Willingly to contribute to the support of, or even to submit to, a government constituted in any of these ways, so long as any better is in prospect, in conjunction with a probability of its accomplishment,—is willingly to act in the character of an enemy to the people.
In no instance, at no time, has any attempt been made to show that by the substitution, or by the addition made of the office of monarch, to the office of member of a body of delegates chosen by the great body of the people, any addition has been made, or can be made, to the greatest happiness of the greatest number. In no instance can any such attempt have ever been taken into consideration, but the impossibility of success must have manifested itself.
Be the community what it may, to every member of it belongs two opposite and continually conflicting interests: 1. His share in the universal interest—that interest which is common to himself and every other member of the community: 2. That interest which is particular and peculiar to himself, with or without some comparatively small number of associates.
In the ordinary state of things, of a man’s particular interest, the value will generally, in his eyes at least, be greater than the value of his share in the universal interest: only in times of extraordinary public danger will the value of his social interest have the ascendant in his breast: hence, in so far as between the two interests a competition has place, the social will yield, and be made a sacrifice to the self-regarding interest.
Proportioned to the magnitude of his power will be the facility with which a ruler will be enabled to make sacrifice of the less influential, the social, to the more influential and predominant interest.
The universal interest requires, that in regard to subsistence, abundance, security, and equality, the aggregate mass in the community in question, be maximized: and that in particular the shares, which are the result of the three first, be as near to equality as consistently with security in all other shapes they can be: and that against rulers in particular, in quality of persons exposed to the temptation of acting as internal enemies to all the rest, the security against such their enterprises should at all times be at a maximum. On the other hand, that which their particular interest as above requires is—that of the aggregate of abundance, their own particular share be at all times a maximum. Of the fulfilment of this end and object of pursuit, an example may be seen in the case of the quantity of the matter of subsistence and abundance sufficient for the subsistence of from 10,000 to 100,000 productive hands, extorted from the community and placed in the hands of a single individual in the situation of monarch, and the utter inability of those whose security is thus destroyed, ever to obtain redress.
To the objects of general desire and pursuit, rulers in virtue of their situation are enabled to add three others; namely, under the names of honours and dignities, a sort of factitious reputation of their own creation, and altogether independent of good desert: dignity and honours at the expense of the unhonoured; vengeance, at the expense of those at whose hands their will experiences resistance, or their conduct disapprobation; and in so far as compatible with the pursuit of those other objects, and of pleasure in all other shapes, ease at the expense of official duty.
Of official aptitude, the several branches have been brought to view. Of the sinister interest just mentioned, one effect is the diminution, if not the destruction, of the appropriate aptitude in all those several branches. The universal interest requires that it be a maximum: this sinister interest, that it be a minimum.
As to appropriate moral aptitude. In regard to this branch, the universal tendency, and almost everywhere the universal effect, of the sinister interest in question, is to prove the utter destruction. By appropriate moral aptitude is meant the disposition to contribute to the utmost to the universal interest, in spite and to the sacrifice of all particular and opposing interests: but in the situation in question, to the desire is added the power, of sacrificing to the particular interest, on every occasion on which a competition has place, the universal interest.
In regard to money and money’s worth, matter of subsistence and abundance, minimize says universal interest, the quantity lying at each functionary’s disposal: and proportioned to the degree of power attached to his situation, is the degree in which, in the instance of each functionary, the production of this effect should be aimed at.
So as to reward. Extra reward, give none, says universal interest, without proof of correspondent extra service: proof no less strict than that which is, or ought to be given, of delinquency, with a view to punishment. Give it, says ruler’s interest, without pinch and without need of proof of extra service: still better, if without need of so much as an allegation, even in the most general terms, of extra service in any shape ever rendered.
As to appropriate intellectual and active aptitude, establish throughout the whole field of office the most instructive preliminary and publicly-applied tests and securities, says universal interest. Establish no such tests, says sinister interest. The effect of any such tests would be to exclude a large proportion of rulers from office, and to impose on the rest obligations, by the burthen of which the value of the situation would be diminished.
Maximize the efficiency and extent of the application given to each such test, says universal interest. If tests there must be, or where they exist already, minimize their efficiency, says sinister interest.
Minimize the sum of the pecuniary inducements for acceptance of the several offices, says universal interest. For the aptitude on the part of the individual being established as above, the less the sum of those extraneous inducements, the greater the degree of relish for the situation, as proved by the acceptance. Maximize the pecuniary inducements, says sinister interest.
In a word, of every ruling functionary, the natural and self-regarding particular interest is adverse to the national or universal interest. Of this sinister interest, the constant tendency is to diminish, not to say to minimize, his appropriate moral aptitude. By it he is continually urged to give the reins to anti-social and anti-national appetite, in all its shapes. By it he is urged to maximize, at the expense of the universal interest, the quantity, at his disposal, of the several external instruments of felicity, objects of general desire, sweets of rule, incentives to misrule: of public money for his own use, of power for the purchase of obsequiousness to his own will, and of service in all its shapes for his own benefit: of factitious honour and dignity for the purchase of respect to himself from all men, and obsequiousness, from all who look to receive it, at his hands: of vengeance at the expense of all who resist his will: of ease at the expense of his official duty.
Such are the national evils, to the maximization of which every functionary is constantly urged by the pressure of his own self-regarding particular and sinister interest: while the interest of the greatest number at all times requires that in every instance these same evils be minimized.
Why not give to the state chief, possessor of the supreme executive power under the supreme legislative, the supreme legislative power, thus placing the whole operative power of the country in that one hand? Because in that case the inaptitude opposite to appropriate aptitude in all its several branches is at its maximum.
The inaptitude opposite to appropriate moral aptitude is in this state of things at its maximum. In pursuance of the self-preference inherent in human nature, the end of his government will be the greatest possible happiness of his individual self. This object, according to whatever happens to be his notion of it, he will pursue without regard to the happiness of the greatest number, at the expense of that happiness, and to the sacrifice of that happiness. His sinister interest having no right and proper interest to serve as a check to it, the force of his power having no counterforce to keep the action of it in a state of uniformity to the public interest, his desire to make on all occasions the sinister sacrifice, finding no power in a condition to oppose it, will on every occasion find ample means for the gratification of it, and the sacrifice will at all times under his government be consummated.
He will accumulate under his own grasp all the external instruments of felicity, all the objects of general desire, in the greatest quantity possible: all at the expense of, and by the sacrifice of, the felicity of the other members of the community.
All around him being below him, dependent all of them on his pleasure for whatsoever portion of felicity they are suffered to enjoy, he finds in none of them any desire to oppose his will in any of the above particulars: in all of them the disposition and the endeavour to give accomplishment to it. He finds them joining one and all in the assurance that his greatest happiness is the only right and proper end of government: that if the happiness of any other individual is a fit object of regard to him or any one else, it is only in so far as the happiness of the individual servant may chance to be an object of regard and sympathy to the universal master.
In the eyes of this one member of the community all the others will be objects of regard on the same footing as working cattle are in the eyes of the proprietor. On the part of an ill-tempered monarch, the treatment experienced by them will be that sort of treatment which is experienced by cattle at the hands of an ill-tempered master. The best that can happen to them at the hands of the best tempered monarch, is to be treated upon as good a footing as cattle are treated upon by a good-tempered master.
But at the hands of the best tempered monarch they never will in any instance be treated upon as good a footing as, in the hands of a good-tempered master, it is common for his cattle (say, for example, his horses) to be treated. His horses will be continually in his presence: in the event of their being ill-treated by the negligence or malice of a servant, the ill-treatment they have suffered will generally manifest itself by visible signs, and by the appearance of their suffering, the sympathy of the master will be called into action. Knowing that the quantity of service he can obtain from them, without prejudice to their appearance, is limited, and that so sure as he endeavours to obtain any more, their appearance and their value will, in his eyes, be deteriorated, he will not work them to excess. No determined and permanent resistance to his will being ever opposed by them, and the inferiority of their minds to his being manifest, they will on no occasion be the objects of his ill-will or of his anger: among trained horses there is no such thing as a determinately and constantly rebellious horse.
On not near so good a footing are subjects in the eyes and hands of the best tempered monarch. Of the whole number of them, no more than a very small part at the utmost are ever under his eye: those who are worst treated, those whose sufferings are greatest, from the treatment they receive under his government, are never, especially while enduring that treatment under his eye. Among them there will always be a large portion by which his ill-will and anger will continually be called forth. By every obstruction afforded by any one of them to the fulfilment of his will, his anger will be called forth: and such obstructions howsoever kept under by fear and hope, must notwithstanding be universal and continual.
Whatsoever quantity of the external instruments of felicity he happens at any time to have in his hands, or at his immediate command, he is never satisfied with it. He never can be satisfied with it so long as he sees around him any other of those instruments that are not equally at his command. In his desires are included those of all the persons attached to his immediate service, and of those desires there are not any that are or ever can be completely satisfied.
Seeing that his gain in happiness never can have place but by means of loss to them, and that of every such gain loss to them to a prodigiously greater amount is a never-failing accompaniment, what he cannot entirely avoid the perception of is—that of the suffering thus produced by him, ill-will to an amount more or less considerable in the instance of every such sufferer, is liable to be the consequence. Among them in a large, though not exactly determinate, proportion, he beholds so many enemies: by the contemplation of enmity on their part, enmity on his part is produced. For the gratification of this enmity, as well as for keeping down resistance, and securing against non-payment the continually increasing quantity of the instruments of felicity exacted by him at their expense, the afflictiveness of the penal law is continually screwed up to the highest amount that is thought to be consistent with their efficiency. Thus it is that in the very best tempered monarch, by far the greatest number of the rest of the community have an enemy, and that enemy an essentially implacable one. If, under such a monarch, such is there condition, what must it be under an ordinary one?
