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CHAPTER XXVI.: 1831. Æt. 83. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 11.
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1831. Æt. 83.
Declining Health.—Memoranda and Conversations.—Burdett.—Interview with Talleyrand.—Bentham’s Death.—His Character, the Structure of his Mind, and his domestic, social, and literary Habits.—Dr Southwood Smith’s Estimate of his Philosophy and Personal Character.
In the summer of 1831, many symptoms exhibited themselves of a gradual breaking up of Bentham’s constitution. His reasoning powers had not lost their acuteness—his affections were as strong as ever; but his memory grew confused at times, and his spirits sometimes flagged. On one occasion, on the 18th May, while I was sitting opposite to him, he became suddenly speechless; and, taking a piece of paper, wrote on it, in a scarcely legible hand, that he was not able to speak. But he revived again; and in September wrote the commencement of a “Hudibrastic attack on Chancellor Brougham’s Defence of many-seated Judicatories.”
On the 24th October he wrote, in a hand that appeared more than ordinarily firm and intelligible, the following passage, which he sent to Lady Hannah Elice, as his autograph:—
“The way to be comfortable is to make others comfortable.
“The way to make others comfortable is to appear to love them.
“The way to appear to love them—is to love them in reality.
“Probatur ab experientiâ, per Jeremy Bentham, Queen’s Square Place, Westminster. Born, 15th February, anno 1748—Written (this copy) 24th October, 1831.”
From Bentham’s Memorandum-Book, 1831.
“The last of the royal race of the Stuarts—Lady Dundonald, who died about 1816, and was about a century old, did four services to the community; for any one of which she well merited the praise of being, in an eminent degree, the benefactress of her country:—
“She brought over the art of curing herrings from Holland.
“She introduced a superior breed of sheep.
“She was the great promoter of improvements in the silk manufactory of Paisley.
“She planted the first Hydrangea in Great Britain.”
“A child in arms—an Ourang Outang. Put a crown upon its head—put a sceptre in its paw. Blackstone’s god it would be—all his attributes it would have: the good people of England would bow down and worship it, and tax themselves a million a-year to feed it.”
“Arithmetical, algebraical, and musical notation are a portion of the quasi-universal written language; while the correspondent spoken exists in all its varieties. An analogous case is that of the Chinese character, common to China, Japan, Cochin-China,” &c.
“Unapt words in use:—
“2.Calculate—ambiguous, as between likely to produce the effect and designed to do so.
“4.Based—vice grounded: grounded having conjugates, based not.
“5.Touching (from the French touchant)—vice affecting.”
“A member of the aristocracy looks upon himself as the richer by every pleasure he deprives the democracy of.”
“Vague generality is the lurking-place of error and fallacy.”
“Nomography.—Proposed addition to the number of auxiliary verbs.
“By this denomination may be designated certain verbs, which, by being prefixed to the nouns-substantive which are employed in the names of the corresponding operations, perform, and, as will be seen, with considerable advantage, the service, or say functions of, and become synonymous to, the several verbs, which, by a single word, are each of them expressive of the same idea.
“1. To make, with its synonymes, perform, &c.
“2. To give, with its synonymes, transmit, &c.
“3. To receive, with its synonymes.”
I have already mentioned Bentham’s practice of employing an auxiliary verb with a noun, where a verb active is ordinarily used. He said, he found such collocations of words most convenient for analysis or synthesis. He could thus take his sentences in pieces, and put them together.
“You don’t know the idea again, unless you see it clothed in the same words. The verb-substantive, as it is commonly called, call it rather the universally applicable verb, for it serves to predicate existence of whatever subject-matter it is applied to.
“With the help of the appropriate substantive, it might supersede the use of all other verbs; and the simplicity of inflection, and facility of being learnt, might then be maximized—say Eugnosia.”
“1831—February 16.—The day after arrival at the age of 83.
“J. B.’s frame of mind.
“J. B. the most ambitious of the ambitious. His empire—the empire he aspires to—extending to, and comprehending, the whole human race, in all places,—in all habitable places of the earth, at all future time.
“J. B. the most philanthropic of the philanthropic: philanthropy the end and instrument of his ambition.
“Limits it has no other than those of the earth.
“Thus Philip of Macedon:
“Logic.—Abstraction is one thing,—association another; relation comprehends both: the one the converse of the other; relation is the most abstract of all abstractions.
“Each thing is,—the whole of it, what it is,—but we may consider the whole of it together, or any one or more parts of it at a time, as we please—thus we make,—thus we have abstracted,—abstract ideas.
“Abstraction is—1. Posological: 2. Logical. Logical is the most abstract.
“In posological, abstraction can begin with real entities—Abstraction, Association, Induction.
“Induction, posological, logical. To association we are indebted for the use of writing,—for written,—for visible signs.
“Data are the fruit of induction. When we come to data, we come to real use.”
“Egypt probably the country in which morphoscopic posology took its rise. Mensuration of land produced the demand for it, and the application of it to practice by the medium of trigonometry.
“Exemplified by Euclid’s data is the practical use: by their relation to accessible and measured boundaries, the dimensions, either of inaccessible, or not-without-difficulty-accessible, were thus ascertained, and by means of them the quantity of space contained within them; and thus the quantity and situation of portions of lands in the occupation or proprietorship of different individuals ascertained, when more or less of each was covered by the Nile.
“Proceeding by analysis, you take in hand a relatively large thing of any kind: you take it as you find it, and break it into parts.
“Proceeding in the way of synthesis, you take relatively small things of any kind, in any number: you put them together, and so make them into a whole.
“Proceeding—operating in the way of analysis, you do as you do by a cucumber, when you cut it into slips to be eaten, when it has been peppered, salted, and vinegared.
“Proceeding in the way of synthesis, you do by them as you do by a number of gooseberries, when you make them into a pie; or of grains of millet, when you make them into a pudding.”
“Wherever there is a word, there is a thing: so says the common notion—the result of the association of ideas.
“Wherever there is a word, there is a thing: hence the almost universal practice of confounding fictitious entities with real ones—corresponding names of fictitious entities with real ones. Hence, common law, mind, soul, virtue, vice.”
“Identity of nomenclature is certificate of identity of nature: diversity of diversity:—how absurd, how inconsistent to make the certificate a false one!”
“Not but that where ambiguity is out of the question, a new appellation having a new idea tacked to it, may be a beauty—and commonly is so;—the new idea is autant de gagné.”
“The connexion between genus and species, in links or grades, in indefinite number, one under another—call it logical concatenation.”
“Civil Code.—Power of aggregation: power of disaggregation. These are, in an indirect form, branches of the power of legislation. When the exercise given to legislative power does not apply directly to individuals, individually considered, exercise given to the power of aggregation is necessary to bring the mandate and the obligation home to individuals.”
“Under matchless constitution, the end aimed at is maximization of depredation and oppression:—oppression for the pleasure of it, and depredation for the profit of it.
“For the compassing these ends, the means which are employed, and which, so long as matchless constitution continues, matchless constitution will continue to employ, are these: Denial of justice to all but the ruling and influential few, and by the non-lawyers among these few, consent to purchase what is called justice of the lawyer tribe, that the profit upon the sale may give them a community of interest in the maintenance of the system of depredation and oppression.”
“A fixed penalty is a license in disguise.”
“A government in which the few exercise dominion over the many, does it not stand condemned by that very circumstance?”
“When interest closes the eyes, the whole force of reason cannot open them.”
“England, is it not a nation in which laws are established without any ratio-cinative articles: without reason assigned; without reason assignable; without reference to reason; without any regard to reason; in the very teeth of reason? Is not this a headless nation?”
“A many-headed Incubus is the aristocracy of England.”
“Article in Quarterly Review, for February 1830, on Law Reform. The whole of this article is in the coldest and most apathetic style, as if the subject bore no relation to human feelings: the worst and the best actions spoken of with equal indifference.”
“Make public functionaries uneasy. High-pressure engine, nothing is to be done without it. Nothing to be done by the people for their own security, but by applying to their rulers the force of the engine.”
The very last memorandum which I find made by Bentham is this:—
“I have two minds: one of which is perpetually occupied in looking at, and examining the other,—thus studying human nature, partly with a view to my own happiness,—partly with a view to that of the human species.”
The following reminiscences occur in a postscript of a business letter by Bentham to his bankers, of date 12th January, 1832:—
“Within a trifle, more or less, forty years have elapsed since I had the pleasure of being one at a convivial party with your good family on the Martin side, I believe the whole of it, in company with Dr Price, Kippis, and, I think, Priestley, at your father’s, then residing in Downing Street. I condole with you on your announced loss of that gentleman, who was, I believe, the eldest member of it. One of the members, Stone, was a school-fellow and familiar friend of mine at Westminster. I remember passing some time in his company when he was with his mother at Tunbridge Wells, about seventy-three years ago. Being some years older than myself, he can hardly be at this side of the grave at this time. Afterwards, I remember him coming in one day after dinner at our school-fellow’s, Sir W. Fitzherbert, elder brother of Lord St Helens, on his, Mr Stone’s, return from Paris, where he had been secretary to the Duke of Dorset, then our ambassador at that court. What is curious, we did not at that time recognise one another. He sat down to the piano-table, and played Malbrook*s’en va a la guerre, the beautiful little song tune which was just then come out at Paris.
“In the topsy-turvy state of the second page of this letter, you will see an effect of the weakness of my eyes; but though several of my senses and faculties are nearly gone, and several of them altogether so, my friends still keep amusing themselves with the assurance they are pleased to flatter me with, that the old philosopher will continue to cumber the ground as long as Newton did with his ninety years, or even, say some of them, Fontenelle with his 100 years.”
Sir Francis Burdett to Bentham.
“4th Feb. 1832.
“Hassan, the camel-driver, was not more delighted when, travelling o’er the desert, he received on his parched lips a drop of water from heaven, than I am at receiving your kind, and, allow me to call it, affectionate invitation; for I value your good opinion and esteem beyond that of the million far. I know nothing of the honours you suppose are awaiting me, and I assure you, in perfect sincerity of heart, I care nothing; but of this and other more interesting matters when we meet, which, God willing, shall be Sunday, for I put aside every consideration to have that pleasure.
