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VOL. I. 







9 2 s o v r; 





PREFACE . . . . v to vi 



eneral Statement . . .7 20 

Deontology Explained . . 21 -p 37 

Anti-Deontological Propositions removed 

Summum bonum . . .38 58 

Pleasure and Pain their relation to Good and 

Evil . . . .59 77 

/ Well-Being and Ill-Being . . . 78 82 

End of Action . . .83 86 

Sanctions . . 87 121 

Causes of Immorality , . .122 131 

Analysis of Confused Phraseology, by the 

Deontological Test . 132137 

Virtue Defined . 138 155 



Self-interest, or Self-regarding Prudence . 156 165 


Prudence as regards others, or Extra-regarding 

Prudence . . . 166 175 


Effective JBenevolence, Negative . . 176187 

Effective Benevolence, Positive . .188 194 

Analysis of Virtues and Vices . .195 222 


Tlume s Virtues . . . 223 258 

False Virtues . . . 259 262 

The Passions . . . 263 270 


Intellectual Faculties . . .271275 


Conclusion of Theoretic Part . . 276 283 


PRINCIPLE . . 287 332 


THIS work was in the course of preparation for 
the press when its great Author s earthly labors 
were suddenly closed. He had, up to the latest 
period of his existence, been accustomed to re 
cord the desultory thoughts which occurred to 
his mind on the important subject of which the 
volume treats ; and I had the advantage, in my 
intimate communion with him, of seeking such 
guidance from him as was necessary for the 
understanding and arrangement of the mass of 
undigested fragments which he from time to time 
placed in my hands. It was a happy and an 
interesting task to follow him through those inves 
tigations in which benevolence aricJ wisdom were 
mutual handmaids, and emphatic indeed was 
the instruction which was so beautifully exem 
plified in every thought, and word, and action of 


the Instructor. I took up my pen with alacrity 
I pursued my task with ever-new delight 
I end it with feelings of gloom, for which I can 
find no adequate expression. The charm is 
gone the voice is silenced which conducted 
and gladdened me on my way. These pages as 
I turn them over seem to have the solemnity of 
a sepulchral echo. I shall find a fitter occasion 
for speaking of him who suggested them, who 
* was himself the virtuous man he drew/ and 
I deliver them to the world, my first offering 
in discharge of those duties which have devolved 
upon me as the legatee of those literary treasures 
which he, my Friend and Master, has confided 

to my keeping and to my care. 

J. Bo. 


IP it be assumed that virtue should be the rule, 
and happiness the object of human action, he 
who shows how the instrument may best be 
applied to the production of the end, and how 
the end may be accomplished in the greatest 
obtainable degree, is undoubtedly engaged in 
the exercise and entitled to the recompense of 
virtue. /No small service will be done to man 
kind, if moral laws can be discovered suited to all 
the circumstances of life, if the habitual power 
can be communicated to the honest inquirer 
of answering well and wisely that so often 
embarrasing question, which occurs to every 
one of us every day every hour of our ex 
istence, How shall I act? and why? The 
pages which I have the privilege of now intro 
ducing to the world, are calculated, I trust, to 
illumine the dark parts of the field of morals 

VOL. I. B 


to unravel many entanglements, to solve many 
doubts, and to contribute much satisfaction to 
the searchers after truth and virtue. The MSS. 
were put into my hands without reservation or 
restriction as to the manner of their publication. 
The extreme indifference of their extraordinary 
author to what is denominated literary fame, 
stands out in prominent: contrast to that anxiety 
which he has never hesitated to express, that 
his opinions might go careering through the 
world. He has always been rather desirous 
of digging out and refining the ore than of 
stamping it with his own image and super 
scription. Not that futurity will forget its 
benefactor, or fail in honor due to him who 
must and will exercise a mighty influence on its 
condition. Of Bentham s writings, that may 
fitly be said which Milton proclaimed of one of 
his almost forgotten volumes, that it numbered 
high intellects/ Our author s doctrines have 
strongly moved the philosophic few, and their 
course is rapidly opening and widening down 
wards among the improving many. Scoffers 
may have insulted him in his progress, but 


where is the sage who has scorned, or who 
having listened has been wanting in reverence 
and gratitude to the man who first made 
legislation a science ? 

The course which Bentham has taken is to 
employ such language as would convey his 
ideas with the greatest precision to inquirers. 
A vague phraseology is necessarily the parent 
of vague ideas. In the minds of the well 
disposed it is a source of confusion in the 
hands of the ill disposed, an instrument of 
mischief. Right and wrong justice and injus 
tice, are terms susceptible of very different 
interpretations. They may be used they 
have been used, according to the caprice or the 
selfish interest of men for the production alike 
of good and evil. When closely examined they 
will generally be found nothing more than the 
expression of the opinion more or less influential 
of him who employs them ; and their value and 
fit application will depend on their capacity to 
stand the test of some other principle. The 
language of common parlance must, before it 
can be made use of for the communication of 


correct ideas, be translated into the language of 
happiness and unhappiness of pleasures and of 
pains. Into these elements all moral results 
ultimately resolve themselves. Here is a point 
beyond which there is no advancing. If there 
be a greater good than happiness, let him who 
has made the discovery produce it as a reward ; 
if there be a greater evil than misery, let its 
inventor employ it for the ends of punish 
ment. In the dictionary of pain and pleasure, 
our moralist has found all the machinery of his 

Fiat experientia was the axiom of Bacon ; 
an axiom which has been recognized as the 
foundation of all genuime science. Fiat obser- 
vatio, is Bentham s apophthegm. What experi 
ment is to the philosopher, observation is to the 
moralist. Bentham has examined human 
actions through the pleasures and pains which 
are consequent upon them, and has grounded all 
his reasonings upon this examination. In such 
pursuit truth can hardly have escaped him; 
for truth and utility must go together hand in 
hand ; and he who discovers what is useful 


cannot be far off from that which is true. It is f 
in fact, more easy to overtake truth by pursuing 
utility, than to reach truth at all without utility 
for a guide ; since that which is useful is matter 
of experience, while conjecture is busied in 
asking, What is Truth? 

To those who are acquainted with Bentham s 
Introduction to the Principles of Morals and 
Legislation/ and who have pursued the train of 
reasoning there broughtforward, the present work 
may offer little that is new ; and perhaps there are 
some who will think its con tents have been already 
anticipated and its utility superseded by that 
masterly monument of analytical and logical 
power. But for universal acceptance the prin 
ciples therein lafd down assume too much the 
shape of axioms, and certainly wanted as the 
inconsiderable circulation of the volume has evi 
denced the attractions of popularity. \The pre 
sent work, whose especial object it is to approve 
itself to the general reader, is more desultory 
and diffuse, and seeks to win its way by a 
style less stern and severe. /The former was 
written for the meditation of the profound thinker 


this looks to a wider and more popular, but 
less elevated sphere of usefulness. Besides, the 
1 Introduction * has a more extensive and am 
bitious character, and is mainly occupied with 
a developement of the true principles of Legis 
lation, whose discussion, spite of its importance, 
can have few fascinations for mankind at 
large. In the volume before us it is not intended 
to enter ,on the inquiries of jurisprudential 
science. \Cur concern is with private morality, 
and that has a claim to the attention of every 
body, on every occasion in which thought, 
word, or action is engaged.") 




HE who in a deliberative assembly volunteers 
to bring any motion forward, confers on himself 
a distinction, in which his prominency cannot 
but be contrasted with the equality of the rest ; 
so, he who in the republic of letters chooses 
to range himself among the few who write, be 
comes necessarily contradistinguished from the 
many who read, and both speaker and writer 
take upon themselves no inconsiderable respon 
sibility. But, while in the case of a meeting for 
discussion, every impropriety of the speaker has 
the chance of immediate correction in the case 
of that fictitious and never assembled body 
which creates the tribunal of public opinion, no 
instant removal of error has place ; secured for 
the most part against contradiction, the public 
writer is liable to assume a confidence unwar 
ranted by his position. He has a motive to avoid 
giving to his doctrines and precepts the support 
of adequate reasons, the production of which 
would interfere with his love of case, and the 


developement of which would demand an addi 
tional exercise of intellectual effort. The public 
legislator, with all his powers, is generally less 
despotic in his phraseology than the public 
writer that self-constituted legislator of the 
people. He makes laws without giving rea 
sons, laws which generally convey only his 
sovereign will and pleasure. It is indeed a 
misfortune that men come to the discussion of 
important questions, predetermined to decide 
them only in one way. They are pledged, as it 
were, to their own minds, that certain practices 
shall be wrong, and certain other practices right. 
But the principle of. utility allows of no such 
peremptoriness, and requires, before any prac 
tice is condemned, that it be shown to be dero 
gatory to human happiness. Such an investi 
gation suits not the dogmatical instructor. 
With the principle of utility", therefore, he will 
have nothing to do. He will have a principle 
of his own to do his own business. He will 
convert his own opinion into a principle for its 
own support. I say these things are not 
right/ he proclaims with a sufficient portion of 
positiveness ergo, they are not right. 

It is plain this setting up of an opinion as the 
true foundation and sufficient reason for itself, 
must put every imaginable extravagance upon an 
equal footing with the most salutary persuasion ; 


nor does it offer any other or better standard of 
right and wrong than the violence with which it 
urges its pretensions, or the number of those 
who agree in them. But if violence be the 
standard, as there is no possible way of measuring 
the intensity of conviction but by its visible in 
fluence on actions, the opinion of him who 
knocks down his opponent is better grounded 
than that of him who only asserts his opinion 
vehemently, of him who cuts his opponent s 
throat than of him who only knocks him down, 
and of him who tortures before he destroys his 
opponent than of either ; so that, in truth, the 
opinions of the Inquisition bid fairest of any yet 
known for being the very perfection of truth 
and right reason, and morality may be gradu 
ated according to the miseries inflicted by per 
secution. If numbers decide, Idolatry would 
drive Christianity from the field, and truth 
and morality would be in a state of everlasting 
vibration between majorities -and minorities, 
which are shifting with all the vicissitudes of 
human events. 

He who, on any other occasion, should say, 
It is as I say, because I say it is so/ would not 
be thought to have said any great matter : but 
on the question concerning the standard of mo 
rality, men have written great books wherein 


from beginning to end they are employed in 
saying this and nothing elsej What these 
books have to depend on for their efficacy, and 
for their being thought to have proved any thing 
is, the stock of self-sufficiency in the writer, 
and of implicit deference in the readers ; by 
the help of a proper dose of which, one thing 
may be made to go down as well as another. 
Out of this assumption of authority has grown 
the word obligation) from the Latin verb, obligo, 
to bind, while such a cloud of misty obscurity 
has gathered round the term, that whole 
volumes have been written to disperse it. The 
obscurity, notwithstanding, has continued as 
dense as before, and it can only be dissipated 
.by bringing in. the light of Utility with its pains 
and pleasures, and the sanctions and motives 
which spring out of them. 

It is, in fact, very idle to talk about duties ; 
the word itself has in it something disagreeable 
and repulsive ; and talk about it as we may, the 
word will not become a rule of conduct. \ A 
man, a moralist, gets into an elbow chair, and 
pours forth pompous dogmatisms about duty 
and duties. Why is he not listened to ? Be- 
s cause every man is thinking about interests^ It 
is a part of his very nature to think first about 
interests ; and with these the well-judging mo- 


ralist will find it for his interest to begin. /Let 
him say what he pleases, to interest, duty 
must ; and will ,be made subservient.,/ 

To place prominently forward the connection 
between interest and duty in all the concerns of 
private life, is the object now proposed. The 
more closely the subject is examined, the more 
obvious will the agreement between interest 
and duty appear. All laws which have for 
their end the happiness of those concerned, 
endeavour to make that for a man s interest 
which they proclaim to be his duty. And in 
the moral field it cannot be a man s duty lo 
do that which it is his interest not to do./* 
Morality will teach him rightly to estimate his 
interests and his duties ; and examination will ^ 
show their co-incidence. That a man ought to 
sacrifice his interest to his duty is a very com 
mon position, that such or such a man has 
sacrificed his interest to his duty is a frequent 
assertion, and made the ground-work of admi 
ration. But when interest and duty are consi 
dered in their broadest sense, it will be seen 
that in the general tenor of life the sacrifice of 
interest to duty is neither practicable nor so 
much as desirable % that it cannot, in fact, have 
place ; and that if it could, the happiness of 
mankind would not be promoted by it. I It has 
been almost invariably the usage in treating of 


morals to speak of a man s duty and nothing 
more. Now, though it can scarcely be said with 
truth that what is not a man s obvious interest 
is not his duty, it may be safely pronounced^ 
i unlessitcan be shown that a particular action 
"or course of conduct is for a man s interest, the 
attempt to prove to him that it is his duty, will 
be but a waste of words. Yet with such 
waste of words has the field of Ethics been 
hitherto filled. It is your duty to do this it 
is your duty to abstain from doing that; and 
this is easy travelling for a public instructor. 
* But why is it my duty? And the answer if 
sifted will be found to be, Because I bid you 
because it is my opinion my will. * Well, 
but suppose I do not conform myself to this 
will of yours? O then you will do very 
wrong, which being interpreted means, I 
shall disapprove of your conduct/j 

\ It will scarcely be denied that every man 
acts with a view to his own interest not a 
correct view because that would obtain for 
him the greatest possible portion of felicity ; and 
if every man, acting correctly for his own inte 
rest, obtained the maximum of obtainable happi 
ness, mankind would reach the millenium of 
accessible bliss ; and the end of morality the 
general happiness be accomplished . To prove 
^ > that the immoral action is a miscalculation of 


self-interest to show how erroneous an estimate 

the vicious man makes of pains and pleasures, 
is the purpose of the intelligent moralist./ Un 
less he can do this he does nothing : for, as has 
been stated above, for a man not to pursue 
what he deems likely to produce to him the 
greatest sum of enjoyment, is in the very nature 
of things impossible. 

The object, then, of these pages is to promote 
human happiness the happiness of every man. 
Your happiness, reader, and that of all besides. 
It is to extend the dominion of happiness 
wherever there is a being susceptible of its 
impressions ; nor is the sphere of benevolent 
action bounded by the human race. For if the 
animals we call inferior have no title to our care, 
on what foundation stands the claim of our own 
species ? The chain of virtue will be found to 
girdle the whole of the sensitive creation the 
happiness we can communicate to lower natures 
is intimately associated with that of the human 
race, and that of the human race is closely 
linked to our own. 

It were, indeed, greatly to be desired that 
some benevolent moralist should take the animal 
creation under his patronage, and establish their 
claims to the protection of legislation and to the 
sympathies of the virtuous principle. Perhaps 
this event is hardly to be anticipated, while so 


large a portion of the human race itself are 
excluded from the influences of beneficence 
and treated like the inferior animals not as 
persons, but as things. True, the animal tribes 
have little power to act upon human sensibilities 
few means of inflicting misery as a punish 
ment for injustice and cruelty, and fewer still 
of recompensing humanity and beneficence by 
the communication of pleasure to man. We 
deprive them of life ; and this is justifiable 
their pains do not equal our enjoyments there 
is a balance of good. But why do we torment, 
why do we torture them ? It would be diffi 
cult to find a reason why law should deny to 
them its interference. The real question is are 
they susceptible of pain? Can pleasure be 
communicated to them ? Who shall draw the 
line, and where is it to be drawn between the 
gradations of animal life, beginning with man, 
and descending to the meanest creature that 
has any power of distinguishing between suffer 
ing and enjoyment? Is the faculty of reason, or 
that of discourse to determine ? But a full- 
grown horse or dog, is, beyond comparison, a 
more rational, as well as a more conversible 
animal than an iniant of a day, or a week, 
or even a month old. And suppose the case 
were otherwise, what would it avail ? The 
question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can 


they talk? but, Can they suffer r Introduction 
to the Principles of Morals, fyc. chap. xvii. 
p. 309. 

But, of sensitive beings, the human are the 
nearest and naturally the dearest to us. And 
how can their happiness be best provided for by 
you ? How but by the exercise of the virtues 
of those qualities the union of which is 
virtue ? Virtue divides itself into two branches 
prudence* and effective benevolence.f Pru 
dence has its seat in the understanding. Effec 
tive benevolence principally in the affections ; 
those affections which, when intense and strong, 
become passions. 

Prudence again has two divisions that which 
respects ourselves, or the self-regarding,^: which 

* There is a narrow and exclusive meaning attached to the 
word prudence, and attached in a sense disassociated from 
any moral quality, namely, the apt application of means to 
an end. It is hardly necessary to say that it is not used in 
this confined sense here. 

f It has been necessary to create a compound, as no single 
word in our language conveys the idea of benevolence in a 
state of activity, or of benevolence and beneficence united. 
Benevolence without beneficence is a fruitless tree, adding 
nothing whatever to happiness; and beneficence apart from 
benevolence is no virtue; it is no moral quality it belongs 
to a stock or a stone, as well as to a human being. 

J This is used instead of selfish, which conveys an idea of 
a vicious preference. 


might have been exercised by the prototype of 
Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk, in his 
uninhabited island ; and that which respects 
others, and which may be denominated extra- 
regarding prudence. 

Effective benevolence is either positive or 
negative. Its operation is by action, or by 
abstaining from action. Its business is either 
with the augmentation of pleasure or the. dimi 
nution of pain. When it operates positively by 
the production of pleasure, power as well as 
will must be possessed. When it operates 
negatively by abstaining from action, nothing 
but the will is required. The power of benevo 
lent action is limited the power of benevolent 
abstaining is unbounded ; and abstinence from 
action may involve a quantity of virtue or vice 
equal to that growing out of action itself. There 
are cases in which a man might as properly be 
punished for murder who had failed to do what 
lie was bound to do in order to prevent murder, 
as the actual murderer himself, 

jit is a sad reflection withal, that the quantity 
of happiness which any, even the mightiest, can 
produce, is small compared with the amount of 
misery he may create by himself or others.. 
Not that the proportion of misery in the human 
race exceeds that of happiness ; for the sum of 
misery being limited, to a great extent, by the 


will of the sufferer, he possesses, for the most 
part, some power of relief. 

But the tendency of effective benevolence is 
to increase by exercise. The more we pour out 
its wealth upon others, the greater does the 
stock of wealth become which we ourselves 
possess. The diffusion of its riches is the very 
source of its opulence. He who secures for 
himself a pleasure, or avoids for himself a pain, 
influences his own happiness directly ; he who 
provides a pleasure, or prevents a pain to another, 
indirectly advances his own happiness. 

! What is happiness? It is the possession of 
pleasure with the exemption from pafy. It 
is in proportion to the aggregate of pleasures 
enjoyed, and of pains averted./ And [what is 
virtue ? It is that which most contributes to 
happiness, that which maximises pleasures and 
minimises pains. Vice, on the contrary, is that 
which lessens happiness, or contributes to un- 

The first law of nature is to wish our own 
happiness; and the united voices of prudence 
and efficient benevolence, add, Seek the happi 
ness of others, seek your own happiness in the 
happiness of others.: 

Prudence, in common parlance, is the adapta 
tion of means to an end. In the moral field that 
end is happiness. The subjects on which pru- 

VOL. it. c 


dence is to be exercised are ourselves, and all 
besides ; ourselves as instrumental, and all be 
sides as instrumental to our own felicity. \JTo_. 
obtain the greatest portion of happiness for him 
self, is the object of every rational being. Every 
man is nearer to himself, and dearer to himself, 
than he can be to any other man ; and no other 
man can weigh for him his pains and pleasures. 
Himself must necessarily be his own first concern . 
His interest must, to himself, be the primary 
interest ; nor, on examination, will this position 
be found unfriendly to virtue and happiness; for 
how should the happiness of all be obtained to 
the greatest extent, but by the obtainment by 
every one for himself, of the greatest possible 

Of what can the sum total of happiness be 
made up, but of the individual units ? What is 
demanded by prudence_and benevolence, is re 
quired by necessity. Existence itself depends 
for its continuance on the self-regarding 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 saved himself the trouble of 
temptation. Mutual misery would have marred 
all prospects of bliss, and the death of both have 
brought to a speedy finale the history of man. 

And what is the important deduction from 


these postulates ? Are they anti-social in their 
consequences? Nay! they are in the highest 
degree philanthropic and beneficent. For^/how 
can a man be happy, but by obtaining the 
friendly affections of those on whom his happi 
ness depends ? And how can he obtain their 
friendly affections, but by convincing them that 
he gives them his own in exchange ? And how 
can he best convince them, but by giving them 
these friendly affections in reality; and if he 
give them in reality, the evidence will be folmd 
in his words and deeds. Helvetius said, that 
* in order to love mankind, we ought to expect 
little from them. We must be moderate in our 
calculations moderate in our exactions. Pru 
dence requires that we should not raise too high 
the standard of our hopes ; for disappointment 
will diminish our own enjoyments, and our good 
will to others : whereas the unanticipated ser 
vice done to us, coming with the charm of sur 
prise, will bring with it a grea4er sum of plea 
sure, and strengthen the benevolent dispositions 
in our relations with others. 

The principle of utility, then, in order to pre 
serve its influence, must be habitually kept in 
view; and to this end, in the expression of every 
maxim subordinate to it, let its relation to that 
principle be seen. Let it not be thought sufficient 
that the reason assigned for a practice is in itself 


in conformity with an estimate of a supposed 
result of happiness, or with a vague notion of 
some useful object to be accomplished ; but let 
such conformity be constantly dwelt upon, be 
brought forward for examination and approval 
and traced into all its consequences of future 
good and evil. This is the only expedient to 
prevent persons not sufficiently imbued with 
the principle persons who have not climbed 
those heights on which utility has fixed its 
throne from being led astray by the despotic 
dogma of asceticism, or the sympathies of a mis 
calculating and misdirected benevolence. Let 
the moralist regard the great Deontological 
Law, as steadily as the Turnsole looks upon the 




DEONTOLOGY is derived from the Greek words, 
TO Seov (that which is proper) and Aoyia, know 
ledge meaning the knowledge of what is right| 
or proper ; and it is here specially applied to ? 
the subject of morals, or that part of the field 
of action which is not the object of public 
legislation. As an art, it is the doing wl at is 
fit to be done ; as a science, the knowing what 
is fit to be done on every occasion. 

But the inquiry, as applied by the individual 
to his own rule of conduct, resolves itself into 
a question as to what he himself approves 
what can be made to appear to himself as fit 
to be approved on the given occasion. And 
why should he declare his approbation of a 
particular course of conduct? Undoubtedly, 
because the approbation may lead to its adop 
tion. And it will be thus conducive to it. 
Public opinion is made up of individual 
opinions ; and public opinion is that which 
constitutes the popular or moral sanction. A 


large quantity of recompense to act upon our 
hopes, and a large quantity of punishment to 
influence our fears, are in the hands of popular 
opinion. [Of this influential power, every in 
dividual iiTffie community forms a part; and 
may exercise and apply his portion of reward 
or punishment, reward for the acts which 
merit his approbation punishment for those of 
which he disapproves. He has thus a power 
over motives, and that to the extent in which 
he can dispose of the matter of pleasure and pain. 
These motives may sometimes be brought 
into operation by merely indicating their ex 
istence ; at other times they may be created : 
and under both circumstances they will in 
fluence human conduct ; nor can the effect be 
always foreseen. The affections and the will 
are touched by the motives prescribed to them, 
just as the Eolean harp-strings vibrate to the 
passing wind. By presenting motives, we 
necessitate acts ; by awakening expectation of 
eventual pain or pleasure, we influence cha 
racter. In proportion to the confidence felt in 
the opinions and f->"d!y disposition of the 
teacher, will be the sh% fence of the learner; 
in proportion to the p?.in or pleasure excited 
by the disapprobation, or approbation, which 
the instructor may be able to attach to different 
actions, will be the power of the instructor to 


enforce or to prevent those actionsTJ And the 
test of the value of the worlc Tie~enters upon 
will be its harmony with some recognised 
principles, by which he consents that his in 
struction shall be tried. 

The business of the Deontologist is to bring 
forth, from the obscurity in which they have 
been buried, those points of duty, in which, 
by the hands of nature, a man s interests have 
been associated with his enjoyments, in which 
his own well-being has been connected, com 
bined, and identified, with the well-being of < 
others ; to give, in a word, to the social, all 
the influence of the self-regarding motive. He < 
is to use, for the production of the greatest sum 
of happiness, those elements of happiness 
which exist in the breast of every man ; to 
extend the domain of felicity, by developing 
the principles which are co-extensive with 
the existence of man the self-regarding prin 
ciples being necessarily, and happily, the 
strongest. For such an artist, there is no want 
of work, there can be no want of work, while 
remediable evil is to be found in the world. 
His business is to establish his propositions, 
by bringing a balance of happiness, out of each 
of them, a balance to somebody a balance to 
the one, or to the many. 

The principle, then, on which Deontology is 


grounded, is the principle of Utility ; in other 
words, that every action is right or wrong 
worthy or unworthy deserving approbation or 
disapprobation, in proportion to its tendency to 
contribute to, or to diminish the amount of 
public happines^ And that the public sanction 
will, in as far as the subject is understood, be 
given to that line of conduct, which most 
promotes the public happiness, is a corollary 
requiring no arguments for its establishment. 

Three very obvious inquiries grow out of 
these remarks, and will be constantly kept in 
view during the progress of our investigations. 

1. What does the public happiness require? 

2. Is public opinion in harmony with the public 
interest or happiness ; and 3, as the practical 
application, What line of conduct ought to be 
pursued in each individual case which presents 
itself for consideration ? 

The end being marked out, and acknowledged 
to be wise and good, it becomes the primary 
object to ascertain,] whether that end is best 
promoted by the opinions held, and the conduct 
pursued in accordance with these opinions ; 
whether, in a word, what the world calls 
morality, is really that happiness-producing 
instrument which it ought to become. And the 
question must be asked, and the test applied, 
in every portion of the field of conduct. 


Morality, Religion, Politics, can indeed only 
have one common object. 

If the politician, moralist, and divine, all 
know what they are about, their purposes can 
be no other than the same. 

^The politician s end is universally allowed 
to be happiness the happiness of the state 
the greatest happiness possible among the in 
dividuals of a state, during the present life, j 

To the politician, as such, licence is given 
to make this his end, by all parties, whatever 
may be their opinions on religion or morals, 
by all parties, without one dissenting voice. 

This being the case, it were strange if the 
ends of the other two were allowed to be differ 
ent. For were they so if different and, upon 
occasion, opposite were pursued if the Di 
vine and the Moralist contemplated results 
contrary to those intended by the Politician, 
they would be in a state of universal warfare. 
Each would be reduced, for his security, or for 
the furtherance of his end, to fight against the 
other two with such weapons as he is master of. 
The divine would denounce his antagonist to the 
vengeance of the Celestial Tribunal ; would 
imagine, or would forge decrees from it, and 
endeavour to persuade the by-standers to execute 
them. The moralist would thunder out the 
anathemas of his self-erected Court Moral, or, 


as some affect to denominate It, common sense ; 
would call his enemy fool, and villain, and hypo 
crite, and nonsense- talker ; and make interest 
with the by-standers to treat him as if he were 
so. And the politician, if incommoded by such 
sort of artillery, would be driven to defend him 
self by such means as he is provided with. 
And, indeed, if things were to come to this, the 
politician would be found rather too hard for the 
other two ; and the upshot of the fray would 
be, did not his own principles, and the con 
sciousness of their value restrain him, that he 
would set his arms a-kimbo, and, like Lord 
Peter in the history, kick his obsteperous bre 
thren out of doors. Not that this is a conduct 
by any means to be recommended to him,* 
(though upon the score of what is commonly 
called justice, they certainly would have no 
reason to complain) because, if anything can be 
predicated of the future, it is that, in this coun 
try at least, such violence never can be needful, 
needful to his own purpose ; a purpose which 
this volume is intended to forward. Here no 

* The tranquillity and good temper of a disputant is in 
proportion to the inward consciousness of the aptitude of his 
arguments to produce conviction. Accordingly, mathema 
ticians, so long as they confine themselves within the pro 
vince of their science, cannot be, and accordingly never have 
been, otherwise than tranquil. 


lesfcon will be given which persecution is to 
enforce. It were better far to join the ranks of 
the antagonists ; for nothing is so likely to frus 
trate the ends of truth, as to league it with the 
infliction of useless suffering. This the Deonto- 
logist will not recommend to the Politician ; 
but what may be safely recommended to him 
(and it will be perfectly competent to the pur 
poses as well of punishment as of defence) is, to 
let the talkers talk on, and never to give himself 
any trouble about what they say. Let him but 
pursue his end industriously, and show that he 
pursues it, he need not fear but that in a free 
and enlightened country (indeed in any country, 
if he give such an example) the majority of the 
people will ultimately lend him their concur 
rence, and in the Deontologist he will find a 
mighty ally. 

The line which separates the dominions of the 
Legislator from those of the Deontologist is 
tolerably distinct and obvious. Where legal re 
wards and punishments cease to interfere with 
human actions, there precepts of morality come 
in with their influences. The conduct which is 
not given over to the tribunals of the state for 
judgment, belongs to the tribunals of opinion. 
] There are a variety of acts in which judicial 
Lptfmshment would be unprofitably wasted, but 
which may be safely and properly transferred to 


extra-official punitory visitations.) Of conduct 
injurious to the community, a large portion 
necessarily escapes the cognition and the visita 
tion of penal law, while it falls under the obser 
vation, and is submitted to the award of, the 
more extensive and penetrating cognizance of 
popular retribution. Thus the crimes which 
are recognised by the penal code, if they escape 
detection and punishment, whether from want of 
sufficient evidence, or any other cause, may be 
brought into the field of Deontology. But it is 
not of these that it is proposed to treat. It is 
desirable, no doubt, to widen the field of moral, 
and to narrow that of political action. Legisla 
tion has intruded too far into a territory which 
does not belong to it. It has frequently inter 
fered with actions, when its interference has 
only produced a balance of evil ; and, what is 
worse, it has interfered with opinions, particu 
larly on religious topics, where its interferences 
have been in the highest degree pernicious. In 
a word, Deontology, or Private Ethics, may be 
considered the science by which happiness is 
created out of motives extra-legislatorial while 
Jurisprudence is the science by which law is 
applied to the production of felicity. 

The object of every man s wish and of every 
man s endeavour, from the beginning of life to 
the end of it, is to increase his own felicity: 


his felicity as connected with pleasure and 
disconnected with pain. 