As in their own monarch all subjects have an enemy, so have they in every other.
Monarchs, it may be said, are apt to go to war with each other: and when with any two monarchs this happens to be the case, the subjects of each should in that monarch who is the enemy of their monarch, (that is, of their natural enemy,) have a friend. But in practice this is not the case. The war which one monarch carries on with another monarch is a war of rivalry, but it is not a war of enmity: every monarch is to every other monarch an object of respect: and where there is respect on both sides, no rooted, no decided enmity can be said to have place on either side. Between monarch and monarch, war is, upon the largest scale, that which between professed pugilist and professed pugilist, is upon the smallest scale. By one another monarchs are styled brothers, and on that one occasion they are sincere; for they have a common interest, and that interest is paramount to every other interest. Many a monarch has given up to a brother monarch, and freely too, dominions which he might have kept if he had pleased. No monarch ever gave up freely to his own subjects an atom of power which in his eyes could be retained with safety. War is a game—a game of backgammon. Between two players at the game of war, there is no more enmity than between two players at backgammon. In the breasts of the players at war there is no more feeling for the men of flesh and bone, than during the game at backgammon there is on the part of the men of wood for one another or themselves. While to one another all monarchs are objects of sympathy, to all monarchs all subjects are objects of antipathy; of a sort of compound sentiment, made up of fear, hatred, and contempt; something like that which women and children are apt to feel for a toad. In the breasts of all monarchs there accordingly exists at all times a natural alliance, defensive and offensive, against all subjects.
As between injurer and injured, the man on whose part antipathy towards the other is most apt to arise, is he by whom the injury has been sustained: the one on whose part it arises with greatest difficulty, if ever it arises at all, is he by whom the injury has been inflicted.
Betwixt every monarch and every other there exists a powerful cause of sympathy. In the instance of all of them, on the same set of principles, is grounded that obedience by which their power is constituted, and in proportion to which it has place: disposition the effect of habit: habit the effect of force, fear, corruption, delusion, sinister interest, interest-begotten and authority-begotten prejudice. By every other throne he sees shaking, if the shock be from without, he feels the shock communicated to his own.
Not merely in the exercise of his political power—not merely in the public part of his life, but in the private part of his life, the natural tendency, not to say the constant effect, of the monarch’s situation is to place him, not at the top, but at the bottom of the scale of moral worth, and this whether the influence of the self-regarding principle, or that of the social principle, namely sympathy, be considered. By the self-regarding principle, the more urgent the need a man feels himself to have of the kindness and good will of others, the more strenuous and steady will be his exertion for the obtaining it: the less the need, the less strenuous. The kindness and good will, and thence on occasion the good offices, the services of others, are, (where and in so far as power of remuneration is wanting,) no otherwise to be obtained than by demonstration of the like kindness, in effect and in endeavour, on the man’s own part towards them. The stronger a man’s need of the effective benevolence of others, the stronger the inducement he has for the manifesting effective benevolence as towards them—an inducement which, in this way, self-regarding prudence suffices to afford; the less the need, the less strong the inducement. But the monarch is of all men the man who, by a vast amount, has least need of kindness and free good will, and good offices, and services at the hands of others—of the fruits of effective benevolence unmixed with those of self-regarding prudence: for whatsoever good things in other situations men are indebted for to effective benevolence, it is in his power to command partly by punitive power, partly by remuneration.
So, the more extensively a man feels himself exposed to ill-treatment at the hands of others, the stronger is the inducement he has to bestow upon them good treatment, for the purpose of averting from him the effects of such their ill-will: the less extensive the exposure, the less the inducement. But the monarch is of all men the one who stands the least extensively exposed to ill-treatment at the hands of others: he is in a more especial degree guarded against it by the punitive branch of his power, and again by the remunerative, by which he can obtain the good offices and support of others, and without need of kindness on their parts.
Of these circumstances belonging to his condition the result has been already stated. To place, not according to the vulgar mode of designation, at the top, but at the lowest point in the scale of moral worth, him, whose place in the scale of power is at the summit.
If the current mode of estimation is in so strange a degree erroneous, where shall the cause of the error be looked for? The reason may be given in two words—corruption and delusion.
Thus it is that to every practical purpose, in the situation of monarch, inaptitude in that branch which stands opposed to appropriate moral aptitude should in all places and all times be regarded as consummate. Be the man who he may, that thing whatever it be, by the contemplation of which no uneasiness is produced in his mind, that thing it is not possible he should have any desire to remove. Be the sufferers among his subjects ever so numerous—be their sufferings ever so intense, ever so long protracted, seen or unseen—no uneasiness capable of procuring a relaxation of those same sufferings can ever find entrance into a breast so situated. Why? Because experience being altogether wanting, no conception of those same sufferings can ever have had place in any such high-seated breast. In a word, to sympathy of affection, correspondent sympathy of conception, is indispensable.
Next as to intellectual aptitude: The inaptitude opposed to appropriate intellectual aptitude, is also in this case at the maximum. In respect of moral aptitude, the condition of the monarch, as such, being that which has been described, the consequence is, that towards the greatest happiness of the greatest number, all that in the situation in question could be done by intellectual aptitude, if raised to its maximum, would be the preserving that same greatest number from such unhappiness as should, in the eyes of the monarch, not be contributory to his own felicity. But by the care taken of his own felicity, at the expense of theirs, their infelicity, on his part, may be raised to a height to which no limit can be assignable.*
But in comparison with other men, who have had the advantages of what is called a liberal education, intellectual aptitude is in the situation of monarch, by unchangeable causes placed at the lowest pitch.
Of the two branches of intellectual aptitude, appropriate knowledge is that in respect of which the deficiency is less considerable, and less uniformly exemplified. In the situation of monarch, as in every other situation, man is necessarily for a length of time, more or less considerable, placed, by the infirmity attached to immaturity of age, in a state of subjection. During his continuance in that state, not only knowledge at large, but knowledge in some sort and degree appropriate, is injected into the infirm and unresisting mind. Knowledge—but of what sort? The answer is,—no matter of what sort. In respect of moral aptitude, the condition and situation of the royal pupil being what it is, any infirmity in his mind, even supposing it ever so perfect, can scarcely be matter of regret: the knowledge, supposing him to have any, or the judgment, could not in that situation be applied to any other purpose than the giving extent and promptitude to the sinister sacrifice.
It being thus certain, that with a receptacle so situated, no sort of matter contributory to the greatest happiness of the greatest number, could keep its place, even if injected, (which is what it never would be,) it may therefore accordingly be stated as a matter not worth thinking about, with what rubbish the receptacle may happen to be filled. As no considerable good could be produced by any such injection, so neither could evil. Take, for example, information concerning the most apt means for promoting the only interest which can be the object of regard—means for giving the maximum of extent and promptitude to the sinister sacrifice. A scheme of instruction by which all such pernicious knowledge would be excluded, would it not be preferable, it may be asked, to a scheme in which it were comprised? The answer is,—No. For in this way, the supply afforded by others, the supply afforded by the minister, whoever he happens to be, who holds the seals of office while the royal pupil holds the sceptre—this supply will at all times be perfect.
To the situation of monarch it belongs to find will: to the situation of minister it belongs to find knowledge, to find judgment, and, if need be, to find invention, such as on each occasion shall be necessary and sufficient to give effect to that will. But to do so requires a degree of exertion of mental labour much beyond the greatest quantity which, in the situation of monarch, it is consistent with human nature to bestow: this being admitted, it follows, that from no stock of appropriate knowledge which, in the situation of monarch, the mind of man is capable of finding room for, can the mass which will be applied to the business of government receive increase.
One thing, of which the non-injection is matter of certainty, is soon stated: this is the axiom by which the greatest happiness of the greatest number is stated as the only justifiable end of government. That no such position could by any preceptor be placed before the royal pupil in the character of a true one, is sufficiently evident; for in this position is included, among others, this, namely, that no such office as that which he is destined to fill, ought to have place in any community, and that the only good act which is capable of being done by any one who is invested with it, is to suppress it, to abolish the system of government of which it forms a part, and substitute a representative democracy. Various are the inducements, it need scarce be observed, any one of which would abundantly suffice to produce this negative effect: to the community the advice would be unavailing, for in no case would the pupil follow it; to the pupil it would be unpleasant; to the prospects of the preceptor ruinous.
The only right and proper end of your government is your own greatest happiness. Suppose this commodious axiom substituted for the other incommodious one, the two latter inconveniences are avoided, while to the interest of the community at large no damage is done, since by any advice to the opposite effect, the minutes employed in giving expression to it would be so much time thrown away.
So necessarily and so intensely afflictive is the treatment which, through system and cool reflection, the results of sound judgment, subjects are almost sure to receive at the hands of the most intelligent monarch, that any ulterior suffering they may stand exposed to, from mental derangement in the same quarter, it may be thought scarce worth adding to the account. But by the extraordinary proportion of the individuals known to have laboured under malady in this shape, some clue may be afforded towards a right conception of the character of the class, and the effect produced on the mind by power in excess.
In this extraordinary case, if the mischief to which the community is exposed is not so great as in the ordinary one, the absurdity of submitting to it is more flagrant, and the depravity, moral and intellectual taken together, manifested on the part of a nation which submits to it, at the same time but too incontestably demonstrated. In every monarchical state, the great probability always is, that, in the proportion of several to one, at any given period the fate of all its members will be in the hands of a madman.
