Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XVI.: OF THE CULTIVATION OF BENEVOLENCE. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 1 (Principles of Morals and Legislation, Fragment on Government, Civil Code, Penal Law)
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CHAPTER XVI.: OF THE CULTIVATION OF BENEVOLENCE. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 1 (Principles of Morals and Legislation, Fragment on Government, Civil Code, Penal Law) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 1.
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OF THE CULTIVATION OF BENEVOLENCE.
The principle of benevolence is in itself distinct from the love of reputation. Each of these may act without the other. The first may be a feeling of instinct, a gift of nature; but it is in great measure the produce of cultivation, the fruit of education. For where will be found the greater measure of benevolence—among the English or among the Iroquois—in the infancy of society or at its maturity? If the feeling of benevolence be susceptible of augmentation, which cannot be doubted, it must be by the assistance of that other principle of the human heart, the love or reputation. When a moralist paints benevolence under the most amiable characters, and selfishness and hardness of heart in the most hateful colours, what does he do? He seeks to unite to the purely social principle of benevolence, the demi-personal and demi-social principle of the love of reputation; he seeks to combine them, and give them the same direction—to arm the one by the other. If these efforts are successful, which of the two principles deserves the praise? neither the one nor the other exclusively, but their reciprocal concurrence—the love of benevolence as the immediate cause; the love of reputation as the remote cause. A man who yields with pleasure to the soft accents of the social principle, neither knows, nor desires to know, that it is a less noble principle which has given them their first tone. There is a disdainful delicacy in the better element of our nature, which wishes to owe its origin only to itself, and blushes at all foreign association.
1. To increase the force of the feelings of benevolence; 2. To regulate their application according to the principle of utility: such ought to be the two objects of the legislator.
1. Would he inspire the citizens with humanity? he should set them the first example; he should show not only the greatest respect for human life, but for all circumstances influencing sensibility. Sanguinary laws have a tendency to render men cruel, either from fear, from imitation, or from revenge; laws dictated by a spirit of gentleness, humanize a nation, and the spirit of the government will be found in its families.
The legislator ought to interdict every thing which may serve to led to cruelty. The barbarous spectacles of gladiators, introduced at Rome during the latter times of the republic, without doubt contributed to give the Romans that ferocity which they displayed in their civil wars. A people accustomed to despise human life in their games, could not be expected to respect it amid the fury of their passions.
It is proper, for the same reason, to forbid every kind of cruelty exercised towards animals, whether by way of amusement, or to gratify gluttony. Cock-fights, bull-baiting, hunting hares and foxes, fishing and other amusements of the same kind, necessarily suppose either the absence of reflection, or a fund of inhumanity, since they produce the most acute sufferings to sensible beings, and the most painful and lingering death of which we can form any idea. It ought to be lawful to kill animals, but not to torment them. Death, by artificial means, may be made less painful than natural death: the methods of accomplishing this deserve to be studied and made an object of police. Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being? The time will come, when humanity will extend its mantle over every thing which breathes. We have begun by attending to the condition of slaves; we shall finish by softening that of all the animals which assist our labours or supply our wants.
I know not if the Chinese legislators, in instituting their minute ceremonial, designed to cultivate benevolence, or only to maintain peace and subordination. Politeness in China is a sort of worship—a ritual, which is the great object of education, and the principal science. The exterior movements of this great people, always regulated, always prescribed by etiquette, are almost as uniform as those of a regiment which repeats its exercise. This pantomine of benevolence may be as destitute of reality, as a devotion charged with trifling practices may be separated from morality. So much restraint seems ill to accord with the movements of the human heart; and these exhibitions at command, do not confer any obligation, because they possess no merit.
There exist some principles of antipathy, which are sometimes interwoven with the political constitutions of states, which it is difficult to extirpate. Such are religious enmities, which excite their partisans to hate and persecute each other; hereditary revenges between powerful families; privileged conditions, which form insurmountable barriers among the citizens—the consequences of conquests; when the conquerors have never become incorporated with and mingled with the conquered; animosities founded upon ancient injustice; government factions, which rise with victory and fall upon defeat. In these unfortunate states, hearts are more frequently united by the wants of hatred than of love. To render them benevolent, it is necessary to relieve them from fear and oppression.