But again what is pleasure and what is 
pain ? Does every man form the same estimate ? 
Far from it. That is pleasure which a man s 
judgment, aided by his memory, recommends 
and recognises to his feelings as pleasure. LNo., 
man can allow another to decide for him as to 
what is pleasure, or what is the balance or the 
amount of pleasure. And hence a necessary 
consequence, that every man of ripe age and 
sound mind ought on this subject to be left to 
judge and act for himself and that the attempts 
to give a direction to his conduct inconsistent 
with his views of his own interest, is no better 
than folly and impertinence. / And the more 
closely the matter is examined the more de 
cidedly will this be found to be the case. 

The business of the moralist, what then does 
it become ? He can place before the eyes of 
the inquirer a sketch of the probable future 
more correct and complete than would have 
presented itself to his view in the midst of 
present influences. The moralist may assist 
him in making reflections and drawing con 
clusions in taking a more comprehensive audit 
of the past, and from thence deducing calcu 
lations or conjectures for the time to come. 
He may point out ends which had not suggested 


themselves, and means by which they can be 
accomplished. He may enable him to wisely 
choose between balancing pleasures or pains. 
He may mark out occasions where enjoyments 
may be reaped or sufferings avoided. And 
thus far he will be labouring in an honest and 
honourable vocation. In fact^jjojbe most useful 
he will be employed somewhat in the character 
of a scout a man hunting for consequences 
consequences resulting from a particular course 
collecting them as well as he can, and pre 
senting them for the use of those who may be 
disposed to profit by his services. His task is 
humble his labor is great his reward can 
only be the anticipation of good to be done. 

,Jt is not thus that public instructors have gene 
rally proceeded. They have erected for them 
selves, in the field of moral action, a high throne; 
thence, in the character of absolute and infallible 
monarchs, have they dictated to the world below, 
and sent out their commands and prohibitions 
for prompt and peremptory recognition. The 
wantonness of a political ruler has often been 
the topic of animadversion ; the self-erected 
arbitrator wielding like the madman in his cell 
his imaginary sceptre, is, in truth, more egre- 
giously wanton. A certain sense of responsi 
bility a fear of reaction may control the 
despotism of an acknowledged tyrant, but where 


is the control which is to check the waywardness 
and presumption of the self-elected dictator of 

LHis-lone is the tone of the pedagogue or the 
magistrate ; he is strong and wise, and knowing 
and virtuous. His readers are weak, and foolish, 
and ignorant, and vicious ; his voice is the 
voice of power, and it is from the superiority 
of his wisdom that his power is derived.; 

And if all this were so without prejudice to 
to the public, it might be the gratification of 
pride to the individual pleasure to him and 

so much pleasure gained. But the misfortune 

t - 

is, that the assumption of this authority has 
for its natural attendants indolence and igno 
rance. I Even where precepts are founded on 
good reasons, the development of those reasons 
is a matter of considerable exertion and diffi 
culty it is a task to which few have been found 
competent. But to set up laws and precepts 
is a task of no difficulty at all a task to which 
all men are competent, the foolish as well as the 
wise, a task wLich the foolish indeed are most 
eager to engage in, for ignorance has no more 
convenient cloak than arrogance. 

The talisman of arrogance, indolence, and 
ignorance, is to be found in a single word, an 
authoritative imposture, which in these pages it 
will be frequently necessary to unveil. It is 


the word ought ought or ought not, as 
circumstances may be. In,deciding You ought 
to do this you ought not to do it/ is not 
every question of morals set at resjtj[ / 

If the use of the word be admissible at all, it 
ought to be banished from the vocabulary of 

There is another word, which has a talismanic 
virtue too, and which might be wielded to de 
stroy many fatal and fallacious positions. You 
ought y you ought not/ says the dogmatist. 
Why ? retorts the inquirer Why ? To say 
you ought/ is easy in the extreme. To stand 
the searching penetration of a Why? is not so 

Why ought I ? Because you ought is the 
not unfrequent reply ; on which the Why ? 
comes back again with the added advantage of 
having obtained a victory. 

It cannot, may it be answered, be the mere 
love of ease that drives the instructor to adopt 
this phraseology; the love of ease would not 
induce him to write even thus glibly and un 
wisely, but would keep him from writing at all. 

But motives there are stronger than the love 
of ease. There may be advantages of many 
sorts growing out of a particular line of argu 
ment. _Oiit of conformity with public opinion 
grows reputation out of reputation, wealth and 


power. A man must keep well with public 
opinion. To oppose current prejudices, to 
bend back an established bias, can hardly be 
the conduct of him who desires to present him 
self in fair proportions to the worldly 

The world s judgment is on the side of seve 
rity ; for (in the restraints imposed upon his 
neighbour, every man feels an increase of his 
own power a gratification of his own pride. 
He easily prepares for himself an exemption that 
shall satisfy his own mind, while, by indulging 
in the strong language of animadversion, he gives 
evidence that he is free from the offence which 
he so vehemently reprobates for who would be 
forward in passing condemnation on himself?/ 
From laxity he has nothing to hope everything 
to fear ; from severity everything to hope, and 
nothing to fear j-aiic^so^ with ought and ought 
not for his instruments, he goes on laying 
commands and prohibitions upon his fellows 
imposing chains and burthens not the less 
galling and afflictive because they have their 
source in metaphors and fictions. J 

In all this there is seemingly much profit, and 
little pain. Little waste of toil little waste of 
thought. Observation, inquiry, reflection these 
are all superfluous, as superfluous as they are la 
borious. IFolly and arrogance the blindest folly 
and the most assuming arrogance find them- 

VOL. I. D 


selves altogether at their ease. By these caterers 
to the moral tastej pleasures are ordered off the 
table pains ordered on instead of theny, just as 
by the word of the physician of Barataria, the 
meat was marched away from the presence of 
the famished Sancho ; but the physician of 
Barataria did not replace it by poison. 

Sacrifice sacrifice is the demand of the every 
day moralist^ Sacrifice, taken by itself, is mis 
chievous, and mischievous is the influence that 
connects morality with suffering. Little does he 
seem to be aware how far morality may be 
effective without any thing painful. Its associa 
tions are cheerfulness and joy not gloom and 
misery. Certain it is, the less the sacrifice 
made of happiness, the more must there be of 
happiness remaining. 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 must be great, let it be ascer 
tained that the happiness will be greater. This 
is the true economy of pleasure this is the pro 
lific cultivation of virtue. 

PZDXTOLOGY, or that which is proper, has 
been chosen as a fitter term than any other which 
could be found, to represent in the field of mo 
rals, the principle of Utilitarianism , or that which 
is useful. Utilitarianism offers too vague and 
undefined an impression to the mind. If the 


term could be immediately and directly associ 
ated with the production of felicity, it might be 
appropriately and conveniently employed. 

The occasions on which the deontological 
principle is called into action, are either perma 
nent or transient public or private. Public 
occasions are those which exist between man 
and man, as members of society in general a 
large proportion of which occasions, which may 
be properly called political, do not come within 
the scope of this work. " Man s private relations 
.are either natural or factitious those which may 
be considered as having birth for their source, 
and those which are accidental. These divisions 
will be found convenient on the demamj for the 
practical application of the moral code.] 

The word utility, with its conjugates, use 
ful and useless, uselessness and usefulness, has 
not been found applicable to all the cases where 
the principle itself is brought into operation. 

In some instances it appears too weak to ex 
press the force of the obligation of which it is 
desirable to give the idea. The mind will not 
be satisfied with such phrases as, It is useless to 
commit murder or, it would be useful to pre 
vent it : and so of incendiarism and acts of great 
magnitude of mischief. Hence its insufficiency 
in the field of legislation. 

The principles of asceticism and sentimental- 


ism being in a state of rivalry with the principle 
of utility, the employment of the term might be 
made, on every occasion, the ground for reject 
ing propositions which otherwise would be 
admitted. It pre-supposes, as it were, the truth 
of the doctrine of utility. 

In the word propriety, with its conjugates, 
proper and improper, the desideratum appears 
to have been found. It is a natural emanation 
from Deontology, or the knowledge of what is 

There is no objection to it in respect of inten 
sity of import: no crime, however heinous, but 
will be admitted to be improper. It is true, 
that to the rhetorician, an expression thus used 
may appear unsuited to the occasion, and he 
may deem the word itself improper. His object 
being to put others in a passion, his course is to 
appear to be in a passion himself; while, 
by so unexciting a term, not passion, but the 
absence of passion is expressed. But to the 
logician such an objection will not be formidable ; 
and it is for logical, and not for rhetorical 
purposes, that the word is wanted. 

It has, too, the usefulness of impartiality. It 
does not of itself decide between any of the 
systems and may be applied with equal pro 
priety to the developement of each. Probably 
neither the ascetic nor the sentimentalist will 


regard it as inappropriate, unless on the ground 
of its coolness. Both will certainly admit to be 
proper that of which they approve ; both that 
of which they disapprove, to be improper. It 
will, at all events, serve to express the two 
characters of an act, leaving any additional lan 
guage of praise or blame to be applied at will. 
It is the announcement of a judgment formed, 
and that without any intimation of the affections 
with which that judgment has been accompa 
nied, or the ground on which it has been deter 

To the Utilitarian it will have the convenience 
of covering the whole domain of action, and 
giving expression to the sentiment of Approba 
tion or disapprobation, to whichever part of the 
field of duty the act may belong. 




BEFORE the edifice of moral truth can be 
erected it is needful to clear away a vast heap 
of rubbish which obstructs the progress of the 
moral architect^/ Motives different from those 
which utility recognises ends hostile to those 
which utility proposes, have been and are the 
topics of self-elected moralists. When these are 
disposed of, the path of the Deontologist will be 
clear ; until they are disposed of, his path will 
be perplexed with their intrusions. 

The end of the Deontologist it cannot be 
too often repeated is happiness. Something 
that is not happiness, something different, 
something contradistinguished from happiness, 
was proposed by ancient philosophers. It was 
the summum bonum. 

And the summum bonum, the sovereign good, 
we can hardly better trace than in that accre 
dited history of it, to be found in the Oxford 
Compendium, once the text-book and authority 
of that famous university. 


In what does the summum bonum consist? 
The question was debated by multitudes, de 
bated from generation to generation, by men 
assuming to themselves the dictatorship of right 
and wrong. 

The summum bonum, in what does it consist ? 
What does the term signify ? Nonsense, and 
nothing more. 

The summum bonum, the sovereign good 
what is it ? The philosopher s stone that con 
verts all metals into gold the balm Hygeian 
that cures all manner of diseases. It is this 
thing, and that thing, and the other thing it is 
any thing but pleasure it is the Irishman s 
apple-pie made of nothing but quinces. 

If it were any thing, what would it be? Could 
it be anything but pleasure ? A pleasure, or 
the cause of pleasure? Supreme pleasure 
pleasure without pain happiness maximised ? 
What fool has there ever been so foolish as not 
to know that by no man, in no time, at no 
place, has such a prize been ever found ? 

In every walk of discipline error is a sort of 
vestibule through which men are condemned 
to pass on their approaches towards truth. 

^Wliile Xenophon was writing history, and Eu 
clid giving instruction in geometry, Socrates and 
Plato were talking nonsense under pretence of 
teaching wisdom and morality. /This morality of 


theirs consisted in words, this wisdom of theirs 
was the denial of matters known to every man s 
experience, and the assertion of other matters 
opposed to every man s experience. And ex 
actly in the proportion in which their notions 
on this subject differed from those of the mass 
of mankind, exactly in that proportion were 
they below the level of mankind. 

The people who took no pleasure in the 
uttering of any such nonsense ; the people were 
contented to reap common pleasures under the 
guidance of common sense. They were called 
ignorant and the vulgar herd, yet they crowded 
into their existence a balance of well-being, 
and most of them now and then a portion of 
happiness. Well-being their ordinary fare, 
happiness, a slight taste of it for an occasional 
feast. This was good enough for the ignorant 
vulgar; not so for the learned sages, men, 
who by whatever name they called their own 
sageships, were called by others wisest of men 
, wise men (<TO<OI), or lovers of wisdom 
i), who held their heads aloft and poured 
forth their streams of sophistry. 

. To -the profane vulgar they left the enjoyment 
of any such pleasure as might fall in their 
way. For their own disciples they reserved 
a thing a beautiful thing which they called 
TO ayaQov the summum bonum the sovereign 


good. What was it ? was it pleasure ? Oh no ! 
pleasure was not good enough for them ; it was 
something better than pleasure, and it could 
not be better without being different from it./ 

Now had their practice been what their 
preaching was, it could only have been said that 
they resembled the dog who, snapping at the 
shadow, lost the substance, But theirs was no 
such folly. ^Pleasure was good for one thing 
summum bonum for another; pleasure was to 
be enjoyed, summum bonum to be talked of. 
While they were all of them chattering about 
the summum bonum, each was amusing himself 
with the gross enjoyments of sense. They had 
their favorites, without number, some whose 
names arejcnown, others whom no history has 


It is as amusing to look at some of the con 
tests among men called sages, as it is instructive 
to trace their results. While in later times a 
set of physical philosophers were hunting for 
the universal panacea, the moral philosophers 
were running after their summum bonum. Ex- 

* Dependent as were the philosophers on public opinion, 
they knew better than to allow themselves to be governed, as 
James the First was, by those who administered to their 
pleasures. The uncontrollable character of the passion of 
Socrates of Socrates, the most prudent of the whole is 
admitted by himself in a very extraordinary confession. 


cellent objects both, and all agreed that both 
were in existence both were findable, but 
they did not agree as to where they were to be 

The idea of good, said one, there it is, 
there the summum bonum is to be found. Catch 
the idea of good, and you have caught the sum- 
mum bonum. And now, having caught it, are 
you a bit the happier? are you, with your sum- 
mum bonum, happier than the happiest of men 
who has not got it? But when you have got it, 
what will you do with it ? you need not per 
plex yourself with the question it is time 
enough to know when you have managed to 
get it. 

Two sets of philosophers took to this view of 
the matter : the Platonists and the Academics ; 
the Platonists, including, of course, the master- 
manufacturer of nonsense, from whom his fol 
lowers took their nonsense and their names; 

Nonsense is very like an eel : when you think 
you have it fast, it slips through your ringers, 
and in comes another lot of nonsense in the 
stead of it ; for after giving the summum bo 
num of these philosophers the idea of good, 
as if this were not unintelligible enough in the 
same breath, in the same sentence, and in the 
very next words, in comes the compound matter 
with a sivesive visione ct fnifyione Dei i. e. the 


vision and fruition the seeing and enjoying of 

Two things are these two separate things, 
and these separate things are synonymous with 
* the idea of good, the sight of God the en 
joyment of God. The God of Christianity, the 
God of the Bible this cannot be, for he is not 
to be seen he is invisible; what can, indeed, be 
meant by the God of the Platonists and Acade 
mics ? which of their Gods, as they were all 
heathens, and had Gods by thousands which 
of them did they ever enjoy ? and how did they 
enjoy them ? 

But we are still at sea, and another set cry 
out, The habit of virtue/ the habit of virtue 
is the summum bonum : either this is the jewel 
itself, or the casket in which it will be found. 
Lie all your life long in your bed with the rheu 
matism in your loins, the stone in your bladder, 
and the gout in both your feet have but the 
habit of virtue, and you have the summum bo 
num. Much good may it do you. Your con 
dition will be no impediment negative virtue 
is virtue no doubt. It will not be easy to fall 
into the practice of vice and of your summum 
bonum, the seat, if it be any where, must be in 
your head ; now, would you be content to have 
the stone in your bladder, the rheumatism in 


your loins, and the gout in your feet, even 
though you could get your head crammed with 
summum bonums ? 

Lest the sense of this nonsense should be 
mistaken, behold the Oxford Instructor, with a 
remark of kindred sagacity at his fingers ends : 
For, says he, reason shows that a naked 
habit is not of any, the least value, unless it be 
referred to observation, and brought forward into 
act and exercise. A habit without an art? A 
habit in existence, and not so much as a single 
act in it ! A habit formed, and out of the acts, 
which make the habit not so much as a single 
act ever done ! and so, lest you should fall into 
any such error, and, in consequence, any such 
misconduct, as that of persevering in the habit 
of virtue, without ever having performed a single 
act of virtue, the valuable information thus 
given is benignantly bestowed. 

But, to know where the summum bonum is 
noty is of little service enough, unless you can 
also learn where it is. And we have at last Vir 
tue virtue itself, that is the summum bonum. 

Ponendum est igitur summum hominis bo 
num in ipsd virtute. What? In the habit of 
virt ae ? Oh no ! not in any such thing : that is 
the very error against which you have just been 
warned have virtue, you need not trouble 


yourself about the habit of it. You may, in 
deed, have it, if you like, but no summum bo- 
num will you get by it. 

Ponendum est igitur summum hominis bonum 
in ipsa virtute. Nothing can be more positive, 
nothing more decided : whereupon, immediately 
upon the back of this concise nonsense comes a 
torrent of diffuse nonsense, by which every 
thing that was settled is wasted away, 

And therefore, continues the instructor, 
and therefore in acting according to the best 
and most perfect virtue, consists the essence of 
human felicity. Yet, to entirety and perfection 
of human felicity are required certain good 
things of the body and fortune ; and, moreover, 
that serene pleasure of mind which is born 
(though it should seem in a sort of sly way) 
is born, subnascitur, from the conscience of 
things well done/ 

And this felicity/ he goes on to assure us, is 
a steady kind of good, and not easily can it be 
lost/ With the assurance you have the grounds 
and reasons of the assurance : For, says he, 
virtue, in which its foundation is laid (the sum- 
mum bonum being itself the virtue), neither can 
it be snatched out of hands unwilling to part 
with it ; nor, when the good things of the body 
and fortune are gone, does it immediately go 
along with them. In a word, by the loss of 


external good things the essence of felicity is 
not taken away ; all that happens to it is to be 
diminished, and to have its integrity mutilated/ 

But there was another class of philosophers ; 
hogs indeed, who did not see the visions, nor 
enjoy the enjoyments of the Platonists and 
Academics, with their divinity or divinities; 
nor stumble, with the Stoics, on their habits of 
virtue the sensual hogs the Epicureans. The 
summum bonum being the thing sought where 
did they look who would have thought it ? 
They, hogs as they were, looked for it in plea 
sure. So says the Instructor. It was in plea 
sure, yea ! in bodily pleasure. Yet on the very 
face of the story there is incorrectness in this 
account of them. That to them pleasure was 
pleasure, is highly probable; that if they had 
been sent to hunt for summum bonum, they 
would have looked towards pleasure, that, too, 
is very likely : but that in their account of plea 
sures, pleasures not bodily were omitted, is 
neither probable, a priori, nor is it true in 

Some pleasures have their seat in the body 
others in the mind, To whom is this most 
obvious fact unknown ? By whom is it unex 
perienced ? Could these philosophers be igno 
rant of that with which every body is ac 


But having started the subject of bodily plea 
sure, the Instructor tells us that, at all events, 
the summum bonum is not there. And why ? 

Because the part of the human frame to 
which they belong, is the ignoble part; and, 
secondly, They do not last they are short : 
and, thirdly, Every now and then, when they 
are over, they leave unsavoury recollections, and 
bring blushes. 

They are ignoble. The life of A. is filled up 
with pleasures, all of them ignoble, all of them 
intense none of them alloyed with pains. In 
the life of B. such pleasures as there are, are of 
the noble kind, but all of them mingled and out 
weighed by pains. Whose lot of the two would 
a man in his senses choose ? 

The part the semi-ignoble, be it what it 
may is it less necessary than any other part ? 
Ignoble as it is, would the compendium-writer 
would his master have liked to have been with 
out it ? But, as thus applied, ignoble means any 
thing but ignoble ; the sound of the word is all 
there is in it. Let it mean, however, what he 
will have it mean. Take two men, Felix and 
Miser. The life of Felix is crowded with plea 
sures with ignoble pleasures pure pleasures ; 
i.e. pleasures unalloyed with pain. The life of 
Miser has pleasures too noble pleasures ; each 
pleasure faint, and each of them outweighed by 


pains. Felix or Miser, tell us philosopher! 
which would you rather be ? 

Alas ! alas ! this all a mistake. It is not the 
particular organ, it is the body, the whole 
body, which is the ignoble thing. The organ 
may be subservient to the pleasure, but the 
pleasure is subservient to the body. Well, 
allowing ignoble, though it means nothing, to 
mean any thing, and that the body is as ignoble 
as heart can wish what then ? The seat of the 
pleasure, be the pleasure what it will, is it not 
in the mind ? Did any body ever see a body 
that felt pleasure when the mind was out of it ? 

Again, the duration of bodily pleasure is short. 
Good again ; and what if it be ? Take each by 
itself, there is but little of it. Well, and what 
of that ? Take a guinea out of your pocket, and 
get the change for it shillings farthings : 
which is worth most, the guinea or the change ? 
Which is the heavier, a pound of gold or a pound 
of feathers ? When you have answered these, 
you shall be told, if you like, whether the objec 
tion about shortness has any thing in it but 

Once more : the recollection of bodily plea 
sures is unsavory, and demands blushes. When 
enjoyed in an improper manner, let the recollec 
tion of them be ever so unsavoury, those enjoyed 
in a proper manner, will they be the worse for 


it? Let those which have been bought with a 
balance of pain, bring blushes no blushes need 
there be for those which have left a balance of 

All these summum bonumists have their re 
spective names ; there are three sets, however, 
without names : the denominated^eing all in the 
wrong, the undenominated equally so. True ! 
they are all in the wrong, if the Oxford Instructor 
be in the right. Greatly in the wrong are they, 
even though they obtain what they desire, should 
they suppose they had obtained the summum 
bonum ; and greatly in the wrong, again, if, 
having possessed themselves of what they value, 
they should value it at its worth. 

First comes the vulgus, Anglice, [tHe mob. 
These place their summum bonum in riches 
riches in great quantities. v These are all in the 
wrong box, though so many of them there be. 
And reason good ; for this wealth of which the 
vulgar are sofond,;is but of small value, be there 
ever so much of it. In the first place, / it is 
slippery and unsteady; in the next, *it[isjiot 
loved for its own sake/ but for the sake of some 
thing else that is to be obtained fonJjtj and, in 
the third place, whom does it belong to ? Not 
to the owner, but to Fortune/ 

It is slippery and unsteady ; which is, in plain 
English, the varnish being stripped off, it is 

vor. i. E 


liable to be lost. But the question is, what is 
it worth, not to him who has it not, but to him 
who has it ? And, as is well observed by Adam 
Smith, in England at least, the country where 
the tutor wrote, for one man who has lost 
what he had, you have a good thousand who 
have not only kept it, but added to it. But 
these blindfold travellers in the paths of com 
mon place, are wholly heedless of the history of 
man heedless of the changes which time has 
introduced into the value and security of wealth. 
That treasure, which in ancient days was with 
great propriety associated with uncertainty and 
mutability, might now be made to represent 
possession in its maximum of security. In the 
heart of Greece in Athens, when Aristotle 
wrote, land was at two years purchase; in 
England it is worth thirty years purchase. 

It is not desired for its own sake it is only 
desired because something which is desired may 
be obtained in exchange for it. And if by it, 
and for it, a man gets what he wants, in what 
respect is it the less valuable ? If a man obtain 
the object of his desire, what more would he 
have? and if he has not the summum bonum 
itself, has he not something just as good as 
ever the summum bonum would be ? 

But, worst of all, it is not ours it is not in 
our possession but in the temerity of Fortune. 


* Non in nostrd potestate, sed in Forturiae temeri- 
tate. In this beautiful union of rhetoric with 
poetry in this dance of Fortune between the 
two fates, lies the strength of the argument; 
which strength, by the way, in the process of 
being decanted out of Latin into English, mostly 
evaporates. And what remains but this, which 
was told us before, that wealth is a slippery sort 
of thing that it glides out of people s hands 
that it may glide out of ours? for such news, 
once telling might well have sufficed. 

There may be something more. Yes! we 
learn that Fortune is a woman, and that woman 
a rash one. Good in rhetoric but this is a 
book on Ethics. Good in rhetoric ? No ! not 
even this ; for where design is not, neither can 
rashness be. 

/Next come your politicians and votaries of 
ambition. In honor and in power, in the one 
or the other, and nothing better, do these men 
place their summum bonum. 

The reasoning, if such a thing it can be 
called, the reasoning is pretty much as before ; 
the language a little changed, for it was neces 
sary to say something new, and nothingness as 
well as other matters may vary its shape. 
Riches were slippery and unstable. Honor 
and power are uncertain and deciduous ; 
depending for the most part on popular breath 


or pretended favour. And, to add to the 
chance of the discovery, Horace is called in to 
sanction by his poetry the prose of our philo 

When it was of riches that our moralist had 
to speak, he told us that it was not for them 
selves, but for the sake of other things that they 
were sought after. But neither in honor, no, 
nor yet in power, whatever their votaries may 
fancy, is there any intrinsic dignity ; or, if there 
be intrinsic dignity, it is not of that sort which 
should cause them to be either desired or 

As to caducity, has not the objection been 
answered when the objection of unsteadiness 
was answered ? But has it a meaning at all ? 
If it have, he who has found a meaning for it, is 
not the Oxford Instructor. Honore ? what means 
honore ? Honor or honors ; good reputation, or 
political and factitious dignity : for in England 
thus wide is the distinction between singular 
and plural. Good repute reputation is it 
that ? By accident, no doubt, may good repute 
attend upon ill-desert ; and ill-repute upon good. 
But if this disastrous state of things be possible 
if it sometimes be witnessed, its continuance 
is of rare occurrence. Were there even more 
truth in it than there is, the use of such an argu 
ment little becomes a moralist ; to underrate the 


power of the moral sanction, seems a strange 
way of advancing morality : to throw his weight 
into the scale of false opinion, and employ that 
false opinion as an instrument in his craft, is a 
sad exhibition for the moralist to make. Others 
may undervalue, and cast aside the moral sanc 
tion ; but is this fit for him to do ? To undervalue 
it is to undervalue his own occupation to be 
come a tradesman flinging undeserved discredit 
on his own wares. 

Is it honors factitious reputation the plural 
meaning? Here, as in the case of riches, the 
worse it is to lose, the better it is to have them ; 
the continuation of their enjoyment must be 
contrasted with the cessation of their possession. 
It is in the keeping them, and not in the parting 
with them, that any body would look for the 
summum bonum, who expected to find them 
there. To keep them, to increase them, is the 
ordinary course ; to lose them is but the acci 
dental one. 

But whether it be honor, or whether it be 
power, what does pretended, what does simulated 
mean? If favor has advanced a man to honor 
or dignity, why should it be called insincere ; 
and in what respect would "bd a man who is be 
nefited by it be the better or worse, if, instead 
of a degrading title, it had all the adornings which 
the finest phraseology could gather around it? 


Last of all come a band of men, whom, sup 
posing them to exist, he calls theoretics. These 
men look to contemplation to contemplation 
alone for the summum bonum. 

Contemplation ? To reach the summit of hu 
man felicity, a man has nothing to do but to 
contemplate. Who would not be a theoretic ? 
Crede quod habes et habes. Believe you have 
it, and it is yours ; and if there be any case 
in which the truth of this maxim is exem^ 
plified, it is this ; for between being happy, 
and fancying one s self happy, where, as long 
as the fancy lasts, where, what is the differ 

Of these men surely may be said, and with 
no less propriety, what Cicero said of another set 
of men. Istos viros sine contumelia dimitti- 
mus : sunt enim boni viri, et quandoquidem ita 
sibi ipsis videtur beati. They are a good set 
of men ; and forasmuch as they are blessed in 
their own opinion, blessed are they. 

Not so our moralist. Happy though they 
may dream themselves, it is all a mistake of 
theirs. He will show them why. 

Why then? We are born for action, he says ; 
for action ; and in order to prove it, he summons 
( the fabric of our nature to give evidence : 
whereupon he observes, that if in our actions 
no action ( no action of offices (or duties) takes 


place, then the highest knowledge on arts or 
sciences is in a certain sort defective, and will 
be of little service to mankind/ This is rather 
a roundabout way of coming at a matter of 
fact. If scribere est agere, better proof was he 
giving while scribbling his philosophy. And 
there are only two objections to be urged 
the first, that all this means nothing : the second, 
that if it did, it is nothing to the purpose. 

But let the theoretic be produced, wrapt 
up in his contemplations, thinking about any 
thing else, or nothing else, and fancying him 
self happy so happy as to have found the sum- 
mum bonum, and let our philosopher come with 
his fabric of our nature to batter down the 
theoretic s felicity. Will the theoretic believe 
his own senses, which tell him that he has got 
the summum bonum, or our philosopher who 
assures him he has not ? 

In fine, let him fling away the Platonists, 
Academicians, and Stoics; they shall be as 
much in the wrong as he pleases ; but for the 
rest, there is not one of them so completely in 
the wrong as he. Every one of the others 
whether he found the sovereign good or not, found 
some good, but not an atom of good has our 
philosopher found where he looked for it. How 
should he? It was not there. They might 


have been wrong, but they did not contradict 
themselves did not bring out one sentence 
just to have it annihilated by another. 

His summum bonum any summum bonum, 
must amount to nothing without a dose of those 
other things on which he pours out his scorn 
and drags through the kennel. But what dose? 
This he does not pretend to know ; it is a 
moderate dose, and that is all he can say about 
it. With any other summum bonum than his 
you have at all events something with his you 
have nothing but moonshine, and not moonshine 
enough to show you your way, 

It may be urged, after all, that however bad 
the logic of these different pretenders, their 
ethics were good that the effect was good, 
whatever may have been the cause ; and that 
the badness of the argument matters little, if 
the effect were good. Were you to choose for 
your friend, between two men, one of whom 
always reasoned well and acted ill towards you 
while the other reasoned ill but acted well ; 
should you hesitate in the selection ? Certainly 
not. But of the antique sages, much of their 
logic has come down to us, and few of their 
actions. Arguing as they argue, their conduct 
might have been good or bad : nothing is more 
common than for men to have two theories ; one 


for show, and another for use. ? If bad logic, 


however, be any where mischievous, it is in the 
field of morals. Such doctrines as we have 
been exhibiting, could never have been held but 
at the expense of the understanding ; and deep 
indeed must be the prostration of the under 
standing, enfeebled indeed must its strength 
have become, ere trash like this could have 
mastered it. 