Look, now, to the electors of a President of the Anglo-American United States. Of their placing a madman in the situation of chief functionary, from this moment to the end of time, by what numbers shall the degree of probability be represented?
The curious circumstance is, that down to the moment when the condition of the sufferer is too manifest to be any longer concealed from the public eye, the features of superhuman excellence, in all its shapes in general, and that of consummate wisdom in particular, will still be his, by the unanimous testimony of all who hope for any good thing, or fear for any evil thing at his hands: by the unanimous voice of all corruptionists and hypocrites, echoed by the unanimous chorus of their dupes. In him the priests will continue to behold the most religious, the lawyers the most just, the diplomatists the wisest, the courtiers the most gracious,—all these in chorus, together with the hireling writers, will proclaim him in one word the best of monarchs, present, past, or future.
Every monarch is a slave-holder upon the largest scale, and in that relation, each correlative is corrupted by the relation he bears to the other. Under a monarchy the population is composed of the insulters and the insulted; of the corrupters and the corrupted; of the deluders and the deluded; of bullies and cowards; of hypocrites and dupes.
When once the human race is rid of the two congenial plagues, monarchy and slave-holding, with how contemptuous a sympathy will not the present generation be regarded by all succeeding ones?
If where the monarch is a madman, the people are not worse afflicted than they are seen to be, it is because the operations of government, are directed, not by the determinations of the madman himself, but by those of a knot of courtiers in his name, whom accident has thrown in his way, in such sort as to have become chosen by him to be made the instruments of his will in the several departments: or rather, and what is more simple, some one of them who has had the good fortune to persuade him that by the choice of that one instrument his desires are likely to receive a more extensive gratification, than by the choice of any other individual: which individual is then prime minister, exercising the powers of the monarch and easing him of the whole detail of the cares of government. Certain subject-matters there are, about which the nominal monarch and the operative sub-monarch are, at all times and in all places, agreed: the accumulating in the hands of the monarch, of the external instruments of felicity in as large a mass as possible, in particular,—power, money, and means of vengeance: at whatever expense, on each occasion, the sacrifice is to be made: whether at the expense of his own subjects, or the members of a foreign state, or of both together, as in so far as war is the occasion, cannot but be the case. In this, master and servant behold the common end: and to the servant it belongs to provide the means in the shape and in the quantity necessary and sufficient for its purposes.
Thus far they are sure to agree. Meantime, the occasions for disagreement can never altogether be wanting. With the monarch, the first object is of course to provide for his personal gratifications. But for this, no funds which it is in the power of the minister to provide can ever be sufficient. Buildings suffice of themselves to create an appetite, the satiation of which is impossible. To decorate one single spot during a course of years, cost France, under Louis the Fourteenth, a sum—recollection is not able to state in what degree above or below the whole expense of government during that time.
The allotment of all the situations attached to the official establishment, is regarded by the minister as being at his disposal. But the monarch has, in both sexes, his associates, his instruments of pleasure in all its forms—in a word his favourites. These favourites are not themselves men of business or women of business. But each such favourite is himself or herself, as the case may be, connected with a number of dependents, among whom men of business, and men desiring to be men of business are abundant. A vacancy takes place, and now comes the contest: the contest between the monarch’s dependent and the minister’s dependent.
Meantime the process of depredation and oppression goes on its course: the torment of the people goes on increasing: increasing and in such sort that it finds its way even to the royal or imperial breast. How so? Is it that in that breast there ever did exist or ever can exist any real sympathy for the misery of the people? Not until it has first existed in his bronze similitude. But be the palace where it may, the discontented are to be found in it. Next to none can have all they wish for: and every one who cannot have all he wishes for, is more or less discontented. So many discontented persons, so many eventual talebearers and accusers of the minister, watching every occasion that affords a promise of being a favourable one. A class of misdeeds, the idea of which is in every state of things of a nature to create in the royal breast a sentiment of displeasure, is every considerable depredation, in the benefit of which he has not, either in his own person or in that of a favourite, any share. A misdeed, which in ordinary times, in the ordinary state of things, is not of a nature to produce any such displeasure, is the production of human suffering, from which whatsoever be the amount, no disturbance to his own ease is apprehended,—and which threatens not to be productive of anything worse than suffering on the part of the people. But by those by whom injury in all its forms is done day by day to millions, (and to many of them in its worst forms,) no certain assurance can ever be obtained but that among the millions whom oppression has wounded, there may not be some one, into whose hands despair may have put the dagger of an assassin: but that of so many thousands who are throwing away their lives in the endeavour to destroy by thousands strangers, none of whom have done them any injury, some one may stand up and turn the instrument of death against an individual (against whom there is no other mode of defence) whose whole life from beginning to end is one continued act of injury, to the millions whose lot has cast them under his feet. Fear of personal safety is therefore of necessity one among the attendants round every throne. When therefore by the lips of an aspiring talebearer hints are given of the misery endured by the oppressed people, fear of course presents itself to the imagination.
Meantime, whether sanity or insanity be the state of the monarch—whether in the acts to which the name of the monarch is affixed, the judgment and the individually directed will have any or no part—be the whole tenor of the government more or less predatory, more or less oppressive—the suffering of the people more or less intense—the conduct and frame of mind of the monarch is depicted in all statements which have any pretensions to the character of authenticity, under the same aspect of unrivalled and unwearied excellence. For the bodies of two monarchs, two portraits, both indeed beautiful, but beautiful in two different forms, are found necessary; but for the minds of the two, one and the same portrait is always found sufficient.
In England, of the hundreds of laws passed every year, not one is passed, in and by which the king does not join with the sham representatives of the people, and the but too real representatives of the lords, in declaring himself to be the most excellent. By the declaration of all who join in the devotion in a Church of England church, every English king is most gracious and most religious. Most gracious alike he who never smiles and he who sometimes does smile: religious alike the bigot and the unbeliever, the infidel with a mask and the infidel without a mask. Sunday after Sunday, Charles the Second, while making his jokes, of which religion was the standing object,—Charles the Second, who was really the most gracious of English kings, heard himself proclaimed in the same breath, by consecrated lips, the most religious.
In compensation for all this evil, it rests upon the advocates of monarchy to show, if they are able, in which way it is, that by an individual with the title and power of king or emperor, is produced a mass of good outweighing that evil; being at the same time greater than that which would be produced by that same individual in the situation of chief of a republic: that a greater addition is made to the stock of happiness, in their respective communities, by Emperor Alexander or King George, than was by President Maddison, or is by President Monroe,* in the Anglo-American United States.
With respect to a pure monarchy, though it may in any particular instance by accident be less bad: yet an aristocracy-ridden monarchy, of which corruption is the characteristic instrument and distinguishing feature, may by accident, and that an accident of no unfrequent occurrence, be still worse. Folly next to idiotcy, or tyranny next to raving madness, may at any time be the condition of the one upon whom the condition of every other member of the community depends:† and so long as this is the case, either by the monarch himself or upon some one located by such a monarch, are all official situations filled: and in that case, upon what footing the probability of official aptitude and official frugality stands, may be left to be imagined. But in a pure monarchy not only fear, but a more generous sentiment might of itself suffice at any time to produce a felicitous change. In an aristocracy-ridden monarchy, fear is the only source of hope.
Effective benevolence on this extensive scale, why should it not take the place of playing at soldiers, or field sports, or games of skill or chance?
Catherine the Second and George the Third differed about the dominion of the seas, but agreed in turning buttons. George kept to the buttons; Catherine quitted them for codification: and though her patterns, out of which she made her patchwork, were inadequate, they were the best that were to be had.
Amongst other reasons in favour of a democracy, is the absence of the great prize by the appetite for which private assassination and civil war are so apt to be produced in monarchies.
Established by Nicholas, a free representative assembly would be a life insurance office: the only one in which an autocrat can insure his own life.
Pure monarchy is the rock which, having been placed and poised by accident, the push of a finger has sufficed to move: broad at bottom, pointed at top, a representative democracy is a pyramid.
What the aristocrats aim at is, security for themselves as against the monarch, with the largest possible share in his power, and without any security for the millions against that depredation, in the profit of which they are sharers. Sharers in his power, together with the money and the exaltation attached to both (and for the exaltation at the expense of the millions, there is no humiliation they will not submit to as towards the monarch, for they receive in return the humiliation of the millions) therefore the greater his exaltation the greater is theirs. They are thus gainers by the humiliation they submit to. As to security, what they would wish is, that for the people against themselves in union with the monarch, there should be none: while against the people for themselves and the monarch, it should be entire.
In the view taken of the field of legislation, by the scribe of the absolute monarch, it swarms in every part with rebels. To afford security to him against the enterprises of adversaries in this shape is the most anxious of his cares. He is encompassed with enemies on all sides and at all times: the very form of his government, the objects and designs so undisguisedly evidenced by it, suffices to convert into adversaries to him, all men who are not so to their fellow-countrymen and themselves. Of their hatred, he assures himself: of the justness of it, as well as of the impossibility of keeping it from coming into existence, he is fully conscious. The utmost he can hope for is to guard himself against that part of its effects which is most formidable to him. In this view, he scruples not to appoint punishment for the manifestation of it: punishment for all those who, seeing what he is, make known to others what they see: punishing all who, on any occasion on which their sentiments are other than favourable to him, make known those sentiments. If there be any sure methods of creating hatred, this is one of them: but seeing love hopeless, seeing every affection better than hatred, inconsistent with every rational view of the case, he is content thus to draw upon himself hatred, for the additional chance which he thus thinks to give himself of escaping from the effects of it.
Thus in the case of the absolute monarch: and in this respect, the case of the limited monarch is not materially different.
