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abuse ; whether they violate an individual right, besides
harming or threatening harm to a community, or have only
the latter of these qualities. They must injure a community
and must be open, outward acts, in order to be brought within
the range of prohibited acts, and even if otherwise perfectly
innocent, may acquire the quality of injuring the public in
certain circumstances and at certain times. There may be
nothing harmful to others at ordinary times, if a person
smokes a cigar, but self-preservation would require men to
stop him from doing it in a depot of gunpowder. Thus, then,
in the morality of an action, there is no absolute indication
that it is innocent; in its immorality, no absolute indication
that it is always harmful to a community. Yet there is reason
to believe that if a practice is immoral, like prostitution, it
must be deleterious also; and the immorality of it in some
cases, where a nation is enlightened, will make every one
believe at once that it must be hurtful also. Again, an act
may be immoral and yet not properly subjected to law and
penalty. Thus a lie is forbidden in the family as a wrong act,
and it is held that honesty in speech would prevent a thou-
sand evils which falsehood encourages by concealing them.
But while a lie in an official person ought to make him, it may
be, liable to punishment, a lie in the family would not
perhaps in any nation call for the interference of the civil
authority. Why is this ? It surely cannot be because im-
moral acts, which hurt no one in particular', but hurt society in
general, ought not to be noticed by law. If that were the
case, all kinds of immoral acts which are now prohibited,
ought not to be noticed unless a distinct case of personal
injury could be pointed out. Nor can it be, because certain
classes of immoral acts have no tendency to injure society.
For there are no such classes. All wrong-doing is more or
less harmful. Evil in any form tends to overthrow public
safety and prosperity at points where its influence seems to
be impossible. But the true reasons are practical ones, and
these are, among others : (i) that the evil from certain acts
which do not directly violate the rights of others, shall be