“I hardly know the thing you could, at least, would ask of me, that I should not feel the greatest gratification in complying with. Of course there is no need to say anything about Mr Colls. Believe me,
Dear Bentham, most sincerely yours,” &c.
I had the happiness of bringing Talleyrand and Bentham together a short time before Bentham’s death. They had not met, I think, for forty years: years passed by the one in all the turbulence of political excitement; by the other, in the calm of an almost inaccessible solitude. But Bentham’s name and Bentham’s genius happened to be the subject of conversation at Talleyrand’s table: and I was struck with the warm, the unwonted admiration with which the diplomatist spoke of the philosopher. Was he accessible? Could entrance be obtained to his presence? I engaged to be the negotiator: and Bentham, after listening to me, wrote to Talleyrand what follows:—
Bentham to Talleyrand.
Do you want an appetite? The means of finding one for Friday next, is to come to this retreat, and take a Hermit’s dinner on Thursday. I say on Thursday; for thus, Bowring, whose house looks upon my garden, may enjoy your society for a few moments: that is to say, after dinner; for during dinner we must be tête-à-tête, which will be the only way of making ourselves known to each other: I give my mornings to nobody. I have so much to do, and so short a time to live, that I cannot abridge my working hours. As to visits, I have made none for many a year, neither to dine, nor for any other purpose; though dine we must, under pain of death. If Thursday suit you not, fix any other more agreeable day: Bowring departs on Saturday.
“As to wine I have nothing better than some tolerable St George: so, if this drug is a point with you, (I only use it for medicine, as I belong to the sect of the Rechabites,) you will do well to follow what a wicked wit called the example of Pitt the Second, and come to dine with your friend—a bottle of Port in each pocket.—Wholly yours.”
“To dine with Bentham; to dine alone with Bentham;—that is a pleasure which tempts me to break an engagement I have been under for several days. To-morrow (Thursday) I shall come to him: he will tell me the hour. I shall be punctual.”
“Talleyrand,” said Bentham, “was introduced to me by Dumont in 1792, at Queen’s Square Place, in the room now my library. He asked me to superintend the building of a Panopticon in Paris; for which, he said, the municipality, headed by the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, were willing to furnish funds: and the Duke’s house was offered to me for a residence of six months. When the Duke was murdered, the plan fell through.”
Talleyrand had the highest admiration of Bentham. He once said to me, that he was preëminently a genius—more entitled to the name than any man he had ever known. I once remarked to him, that of all modern writers, Bentham was the one from whom most had been stolen—and stolen without acknowledgment. “True,” he said, “et pillé de tout le monde, il est toujours riche.” And robbed by everybody, he is always rich. A higher compliment could scarcely be paid from one illustrious man to another; and from Talleyrand, whose mind rather led him to censure than to applaud, the praise has a double value.
The writer who adopted the name of Junius Redivivus having written to Bentham, giving to him the credit of having first taught that author “to think and look beneath the surface of human transactions,” Bentham requested him to throw off the mask, and to visit him. The anonymous writer thought, however, that he should best forward his objects by keeping himself sheltered from personal observation.
For some months before his death, Bentham had been anticipating the event. The loss of many of his faculties, particularly of his memory, was very obvious to him, and he frequently expressed his conviction, that mind and body were giving way together. I was absent from England a month or two before he died. So anxious was he to save me from the distress which the knowledge of his situation would have caused, that he directed certain letters of his to be sent to me, only in case of his recovery or death, lest their contents, by evidencing the state of his health, might be the cause of suffering to me. One passage is as follows:—
J. Be. to J. Bo.
“Q. S. P., 10th April, 1832.
“Sent off this moment to the Foreign-office, by the hands of Mathew, a letter of this same date. Should the matter, of which this packet is the receptacle, ever reach your hands, it will not do so till after my recovery, in which case the disorder so manifest in it will not occasion any affliction to you; or after my death, in which case it will not add to that affliction, though, as you see already, I cannot write a line in addition to those written already without addition to the confusion, the existence of which is so fully proved by the lines which it has for its predecessors. But abundant is your charity. Multitudinous, indeed, must be your sins, if so many proofs I have received of it have not covered them.
“What I perceive but too plainly is, that you are in no want of adversaries, not to say enemies, who will, of course, be on the alert to take hold of everything that can afford them a prospect of their being able to turn to your disadvantage, to which purpose will be endeavoured to be employed every communication by word of mouth. This considered, let the motto of the worshipful company of Scriveners in the city of London—the company of which my father was clerk—be on each occasion present to your mind: you will find in it, if duly observed, a rather better remedy against sufferance from calumny, than a caterpillar enclosed in a bag tied round the neck against sufferance from an ague.”
Bentham died on the 6th of June, 1832. His head reposed on my bosom. It was an imperceptible dying. He became gradually colder, and his muscular powers were deprived of action. After he had ceased to speak, he smiled, and grasped my hand. He looked at me affectionately, and closed his eyes. There was no struggle,—no suffering,—life faded into death—as the twilight blends the day with darkness.
With a view to the advancement of anatomical science, he directed that his body should be dissected; and this direction was carried into effect.
It is not my purpose to trace, even in outline, the character of Jeremy Bentham. It is best portrayed in those self-drawn sketches, and in that correspondence which are here collected. Never was it my lot to see mingled in the same human being so many qualities which exacted admiration and inspired affection: never have I witnessed so much wisdom and so much wit,—so much of the sagacity of a sage, and of the simplicity of an infant, beautifully blended. Benevolence, beneficence, on the largest scale and for the noblest ends, were the passion—if passion may be called the temperament of so calm and philosophic a spirit—were the habit of his existence. The strength of his intellect could be equalled only by the fervour of his affections,—his mental greatness by his gentleness and generosity.
He lived, not to teach alone, but to practice his own magnificent morality,—to show how the felicity of the individual might draw its habitual element from the felicity of the multitude,—how one man might, in the happiness of all men, seek and find his own highest happiness.
In all Bentham said, or did, or wrote, he was under the influence of the two great principles which form the groundwork of his philosophy: to promote felicity, and to diminish suffering. “The greatest-happiness-creating principle,” and subordinate to it “the disappointment-preventing principle,” as he denominated them, were the tests he had accustomed himself to apply to all pretensions, properties, and persons. He expressed himself sometimes with vehemence, when he thought the case required a bold exposure. Where great interests were associated with great abuses, and depredation or oppression exercised towards the many, his indignation often broke out in bitter animadversion. Yet his nature was preeminently timid and childlike. His susceptibilities were most acute; he could not tolerate the infliction of needless suffering, even upon the meanest of living things,—though his philosophy was willing to consent to its infliction, wherever a balance of good was to grow out of it.
Of human nature, Bentham had an exalted opinion. He once told me he had known many men who held honours and riches cheap, in comparison with the delight of doing useful service to their race.
By nothing was Bentham more characterized, than by these microscopic powers of intellect, which enabled him to pursue the investigation of a subject into its most minute details. Seizing the general principle with masterly grasp, he carried out its consequences into all its ramifications. Nothing seems to escape his sagacity, which, as the field of inquiry opens upon him, becomes in a high degree imaginative and inventive. He has been sometimes reproached with not applying equal attention to every branch of the same subject; but had he explored all the regions of thought and action in the same complete and exhaustive spirit which he applied to portions of the field, he would have left nothing to future intellectual labourers. What he did was wonderful in its extent and variety. He laid down the great texts of morals and legislation; and now and then worked some of them out in all their consequences, as in the instance of the Rationale of Judicial Evidence. His mind was like a mine rich in various ores, of which he taught the world only a portion of the uses; but the mine is there, and it will be worked out by others. Enough has been done to show the richness of the materials and the value of the metal. It will give forth treasures for ages.
Perhaps the “Rationale of Evidence,” more than any other of Bentham’s writings, represents the all-embracing character of his mind, as applying general principles to an immense variety of minor topics. It presents all the merits which belong to a masterly conception of the whole subject, accompanied with the utmost accuracy in, and most curious discrimination of the smallest matters of detail: on the one hand, the minutest ramification is traceable up to the great principle from which it emanates,—while, on the other, that principle is followed down with admirable acuteness through all its consequences. The varied questions as to the value of testimony are solved by a profound knowledge of the physiology of man. All the theory of evidence is built upon the solid basis of a sound philosophy. The practices of our courts,—the dicta of our judges,—the fallacies of our lawyers,—are sifted and disposed of with the most felicitous acumen. His object throughout is to distinguish between the ends of law, and the ends of justice,—to defeat the purposes of chicanery, and to forward the interests of truth.
It has been said, that Bentham was little influenced by the writings and opinions of others. This is, to a great extent, true. In early life, he had been a diligent reader of the works of other men. He was a Greek and Latin scholar; but he valued little the philosophy of the ancients. He thought their notions of government, and of the foundations of morals, vague, shifting, inconsistent, untenable. He saw, indeed, in some of them, a faint shadowing forth of the doctrine of utility, and in so far, he thought, they had penetrated into the regions of truth; but in the reverence for authority,—in what he called the ipsedixitism of the schools,—he found nothing but barriers to inquiry, and pretences to infallibility. And, perhaps, it is not to be regretted that Bentham, instead of occupying his attention with the views of other writers, was habitually engaged in pouring forth, for the use of the present and future generations, the contributions of his own. Critics enough there are in the world,—but there are few inventive, few original minds;—it may be doubted if one has appeared in our day and generation so inventive and original as Bentham’s.