Turn now to the case of representative democracy. In the representative democracy there are no rebels. In the penal code of the representative democracy there is no such crime as rebellion. In the representative democracy there is government; there may, therefore, be resistance to government. In the representative democracy there are rulers: there may, therefore, be resistance to rulers. Under one government, as well as under another, resistance to rule, must be punished or there is no rule. But it is punished as such, and only as such, and not as rebellion. Suppose even a conspiracy to overturn the government, and substitute to it an absolute monarchy: for under every such democracy the supposition may be made, though under the only established democracy as yet exemplified, the fact is morally impossible.
Suppose, then, a conspiracy thus to destroy the government. The conspirators are enemies, but they are not rebels. The state they have placed themselves in, with relation to the rulers and the rest of the community, is a state of war. Being enemies, the case of self-defence renders it necessary they should be treated as such. They must be opposed, and, by any means, disabled from giving effect to their mischievous endeavours. But, as in the case of external enemies, so in the case of these internal ones, such means of self-defence as are least mischievous to both parties taken together, are the only means suitable or justifiable.
As to hatred—hatred fixed on one fixed object, here there is no such thing.
Pure monarchy was the original, because the simplest form of government. It had its origin in the necessity men were under of putting themselves under the command of a single chief, in the wars between one savage or barbarous tribe and another. Thus came on the one part, the habit of obedience, on the other part, the habit of command, and by the frequency of actual war, and the constancy of preparation for a state of war, the habit of obedience and command was preserved from interruption.
The children and next relations of the monarch being naturally most frequently in his company, and in the largest proportion, sharers in his confidence, hence it was that the elective monarchy naturally passed into an hereditary one.
But though this was the natural, and in early times, the inevitable state of things, it follows not that it was the state of things in the highest degree contributory to the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
Monarchy comes to have place now, by its being established: almost all men are born under it, all men are used to it, few men are used to anything else: till of late years, nobody ever dispraised it; every body praised it: nobody saw anything better, nobody knew of anything better, few had heard of anything better: men were reconciled to mixed monarchy in England, by the same causes by which they were reconciled to pure monarchy in Morocco, Turkey, and Hindostan. No state of things so bad, but that acquiescence under it, may be produced by ignorance of better: in a word, by habit, by authority, and by the instruments of corruption and delusion by which it became surrounded.
It was not by any experience or supposition of its advantages, that it became established, or has been continued: meaning its advantages to the many, by whose obedience and acquiescence, the power belonging to it is constituted.
Monarchy,—its Instruments—Corporeal and Incorporeal.
The frame of mind given to man by this situation has been seen above. Behold him now in action. In the field of political life, action cannot be without instruments.
His instruments, real and corporeal, are three: the soldier, the lawyer, and the priest: his fictitious and incorporeal are four: force, fear, corruption, and delusion: with these incorporeal instruments he by the hands of his corporeal instruments works.
For the sake of an always questionable (and at the utmost comparatively inconsiderable) addition to his own felicity, to give unquestionable existence to human suffering in all its shapes, and infinite in quantity—this is the course of action which at every moment of his life the sinister interest inseparably attached to his situation urges him to: and power being in adequate quantity always in his hands, the result, as has been mentioned, is correspondent.
Vain would it be to say, evil in all these shapes is the effect of man in general, of government in general; not of monarchy in the persons of the monarch and his instruments.
No, they are not the effects of government, they are only the effects of misgovernment. They are not the effects of government; for a representative democracy is a government: the Anglo-American United States are a representative democracy, and in the United States no such evil effects have place.
Arch-forciant,* arch-terrorist, arch-corruptor, arch-deluder—this a monarch is, by the mere virtue of his situation, without need of action on his part, without need of so much as volition, without any such interruption to his ease: his instruments, in their several situations, are sub-forciant, sub-terrorist, sub-corruptor, and sub-deluder.
As to the corporeal instruments: each of them contributes in his own particular way to the common end, the fulfilment of the constantly sinister will of the public enemy. In one way or other, on one occasion or other, all the several incorporeal instruments of misrule operate in their hands: by this or that corporeal, this or that incorporeal instrument is made most use of; by this or that other corporeal, this or that other incorporeal.
As to the soldier: force and intimidation are the incorporeal instruments which, in the more direct and intentional way, under a monarchy, he is occupied in applying to the all-embracing and constantly pursued purpose. But by his pay and privileges he is made to belong to the monarch’s stock of the instruments of corruption; while, by the place he occupies in the vast machine, of which he is one of the puppets, and the glitter with which he is environed, he contributes at the same time to the amusement of his owner, and to the delusion of the subject many—setting to work their imagination, perverting their judgment, and from the power and splendour which they see, causing them to infer the existence of the excellence, moral and intellectual, which they imagine.
Next as to the lawyer: external are the enemies against whom the force and intimidation, by which the soldier operates, are principally and most avowedly prepared: but incidentally as often as occasion calls, the force has for its destination the being employed against the subject-citizens, in their character of most natural, most constant, and nearest enemies. The force which it is his destination to apply is in each instance applied upon the largest scale. The enemies to which that force is applied, which is at the command of the lawyer, are no other than those same internal enemies, and in its application to them, it operates upon the smallest scale.
Force and intimidation are the only instruments to the use of which the operations of the soldier are properly directed. Of corruptive influence, he sees no need: of delusive influence, as little.
Delusion is the instrument for the application of which the faculties of the lawyer are principally applied with most constancy and most energy.
By the force of his imagination he creates a sort of god or goddess upon earth, a sort of divinity, which he calls common law. Of this goddess the principal occupation is the finding pretences for giving fulfilment to the monarch’s sinister will, as evidenced by his sinister interest: to lodge in the hands of the monarch the external instruments of felicity, in the largest quantity, and to exercise for that purpose the arts of depredation and oppression, all for the benefit of the monarch: his subordinate occupation (subordinate in profession, principal of course in fact) is to exercise the same arts for his own benefit.
The common law not having any existence, cannot serve as a justification for any thing. In the face of the whole community, who, in so far as they have courage and energy to open their eyes, see that it has no existence—in the face of the whole community the existence of this goddess is on every occasion asserted, and to this goddess are ascribed the two wills, to which execution and effect are to be given, the will of the monarch, and the will of the judge. What, for the benefit of the monarch the judge has been inflicting on the people, to a certain superior degree, the monarch connives at his inflicting for his own benefit in a certain inferior degree.
Now as to the priest: In him may be seen another of the monarch’s corporeal instruments of whom delusion is the principally employed incorporeal instrument. Physical force belongs not to his province: intimidation, yes. But it is by delusion that the intimidation is produced. The business of the lawyer is, to do, in the first place, the will of the monarch; in the next place, his own. In this the business of the lawyer and that of the priest agree. What difference has place between them lies in the means: in the different forms and degrees of the intimidation they employ.
In respect of moral frame of mind, widely different are the effects which under a monarchy are produced in the three professions. The soldier stands by himself. Force and intimidation, the instruments he applies, are no other than those without the eventual application of which, the best government could no more have existence than the worst. Neither corruption nor delusion does it belong to his province to apply: neither of the one nor the other instrument is the application expected at his hands: neither the one nor the other is it natural for him to seek to apply: delusion, in particular, is much more likely to find in him a contemner than an approver.
Between the lawyer and the priest, the similarity of situation, and thence of frame of mind, is close and intimate. In governments in a state reputed semi-barbarous, they have been united in the same person. In England, priests were for a long time the only lawyers. The coif over the covering of the priestly tonsure is still an ingredient in the composition of the masquerade dress with which the lawyer bears evidence of the association to this day.
In the Mahomedan religion, the priest is the only judge. In England the instances are at the present day abundant in which the subordinate judicial situation of the local judge, called justice of the peace, is added to the functions, performed or not performed, of the priest.
In so far as for relief from their sufferings, the mind of the people can find a place for hope, the situation and natural character of the soldier is the chief, if not the only source that can be found for it. The great instrument of democratical government, the great support of the universal interest of the people against all particular and sinister interests—the force of the popular or moral sanction, brought into action by the public-opinion tribunal—has everywhere and at all times found far more sensibility to it in the breast of the soldier than in the breasts of either of those functionaries who work with delusion for their instrument. Accordingly, on those great occasions in which, against oppression by monarchs, the interest of subjects has found effectual supporters, soldiers have been so by thousands, lawyers and priests only by units.
In an army, a standing army, the monarch beholds the support to his power at home and abroad: an instrument for the extension of it, at the expense of the other members of his own community—his subjects, as the phrase is: a toy to play with, a doll to dress up, an instrument of delusion for producing, to his own advantage, erroneous conception on the part of the people; and an instrument for the gratification of vanity, on the occasion of his intercourse with the other members of the confraternity of monarchs.
Of his personal gratification in all other shapes, the more immediate instruments are his courtiers. Between his courtiers and his generals, the benefit of whatsoever real sympathy the individual nature of the monarch is susceptible of, is shared.
With the contempt of which all who are beneath him are essentially objects, a mixture of sympathy and affection for those who are about him is not impossible. In the case of no others does the contempt admit of any other admixture than that of antipathy and hatred.
In the lawyer he is not likely to find a favourite. Neither in the idea of an intellect replete with absurdity, of morals distinguished by harshness, exercised in the production of suffering, and by an intensity of reflection that seems to put an exclusion upon gaiety, as well as sincerity, is there much to attract sympathy or promise amusement.
In the priest he is not likely to find a favourite. Neither in the repulsive aspect of melancholy, nor in that of imposture, assumed for its own benefit, is there anything to attract sympathy or promise amusement.