But these are valuable articles of ammunition 
in the hands of those who think for the public, 
to let fly among jmeji whom precedents serve 
instead of brains, who, knowing or caring little 
about what had best be done in future, will 
hear of nothing but what has been done before^ 

There is great ground for suspicioij in the 
meantime, that in all this there is butlittl^ honest 
advocacy. He who loses sight of /the only true 
and useful morality, that which leaves a balance 
of pleasure as its results he who seems rather 
desirous of leading a conversation, than of find 
ing a rule for action ; he, in a word, who puts 
forward, on all occasions, the silly and baneful 
fallacy that what is good in theory is bad in 
practice ; he is not really entitled to that atten 
tion which implies respect, When philosophy is 
meant for talk and parade, its absurdities may 
serve as decorations ; but if morality be good, 


and if happiness be good, no nonsense will make 
them bad. The moral sanction, understood and 
developed, will take them under its wing ; and 
the common interest will give more and more 
efficiency to truth and reason those great 
allies by whose aid it will establish its own 




EVERY pleasure is prima facie good, and ought 
to be pursued. Every pain is prima facie evil, 
and ought to be avoided* 

The fact, that after experience of its enjoy 
ment a man pursues a pleasure, is in itself evi 
dence of its goodness. 

Every act whereby pleasure is reaped is, all 
consequences apart, good. 

Every act by which pleasure is reaped, with 
out any result of pain, is pure gain to happiness; 
\ every act whose results of pain are less than the 
results of pleasure, is good, to the extent of the 
balance in favour of happiness. 

/ Every person is not only the best, but the 
only proper judge of what,_with reference to 
himself, is pleasure, and what pain. 

To say, that If I do this, I shall get no 
balance of pleasure, therefore if you do it, you 
will get no balance of pleasure, is mere pre 
sumption and folly. 

To say, that If I do this, I shall get no pre- 


ponderant pleasure ; but if you do this, you may 
get a preponderant pleasure, yet it is not proper 
you should do it/ is absurdity; and if I apply 
evil in any shape to prevent the act, it is injus 
tice aud injury ; and if I call in the powers of 
government to prevent the act, it is tyranny. 

Keeping out of view future contingent conse 
quences, the fact of the long continuance of the 
free and habitual exercise of any act by an indi 
vidual, is evidence that it is productive to him 
of pure or preponderant good, and therefore fit 
and proper to be pursued ; that is to say, by the 
free exercise of the act, it is here implied, that 
it is not of a character to be visited by reward 
or punishment from any extraneous source. 

To warrant the assumption that any given act 
is an evil one, it is incumbent on him who im- 
pbgns it to shew, not only that evil will be the 
result of it, but that the sum of evil will be 
greater than the sum of good which it produces. 

If, by misrepresentation of consequences, or 
erroneous reasoning, and still more by fear of 
punishment, whether physical, popular or moral, 
political or religious, a man is prohibited from 
the enjoyment of any pleasure, an injury is 
inflicted on him, equal in amount to the balance 
of pleasure of which he is deprived. 

The amount of delinquency of such an injury 
will be graduated by the state of the delinquent s 


mind with reference to the consequences of the 
act. Absence of evil consciousness will dimi 
nish the offence, though it will not diminish the 
injury. The offence will be maximized when 
the malajides is maximized in the breast of the 

The amount of injury done by the inhibition 
of a pleasure v/hich might have been enjoyed, is 
equal to the infliction of a pain to a similar 
amount, which otherwise would not have been 

/Penal legislation throws its protection over 
property, solely on the ground that property is 
an instrument for the attainment of pleasure or 
the avoidance of pajjoJ Except where pleasure 
and pain are concerned, legislation is wasted. 

If, -by erroneous reasoning, another man is 
debarred of pleasure, there is no sufficient reason 
for visiting the erroneous reasoner with punish 
ment, for erroneous reasoning is best met and 
most successfully extinguished by sound reason 
ing : and it is not by punishment, or the fear of 
punishment, that its erroneousness can be proved 
and exposed. ! In proportion to the erroneous- 
ness of an opinion will be the demand for punish 
ment in its support ; and there can be no more 
presumptively conclusive evidence of the erro 
neousness of an opinion than that it should 


employ, or seek to employ, punishment as its 

He who, for the purpose of obtaining wealth, 
reputation, or power for himself, endeavours to 
debar others from those acts which leave a pre 
ponderance of enjoyment to them, resembles the 
man who, in an upper story, should with one 
hand be piling guineas, and with the other be 
flinging nuisances on the heads of passengers be 
low. And he who, on the subject of morals, deals 
out at random, without any specific reasons, his 
ought/ and his * ought not/ may be properly 
compared to the careless housemaid, who emp 
ties her receiving-pail from a chamber-window, 
indifferent to all who may chance to be going 


The value of pains and pleasures must be 
estimated by their intensity, duration, certainty, 
proximity, and extent. Their intensity, dura 
tion, proximity, and certainty, respect indivi 
duals ; their extent the number of persons under 
their influence. The greater amount of any of 
these qualities may counterbalance the lesser 
amount of any other. 

A pleasure or a pain may be fruitful, or bar 
ren. A pleasure may be fruitful in pleasures, 
or fruitful in pains, or fruitful in both ; and a 
pain, on the contrary, may be fruitful in plea- 


sures or pains, or both. It is the province of 
Deontology to weigh them, and to draw the rule 
of conduct from the result. 

The estimate of pain and pleasure, then, must 
be made by him who suffers or enjoys the one 
or the other. Even the short-sighted and un 
reflecting multitude are better satisfied to trust 
to their own experience and observation, than 
to take the word of they know not whom. 

Accordingly, the only way of turning the idea 
of pain in this way to any account, is to fix it to 
some known species : and it is by this that those 
religious teachers who deal most in specific 
images and lively portraitures of the pains of 
hell, owe that superiority of influence which 
they possess over regular divines. The eccle 
siastic who, by study and critical research, 
should satisfy himself that the language of scrip 
ture is metaphorical with regard to the peculiar 
character of the future pains of the wicked, ne 
cessarily employs, if acting according to his con 
viction, a much less efficient instrument of terror 
than he who introduces the material sufferings 
created by unquenchable fire, and burning 
brimstone, and gnawing worms, and all those 
objects which most vividly appeal to the 

Even the pleasures with which the more 
popular religious instructors embellish the man- 


sions of the blessed, are pleasures of love, which, 
though separated in their descriptions from their 
earthly basis, fail not, under favour of a certain 
confusion of terms and ideas, to draw, secretly 
and imperceptibly, much of their force from the 
regions of sense. To figure to themselves the 
transports of heaven, they aid their conceptions 
with associations of transports they have expe 
rienced upon earth : transports which, although 
seemingly removed from the sexual passions, 
could not, for all that, have existed, but for those 
sexual passions. A proof of this is, that no 
word, such as friendship, which offers to the 
mind the affection entirely separated from this 
basis, is among those which they have chosen to 
dwell on, as the best adapted to the creation of 
those lively impressions they design to produce. 

In the analysis of pleasures and pains, or rather 
in the separation of pleasures and pains into 
their different classes or kinds, it may be neces 
sary to travel over the ground again which was 
laid out in the Introduction to the Principles of 
Morals and Legislation (Chapter V). 

First on the list stand the pleasures and pains 
of sense; comprising those of taste, smell, touch, 
sound, and sight, those derived from the sexual 
organization, from health or indisposition ; the 
pleasures of novelty, and the pains of weariness. 

Secondly, The pleasures of wealth, whether 


of acquisition or possession ; the corresponding 
pains of which, being pains of privation, must 
be referred to other heads. 

Thirdly, The pleasures of skill, and the pains 
of awkwardness. 

Fourthly, The pleasures of amity,* and the 
pains of enmity. 

Fifthly, The pleasures of good reputation, and 
the pains of ill repute. 

Sixthly, The pleasures of power. 

Seventhly, The pleasures of piety, or the re 
ligious pleasures, with their contrasted pains; 
pleasures derived from the belief of possessing 
the favour of the Divine Being, pains derived 
from an apprehension of his disapproval. 

Eighthly, The pleasures and the pains of 
"sympathy or benevolence. 

Ninthly, Those of malevolence. 

Tenthly, Those of memory. 

Eleventhly, Those of imagination. 

Twelfthly, Those of expectation ; and 

Lastly, Those of association. 

One general class of pains there are which 
must be resolved into all the classes of cor 
responding pleasures. These are the pains of 
privation, the pains arising from the absence 

* The pleasure of love is a mixed pleasure, composed of 
the pleasures of amity, superadded to those of sex. 
VOL. I. F 



of enjoyment.! Some of these vibrate, as it 
were, between the regions of pain and pleasure. 
Desire, for example, may belong to either ; its 
long continuance, without being satisfied, makes 
it almost invariably painful. When enjoyment 
seems so adjacent, or so certain as to create 
assurance, and the expectation of its arrival 
suddenly ceases, come the pains of disappoint 
ment. When an enjoyment is over, and its re 
turn cannot be anticipated, come the pains of 
regret. Pains there are grounded on pleasures, 
and pleasures grounded on pains as the plea 
sures of relief, when pain ceases or abates. Of 
the whole list of pains and pleasures, two 
classes only regard others they are those of 
benevolence and malevolence. All the rest are 
self- regarding. 

These pleasures and pains the obtaining the 
pleasure, the avoidance of the pain are the 
sole motives of human conduct. To most of 
them a phraseology has been adapted, conveying 
a bad, an indifferent, and a good sense ; for in 
stance, the love of reputation, in a bad sense, 
is denominated false honor, pride or vanity ; 
in an indifferent sense, ambition, a word sus 
ceptible of interpretation, leaning towards either 
virtue of vice ; in a good sense, honor, or the 
love of glory : the religious motive takes all 
the shades of zeal, piety, devotion, superstition, 


enthusiasm, fanaticism. But, however varied 
the phraseology, these motives will be found, it 
is believed, to belong to one or other of the 
above classes of pains and pleasures. 

There are many pleasures and pains which, 
though capable of acting, and acting, in fact, as 
motives to conduct, have only a remote con 
nection with the subject. The pleasure of 
novelty, for example, is the anticipation of an 
undefined, or only partly defined, enjoyment : 
it is the acquisition of a new article of know 
ledge; it may even be a sort of pleasurable 
disappointment ; it sometimes takes the shape 
of a difficulty overcome the pleasure, and the 
cause of the pleasure, it is frequently very dif 
ficult to link together. 

The pleasure of memory is the pleasure of 
power the power over things which promise 
utility, through the medium of ideas. To recall 
what we desire to recall, is a sort of triumph 
both of the will and the intellect ; for amidst 
the strange workings of the human mind, we 
frequently seek to recollect what we cannot, 
while we recollect what we would not; that 
which we most desire to repossess glides away 
from our memory, while that which is most 
disagreeable to us hangs about it with strong 
influence and power. The pleasures of concep 
tion or imagination depend, for their connection 


with *vice and virtue, on their subject and 
their source. 

The susceptibility of any individual to the 
influence of pain and pleasure in general, or to 
the influence of any particular pain or plea 
sure, depends on bodily and intellectual organi 
zation on knowledge habit domestic and 
social condition sex, age, climate, government ; 
in a word, on circumstances so various and 
intricate that, to develope the exact extent and 
character of each, is perhaps, if not absolutely 
the most difficult, at least, one of the most dif 
ficult tasks within the compass of moral physi 
ology. 1 * Nor would it repay the toil of follow 
ing the investigation into its boundless ramifica 
tions, since, after all, every man must be the 
best judge of his own sensibilities, and of the 
pains and pleasures which act most influentially 
upon them. In the penal field such considera 
tions are highly important, because the amount 
of crime and the quantum of punishment will, to 
a great extent, have to be estimated by them. 
But, in the Deontological field, a man stands 
constantly at his own tribunal far less fre 
quently at that of others. 

Into these regions, then, of pain and plea 
sure, it is the business of the moralist to bring 

* Introduction to Morals and Legislation, p. xlii. 


all human actions, in order to decide on their 
character of propriety or impropriety, vice or 
virtue. And, in truth, it will be found on ex 
amination that, from the beginning of time, men 
have, often imperceptibly, and in spite of them 
selves, been applying this utilitarian standard to 
their actions, even while they have been boldly 
decrying it. 

The world has, indeed,, seen men who have 
imagined that, by the infliction of misery on 
themselves, they were acting wisely and virtu- 
ously. But their motives, after all, were the 
same as those of the rest of mankind, and they 
scourged themselves, or starved themselves, on 
the same calculation of a result of happiness. 
But they reasoned, that the harvest of future 
pleasure was to grow out of the soil of present 
pain, and in the anticipation of that harvest 
bountiful and boundless in their eyes they 
found the result of enjoyment. And then 
they argued farther, that patience was a virtue, 
and courage was a virtue, and that a just being 
would find a recompense for their exercise. It 
seems not to have occurred to them that the 
Divine Being, if just and good, could never de 
sire that any happiness should be thrown need 
lessly away, or any suffering be uselessly in 
flicted. Their asceticism was utilitarianism turned 


upside down ; they imagined they approved of 
actions, because those actions brought misery 
with them; disapproved of actions, because they 
were pregnant with felicity. Perhaps a certain 
portion of mystery and difficulty was intention 
ally mixed up with their theory. The Divine 
Being they worshipped they were unwilling to 
invest in attributes of the same character with 
those which they could not but call justice and 
wisdom, and prudence and benevolence in men ; 
for mystery naturally likes to revel in the 
regions of imagination. Hence they framed 
and fancied other principles of conduct for the 
Deity, and amused themselves by setting up 
their authority, and exercising their ingenuity 
to reconcile the irreconcilable, and prove the 
impossible. They introduced impostures, and 
called them pleasures, while genuine pleasures 
took to themselves wings and flew away from 
their frown. 

The ascetic principle then is but the misap 
plication of the greatest-happiness principle, 
while every other standard of morals will be 
found to be despotism and egotism. Lord 
Shaftesbury s moral sense is but a declaration 
that the opinion the moral sense of the actor 
is the true rule of action. To assume its ex 
istence is, after all, but begging the question. 


If men have it, it is well :_but it is their not 
having it that makes it necessary to look for it, 
or to find something instead of it. 

The danger of assuming it as the principle 
or originator of right actions, and the adoption of 
its pretended decisions, is, that they would 
either exclude or interfere with all other princi 
ples the principle of utility itself. Where is 
the line to be drawn ? How is the discordance 
to be reconciled ? Opposing forces might nega 
tive each other. From thenceforward all is in 
confusion. Caprice itself is erected into a rule. 

Its utter incapacity ever to become practically 
serviceable should alone, one would think, be 
sufficient to give its patronizers a disgust to it. 

Dr Beattie s common sense is a pretension of 
the same character, since he would reckon no 
common sense a fit standard which differed from 
his own. Dr Price s understanding would rebel 
against the understanding of the man that was 
guided in a career of morals unlike that he was 
embarked in ; and so the. whole round of arro 
gance may be seen reason, right reason, na 
ture, and nature s law, natural justice, natural 
right, natural equity, good order, truth all are 
but the dogmas of men who insist on implicit 
obedience to their decrees. \ And, indeed, 
nothing can be more flattering to the indolent, 
the disingenuous, the domineering spirit which 


lurks, more or less, in all men, than a pretence 
for uniting, in one s own person, the characters 
of Advocate and Judge. 

The moral sense, say some, prompts to gene 
rosity, but does it determine what is generous ? 
It prompts to justice, but does it determine 
what is just? 

It can decide no controversy it can re 
concile no difference. Introduce a modern 
partizan of the moral sense, and an ancient 
Greek, and ask each of them whether actions 
Deemed blameless in ancient days, but respect 
ing which opinions have now undergone great 
change, ought to be tolerated in a community. 
By no means, says the modern ; as my moral 
sense abhors them, therefore they ought not. 
But mine, says the ancient, approves of them ; 
therefore they ought/. And there, if the modern 
keep his principles and his temper, the matter 
must end between them. Upon the ground 
of moral sense there is no going one jot further ; 
and the result is that the actions in question are 
at once laudable and detestable. The modern, 
then, as probably he will keep neither his prin 
ciples nor his temper, says to the ancient, Your 
moral sense is nothing to the purpose ; yours is 
corrupt, abominable, detestable : all nations cry 
out against you/ No such thing/ replies the 
ancient; and if they did, it would be nothing 


to the purpose ; our business was to inquire, 
not what people think, but what they ought to 
think. Thereupon the modern kicks the an 
cient, or spits in his face ; or, if he is strong 
enough, throws him behind the fire. One can 
think of no other method that is at once natural 
and consistent, of continuing the debate. 

If you can persuade them both to take the 
principle of utility for their guide, the discourse 
will take another turn ; the result will be either 
that they will agree, or that if they disagree, 
it will be about some facts ; and there is no 
occasion for supposing either of them to be so 
unreasonable as to be angry with his opponent 
for entertaining a different opinion from his own 
concerning a matter of fact ; they will separate 
with a resolution to make inquiries that tend to 
clear up some of the facts, if they are in their 
nature capaple of being cleared up to the sa 
tisfaction of the inquiring party, or in the 
conviction of the impossibility of coming to an 
agreement, with the resolution of each acting 
up to his own opinion, satisfied, at least in some 
degree, with seeing upon what the point of the 
dispute turns. 

Thus the subject of their disagreement, when 
they came to a conclusion, would be certain 
facts, and such must be the only conclusion ; 


for such, if they proceeded on the principle 
of utility, would all along be the object of 
inquiry ; the only object at least that can give 
room to imagine a disagreement. 

jMen there are who think the cause of truth 

betrayed by exposing it to doubt, by making it 

the object pf inquiry. Let them say whether 

they think an inquiry of this calm and unim- 

passioned kind, could possibly end in the 

justification of murder, robbery, theft, devas- 

tation, malicious mischief, perjury, or any of 

those crimes which are generally dreaded as 

mortal to the peace of society ? If not, then 

either the actions in question are not of the 

same malignant nature ; in which case there is 

no reason why they should be treated as if they 

were, or if they are of the same malignant nature, 

the inquiry will show them to be so. 

x Though it should be sentiment, and nothing 
else but sentiment, that leads men to perform 
certain actions which we call virtuous, it must 
be something else than sentiment that would 
lead a person instructed in all the circumstances 
of the case that is, in the whole sum of its in 
fluence on pains and pleasures, to approve of it. . 

Disappointed of knowledge, men look for 
screens to hide their ignorance. 
The moral sense is not pretended to be any 


thing more than a propensity in a man, first, to 
do a certain action and secondly, to approve 
of it. 

)jBjiL-that propensity in its two shapes may 
exist with respect to many actions, which the- 
partizans of the moral sense are as ready to 
condemn as any one elsew 

It is to be hoped that a time is arrived 
in which the translation of vague generalities 
and of arbitrary assumptions into the simple 
language of pains and pleasures, will gradually 
banish a phraseology which, more than any 
other, tends to cover all questions of vice and 
virtue with impenetrable mists. Conduct, for 
example, is called unnatural, and therefore it is %^ 
reprobated, and this language is used very fre- r 
quently by those who contend that all the natural 
tendencies of mankind are towards profligacy ; 
but, if the meaning be thoroughly sifted, it will 
be found, in many instances, that nothing is in 
tended more than that the conduct is unusual or 
uncommon. But this of itself predicates neither 
vice nor virtue, neither merit nor demerit. The 
sublimest acts of virtuous heroism draw their 
lustre from their rarity they may be called un 
common, unnatural is that a ground for repro 
bating them ? Far from it./ 

The word purity, it is proper to add here, is 
employed in this work solely in the mathemati- 


cal or arithmetical sense. This is necessary to 
be stated, because rhetoric very frequently at 
taches a meaning to the word, as it does to 
many others, which can only engender confused 
or mischievous ideas. 

A pleasure is considered pure, in the degree in 
which it is unaccompanied by counterbalancing 
pains a pain is pure, in the proportion in 
which it is unaccompanied by counterbalancing 

In the amount of well-being, purity and im 
purity are what profit and loss are in the com 
mercial balance. Purity is profit, impurity loss. 
A pleasure, preponderantly impure, corresponds 
. to the case of a money account, when the 
balance is on the side of loss. A pain, pre 
ponderantly impure, corresponds to an account, 
when the balance is on the side of profit. 
In medical practice, in domestic rule, in politi 
cal government, when, for its purpose of good, 
pain is produced, it is produced with the design 
and endeavour that it shall be as impure as 

The original idea of purity ,is the absence of 
every other substance from the substance to 
which the attribute is meant to apply. What 
ever is different or foreign brings with it im 
purity. Water, for instance, employed for 
drink, or in the preparation of food, is liable to 


be combined with a variety of substances, many 
of which would render it less fit, and some 
more fit for these purposes. Its purity will 
then be in proportion to their absence. Flour 
would be rendered impure by a mixture of coal 
dust, and coals would lose their purity by being 
mingled with flour or hair powder. The quality 
of unwholesomeness or offensiveness, whether 
to the senses or the imagination, adds to the in 
tensity which is ascribed to the impurity. 





IT is desirable, it is even necessary, that some 
word should be found to represent the balance 
of a man s pains and pleasures, as spread over 
any considerable portion of his existence. 

Well-being will fitly denote the balance in 
favour of pleasure. Ill-being the balance, if in 
favour of pain. 

The word happiness is not always appropriate. 
It represents pleasure in too elevated a shape ; 
it seems associated with the idea of enjoyment 
in its superlative degree. 

Comparatively speaking, there are few who 
would not admit that they had, in their progress 
through life, enjoyed a portion, more or less con 
siderable, of well-being. Much fewer, perhaps 
none, would admit the enjoyment of happiness. 

The quantity of well-being depends on gene 
ral sensibility, its quality upon particular sen 
sibility, the being more alive to pleasure and 
pain from some sources than from others. 

But by competent attention and observation 
every man will be best acquainted with the 


character of his own sensibilities. By counte 
nance, gesture, deportment, contemporaneous 
.or subsequent conduct, he may give indications 
to others ; but no evidence will be so complete, 
no testimony so direct, as that of his own feel 
ings : thence it follows that, with the benefit of 
experience, every man is a more competent 
judge of what is instrumental to his own well- 
being than any other man ; and hence it would 
be absurd to prescribe the same line of conduct 
to be invariably observed on the same occasions, 
without any reference to the particular sensibi 
lities of the party concerned. 

Taking the whole of mankind together, on 
which side of the account does the balance lie? 
Beyond dispute, it is on the side of well-being ; 
of well-being existence is in itself a conclusive 
proof, for small is the quantity of pain at the 
expense of which existence may be terminated. 

True it is, and melancholy as true, that the 
name of religion has been employed to introduce 
an Almighty being, whose delight is in human 
misery. Men have been found, who, shutting, 
their eyes to all thk evidence around them the 
unbounded evidence of goodness and of power 
have introduced final misery hopeless, limit 
less, interminable misery, as the consummation 
of his awful dispensations. The dreadful dogma 
is not to be found in Christianity, It is a most 


vain, most pernicious, most groundless conceit: 
The Christain Scripture lies open to every eye. 
In Ho one part of it -is intimation given of any 
such doom.f 

The unfrequency of suicide is irresistible tes 
timony to the fact that life is, on the whole, a 
blessing. And though the popular and sympa 
thetic sanction bear strongly upon the question, 
it cannot be said that suicide is forbidden by 
Jesus Christ. His own example, indeed shews 
that, at all events, a possible case of justification 
may exist ; for possessing, as he possessed, the 
power of exempting himself from death, he 
spontaneously subjected himself to it. 

Maupertuis, however, tells us that the balance 
of pains and pleasures is on the ill-being side. 
Horace s Qui fit, M&cenas, or something like it, 
is the burthen of his strain. Man desires to 
better his condition ; to acquire, for the future, 
something not possessed by the present. Well ! 
and what does this prove? Why, that to the 
balance already existing in favour of well-being, 
there exists in the breast of every man one ele 
ment more of well-being, the pleasure of expec 
tation, the pleasure of hope. But no, it may 
be said ; it is not for the increase of a balance on 
the side of pleasure that a man looks forward, 
and labours for a change of condition ; it is for 
the.diminution of a balance on the side of pain. 


Among those whom Horace had in view, this, at 
any rate, could not have been the case. For 
among them suicide was not regarded with 
horror, but with the highest praise and admi 

Sit Cato, dum vivit, sank vel Ceesare major 
Dum moritur, numquid major Otbone fuit? 

MARTIAL, vi. 32. 

By an ill-considered expression, Locke, a man 
worth a hundred Maupertuises, has given coun 
tenance to a most false, uncomfortable, and per 
nicious sentiment. He says that every action 
has its source in uneasiness. If this be true, 
uneasiness is the necessary accompaniment of 
action ; and a man, as often as he acts, and as 
long as he acts, must be ill at ease. But what 
is the feeling which Locke calls uneasiness? It 
is anything but a painful one. It is the sense, 
the presentiment of a capacity for enjoying, at 
some future time, a pleasure not then present. 
Pleasure may be springing from a thousand 
sources, while anticipation is looking to the 
opening of many more. The present may be 
bright with enjoyment, while the door of a 
brighter future is unlocked; and to the pleasures 
of possession may be associated the pleasures 
of hope. 

If Johnson were to be believed, every man is 
occupied with the thoughts of dinner till dinner 

VOL. i. G 


comes. And according to Locke, every man 
who is not at dinner is uneasy for the want of 
it. Every moment not employed in eating must 
be a moment of uneasiness. Yet this is not 
true: it was not true even of Johnson himself. 
Beyond every thing else Johnson loved his din 
ner; but, thinking thus amorously of his dinner, 
what prevented him from sitting with his Titsey 
on his knee, with a nosegay under his nose, 
another Titsey at the harpsichord, enchanting 
him with a song, and the work of a favourite 
Author in his right hand ? 




IF the balance of pleasure be really the intense, 
constant, and sole object of pursuit,-^-if it must 
always continue to be so, from the very consti 
tution of our natures, if there is no occasion in 
which it ceases to be so, for what object, may 
it not be asked, for what end is this or any other 
discourse on the subject of Ethics ? Why urge 
a man to pursue that which he is always occu 
pied in pursuing ? 

But the position is denied; for where, if the 
position be true, where, cries an objector, where 
is sympathy? where is benevolence? where is 
beneficence? Answer, exactly where they were. 

To deny the existence of the social affections 
would be to deny the evidence of all experience. 
Scarcely in the most brutal savage would they 
be found altogether wanting. 

But the pleasure I feel in bestowing pleasure 
on my friend, whose pleasure is it but mine ? 
The pain I feel at seeing my friend oppressed 
by pain, whose pain is it but mine ? And if I 


felt no pleasure, or felt no pain, where, where 
would be niy sympathy ? 

Why, it is asked again, waste time in enforc 
ing conduct which every man, on every occa 
sion, adopts for himself, namely, the pursuit 
of good ? 

Because, consideration will enable him more 
correctly to estimate what conduct will leave 
the greatest results of good ; for though, under 
immediate impressions, he might be disposed to 
pursue a particular course for the purpose of 
securing his well-being, a calmer, a more com 
prehensive view might show him that the course 
would not, on the whole, be the best and wisest; 
because he would sometimes discover that the 
nearer good would be outveighed by remoter, 
but associated evil, or that a greater pleasure 
might be obtained, in time to come, for a lesser 
pleasure abandoned now. 

Because, it might happen that the act which 
promises the present pleasure might prove pre 
judicial to others in the society to which you 
belong, and they, having sustained an injury at 
your hands, would, were it prompted by self, 
preservation alone, seek to avenge themselves, 
by the infliction of pain, equal, or greater in 
amount than the pleasure enjoyed. 

And again, the act under contemplation might 


possibly be productive of displeasure in the 
breasts of the community at large, and the loss of 
their good opinion, consequent on the act, might 
outweigh in value the pleasure it produced. 

Yet it may be said, a man s well-being ought 
not to be the object of his pursuit. This ought, 
like other oughts, is a mere covering for despotic, 
unsupported assertion, and only means that the 
objector thinks a man s well-being ought not to 
occupy his attention. The argument is just 
where it was ; it is all the stronger, if nothing can 
be brought upon it but dogmatical assumption. 
The objection is at best only the declaration of an 
opinion; and a declaration, without a reason, 
leaves matters pretty much as it found them. 

Illuminated by the Deontological principle, 
the field of action will assume a new appearance. 
The parade of wisdom, the solemn mootings, 
the curious distinctions, the cobweb reasonings, 
the scornful dogmas of intolerance and ignorance, 
/will vanish into nothing. Stripped of the mys 
teries and perplexities with which casuists and 
churchmen have involved the standard of duty, 
it will be found of daily use and daily comfort. 
Vague and declamatory generalities will lose 
their power, and become, as they are, fit objects 
of ridicule and lamentation: ridicule, considered 
in themselves ; lamentation, when considered in 
their consequences. 



The understanding and the will are alike 
operative on the ends of action. The will or the 
intention of every man is directed to the obtain- 
ment of his well-being. Deontology is called 
upon to enlighten the understanding, so that it 
may guide the will in its pursuit of happiness, 
by furnishing the most efficient means. The 
will has always the end in view ; it is for the 
understanding to correct the aberrations of the 
will, where the will employs other than the 
fittest instruments. The repetition of acts, 
whether positive or negative ; that is, acts of 
commission or abstention, having for their ob 
ject the production of the greatest accessible 
balance of pleasure, and being judiciously di 
rected to that end, constitutes habitual virtue. 




Respicejinem. The end of action being de 
fined, that end must be steadily kept in view, 
and no inquiry can be more important than as 
to the most efficient means of promoting that 
end. Those means present themselves in the 
shape of the inducements which operate on con- 
duct.j, They .bring conduct and its consequences 
into the regions of hopes and fears of hopes 
which present a balance of pleasure, of fears 
which anticipate a balance of pain. These 
inducements may be conveniently called sanc 

The strength of a temptation to a misdeed is 
in the ratio of the excess of the pleasure of the 
misdeed (as it stands in the idea of the person 
tempted) above the intensity of the pain which 
is to follow, compounded with its apparent 
proximity and probability. 

Sanctions, as has been said, are inducements 
to action. They suppose the existence of temp 
tations. Temptations are the evil ; sanctions 
the remedy. But neither are sanctions nor 


temptations any thing but pains and pleasures, 
acting singly in the case of temptations, acting 
as sanctions in groups. 

But in order that a sanction should exercise 
its influence, it is not necessary that a man 
should be.conscious of the existence of the in 
ducement.! Balaam was stopped by the power 
of an angel that was invisible to him. 

Cases there are where necessity is and must 
be admitted as an excuse for conduct ; cases 
which are thus taken out of the ordinary rules. 
This excuse, when thoroughly sifted, will be 
found to be a confession of the inefficiency of 
punishment to prevent such conduct. The in 
efficiency of punishment has been seldom alleged 
by moralists or legislators as the reason why 
certain actions cannot be controlled ; but it is the 
only true and tenable ground; it it the real, but 
unperceived cause of the influence of necessity. 
Why, in such a case, did a man decide on a 
given action ? He felt a repugnancy to doing 
otherwise ; he could not resist the despotism of 
the repugnancy ; he could not even explain its 
cause a common case. What then ? No pu 
nishment was near enough and great enough to 
restrain him. 