But turning from Bentham’s intellectual to his moral nature,—few men have been so amiable, or so happy. In boyhood,—in youth,—in maturer life, he had much to annoy and to discourage him; but as age advanced, everything grew bright within and around him. Associates whom he loved were never wanting to his felicity. Topics of hope,—the progress of knowledge,—the viotories of reform,—the evident spread of his principles,—filled his mind with daily sources of delight. His society was eagerly sought,—his opinions consulted by the most eminent men of his day,—and he was enabled to choose for his companions those with whom he most sympathized,—with whom, and for whom he loved to labour. The daily and weekly newspapers were to him a perennial spring of enjoyment,—to the last he took the deepest interest in public matters, and in the conduct of public men. He paid little regard to the attacks of which he was sometimes the object, and, in fact, was scarcely ever known to read a criticism upon his own writings,—“Why should I be put out of my way?—I have much to do,—I have little time to do it in”—was the excuse he made to himself and others, for not being diverted from his pursuits by any attacks upon him.
Bentham attached the utmost value to time,—he husbanded all his moments with anxious care. Nothing disturbed him so much as to be called away from his beloved pursuits. In fact, he could scarcely ever be induced to receive any visiter except at his dinner-table. He never admitted any one but for some special purpose. He felt no interest in the vague generalities of conversation,—and never would gratify the curiosity of those who from curiosity alone desired to be admitted to his presence.
The striking resemblance between the persons of Franklin and Bentham has been often noticed. Of the two, perhaps, the expression of Bentham’s countenance was the more benign. Each remarkable for profound sagacity, Bentham was scarcely less so for a perpetual playfulness of manner and of expression. Few men were so sportive,—so amusing as Bentham,—none ever tempered more delightfully his wisdom with his wit. Of the wisdom that is called worldly, Franklin had, no doubt, a larger share,—for he had been a great actor as well as a great writer,—and had been engaged in the most interesting parts of the most remarkable events of his day. He was made of sterner stuff than Bentham. He lived in the eye of the world, and had to accommodate his outer man to the world’s usages,—but Bentham avoided the rush and the shock of men. “The tide of tendency” affected not the quiet repose of his mind,—except as it gave new matter for philosophical reflection, and afforded subjects to which he could apply his beneficent councils. The direct links which associated him with society were few,—but to these few he showed an affection and an attachment which exhibited him as made up of the tenderest sensibilities and sympathies.
Bentham’s industry was remarkable. As soon as he rose, he was occupied in composition, and he wrote, on an average, from ten to fifteen folio pages a-day. He was seldom satisfied with the first expression of his thoughts, and generally developed his views over and over again. He was in the habit of composing on long, ruled paper, having somewhat more than an inch in breadth ruled off, for marginalizing. This plan of condensation enabled him more easily to go over the field, and to pursue what he called his exhaustive investigations. Every page was headed with the date of its composition, which he found a great auxiliary to his thoughts. When occupied by some one subject, if something worth remembering occurred to him on another, he noted it on a slip of paper, which he pinned to a small green curtain, that hung near him, and which was sometimes covered with these disjecta membra. He collated and located them from time to time.
The manners of Bentham were polished in the highest degree. He was observant of all the minutiæ of courtesy. Every little object of desire that he could procure for his visiters he invariably procured,—the little enjoyments which he had discovered were acceptable to particular guests, were unostentatiously placed before them. His table was excellently served. He himself greatly delighted in its moderate luxuries. He began with the dessert, as he said he wholly lost the flavour of the fruit if he partook of it after the stronger viands of the first course. In the latter part of his life the sense of taste was nearly destroyed. He drank half a glass of Madeira wine daily. I believe he passed through life without a single act of intemperance.
From the period of his father’s death Bentham possessed a competence, and as far as money was needful to his enjoyments, he had no wishes ungratified. And he distributed his wealth liberally for every purpose which seemed to him likely to increase the happiness of his race. On some occasions he was even betrayed into an imprudent liberality: for he had to sustain some severe losses, the consequence of the sanguine miscalculations of his friends, which were responded to by his own eager and exciteable nature. Happily none of these losses curtailed his pleasures; and he applied to his own case his own admirable maxims,—to look always on the sunny side of things,—to forget as speedily as possible all evils that cannot be remedied,—to hunt for cheerful thoughts,—to be busied with no portion of the sorrows of the past, but that out of which some instruction or some felicity is to be derived.*
Bentham had the benefit of many distinguished followers. He was the founder of a school whose principles at all events are intelligible,—though in the elaboration of these consequences, his disciples have not always followed him. It was made a reproach to him that he was sometimes led astray by a point of detail, and would follow out a fallacy to its destruction through numberless windings, though the influence of that fallacy might be unimportant. But making war, as he did, upon sophisms and sinister interests, we cannot be surprised at his desire effectually to clear the field wherever he found it encumbered, and the examples given of what he called “the exhaustive” faculty was often highly interesting and instructive.
Bentham often confessed that nothing had been more mischievous to him than that bashfulness which clung to him like a cold garment through life. There was never a man so desirous of shunning others, unless some strong sense of duty, or prospect of usefulness, subdued his natural tendency to seclusion. On his early acquaintance with Lord Shelburne, a plan of connecting him with the East India Company, under the patronage of Captain Smith then an E. I. Director, failed. Bentham offended Lord Sydney, by not returning a visit, who had sent his son to solicit him to do so. Once, when Madam de Staël called on him, expressing an earnest desire for an audience, he sent to tell her, that he certainly had nothing to say to her, and he could not see the necessity of an interview, for anything she had to say to him. On an occasion when Mr Edgeworth, in his somewhat pompous manner, called and delivered the following message to the servant, in order to be communicated to Bentham: “Tell Mr Bentham, that Mr Richard Lovell Edgeworth desires to see him,”—he answered: “Tell Mr Richard Lovell Edgeworth, that Mr Bentham does not desire to see him.”
The leading principles of his philosophy Bentham applied to all subjects. If a book had to be considered, his inquiry was, “Is it correct? is it complete?”—correctness and completeness being the two great elements out of which truth must be constructed. His study of the laws and rules of evidence for judicial purposes, led him to apply those laws to all other testimony.
Bentham was a warm admirer of music—especially of solemn music; and of Handel’s solemn music above all other. But modern music he valued little; and least of all, light and frivolous airs.
It is not easy to estimate the extent of circulation which the writings of Bentham have obtained through the whole world. Of Dumont’s translation, M. Bossange calculated that the sales on the continent of Europe had exceeded 50,000 copies.
Bentham’s dress was peculiar out of doors. He ordinarily wore a narrow-rimmed straw-hat; from under which his long white hair fell on his shoulders, or was blown about by the winds. He had a plain brown coat, cut in the quaker style—light-brown cassimere breeches, over whose knees outside he usually exhibited a pair of white worsted stockings—list shoes he almost invariably used; and his hands were generally covered with merino-lined leather gloves. His neck was bare: he never went out without his stick “dapple” for a companion. He walked, or rather trotted, as if he were impatient for exercise; but often stopped suddenly for purposes of conversation. He was remarkable for attention to all that the French mean by their petite morale: a model of neatness and propriety himself, any the slightest deviation from good manners excited his attention, and almost always led to some playful criticism, not likely to be forgotten; for in lesser, as in greater things, he had adopted for his maxim—that a moralist, like a surgeon, should never wound but to heal.
Bentham was very fond of animals, particularly “pussies,” as he called them, “when they had domestic virtues;” but he had no particular affection for the common race of cats. He had one, however, of which he used to boast that he had “made a man of him,” and whom he was wont to invite to eat maccaroni at his own table. This puss got knighted, and rejoiced in the name of Sir John Langborn. In his early days he was a frisky, inconsiderate, and, to say the truth, somewhat profligate gentleman; and had, according to the report of his patron, the habit of seducing light and giddy young ladies, of his own race, into the garden of Queen’s Square Place: but tired at last, like Solomon, of pleasures and vanities, he became sedate and thoughtful—took to the church, laid down his knightly title, and was installed as the Reverend John Langborn. He gradually obtained a great reputation for sanctity and learning, and a Doctor’s degree was conferred upon him. When I knew him, in his declining days, he bore no other name than the Reverend Doctor John Langborn; and he was alike conspicuous for his gravity and philosophy. Great respect was invariably shown his reverence: and it was supposed he was not far off from a mitre, when old age interfered with his hopes and honours. He departed amidst the regrets of his many friends, and was gathered to his fathers, and to eternal rest, in a cemetery in Milton’s garden.
“I had a cat,” he said, “at Hendon, which used to follow me about even in the street. George Wilson was very fond of animals too. I remember a cat following him as far as Staines. There was a beautiful pig at Hendon, which I used to rub with my stick. He loved to come and lie down to be rubbed, and took to following me like a dog. I had a remarkably intellectual cat, who never failed to attend one of us when we went round the garden. He grew quite a tyrant, insisting on being fed, and on being noticed. He interrupted my labours: once he came with a most hideous yell, insisting on the door being opened. He tormented Jack (Colls) so much, that Jack threw him out of window. He was so clamorous that it could not be borne, and means were found to send him to another world. His moral qualities were most despotic—his intellectual extraordinary: but he was a universal nuisance.”
The mice were encouraged by Bentham to play about in his work-shop. I remember, when one got among his papers, that he exclaimed, “Ho! ho! here’s a mouse at work; why won’t he come into my lap?—but then I should be stroking him when I ought to be writing legislation, and that would not do.”
“I have been catching fish,” he said one day; “I have caught a carp. I shall hang him up,—feed him with bread and milk. He shall be my tame puss, and shall play about on the floor. But I have a new tame puss. I will make Roebuck my puss for his article on Canada; and many a mouse shall be catch.”
One day while we were at dinner, mice had got, as they frequently did, into the drawers of the dinner-table, and were making no small noise. “O you rascals” exclaimed Bentham: “there’s an uproar among you. I’ll tell puss of you;” and then added: “I became once very intimate with a colony of mice. They used to run up my legs, and eat crumbs from my lap. I love everything that has four legs: so did George Wilson. We were fond of mice, and fond of cats; but it was difficult to reconcile the two affections.
“From my youth I was fond of cats—as I still am. I was once playing with one in my grandmother’s room. I had heard the story of cats having nine lives, and being sure of falling on their legs; and I threw the cat out of the window on the grass-plot. When it fell, it turned towards me, looked in my face and mewed. ‘Poor thing!’ I said, ‘thou art reproaching me with my unkindness.’ I have a distinct recollection of all these things.