Regarded in the character of necessary instruments, men in their situations will naturally be treated with more or less of condescension, and marks of kindness and esteem, by a man in his. But unless they are, and in so far as they are, willing and able to divest themselves of their distinctive professional characters, their company will not naturally be very acceptable.
Monarch’s Interest,—how far opposite to, how far co-incident with, the Universal Interest.
A community of interest (it may be said) has place between a monarch and his subjects: and this community of interest will suffice for securing them against ill treatment at his hands: for securing to them the best treatment in his power. True. There is a community of interest between a postmaster and his post-horses: but this community of interest suffices not for saving them from an untimely death, at the end of a life of torment. The interest which a monarch has in common with his subjects, is not sufficient to render him in general so well disposed towards his subjects as a postmaster is to his post-horses.
Spite of whatsoever there is in common between the two interests, in the breast of every monarch, the tendency of his disposition is at all times and in all places to produce the greatest infelicity of the greatest number. Such is everywhere the tendency necessarily produced by his situation, and such everywhere (except in so far as accidental circumstances have risen up in opposition to such tendency) has been, and so long as a monarchy exists upon the face of the earth will be, the effect.
The more particularly the several shapes in which interest has place in the two situations are examined into,—the more particularly the several departments in the field of legislation to which it applies are examined into, the less numerous the points of coincidence, the more numerous the points of opposition, as between the two interests, will be seen to be.
Take, in the first place, the two immediately subordinate ends of the constitutional code,—maximization of appropriate aptitude on the part of functionaries, and minimization of the expense attached to the employment of them.
As to expense: with relation to the interest of the monarch, the aggregate of the expense may be distinguished into two portions: that in respect to which his profit is equal to the expense,—the whole being to him so much profit; and that in respect of which, his profit, though not equal to the expense, is in proportion to it, increasing as it increases.
Next as to appropriate aptitude: In a republic, appropriate aptitude, means aptitude with reference to the greatest happiness of the greatest number. In a monarchy, appropriate aptitude, means aptitude with reference to the supposed greatest happiness of number one. But on the imagination and judgment of this same number one, the greatest happiness of this same number one, will consist in the subserviency of all other wills, and of the conduct of all other persons, on each occasion to the will of this same number one. But what may happen, and has continually been happening, is, that while in the breasts of the greatest number of his subjects, infelicity has been continually on the increase, the will of number one has been continually obeyed by all.
Take, in the next place, the four immediately subordinate ends of the non-penal or distributive branch of law: subsistence, abundance, security, and equality, maximized in so far as the less important are compatible with the more important.
1. Subsistence. This, it is true, it is his interest they should have: that is to say such of them as are in a condition to work, and can be made to work. But it is the interest of the greatest number that, whether able or not able to work, they should live, which is as much as to say, that they should have subsistence.
2. Abundance. This also it is his interest they should have, and the greater the quantity they produce, and thence have, the greater the quantity which it will be in his power (as it cannot fail to be in his inclination) to get out of them for himself. But, so long as by any act of his, any addition, how small soever, which would otherwise be made to the stock of the matter of abundance, passes into and through his hands,—how great soever may be the quantity which, by the same act, is taken out of their hands, or prevented from finding its way into them, will, with reference to his interest, be matter of indifference.
3. Security. Security is for body, mind, reputation, pecuniary property, power, condition in life: it is against injury at the hands of external evil-doers, internal evil-doers not being functionaries, and internal evil-doers being functionaries. Security against external evil-doers, i. e. against foreign enemies, his personal interest prompts him to maximize, so long as no expectation of profit presents itself, from the diminution or destruction of it. But that which he is continually upon the watch to get, is an augmentation of the mass of the external instruments of felicity in his hands, at the expense of other communities; and by means of war,—that is, murder upon the largest scale,—he never can get it, but by the diminution of the security of his subjects.
As to security against misdeeds on the part of functionaries, security against the abuse of their own power,—the very idea of it is intolerable: as if in their hands power were capable of being abused!—as if wrong could be done by him, by whom no wrong can be done!—by him, for whose benefit that which if done by another would be wrong, is by the mere circumstance of its being by him that it is done, converted into right.
4. Equality. In a republic, the instrument of felicity thus denominated is watched and guarded with peculiarly anxious care. It is prized, not only as being in its own character an instrument of felicity, but an instrument of security, for security itself: in particular, for securing all the several instruments of felicity to all the members of the community, against invasion on the part of such of them as are in the situation of public functionaries.
But to the monarch, the very word is an object of abhorrence. To give admission to it in the list of fit ends of the distributive branch of law, is at once to put an exclusion upon his office: to shut the door of the official establishment against him. Of all the imaginable instruments of felicity that can be named, not one is there in which he can endure the idea of seeing any other member of the community possessing an equal share.
In particular, not so much as an equal share in the protection of the laws: in the benefit derived from the services of the officers belonging to the judicial department, directed as they are or ought to be, to the securing to every member of the community his proper share in the aggregate stock of the external instruments of felicity: against evil in the several shapes in which it is endeavoured to be excluded, by prohibition and punishment attached to the several misdeeds by which it is liable to be produced.
In the next place, take the penal branch of law. Immediately subordinate ends—beneficial effect of the distributive branch of law maximized; punishment minimized.
With regard to the distributive branch of law taken in its several sub-branches, it has been seen how far in the situation of monarch his particular interest is accordant and coincident with the universal interest; how far opposite to it.
First, then, as to the maximization of the beneficial effect in question. So far as the above-mentioned coincidence has place, it is his interest that the universally beneficial effect may, by all imaginable means, and by this principal means in particular, be maximized. But so far as, instead of coincidence, opposition has place, this same particular interest of his requires that the amount of these same beneficial effects be minimized; or in other words, that none such should exist, but that the opposite evils should have place.
Next as to the minimization of punishment: So far as by the infliction of punishment, misdeeds on the part of any individual, in or not in the situation of functionary, tending to promote his particular interest—vengeance and ease included—would be repressed, his interest requires that no punishment at all be inflicted: or if any, none beyond the least possible.
So far as by the infliction of punishment, acts tending to the security of individuals against misdeeds, the commission of which, as above, is required by his particular interest, would be prevented, (and thence his power of evil-doing restricted, or any gratification afforded to his appetite for vengeance, or any security afforded him against disturbance to his ease,) his particular interest requires that punishment be minimized.
So much as to the several external instruments of felicity and proper subordinate ends of government.
As to moral virtue; or, speaking with relation to felicity, moral aptitude, this, his interest prompts him to maximize on the part of his subjects: viz. so far, and so far only, as by the possession of it they are disposed to do his will and contribute to the advancement of his particular interest.
But at the same time, his interest renders him desirous to minimize it in so far as, by the possession of it, men are disposed to thwart his personal interest in all its several branches, preferring their own interests respectively to his.
As to intellectual virtue, or say, intellectual aptitude:
In proportion as useful knowledge and sound judgment, as applied to the field of legislation, increase, the opposition of the interest of the monarch to the rest of the community will become more manifest; and with it the want of virtue, moral as well as intellectual, betrayed by the nation, by which any such office in the official establishment is suffered to have existence: an office which may be styled that of malefactor-general.
Cause of Monarchical Misrule—Sinister Interest, not Upright Prejudice.
The amount of misrule and its effects being given, a standing question, a question that, on each occasion, presents itself is—as to how much of it is owing to moral inaptitude, how much to intellectual: how much to sinister interest, how much to prejudice, whether interest-begotten or derived from other causes. The question, however, is a matter rather of curiosity than of use: of use to the purpose of affording guidance to practice. Take this or that anti-popular arrangement at pleasure: if not its creation, its preservation is, at any rate, the work of the sinister interest. Independently of the sinister interest, be the institution, be the arrangement, be the phantasm of the imagination ever so absurd, go back far enough, you may always find honest absurdity, honest intellectual weakness sufficient for the creation of it. How can it be otherwise?—since, among the people at large, notions fraught with absurdity are not without example, notions which, being adverse to the interest of those by whom they are entertained, cannot have had for their cause sinister interest; at any rate, cannot have had correct perception of particular interest.
But so long as it is by the sinister interest that the causes of evil are supported and maintained, whether it was in the moral part or in the intellectual part of the mental frame that the evil had originally its rise, makes nothing to any practical purpose.
Many are the instances in which that which at first sight will present itself as the result of intellectual weakness, will, on scrutiny, be seen to have been the genuine fruit of sinister interest: and the more closely the mechanism of misrule is scrutinized into, the more extensively will this genealogy be seen to have had place.
One universally applying maxim, the genuine fruit of the sinister interest, serves as a means of preservation to absurdity in every imaginable shape. Though the absurd institution or arrangement is not productive of any immediate advantage to yourself, says the modern Machiavel to his patron, preserve it notwithstanding: for though the existence of it does not serve, the abolition of it would dis-serve, your own particular interest. To justify the abolition, it would be necessary to bring into action some position conformable to reason, and bearing a reference, more or less obvious, to the all-comprehensive and universally-applying principle—the greatest-happiness principle. But by homage paid to that principle, you put arms into the hands of the adversary: when the absurd arrangement, from which you derive no advantage, is disposed of, presently after comes the adversary and proposes the abolition of an absurd institution and arrangement, from which you do derive advantage: and, as a ground for the proposition, out comes this position which you yourself having made use of, and paid homage to, you cannot oppose or elude the force of, without rendering your insincerity and the corruptness of your disposition manifest.