Sanctions are arrangeable according to their 
nature, or according to their sources. Accord 
ing to their nature, they are either punitory by 


pain or loss of pleasure, or remunatory by plea 
sure or exemption from pain. They are divis- 
able into the physical, the social, the moral, the 
political, and the religious./ From all these 
sources proceed both penalties and recompenses, 
both pains and pleasures. 

1. The physical sanction concerns a man s per 
son physically and psychologically considered, 
as experienced in the pains and pleasures affect 
ing the body. It is derived from the physical 
construction of man in general, and will be 
modified by the peculiar sensibilities of the 
individual. Generally speaking, the physical 
sanction may be considered as that influence 
growing out of the ordinary course of things, 
which is brought to bear upon any action or 
actions, without reference to the will of others. 
It is that influence which is independent of mo 
tives derived from sources foreign to the indivi 
dual : it is the sanction which would exist, in 
all its force, if a man were isolated from the 
world, if he had no communion with his fellow- 
men, and no belief in the superintendence of 
Providence. It represents those pains and plea 
sures which do not directly emanate from his 
social, political, or religious position ; though it 
is the ground-work of the power of all other 
inducements, for it is only by their influence on 
man s physical organization, only by their power 


of producing suffering or enjoyment in the indi 
vidual, that they can become motives to action. 
2. The social or sympathetic sanction is. that 
which grows out of a man s personal or domestic 
relations ; it is a sort of mixture of the selfish 
with the social regard. To some extent its judg~ 
ment is created by his own influences ; it is the 
application to himself of that domestic code of 
which he has been one of the framers. If he be 
a father, his children will, in the ratio of their 
respect for his opinions and practice, recognize 
his authority, and adopt his standard of right 
and wrong. The domestic sanction may be 
more or less efficient, more or less enlightened 
than the popular sanction : its operation is more 
direct and immediate than the popular can be, 
in as far as a man s happiness, for the most part, 
depends more on those who are near him, habi 
tually or frequently, than upon those who are 
remote. The social and the popular sanction 
act and re-act upon each other; the popular 
sanction being, in fact, the great recipient of 
all the social sanctions. 

3. The moral or popular sanction is that 
which is commonly called public opinion ; it is 
the received decision of society on conduct. The 
popular sanction may be divided into twp 
branches the democratic and aristocratic 
awarding a very different portion of recompense 


or punishment to acts of a similar character. 
A sanction, by every instance of its execution, 
constitutes and gives effect to a law ; and the laws 
constituted by the aristocratic branch are over 
a great portion of the field of conduct, in repug 
nance to those constituted by the democratic. 
In misdeeds affecting persons, for example, the 
democratic sanction tolerates boxing, the trying 
to hurt; not duelling, trying to kill : while the 
aristocratic tolerates and rewards trying to kill. 
Of misdeeds affecting property, the democratic 
sanction gives preference to the debts due to a 
tradesman over those due to a gamester ; the 
aristocratic sanction decides directly the reverse : 
the democratic sanction punishes swindling in 
all its shapes ; the aristocratic rewards it in the 
case and situation of a man of landed and 
entailed estate./ In the democratic scale of 
reprobation, the mischievous stands above the 
ridiculous; in the aristocratic, the ridiculous 
above the mischievous. The democratic refers, 
or is at least constantly tending, more and more, 
to refer every thing to the standard of utility, 
to the greatest-happiness principle ; the aristo- 
cratical, as much, as far, and as long as possible, 
to the standard of taste, constituting itself the 
arbiter of taste. 

Among the pleasures and pains growing out 
of the moral or popular sanction, and exercising 


a vast influence on virtue and vice, and thence 
on happiness and misery, are a group of facti 
tious entities, which demand attention. Repu 
tation, honour, renown, fame, glory, and dignity, 
may serve as a sample of them./ They have this 
in common, that they are, though factitious, the 
objects of possession. They are distinguished 
from other objects of possession in this, that 

i pursuit of them, to any extent, is not deemed 

improper, j The love of money, every one admits, 

may be carried to excess, but not so the pursuit 

of these attractions. 

^Eut in the mistakes made respecting them, 

(jn the eulogiums poured on those who pursue 
and those who possess them, will be found one 
of the most fruitful sources of improbity and 
mischief.j The means a man has at his disposal 
he will employ, not only to keep that which he 
possesses, but to obtain that which he desires. 
These possessions are the instruments of influ 
ence, and that influence is liable to be baneful, 
according to its extent. The mischief is at its 
minimum where confined to an individual ; it 
is at its maximum when it operates on a 
national or international field. 

Applied to private life, the principal mischief 
of which any of these appellatives is likely to 
be productive, is danger to life from dueUingTi 
The good proposed is the repression of offensive 


deportment; a good obtainable, much more 
effectually obtainable, by less expensive means; 
but there is this good to set against the balance 
of evil. 

(^But applied to national and international con 
cerns, they become incentives to misrule, in the 
shape of usurpation of power ; and to war,/ that 
is, to ravage, rapine, and destruction, on the 
largest scale. And the amount of evil will 
depend on the amount of influence exercised 
by him who puts these elements of misery into 

Suppose him to be a sovereign: his domain 
of action is national or international. If it is 
at the expense of his own subjects that he seeks 
this honour, glory, fame, dignity, and so forth, 
the mischief to which the language in question 
leads is, invasion of popular rights ; in case of 
non-resistance, oppression and misrule ; and in 
case of resistance, civil war. If it is at the 
expense of other nations that he seeks these 
distinctions, then comes foreign war, which, 
being interpreted, is murder, rape, devastation, 
on a vast scale, at the expense both of his own 
subjects and those of the foreign state. 

Though of this all-comprehensive mass of 
wretchedness and profligacy a sovereign alone 
cannot be the actual perpetrator, yet, as an 
instigator before the fact, every subject may 


operate influentially, according to his position. 
An official cabinet counsellor, a member of a 
popular assembly, a member of an unofficial 
association, a writer in a public newspaper, each 
in his different sphere. 

The quantity of these influences which a 
sovereign may hold will be in proportion to the 
quantity of power he possesses ; the power which 
he and his subjects possess with reference to 
other nations the power which he himself pos 
sesses with reference to the nation to which he 
belongs. Now the desire to possess these ac 
quirements being boundless, the efforts to obtain 
them become boundless too. Hence foreign 
conquest, aggression, usurpation ; depredation 
at home, depredation abroad, and acts which, if 
committed by unofficial hands, would bear the 
name, and be visited with the punishment of 
crimes, are unchecked in their misery-creating 

That instances may be found in which power 
will not have been abused, but have been em 
ployed for the public good, is most true: where, 
for example, it has been used for the establish 
ment of wise laws at home, or the maintenance 
and manifestation of the virtues of justice 

But these cases are rare ; and rarer still are 
the cases where glory, fame, and these other 


brilliant possessions, have been sought or ac 
quired from such a beneficent source. Rarely, 
indeed, that honor and renown are spoken of 
but in connection with murderous or mischievous 
deeds. The reputation acquired by benevo 
lence shrinks into absolute insignificance when 
compared with that which abominable and atro 
cious enterprises have obtained for monarchs. 

What is to be done? What, in the melancholy 
case, where of these gorgeous things so little is 
to be had by innoxious means, so much by 
flagitious means ? What, but to present the 
portraits of vice and virtue in their contrasted 
hideousness and beauty ? What, but to paint 
in their true colors those malefactors, in com 
parison of whom a common incendiary is as 
much inferior in the scale of mischievousness, 
as a small quantity of mischief, in one shape, is 
inferior to the greatest quantity of mischief, in 
all shapes, capable of being perpetrated by 
foreign or domestic war. 

It may be said that these tinsel baubles are, 
in fact, all made subservient to interestto 
national interest. Not so ! for those who preach 
up their value disclaim the vulgar and the sordid 
dream of interest. What declaimer would ever 
talk about giving up renown to interest? of 
sacrificing honor to prudence ? Fling down 
the substance to catch the shadow, cast away 


the real, in order to possess the imaginative ; 
in this you have the clamour of patriotism and 

Not but that national interest might be more 
undeviatingly and unexceptionably pursued, 
without danger to probity or prudence, than 
private interest. By acquisition of territory 
private interest may be increased not so the 
public interest not by conquest, not by colo 
nization; the interest of the ruling few, un 
doubtedly, may be served, but not that of the 
subject many. 

Strange it is, that the misery produced by 
those influences which have been described, 
misery on so vast a scale, of such intensity and 
such duration, should be looked on, for the most 
part, with the composure of indifference or the 
excitement of admiration; Sand yet more strange, 
that such composure and such admiration should 
sometimes flow from minds who would visit 
acts, or even thoughts which do no mischief, 
with unbridled abhorrence, popular punishment, 
or even penal visitation. 

The popular sanction assumes very various 
names. For instance, an author, describing the 
fortitude of the American Indians under torture, 

The constancy of the sufferers in this terrible 
scene shows the wonderful power of institutions 


and a thirst of glory, which makes men imitate 
and exceed what philosophy, or even religion can 
effect. * 

Philosophy is here nothing but the force of 
the popular sanction, applied in a peculiar man 
ner. It must mean the desire of appearing a 
philosopher, and thus acquiring or preserving 
the respect attached to that character. It cannot 
mean the art of correctly calculating pains and 
pleasures, for that would not, on such an oc 
casion, dictate exertions of heroism under a 
pain known to be at once transient and unmi- 

The moral sanction owes its highest efficiency 
1 to the progress of intelligence. 

In a state of barbarism, men are governed in 
every thing by sudden impulse, and in nothing 
by reflection. The experience of preceding is 
lost to the succeeding ages. The moral sanc 
tion has, then, just influence enough to give 
credit to the virtue of courage, a virtue of prime 
necessity, that opens itself a passage to the 
hearts of men. The virtues of veracity and 
integrity come afterwards. Last of all comes 
that of toleration. 

Hence a universal rule may be deduced 
that the more enlightened the body of a nation, 

* European Settlements in America; vi, p. 200. 
VOL. I. H 


the stronger is the influence of the moral sanc 

The case of the Romans is no exception. 
Virtue, it is said, characterized the infancy of 
that state ; depravity the decline. Yet was it 
more enlightened at the latter of those periods 
than at the former. 

To this it may be answered, in the first 
place, that the body of the people could never 
be said to have been enlightened, even at the 
last. Literature was copious, but not diffused. 
Works were many, but copies of them were 

In the next place, the depravity which strikes 
so much in the history of the declension of the 
Roman state was not the depravity of private 
life, but of a few public men, corrupted by the 
abuse and evil adjustment of the political sanc 
tion. The influence of the moral sanction is not 
traceable in the mutilated and imperfect portraits 
of the times that are handed down to us. 

Examples enough have reached us to shew 
that the little virtue there was in the early 
ages of that state was more owing to the 
influence of the political sanction than the mo 
ral. The political sanction was so disposed 
as to produce a certain portion of public virtue, 
at the very time that private virtue was at as 
low an ebb us can be conceived. Witness the 


poisoning mentioned by Livy. From that same 
account, it appears that private depravity did not 
become an object of notice till it had arisen to 
such a height as to shake the very existence of 
the state. 

The popular sanction, when enlightened by 
Deontological principle, corrects the aberrations 
of individual judgment, and takes the wrong 
doer out of those regions where the interests 
and passions of the sufferer make vengeance, 
not justice, the grounds of his award. Ven 
geance cannot be allowed to be the end of 
punishment; for if vengeance be the end, the 
resentment of the person whose vengeance it is, 
must be the measure ; there is no other. But 
the resentment of any man against an act mis 
chievous to society is sometimes greater, some 
times less, than in proportion to that mischie- 
vousness. It will sometimes be bestowed on 
acts not mischievous. It is different in different 
men ; it is different in the same man ; nor in 
either case, otherwise than from the principle 
of utility, can any rules bejaid down, or expe 
dients devised to bring it to a level. 

At one time greater punishment will be in 
flicted than is necessary for the determent of 
the offender ; so that a portion of happiness will 
be destroyed in waste. At another time, not 
so much punishment will be inflicted as is 
necessary for that purpose ; so that the punish- 


ment will be inflicted, and the mischief still 

Those who have the dispensing of the moral 
sanction are contented with less proofs than it 
is necessary for those to require who have 
the dispensing of the political sanction. The 
proofs which the nature of the act furnishes 
they can more easily come at. For a construc 
tion to put upon a single act, they call up the 
whole series of actions in a man s life. They 
examine all witnesses, competent and incom 

It were to be wished that every man s name 
were written upon his forehead as well as 
engraved upon his door. It were to be wished 
that no such thing as secrecy existed that 
every man s house were made of glass. There 
would be the less reason to desire windows to 
his breast. Actions are a tolerably adequate 
interpretation of sentiments, when observation 
has furnished us with the key. 

The more men live in public, the more amen 
able they are to the moral sanction. The greater 
dependence men are in to the public, that is, 
the more equality there is among them, the 
clearer the evidence comes out, the more it has 
of certainty in its results. The liberty of the 
press throws all men into the public presence. 
The liberty of the press is the greatest co 
adjutor of the moral sanction. Under such 


influence, it were strange if men grew not every 
day rqore virtuous than on the former day. 
I am satisfied they do. I am satisfied they will 
continue so to do, till, if ever, their nature shall 
have arrived at its perfection. Shall they stop? 
shall they turn back ? The rivers shall as soon 
make a wall, or roll up the mountains to their 

There is but one thing, and that far out of the 
sphere of probability, that can arrest the tide of 
improvement. It is a sudden and universal 
over-ruling of these moral influences by phy 
sical necessity. 

A whole kingdom, the great globe itself, will 
become a gymnasium, in which every man exer 
cises himself before the eyes of every other man. 
Every gesture, every turn of limb or feature, in 
those whose motions have a visible influence 
on the general happiness, will be noticed and 
marked down. 

The constitution of the human mind being 
opened by degrees, the labyrinth is explored, a 
clue is found out for it. That clue is the influence 
of interest ; of interest, not in that partial and 
sordid sense in which it is the tyrant of sordid 
souls, but in the enlarged and beneficent sense 
in which it is the common master of all spirits, 
and especially of the enlightened. It is put into 
the hands of every man. The designs by which 


short-sighted iniquity would mask its projects, 
are every day laid open. There will be no 
moral enigmas by and byj 

^WJia- knows but even I, an instrument so 
mean as I, may be found to have done something 
towards a work so glorious, and this my prophecy 
itself, like so many others, be in a certain 
degree the cause of its own completion? 

4. The political, or legal sanction. It has 
two branches, the judicial and the administra 
tive. The judicial acting almost exclusively 
\*y punishments, the administrative mostly by 
rewards. This sanction becomes law, and is 
called into operation upon all those acts which 
legislation makes penal, or those which legisla 
tion deems worthy of public recompense. In 
other words, the political sanction belongs to 
those vices which, being deemed misdemeanors 
or crimes, are taken cognizance of by the official 
authorities, as meet subjects for penal visitation, 
or to those virtues which are marked out for 
state reward. It is the legislator, rather than 
the moralist, who is armed with the political 
sanction ; but it was necessary to mention it as 
one of the sources of action. 

Scandal is to the moral sanction what perjury 
is to the political, 

5. .The religious or superhuman sanction. It 
has two principal sources of influence, which, 


when they can be brought to bear upon human 
action, necessarily invest the sanction with high 
authority and power. For, first, it supposes the 
Divine Being to be thoroughly cognizant of the 
existence of every misdeed in question; and, 
secondly, to have perfect knowledge of the exact 
quantity and quality of its malignity, from the 
knowledge of all the aggravating and extenuat 
ing circumstances. Thence all those chances 
of escape from observation or from punishment, 
which diminish the efficiency of the other sanc 
tions, are removed from this, which at once 
brings the offender into the presence of an all- 
seeing, all-knowing, all- weighing, and equitably- 
awarding judge.] 

To teachers of religion, however, it belongs 
to treat of the pains and pleasures which reli 
gion holds out for those acts of forbearance or 
of indulgence which it prescribes or forbids. 
It is for the Deontologist to inquire how far 
they accomplish all the ends which morality 
proposes, to endeavour to ascertain the causes 
of their inefficiency, when they are inefficient, 
and to bring his instruments to cultivate that 
part of the field of thought and action which 
they have left barren. And it is to be hoped 
that, while thus labouring with the teachers of 
religion in the service of virtue and the pursuit 
of happiness, the Deontologist will be consi- 


clered, not as a rival to be supplanted, but as 
a coadjutor to be loved. The beneficent influ 
ences of the religious sanction cannot but be 
strengthened by calling in every other sanction 
to its aid. Its inefficiency has been often the 
subject of lamentation, even among those who 
would fain arm it with its greatest power. To 
friendly auxiliaries it cannot then be hostile. 

And if any religious opinions are unfriendly 
to human happiness, surely that circumstance 
must be taken as evidence of their erroneous- 
ness. The province of true religion can never 
be to seal up the fountains of felicity, or to open 
those of misery. 

If a man is less happy than he might be, it is 
no matter whether he is made so by others 
acts, or by his own opinions : a religion, there 
fore, would carry the same evidence of its false 
hood in its opposing that share of happiness 
which a man might otherwise acquire for him 
self, as by favouring or conniving at that share 
of unhappiness which he may suffer at the 
hands of another. 

If there were no other ill effects attendant on 
superstition, or the misdirected religious sanc 
tion, this consideration alone would prove it to 
be one of the bitterest rods mankind were ever 
scourged with, that, by bestowing the denomi 
nation of offences on acts indifferent to the 


happiness of society, it creates new and artificial 
crimes, it introduces among men fresh occasions 
of division and disgust : thus adding to the but 
too numerous ones which must ever subsist. It 
weakens the horror due to real crimes, by 
spending it upon nominal ones. It confounds 
men s ideas of right and wrong ; they discover 
the emptiness of those denominations, as applied 
to many subjects, and become disposed to con 
sider them alike indifferent, as applied to all. 

If it had not been for a slight tincture, at 
least, of superstition yet remaining, there could 
not have appeared a work with the title of 
* Private Vices Public Benefits. 

One might fill a book with the testimonies 
given by divines, of the necessity of strengthen 
ing that sanction, the influence of which it is 
their province to superintend, with sanctions 
borrowed from other sources. jLopk at the 
examples of Louis XI, Philip if, and Muley 
Ishmael, all three prodigies of devotion and 
monsters of depravity. And, whatever may 
have been the case with the Moorish Emperor, 
the French and Spanish tyrants were devoted 
to a religion which, whatever duties it may pre 
scribe besides, professes to prescribe all those 
which are demanded by the established religion 
of our own country. Theirs, like ours, was a com 
pound of moral duties, useful to be observed ; 


of moral duties, useless ; of ceremonies to be 
performed ; and of dogmas to be believed. I In 
theirs, indeed, the useless duties, the ceremo 
nies, and the points of faith, bore a much larger 
proportion to the useful duties than in ours; 
accordingly it is not for ours, nor, it may be 
confidently hoped, ever will be, to produce 
examples of a depravity so enormous. 

Every instruction which contributes to 
strengthen the attachment to the three last of 
these classes of observances, contributes to 
weaken the attachment to the first of them. 
They are three branches in a lever, on the same 
side of the fulcrum, contending against one on 
the other side : the elevation of any of the three 
is the depression of that one. 
^ Tcuwhat is the inefficiency of the religious 
sanction to be attributed ? for if its power be as 
it is represented, it ought to be the most influ 
ential of instruments, inasmuch asjnfinite is 
greater than finite, and the pains and pleasures 
it proposes are intense and permanent beyond 
all others; and let it be said, once for all, that 
it is not intended here to supersede its authority, 
but merely to supply auxiliaries which may add 
to its beneficial influence. [The enjoyments and 
sufferings of a future life being inaccessible to 
experience, whether our own or that of others, 
no man having hitherto reported, for the infor- 


mation of his fellows, what had happened to 
him beyond the grave, and no man having 
hitherto learned it for himself, |thgsa enjoyments 
and sufferings represent nothing which our ex 
perience has shown to be either pleasurable or 
painful. Being remote as to distance, uncer 
tain and unimrnediate as to their contingency on 
any particular action, undefined as to their cha 
racter, and invisible in their operation, it is not 
to be wondered at that they so often lose their 
power in the presence of adjacent, certain, 
palpable influences*; Events placed so far be 
yond the limits of life and knowledge are not, it 
must be admitted, susceptible of being brought 
into the mind with the vividness of that which 
is propinquous. ^As in receding from the lof 
tiest and sublimest objects, however substantial, 
they gradually diminish, till they are lost in the 
increasing distance ; so the tremendous hopes 
and fears with which it is the province of reli 
gion to agitate us, fail in their influence, and 
become obscured in the remoteness of eternity.! 
The religious sanction would be greatly 
strengthened by the belief in a particular Pro 
vidence, a belief often asserted and insisted on, 
but which appears to operate little even upon 
those who proclaim it. Did the sanction exist, 
were there the constant interference of the 
Divine Being to punish or reward, appropriately, 
acts of vice or virtue, it is clear that all human 


legislation would be supererogatory and intru 
sive; pernicious on all occasions where not 
useless ; useless on all occasions where not 
pernicious. The belief in a particular Providence 
would make the religious sanction present, but 
no one has sufficient confidence in the belief to 
deliver society over to its solitary influences. 

Another main quality on which the effect of a 
punishment depends is its celerity, (JNo man 
ever thrusts his hand into the fire. Why? 
Because the suffering follows instantaneously 
upon the act, 

IThere are certain consequences which follow 
almost as certainly the acts calculated to produce 
them, as the pain of burning from thrusting the 
hand into the fire. Yet these acts are committed. 
Why ? Because the penal consequence is 
distant. \ 

(Delay gives room for obstacles to intervene. 
Apparent diminution of certainty therefore follows 
necessarily from abatement of celerity. 

And in the interval a man takes the chance 
of death, which removes him from the penal 

Pity, too, has more time to operate, to pre 
vent or mitigate the punishment. And pity 
destroys a proportion of its effect. 

The religious sanction is eminently deficient 
in the article of celerity. 

Locke does not hesitate to allow the inefficacy 


of the religious sanction. And he partly gives 
the reasons of it. Men do not, in fact, give 
heed to it, he says, so as to determine their 
conduct by it : and it is their nature not to do 
so. And yet they ought, he says, and their not 
doing so is folly. For did they but duly reflect, 
they would find that, in every instance of trans 
gression, the punishment, after all abatements, 
must be greater, and that in any given propor 
tion, than the profit of the crime. For the stores 
of divine justice being supposed infinite, God 
can, and it is to be supposed, will, inflict as 
much, in the amount of intensity and duration, 
as shall suffice to make up the deficiency, 
whatsoever it may be, in the other elements of 
its momentum. 

He does not consider that it is the apparent 
value of a future pain, and not the real value, 
that constitutes the momentum of it in the 
mind ; and that Luo addition in quantity can 
make up for the diminution which uncertainty, 
distance, and delay produce. It is the belief, 
and not the reality of punishment, that operates 
beneficially ; and the strength of the political 
sanction consists in this that the constant pre 
sence of the reality induces the belief, and makes 
that belief influential. 

From these and similar considerations, or 
rather, perhaps, from some obscure preconcep- 


tion of their bearings, and to clear themselves 
from the embarrassment growing out of the un 
doubted inefficacy of the religious sanction when 
standing alone, some divines (Dr Price, for 
example) have supposed punishment to be due 
to guilt, i.e. past guilt, not as a means of pre 
venting guilt, i.e. future guilt of the same kind ; 
but, as it were, of congruity. This congruity, 
when it comes to be examined into, is no more 
than a disposition in these divines to believe or 
to declare that such punishment ought to be 
consequent upon such guilt. For this arrange 
ment, in which neither wisdom nor benevolence 
can have been consulted, they attempt not so 
much as to assign any grounds. Why should 
they? The punishment will, and ought to en 
sue ; not for any use there is for it, but because 
they say so. And the demonstration of their 
proposition is to be found in their own infallibi 
lity. They are disposed , they cannot tell why, 
nor will they condescend to inquire why, that 
is, to what end, or for what purpose ; but, how 
ever, as it happens, they are disposed to believe 
as much, and therefore it must be so. This 
stout ignorance, and resolute rejection of the 
means of knowledge, namely, inquiry and argu 
ment, being better and surer, it seems, than 
knowledge, is to supersede it and take its name. 
As to the party himself it may do very well, 


and answer his purposes, if he is pleased with 
it, and convinced by it. BuMvhat good can be 
expected from mentioning it, or from the at 
tempt to impose it upon others, is what may 
deserve to be considered. If he, to whom it is 
mentioned, is already of that mind, he wants 
nothing that it can do for him ; but if he is of 
another mind, it does nothing for him that he 
wants : it gives him not, nor so much as pre 
tends to give him, any reason for change. 

These considerations, be it remembered, are 
wholly apart from Revelation. It is assumed, 
without reference to any revealed authority, that 
there is a disposition in the Deity to produce 
pain to no end, and for no result of good that is 
to be attained by it. 

It is even assumed that this is a fit medium 
to prove his moral qualities ; and his moral 
qualities, so described, are to be the medium to 
prove a revelation. 

How mischievously these fallacies hang toge 
ther ! How fatal to the beneficial influences of 
the religious sanction to place it in contradiction, 
in opposition to all the undoubted motives to 
action to all the dictates of experience to all 
the influences of pain and pleasure ! And into 
what does such a theory resolve itself? Into 
the mere assumptions the theories the dog 
matisms of the theorist. 


(There is a class of ecclesiastics, whose end is 
anything rather than the improvement and ex 
ercise of the reasoning faculty ; to overwhelm 
it, to fling it into the dust, is their constant task 
and toil. They dare not encourage thought, or 
lend a helping hand to philosophy. They know 
better : those that are penetrating and discreet 
among them (and the dull follow the rest 
by instinct), know there is a power between 
which and themselves there is a natural en 
mity, which, if exerted liberally and universally, 
cannot but be exerted to their discomfiture. 
They remember well, and make due application 
of the fable of the Man and Serpent. 

They know and see with horror and confusion 
how apt sound science is to make men rebel 
lious to their doctrines. That expansion of 
mind which the acquisition of it confers, that 
habit of inquisitiveness to which the pursuit of 
it gives birth, is mortal to those delusions by 
which the credit of their systems is supported. 

^Tl^ey know they have every thing to fear from 
philosophy, and thus it is that there is not a 
track they would not invite men to in preference 
to that of moral science ; and of all tracks, that 
best answers their purpose for men to be en 
gaged in, which, encircling the foot of the 
mountain, and obscuring the approaches to the 
summit, offers flowers to fascinate the eye of 



the wanderer, and to keep him for ever lingering 
round the base. 

"JTljat walk is the walk of Classic Literature : 
there grows. the lotus which has fixed the foot 
steps of so many a young adventurer to those 
regions of unfruitful beauty, and made him drink 
oblivion to every nobler distinction*/ 

If, after all, God be infinitely wise and good, 
what service can be rendered him so acceptable 
as to obey his laws, which can propose or in 
tend nothing but that which is the great, the 
necessary, the sole result of wisdom and good 
ness, namely, the production of happiness. Is 
not the duty we owe to God necessarily involved 
in the circle of duties we owe to the human race 
.ourselves included ? And if benevolence be 
more prominently an attribute than pride in the 
divine nature, must not the duties we owe to 
our neighbours be, in his view, pre-eminent over 
the services claimed by him ? And can any 
service claimed by him be more urgent than 
that which he claims on behalf of the whole 
family of man ? 

To prove that the Divine Being had prohibited 
pleasure, would be to implicate, to deny, to 
disprove his benevolence. It would set up our 
experience in opposition to his benevolence. 

That such or such a thing is a cause of pain 
or pleasure, is a matter of fact and experience : 

VOL. i. i 


that the use of it has been prohibited by the 
Deity, is a matter of inference and conjecture. 

That the use of it is allowed by him who was 
able to have prevented it if he had pleased, is a 
matter of fact and experience ; that it is pro 
hibited any otherwise than in virtue of its im 
purity, is a matter of inference and conjecture. 

Infinite are the points that a man must have 
been satisfied of, before he can justly be satis 
fied that any pleasure, not impure, can have 
been prohibited by that Deity, who has im 
planted in our bodily and intellectual frame 
such a capacity and desire for pleasure. 

The proofs that such a prohibition has been 
issued by the Supreme Being, can never rise to 
be so strong as to equal the proofs of its being 
inconsistent with his benevolence. 

The notions which commonly prevail as to a 
future state, are neither consolatory to benevo 
lence, nor encouraging to virtue. 

Because few are to enjoy happiness in com 
parison of those who are to suffer misery, there 
fore, with respect to every man, the presump 
tion, antecedently to any examination, of the 
chance a man may have of placing himself in 
the former class, by means that are in his own 
power, is on the side of misery. 

Nor is the prospect mended by the considera 
tion of the power he may have, by means de- 


pendent on his own will, to ensure himself to be 
of the number of the happy. 

Upon the predestinarian scheme, he has no 
such power the matter is already determined, 
and was so before he was born : his chance de 
pends upon events he can know nothing of, and 
that are out of the reach of his influence ; the 
chance, therefore, that he has for escaping 
misery is simply in the ratio qf the number of 
those who are to be happy, to that of those who 
are to be miseral j ; and suppose those num 
bers are as one to ten, it is ten to one in every 
man s case against his being otherwise than 

Rejecting the predestinarian, and admitting 
the commonly received theory of future punish 
ment, whatever power any given man has of 
avoiding future misery, the same has every 
other man ; and yet more, many more, after all, 
are to be miserable than happy. 

Again, the means of escaping misery are re 
presented as consisting of faith and good works: 
either of faith alone, or of good works alone, or 
of both together. 

As to faith, after all the sophisms and devices 
that have been employed to conceal the truth 
of the matter, there is no one but has every 
now and then perceived, that the act of believ 
ing is not in his power ; that, in the same man- 


ner as he is unable to believe that to be black 
which he sees to be white, so is he unable to 
believe any thing to be one way when he sees 
greater evidence to believe it to be another. 

As to good works, to take them in the largest 
sense, they consist in evil actions avoided, and 
in good ones done. 

And what, after all, can determine what is 
good and what evil, but the standard of utility ? 