“Cowper’s story of his hares, had the highest interest for me when young; for I always enjoyed the society of tame animals. Wilson had the same taste—so had Romilly, who kept a noble puss before he came into great business. I never failed to pay it my respects. I remember accusing Romilly of violating the commandment in the matter of cats. My fondness for animals exposed me to many jokes. An acquaintance of Wilson’s came to dine with me, and I gave him a bed in my chambers. He had seen two beautiful asses. One of them had the name of Miss Jenny. At Ford Abbey, there was a young ass of great symmetry and beauty, to which I was much attached, and which grew much attached to me—each fondling the other.”
Bentham dined at seven o’clock, in a room he called his “Shop.” It was surrounded by books. In the centre was a platform which occupied most of the room, and around three sides of it, a narrow passage, which he named his “ditch,” or “vibrating ditch.” There was an organ in the room, which was played while we sat down to dinner. It stood opposite the door, in a place just large enough to hold the instrument and the performer, which had been cut through the platform to the floor, and which was denominated “the well,” into which a blind or heedless visiter not unfrequently fell. Upon the platform stood a bookcase named “the Caroccio,” which he could reach without leaving his chair, and a reading stand with the MSS. on which he was occupied, aplate with writing materials, sticks, pens, and pins, wax, scissors, &c. The table was never removed. Opposite him was an armchair for a single visiter, for he did not like to have conversation divided and distracted by the presence of many persons. One, sometimes two secretaries dined with him, who were honoured with the name of “reprobates.” Himself he liked to call “the Hermit,” and his house “the Hermitage.”
A usual phrase on the arrival of a visiter for dinner was, “Let me whisk you round the garden. I always indulge in an ante-prandial circumgyration.” The first time I visited him, when he came to a corner of the garden, in which is a fine sycamore tree, and behind it an obscure brick house, he suddenly stopped, and, laying Dapple on my shoulders, shouted out, “On your marrowbones, Sir!” I saw on a slab, to which he pointed, “Sacred to Milton, Prince of Poets.” It was Milton’s house,—the house he occupied when he was secretary to Cromwell. The garden was an object of special delight to Bentham, who was passionately fond of flowers, and the garden had once, he said, been distinguished for its variety of fruits; but the growing deterioration of the atmosphere had destroyed one sort after another, so that a few currants and gooseberries, with abundance of fine mulberries, were all that time and smoke had left. Anne, the housemaid and waiter, always summoned us to dinner. His table was always liberally, not to say daintily served; and when he discovered that a particular dish was a favourite, that dish was sure to be found by the guest, and often bore the guest’s name. I remember that “fried parsley” was Dr M‘Culloch’s dish, “scolloped oysters” was mine. He ate abundantly, for dinner was his only substantial meal. “Let me have the ensign of authority,” he would say, taking the bell-rope: and at ten o’clock tea was brought in; but he had a tea-pot of his own, which nobody else was allowed to use: the “sacred tea-pot,” he styled it, its profaner name was “Dick;” and Dick was always put over the lamp to sing. Many an odd phrase did Dick give birth to: “Has my Dick begun his song?—then take him off his perch.” “Take down Dicky: he is in a passion. What a piece of work he is making!” In Dicky the tea was made according to Bentham’s peculiar notions of tea-making. The water was put in at once, so that the tea might be of equal strength to the end. To the sacred vessel a history was attached. It had been given by Lind to a Dr Darsent, who had cured his wife of a dangerous disease. When Darsent died at the age of ninety, he bequeathed it to Mrs Lind, then a widow. She gave it to a servant, to whom she paid an annuity; and on her death, Bentham took that servant as his housekeeper; and when she left him in her old age, he allowed her an annuity of £45 a-year. She, however, frequently pleaded her poverty, and the insufficiency of the allowance; and as frequently got some additional money from Bentham. She left, however, a legacy of £200 to her brother; and Bentham induced her to give him, by will, the said teapot. She was an artful, crafty woman, who, having once succeeded, by hysterics, in getting some wish gratified, tried the trick again upon Bentham, when he told her he “understood hysterics, and would have no more of them”: and he had no more of them. “Much,” said Bentham, in mentioning this, “much depends on doing things in a quiet way. Try not to be angry; and if you are, do not let it be seen. People may go into hysterics—as they may shed tears at command. You may be taught to shed tears, as Cicero taught you to stamp with your foot.”
At eleven o’clock water was introduced,—his night-cap brought in, which he tied under his chin,—his watch delivered to the “reprobate” who held the office of “putter to bed,”—his eyes were washed,—his habiliments were doffed,—and during all these proceedings, which lasted exactly an hour, he kept up a perpetual and amusing chit-chat; at twelve o’clock his guests were visited with “ignominious expulsion.” He then withdrew into his room, where he slept on a hard bed. Across the bed, accessible to him even when lying down, was a shelf, covered with jars, jugs, and other conveniences. The “reprobate” usually read to him till he fell asleep,—but sometimes access was denied, and the reprobate waited in the “shop” till he called out “watch,”—the watch was delivered into the philosopher’s hands. He “made every reprobate swear fealty,” he said, “to a trinoda necessitas,—the asportation of the candle,—the transtration of the window,—idem of the trap-window,”—and when these functions were performed, he gave his benediction,—the door was shut, and he was left to his slumbers.
But his rest was often annoyed by his extreme physical sensibility. If his hand touched his body he awoke in pain. He was much disturbed by dreams,—“Last night,” he said on one occasion, “I passed the whole night with Brougham,—and so I move in various companies.”
Bentham preserved his eyesight to the end of life, though he was obliged both at morning and night to remove with a wet spunge the mucus, which otherwise, he said, would “cement his eyelids.” He was also troubled with a discharge of saliva from the corners of his mouth, and on mentioning this one day, he sang humorously:—
In this playful, buoyant spirit he always referred to his infirmities. He was, indeed, one of the happiest of men. He had seldom known illness, had scarcely ever felt pain. In the very later part of his life, he was annoyed with a cutaneous eruption; and he told me one day: “I dreamt I was living in the town of Itch, in which existence consisted of itching. It was a pretty and ingenious fancy of Condillac to endow a statue with the different senses—first separately and then collectively: why should he not have added the itching sense?”
I conclude this Memoir, by quoting the eloquent opinion on his personal character in connexion with the principles of his Philosophy, pronounced by his friend, Dr Southwood Smith:—
“The discovery and application of the true physical law at the foundation of all physical phenomena, has produced a total revolution in the philosophy of physics. The discovery and application of the true psychological law, equally at the foundation of all mental phenomena, is destined to produce a like revolution in the philosophy of morals. Before the principle announced by Newton, as affording the true exposition of the constitution and motion of all physical bodies, has already fallen every other theory, how remote soever the antiquity in which it took its origin, how plausible soever the solution it gave of apparent but deceptive phenomena, how great soever the ability with which it had been defended, and the authority by which it had been sanctioned: before the principle announced by Bentham, as affording the only true theory; and directing to the only right and proper object and end of morals, legislation, and government, is destined to fall every institution, however ancient, how much soever eulogised, how deeply soever venerated, by whomsoever pronounced to be the perfection of human reason, which is not really conducive to human happiness; every law, constitutional, civil, and penal, with whatever danger to partial and sinister interests its abrogation may be pregnant, which is not conducive to security, to liberty, and to justice; every mode of procedure in the administration of the law which does not render justice accessible, speedy, and cheap—which does not minimize delay, vexation, and expense; every rule of conduct, whether relating to public or to private life, the observance of which does not tend to educe, from the source of pleasure it is intended to regulate and control, the largest obtainable amount of felicity, and to exclude, in the completest degree, the corresponding pain with which almost every pleasure is but too apt to be linked; every sanction, physical, judicial, moral, and religious, which does not secure, at the smallest cost of suffering, the most perfect and uniform conformity of the general will and action to the appointed rule.
“And, in like manner, upon this same principle, will ultimately be established whatever institution, law, procedure, rule, and sanction, human sagacity and experience may prove to be productive of happiness and exclusive of misery, however its adoption may be obstructed for a time by ignorance, by sinister interest, and by prejudice growing out of such interest.
“And had the human mind applied itself with all its faculties, with all the energy which those faculties are capable of putting forth, with sincerity of purpose, and with perseverance, to the adoption of institutions, laws, procedures, rules, and sanctions, having such, and only such ends in view; had it devoted itself to this pursuit, from that point of civilisation in the history of our race, which is compatible with labour of this sort, up to the present hour, what would now have been the condition of human society! What would now have been the amount of obtainable felicity, felicity actually and hourly enjoyed by the millions of human beings that make up that vast aggregate!
“If in every community, in proportion as it advanced in civilisation, every institution, constitutional and social; every law, civil and penal; every mode of procedure, judicial and criminal; every rule of action, public and private; every sanction, physical, penal, moral, and religious, had been framed with the sole purpose of securing “the greatest happiness of all its members, the greatest happiness of all of them, without exception, in as far as possible, and the greatest happiness of the greatest number of them on every occasion in which the nature of the case renders the provision of an equal quantity of happiness for every one of them impossible;’ framed with this view, with all the intellectual power which might have been engaged in this service, aided by all the experience accumulated from generation to generation, and to the stores of which every hour of every day must, without ceasing, add; framed, that is, with all the wisdom at all times at command, wisdom necessarily approximating to perfection, with the progression of time—had this been done, not to speak of new sources of pleasure which might, and which probably would have been opened, but of which we have now no conception; not to speak of new creations of felicity, the existence of which, however within the range of possibility, must be admitted to be imaginary, until actually in existence; not to speak of any pleasures the reality and the value of which are not well known and duly appreciated—had the real, the uniform purpose, been what I have been supposing, how many pleasures, now within the reach only of the few, would then have been in the possession of the many; and how many pains, from which only the few have now the means of security, would then have been averted from all!