Let this, then, be the general rule, acted upon in all cases.—Whatsoever institution or arrangement is adverse to the universal interest, is the result of the particular, and thence sinister interest of the ruling class. In few instances, indeed, if in any, will the position be wrong in theory: where it is wrong, the error will not be productive of any evil consequence in practice. Not so, if the cause being sinister interest, the effect is ascribed to a mere error of the understanding. In this case, it is to the curing men of their error, that all your exertions will be directed—to the changing into converts the opponents you have to deal with. Full of this conception, you will keep labouring and labouring on till you are tired: while you are labouring, the adversary is laughing in his sleeve.
Another bad consequence: So much for your adversaries the corruptionists. Now for the bystanders, in the character of members of the public-opinion tribunal. Seeing that, even in your opinion, all its hostility notwithstanding, the fault, if any, is in the understanding of your adversary, not in his will—in the intellectual part of his frame, not in the moral—they, in their impartial situation, cannot think less favourably of him than you do, in your hostilely partial situation: along with you, they will keep looking for the time when, in consequence of the rectification of his judgment, his conduct will be rectified, which time, the cause of the wrong not being in that place, will never come. All this while, had the real seat of the wrong been known to them, they might have acted accordingly. Seeing the adversary in his true colours, they might have joined with you in acting upon him in the only quarter in which, from this time to the end of time, he can be acted upon with effect,—they might have acted upon his fears.
Whatsoever talent and whatsoever industry there is being employed in keeping the sinister interest covered by a veil as impenetrable as possible, no wonder if it should escape from the observation of most eyes.
Behold an example of the mischief to the people from the imputing to error the result of sinister interest. True cause of the excess in military establishments, kings’ sinister interest, erroneously ascribed as being necessary to defence against foreign aggression.
When in this way rulers have, at such vast expense, done each of them his utmost, then will they be all of them, with their respective masses of force, bearing one to another a certain proportion: keeping thus the same proportion, they might divide each of them his force by the same divisor,—say two, say ten, say a hundred, and the quotient being in the same proportion, the security would, on the part of each of them, be the same. Some number of years ago* did the idea occur to me—I know not how many, except that it must have been before my eyes had applied themselves with any closeness to the constitutional part of the field of law: my good fortune—I know not exactly in what way—saved me from the disappointment and loss of time which a proposition of so Utopian a cast would have had for its fruit. Yes: were it merely as instruments for the defence of the community and the territory against foreign aggression, that an army is kept up. But besides that, it is kept up for the defence of the country against its inhabitants,—for the defence of the monarch, his instruments, his favourites, and his dependents, against resistance to legalized depredation, oppression, and vengeance: it is kept up as a toy for the great baby to play with, and as an instrument for the gratification of his vanity: and how ill any of these purposes would be served by retrenchment, is sufficiently obvious.
While the sinister interest continues on its present footing, to propose anything that would be beneficial to the community, upon a sufficiently extensive scale to be worth thinking of, is not simply useless,—it is positively pernicious. It operates as a certificate, that, on the part of those on whom acceptance depends, a disposition to act in conformity to the universal interest has place,—a certificate which neither is, nor by possibility can be, true. The persons to whom it is addressed, are those on whose exertion depends the only state of things in which anything good that depends on government can ever be brought into effect. In this same certificate, therefore, is contained the implied assurance, that such exertions are not needed. Of the existence of this persuasion, on the part of the projector, a proof is thus given, much more conclusive and impressive than could be given by any positive and direct assurance given in words: in this case, the existence of the persuasion is indubitable, for it is upon the ground of it that the man himself has acted.
In England, this hopelessness of everything good has never been a secret to the Whigs.* Accordingly, show them anything good, their answer is, of course,—Under the present administration your plan is hopeless: it is a good one, and by them no good proposal will ever be adopted: by us, all good proposals will be adopted: if you wish anything good to be done, look to us. What is true, is—that there is not any ground for hope from their antagonists: what is not true, is—that there is ground of hope from themselves. In them, there would no more be either power or will to do good than in their more fortunate and prosperous adversaries.
Inaptitude attached to the situation of Monarch in a mixed or say limited Monarchy—his power having for its instrument of limitation thepower of a body acting as a representation of the People.
Inaptitude opposite to moral aptitude. In this situation the causes of enmity are more active: of resistance, the symptoms are continually obtruding themselves on observation. Though on every occasion the issue is out of hazard, on every occasion a contest with circumstances of irritation has place.
To moral inaptitude in the shape of cruelty, is in this situation necessarily added, immorality in the shape of insincerity and deception. The representation of the people is in a state of corruption: the people themselves are in a state of delusion. If the representation were not in this state of corruption, no such office as the kingly office would continue. If the people in a vast proportion were not in a state of delusion, no such office as the kingly office would continue.
Of that portion of the external instruments of felicity, which otherwise might be, and in the situation of absolute monarch, would be, employed by him in the endeavour, how vain soever, to make an addition to his own personal felicity,—a portion more or less considerable, must be employed in the keeping in a state of perpetual corruption, and perpetual subserviency to his sinister interest, the delegates, real or pretended, of the people: in securing on their part a constant breach of such their trust. In the majority of these men, the people in as far as they see clearly, behold their determined and implacable enemies, subordinate depredators, who, under the orders of the supreme depredator, concur with him in the work of depredation, at their charge. In the eyes of a monarch they are at the same time his enemies: partly because the quantity of the matter of depredation seized by them is not adequate to his desires; and partly on account of the vast share which he finds himself under the necessity of abandoning to them, in consideration of the work which in fulfilment of the sinister contract, it it is necessary should be performed on their part.
At all times, until the old man of the sea has been shaken off from the shoulders of Sinbad—in every monarchy, one and the same option, and that in both parts, a disastrous one, will be presenting itself to the monarch’s choice: the option between magnitude and stability. In some eyes increase of stability may be seen provided for, in the expedient of imparting a share of power, either to a representation of the people alone, or to a self-representing aristocratical body, or to both together.
Under a limited monarchy, while the subject many have everything to fear, from that immorality which, in company with a convenient mixture of religious hypocrisy and religious bigotry, has its seat in the bosom of the ruling one, with the sub-ruling and influential few, life, property and liberty have everything to fear; from the subject many, such are they as to morality—such are they as to religion—the ruling one, with the sub-ruling few, (and such of the opulent and influential few as make common cause with him,) have nothing to fear. Witness, on the one part, the Manchester massacre: men, women, and children, killed by units, wounded by hundreds, for coming together unarmed to make communication of their sufferings, and hold converse on the hope and means of relief: a priest ordering the slaughter, and receiving at the hands of a servant of the monarch (by an act, followed by words of general approbation, pronounced in the most solemn ceremony by the monarch) a benefice of £2500 a-year value, for having ordered it. Witness, on the one part, this Manchester massacre: witness, on the other part, the patience of the subject many under it. On the one part, slaughtered by wholesale, with an avowed readiness, on any similar occasion, to repeat it,—the slaughter upon a general view of it, thus avowed: while, for any such purpose as that of regular and impartial judicature, no particular view of it suffered to be taken. On the one part, slaughter by wholesale thus committed, rewarded, avowed: on the other part, no such slaughter by wholesale, or so much as by retail, executed, attempted, or so much as recommended. On the one part, all injury: on the other part all patience. But, when injury has spread to a certain extent, and reigned for a certain length of time, patience may, in the event of its continuing longer, on the same spot with injury, begin to regard itself as an accomplice: and, taking counsel of desperation, rather than act in that character, yield its place to retaliation, coming forth under the name of justice.
In a limited, or say rather a mixed Monarchy, the Aristocracy are not in practice co-equal with, but dependent on, and Instruments of, the Monarchy.
It is by force and intimidation that the conduct of the people at large is determined. In England it is by corruptive influence that the conduct of the majority in each of the two houses of parliament is determined: in the House of Commons in the first instance, and then in the House of Lords. The matter of corruption, so far as the monarch is concerned, on whose will does the application of it depend? On that of the minister. And the minister, on whose will does his existence in that situation depend? On the king.
Let the king give to what man he will the disposal of the matter of corruptive influence, the will of that individual is sure to be done by the majority in both houses.
Events may happen, events which for a time may make the king see a convenience in substituting to a minister more agreeable to him, a minister less agreeable to him. But in this temporary exception there is nothing that detracts from the truth to all practical purposes of the general rule. In this there is nothing more than what is every now and then happening in the most absolute governments, that of Turkey not excepted.
But the fact is, that whatsoever is done, it is with the king’s will that it is done: in each instance it may or may not have originated in the king’s will: but in whose will soever, what is proposed is originated, if it be against the king’s will, it is not done.
Of the absoluteness of the king’s power, a conclusive proof is that which was brought to view in a House of Commons’ debate, in the session of 1822. Motion by Mr Brougham: object of it, holding up to view what is called the influence of the crown: that is to say, the absoluteness of the king’s power, in respect of giving determination to the proceedings of the two sets of functionaries who are sharers with him in the supreme operative. Proof this,—when a man has been appointed to the situation of prime minister, a majority of the Commons’ House will vote according to his will, after having but a few days before, namely when he was not minister, but in opposition, voted against it.*
Instances have happened in which the king has discarded a minister whom he had rather have kept, and appointed a minister whom he had rather not have appointed. True: but the minister who was not agreeable to him, never for any considerable length of time has been kept in office.
In the year 1806, Lord Grenville, Mr Fox, and Mr Addington, were in office together. Lord Grenville and Mr Fox were men disagreeable to the then king: Lord Grenville on one account, Mr Fox on another: Lord Grenville from his personal demeanour, Mr Fox from the too great popularity of the principles professed by him. It was the desire of Lord Grenville that the oppression under which the Catholics had so long been suffering, should be removed: this was also the desire of Mr Fox. But the will of the king was opposite and inflexible. He refused to adopt the measure; found a favourable opportunity for getting rid of them, and dismissed them. Mr Addington was a man found to be agreeable to a king, whoever the king were, so Mr Addington was retained.