It is not pretended that any assurance with 
respect to the ratio, either in number or quality 
of evil acts omitted, to evil acts done, or of good 
acts done to good acts omitted, necessary to 
ensure a man against future misery, can be 

A man with ten chances for ten thousand a 
year, or any greater sum for ever, to one for a 
perpetual fit of the cholic or stone, could hardly 
be easy, could hardly be any otherwise than 
under great anxiety ; but here are ten chances 
perhaps a hundred, perhaps a thousand, for 
the cholic or the stone, to one for the ten thou 
sand a year. 

Hence, it appears, that whatever sanctions or 
motives to virtue the commonly adopted opinions 
as to a future state afford, they are to be found 
alone in such portions of these opinions, as are 
consistent with the Deontological principle ; that 
the doctrines generally received are inconsistent 


with that principle; inconsistent with human 
happiness ; and therefore cannot be true. 

Nothing is farther from the intention and con 
viction of the writer than to deny the existence 
of a scheme of future rewards and punishments, 
whose object shall be to maximise happiness, and 
to develope the benevolent attributes of the 
Divinity. It is only intended here to show in 
some particulars the inconsistency of some or 
thodox opinions with the true principles of 
morality, and their incompatibility with the pro 
duction and progress of that felicity which it is 
the object of morality to accomplish. 

The religious sanction is founded, and can 
only be founded, on the moral attributes of God, 
and those moral attributes cannot oppose hap 

Justice is of use no farther than as the hand 
maid of benevolence. 

Justice is one of those means for compassing 
the ends that benevolence proposes. 

If God is just, it is because he is benevolent. 
[if. there is no benevolent Being that looks to 
us, we must look to ourselves ; we must pro 
cure our own happiness by ourselves, as far as 
we can. What other resource is left to us ? 

I If there is a Being that watches over us, but 
is not benevolent, he is not just: there is no 
guessing what will please him ; there is no 


guessing what will not please him ; there is ho 
knowing how to please him : our only wisdom 
is to please ourselves. 

If there is a benevolent Being that watches 
over us, .that rewards and punishes in the exer 
cise of that benevolence, he, at least, cannot be 
displeased at our procuring our happiness to the 
utmost ; for the disposition to contribute to it is 
what we mean by benevolence, when we mean 
any thing, and in the very proportion of our 
love and reverence will our conviction of his 
benevolence be. 

By a given instance, however, the operation 
of the different sanctions upon conduct may be 
best traced, 

Timothy Thoughtless and Walter Wise are 
fellow prentices. Thoughtless gave into the 
vice of drunkenness ; Wise abstained from it, 
Mark the consequence. 

1. Physical sanction. For every debauch, 
Thoughtless was rewarded by sickness in the 
head ; to recruit himself he lay in bed the next 
morning, and his whole frame became enervated 
by relaxation ; and when he returned to his 
work, his work ceased to be a source of satis 
faction to him. 

Walter Wise refused to accompany him to the 
drinking table. His health had not been origi 
nally strong, but it was invigorated by tempe- 


ranee. Increasing strength of body gave in 
creasing zest to every satisfaction he enjoyed : 
his rest at night was tranquil, his risings in the 
morning cheerful, his labor pleasurable. 

2. Social sanction. Timothy had a sister, 
deeply interested in his happiness. She 
reproved him at first, then neglected, then 
abandoned him. She had been to him a 
source of great pleasure it was all swept 

Walter had a brother, who had shown indif 
ference to him. That brother had watched over 
his conduct, and began to show an interest in 
his well-being the interest increased from day 
to day. At last he became a constant visitor, 
and a more than common friend, and did a thou 
sand services for his brother, which no other 
man in the world would have done. 

3, Popular sanction. Timothy was member 
of a club, which had money and reputation. 
He went thither one day in a state of inebriety ; 
he abused the secretary, and was expelled by an 
unanimous vote. 

The regular habits of Walter had excited the 
attention of his master. He said one day to his 
banker The young man is fitted for a higher 
.station. The banker bore it in mind, and on 
the first opportunity,, took him into his service. 


He rose from one distinction to another, and 
was frequently consulted on business of the 
highest importance by men of wealth and in 

4. Legal sanction. Timothy rushed out from 
the club whence he had been so ignominiously 
expelled. He insulted a man in the streets, 
and walked pennyless into the open country. 
Reckless of every thing, he robbed the first 
traveller he met; he was apprehended, prose 
cuted, and sentenced to transportation. 

Walter had been an object of approbation to 
his fellow-citizens. He was called, by their 
good opinion, to the magistracy. He reached 
its highest honors, and even sat in judgment on 
his fellow apprentice, whom time and misery 
had so changed, that he was not recognised by 

5. Religious sanction. In prison, and in the 
ship which conveyed Timothy to Botany Bay, 
his mind was alarmed and afflicted with the 
apprehension of future punishment an angry 
and avenging Deity was constantly present 
to his thoughts, and every day of his exist 
ence was embittered by the dread of the Divine 

To Walter the contemplation of futurity was 
peaceful arid pleasureable. He dwelt with con- 


slant delight on the benign attributes of the 
Deity, and the conviction was ever present to 
him that it must be well, that all ultimately 
must be well, to the virtuous. Great, indeed, 
was the balance of pleasure which he drew 
from his existence, and great was the sum of 
happiness to which he gave birth. 




THE causes of immorality have been glanced at 
in our progress. They may be comprised under 
the following heads. False principles in morals, 
misapplication of religion, preference of the self- 
regarding to the social interest, and lastly, 
preference of lesser present to greater distant 

; False principles in morals may be classed 
under the two heads of asceticism and senti- 
mentalism, and both demand the useless sacri 
fice of pleasure, the sacrifice of pleasure to no 
purpose of greater pleasure. Asceticism pro 
ceeds farther than sentimentalism, and inflicts 
useless pain. Both avoid the putting forward 
reasons, and act, as far as it is possible to act, 
upon the affections. Asceticism generally on 
the antipathies, by fear and terror ; sentimen 
talism on the sympathies. They both would 
dispense with the assistance of books of mora 
lity, and confirm men in the notion that bad 
morals are all that are fit for practice ; good 


ones only for discourse and parade. They both 
shun the application of the tests of morality, 
and exist, in their highest exercise, where 
morality is at its lowest point. Asceticism then 
becomes the immediate and close ally of mis 
anthropy, and sentimentalism of helplessness.] 
False morality can never be cultivated but at 
the expense of true morality. 

Out of the ascetic principle the principle of 
antipathy grows the wish to punish vindic 
tively; to make punishment minister to dis 
like. Men punish because they hate, and they 
imagine that the law itself is but the inflicter 
of the vengeance of the law. The more intense 
men s hatred, the more severe would they fain 
make the punishment with which they visit the 
objects of their hatred. Crimes, they are told, 
they ought to hate. Crimes it is made a mat 
ter of merit in them to hate. Crimes it is a 
matter of merit, more, perhaps, of merit than of 
necessity, to punish. They are to hate them, 
they are to punish them. It is their hating 
makes them wish to punish. How, then, should 
they punish, but as they hate? The more they 
are disposed to hate, the more they are disposed 
to punish. What wonder? To ordinary ap 
prehensions no mischief from this is visible. 
Yet more, no mischief, in many cases, exists. 


Since, in many cases, it is true, that the cause 
of hatred and the demand for punishment 
the cause which makes hatred rise, and the 
reason which makes punishment expedient 
increase together. 

If the quantity of punishment, in any case, is 
greater than it need be ; if of punishment for 
any act there be more than is needful, it is 
either because there is too much of it where the 
case wants some, or there is some of it where 
the case wants none. What harm in a man s 
suffering, who does an act I hate? What harm 
in the man s suffering whom I hate? When a 
man suffers whom I hate, when confessedly he 
ought to suffer, what matter whether it be a 
little less or a little more ? 

Such is the reasoning of the multitude of 

How should they punish but as they hate? 
What other standard than their hatred should 
they assume? It is the clearest standard, at 
least at any given time when it is applied, 
though at different times its decisions are so 
apt to vary. What standard clearer? To 
know whether they hate an act, to know which 
of two acts they hate most, what have they but 
to consult their feelings ?j 

What standard should they take ? Even this 


or none. For to this hour, except in here and 
there a solitary sentence, dropped, as it were, 
by accident, no other has been brought into use. 
Another, and here and there another, has been 
indeed set up, but these have not themselves 
been rectified by the grand standard of utility. 
They clash. Nobody has yet attempted to 
mark out to each its limits, and to arrange them 
under harmonious heads. 

vWhat marvel, then,/ that ignorance of the 
only real standard of right and wrong should 
administer to immorality ? What marvel that 
men, given over to their prejudices and passions, 
should eagerly make those prejudices and pas 
sions the rules of conduct ? And while anti 
pathy, on the one side, deals out unmerited 
punishment, it is natural that sympathy should, 
on the other side, shield misconduct from de 
served blame.] 

^^Cliis tendency to make your own antipathies 
or predilections the standard of morals is easily 
encouraged, by keeping out of the way the 
standard which utility furnishes. Hence those 
who dread the light which its radiance throws 
upon human actions, are fond of j engaging 
their votaries in the chace of an inaccessible, 
wandering will-o -the-wisp, which they call 
motive an entity buried in inapproachable 


darkness, and which, if it were approachable 
and produceable, would be of no value what 

The search after motive is one of the promi 
nent causes of men s bewilderment in the inves 
tigation of questions of morals. The search is 
grounded on a vague notion that in the spring 
of action, rather than the act itself, the real 
quantity and quality of vice and virtue might 
be found. But this is a pursuit in which every 
moment employed is a moment wasted. All 
motives are abstractedly good ; no man has, 
ever had, can, or could have, a motive different 
from the pursuit of pleasure or the shunning of 
pain. The motive which produces no act, is 
merely speculative and immaterial, offering 
no topic either of praise or blame. But be 
motives what they may, and they always 
must be the same, that is, pleasure-seeking 
and pain-avoiding, it is not on them that 
the moralist is called to deliver his award. 
He has to do with conduct with conduct, 
when its consequences invade the regions of 
suffering and enjoyment. He is but a despotic 
intruder elsewhere. 

Next to the misapplication of false principles 
to morality, the misapplication of religion takes 
its place among the Causes of immorality, and 


its misapplication will be traced wherever its 
sanctions are applied to the diminution of the 
balance of pleasure or the production or increase 
of the balance of pain. And there can be no 
stronger test of the truth or falsehood of any 
religion than its conduciveness or repugnancy to 
the greatest human happiness. To understand 
religion is to understand the will of God. God 
is a being among whose attributes is benevo 
lence ; benevolence not imperfect, not limited, 
but infinite benevolence. And how can he be 
benevolent, but in proportion to the quantity 
of happiness which it is his wish to see enjoyed 
by those who are subject to his power? And 
if that happiness be not an empty name, of 
what can it be composed but of pleasures ? Be 
the pleasure what it may, to demand its aban 
donment, without the substitution of a greater 
pleasure, or to supersede it by a more than 
equivalent pain, cannot be an act of benevo 
lence. To speak of a being as benevolent, and 
to represent him as producing, or intending to 
produce, a balance of misery, is a contradiction 
in terms. And by the use of no phraseology 
can the character of things be altered. Neither 
actions nor persons change their nature, because 
their nature is falsely designated by words. 
If a stab be called a kiss, it does not therefore 
become an act of kindness. 


To draw a distinction between the attributes 
of God and the attributes of man, to say that 
God s benevolence, though different from man s 
benevolence, is still benevolent, is mere mock 
ing. Except as applied to human conduct 
and to human feelings, how did the word 
benevolence acquire its meaning ? Be it what 
it may, an effect is still the same ; it is still 
itself, whatsoever be its author or its cause. 
To ascribe to God, under the name of benevo 
lence, that which, ascribed to man, would not 
be benevolence, is, on the part of him whom 
terror or prejudice has not blinded, an act of 
fraud : under the name of a fish it is to sell a 
serpent. By being called a silk-worm, would 
a scorpion become harmless ? 

And what is true of any one attribute cannot 
but be true of any other. Any other than as 
man is just, can any other being be just? 
And so of knowledge, and veracity, and power. 
From what but from the observation of human 
conduct or human feelings, can the idea of jus 
tice the idea for which the word justice has 
been found from what can it have been 
derived ? 

That portion of the field of thought which 
religion, as unconnected with ethics, occupies, 
it is no part of our present purpose to explore. 
Ethics, not religion, is the subject of this work. 


Religious discussion would be here superfluous 
and irrelevant. 

The prevalence of the self-regarding over the 
social interest, as a cause of immorality, it 
belongs, in a great measure, to the ruling powers 
to remove. Wise legislation would be directed 
to their identification, to the production of an 
accordance between the popular and the poli 
tical sanction. This accordance is strengthened 
by every law that is good ; weakened by every 
law that is bad. A legal penalty, for example, 
attached to an act in which a man s interest 
is associated with the public interest, as where 
prohibition is attached to the circulation of that 
which is an instrument of enjoyment or an object 
of virtuous desire, not only produces immo-- 
rality, not only offers a premium on immorality, 
but destroys the power of the political sanction, 
by disassociating it from the popular interest. 
Topics like this, however, belong rather to pub 
lic than to private Deontology, and it is only to 
the latter that this volume has reference. 

It may, however, be not amiss to advert to the 
fact, that 7 out of the clashing of the popular inte 
rests with those sinister interests which are too 
often protected by legislation, misery and immo 
rality frequently grow to a frightfully baneful ex 
tent. The fiscal regulations of many countries 

VOL. I, K 


monopolies established by law frequently pre 
sent cases in which the violator of the letter ot 
the statute can scarcely be considered other than 
the benefactor of the public. Cases occur in 
which the popular sanction is outraged by the 
political ; arid the popular sanction, in conse 
quence, takes acts under its protection which 
are held up by the political sanction as offences 
and crimes fit to be visited by penalties more 
or less severe. The triumph over despotism, 
where the many have been engaged against 
the one or the few, is the triumph of the 
popular over the political sanction. Every step 
in the way of social improvement, which is 
made by the subject against the government, is 
a similar victory. Good government is, in a 
word, the harmony established between legis 
lation and enlightened opinion. But the subject 
is too vast for discussion in all its bearings on 
this occasion. 

The last cause of immorality which remains 
to be mentioned, is the preference of the present 
lesser good to the distant greater good; the 
avoidance of the present lesser evil when a 
greater distant evil will be the consequence. 
This is the peculiar topic of our present atten 
tion : and the source of the error may be traced 
to erroneous education, intellectual and moral. 


I Vice-may be defined to be a miscalculation 
of chances : a mistake in estimating the value 
of pleasures and pains. It is false moral arith 
metic ; and there is the consolation of knowing 
that, by the application of a right standard, 
there are few moral questions which may not 
be resolved, with an accuracy and a certainty 
not far removed from mathematical demon 
stration, j 




t TH_EUE are some terms, employed not unfre- 
qt^ntly by the legislator and the moralist,j 
which appear to require a few sentences of 
explanation. As long as they are made sub 
servient to the Deontological rule, the prin 
cipal mischief which results from their use 
is this that more perfect and convenient ex 
pressions might be found ; so that words are 
wasted, and a round-about way is taken in the 
pursuit of truth. Some of these terms have, 
however, [obtained such complete possession 
of the field of ordinary expression, that the 
attempt to displace them would be almost 
hopeless. In fact, the general imperfection of 
language is one of the great impediments to the 
the progress of philosophy. Correct ideas find 
great difficulty in discovering appropriate terms. 
Language lags behind science, and too fre 
quently refuses its aid to knowledge. The 
innovations of philosophy upon long-received 
expressions are slow and difficult. Philology is 


apt to refuse the contributions of the other 
sciences. It prides itself on its poverty. And 
this is the more to be regretted, inasmuch as all 
languages had their birth in a period when moral 
and intellectual cultivation could only be in their 
infancy. / A time will come, it is earnestly to 
be hoped, when morality, like chemistry, will 
create its own fit nomenclature. 

Nothing is more fatal than the misuse, or 
rather the abuse of language. Qualities the 
most opposed frequently shroud themselves 
under the same phraseology. If there were a 
language peculiar to innocence, it would only 
be so for one moment, the next it would be 
usurped by guilt. 

Principle is a term in frequent use, to express 
moral qualities. A man of principle a man of 
no principle a man of bad principle. What 
is the meaning of the phrase? What is the 
ground of the estimation in which the man is 
held, who obtains the benefit of a reputation for 
acting on principle ? It is that he is supposed 
to have laid down for himself a certain rule of 
conduct, and acts constantly and steadily in 
conformity to it. This were indeed well, if his 
rule of conduct were a good rule ; if its end 
and object were the general well-being: but 
supposing his rule of conduct to be a bad rule, 
that it has not for its object the general well- 


being, surely he is entitled to Ho approbation. 
A man is said to act habitually on principle, 
who unswervingly pursues his own course, 
notwithstanding all solicitations to the contrary. 
These solicitations are temptations, administered 
in the shape of pleasures to be immediately 
enjoyed, and pains to be immediately avoided ; 
and, undoubtedly, he will have learnt to master 
these solicitations in proportion as he has 
proved himself able to forego these pleasures 
and to suffer these pains. But if his resistance 
be such that the sum of happiness is diminished 
by his conduct, if his rules are not in confor 
mity with the demands of utility, his principle, 
or in other words, his pertinacity, will be use 
less or pernicious, to the extent in which he 
fails to give adherence to the Deontological 
law. It is by contrast with him who is 
called a man of no principle that a man of 
principle obtains approbation. A man of no 
principle is a man who, without regard to 
consequences, allows the solicitations of present 
pleasure, or the apprehension of present pain, 
to direct his conduct; while a man of bad 
principle is one who has laid down for himself a 
rule, that the welfare of others shall on no 
occasion form a part of his consideration, ; as, 
for instance, when he determines to do mis 
chief to every man whose opinion on any par- 


titular subject differs from his own. In such 
a case, those who do not join him in the obser 
vance of his rule, will concur in the propriety of 
affixing on him the title of a bad-principled man. 
LlJs possible, however, for the man of bad prin 
ciple to be less pernicious than the man of no 
principle ; the one/will, on all occasions, make 
his line of conduct subservient to his immediate 
ends; he,has no principle to prevent his doing 
so : the other may have some good principle, 
operating at times to correct or counteract the 
bad principle. Independently of which, the 
bad principle may be sometimes inert from 
want of excitement or opportunity of exercise ; 
while the mind of the man of no principle being 
open to every impression of present influence, 
will in most cases be seduced by temptation. 

, Right is, for the most part, a recognition 
by law of something claimed by one or more 
individuals. It is that to the enforcement of 
which the legal powers lend their sanction. It 
enters little into the Deontological field, where 
the business consists chiefly in the proper dis 
tribution of obligations. Deontology endeavors 
to give to obligation the efficiency of action, 
and where different obligations clash, it deter 
mines which should preponderate. It is true 
that the legal sanction has obligation attached 
to it, obligation in the most perfect form, obli- 


gation co-existent with right; but it will also 
sometimes appear that the obligation produced 
by the legal sanction is superseded by the 
Deontological, as where, for example, the infrac 
tion of a law may be attended with greater good 
than its observance. 

The demand of rights sometimes takes the 
most extensively-baneful range of all the sources 
of action. The right of empire, for instance, 
has been made the ground-work of unbounded 
profligacy and consequent misery ; the plea for 
rapine and murder on the largest scale. It 
may be a concupiscense of the most atrocious 
and horrible character, and has been put for 
ward by men like the Prince de Conde , as an 
excuse and a sanction for every species of 

Left to itself, wandering about without the 
Deontological chain to bring it back to its fit 
abode, it is one of the most pernicious of pre 
tenders. \ In the political field despotism, with 
all its horrors, takes its stand upon it. In the 
religious field, persecution; in the popular, 
injustice; in the domestic, parental, marital, or 
other tyranny. 

Subservient to utility, there is no objection 
either to the word or the thing ; that which is 
useful is right : a right is that which grows out 
of the application of the greatest happiness 


- principle. Such a right cannot be shaken by 
argument ; but no such right can be assumed 
in any given case. (Weigh pains, weigh plea 
sures; and as the Balance stands, will stand 
the question of right and wrong./ 

Conscience is a thing of fictitious existence, 
supposed to occupy a seat in the mind. A con 
scientious person is one who, having made to 
himself a rule of conduct, steadily abides by it. 
In the common use of the phrase, it is implied 
that his rule of conduct is the correct one. 
But only in so far as his rule of conduct is con 
sistent with the principles of utility can his 
conscientiousness be deemed virtuous. When 
ever his conscientiousness takes a direction 
opposed to the general well-being, it is perni 
cious in the very proportion of its influence. 

Good and evil conscience are sometimes used 
to represent the tribunal before which a man 
tries the merits of his own actions in his own 
mind, and the recompense or punishment which 
he attaches to those actions. A good con 
science is the favorable opinion which a man 
entertains of his own conduct ; an evil con 
science is the unfavorable decision of a man on 
his own conduct. But the value of the judg 
ment given must wholly depend on its being 
subservient to, or rather on its being an appli 
cation of the greatest happiness principle. 




VIRTUE is the head of a large family. The vir 
tues are the members of it. The scene offered 
to the imagination is that of a parent followed 
by numerous offspring. Latin being the source 
whence the word is derived, and the word being 
of the feminine gender, the image presented is 
that of a mother, surrounded by her daughters. 
An appellation gives an idea of existence, but 
virtue is a fictitious entity,* growing out of the 

* What, it will be perhaps said, deny the existence of 
virtue ? Virtue an empty name no such thing as virtue ! 
Horrible ! What an opinion must such a man have of human 
nature! What good, what useful information can be ex 
pected from him? What, of any sort, but the most perni 
cious ? If virtue is an imaginary thing, so also must vice be ; 
and thus virtue and vice will be on a level alike creatures of 
the imagination, alike objects of indifference ! It is thus, 
sometimes, that a novel form of expression is met, vitupe 
rated and dismissed ; but no clear idea can possess the mind, 
until a separation has taken place between that which is real 
and that which is fictitious. The fictitious may be an instru 
ment which the unsatisfactory state of language compels us 
to employ, for the purposes of introducing realities. Vir 
tuous deeds, virtuous propensities, are existent things, and 


imperfection of language of language created 
long before the phenomena of mind were studied 
or understood. 

Virtue not having a superior genus is not sus 
ceptible of what is commonly meant by a defi 
nition, which is a reference to some generic 
appellation embracing it. By the medium of 
its conjugates it is capable of being expounded ; 
and when the words, a virtuous act, a virtuous 
habit, or a virtuous disposition, are used, a 
tolerably determinate conception is conveyed 
by them to the mind. 

When a man says of an act that it is vir 
tuous, he merely conveys an opinion that it 
merits his approbation, and thereon comes the 
inquiry, what is the ground of that opinion ? 

On looking closely into the matter, it will be 
found that the ground, in different places, is 
very different, so that it would not be very easy 
to give a general answer. If the answers be 
correct, they will be different, and to collect 
them all, intricate and all-comprehensive as 
they are, boundless must be the researches in 
the field of geography and history. And thus 
it is, that when it is demanded why an act is 
virtuous, or what constitutes the virtue of an 

for all practical purposes the result is the 8ame. Two per 
sons may employ a very different phraseology, though their 
meaning may be identical. 


act, the only response to so important an in* 
quiry will be, when thoroughly sifted It is vir 
tuous because I think it to be so, and its virtue 
consists in its having ray favourable opinion. 

A new ground is put forward here. The 
* ground of approbation will be the tendency of 
an act to increase happiness ; the ground of re 
probation the tendency of an act to diminish 

The attempt is here made to develope this 
principle to its fullest extent. Wherever there 
is a particle of happiness, however small, with 
out any counterbalancing evil, there will be 
ground for approval, though not necessarily evi 
dence of virtue. Virtue is the effort, the con 
quest of a difficulty, leaving, as its results, a 
balance of happiness. There may be, there is 
much good in the world, which no virtue has 
been concerned in producing. But there is no 
virtue where there is no balance of happiness. 

Conduciveness to happiness being then the 
test of virtue, and all happiness being composed 
of our own happiness and that of others, the 
production of our own happiness is prudence, 
the production of the happiness of others is 
effective benevolence. The tree of virtue is 
thus divided into two great stems, out of which 
grow all the other branches of virtue. 

Since the time of Aristotle, four virtues, Pru- 


dence, Fortitude, Temperance, and Justice, have 
taken the names of the cardinal virtues; cardo 
being the Latin for a hinge, and these became 
the cardinal virtues, because on them, as doors 
on hinges, all other virtues were said to turn. 
But do they turn on these four hinge-like vir 
tues ? By no means. The list is excessive ; 
but does it not embrace the whole ? By no 
means. For in Aristotle s catalogue the virtue 
of benevolence effective benevolence is for- 
gotten, and there is nothing in its stead but 
justice, which is but a portion of benevolence in 
disguise. The list consists of three virtues, 
which regard the actor only ; while, for all the 
rest of mankind, there is a virtue, which is a 
very small part of a virtue indeed. 

It will, however, be seen, that it is only 
with reference to pains and pleasures that any 
clear conception attaches to the words virtue or 
vice. Familiarly as their different titles sound 
to the ear, any part of the meaning which can 
not be brought under the influence of their re 
lation to happiness and unhappiness, will and 
must continue unsettled and confused. 

Only, in so far, then, as it produces happi 
ness or misery can an act be properly called 
virtuous or vicious. Virtue and vice are but 
useless qualities unless estimated by their in 
fluences on the creation of pleasure and pain. 


They are fictitious entities, spoken of as real, 
for the purposes of discourse, and without 
fictions of this character, on subjects such as 
these, discussions could hardly be .carried on. 
The application of the principle of Deontology 
will alone enable us to discover whether decep 
tive impressions are conveyed by the employ 
ment of the terms, and) it will be found on a 
close examination, that virtue and vice are, as 
has been stated, but representatives of two 
qualities, namely, prudence and effective bene 
volence, and their contraries, with the different 
modifications springing out of them, and which 
regard ourselves primarily, and next, all be 
sides ourselves. 

If the effect of virtue were to prevent or 
destroy more pleasure than it produced, or to 
produce more pain than it prevented, its more 
appropriate name would be wickedness and 
folly : wickedness, as it affected others ; folly, 
as respected him who practised it. And if the 
influence of vice were to promote pleasure and 
to diminish pain, vice would be entitled to the 
names of beneficence and wisdom. 

Virtue is the preference given to a greater 
good in comparison with a less ; but it is called 
upon for its exercise when the lesser good is 
magnified by its adjacency, and the greater 
good diminished by its remoteness. In the self- 


regarding part of the field of conduct, it is the 
sacrifice of a present inclination to a distant 
personal recompense. In the social part, it is 
the sacrifice of a man s own pleasure to the ob 
taining a greater sum of pleasure for the benefit 
of others. The sacrifice is either positive or 
negative positive when it is the abandonment 
of pleasure, negative when it is the subjection 
to pain. 

The terms sacrifice or self-denial, are appro 
priate where virtue consists in the abstinence 
from enjoyment ; but they are less properly 
employed where the good sacrificed is of the 
negative kind, and the virtue is found in self- 
subjection to suffering. But it will be obvious 
that though the idea of virtue may be sometimes 
included in the idea of sacrifice, or self-denial, 
yet these are by no means synonymous with 
virtue, nor are they necessarily included in the 
idea of virtue. To the character of virtue, in 
a great number of cases, no doubt, the quality 
of courage is indispensable ; but courage, in so 
far as it consists in exposure to pain to bodily 
pain, for example, unaccompanied by danger to 
life, cannot be fitly called sacrifice so self-denial 
cannot be said to have place in cases where a 
man abandons nothing which he might have 

Virtue has not only to struggle with indivi- 


dual inclination, it has sometimes to struggle 
against the general inclination of the human 
species, and it is when it triumphs over both 
that it exists in its highest degree of perfection. 
In proportion as a man has acquired a com 
mand over his desires, resistance to their im 
pulse becomes less and less difficult, till, at 
length, in some constitutions, all difficulty 
vanishes. In early life, for example, a man 
may have acquired a taste for wine, or for a 
particular species of food. Finding it disagree 
with his constitution, little by little, the uneasi 
nesses attendant on the gratification of his ap 
petite become so frequent, so constantly present 
to his recollection, that the anticipation of the 
future certain pain gains strength enough to 
overpower the impression of the present plea 
sure. The idea of the greater distant suffering 
has extinguished that of the lesser contempora 
neous enjoyment. And it is thus that by the 
power of association things, which had been 
originally objects of desire, become objects of 
aversion; and, on the other hand, things which 
had been originally objects of aversion, such as 
medicines, for instance, become objects of de 
sire. In the case above referred to, the plea 
sure not being in possession could not, of 
course, be sacrificed it was non-existent ; nor 
was there self-denial in the case, for as the de- 


sire which had originally been calling for its 
gratification was no longer in existence, there 
remained no demand to which denial could be 
opposed. When things are in this situation, the 
virtue, so far from being annihilated, has arrived 
at the pinnacle of its highest excellence, and 
shines forth in its brightest lustre. Defective 
indeed would that definition of virtue be, which 
excluded from its pale the very perfection of 

Effort, undoubtedly, is needful to virtue, and 
the seat of that effort, in the case of prudence, is 
principally in the understanding ; in the case of 
effective benevolence, mainly in the will and 
the affections. 

I meet an adversary in the road. He aims a 
blow at me with a stick. I spring aside and 
escape the stroke. Here is usefulness self- 
preservation ; but here is no room for prudence. 

I hear that an adversary is laying wait for me 
at a certain spot. I avoid the path that leads 
to it, and repair to my place of destination by 
a more circuitous or expensive road. Here is 
usefulness by self-preservation ; but here, too, 
there has been exercise of the understanding, 
and room, at least, for prudence. 

And so, when the seat of the effort has been 
the will. I purchase at the baker s shop a loaf 
for my own dinner ; there is double usefulness 

VOL. i. L 


usefulness to myself by the preservation of life ; 
to the baker by his profit on the loaf. 

I am accosted by a famished beggar. He 
has more need of the loaf than I. I give it 
him, and lose my dinner. Here, too, is useful 
ness ; but here, also, is virtue : for, to subject 
myself to pain, as here, to pain in the shape of 
hunger, requires an effort, and that effort I 
have made. 