“The contrast thus presented to the mind, between the condition of the great mass of human beings as it is, as it might have been, and as it actually would have been, had legislators and moralists aimed at the right end, and pursued it with singleness and sincerity, will be contemplated by every man with a degree of pain proportioned to the strength of his understanding, and the intensity of his sympathy.
“At an age when the intellectual power which he felt within him was in its freshness, when the moral affections which warmed his heart were unchilled by contact with the world—when the affectionate sympathy for his fellow-beings, which formed so large a part of his consciousness, and which subsequently became the ruling passion of his life, was in its first ardour, this contrast, in its full force, was brought before the view of this illustrious man. Destined by the will of his father to the study and practice of the English law, he commenced the study, and entered on the practice. But what was the position in which he found himself placed? What, when examined by a simple and clear understanding—what, when the practical operation of it came to be witnessed by a pure and benevolent heart—was the English law? Like every one else, for ages past, he had been told that it was the perfection of human reason. According to those who taught it, according to those who practised it, according to those who subsisted by it, according even to those who suffered by it—suffered evils countless in number and measureless in extent, it was matchless alike for the purity of its aims, and the efficiency of the means provided for their accomplishment; it was a fabric reared by the most exalted intellects; reared with incredible labour, through a long succession of ages, with a difficulty not to be estimated, yet with a skill so admirable, and a result so felicitous, as had never before been witnessed in any work merely human. The understanding that did not bow down before it, that did not worship it with prostrate reverence, was low and base: the hand that was raised to touch so much as a single particle of it, to change it, was profane. It was the master-production of the matured, experienced, and virtuously-disposed human mind; it was the wonder and perfection of civilisation; it gave to this blessed country that amazing amount of felicity, by the enjoyment of which its people have been so long distinguished from all other people in the world, making them the glory of the earth, the envy of the surrounding nations.
“Such was the language universally held, and the doctrine universally inculcated; and that not merely with religious ardour, but with enthusiast zeal; and inculcated alike from the humble desk of the village school, the pulpit, the bar, the bench, the senate, and the throne.
“And yet the English law thus idolised, when the substance of it came to be examined by a simple and clear understanding—when the mode of administering it came to be witnessed by a pure and benevolent heart, what was it found to be? The substantive part of it, whether as written in books or expounded by judges, a chaos, fathomless and boundless; the huge and monstrous mass being made up of fiction, tautology, technicality, circuity, irregularity, and inconsistency: the administrative part of it, a system of exquisitely contrived chicanery; a system made up of abuses; a system which constantly places the interest of the judicial minister in opposition to his duty; so places his interest in opposition to his duty, that in the very proportion in which it serves his ends, it defeats the ends of justice; a system of self-authorized and unpunishable depredation; a system which encourages mendacity, both by reward and punishment; a system which puts fresh arms into the hands of the injurer, to annoy and distress the injured; in a word, a system which maximizes delay, sale, and denial of justice.
“ ‘Shall I uphold this vile system?’ said this just and benevolent man. ‘Shall the prospect of obtaining wealth, shall the hope of being what is called rewarded with titles and honours, tempt me to assist in perpetuating it? Shall I do what in me lies to extend the wide-spread misery which flows from it? No. I will exhibit it in its true shape; I will strip off the veil of mystery which has so long concealed its deformity; I will destroy it. I will do more. For this chaos I will substitute order; for this darkness, light; for this evil, good. The maximum of the aggregate of happiness—by this test I will try evil and good; this shall be my standard, this my guide. I will survey the entire range of human feelings and volitions—such at least as can assume the shape of actions; and as they pass in review before me, I will determine by this rule what shall be sanctioned, and what prohibited. I will rear the fabric of felicity by the hands of reason and of law!’
“With powers of mind fitted for an undertaking thus stupendous, such as in no age or country had ever before been equalled, or even so much as approached; with an ardour and energy such as in no cause, bad or good, had ever been surpassed, he betook himself to the accomplishment of this work. No difficulty stopped him; no danger appalled him; no labour exhausted him; no temptation, whether assuming the shape of good or of evil, moved him; fortune he disregarded; the pursuit of what is called pleasure he renounced; praise could as little bend him from his course, as blame could check it; human fear, human favour, had no control, no influence over him; human happiness was his object, judicial institution his means; and the completeness with which he has succeeded in developing the means, is comparable only to the beneficence of the end.
In order to create, it was necessary that he should destroy; in order to build up, it was necessary that he should pull down; in order to establish law as it ought to be, it was necessary that he should demolish law as it is. Alone he went to the assault, alone he carried it on; every weapon, every mode of attack—ridicule, reasoning, invective, wit, eloquence, sarcasm, declamation, demonstration—all were pressed into his service, and each in its turn became in his hands a powerful instrument. His efforts were regarded first with astonishment, next with indignation. When he was no longer looked upon as a madman, he was hated as an enemy. He was endeavouring to subvert the most glorious of human institutions; institutions which had raised his country to the highest pinnacle of power and happiness; institutions which time, and the experience which time matures, had shown to be at least the nearest approach to perfection which the wit of man had ever devised. Such declarations (and such delarations were made in abundance, and were reiterated with all the eloquence which large bribes given now, and larger bribes promised in future, could secure) did but redouble his efforts to expose the delusion; to show that reason had seldom anything to do in the construction of the institutions thus idolised; that they seldom aimed at the right end, and still seldomer provided adequate means to accomplish the end even as far as the aim was right. Long and earnestly did he labour without any apparent effect; but at last some impression was made; the scales fell from the eyes of men of powerful intellects in commanding stations; the imposture became palpable; the monstrous idolatry before which men had allowed their understandings and their affections to fall prostrate, was seen in its true shape. A revulsion of feeling followed. Point after point was submitted to rigorous examination. Champion after champion stood forth in defence of each; champion after champion was driven from his position, however impregnable he thought it; and now, scarcely a single champion remains. The cumbrous fabric is abandoned; it totters to its fall; it is undermined; it is known to be so. The general admission is, that the law of England, as it is, cannot stand; that it must be taken down, and reconstructed. Glory to the hand that has destroyed it! Glory to the hand that has built up the beautiful structure reared in its place!
“I will endeavour, in few words, to give some conception of the foundation of this new structure; of its main compartments; of its form, such as it has assumed in the hands of its architect, now capable of no further labour. Happily, however, as you will see, what remains to complete the edifice can be furnished by other hands.
“Comprehending in his view the entire field of legislation, this legislator divided it into two great portions—internal law and international law; internal law including the legislative ordinances that concern an individual community; international law, those that concern the intercourse of different communities with each other. His chief labour was directed to the construction of an all-comprehensive system or code (that is, law written and systematic) of internal law. Under the term Pannomion, a term derived from two Greek words, signifying “the whole body of the laws,” he has constructed such a code. This all-comprehensive code is divided into four minor codes; the Constitutional, the Civil, the Penal, and the Administrative. The Constitutional Code includes the several ordinances which relate to the form of the supreme authority, and the mode by which its will is to be carried into effect. The Civil Code includes the several ordinances which relate to the creation or constitution of rights, and is termed the Right-conferring Code. The Penal Code includes the several ordinances which relate to the creation or constitution of offences, and is termed the Wrong-repressing Code. The Administrative Code includes the several ordinances which relate to the mode of executing the whole body of the laws, and is termed the Code of Procedure. Conduciveness to the maximum of the aggregate of happiness—that is the end in view. Each code is a distinct instrument specially adapted to secure this end. Each code has not, indeed, been left by him in a state of completeness; but in no part of either, as far as it has been developed, is place given to a single enactment which has not for its object, immediately or remotely, the production of pleasure and the exclusion of pain. In no part, either of what he has himself done, or marked out to be done by others, is anything commanded—in no part is anything forbidden, but as it is, and in as far as it is, conducive to or subversive of happiness;—no constitutional provision, determining the form of the government and the mode of its operation—no action, bearing the seal of approbation or of disapprobation, selected as the subject of reward or of punishment, which is not brought to this standard and tried by this test. It is only as the details under these two great divisions are studied, that it is possible to form a conception of the steadiness with which this end is kept in view, and the wisdom with which the means devised are adapted to secure it. To the Civil Code he has done the least; but even of this he has laid the foundation, and provided important materials for building up the fabric. For the Constitutional Code he has done enough to render its completion comparatively easy; while the all-important branches of Offences, of Reward and Punishment, of Procedure, of Evidence, have been worked out by him with a comprehensiveness and minuteness which may be said to have exhausted these subjects, and to have left little or nothing in relation to them for any other man to do or to desire.*
“But his labours did not terminate here. He found the science of morals in the same state of darkness as that of legislation. The Fitness of Things, the Law of Nature, Natural Justice, Natural Equity, Good Order, Truth, the Will of God—such were the tests of good and evil, the standards of right and wrong, heretofore assumed by moralists. Every different moralist had a different fancy which he made his standard, and a different taste which he made his test of good or evil; and the degree of conformity or non-conformity to that taste, the indication of the degree of desert, and consequently the measure of reward and punishment.†
“But by establishing the foundation of morals on the principle of felicity; by showing that every action is right or wrong, virtuous or vicious, deserving of approbation or disapprobation, in proportion to its tendency to increase or to diminish the amount of happiness, this philosopher supplied what was so much needed in morals, at once an infallible test and an all-powerful motive. Happiness is the standard and the test, happiness is equally the motive; can there be, if this be not a certain test? can there be, if this be not an all-powerful motive? Conduciveness to happiness—this it is that constitutes the goodness of an action; this it is that renders an action a duty; this it is which supplies a motive to the performance of duty not to be resisted. I am satisfied that a particular course of conduct will conduce to my happiness: do I need any other inducement to make me pursue that course? can I resist the influence of this inducement? No. As long as this is my conviction, as long as this conviction is present to my mind, it is no more possible for me to refrain from pursuing the course of conduct in question, than it is possible for my body to refuse to obey the law of gravitation.