Monarch—folly of regarding the personal deportment of, as a pattern for subjects, Geo. III.
If as above, in every intelligible and useful sense of the words, bad and good, so far from being the best, the monarch is naturally the very worst—the most maleficent member of the whole community—judge from him of the consequence of taking him and his conduct as a pattern for others—his conduct for their conduct.
By beneficence, positive or even negative on a small scale, he obtains a reputation by which he is enabled to practise, without reproach, maleficence on the largest scale. “Curse on his virtues! they have destroyed his country!” George the Third, because he behaved well to his wife, was proclaimed the best of kings.
Hereupon, whatever good conduct has place in domestic life, on the part of the other members of the community, this one has the credit of it.
Now mind the evil consequence. Of what is good and bad in private, and in particular in domestic life, men in all situations are competent judges, and in the habit of regarding themselves as being so, and taking cognizance of the conduct of others in consequence. On the other hand, of what is good and bad in public life, the greatest number are not as yet competent judges.
Yet in some monarchies—England for example—scarce an individual to whom it is not matter of habit to speak occasionally of the monarch and hear him spoken of, and with some adjunct of general approbation or disapprobation, such as good and bad, attached to his official or personal name.
But for a comparatively rare occurrence, this epithet will be of the approbative kind: the reason has been already mentioned. Note then the consequence. So it be, but through the ordinary causes, namely, war and selfish indulgence in the shape of what is called magnificence, there is no quantity of mischief so great, in shape of waste and depredation and murder, so it be upon a national scale, that a man in that situation may not be the author of, still remaining the object of general love and admiration.
Meantime, what shall we say of those who, seeing before them and set over them a man whose conduct is stained with these atrocities, gives to them the sunshine of his approbation by thus adding the word good (or its equivalent) to the name, official or personal, of the author of evil on this largest scale? Whatever he may be in intention, in fact and in effect, he is an accessory to all the atrocities by which the object of his ill-placed eulogy has been making an incontrovertible title to universal abhorrence. If in the course of a war, for the gratification of the monarch’s rapacity or antipathy—a war, in a word, without necessity—a million of human beings have been consigned to untimely death, here are a million of murders committed; and he who thus pours forth benedictions on the head of the author, is accessory, before or after the fact, to all these murders.
Nine times in the course of his sixty years’ reign did George the Third, with his everready accomplices, force the people to pay his debts.* The trader who, by inevitable misfortune—mere misfortune without the smallest cause of reproach, even on the score of imprudence, is rendered insolvent,—is thereby rendered in a greater or less degree an object of disrespect: still more, and in an increasing ratio, if the like misfortune comes upon him a second time. The insolvencies of George the Third were in every instance the result of his own profusion, without the smallest admixture of misfortune. No money could be issued without his signature: and he was notoriously attentive as well as punctual in the giving of it. He made immense profit by his wars,—profit to himself and family: witness the Droits of Admiralty; and he took care to exempt himself from loss: witness the exemption from the income-tax given to his private property in government annuities—or the funds, as the phrase is.
In Spain, about the year 1776, the avowed expenditure upon the persons of the king and his family, amounted to one-fourth of the whole expenditure of government: and to this avowed, unavowed expenditure was known to be added, to a vast though necessarily unascertainable, amount.
Of this expenditure, be it what it may, not a particle is of any real use to the people in any shape: not a particle, that besides the suffering produced by the loss, by the forced contribution, is not productive of evil to an immense amount: for of the matter of wealth thus extorted and wasted, every particle operates as matter of corruption.
It would be a calculation no less curious than instructive, how many of the people, by the support thus given to the lustre of the crown, are every year, consigned to lingering death for want of sufficient food, how many prevented from coming into existence.
The result is—that in all branches, the inaptitude is on all occasions, not in the individual, but in the situation: not in the particular nature of the individual in question, but in the general nature of the situation: that, the situation being what it is, the inaptitude is absolutely irremediable: and that, therefore, whatsoever be the political state, the existence of any such situation in the official establishment, is utterly incompatible with the greatest happiness of the greatest number—utterly incompatible with everything to which the appellation of good government, can, with any propriety, be applied.
That if, by a good king, is meant a king, by whose existence more happiness would have place in the community, than would have place, if neither he nor any other individual having the same powers, were in existence—there never has been, nor ever can be, any such person as a good king: and that every man who is a king, is, by the mere circumstance of his being a king, rendered of necessity a bad one. To talk of a good king, is to talk of white ink, or black snow.
In conjunction with external circumstances, idiosyncrasy may have rendered, and in fact to a certain degree, always does render, this or that king less bad, than this or that other. But to the practical purpose of the question, every such inquiry into the character of this or that individual, in that same situation, is needless and useless: indeed worse than useless, the tendency of it being to lead men to suppose, that from a substitution of one individual to another, in that situation, the evil may be capable of receiving a remedy: which, as already shown, is not true.
What in this case is the measure of the quality of bandess, or say, depravity in the human mind? Is it the quantity of human misery produced? Is it the degree of steadiness with which the probability of its being produced is contemplated, and the fixedness of the determination to persevere in the endeavour to give existence to it? Is it the absence of that distress, which in some cases is, by general acknowledgment, sufficient to render depredation, and even intentional homicide, justifiable? With these considerations in mind, compare the best of monarchs with the worst of private and punishable malefactors,—see whether as in the scale of political, so in the scale of moral depravity, the place of the unpunishable malefactor is not above that of the punishable malefactor.
As it is, in the case of that situation, by which the largest mass of political power is conferred, so is it in every inferior one. The probable quantity of virtue in a man, is not in the direct, but as will be seen, in the inverse ratio of his altitude in the composite scale composed of power, opulence, and factitious dignity.
Influence of Monarchy on the state of Judicature.
In a monarchy, on the part of the judges, corruption has place universally: on the part of almost all judges, at all places, at all times: corruption, practised upon the largest scale, and with impunity and assurance of impunity: impunity, perfect as against punishment at the hands of the legal sanction, and to a vast extent, as against punishment at the hands even of the social sanction.
At the hands of the monarch, and those who are in favour with him, every man for himself, and all those with whom he is connected in the way of interest or sympathy,—every man, and the judge, whoever he is, as much as any man,—has everything to gain, and so has he to no inconsiderable amount to lose, or otherwise suffer.
In the track of partiality and injustice thus produced by corruptive influence, there are certain lengths which, under the fear of the public-opinion tribunal, this or that judge will restrict himself from going: but in that same track, there are certain lengths which no judge will ever restrict himself from going. What should make him? From yielding, he has everything to gain; from not yielding, he has more or less to fear.
On the alleged incorruption of English judicature, eulogy is indefatigable: and of this, as of every other alleged efficient cause of felicity, matchless constitution gets, of course, the credit.
This alleged incorruption what does it amount to, in fact?—incorruption on the part of a certain class of judges, as against the matter of corruption in a certain form: incorruption for small profit, and upon a small scale, coupled as above with corruption for unlimited profit, upon a national scale.
In this country, perhaps for two centuries, no example has ever been known or commonly believed, of one of the twelve judges taking a bribe on behalf of a suitor: not improbably none such has had place. By this circumstance is any proof afforded of incorruptibility—of any aversion to the being corrupted, on the part of any judge? By no means.
In no instance could a judge receive, in the shape of money, or other article of marketable value, a bribe, without putting his reputation completely in the power of at least one individual—namely, the one by whom, or on whose account, the bribe was afforded: seldom without putting himself in the power of individuals more than one. What should be a man’s inducement thus to expose himself to infamy, not altogether without danger of legal punishment, for profit on a retail scale, while, on a wholesale scale, it is to be had to an amount altogether unlimited, and without any the smallest risk?
You who give them the praise of incorruption as thus proved, add to it, the praise of abstaining from picking the pockets of passengers of their handkerchiefs, in the streets.
The Few,—Enemies of the Many,—the Many not of the Few.
Everywhere it has been seen, with the single exception of an aptly organized representative democracy, the ruling and influential few are enemies of the subject many: enemies in mind as well as in act,—and by the very nature of man, until the government, whatever it be, has given way to a representative democracy, perpetual and unchangeable enemies.
Not so the subject many, to the ruling and influential few: the enmity is not reciprocal: it is all of it on one side,—on that one side only.
The subject many, have neither expectation nor desire of oppressing or plundering the wealthy. Oppress them, they could not, without plundering them of all they have: for without any factitious power, their wealth cannot but protect them, and protect them most effectually against oppression in every shape.
Plunder the wealthy few, the subject many could not, by any general resumption and new division of property: for by any such attempt, everything valuable, and all property in it, would be destroyed: that of the poorest as well as that of the most wealthy.
As little could they in the way of taxation: taking this or that part instead of the whole. For between wealthy and not wealthy, there being no line of separation actual or practicable, the more rich could not be taxed without taxing the less rich likewise.
In the Anglo-American United States, the class who, with relation to the purpose in question, are without property—that is to say, without property sufficient for their maintenance—have, for upwards of fifty years, by means of the right of electing the possessors of the supreme operative power, had the property of the wealthy within the compass of their legal power: in what instance has any infringement of property ever been made?
The worst that could happen to the ruling and influential few from power, if vested in the hands of the many, or say rather, of all, themselves, the ruling few, included,—is to see themselves brought down to an equality with the many in all things, wealth excepted: in respect of power, to the having no more than an equal chance for power: in respect of factitious honour, to be divested of it, the many being at the same time unpossessed of it.