But, though the test of virtue be usefulness, 
or, in other words, the production of happiness 
virtue being, as above, that which is benefi 
cial, and vice that which is pernicious to the 
community, there is no identity between virtue 
and usefulness, for there are many beneficial 
actions which do not partake of the nature of 
virtue. Virtue demands effort. Of all the 
actions of man, those which preserve the indi 
vidual, and those which preserve the species, 
are undoubtedly the most beneficial to the com 
munity. But there is no virtue in these. As 
regards effort though effort is needful to vir 
tue, and to the production of virtue, it is not 
needful that the time of the effort should be the 
very moment when the virtue is practised. All 
that is necessary is, that the virtuous act should 
be of that character for the production of which, 
in the conduct of most men, an effort is re 
quired. For the habit, whose formation re- 


quired an effort, acts at last without requiring 
such an impulse. Take, for instance, the con 
fining anger within the limits prescribed by pru 
dence and benevolence. If there could be no 
virtue without contemporaneous effort, then 
would virtue, arrived at its consummation, cease 
to be virtue. 

It is curious enough that in the Aristotelian 
school an exclusion is put upon virtue when it 
is exercised in the highest degree where any 
thing remains of inclination to be subdued, 
however perfect the subjugation may be, then 
the title of virtue is refused, and to the deci 
dedly superior claim, the inferior title of semi- 
virtue > or half virtue, is awarded. 

These half-virtues are called by the author 
of the Oxford Compendium, * only rudiments/ 
and evidence of * good dispositions 3 towards 
a habit of virtue; but entire virtues/ he says, 
they are by no means to be denominated.* 

He will, however, have them subject to * me 
diocrity or moderation (rnediocritas^) as the 
dominant virtue, after all. 

According to him, virtue consists in doing, 
without the cost of any sacrifice, what is right 

Compendium, p. 69. 

f The allusion here is to another Aristotelian tenet, that, 
in every case, virtue consists that every species of virtue 
consists in mediocrity. 


to be done, and for every whole virtue there 
is a half-virtue. And, with a limitation, for 
which it is not very easy to discover the reason, 
the half-virtues are paired off with the whole 

The half-virtues, he avows, have as many 
classes as the whole ones, but they must be 
grouped under certain genera. 

And so he goes on to arrange his half-virtues 
under two heads continentia et tolerantia, con 
tinence and tolerance, corresponding, he says, 
with the concupiscent and irascible appetites ; 
continence being taken in hand by concupis 
cence, and tolerance by irascibility. Now the 
difference between the whole and the half vir 
tues being constituted only by the presence or 
absence of reluctance, there seems no reason 
why the same division should not apply to every 
part of the field of virtue. But the farther he 
proceeds the deeper is the darkness gathered 
round him, and the imperfection of his classifi 
cation becomes palpable. Does he mean by 
tolerantia, the subjection of one s self to bodily 
pain? Truly does he, if he is to be believed. 
In fact he says so, in so many words.* 

But this tolerance, he continues, is a virtus 
imperfecta (an imperfect virtue) whose value 

* Page 70. 


certainly he hesitates to put too prominently 
forward, and whose influence, he fears, may be 
interfered with through imbecility of mind.* 
Tolerance, by which he means the power of 
suffering and not the virtue of candid and 
benevolent judgment will, after all, be found 
to have been too much honored by the Oxonian s 
eulogy. It is not a half-virtue. It is no virtue 
at all. It is the physical disposition to resist 
the influences of pain, which nature has given 
to some men and denied to others, without 
adding to or subtracting from the virtues of 
those who have it, or those who have it not. 

The irascible appetite is that which seeks to 
visit with its ill-will the object of its anger 
the appetite seeking its gratification by the pro 
duction of pain in the breast of him who is the 
subject of its visitation. But the seat of the 
pain produced by anger is really the heart of the 
angry person. Does this make him virtuous, 
which it ought to do, according to the Aristote 
lian definition ? 

Yet, according to the view of the Oxford 
teacher of morality, this subject, which he has 
left involved in such midnight obscurity, is im 
portant in the very highest degree. On it de 
pends the dreadful difference between salvation 
and damnation. Yet these very qualities this 

* Page 71. 


continence and tolerance, which Aristotle dis 
misses with the light character of imperfect 
virtues are, in a theological point of view (so 
says the Oxonian moralist), not only among the 
most perfect, but among the most arduous 
virtues. According to Aristotle s morality, half 
is no more than half; a half- virtue is but a 
half-virtue. According to Oxford theology, 
half is equal to, if not greater than the whole. 
But in this, mystery is made out of every thing, 
and out of nothing ; and the more mystery the 
more merit. 

It would, indeed, have been well, if to the 
Aristotelian appetites, the appetite for mystery 
had been added by the Oxonian ; an appetite 
which may be described as being always in the 
forest of so-called religion, hunting for absur 
dity and nonsense, and feeding upon its aliment 
with a relish directly proportioned to its gross- 

Before the title of virtue is demanded for an 
action, its conduciveness to happiness must be 
proved. According to Aristotle and his Oxford 
disciple, virtue consists in mediocrity so in 
Latin, at least ;> for it may be thought that 
moderation is the more fit translation of media- 
critas ; but, at all events, it is mediocritas. And 
here let it be remarked, by the way, that if 
morality had been intended for use if it had 
been thought good enough for the business of 


life, a living language, and not a dead one, 
would have been employed for teaching it : the 
language of the many, not the language of the 
few. Now what is the value of a definition? 
That we may know the thing defined. Of a 
description? Clearly that we may recognize 
the thing described. And let us see whether 
the end is accomplished here. 

The virtue is named, it is stuck between two 
qualities of the same character, which are not 
virtues ; in one of which the qualities of the 
virtues are deficient, in the other they are ex 
cessive: here is your designation of virtue, here 
is the example, running through the whole 
string of virtues. The only thing, then, need 
ful, is to show what, on each occasion, is the 
exact quantity of the quality out of which virtue 
is made, to produce it ready for use, correctly 
weighed out, neither too much nor too little ; 
for if you get it not in the exact quantity, get 
what you may, you will not get virtue. 

But for this all-important object you will 
find no help from our moralist. There are, he 
tells you, three doses of the moral medicine: 
there is the proper dose, the excessive dose, 
and the deficient dose. In the proper dose 
there is health and safety ; in the others peril 
and perdition. Has he not noted down the 
sanatory quantity? Not he! Are there no 


figures, no means of estimate in his prescription? 
Nothing like them. 

If a physician treat of diseases, he does not 
satisfy himself with scribbling down their names, 
but thinks it useful, finds it necessary, indeed, 
to record their symptoms. Not so our moralist. 
His virtues are names, without symptoms : he 
talks of virtue ; but how virtue is to be sepa 
rated from that which is not virtue, forms no 
portion of his care. 

Even common phraseology, the accustomed 
use of the terms of right and wrong, justice 
and injustice, have, in their habitual employ* 
ment, a more decided bearing upon the welfare 
of society than is given to the virtues by the 
ethical Oxonian. All men have a sort of notion 
that government and legislation, and religion 
and morality, have, or ought to have, a bene 
ficial influence upon the public happiness. On 
what other ground, indeed, can they be recom 
mended? But on that ground the Oxford 
moralist makes no stand. 

But the Oxford Compendium offers a series 
of definitions for virtue, out of which a man 
may take which he pleases. 

1 . Virtue is an elective habit, consisting in 
mediocrity (or in a medium) in regard to our 
selves, and as a prudent man would prescribe it. 

Let who can make sense of this. If it have 


any meaning^ the meaning is, that there are two 
virtues, mediocrity and prudence, and that these 
two are one. 

2. Virtue consists in the conformity of our 
actions to the divine will. 

Good. But the difficulty is to know the 
divine will on every occasion. The phraseology 
of the Bible is general, not particular ; some 
times, too, the meaning may be doubtful, and 
subject to dispute. And what is the divine will, 
as taught in the Bible? What is it, what 
can it be but to produce happiness ? What 
other motive, what other end has it proposed to 
obedience ? The divine will is benignant, bene 
volent, beneficent. What do these terms imply 
but happiness-intending, happiness-producing ? 
So that, if the Oxford moralist has any mean 
ingif the words are not used for the mere 
purposes of delusion his meaning must be our 
meaning. And, in that case, he might have 
avoided all ambiguity of expression. 

3. * Virtue consists in the conformity of our 
actions to right reason/ 

Right reason ? That very reason which the 
authorities of Oxford so often declare to be at 
variance with the divine will. Human reason, 
that is the standard, is it not? Whose right 
reason ? Mine, or the man s who differs from 
me? Mine, of course; for I cannot hold any 


man s reason to be right which I hold to be 
wrong. And I hold his to be wrong, because 
I differ from him. Mine, or the Oxford man s ? 
Mine. The question is settled. And now let 
me dogmatize like the rfest. 

4. Virtue consists the divine will and right 
reason consist in mediocrity, 

Here, at last, we have a standard by which 
to measure the divine will and right reason too, 
and virtue, as the child of both. And now, 
reader, all doubts and difficulties being removed, 
your moral principle is put into your hand, 
that with it you may work your wonders. So 
says Aristotle, so says Oxford. 

But what says utility ? What are the really 
valuable virtues, what the subservient virtues 
which grow out of them ? Taking for the 
standard and the test of virtue its conducive- 
ness to well-being, it is believed, as has been 
said above, that all the modifications of virtue 
may be arranged under the two heads of pru 
dence and beneficence. Beyond these there is 
no intrinsically valuable virtue. To one or other 
of these every useful moral quality will be 
found to belong. These, then, may be called 
the primary virtues. Take away prudence, take 
away benevolence, from the tree of morals, you 
strip it of all its flowers and fruits, of its 
strength, its beauty, and its use. You have a 


worthless, unproductive trunk, smitten with 
barrenness, the mere cumberer of the ground. 
The value of the whole tribe of ancillary or 
secondary virtues depends altogether on their 
subserviency to these two primary virtues. 
Hence it follows 1. That if the primary virtues 
were not useful, neither could the secondary 
virtues be so. 2. That their utility must con 
sist in advancing the same ends which it is 
the object of the primary virtues to advance. 
3. The tendency of the primary virtues is inva 
riably towards usefulness, in the case of some 
person or other on whom they are exercised, 
whether useful or not to human society on the 
whole. 4. The usefulness of the secondary 
virtues is to be measured by their tendency to 
produce those effects which it is the tendency 
of the primary virtues to produce. 5. Their 
usefulness must be measured by the degree in 
which they contribute to advance those ends, 
which are the ends of the primary virtues. 
Occasion will be found to bring the whole of the 
secondary virtues under review, and to test 
their value by the principles which have been 
here developed. 

The modes in which the various virtues may 
be brought into operation by discourse, by 
writing, or by deportment belong to the prac 
tical branch of the subject. 




NATURE, artless and untutored nature, engages 
man in the pursuit of immediate pleasure, and 
in the avoidance of immediate pain. What 
reason can effect is to prevent the sacrifice of 
a greater distant pleasure, or the visitation of 
a greater distant pain in exchange for those 
which are present ; in other words, to prevent 
a miscalculation in the amount of happiness. 
In this, too, consists the whole of virtue, which 
;is but the sacrifice of a smaller present satis 
faction, in the shape of a temptation, to a satis 
faction of greater magnitude, but more remote, 
which is, in fact, a recompense. What can 
be done for morality, in the field of self-interest, 
is to show how much a man s own happiness 
depends upon himself, how much on the effects 
his conduct produces in the breasts of those 
with whom he is connected by the ties of 
mutual sympathy; how much the interest which 
others feel in his happiness, and how much the 
desire to promote it depend on his own doings. 
Suppose a man wedded to intoxication. He 


will be taught to consider and weigh the amount 
of pleasure and pain growing out of his conduct. 
He will view, on one side, the intensity and 
the duration of the pleasurable excitement. 
This will be the account on the side of profit. 
Per contra, he will be led to estimate 
1. Sickness and other effects prejudicial to 
health, 2. Future contingent pains, growing 
out of probable debility and disease. 3. The 
loss of time and the loss of money, and these 
in proportion to the value of time and money 
in his individual case. 4. The pain produced 
in the minds of those who are dear to him ; 
as, for instance, a parent, a wife, a child. 
5. The disrepute attached to the practice ; the 
loss of reputation in the eyes of others. 6. The 
risk of legal punishment, and the disgrace 
attaching to it ; as when the public exhibition 
of that temporary insanity, produced by intoxi 
cation, is visited by the laws. 7. The risk 
of punishments attached to crimes which a man 
is liable to commit while gratifying the pro 
pensity to inebriety. 8. The misery produced 
by apprehension of punishment in a future state 
of being. 

All these will probably lead him to discover 
that he purchases the pleasures of intoxication 
at too great a cost. He will see that morality, 
which is virtue, arid happiness, which is self- 


interest, counsel him to avoid excess. He has 
the same motive to subdue his intemperate 
propensities that a man has, who, in the pur 
suit of wealth, can choose between gaining 
much and gaining little. Deontology asks no 
ultimate sacrifice; her lessons propose a balance 
of enjoyment to the man with whom she rea 
sons. He is in search of pleasure ; she encou 
rages him in the search, she allows it to be 
wise, honorable, and virtuous ; but she entreats 
him not to err by an erroneous arithmetic ; she 
represents a futurity, a probably adjacent futu 
rity, with its pleasures and pains. She asks 
whether the enjoyment which is taken to-day 
will not have to be repaid to-morrow, or the 
clay after, with usurious and intolerable interest. 
She implores that the same prudent calculation 
which every wise man applies to his daily 
concerns, may be applied to the most impor 
tant of all concerns, those of felicity and misery. 
Deontology professes no scorn for that very 
selfishness to which vice itself appeals. She 
surrenders every point which cannot be proved 
to be beneficial to the individual. She consents 
even to set aside the code of the lawgiver and 
the dogmas of the divine. She takes for granted 
that these cannot be unfriendly to her influences, 
that neither legislation nor religion are hostile 
to morality ; and she insists that morality shall 


not be opposed to happiness. Make out to her 
a case against human felicity, and she. is smit 
ten with silence and with helplessness. She 
acknowledges that even the drunkard is pro 
posing to himself a proper end ; but she is able 
to show him that his end will not be accom 
plished by drunkenness. She assumes nothing 
but that which no man will deny namely, 
that all men wish to be happy. She has no 
purpose to answer by despotic dogmatizing. 
Her mission is to invite to a sober reckoning of 
good and evil. She has no interest in this or 
that course of action, in one result or another, 
but in so far as there is to be something of 
happiness abstracted from the whole. All that 
she proposes is to put a bridle upon precipi 
tancy, to prevent rashness from taking irre 
vocable steps, and entering upon foolish bar 
gains. She has no quarrel with any species of 
pleasure which does not associate itself with 
a more than counterbalancing portion of pain. 
In a word, she ministers to selfishness, and, like 
a wise and active steward, makes the most of 
every man s rent-roll of felicity. 

But she is not blind nor thoughtless. She 
knows that the present will soon be the past, 
and that the opinions of this hour will be modi 
fied by the experience of the next. Hence she 
desires that the important element of that which 


.it to be may not be left out of the calculation of 
that which is. The teaching is Weigh every 
thing, weigh every thing well that belongs to 
the bargain. Make the most of what is given 
you to enjoy now ; but if suffering is behind, 
if enjoyments greater than those you are grasp 
ing are to be surrendered, as the payment 
for them, where is your prudence ? If, for the 
purchase of the enjoyment you cevet, you inflict 
pain upon others greater than your enjoyment, 
where is your benevolence ? And if, from the 
infliction of that pain upon others, they retaliate 
on you with interest, or abstract from your 
enjoyments a greater sum than that of which 
you deprived them, where, again, is your pru 
dence ? 

In fact, the self-esteem which takes not into 
account any thing future, has as little in it 
of prudence as of benevolence. It is truly the 
killing the goose for the golden egg.\ * Myself/ 
myself/ is but the cry of insensibility to 
happiness or unhappiness from external sources; 
and insensibility to the pressure of evil is a 
clear advantage to its possessor, provided, that 
insensibility brings with it no re-action from 

Phocion s self-esteem lessened his sense of 
his own misfortune. There was no benevolence, 
no courtesy in his representing himself as an 


object of greater admiration to his fellow-sufferer 
than his fellow-sufferer was to himself. This 
was mere arrogance. 

Vitellius s self-esteem led him to demand 
respect, because he had possessed the highest 
portion of prosperity. If that consoled him, so 
much the better for him, and nothing the worse 
for others. 

But self-regarding prudence is not only a 
virtue it is a virtue on which the very exist 
ence 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 eye-sight should be 
better to me than my own. My happiness and 
my unhappiness are as much a part of me as 
any of my faculties or organs, and I might as 
well profess to feel your tooth-ache more keenly 
than you do, as to be more interested in your 
well-being than in rny own well-being. 

There are, however, many who so exaggerate 
the selfish principle as to think that, by swel 
ling their notions of themselves, they are still 
serving their race. 

But how? Does a man s pride or vanity 
make others happier? If so, there is double 
gain. We have got hold of a pleasure, and so 

VOL. i. M 


have others. Does it not affect others, either 
for better or worse ? Still there is a gain, for 
man has a pleasure in his own glorification. Does 
his pride or his vanity bring annoyance to the 
bosoms of others ? There is something thrown 
into the other scale ; the calculation must be 
made ; all the annoyances suffered by all those 
who are annoyed, must be added together, 
and weighed against the pleasures of the man s 
pride or vanity. It will be, perhaps, found 
that the annoyances caused to others are pro 
portioned to the intensity of his own self-gra 
tification. It is clear that, in such a case, the 
balance will be increased in proportion. 

The sun of Deontology irradiates the adjacent 
regions of prudence and benevolence. By it 
light is substituted to darkness, order to chaos. 
It solves all intricate problems, and all perplex 
ing difficulties vanish before it. By it alone 
can be traced out the affinities, from it alone 
can be deduced the relations between the seve 
ral classes of moral qualities ; through it alone 
can the limits between virtue and vice be disco 
vered. All anomalies may be reduced by it, and 
by it alone, to harmony and regularity. By it, 
and by it alone, a variety of distinctions, which 
have stood in an unintelligible or insulated shape, 
may be brought into connection or contrast. 
It is the spear of Ithuriel, by which evil and 


good may be detected, and made to present 
themselves in their own true characters. 

There has been among moralists a vehement 
disposition to shut out the influence of the self- 
regarding principle from the mind. Why this 
reluctance to admit, as a motive, that which is 
and must be the strongest of all motives a 
man s regard for himself? Why is not self-love 
to be brought into the field ? It is from a sort 
of bashfulness a disposition to consider that 
principle to which all the actions and passions 
of men owe their birth, as the partie honteuse of 
our nature. 

But with the recognition of the principle, 
that an enlightened regard to self-interest 
is the best guarantee for good conduct, 
the knowledge and the practice of morality 
have undoubtedly made considerable progress, 
and delightful it is to trace the slow but visible 
march of virtue. It will lose nothing of its 
stability, nothing of its power, when it is 
discovered to be founded on interest. That 
interest some men will not see, and others will 
turn away with scorn from the contemplation 
of it. Declaimers would ask whether, in an 
age like this, which they call degenerate,. a. man 
would sacrifice his life for the benefit of his 
country. Yes ! 

There is many and many a man, who, upon 


such calls as have formerly met with the like 
obedience, would, for his country, surrender 
his existence with pleasure. Does it follow 
that, in this or in any thing else, he would act 
without an interest ? No such thing. Nothing 
like it : it is not in man s nature. 

And precisely the same argument holds good 
in man s aberrations from duty. They are the 
miscalculations of interest. 

There is no man doth a wrong for the wrong s 
sake ; but thereby to purchase himself profit or 
pleasure. This grand truism was not hidden 
from Lord Bacon. His was a mind to be struck 
with the beauty of truth wherever it met him ; 
but his was not an age when- to pursue it to the 
utmost was either practicable or safe. 

Yet he could not fail to draw the deduction, 
that if vices were upon the whole account pro 
fitable, the virtuous man would be the sinner. 

The sacrifice of interests presents itself ab 
stractedly, as something grand and virtuous, 
because it is taken for granted that the plea 
sure one man flings away must necessarily be 
gathered up by another. And supposing no 
pleasure were lost in the transfer, and no plea 
sure gained, it is clear that the whole sum 
of happiness would continue just as it was, 
notwithstanding a million shiftings from one 
possessor to another. But in the commerce of 


happiness, as in that of wealth, the prominent 
question is, how to make circulation assist pro 
duction. Hence, it is no more fit to call disin 
terestedness a virtue in moral economy, than to 
call expenditure a merit in political economy. 
Disinterestedness may exist among the rash 
and the reckless; but a man disinterested on 
reflection is happily seldom to be found. Show 
me the man who throws away more of the 
elements of felicity than he creates, and I will 
show you a fool and a prodigal. Show me the 
man who deprives himself of more good than 
he communicates to another, and I will show 
you a man ignorant of the elementary arithmetic 
of morality. 

Out of self-regarding prudence, as a primary 
virtue, grow temperance and continence, as 
secondary virtues. The breach of them brings 
the actor into the regions of pain ; the habitual 
breach of them leaves a result of unhappiness, 
upon which the eye of prudence cannot turn 
without discerning the balance of suffering that 
is left behind. 




THOUGH it belongs to Government to give 
increase and extension to the connection which 
exists between prudence and effective benevo 
lence wherever the political sanction will apply, 
it is the duty of the public teacher of morality 
to point out their accordance, and to give to that 
accordance all the action and effect of which it 
is susceptible through his influence. 

It is to public opinion, or in other words, to 
the popular or moral sanction, that we must 
mainly look for the action of the social on the 
self-regarding feelings. Of the tribunal of public 
opinion every individual of the community may 
be a member; every one who gives to his 
estimate of the conduct of others any expression 
by words or deeds is an acting member, and 
every man who takes upon himself to write is a 
leading member ; his influence will be propor 
tioned to the approbation he receives from his 
readers, and the strength of the impression he 
conveys to their minds ; and again, on the 


number and influence of such readers. To 
their concurrence and co-operation he must 
turn for the measures of his own success. 

A man is prompted by ill-will to aim a blow 
at another. His ill-will may be restrained by the 
apprehension that the blow will be returned by 
the person at whom it is aimed, or by a third 
party who is a looker-on ; or, secondly, he may be 
restrained by the apprehension of legal punish 
ment. In one case the physical, in the other the 
political sanction is operative ; and there is 
in neither any demand for the application of the 
Deontological principle. But where these fail, 
where they provide no adequate remedy, come 
the popular and the social sanctions, to fill up 
that portion of the field of action which is 
unoccupied by other motives. These two 
sanctions are intimately and closely allied, for 
the social relations stretch naturally and neces 
sarily into the whole frame of society. By 
some social link, more or less efficient, almost 
every man is bound to the great body of the 
public. The circle widens, the intimacy 
strengthens as society becomes more and more 
intelligent. The interest^m a family ex 
tends to a tribe, from a tribe to a province, 
from a province to a nation, from a nation to 
mankind. And as political and Deontological 
science become better understood, the depend- 


ence of every man upon the good opinion of 
all besides will be increased, and the moral 
sanction grow stronger and stronger. Its 
strength too will be greatly heightened by a 
more correct appreciation of its own power, so 
that a period may be anticipated in which the 
public mind will not err in its estimate of duty, 
and when the moral will supersede a portion of 
the political sanction. 

But to be a little more particular. The influ 
ence of an act upon others whose happiness is 
affected by it, may be fitly considered with 
reference to the particular case. It is assumed, 
that a man by a blow inflicts corporal injury upon 
another. He who gives the blow has, in the first 
place, to apprehend retaliation in the shape 
of the same or similar personal injury. This 
apprehension is the physical sanction. The 
political or legal sanction, the risk of the inter 
ference of the magistrate, may, and probably 
will apply here, though that interference can 
in fact be safely grounded on no other principle 
than that on which Deontology itself rests, 
namely, the greatest happiness principle. But 
whether or not the political or the physical 
sanction are called into exertion, the moral 
sanction will, at all events, be put into operation. 
For, as experience and observation have taught 
that such deeds of violence are the sources of 


suffering, disapprobation will have place, de 
pending for its amount on the degree of suffering 
inflicted. Nor can the sympathetic and social 
sanction be without its effect; for though in 
the rude states of society that sanction may be 
so weak as to produce no restraint, and though 
in every state of society it is susceptible of great 
variation, as between individual and individual, 

jn a period of civilization like that to which 
threse thoughts are addressed, the social sanction 
becomes highly operative, and it will be operative 
in cases where the more general moral sanction 
may sometimes fail of its effect. He who 
would show indifference to the happiness of 
those with whom he is wholly unconnected, 
might be less disposed to show indifference to 
that of his friends or family, on whom he more 
immediately depends for his own happiness. 
As far as it exists, though spread over a nar 
rower field, the sympathetic sanction must 
be stronger than the moral. For as few 
persons can contemplate altogether without 
uneasiness the sufferings of a fellow creature, 
especially if presented in a particular manner 
to their perception or imagination, still less can 
they witness with indifference those of a friend. 
The sense of sympathy is universal. Perhaps 
there never existed a human being who had 
reached full age without the experience of 


pleasure at another s pleasure, of uneasiness at 
at another s pain. It may be narrowed to a 
domestic circle, and that circle may be as it were 
at war with mankind. Community of interest, 
similarity of opinion, are sources whence it 
springs. This sympathy then will operate as a 
restraint against the giving pain. It will always 
operate except where some stronger counter- 
motive acts in a contrary direction. And all 
these sanctions act with accumulating power ; 
for as the mind of individual man, if looked at 
from generation to generation, will be found 
increasing in strength and steadiness, in the 
knowledge of, and the command over its several 
faculties, and in the amount of observation and 
experience which it accumulates for its own use 
and guidance, so it may reasonably be ex 
pected, that the several sanctions which are 
associated with the universal mind will obtain 
more and more of their fit developement ; and so 
with the species. There is a period in which 
the self-regarding principle is the only one in 
very active operation ; it occupies the whole 
sphere of mind, scarcely going beyond the mere 
physical sanction ; so that conduct is little more 
than a grasping at immediate enjoyment, with 
out any calculation of remote happiness or un- 
happiness. This is the mere sensual state, in 
close association with which come the irascible 


or dissocial affections (as they are called by 
Aristotle), which, though so distinct in character, 
operate towards the same end. The sensual affec 
tions are checked by the operation of the iras 
cible excited in those among whom the sensual 
seek their gratification; by the fear of retaliation 
and retribution as the natural consequences of 
resentment. It has been remarked that, as in 
the individual, so in society at large the affection 
of sympathy is in its weakest state during the 
earliest period of existence. As age and ex 
perience advance it receives additional force and 
efficiency. It extends its influence for the 
most part with the extension of existence, 
beginning with the small immediate relations 
where the ties of consanguinity, affinity, domes 
tic contract, or friendly intercourse, are strongest, 
and advancing with experience and mental 
culture into a widening field of action. Its 
links become multifarious, and capable of 
great extension and increase. They spread 
into divers circles, domestic, social, professional, 
civic, provincial, national, ultra-national, univer 
sal ; some independant of and others connected 
with each other. And in so much and so far as 
the sympathetic affections can be called into 
action, their tendencies must be to increase the 
happiness of him who exercises them ; while if 
these happiness-producing tendencies lead to 


no consequences of a contrary effect, or to no 
consequences of equal amount, the result is a 
clear accession to the general stock of happiness. 
And thus even the self-regarding affection, 
employed as a source of selfish enjoyment, 
^brings into action a great mass of public hap 
piness. The very contagion of the self-regard 
ing principle is beneficent. A man witnessing 
the services rendered by his neighbour, to his 
neighbour s neighbour, contracts and catches, 
as it were, a propensity to requite the friend 
liness with his own friendliness, to bestow 
upon the author of benefits, benefits like those 
he has bestowed. The cheapest mode of 
requital, and considering its extreme facility not 
the least efficacious, is on all occasions to give to 
to the benevolent affections an outward ex 
pression, to bring into conversation as frequently 
as practicable the language of goodwill. To 
praise the virtuous doings of another man is to 
dispense a positive recompense to virtue, and at 
the same time to direct the popular sanction to 
the encouragement of similar acts, and thus 
does the principle of self produce the social 
affection, and the social in its turn the popular; 
and all combine together to increase the general 

But the sympathies excited in favor of an 
individual, are they dependent on the influence 


of his actions upon the general good ? Is a man 
judged of by the conduciveness of his conduct 
to the public happiness ? Alas, not always, for 
sympathy to a great extent, approbation to a 
vast amount, have frequently been excited, not 
by acts productive of good, but by acts produc 
tive of evil ; not by conduct favourable to human 
happiness, but detrimental and destructive to 
happiness in the highest degree: by victory 
and conquest for example, by depredation, 
devastation and slaughter on the widest scale, 
or by the acquisition or possession of power ; 
power in unbounded quantity, however obtained, 
however exercised. 

And even with respect to acts whose conse 
quences have been in some respects beneficial to 
the community, it may have happened that the 
benefit was neither pure nor preponderant. Now 
as the tendency of sympathy is always to produce 
a repetition of the act which it approves, the 
moral sanction may be misdirected to the 
creation of acts pernicious on the whole to the 
well-being of society. An act which in its 
earliest and most obvious effects is beneficial, 
may, when the whole of its effects are seen 
together, and calmly calculated, be upon the 
balance pernicious. So an act, whose instant 
and apparent consequence is pernicious, may 
upon the balance be beneficial, In both cases 


it is clear that the sympathy which should lead 
to the production of the one act, and the 
antipathy which would prevent the production 
of the other, would be alike injurious to the 
public happiness, and thence at variance with 
the sound principles of morality. To detect 
the fallacies which lie hid under the surface, to 
prevent the aberrations of sympathy and anti 
pathy, to bring to view and to call into activity 
those springs of action whose operation leads 
to an undoubted balance of happiness, is the 
important part of moral science. 

The Deontologist, it must always be remem 
bered, has no coercive power, and it may perhaps 
be somewhat too hastily inferred that all his 
occupation will end in the putting together a 
number of sentences, inoperative in their influ 
ence on human conduct. 

But it is presumed that three favorable 
consequence, at least, may result from his 
labors. Where he cannot create a motive he 
may point out its existence. He may bring to 
view, and show the bearing upon human 
felicity, of those springs of action which form a 
part of every man s mind, however hidden from 
observation, or inert in operation. He may 
point out consequences of action and forbear 
ance which had not presented themselves to the 


Again, he may give more efficiency to the 
popular moral sanction; he may proclaim its 
ordinances ; and if he is unable to do this, he may 
take upon himself the initiative of its laws, and 
propose for public consideration appropriate 
topics to aid its recognition. Motions, at least, 
in favor of the public weal may emanate from 
him with the chance of approving themselves to 
the minds of those to whom they are addressed. 