“The object of the science of morals, then, is to show what is really conducive to happiness; the happiness of every individual man; the happiness of all men taken together, considered as forming one great aggregate; the happiness of all beings whatever, that are capable of the impression: for the science, in its enlarged sense, embraces not only the human race, but the whole of the sentient creation.
“According to the felicitarian philosophy, there is no contrariety, and there never can be any real contrariety, between happiness and duty. In the true and comprehensive sense of those terms, happiness and duty are identical; always so; and always necessarily so. They do not always appear to be so; but it is the business of the moralist to show, that whenever an apparent contrariety exists, the appearance is delusive. When he has accomplished this, he has effected his end; because, when he has accomplished this, my will—my action, as necessarily follows in the direction in which it is his purpose to guide it, as a stone projected from the earth necessarily falls to the earth again.
“And the apparent contrariety between happiness and duty, from what does it arise? Either from the representation of that as happiness which is not happiness, or from the representation of that as duty which is not duty. And what is at the bottom of this misrepresentation? Either I take into view only my own gratification, to the exclusion of the gratification of others; or I take into view only my immediate gratification, to the exclusion of a higher gratification at some future period; or I commit both errors at once. Now, it is the business of the moralist to prevent me from falling into either; to make me acquainted with the cases in relation to which the gratification of others is essential to my own; in relation to which my own gratification must necessarily flow from the gratification of others; in relation to which, if I attempt to pursue my own gratification without taking into account the gratification of others, and more especially at the expense of their gratification, instead of securing happiness to myself, I shall be sure to involve myself in suffering: to make me acquainted, in like manner, with the cases in relation to which it is necessary that I should take a comprehensive view of happiness; that I should consider not merely the pleasure of the moment or the hour, but the pleasure of the year, or the remainder of my life. To make these matters as clear to my understanding as the light of day is visible to my eye, is the business of the moralist; often, no doubt, a difficult task: because, although the connexion between a certain course of conduct, and happiness and misery, may be quite as real, and quite as invariable, as that between light and vision, yet not being so immediate, the invariableness of the sequence is not so clearly seen by the mind. To bring this sequence out from the obscurity in which it may be involved, and to make it manifest; to discover and to show what moral antecedents are invariably followed by what moral sequents; to establish in the mind a conviction of this invariableness of connexion between the one and the other—this is the province of the moralist. As he multiplies the antecedents and sequents, in regard to which he makes out the fact that there is this invariableness of relation, he enlarges his science; in proportion to the completeness with which he fixes in the mind a conviction of this relation, he fulfils its end.
“It is this which our great legislator and moralist ever kept steadily in view. Whatever it is for a man’s happiness to do, or to abstain from doing, that, as a legislator, he commands or forbids; whatever it is for a man’s happiness to do, or to abstain from doing, that, as a moralist, he makes it his duty to pursue or to avoid.*
In selecting, as a legislator, the subjects of reward and punishment, he is invariably guided by this principle: that if, by misrepresentation of consequences, by erroneous reasoning, or by fear of punishment, whether physical, moral, political, or religious, a man be prohibited from the enjoyment of any real pleasure, from whatever source derived, an injury is inflicted upon him equal in amount to the balance of pleasure of which he is deprived. For this reason, in no single instance, in any law proposed by him, is anything commanded which is not, in some shape or other, conducive to pleasure; nor anything forbidden, which is not, in some shape or other, conducive to pain.
“In like manner, in deciding, as a moralist, what is proper or improper, right or wrong, virtuous or vicious, he is guided by the principle, that every one must determine, from his own experience, what is pleasurable and what is painful; that no one has a right to insist, that what is gratification to him, and only what is gratification to him, shall be gratification to another; that for any man, in the capacity of a moralist, to say—‘If I do this, I shall get no preponderance of pleasure; but if you do this, you may get a preponderance of pleasure, yet it is not proper that you should do it,’ is absurdity: that if such moralist apply evil in any shape to prevent the act, it is injustice and injury; that if he call in the powers of government to prevent the act, it is tyranny: that nevertheless there are pleasures which are pure, that is, unmixed with pain; pleasures which are lasting; pleasures which are cumulative, the very capacity for enjoying them continually increasing with the indulgence: that these are the truest, because the greatest pleasures; that these deserve the most careful cultivation: but that to imagine that any pleasure can come from a bad source; that whatever yields pleasure, that is, preponderance of pleasure, is not good—good for that reason, and in that proportion—is to despise one pleasure because it is not another, to despise a smaller pleasure because it is not a greater; which is absurd. What a cultivation of happiness is here! What true husbandry of it! What a thorough rooting-out of the tares so often sown with the wheat while the legislator and the moralist have slept!
“After this account of the labours of the philosopher, you will perhaps be desirous of knowing something of his private history and habits; and there are some points relative to both, which now assume a peculiar interest.
“Jeremy Bentham was born at the residence of his father, adjacent to Aldgate Church, in London, on the 15th of February, 1747-8, and died in Queen’s Square Place, Westminster, where he had resided nearly half a century, on the 6th of June, 1832, being in the 85th year of his age. He was a precocious child. At the age of three years, he read Rapin’s History of England as an amusement. At the age of five, he had acquired a knowledge of musical notes, and played on the violin. At the age of seven, he read Télémaque in French. At the age of eight, he entered Westminster School, where he soon became distinguished. At the age of thirteen, he was admitted a member of Queen’s College, Oxford, where he at once engaged in public disputations in the Common Hall, and excited, by the acuteness of his observations, the precision of his terms, and the logical correctness of his inductions, the surprise and admiration of all who heard him. At the age of sixteen, he took his degree of A.B.; and at the age of twenty that of A.M.; being the youngest graduate that had at that time been known at either of the Universities. From early childhood, such was the contemplative turn of his mind, and the clearness and accuracy with which he observed whatever came under his notice, that at the age of five years he had already acquired the name of ‘the philosopher,’ being familiarly called so by the members of his family; and such, even in his youth, were the indications of that benevolence to which his manhood and his old age were consecrated, that a celebrated statesman, who at that period had conceived an affection for him, and with whom he spent most of his time during the interval of his leaving Westminster School and going to Oxford, speaks of him, in a letter to his father, in these remarkable words—‘His disinterestedness, and his originality of character, refresh me as much as the country air does a London physician.’
“The qualities which already formed the charm of his character, and which grew with his growth and strengthened with his strength, were truth and simplicity. Truth was deeply founded in his nature as a principle; it was devotedly pursued in his life as an object; it exercised, even in early youth, an extraordinary influence over the operations of his mind and the affections of his heart; and it was the source of that moral boldness, energy, and consistency, for which, from the period of manhood to the close of life, he was so distinguished. There was nothing in the entire range of physical, moral, or legislative science; nothing whatever relating to any class of subjects that could be presented to his understanding; nothing, however difficult other men thought it, or pretended to think it—or with whatever superstitious, political, or religious reverence and awe they regarded, or affected to regard it, which he did not approach without fear, to the very bottom of which he did not endeavour to penetrate: the mystery regarding which he did not strive to clear away; the real, the whole truth of which, he did not aim to bring to light. Nor was there any consideration—no, not even apparent danger to the cause he advocated, though, by the desertion of friends and the clamour of foes, that cause might seem for a while to be put in jeopardy, that could induce him to conceal any conclusion at which he arrived, and of the correctness of which he was satisfied, or could prevent him from expressing it in the most appropriate language at his command. It was not possible to apply his principle to all the points and bearings of all the subjects included in the difficult and contested field of legislation, government, and morals,—to apply it as he applied it, acutely, searchingly, profoundly, unflinchingly,—without consequences at first view startling, if not appalling, to strong minds and stout hearts. They startled not, they appalled not him, mind or heart. He had confidence in his guide; he was satisfied that he might go with unfaltering step wherever it led; and with unfaltering step he did go wherever it led. Hence his singleness of purpose; hence, in all his voluminous writings, in all the multiplicity of subjects which have come under his investigation, as well those which he has exhausted, as those which he has merely touched; as well those which are uncomplicated by sinister interests and the prejudices which grow out of them, as those which are associated with innumerable false judgments and wrong affections: hence, in regard to not one of them does a single case occur in which he has swerved from his principle or faltered, or so much as shown the slightest indication of faltering in the application of it.
“That he might be in the less danger of falling under the influence of any wrong bias, he kept himself as much as possible from all personal contact with what is called the world. Had he engaged in the active pursuits of life—money-getting, power-acquiring pursuits—he, like other men so engaged, must have had prejudices to humour, interests to conciliate, friends to serve, enemies to subdue; and therefore, like other men under the influence of such motives, must sometimes have missed the truth, and sometimes have concealed or modified it. But he placed himself above all danger of this kind, by retiring from the practice of the profession for which he had been educated, and by living in a simple manner on a small income allowed him by his father: and when, by the death of his father, he at length came into the possession of a patrimony which secured him a moderate competence, from that moment he dismissed from his mind all further thought about his private fortune, and bent the whole powers of his mind without distraction to his legislative and moral labours. Nor was he less careful to keep his benevolent affections fervent, than his understanding free from wrong bias. He surrounded himself only with persons whose sympathies were like his own, and whose sympathies he might direct to their appropriate objects in the active pursuits of life. Though he himself took no part in the actual business of legislation and government, yet, either by personal communication or confidential correspondence with them, he guided the minds of many of the most distinguished legislators and patriots, not only of his own country, but of all countries in both hemispheres. To frame weapons for the advocates of the reform of the institutions of his own country, was his daily occupation and his highest pleasure; and to him resorted, for counsel and encouragement, the most able and devoted of those advocates; while the patriots and philanthropists of Europe, as well as those of the New World, the countrymen of Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, together with the legislators and patriots of South America, speak of him as a tutelary spirit, and declare the practical application of his principles to be the object and end of their labours.