While the triumvirate of the wealthy, the powerful, and the factitiously dignified, reigns—injustice, to the prejudice of the greatest number, reigns in every part of the field of government: injustice for the benefit of those few, at the expense and to the burthening of the many. Suppose that portion of the aggregate mass of power which they are capable of holding—suppose the constitutive power—in the hands of the greatest number, what in respect of justice and injustice would be the consequence? Not the reverse of the present state of things: not injustice to the benefit of the many at the expense of the few, but justice to all alike.
Take England for example. By the factitious expenses imposed on judicial proceedings, nine-tenths of the population, to say the least, are excluded from the benefit of justice, as well in the situation of defendants as in that of plaintiffs: a line is thus drawn between the wealthy and the non-wealthy: the wealthy, all those who are capable of demanding the assistance of the judicial office, or resisting the demand when made by others; the non-wealthy those who are incapable: all those whose situation is below the line of separation, are at the mercy of all those whose situation is above it. Now, suppose this factitious burthen completely removed, what would be the consequence? That the wealthy would be at the mercy of the non-wealthy? No; only that they would cease to see the many lying absolutely at their mercy: insomuch that the two parties would have to contend upon terms less unequal than at present. I say less unequal: for, as to absolute equality, this is what the very nature of the case completely forbids. For it is upon evidence that the fate of every cause depends, and evidence is not in any case to be had altogether without expense: and to the necessary amount of the expense, even when all factitious expense is struck off, no determinate limits can be assigned.
English Parliamentary Reform—its inadequacy.
In the opinion of a considerable and gradually increasing number of the people, the system of government as carried on in England, is so bad—so adverse to the greatest happiness of the greatest number, that a man desirous of contributing his endeavours to that same greatest happiness, cannot, without inconsistency, fail of being desirous of seeing brought about a change: a change of a nature to add to that greatest happiness, by substituting good to what is evil in the form of government, as it exists at present.
For this purpose two changes are continually brought to view: one under the name of Parliamentary Reform, the other under the name of Revolution. By Parliamentary Reform is meant a change in the mode in which the people are said to be represented: by causing the men who, under the name of representatives of the people, exercise a principal share of the powers of government, to be located and dislocable by the great body whom they are said to represent, instead of a comparatively minute portion of it. By Revolution is meant locating, in the situation of monarch, an individual different from him by whom it is at present filled.
Parliamentary Reform has been proposed in two modes:—one styled radical, the other styling itself, sometimes moderate—sometimes temperate.
By Radical Reform is meant the substituting to the House of Commons, as at present organized, a House of Commons organized upon the principle of a representative democracy, but leaving in full possession of their power the Monarch and the House of Lords.
By moderate reform is meant the taking the power of the House of Commons out of the hands of the present oligarchy, and placing it in a regular and equal sort of aristocracy, leaving monarch and lords in possession of their power, as in the former case.
If no good worth contending for—no permanent and adequate remedy to the existing evils could be brought about by radical reform, still less could it by moderate reform.
Note now the change that would be brought about by radical reform: supposing no other change effected than that which is expressed.
The king would remain. Therefore, so long as he retained his power no change would be effected that were adverse to his interests. But every change that would be beneficial to the interest of the people—contributing to the greatest happiness of the greatest number of them, would, it has been seen, be adverse to his interest. Therefore the king alone would suffice to prevent any considerable good from being done, any effectual remedy from being applied. Take in hand the whole catalogue of abuses. Look over it from beginning to end: not one is there in the continuance of which he has not an interest: not one of them is there which it would not be against his interest to part with: not one of them is there which, on any reasonable ground, he could be expected to part with, if he could help it.
The House of Lords would remain. But of all the members of that house there is not one who, so long as he is one, will not be a sharer in that sinister interest which, as has been seen, stands irremoveably attached to the situation of monarch. The House of Lords alone would, therefore, suffice to shut an everlasting door against all remedy.
But if for this purpose the king alone, by his single force, and also the House of Lords alone, by its single force, would either of them suffice, much less can they fail to suffice by their conjunct force.
Yes, it may be said, reform, if radical, will suffice: it will suffice without further change. Not in any shape, and in particular, not in this shape, can parliamentary reform have been brought about, unless and until both lords and king have been brought into acquiescence. But the use and only use of this reform, is to remove the existing abuses: in this one point is concentrated all that is looked to from it: the power sufficient to produce the cause will be sufficient to produce the effect.
No: it will not suffice. By the supposition, the office of king will remain: the power of the king will remain untouched; the power of the lords with their veto will remain untouched. But from the office of king, a quantity of the matter of wealth, all of it operating upon the representatives of the people in the character of matter of corruptive influence is inseparable: in a large proportion it will suffice to prevent the abolition of the mass of depredation and oppression at present established: and whatsoever it is not able to prevent the amendment or abolition of, it will suffice to bring back in a longer or shorter course of time. To produce this effect not so much as a single act, that can with propriety be called an act of corruption (it has been shown) is necessary: not so much as a single act, on either part.
To confirm the existence of the kingly office would be to sanction a principle opposite to the only justifiable end of government. It would be to continue in the hands of a functionary, the hostility of whose interest to the universal interest has been shown to be necessary and unchangeable, the power of giving effect to that same sinister interest.
You who propose the continuance of the state of things, by which the mischief has been done, by what means is it your expectation, that the good you propose should be effected? You who propose the accomplishment of an end, how is it that you can avoid the adoption of the means, the only means by which it can be effected? Parliamentary reform, or any reform you can make or think of, will it change man’s nature? Finding in every official an appetite for power—as in dogs an appetite for bones, will the word reform extirpate it?
No such reform can be carried into effect, but by a power sufficient to go further, and abolish the office of him, with whose means of happiness, the greatest happiness of the greatest number is incompatible, and the power of that unelected assembly whose interest is not less at variance with the universal interest, than the particular and sinister interest of the monarch.
Leave the two offices untouched—you leave an injured king and an injured house of lords. You leave where you find him, a man enraged with the sense of that which in his view, is injury, and you leave him with the means of self-reinstatement and vengeance in his hands. Easier, much easier, is the whole of the work, than this same half. The whole is eminently simple: the half is eminently complicated.
Leave the half in existence, you leave unremoved all the moral pollution and all the intellectual absurdity which defiles it. The same system of shameless and indefatigable lying, and the same practical inferences which have been at all times deduced from them, will continue to be deduced. You cannot have a king, but you have in office a functionary who cannot do wrong; that is to say, who has, by the universal declaration of all who have at any time thus spoken of him, possessed and exercised the power of converting into right whatsoever wrong his sinister interest and vices ever prompt him to commit. You cannot continue the office in existence, without endeavouring to give perpetuity to, by far the foulest system of immorality, as well as the grossest system of absurdity that the wit of man ever engendered.
When on the part of kings and lords, acquiesence has in any way been produced, to leave them in possession of their power, would be to leave them with arms in their hands, in a condition to fight the matter over again. Very generous this indeed, but to whom? To the one and his few hundreds: to these hundreds, generous; but to the many millions, still more ungenerous.
The sources of waste and corruption have all been indicated and enumerated. Dry them up all, dry them up without exception: to all this vast mass of evil you may substitute the opposite and correspondent good, with a sacrifice comparatively inconsiderable of existing interests and expectations. Keep any one of these sources untouched, to produce the same retrenchment, you must make a sacrifice to the same amount elsewhere, at the expense of existing possessions and expectations.
On revolution, considered as a remedy against misrule, a syllable is almost too much. Suppose it effected, what good would be effected by it or with it? Suppose the present king removed, where should we find a better?
Revolution proposed in the character of a remedy, supposes the cause of the evil is in the individual. But it does not lie in the individual: it lies in the species: it lies in the nature of all man, not in the one man who is king.
As well might you think of doing away the mischief of the inquisition system, by removing one grand inquisitor and substituting another in his place.
Think not that, because the bringing the present system of corruption to the present degree of perfection has taken up 134 years, reckoning from the revolution, it would take up the same time to reproduce the quantity of evil, removed by a second revolution now. Small and inadequate would be the amount of saving or defalcation from the mass of abuse that could be effected by parliamentary reform alone during any such continuance. At the revolution, taking the requisite time for it, there existed the possibility of screwing up the amount of the depredation to eight hundred millions. But in addition to these eight hundred millions, could another eight hundred millions be added, in the same time, or in any time? Oh, no: all that stock has been expended.
[* ]Take for example the case of Frederick the Great, king of Prussia. See what was the state of the people under his government, as depicted by Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, diplomatic resident of England at his court, in the appendix to the Earl of Orford’s Memoirs, London, 1822.
[† ]Not to speak of Austria or Prussia, witness Naples, Sardinia, Sweden, Russia, Portugal, Spain, and England.
[* ](Arch-forciant.) English lawyers have in their language a deforciant: a man by whose force some other man is put out of the possession of something that of right belongs to him.
[* ]Written in 1822. See a “Plan for a Universal and Perpetual Peace,” vol. ii. p. 546.—Ed.
[* ]The Whigs were not in office when this was written.—Ed.
[* ]The Reform Act has somewhat altered this state of things. A very large portion of the House of Commons is now no longer under the immediate influence of the House of Lords: so long as the crown acts in unison with this independent portion, the House of Lords will oppose both the Commons and the crown.—Ed.
[* ]Thus asserted in the course of a House of Commons’ debate in the spring of 1821, say May or June: [by Lord John Russell on the debate on the civil list to George IV., 8th May 1821, referring to the Report of the Committee of 1815.—Ed.]