The destruction of those prejudices which render men enemies, is one of the greatest services which can be rendered to morality.
The travels of Mungo Park in Africa have represented the negroes under the most interesting point of view: their simplicity, the strength of their domestic affections, the picture of their innocent manners, has increased the public interest in their favour.
Satirists weaken this sentiment. When any one has read Voltaire, does he feel disposed to favour the Jews? Had he possessed more benevolence with respect to them, by exposing the degradation in which they are held, he would have explained the less favourable points of their character, and have exhibited the remedy by the side of the disease.
The greatest attack upon benevolence has been made by religious exclusionists; by those who have incommunicable rites; by those who breathe intolerance, and represent all unbelievers as infidels and enemies of God.
In England, the art of exciting benevolence by the publicity given to its exhibition, is better understood than anywhere besides. Is it desired to undertake any scheme of benevolence—a charity which requires the concurrence of numbers? a committee is formed of its most active and distinguished supporters; the amount of the contributions is announced in the public papers; the names of the subscribers are printed there day by day. This publication serves many purposes: its immediate object is to guarantee the receipt and employment of the funds; but it is a feast for vanity, by which benevolence profits.
In these establishments of charity, the annual subscribers are called governors; the superintendence which they exercise, the little state which they form, interests them in promoting their welfare; individuals like to trace the good which has been done, to enjoy the power which is conferred; the benefactors are brought near to the parties relieved, and these being placed in view, strengthen benevolence, which cools when its object is removed to a distance, but is warmed by its presence.
There are more of these associations of benevolence in London, than there are convents in Paris.
Many of these charities have particular objects; the blind, the dumb, the lame, orphans, widows, sailors, the children of the clergy, &c. Every individual is touched with one kind of misery, more than by another; his sympathy is always affected by some personal circumstance: there is art, therefore, in diversifying these charities, in separating them into different branches which apply to every kind of sensibility, so that none of them are lost.
It is surprising that more draughts have not been made upon this disposition from among females, among whom the sentiment of pity is stronger than among men. There are two institutions in France, well adapted to this end: the Daughters of Charity, who devote themselves to the service of the hospitals; and the Maternal Society, formed by the ladies in Paris, who visit poor women in the time of their confinement, and take care of the first days of infancy.
2. The feelings of benevolence are liable to be led astray from the principle of general utility. This can only be prevented by instruction: they cannot be commanded; they cannot be forced: they can only be persuaded and enlightened. Men are brought by little and little to distingish the different degrees of utility; to proportion their benevolence to the extent of its object. The finest model is drawn by Fenelon in that saying, in which he has so well painted his own heart:—“I prefer my family to myself, my country to my family, and the human race to my country.”
The objects sought in these public instructions should be, to direct the affections of the citizens to this object; to repress the wanderings of benevolence; to make them feel their own interest in the general interest; to make them ashamed of that spirit of family—of that esprit de corps which militates against the love of country—of that unjust love of country which turns to hatred against other nations; to divert them from the exercise of unfounded pity towards deserters, smugglers, and other persons who offend against the government; to disabuse them of the false notion that there is humanity in favouring the escape of the guilty—in procuring impunity for crime—in encouraging mendicity, to the prejudice of industry; to seek to give to all these sentiments the proportion most advantageous for all, by showing the danger and littleness of the caprices, the antipathies, and momentary attachments which turn the balance against general utility and permanent interests.
The more we become enlightened, the more benevolent shall we become; because we shall see that the interests of men coincide upon more points than they oppose each other. In commerce, ignorant nations have treated each other as rivals, who could only rise upon the ruins of one another. The work of Adam Smith is a treatise upon universal benevolence, because it has shown that commerce is equally advantageous for all nations—each one profiting in a different manner, according to its natural means; that nations are associates and not rivals in the grand social enterprise.