“While he availed himself of every means in his power of forming and cherishing a friendship with whoever in any country indicated remarkable benevolence; while Howard was his intimate friend—a friend delighted alike to find and to acknowledge in him a superior beneficent genius; while Romilly was not only the advocate of his opinions in the Senate, but the affectionate and beloved disciple in private; while for the youth La Fayette, his junior contemporary, he conceived an affection which in the old age of both was beautiful for the freshness and ardour with which it continued to glow; while there was no name in any country known and dear to Liberty and Humanity which was not known and dear to him, and no person bearing such name that ever visited England who was not found at his social board, he would hold intercourse with none of any rank or fame whose distinction was unconnected with the promotion of human improvement, and much less whose distinction arose from the zeal and success with which they laboured to keep back improvement. That the current of his own benevolence might experience no interruption or disturbance, he uniformly avoided engaging in any personal controversy; he contended against principles and measures, not men; and for the like reason he abstained from reading the attacks made upon himself, so that the ridicule and scoffing, the invective and malignity, with which he was sometimes assailed, proved as harmless to him as to his cause. By the society he shunned, as well as by that which he sought, he endeavoured to render his social intercourse subservient to the cultivation, to the perpetual growth and activity, of his benevolent sympathies.
“With such care over his intellectual faculties and his moral affections, and with the exalted direction which he gave to both, his own happiness could not but be sure. Few human beings have enjoyed a greater portion of felicity; and such was the cheerfulness which this internal happiness gave to the expression of his countenance and the turn of his conversation, that few persons ever spent an evening in his society, however themselves favoured by fortune, who did not depart with the feeling of satisfaction at having beheld such an object of emulation. Even in his writings, in the midst of profound and comprehensive views, there oftentimes break forth a sportiveness and humour no less indicative of gaiety of heart, than the most elaborate and original of his investigations are of a master-mind: but this gaiety was characteristic of his conversation, in which he seldom alluded, except in a playful manner, to the great subjects of his labours. A child-like simplicity of manner, combined with a continual playfulness of wit, made you forget that you were in the presence of the most acute and penetrating genius; made you conscious only that you were in the presence of the most innocent and gentle, the most consciously and singularly happy of human beings. And from this the true source of politeness, a benevolent and happy mind, endeavouring to communicate the pleasure of which it is itself conscious, flowed those unobtrusive, but not the less real and observant, attentions of which every guest perceived the grace and felt the charm. For the pleasures of the social board he had a relish as sincere, and perhaps as acute, as those who are capable of enjoying no others; and he partook of them freely, as far as they are capable of affording their appropriate good, without any admixture of the evils which an excessive indulgence in them is sure to bring. After dinner, it was his custom to enter with his disciple or friend (for seldom more than one, and never more than two, dined with him on the same day) on the discussion of the subject, whatever it might be, which had brought them together; and it was at this time also, that, in the form of dictation, in relation to those subjects which admit of this mode of composition, his disciple writing down his words as he uttered them, he treated of some of the subjects which have occupied his closest attention, and in the investigation of which he has displayed the greatest degree of originality and invention. In this manner was composed the greatest part of the Deontology, and nearly the whole of his Autobiography. At all times it was a fine exercise of the understanding, and sometimes an exquisite gratification of the noblest and best feelings of the heart, to be engaged in this service.
“He was capable of great severity and continuity of mental labour. For upwards of half a century he devoted seldom less than eight, often ten, and occasionally twelve hours of every day, to intense study. This was the more remarkable, as his physical constitution was by no means strong. His health, during the periods of childhood, youth, and adolescence, was infirm; it was not until the age of manhood that it acquired some degree of vigour: but that vigour increased with advancing age, so that during the space of sixty years he never laboured under any serious malady, and rarely suffered even from slight indisposition; and at the age of eighty-four he looked no older, and constitutionally was not older, than most men are at sixty; thus adding another illustrious name to the splendid catalogue which establishes the fact, that severe and constant mental labour is not incompatible with health and longevity, but conducive to both, provided the mind be unanxious and the habits temperate.
“He was a great economist of time. He knew the value of minutes. The disposal of his hours, both of labour and of repose, was a matter of systematic arrangement; and the arrangement was determined on the principle, that it is a calamity to lose the smallest portion of time. He did not deem it sufficient to provide against the loss of a day or an hour: he took effectual means to prevent the occurrence of any such calamity to him: but he did more: he was careful to provide against the loss even of a single minute; and there is on record no example of a human being who lived more habitually under the practical consciousness that his days are numbered, and that ‘the night cometh, in which no man can work.’
“The last days of the life even of an ordinary human being are seldom altogether destitute of interest; but when exalted wisdom and goodness have excited a high degree of admiration and love, the heart delights to treasure up every feeling then elicited, and every word in which that feeling was expressed. It had long been his wish that I should be present with him during his last illness. There seemed to be on his mind an apprehension, that, among the organic changes which gradually take place in the corporeal system in extreme old age, it might be his lot to labour under some one, the result of which might be great and long-continued suffering. In this case, he knew that I should do everything in my power to diminish pain and to render death easy; the contributing to the euthanasia forming, in my opinion, as he knew, no unimportant part of the duty of the physician. On the possible protraction of life, with the failure of the intellectual powers, he could not think without great pain; but it was only during his last illness, that is, a few weeks before his death, that any apprehension of either of these evils occurred to him. From the former he suffered nothing; and from the latter, as little as can well be, unless when death is instantaneous. The serenity and cheerfulness of his mind, when he became satisfied that his work was done, and that he was about to lie down to his final rest, was truly affecting. On that work he looked back with a feeling which would have been a feeling of triumph, had not the consciousness of how much still remained to be done, changed it to that of sorrow that he was allowed to do no more: but this feeling again gave place to a calm but deep emotion of exultation, as he recollected that he left behind him able, zealous, and faithful minds, that would enter into his labours and complete them.
“The last subject on which he conversed with me, and the last office in which he employed me, related to the permanent improvement of the circumstances of a family, the junior member of which had contributed in some degree to his personal comfort; and I was deeply impressed and affected by the contrast thus brought to my view, between the selfishness and apathy so often the companions of age, and the generous care for the welfare of others, of which his heart was full.
“Among the very last things which his hand penned, in a book of memoranda, in which he was accustomed to note down any thought or feeling that passed through his mind, for future revision and use, if susceptible of use, was found the following passage:—‘I am a selfish man, as selfish as any man can be. But in me, somehow or other, so it happens, selfishness has taken the shape of benevolence. No other man is there upon earth, the prospect of whose sufferings would to me be a pleasurable one: no man is there upon earth, the sight of whose sufferings would not to me be a more or less painful one: no man upon earth is there, the sight of whose enjoyments, unless believed by me to be derived from a more than equivalent suffering endured by some other man, would not be of a pleasurable nature rather than of a painful one. Such in me is the ‘force of sympathy!’
“And this ‘force of sympathy’ governed his very last hour of consciousness. Some time before his death, when he firmly believed he was near that last hour, he said to one of his disciples, who was watching over him:—‘I now feel that I am dying: our care must be to minimize the pain. Do not let any of the servants come into the room, and keep away the youths: it will be distressing to them, and they can be of no service. Yet I must not be alone: you will remain with me, and you only; and then we shall have reduced the pain to the least possible amount.’
“Such were his last thoughts and feelings; so perfectly, so beautifully did he illustrate, in his own example, what it was the labour of his life to make others!”
[* ] See this incident in Chapter viii.
[* ] The Spaniards have an admirable apopthegm, which Bentham was wont to admire: “¿Si hay remedio porque te apuras?—¿si no hay remedio porque te apuras?” If there be a remedy, why dost thou worry thyself?—if there be no remedy why dost thou worry thyself?
[* ] “It will be long before the mass of educated people in this country are sufficiently advanced to read and appreciate these profound and admirable works; but the time is not distant, when, however they may be now neglected by the present members of our legislature, it will be universally deemed alike absurd and disgraceful for any man to aspire to the character, much less to the seat of a legislator, who has not made them his study.”
[† ] “In his work on Legislation and Morals, this philosopher had long ago laid down the principle of felicity as the basis of morals, and shown that all other foundations attempted to be established, different as they are, and even opposite as they seem to be, to each other, are capable of being reduced to two—asceticism and sentimentalism. The principle of asceticism, like that of felicity, approves or disapproves of an action according to its tendency to augment or diminish happiness, but in an inverse manner; approving of an action in as far as it tends to diminish happiness, disapproving of it in as far as it tends to augment it. Whoever reprobates any the least particle of pleasure, as such, from whatever source derived, is, pro tanto, a partisan of the principle of asceticism. The principle of felicity is capable of being consistently pursued, that of asceticism is not. Let but one-tenth part of the inhabitants of this earth pursue it consistently, and in one day’s time they will have turned it into a hell.
“By the principle of sentimentalism is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of an action, not on account of its tendency to augment or to diminish happiness, but because a person finds himself disposed to approve or disapprove of the action in question; that approbation or disapprobation being assumed as sufficient of itself, and the necessity of looking out for any external ground being expressly disclaimed. This is not so much a positive principle, as a term employed to signify the negation of all principle. A principle is something which points out some external consideration as a means of warranting and guiding the internal sentiment of approbation and disapprobation: but that which merely holds up each of these sentiments as a ground and standard for itself, is not worthy of the name.
“In examining the catalogue of human actions with a view of determining which are to be marked with the seal of disapprobation, (says a partisan of this principle,) you need but to take counsel of your own feelings. Whatever you find in yourself a propensity to condemn, is wrong for that very reason. For the same reason, it is also meet for punishment. The proportion in which it is adverse to happiness, the not being adverse to happiness at all, is of no manner of consequence. The degree of disapprobation you feel, is also the measure of punishment. If you hate much, punish much; if you hate little, punish little: punish as you hate. If you hate not at all, punish not at all. The fine feelings of the soul are not to be outborne and tyrannized by the hard and rugged dictates of political utility.
“The various principles that have been formed concerning the standard of right and wrong, may all be reduced to this principle of sympathy and antipathy. One account may serve for all of them. They all consist in so many contrivances for avoiding the obligation of appealing to any external standard, and in referring to the sentiment of approbation or disapprobation as the ultimate reason or the true standard. It is curious to observe the variety of inventions contrived for this purpose; the phrases different,—the principle the same.