And lastly, he may influence those in whose 
hands are the powers of legislation, or the 
executive powers of the state, to give to the 
popular sanction the stronger influence of the 
political, wherever it is applicable to the pro 
duction of that end, which cannot be too often 
brought to view the maximization of the public 

Intimately connected with the dictates of 
prudence are those of beneficence. To a great 
extent, the prudential considerations prescribe 
benevolent action. The self-regarding calcula- / 
tion cannot leave out of view the happiness of ^ 




EFFECTIVE benevolence has been already intro 
duced to notice, as consisting of two branches, 
\/ the positive, or pleasure-conferring branch ; the 

. negative, or that which abstains from pain- 
giving to others. The word benevolence im 
plies the disposition to do the acts of bene 
ficence. The field of benevolence, therefore, is 
co-extensive with that of beneficence ; not 
that either of them has necessarily the other for 
its companion ; there may be benevolence, with 
out the power of bringing its impulses into 
action, and there may be beneficence, without 
the slightest portion of good-will. 

The good produced by effective benevolence 
is small in proportion to that produced by the 
personal motives. The sympathetic affections 
are not, cannot be, as strong as the self-regard 
ing affections. The wealth transferred, the 
means of subsistence circulated, the abundance 
produced for the sake of others, are trifling, when 
weighed against the amount of that which is 

set in motion for our own sakes. That which 


is given without equivalent is little indeed as 
contrasted with that which is paid for or bar 
tered in the way of commerce. The voluntary 
contributions to government, for the public 
benefit, bear a small proportion to the sums 
which are levied by compulsory requisitions. 

In the eye of the sentimentalist, benevolence, 
whether followed or not by beneficence, is apt 
to engross the greatest portion of his favor, 
and his efforts are directed to obtain for it the 
greatest portion of public applause. But bene 
volence is a useless tree, unless it bears the 
fruits of beneficence; and feelings, by whatever 
names they are called, are wholly valueless, 
unless in so far as they are the prompters of 
beneficent actions. Benevolence standing alone 
is but the shadow of virtue ; it is only when 
it becomes efficient that it partakes of the sub 
stance of virtue. 

To a great extent, it must be added, the 
dictates of prudence prescribe the laws of effec 
tive benevolence, and occupy, in mutual har 
mony, the same part of the field of duty. A 
man who injures himself more than he benefits 
others by no means serves the cause of virtue, 
for he diminishes the amount of happiness. 
Benevolence, or sympathy, may be a cause of 
fruitless pain, where it cannot exert itself in 
acts of beneficence. It is no part of the re- 

VOL. i. N 


quirements of virtue that a man should expose 
himself to witness pains, on whose removal or 
diminution he can exercise not any the slightest 
influence. No good is done to yourself, and 
none to others, by throwing yourself in the way 
of suffering, unmitigable in itself, or of which 
you are certain that it cannot be mitigated by 

Efficient benevolence is action ; it supposes 
the existence of good which is susceptible of 
increase, or of evil susceptible of being lessened 
or removed. The life painted by the poets of 
Elysium, where every man is sufficient to him 
self, must be dull and dreary indeed. It must 
be intolerable it must be pure selfishness, 
disassociated from benevolence. Take the ele 
ments of pleasure away, and of what is left 
behind you may make happiness, when you can 
make a palace out of smoke and moonshine. 

With a man s elevation in society, the influ 
ence of his vices and virtues in society extends. 
The powers of beneficence and maleficence in 
crease together. The amours of Henry the 
Fourth produced an incalculable mass of misery. 
He made war upon Spain for the purpose of 
getting hold of the wife of another. He sacri 
ficed, every now and then, a portion of his 
army, for the sake of having his pleasure with 
his belle Gabrielle, Let those who will, give 


their sympathy, their approbation, to such a 
nuisance as this monarch was ; but why should 
\ve? If he had lost an arm or a leg while 
pursuing his pleasures, great would have been 
the clamour, unbounded the expression of inte 
rest and sympathy. His partizans lost their 
lives by thousands, and what cared he ? 

To the power of situation the power of intel 
lect may be added, to give sanction to good 
or evil. Charles the Twelfth would have been 
more mischievous, had he not been mad. His 
obstinacy, in doing mischief by wholesale, was 
just as bad as Henry the Fourth s amours. For 
selfish enjoyments in one shape, Henry sacri 
ficed his thousands ; for selfish enjoyments 
in another shape, Charles did the like. When 
the laws of morality are understood, when the 
popular sanctions become properly enlightened, 
the misery-spreading freaks of monarchs will be 
no longer practised on mankind. 

As in the political field of action many of 
the claims of prudence are under the control 
of the legislator, so many of the claims of 
effective benevolence scarcely belong to the 
empire of the Deontologist private. It may not 
be out of place, however, to remark, that 
nothing but the light of utility will convey the 
patriot safely through the mazes of politics. 
Here, as elsewhere, the dogmatism about right 


and rights has often led men astray, confused their 
honest purposes, and nullified their benevolently- 
intended heroism. Opposition, revolt, may, or 
may not be a public virtue. To allow of resist 
ance, on the score of a greater general utility to 
be obtained by resistance than by submission, 
is to put a buckler in the hands of liberty. To 
enjoin resistance, on the score of some imaginary 
injunction of the law of nature or revelation, is 
to place a torch in the hands of fanaticism. 

When effective benevolence is brought into 
the realms of Deontology, .when .the greatest 
good, the universal happiness, is made the 
central point round which all action revolvesj 
the golden era of moral science will commence. 
When its presence becomes universal, its influ 
ence omnipresent, the demand for punishment 
will be superseded, to a great extent, by the 
powers of reward. No pleasure will be unne 
cessarily wasted ; no pain unnecessarily inflicted. 
Hitherto a feeble ray of universal benevolence 
has thrown an uncertain glimmer over the field 
of human action. Sometimes it has been ab 
sorbed in unfruitful meditation ; at others it aas 
exhaled in periodical discourse, clouded too oft 
in mystery, or dispersed by the storms of selfish 

The negative branch of effective benevolence 
is the abstinence from action, where that absti- 


nence either removes a pain or creates a plea 
sure in the minds or persons of others. This 
branch of virtue presupposes the power of 
inflicting suffering or of conferring enjoyment; 
and its operation is to arrest the consequence 
of that disposition which, if allowed to act, 
would increase the sum of misery or lessen the 
sum of happiness. 

Its object is to arrest the word or the deed 
which would inflict evil on another, and, if 
possible, to check the thought which would 
create or excite the evil-inflicting or evil-intend 
ing word or deed. In order to give it efficiency, 
it will be well to trace up to their origin the 
motives which are unfriendly to this class of 
virtues. And they will be found to have their 

1. In the interest of self, which may on 
some occasions be indeed in hostility with the 
benevolent sympathies, and on such occasions 
the benevolent sympathies must succumb. 
There is no help for it ; they are the weaker. 
Happily such cases are rare, for misery is sel 
dom inflicted without a reaction on the part of 
the sufferer. A man cannot hate another with 
out exciting some portion of hate in return. 
He cannot visit another with unfriendliness 
without curtailing the friendly affections of that 
other towards him. There is no voice, whether 


of malevolence or benevolence, without an echo; 
no act, whether of good or evil, without a 
vibration. And this brings the benevolence of 
forbearance into the domains of self-regarding 
prudence, to which, after all, benevolence must 
make its final appeal. 

2. The love of ease, heedlessness, is another 
cause of the absence of the abstential principle. 
There are men who will not take the trouble 
of Avoiding to give pain to others. They have 
no particular desire to intrude an annoyance, 
but will not bestir themselves to prevent 
that annoyance. Their laziness is, in a word, 
stronger than their benevolence. They would 
rather sleep on their pillows than rouse them 
selves to exertion. They give precipitate 
opinions to avoid the labors of investigation. 
They do hasty deeds, as if for the very purpose of 
compromising themselves. They do not choose 
to ask themselves whether they ought to doubt; 
still less are they willing to apply the old 
aphorism If you doubt, abstain. Their love 
of ease is flattered by a prompt decision by 
getting rid of a question, the discussion or 
examination of which would have been a demand 
on their attention. They fancy they have re 
lieved themselves of an embarrassment by a 
peremptory verdict. 

3. The interests of pride and vanity often 


check the dictates of abstential benevolence. 
These may be called the interests of the trum 
pet, in whose sounds are drowned the voice of 

Pride and vanity dictate dogmatism. They 
assume superiority, and that superiority is 
always seeking to break out into speech. In 
some act of another they find cause for repre 
hension. Regardless of consequences, they 

Benevolence would ask whether the repre 
hension was likely to do good either to the 
reprehender or the reprehended ; but pride and 
vanity are too proud and vain to seek or to take 
advice from morality. 

Sometimes they intrude inappropriate or ill- 
timed advice. There benevolence might have 
taught them to refrain. It might be a waste of 
words on their part, producing on the mind 
of the advised person an impression of uncom- 
pen sated pain; pain far greater than the plea 
sure which the pride or the vanity felt on giving 
their lecture. 

There are other occasions where pride and 
vanity volunteer information, neither desired 
nor welcomed. The information may look like 
a reproach to him whom it pretends to instruct; 
it often assumes the garb of assumption and 


of dogmatism. What wonder it should be 
rebelled against ! 

In all these cases, and there are many more 
such, effective benevolence puts in its veto. 

4. The interests of ill-will or antipathy. 
These take many forms, and require to be 
doubly bridled, for they are pernicious to both 
parties, and leave on every side a balance of 
evil. And they are the more pernicious, be 
cause they do not always exhibit the malevo 
lence of their origin. 

They are sometimes moved by the rival posi 
tion of another. There is a clashing of interests, 
producing coldness, dislike, or hatred. Hence 
a desire to inflict pain upon a rival. 

Ill-will may have grown out of injuries done 
by another. He may have interfered with your 
love of ease ; he may have wounded your pride 
or your vanity; he may have wronged your 
friend ; he may have misrepresented your poli 
tical or religious opinions. These are no reasons 
that you should do him mischief. Morality 
requires, your own interest requires, that you 
should forbear from doing him mischief. Cast 
up the results the pains of ill-will, the plea 
sures of revenge, and then the re-action of 
revenge upon yourself, and possibly upon others. 
You will find the balance against you, as 


concerns your own accountthe self-regarding 
account; and as respects the object of your 
ill-will, it is an account of suffering without 

Besides, you are giving evidence not only of 
immorality, but of weakness. You have no 
power over the mind of him who is obnoxious to 
you : so you exhibit, at the same time, a want 
of self-control and a malignity of intention, 
proofs of mental weakness and moral defects. 

In difference of taste, ill-will may find ano 
ther motive for acts which benevolence would 
check. Such differences have often been made 
the plea for words of hatred and deeds of hatred. 
And into no part of the field of action has 
malevolence rushed with greater malignity. 
Here, especially, is there a demand for the 
avoidance of pain-giving. The demand is, 
indeed, everywhere where the pain-giving is 
useless or baneful, and it is eminently so here, 

In fine, effective benevolence, in its negative 
requirements, exacts that, on all and every 
occasion, the infliction of evil shall be abstained 
from, except where its infliction shuts out a 
greater evil, or brings with it a more than coun 
terbalancing good. 

Its action being the avoidance of annoyance 
to others, it is important, for the correct and 
complete estimate of its operation, that all the 


sources of annoyance should be studied. In 
order to provide the remedy, the cause must be 
known. And this is the more necessary, as 
there are multitudinous evils, of whose exist 
ence, or at all events of their pain-giving con 
sequences, men seem to be too little aware. 

Consult the various classes of pain and plea 
sure ; consult their modifications ; look to the 
annoyances of which the bodily senses are 
susceptible, those, of course, which it does not 
belong to penal legislation to visit the pains 
of privation, the pleasures of good reputation ; 
in a word, the whole store-house of satisfaction 
and of suffering. Take into account the general 
susceptibilities of men, and, as far as can be 
ascertained, the peculiar susceptibilities of the 

Secondary virtues, growing out of this branch 
of Deontology, are the virtues of good-breeding, 
which correspond pretty nearly to that class 
which the French call la petite morale. / Good- 
breeding is that deportment, on occasions of 
inferior, and when separately taken, of trivial 
importance, by which those acts are abstained 
from which give annoyance to others. Where, 
on similar occasions, the acts are done which 
give pleasure to others, they belong to the 
positive or active, not the negative or abstential 
branch. But it is to the latter that most of the 


laws of good -breeding must be referred, and 
here the demand for its exercise is constant, 
and the field of its action wide. The most 
ordinary and indispensable personal prudence 
operates as a bridle upon rudeness and ill 
manners. The disposition to contribute, in all 
unforbidden shapes, to the gratification of others, 
and to refrain from all that can annoy them, is 
true politeness. 




THE negative branch of effective benevolence 
comprises, as we have seen, those acts, or rather 
that absence of action, by which the giving 
pain to others is avoided ; the positive branch 
consists of those acts by which pleasure is com 
municated. This branch is far less extensive 
than the other, inasmuch as the powers pos 
sessed (by the majority of the community at 
least) to communicate happiness to others, are 
far less extensive than the powers of causing 
misery to others. Nearly every man has over 
nearly every other man around him the power 
of inflicting injury in various forms. There are 
many pains which a man can cause another to 
suffer which have no corresponding pleasures 
that he can offer to that other to enjoy. We 
have no sense which may not be offended at the 
will of another, but those senses are not equally 
subject to him who seeks to gratify them against 
or without our will. Any man may strike, or 
wound another, but it is not the privilege of 
every man to be able to add to another s happi- 


ness. The limitation of this power is the ne 
cessary consequence of the fact, that man is, to 
a very great extent, the creator and the guardian 
of his own happiness. That portion for which 
he depends on others is small that for which 
he depends only on himself is great ; and in 
this power over his own happiness, that happi 
ness greatly consists. Who would judge of 
pains and pleasures as accurately as he who 
experiences them ? Who, if it were possible, 
would put the dominion of his enjoyments and 
sufferings into another s hands ? To whose 
never-ceasing watchfulness to whose self-de 
voted sympathies to w r hose omniscient wis 
dom, would any man give over, for a single day, 
all the sources of pains and pleasures within 
and without him? One moment of forgetful- 
ness, one moment of malevolence, one moment 
of ignorance, and the fabric of felicity might be 
shattered, Happy, indeed, is it for man that 
he is the master of his own well-being, and 
that, with few and rare exceptions, he has no 
body to thank but himself if he fail to obtain it. 
But this positive effective benevolence what 
does it demand but deprivation ? In as far as 
it is called into action, is it not impoverishment / 
Does it not take away more than it substitutes 
in return ? Not so ; for then it gets into the 
regions of imprudence ; and prudence is man s 


primary virtue. Nothing is gained to happiness 
if prudence loses more than benevolence wins. 

There is, however, a large portion of benevo 
lence which may be called into activity without 
any sacrifice at all. Men there have been, and 
are, who deem all services done to others as 
something lost to themselves ; a narrow and a 
baneful sentiment ; for it is the lot of every one 
to have the power of conferring favors at no cost 
at all, or at so small a cost as not to be worth a 
calculation. To make a favor of that which 
should be a spontaneous, or at all events a wil 
ling contribution to the happiness of another, is, 
in common parlance, to give evidence of a low- 
toned spirit of philanthropy, while, on the other 
hand, no beneficence looks so bright in the 
popular eyes, none is, in fact, so praiseworthy 
as that which avoids the parade of its sacrifices. 
And the popular sanction is here in accordance 
with the Deontological principle. 

Benevolence and beneficence are maximized 
when, at the least expence to himself, a man 
produces the greatest quantity of happiness to 
others. To lose sight of his own happiness 
would not be virtue, but folly. His own hap 
piness forms, or ought to form, as large a por 
tion of the whole mass of happiness spread 
among the community, as does the happiness of 
any other individual. 


Now, suppose any man to confer upon others 
a smaller portion of happiness than he himself 
sacrificed that is, suppose him, in order to 
give a certain amount of pleasure to another, to 
give up a greater amount of pleasure of his 
own, this would not be virtue it would be 
folly. It would not be effective benevolence, it 
would be miscalculation ; by it the whole amount 
of happiness would clearly be diminished. 

This, indeed, is a course of action which 
could not intentionally have place. No sane 
person wastes, or desires to waste, happiness, 
still less his own happiness. 

Every man s necessary impulse is towards 
the economy of happiness. If he made a sacri 
fice of his own happiness to the happiness of 
others, it could by possibility be in no other in 
terest than that of economy ; for unless in some 
shape or other he derived more pleasure from 
the sacrifice than he expected to derive in ab 
staining from making the sacrifice, he would 
not, he could not make it. Suppose other plea 
sures equal that is, the pleasures sacrificed 
and the pleasures conferred suppose nothing 
is lost in the transfer, then come the pleasures 
of sympathy, pleasures which form as large a 
portion of a man s happiness as any merely 
self-regarding pleasure. They turn the scale ; 
and of their magnitude the man who seeks 


them is the most competent, not to say the only 

His miscalculation does not alter the ques 
tion. The province of Deontology is to teach 
him a proper arithmetic, is to lay before him a 
fit estimate of pain and pleasure a budget of 
receipt and disbursement, out of every opera 
tion of which he is to draw a balance of good. 

And here, be it remarked by the way, that 
tne Deontological teacher, whether engaged in 
discourse or in writing, is himself an example 
of the application of the principle of positive 
effective benevolence. Let his exertions be en 
couraged by the thought, that he is perhaps 
producing more happiness at less expense than 
could be produced by any other means. At a 
cost of a few well-timed words is he not ex 
panding the domains of happiness ? Are not 
the truths, which he circulates at the waste of 
a little breath, or at the trouble of recording 
them on the permanent tablets of the press, are 
they not likely to extend the dominions of 
felicity into regions bounded only by that por 
tion of infirmity which must hang about the 
destinies of mortal man ? It is a positive act 
of effective benevolence to sow seeds of useful 
fruits, or beautiful flowers, where none were 
ever sown before ; but how much more effi 
ciently benevolent is he who sows those seeds 


out of which happiness directly springs hap 
piness prolific, multiform, permanent. 

Nor let it be forgotten that, in proportion to 
the poverty of the receiver, will be the value of 
the gift conferred. The greater the want, the 
greater the boon will be. Now certain it is 
that erroneous standards of action have pro 
duced much moral poverty, much misery in the 
world poverty and misery which the intelli 
gent moralist is called upon to remove. What 
higher mission than his? What nobler pursuit? 
Rendering services of incalculable value to 
others, he establishes a claim a claim which 
will be felt to be irresistible of other services 
to be rendered to himself in return. He exer 
cises power, in itself a source of pleasure, that 
power, of all power the most delightful, the 
power of beneficence. He exercises it towards 
all, without distinction or exception. 

In this there is no sacrifice, no sacrifice of 
self-regarding interest ; and by these and simi 
lar means every man may advance the progress, 
and accelerate the triumphs of happiness. 
Every man has more or less of time on his 
hands. On many hands how heavily it hangs ! 
Would they improve it, would they enjoy it? 
Let them engage it in beneficence ! 

The field of beneficence is the whole world, 
those parts of it more particularly in which a 

VOL. i. o 


man exercises his peculiar influence whether 
personal, domestic, or social. The occasions 
it may find for its exercise are somewhat de 
pendent on these influences. Towards inferiors 
and equals the occasions are permanent, towards 
superiors transitory. In the practical part of 
these volumes, these relations will come particu 
larly under review. 




THE ground has now been cleared, and the 
foundation laid for the moral edifice. What 
remains to be done is, to sweep away the 
surrounding rubbish, or to take from the ruins 
such portions as will assist the builder in the 
erection of the temple of virtue. Wherever 
prudence presents itself, wherever effective 
benevolence presents itself, they will be rescued 
from the huge heaps which have hitherto en 
cumbered the ground of ethics. Where neither 
of these is discoverable, let who will turn the 
impostor virtue to account. No acceptance 
will it find here. 

And so as to vice. No quarrel have we with 
any action that neither injures the actor himself, 
nor any body else; in a word, that takes nothing 
away from happiness; still less with any action, 
which, be it called by what name it may, leaves 
a balance of enjoyment on the whole. 

Virtues and vices are voluntary habits. If 

N / they are not voluntary, the words of the moralist 

might as well be flung to the winds. To the 



two branches of virtue, prudence and bene 
volence, correspond two branches of vices ; 
Imprudence, the vice in a man which is primarily 
hurtful to himself, Improbity, the vice which 
is hurtful primarily to others. 

It matters little in what order the seHVcalled 
virtues or vices present themselves. There is 
no marshalling them ; they are susceptible of no 
arrangement; they are a disorderly body, whose 
members are frequently in hostility with one 
another. Most of them consist of a portion of 
good, a portion of evil, and a portion of matter 
indifferent, Most of them are characterised by 
that vagueness which is a convenient instrument 
for the poetical, but dangerous or useless to the 
practical moralist. 

The three commonly called cardinal virtues, 
however, naturally present themselves first to 
the mind. 

To what action does the praise of fortitude com 
monly attach ? To that by which a man volun 
tarily exposes himself to a danger he might have 
avoided, to danger, to bodily pain, to death. 

In proportion to the magnitude of the danger 
to the intensity and duration of the pain, or 
the probability of death, is he considered to 
possess the virtue of fortitude. 

Is it desirable for the ultimate good of society 
that he should so expose himself? In this is 


the measure of all merit. Will he advance his 
own well-being or the well-being of others ? If 
the two interests, his own and that of others 
are incompatible, to which is it desirable the 
preference should be given? This may be 
difficult, but too difficult to know, yet this is 
something to be known, and if it can be known 
it is well worth knowing. 

The thing to be purchased is benefit to a man 
himself or to others. The danger to which he is -i \ 
exposed is the price he would pay for the bene- . * ^ 
fit. Is the benefit worth the cost ? This is the 
question, the only question deserving an inquiry 
or a thought. Whether his exposing himself . 
to the supposed danger is an act of fortitude or ^ 
not, is a query not worth the words expended 
in the proposing it. 

And the question is not merely useless, it is 
positively pernicious ; for such questions only 
throw men s ideas into confusion, entangle their 
minds in irrelevant discussions, and lead them 
away from the proper, the only proper topic of 
inquiry, namely, the union between interests 
and duties. 

Now, suppose an act injurious to those inter 
ests, and that this act is understood to merit the 
appellation of fortitude. What is the practical 
consequence ? That fortitude, being a virtue, the 
injurious act is that which ought to be done. 


And suppose the line of conduct most condu 
cive to the general happiness, not to deserve the 
appellation of fortitude ? What then ? Why if 
fortitude be a virtue, the act which most pro 
motes the general happiness must be an act of 
folly or of vice. 

Wonderful is the absurdity, dense the blind 
ness, palpable the self-contradiction of the 
Oxford Instructor on the subject of Fortitude. 
According to him, on what does it depend? 
On the magnitude of the pain which a man 
continues to endure ? No such thing. On the 
magnitude of the danger, that is, the eventual 
suffering to which he voluntarily exposes him 
self? No, not that. Upon what then ? Upon 
the nature of the occasion on which the suffering 
is endured or the danger incurred. If the occasion 
is approved by the Instructor, there shall be 
fortitude ; if the occasion have the ill-fortune not 
to have his sanction, no fortitude shall there be, 

In battle or otherwise, a man risks, or even 
loses his life. Was he a brave man ? Was his 
act an act of fortitude? Go and ask the 
Instructor, and he will not tell you till he knows 
on which side he fought. Inform me, he will 
say, of the occasion of his death. If I approve 
of the occasion, then it is an act of fortitude ; 
if not, not. 

The Instructor makes four special and un- 


doubted exceptions, self-slayers, duellists, 
robbers, and men who devote themselves to 
danger or death in defence of their liberty. 
These are not men of fortitude ; their doings 
deserve not any of its praise. 

A man who puts an end to his own existence, 
cannot be a man of fortitude. Would you 
know why ? Because suicide is unlawful. 

A man who slays another, or is slain by 
another in a duel, cannot be a man of fortitude. 
Why ? Because he ought not to have 

A man dies defending his own liberty ; he 
must be a coward; justice was not on his side. 

A robber plays the hero. Is he a courageous 
man ? Not he ; for what business had he to be 
on the highway? 

But if consistency were looked for, if in ortho 
dox or fashionable faith, nonsense were an impe 
diment to the reception of that faith, one might 
suggest that it would be well to apply the princi 
ple to practice. Among the whole tribe of con 
querors, where would the man of fortitude be 
found ? Your Alexanders, your Caesars, your 
Ghenghis Khans, your Napoleons, what were 
they all? Any thing but men of fortitude. 

When the protection afforded to absurdity is 
such that no one dares open his mouth against 
it, its march is bold and imposing. You may 


grant or deny, at your pleasure, the praise 
of fortitude to those who X oluntarily thrust 
themselves upon danger or death; they shall 
be called brave men, or cowards according to 
your bidding. 

Temperance has for its object the pleasures 
of sense. Though commonly used to express 
abstinence from the enjoyments of one or two 
of the senses, there seems no sufficient reason 
for such a limitation to the term. The question 
of virtue must be decided by the influence 
of the enjoyments of sense on ourselves and 

Intemperance, when mischievous to a man 
himself, is a breach of prudence ; when mis 
chievous to others, it is a breach of benevo 
lence. Preponderant enjoyment, or preponder 
ant suffering, is the only standard by which 
the moral merits of fruition can be estimated. 
Abstinence, which leaves no balance of plea 
sure, partakes not of the character of virtue ; 
enjoyment, which leaves no balance of pain, 
cannot justly be stigmatised with the reproach 
of vice. 

There exists in the world a great unwilling 
ness to allow a man to be the curator of his 
own pleasures ; there is a vehement disposition 
to decide on what, in the breast of another man, 
may be allowed to be a pleasure, and what not. 



The words impropriety, unlawfulness, and such 
like, are flung at particular actions, in order to 
excite odium, as if they were evidence of de 
pravity ; such words being, in fact, only a part 
and portion of that phraseology, by which a 
man seeks to shelter his own dogmatism from 
the analysis which the doctrines of utility would 
apply to it. 

Prudence and effective benevolence, it cannot 
be too often repeated, being the only two intrin 
sically useful virtues, all other virtues must 
derive their value from them, and be subservient 
to them. 

Is justice, then, a subservient and inferior 
virtue ? And if so, to which is it subordinate ? 
Before the art of logic was understood, and 
especially before the business of arrangement, 
in any thing like correctness or completeness, 
was accomplished, ideas respecting virtue, and 
names designating those ideas, were introduced. 
The relations between virtue and virtue were 
vague and obscure ; the descriptions of them 
confused the points of coincidence and of dif 
ference indeterminate or undetermined. Logic 
ally speaking, they were disparate ; mathernatic- 
allj^speaking, they were incommensurable. 

/Of the virtues, the Aristotelians introduced 
the definitions and classification we have seen. 
Of these virtues several have been divided into 


species. But, on examination, it will be found 
that under the same generic names virtues are 
classed which have no assignable relation to 
each other ; and some, in which the character 
of the genus under which they are arranged is 
not discoverable. The modifications put forward 
under the head of one virtue, not unfrequently 
belong to another, and on a glance at the whole, 
tlie appearance is one of strange entanglement 
and perplexity. Though the Linnaeus of Natu 
ral History has appeared in the world, and 
restored its chaos into order and harmony, the 
Linnaeus of Ethics is yet to come. 

Justice, under the system of utility, is a 
modification of benevolence ; it belongs to the 
present work wherever the political sanction, or 
the power of the law does not apply ; it be 
longs to it wherever the sanction of moral obli 
gation is unenforced by penal visitation. 

The inadequacy and imperfection of the poli 
tical or legal sanction is experienced in a con 
siderable part of the field of morality, and a 
demand will be created for the dictates of the 
moral sanction, as guided by utility, in the fol 
lowing cases : 

Where the legal sanction is silent, or, in other 
words, makes no provision for the case in point. 
Where the legal sanction is inconsistent with, 
or opposed to the greatest happiness principle. 


Where the dictates of the legal sanction are 
confused, or unintelligible. 

Where they are impracticable. 

In all these cases, the dictates of justice will 
be the dictates of benevolence, and the dictates 
of benevolence the dictates of utility. 

It would assist clearness of conception, if the 
word probity could take place of the term jus 
tice, with which it is pretty completely synony 
mous ; at least, if there be a difference, it is 
rather grammatical than ethical ; for though a 
man says with propriety, I will do you justice, 
he cannot say, I will do you probity, though 
every act of injustice done would be an act of 
improbity, and, conversely, every act of impro 
bity an act of injustice. 

The word j ustice is clogged with other signi 
fications, which render it less efficient as an 
ethical term. It may, for example, be employed 
as a substitute for the term judicature. He by 
whom the powers of judicature are adminis 
tered, is said to administer justice. But on 
such an occasion it is never said that he admin 
isters probity, nor does the association of pro 
bity necessarily attach to the phrase. 

Hence a great evil, and a source of error ; for 
if, in the exercise of his office, he be most truly 
and manifestly chargeable with improbity, not 
the less will the language be employed that he 


administers justice. The improbity will still be 
clothed in the garb of justice. Himself and his 
friends will say he administers justice, and it 
will be a matter of great difficulty and perplex 
ity for those who think ill of him to impugn the 
phraseology. Yet by no one will he be said to 
administer probity, scarcely by any one will it 
be said that he exercises probity. This is one 
of the thousand cases in which vague and unde 
fined expressions become places of shelter for 
insincerity and immorality. 

The pleasures and pains of amity are those of 
the popular or moral sanction, in miniature ; in 
the one case their source is a determinate indi 
vidual, in the other an indefinite multitude. 

When is it desirable that the pleasures of 
amity should be reaped ? Whenever they may 
be reaped without the production of preponder 
ant evil, without violation of the laws of self- 
regarding prudence. To what length may their 
pursuit be carried ? To exactly the length 
which is consistent with the cardinal virtues of 
prudence and benevolence, and it will be found 
that between these and the pleasures and pains 
of amity there is rarely any competition. 
/ To obtain the favor the amity of another, the 
obvious course is to do him services these ser 
vices limited only by the considerations of bene 
volence and prudence^ The limits which effec- 

AMITY. 205 

tive benevolence applies to the exercise of amity 
are the same as apply to the pursuit of wealth. 
If the services derived from him whose amity 
you court be the conferring on you a portion of 
wealth, the pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of 
amity : and in precisely so far as the pursuit of 
wealth, with the enjoyments and exemptions de 
rivable from it, is repugnant to benevolence, so 
is the pursuit of amity. 

The pleasures derivable from this pursuit have 
this distinctive and interesting character : that 
prudence and benevolence are almost equally 
concerned in their production. 