“Thus, one man says he has a thing made on purpose to tell him what is right and what is wrong, and that it is called a moral sense; and then he goes to work at his ease, and says such a thing is right, and such a thing is wrong—Why? ‘Because my moral sense tells me it is.’
“Another man comes, and alters the phrase; leaving out moral, and putting in common in the room of it. He then tells you that his common sense teaches him what is right and wrong as surely as the other’s moral sense did; meaning by common sense, a sense of some kind or other, which, he says, is possessed by all mankind: the sense of those whose sense is not the same as the author’s being struck out of the account as not worth taking. This contrivance does better than the other; for a moral sense, being a new thing, a man may feel about him a good while without being able to find it out. But common sense is as old as the creation; and there is no man but would be ashamed to be thought not to have as much of it as his neighbours. It has another great advantage—by appearing to share power, it lessens envy; for when a man gets up upon this ground, in order to anathematise those who differ from him, it is not by a sic volo sic jubeo, but by a velitis jubeatis.
“Another man comes, and says, that as to a moral sense, indeed, he cannot find that he has any such thing; that, however, he has an understanding, which will do quite as well. This understanding, he says, is the standard of right and wrong—it tells him so and so. All good and wise men understand as he does; if other men’s understandings differ in any point from his, so much the worse for them—it is a sure sign they are either defective or corrupt.
“Another man says, that there is an eternal and immutable Rule of Right; that that rule of right dictates so and so; and then he begins giving you his sentiments upon anything that comes uppermost; and these sentiments (you are to take for granted) are so many branches of the eternal Rule of Right.
“Another man, or perhaps the same man, (it is no matter,) says, that there are certain practices conformable, and others repugnant, to the Fitness of Things; and then he tells you, at his leisure, what practices are conformable, and what repugnant: just as he happens to like a practice, or dislike it.
“A great multitude of people are constantly talking of the Law of Nature; and then they go on giving you their sentiments about what is right and what is wrong: and these sentiments, you are to understand, are so many chapters and sections of the Law of Nature. Instead of the phrase Law of Nature, you have sometimes Law of Reason, Right Reason, Natural Justice, Natural Equity, Good Order. Any of them will do equally well.
“We have one philosopher who says, there is no harm in anything in the world but in telling a lie; and that if, for example, you were to murder your own father, this would only be a particular way of saying, he was not your father. Of course, when this philosopher sees anything that he does not like, he says, ‘It is a particular way of telling a lie: it is saying that the act ought to be done, when, in truth, it ought not to be done.’
“The fairest and openest of them all is that sort of man who speaks out, and says, ‘I am of the number of the Elect: now God himself takes care to inform the Elect what is right; and that with so good effect, that, let them strive ever so, they cannot help not only knowing it, but practising it. If, therefore, a man wants to know what is right and what is wrong, he has nothing to do but to come to me.’
“The mischief common to all these ways of thinking and arguing (which, in truth, as we have seen, are but one and the same method, couched in different forms of words) is their serving as a cloak, and pretence, and aliment to despotism: if not a despotism in practice, a despotism, however, in disposition, which is but too apt, when pretence and power offer, to show itself in practice. The consequence is, that, with intentions very commonly of the purest kind, a man becomes a torment either to himself or his fellow-creatures. If he be of the melancholy cast, he sits in silent grief, bewailing their blindness and depravity; if of the irascible, he declaims with fury and virulence against all who differ from him; blowing up the coals of fanaticism, and branding with the charge of corruption and insincerity every man who does not think, or profess to think, as he does.
“ ‘I feel in myself,’ say you, ‘a disposition to approve of such or such an action in a moral view; but this is not owing to any notion I have of its being a useful one to the community. I do not pretend to know whether it be an useful one or not: it may be, for aught I know, a mischievous one.’ ‘But is it then,’ say I, ‘a mischievous one? Examine; and if you can make yourself sensible that it is so, then, if duty means anything, that is moral duty, it is your duty, at least, to abstain from it; and more than that, if it is what lies in your power, and can be done without too great a sacrifice, to endeavour to prevent it. It is not your cherishing the notion of it in your bosom, and giving it the name of virtue that will excuse you.’
“ ‘I feel in myself,’ say you again, ‘a disposition to detest such or such an action in a moral view; but this is not owing to any notion I have of its being a mischievous one to the community. I do not pretend to know whether it be a mischievous one or not: it may be not a mischievous one; it may be, for aught I know, an useful one.’ ‘May it, indeed,’ say I, ‘be an useful one? But let me tell you then, that unless duty, and right and wrong, be just what you please to make them, if it really be not a mischievous one, and anybody has a mind to do it, it is no duty of yours, but, on the contrary, it would be very wrong in you, to take upon you to prevent him. Detest it within yourself as much as you please—that may be a very good reason (unless it be also an useful one) for your not doing it yourself. But if you go about, by word or deed, to do anything to hinder him, or make him suffer for it, it is you, and not he, that have done wrong; it is not your setting yourself to blame his conduct, or branding it with the name of vice, that will make him culpable, or you blameless.’ ”—Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, p. 28 et seq.
[* ] “All laws,” he says, “which have for their end the happiness of those concerned, endeavour to make, and, in the degree in which they are wise and effective, actually do make, that for a man’s happiness which they proclaim to be his duty. That a man ought to sacrifice his happiness to his duty, is a common position; that such or such a man has sacrificed his happiness to his duty, is a common assertion, and made the groundwork of admiration. But when happiness and duty are considered in their broadest sense, it will be seen that, in the general tenor of life, the sacrifice of happiness to duty is neither possible nor desirable; that it cannot have place; and that if it could, the interests of mankind would not be promoted by it.
“ ‘Sacrifice, sacrifice!’ is the demand of the every-day moralist. Sacrifice, taken by itself, is mischievous; and mischievous is the influence that connects morality with suffering. Morality is, then, the most effective when it is the least painful. Its associations are cheerfulness and joy, not gloom and misery. The less of happiness is sacrificed, the greater must be the total sum of happiness. Let it be obtained gratis where it can; where it cannot be had without sacrifice, let the sacrifice be as small as possible; where the sacrifice will be great, let it be ascertained that the happiness will be greater. This is the true economy of pleasure; this is the prolific cultivation of virtue.
“In treating of morals, it has hitherto been the invariable practice to speak of man’s duty, and nothing more. Yet, unless it can be shown that a particular action, or course of conduct, is for a man’s happiness, the attempt to prove to him that it is his duty, is but a waste of words. Yet, with such waste of words has the field of ethics been filled. A man, a moralist, gets into an elbow-chair, and pours forth pompous dogmas about duty and duties. Why is he not listened to? Because every man is thinking about interests. It is a part of his very nature to think first about interests. It is not always that he takes a correct view of his interests. Did he always do that, he would obtain the greatest possible portion of felicity; and were every man, acting with a correct view to his own interest, to obtain the maximum of obtainable happiness, mankind would have reached the millennium of accessible bliss, and the end of morality, the general happiness, would be accomplished. To prove that an immoral action is a miscalculation of self-interest—to show how erroneous an estimate the vicious man makes of pains and pleasures—this is the purpose of the sound and intelligent moralist. Unless he does this, he does nothing; for that a man should not pursue what he deems conducive to his happiness, is in the very nature of things impossible.
“There is the like coincidence between selfishness and benevolence; between the self-regarding and the extra-regarding principle; between what may be termed self-regarding prudence, and efficient benevolence. The first law of nature is—Seek your own happiness. The united voices of self-regarding prudence and efficient benevolence add—Seek the happiness of others; seek your own happiness in the happiness of others.
“The self-regarding affection is not only not a vice, but a virtue; and not only a virtue, but a virtue on which the very existence of the race depends. If I thought more about you than I thought about myself, I should be the blind leading the blind, and we should fall into the ditch together. It is as impossible that your pleasures should be better to me than my own, as that your eyesight should be better to me than my own. My happiness, and my unhappiness, are as much a part of me as any of my organs or faculties. What is demanded by prudence is, then, required by necessity. I could not continue to exist, but for the continuance of the selfish principle. Had Adam cared more for the happiness of Eve than for his own, and Eve at the same time more for the happiness of Adam than for her own, Satan might have spared himself the trouble of temptation; mutual misery would have marred all prospect of bliss, and the death of both have brought to a speedy termination the history of man.
“And yet, to disregard the social affections—not to look to them as sources of happiness—not to seek happiness in them, is the capital error which it is the business of the moralist to correct. While engaged in the pursuit of immediate pleasure, and the avoidance of immediate pain, we may, for the sake of what is present, sacrifice a greater distant pleasure, or occasion a greater distant pain; for nature, artless and untutored nature, engages man in the pursuit of immediate pleasure, and in the avoidance of immediate pain. And while acting under the influence of the self-regarding affection, we may neglect or violate the social. It is the business of the moralist to prevent both of these errors; to place before the eyes of the actor a more correct and complete view of the probable future, than he is likely to obtain in the midst of present influences; to assist him in making reflections, and drawing conclusions; to point out ends which had not suggested themselves, and means by which those ends may be accomplished; to perform the duty of a scout, a man hunting for consequences—consequences resulting from a particular action or course of action, collecting them in the completest manner, and presenting them in the best form for use. In a word, as the whole of virtue consists in the sacrifice of a smaller present satisfaction, to a satisfaction of greater magnitude, but more remote, so the sum of moral science consists in establishing the true distinction between, and the ultimate and perfect coincidence of, prudence and benevolence. This is truly the spear of Ithuriel, by which evil and good are made to present themselves in their own shapes. The self-regarding principle, which takes not into account the interests of others, which takes not into account anything future, has as little in it of prudence as of benevolence; it is truly the killing the goose for the golden egg. ‘Myself, myself’—‘Now, now,’ are but the cries of insensibility to happiness; and insensibility to evil—evil certain, though not instant, is a dear advantage to its possessor.”—Deontology.