For however selfish the desire may be, how 
ever unrelieved by the social sympathy, the 
effects of it are not the less purely beneficial to 
the parties concerned. The interest of him who 
courts the amity of another, may be served or 
not served as may happen the person courted 
has his interest served to an extent nearly 
equal to that he would have obtained for 
himself if he had himself sought the pleasure 
conferred. And though it is not sympathy, 
not benevolence that has produced the pleasure, 
yet it is not the less produced and thus the 
good, though not arising from a primary virtue, 
is as valuable as if it arose from it. The sole 
value of benevolence itself consists in its ten 
dency and aptitude to produce beneficence, 


and no evil can grow from the excess of the 
friendly affections, except when they interfere 
with the primary virtues. 

Proportioned to the value of the services which 
a man is deemed able and willing to confer on 
others, will be the number of competitors in 
those services. In this, as in every other case, 
competition may produce jealousy, and each 
competitor who is believed to have obtained a 
greater share than another, may be to that other 
an object of envy. This envy will endeavor 
to produce a reaction of ill-will on the person who 
is the object of envy, and one of its immediate 
effects, will be to lower the envied receiver of 
favors, in the eyes of him who confers them. 

Nevertheless, there exists a tribunal, that 
which deals out the decisions of good repute, 
or general esteem, before which this contention 
for benefits is always carried on; and every 
man is a member of this tribunal who chooses to 
take a part in its awards. Before this tribunal 
every man who seeks to detract from the merits 
of another man acts the part of an informer; 
and his conduct is usually attributed to a sin 
ister and disreputable motive. Be his motives 
what they may, dishonorable or dislogistic 
phrases will probably attach to his conduct, and 
thus the popular sanction be brought to bear 
upon the self-regarding impulse. 

AMITY. 207 

Servility is one of the terms most commonly 
employed on these occasions. Its synonymes and 
quasi-synonymes are very numerous, and the im 
pression it conveys is of an exceedingly vague 
and indeterminate character. 

So much the worse ; no precise idea being 
attached to it, the accusation becomes the more 
impressive. If closely looked to, it will be 
found to mean the habit of rendering to a supe 
rior, services which, according to the received 
notions of propriety, ought not to be rendered. 
As a rule of conduct, the so often repeated prin 
ciple of balancing pleasures and pains will apply 
here, as every where. 

To render to every man every possible ser 
vice, where neither prudence nor benevolence 
has aught to object, is the obvious dictate and 
duty of beneficence ; and in the case before us, 
the dictates of benevolence are in their full force 
without any counteracting or diminishing force 
on the side of prudence. 

But here, as on most other occasions, are two 
sets of antagonizing forces, the impelling and the 
restraining ; the only limits to the proper influ 
ence of the compelling force being that which 
is exercised by the restraining power. 

The virtue of beneficence, though its objects 
embrace all mankind, can be exercised to a very 
limited extent, and as applied to any single indi- 


vidual yet narrower is its sphere of action. And 
this is well ; for if every man were disposed to 
sacrifice his own enjoyments to the enjoyments 
of others, it is obvious the whole sum of enjoy 
ment would be diminished nay destroyed. The 
result would not be the general happiness, but 
the general misery. Prudence therefore sets 
its limits to benevolence, and those limits do not, 
on ordinary occasions, embrace a large space. 

In the case before us, /prudence so far from 
prohibiting, prescribes the obligation of render* 
ing services to the superior services in the ut 
most quantity that can be rendered under a 
sufficient assurance that the value of the ser 
vices received in return will not be less than that 
of the suffering, self-denial, or sacrifice in 
curred, in order to obtain them. Prudence 
makes a sort of commercial bargain the sort of 
bargain on which all commerce is founded. 
The expenditure is expected to bring back 
something more than its cost.^ No outlay is 
detrimental that returns an equivalent no ex- 
pence fails to be beneficial, which brings back 
an equivalent and something more. 

Here then is prudence acting in two directions 
prescribing expenditure, in as far as it pro 
mises a beneficial return, inhibiting expenditure 
where the beneficial return cannot be reasonably 
anticipated. But here, as elsewhere, no law of 

AMITY. 209 

benevolence must be violated while prudence 
seeks the beneficial return in question. 

And how are the dictates of self- regarding 
prudence to be ascertained ? by what are they 
determined ? By the balance of an account em 
bracing the different heads under which plea 
sures and pains are capable of being arranged. 
Prudence on all occasions supposes and requires 
the sacrifice of pleasures and exemptions on the 
one hand, to pleasures and exemptions on the 
other. Between the rival amounts the decision 
must lie, and the decision of wisdom must be 
with the larger of the two. 

In the present case the rivalry is between the 
pleasures of amity and the pains of the popular 
sanction. There are certain services rendered by 
which a man exposes himself to the loss of repu 
tation, even services which are by no means 
inconsistent with the primary virtues. Fashion 
makes multitudinous exceptions which it would 
be difficult to get confirmed by any correct views 
of the demands of prudence and benevolence. 
In different stages of civilization these exceptions 
have undergone many modifications. The higher 
the scale of rank, the greater the distance be 
tween the most elevated and the least elevated 
spheres, the less has fashion introduced of 
restraint. In proportion as equality takes pos 
session of society is the latitude allowed to such 

VOL. I. P 


services diminished, and the restrictions upon 
them increased. Going back into the field of 
time, we shall find that deportment, and espe 
cially in language, was in use, of a character so 
obsequious, that it would not now be tolerated 
at all that habits of submission and expressions 
of humiliation were then deemed proper pru 
dent and even demanded by good breeding, 
which now would be placed to the account of 
servility, meanness, and even baseness, and 
draw down on him who should venture to use 
them a full measure of popular contempt. Go 
forth into the field of space ; visit any Maho- 
medan any oriental nation. In these countries, 
under their governments, the distance between 
the highest and the lowest degree is almost infi 
nite, and between the different degrees enormous. 
Thus no measure of obsequiousness is out of 
place none is checked by opinion. To those 
in the lower ranks self-abasement is self-preser 
vation, and the most prostrate servility is de 
manded by prudence. 

Bending, or as the phrase is, cringing or fawn 
ing to his superior, the same man is stiff, and 
even insolent to his inferior. It is an every day 
case and a very natural one ; for the suffering to 
which he subjects himself in the one case, he 
seeks to counterbalance by enjoyments of the 
same character in the other. But by thus gra- 


tifying his pride he provokes enmity, and through 
enmity ill offices, and through ill offices suffering 
in all imaginable shapes. Is he on the whole 
a gainer by this indulgence ? That will depend 
partly on his idiosyncratic taste, and partly upon 

Pride and vanity are dispositions of mind not 
necessarily or even ordinarily manifested by sin 
gle acts. So intimate is the relation between 
pride and vanity, that to uncover them together 
is likely to facilitate correct ideas of both. Both 
are the desire of esteem, taking somewhat dif 
ferent directions, and employing different means 
of gratification. To the proud man and the vain 
man the esteem of those on whom they believe 
their well-being to depend, is the common 
object of pursuit. 

And in both cases the important question is, 
This pride, this vanity, is it of the nature of 
virtue, or of vice ? If of virtue, of what virtue ? 
if of vice, of what vice ? 

In the proud man, the desire of esteem is 
accompanied with contempt, or disesteem for 
those whose esteem he desires to obtain. In 
the vain man this is not the case. 

The value of the esteem being less in the 
eyes of the proud than of the vain man, a 
greater portion of that esteem is required to 
give the proud man equal gratification with that 


which the vain man would receive from a lesser 
portion. And thus the state of the proud man s 
mind is generally that of dissatisfaction a dis- 
,?atisfaction which may be read even in his 

Melancholy and malevolence, one or both, are 
thence the usual companions of pride, sometimes 
a(Hing as causes, sometimes as effects of pride, 
sometimes in both characters. Hilarity, on the 
contrary, is the common accompaniment of 
vanity hilarity and oftentimes benevolence. 
From a small manifestation of esteem, vanity re 
ceives a great gratification ; and the smaller the 
manifestation the more easily obtained ; hence 
the more frequently, and the more frequently, 
the more frequent are the causes of exhili- 

Pride is naturally conjoined with taciturnity ; 
vanity with talkativeness. The proud man sits 
still and waits for those demonstrations of esteem 
which he desires to obtain. Their value to him 
depends on their being spontaneous. He will 
not call, or at least will not appear to call for 
them ; he will rather tarry for their arrival, and 
thus must possess the faculty of self-command 
to enable him to do so. Esteem is the food he 
hungers for, and his meal must be a full one 
but he is able to fast. 

Not so the vain man. His appetite is still 


keener than that of the proud man. No quan 
tity of its food will definitely satiate it, though 
a small quantity will gratify, and for a time will 
satisfy it. He therefore goes from door to door 
and at every door craves those supplies for 
which he has a perpetually self-renewing hun 

Taken by itself, pride is scarcely ever used 
but in a bad sense, as descriptive of vice ; with 
an adjunct it may be used in a good sense, 
and become a virtue. Witness honest, becom 
ing, dignified pride. But even here a feeling 
attaches to it, that such phraseology is not 
strictly proper, and a sense of something figu 
rative or rhetorical hangs about it. 

But as for the adjective proud, when applied 
to a man, the idea it conveys is unfavorable. 
When proud is employed to denote the cast of 
a man s mind, intimation is given that that part 
of his mind is vicious. 

A proud day, a proud situation, may be used; 
and thus, indirectly, you may connect a man 
with an event, and disconnect him from the idea 
of vicious pride. 

Vanity is still worse dealt with. It can hardly 
be ascribed to a man without making him the 
object of contempt and derision, and a fit object 
too. It would scarcely be possible to speak, 
certainly it would not be possible to speak 
with propriety, of honest, becoming, dignified 


vanity. A proud day you may have, and think 
well of such a day ; but you could not do so, 
were you to call it a vain day. 

But for practical purposes, the great object 
is to distinguish what there is of virtue and 
what of vice in these qualities of pride and 
vanity. If there be virtue, it is prudence, bene 
volence, or beneficence. If there be vice, it 
belongs either to imprudence or maleficence. 
And thus, and for the first time, perhaps, shall 
we find clear ideas attaching to appellations 
which are, every day in the year, in the mouth 
of every body. 

Were the principles of morality thoroughly 
understood and obeyed ; in other words, were 
the popular sanction in every respect that which, 
for the interests of mankind, it is desirable it 
should become, any portion remaining of pride 
would not be in the nature of vice. But as it 
is, where public opinion has not utility for its 
foundation, pride must frequently be classified 
among vices. 

The quantity of virtue or of vice growing out 
of pride and vanity, seems to depend in some 
manner on the station occupied in the scale 
of society by the proud or vain man. In the 
station of the ruling few, pride is more likely to 
dispose the mind to vice than to virtue ; but not 
so vanity. 

Pride, when it runs into vice, is the charac- 


teristic vice of the ruling orders, they being, 
from their situation, less dependent than other 
men on spontaneous services; to a man so 
elevated, spontaneous services from others be 
come comparatively objects of indifference, and 
he is consequently indisposed to obtain those 
services at the cost of any services rendered by 
himself, even the inexpensive services of urban 
ity. Pride, therefore, in such elevated situations, 
draws men away from benevolence and bene 
ficence, and presents these virtues as rivals to 
the self-regarding interest. 

Vanity suggests another course. Its ever- 
craving appetite demands continued services, 
the services which manifest esteem. And here 
its tendency is towards benevolence. Thus acts 
seemingly benevolent, acts bearing upon them 
the impress of social sympathy, whether reflec 
tive or sentimental, may have their source in 
the self-regarding affection of vanity. The 
acts being produced, the object is gained to 
human happiness. Will not vanity, then, an 
swer the purposes of utility, by producing the 
good which utility proposes as its end ? No ! 
not unless opinion, not unless the popular 
sanction be, on all points, in accordance with 
the teachings of utility. 

But the display of vanity, on whatever titles 
to esteem it be founded, produces competition, 


increasing with the increase of that esteem of 
which display is made, and this competition 
produces uneasiness.jVanity in one breast calls 
into existence, and thence into action, the 
emotions, the affections, the passions of envy 
and jealousy, in many breastslj 

In elevated life, the higher a man s station 
the less likely is it to awaken envy or jealousy 
on the part of the subject many ; for envy and 
jealousy can hardly exist except where com 
petition exists, and the greater the distance 
between rank and rank, the less room is there 
for competition. 

At the same time, the higher a man s station 
the wider is the field in which he can exercise 
his beneficence; and in so far as,/ by acts of 
beneficence, his vanity seeks its gratification,/ 
the esteem which he obtains serves to counter 
balance, if not to outweigh, the pains and dan 
gers which are produced by the envy and 
jealousy of others, whether as acting upon him, 
or upon those in whose minds the envy and 
jealousy have place. 

The effect will be different among the subject 
many ; for as the power of beneficence is less, 
the envy and jealousy will be greater. Here 
the assumption of superiority, under the influ 
ence of vanity, will be more offensive, and 
* the best wrestler on the green may excite 


feelings of envy and jealousy in the breasts of 
all the other wrestlers, while he can produce 
no counterbalancing pleasure. Pain he may 
clearly awaken ; but what sensible addition to 
happiness can he make to the happiness of any 
individual not comprised within his own domes 
tic circle ? 

The vain man exaggerates to himself the 
value of the services of others, and is occupied 
in undue exertions to obtain them. The proud 
man diminishes, to his own mind, the value 
of the services of others, and measures his right 
to claim them by the inverse ratio of his need 
of them, of the esteem in which he holds 
them. Activity is the companion of vanity ; 
immobility of pride. Every addition to the 
affection of vanity adds something to the power 
of sympathy towards others. Every addition 
to the affection of pride excludes a portion of 
sympathy towards others. 

Yet the denial of the good offices sought will 
awaken the hostility both of the proud and the 
vain man. The proud man s hostility will be 
more open, undisguised, and conspicuous. He 
gives you to understand that he cares not 
whether your dispositions towards him be 
friendly or adverse. His importance is such, 
that, from respect or fear, others are engaged to 
render him the services, or more services, than 


you can offer him : but the vain man appears 
to exercise no despotism over you in order to 
obtain your good-will ; the greater his vanity, 
the greater his desire, the more strenuous his 
efforts to secure it. 

Pride is thus accompanied with a sense of 
independence ; vanity, not. The proud man is 
persuaded that he shall receive from others as 
much respect as he stands in need of; he there 
fore will not take the trouble of courting them, 
that is, of employing exertion in order to admi 
nister to their gratification. He will not, him 
self, put forward the titles he believes himself 
to possess to their esteem. He assumes that 
they are obvious, and will be recognized as 
a matter of course. In as far as he succeeds, 
his pride conveys to the minds of others a sense 
of his own importance; he causes them to 
think that, in some way or other, their comfort 
depends upon his favor, which favor, he would 
have them believe, is difficult to gain. Hence, 
on their part, there exists towards him a sort 
of fear the fear of not being able to gain it. 
Now this fear is necessarily attended with 
suffering. Of this suffering he has himself a 
perception, yet will not do what depends upon 
him to remove or to lessen it. By mixing 
condescension with his pride, he might lessen 
it. By laying aside his pride, and dealing with 


them on a footing of equality, he might remove 
it altogether. 

On the whole, then, vanity is more nearly 
allied to benevolence ; pride to self-regard and 

The vain man, feeling himself comparatively 
ill-assured of the esteem he desires, is propor 
tionally anxious to do his best to obtain it; 
he endeavors to display those qualities which 
are likely to win it ; and seeking to gather the 
good-will of others, he must sow the seeds 
which produce it. And the object of the dis 
play he makes will usually be, in some degree 
at least, effected. He will excite some admi 
ration; admiration brings surprise, surprise 
awakens curiosity, in whose gratification there 
is pleasure. 

There are two causes, however, by which 
this effect is liable, not only to be counteracted 
and diminished, but even to be reversed. First, 
Vwhen the superiority displayed is such as to 
produce humiliation, or a painful sense of infe 
riority, in the breasts of those before whom 
the display is made ; and, secondly, this effect 
will be heightened if the endowment displayed 
be one in which" any particular competition 
exists between the persons exhibiting it, and 
him before whom it is exhibited.] 

When this is the case, both prudence and 


benevolence concur in recommending that the 
exhibition should be abstained from ; prudence, 
becausej,hej>assions of envy and jealousy will 
awaken ill-will towards himself.; ill-will, tend 
ing to ill offices or to the abstinence from 
friendly offices ; and benevolence, because the 
exhibition will produce pain in the breast of 

Associated with the subject of pride are many 
terms, the value and bearing of which can 
only be determined by the application of the 
great principles so constantly brought forward 
in this volume. Meanness has for its opposite 
not so much pride as a compound appellation 
elevation of mind high-mindedness. But there 
is, and must be, much of indistinctness in these 
qualities. Pride, separately taken, is rather 
dyslogistic ; high-mindedness, eulogistic. So 
again, humility is supposed to be creditable ; 
meanness discreditable. And the obscurity is 
much increased by the sense which has been 
given to these terms by writers on religion. 
Independence of mind is another term suscep 
tible of very different interpretations. The rule, 
the test, the standard, must be the conducive- 
ness of these qualities, in every particular case, 
to happiness, the happiness of the individual 
and of the rest of mankind. Every thing else 
is a mere fruitless question about words, of no 


practical, no real importance ; a question as 
to phrases whose meanings are perpetually 
liable to change and perpetually changing ; and 
whose discussion, unless with a reference to 
some rule of right and wrong, is mere waste of 
time and labor. 

CEor~the purpose of exposition, then, as well 
as for the purposes of instruction, the sole 
effective mode is to ascertain the association of 
moral terms with the terms of pain and plea 
sure. Apply any other test to vanity, apply 
any other test to pride, and it will be seen, 
that to their import and their value this is the 
only key. And what is true here is true in 
every other part of the moral region. 

Envy and jealousy are neither virtues nor 

They are pains. 

Envy is pain emanating from the contempla 
tion of pleasure possessed by another, especially 
when that pleasure is derived from a source 
whence the envious person desired to derive it ; 
if the desire was accompanied with the expec 
tation that it would have been so derived, the 
pain becomes stronger still ; and strongest of 
all when he supposes that the possession of the 
pleasure by another has led to his exclusion 
from it. 


Jealousy is "pain the pain of apprehension 
derived from the same or a similar cause. 

Prudence and benevolence are equally con 
cerned in suppressing both envy and jealousy : 
prudence, for the purpose of ridding ourselves 
of the pains they cause us ; benevolence, inas 
much as envy and jealousy are associated with 
the, desire to rid ourselves of the pains they 
create, by evil deeds to others. Envy and 
jealousy are very closely allied to, and very 
instrumental in creating maleficent dispositions, 
and thence maleficent actions. The disposition, 
without the action, is indeed not a vice ; it is 
an infirmity ; but infirmity is a soil in which 
vice is very easily planted, and in which it 
very luxuriantly grows. 




BUT, (inj)rder to discover how vague are the 
ideas of virtue, and how unsatisfactory the 
definitions, even emanating from jninds of high 
intellectual capacity, where the standard of 
virtue has either not been discovered^ or not 
employed, it will be well worth whilerieven at 
the expense of some repetition, jtp go over jthe 
ground, f accompanied by Mr Hume s list of 
virtues ; and, upon a close examination, we shall 
learn how easily a scene of confusion, entan 
glement, and perplexity, may be reduced to 
order, harmony, and beauty, by the instruments 
which, in the shape of prudence and bene 
volence, utility has put into our hands. And 
this course seems the more desirable, because 
it is not long since |the Edinburgh Reviewers, 
in calling attention to Hume s classification of 
the virtues, seemed to consider that he had 
done every thing which it was necessary to do, 
in order to introduce a perfect moral system, j 

There is a fundamental objection to his clas 
sification of the virtues into useful and agreeable 


qualities. Useful is here altogether ambiguous; 
it may mean conducive to pleasure it may 
mean conducive to any other end. Usefulness 
has no value, but in so far as it is pleasure- 
producing or pain-preventing, leading, on the 
whole, to a balance of happiness, calculated 
not only out of the pleasure which is adjacent, 
but of that which is remote ; not only out of 
present, but of future pleasure. Strange indeed 
is it that moralists are so afraid of the word 
pleasure ; the thing itself the enjoyment, the 
happiness they do indeed profess to pursue ; 
but called by its own name its proper, its 
essential name they run away from it, they 
refuse to grasp it; any nonsense, any confusion, 
rather than the name of pleasure. 

It may be said that Hume does not employ 
the word virtue as the genus generalissimum, 
and that thence his discernment is not impli 
cated by the fact that some of his virtues have, 
in reality, no virtue in them. 

But if virtue do not mean something that is 
useful, or productive of that which is useful for 
the increase of well-being, what does it mean ? 
What is its value? 

In the very constitution of virtue, it must be 
admitted there is evil some suffering, some 
self-denial, some sacrifice of good, and conse 
quent uneasiness but as the practice of virtue 


grows into a habit, the uneasiness becomes 
less and less, and at last may vanish altogether, 

(Virtue is a moral quality, in contradistinction 
to an intellectual quality: it belongs to the 
will to the affections not to the understand 
ing, except in as far as the understanding acts 
upon the volition. And this premised, a correct 
estimate of Hume s desirable qualities may be 
much assisted by distinguishing and grouping 
them under the following heads : 

First. Qualities not belonging to the will, but 
to the understanding, such as discretion, order, 
quickness of conception. 

Second. Qualities of the will, the quality 
being neither a virtue nor a vice exclusively, 
but either a virtue or a vice, or neutral, accord 
ing to the object towards which it is directed, 
as sociability, secrecy, constancy, mercy, gene 

Third. Qualities which are always virtues, 
and consequently belonging to one of the two 
classes, prudence or benevolence. 

Fourthly. Qualities which are always virtues 
modifications of, or subordinate to the two 
primary classes such as honesty, justice. 

Now it is really only in the third and fourth 
classes that the virtues, the undoubted virtues, 
are to be found. Qualities there are, in the 
first and second class, which, when associated 

VOL. T. Q 


with prudence and benevolence, may be highly 
important auxiliaries. That tact, for example, 
which has the gift of following actions to their 
consequences, and which is sometimes called 
the virtue of discretion, how invaluable may 
not its co-operation be in the moral field ? So 
the alliance of a sociable spirit with prudence 
and benevolence, naturally gives to each of them 
an attraction which must add to their beneficial 
influences; but, at the same time, who fails 
to see that the quality called discretion depends 
much on mental organization, that no efforts 
will introduce into an inferior mind a quantity 
of it equal to that which directs a superior 
mind ? While, again, the quality which is called 
sociability, far from being a co-adjutor of virtue, 
may be, and frequently is, the companion of 
vice aye, and sometimes the very instrument 
by which vice accomplishes her most fatal 

Though Hume has brought forward his vir 
tues in a strangely disassociated and disjointed 
state, it will be, perhaps, most convenient to 
take them in the disorder in which he leaves 
them. No classification of them will make 
what is not virtue, virtue ; and such virtue as is 
really in them will be found marshalled under 
the appropriate heads to which the virtue 


Sociability. It is a disposition to seek the 
society of others. It is good or bad, virtuous or 
vicious, according to the purpose and the con 
duct of the social man. It has only so much 
of virtue in it as it has of benevolence, and 
if it be combined with benevolence, it becomes 
friendliness friendliness, which stands in 
Hume s list as a distinct virtue. A disposition 
to avoid maleficence is generally a concomitant 
part of the social character, and thus far it is 
in accordance with the laws of negative effective 
benevolence. But sociability may be accom 
panied, and is so not unfrequently, particularly 
where exercised towards persons of different 
conditions, with tyranny or maleficence ; often 
it has wit for one of its instruments, wit of a 
pain-giving or pleasure-destroying character. 
Sociability may be used for the purposes of 
insolence, of which many examples are to be 
found in the writings of Cicero,* It may ally 
itself with scorn, as it did in the case of Burke ; 
so that a man, hunting over the field of socia 
bility for morality or happiness, may find neither. 
Sociability then, standing alone, says nothing 
for good or evil. It may represent self-regard 

** I was not thirteen/ said Mr Bentham, on one occa 
sion, to the writer, ( when the abominations of Cicero 
shocked me.* 


in an offensive shape, and become an instru 
ment of self-eulogium for evil-producing qua 
lities. It may be the associate of fraud and 
rapine, and lend the fascinations of its presence 
to every project of folly and vice and crime. 

Good-nature. It is nearly allied with socia 
bility, but is, with reference to virtue and vice, 
completely ambiguous. So much of it as is 
natural, or part of the distinctive individual 
character, cannot be deemed a virtue. That 
portion of it which is acquired, which is the 
result of reflection, supposing it can be distin 
guished and separated from the rest, may be 
virtuous. , Associated with benevolence, it is, 
like sociability, nearly synonymous with friend 
liness. It has in it a greater mixture than soci 
ability of the natural with the moral character. 
If wholly constitutional, it is no more a virtue 
than beauty or strength is a virtue; it adds 
agreeableness to social intercourse, whether 
conduct be virtuous or not. That part of good 
nature which, independently of physical ten 
dencies, has become effective benevolence, that, 
and that alone, is virtue; but it is not the 
good- nature that is the virtue, it is the effective 
benevolence. So, again, good-nature may lend 
itself to the service of imprudence or improbity. 
The disposition to please another has not un- 
frequently been the cause of misconduct. Even 


in common parlance, a man is sometimes said 
to have been led astray by his good-nature. 
It may be the weakness upon which temptation 
acts ; and the pleasure of gratifying the person 
who appeals to it may close the eyes to the 
consequences of every consequent evil. 

Humanity. It is effective benevolence, or a 
disposition towards effective benevolence, spe 
cifically directed to a particular case of suffer 
ing. Its object is the removal of some positive 
and weighty evil. It is very like good-nature 
under excitement. It implies the exercise of 
not inconsiderable power of relief on the part 
of the humane man, and, for the most part, sup 
poses that, but for the exercise of his humanity, 
the relieved object will be subjected to greater 
evils than those humanity seeks to remove. 
But to this there are some exceptions; the hu 
manity of a king would lead him to pardon at 
the expense of penal justice ; the consequence of 
which would be good on a small scale, and evil 
on a large one: the balance being a great 
public loss ; and the exercise of humanity not 
a virtue, but a vice. It may therefore be, or 
may not be, praiseworthy. Its title to the 
name of virtue can only be judged of when the 
pains it removes are weighed against the pains 
it creates. It is apt to commit errors under 
present impulses. Where, for example, the 


discipline or punishment attending imprudence 
is likely to correct that imprudence, and huma 
nity steps in to ward off that punishment, so 
that the imprudence will be repeated in con 
sequence of being unvisited by punishment, 
the humanity, far from being a virtue, is really 
a vice. And such cases are of frequent occur 
rence, IVJany of our institutions, called humane 
and charitable, whose object is to screen mis 
conduct from its penalties, do, in fact, only 
minister to human misery. Indiscriminate alms 
giving may, in the same way, be a premium 
to idleness and profligacy. It is pernicious 
wherever it weakens the moral sanction to such 
an extent as to produce, by the deterioration 
of character, a quantity of future pain, greater 
than that which it immediately removes. The 
lesson to be taught humanity, in order to make 
it virtuous, is that of calculation. Its disposi 
tion is always to remove a pain, and to forget 
the salutary influence of that pain upon the 
time to come. It is only, therefore, as con 
nected with prudence and benevolence that 
humanity is entitled to approval. 

Mercy. It is humanity; but it supposes the 
object of it to be more directly dependent on 
him who exercises it. The party served is 
here in the hands of the party serving; their 
mutual position more contrasted by the help- 


lessness of the one party and the power of the 
other. To form a right judgment of the cased 
in which mercy may be exercised with a view 
to the greatest happiness principle, depends 
on the intellectual part of man ; the disposition 
to its exercise, on his moral part. Attached 
to it are ideas of power, associated with vague 
conceptions of tyranny. These grow out of the 
distance between the dispenser and the reci 
pient of mercy. In the political field, the law 
which has been laid down in the case of huma 
nity applies here. The mercy the favor to 
the individual must be weighed against the 
evil done to the community. The demand 
made upon mercy is usually greater than that 
made upon humanity. Its value, in the esti 
mate of virtue, must be calculated by its effects. 
The portion of it which has virtue in it belongs 
to effective benevolence. 

Gratitude is effective benevolence, in act 
or disposition, in consideration of services re 
ceived by the grateful person, or some person 
connected with him by the ties of sympathy, 
Its efficiency is not a necessary consequence 
of its existence; it may be a state of mind 
remaining inoperative for want of occasion. It 
grows in the mind of the grateful person, out 
of benefits conferred on him. But it is not 
necessarily virtuous ; for virtue, doing a small 


quantity of good, may be accompanied by vice, 
doing a large quantity of mischief. A man has 
conferred on me a service. He is in prison for 
a^ flagitious crime. To rescue him would be 
gratitude, but it would not be virtue. 

Gratitude is a subject of great laudation. 
Every body is fond of gratitude, because every 
bocfy who does a favor likes to receive favors 
in return. Yet effective benevolence may be 
more efficient where no gratitude has place. 

Gratitude is a most popular virtue ; it is fed 
by self-regard : and ingratitude is represented 
as a very hideous vice. All men are interested 
in endeavoring to obtain repayment for benefits 
lent. And the public-opinion tribunal has 
affixed a special stigma upon him who, upon 
occasion, does not make the return of services 
he has received. He who does a benefit is 
supported by the concurrence of society in 
anticipating the fruits of gratitude, or a benefit 
in exchange. And every man has greater ex 
pectation of good services from an acquaintance 
than from a stranger. A refusal 6f services 
from an acquaintance, and especially from one 
you have obliged, produces more annoyance 
than the refusal of services by a person unknown 
to you. 

In fine, gratitude, in so far as it is under the 
guidance of utility, may be ranked among the 


virtues, but it may be so counterbalanced by 
evil as to belong to the regions of vice. 

Opposed to gratitude is ingratitude, of which 
resentment is one of the forms. Gratitude pro 
duces good deeds, and resentment evil deeds. 
Resentment may be used in an ambi-lateral 
sense ; a man may resent a kindness as well 
as an unkindness. Resentment in action is 

It was the sign of a certain degree of advance 
ment in morality, to think of making ingratitude 
a crime : but it was the sign of an era but little 
advanced in wisdom, not to see that it was 
impracticable to designate it as a crime on all 

How long and intricate an account must it 
not often be necessary to take between two 
persons who have lived much together, before 
it can be known, in point of good offices, which 
of them is the debtor ? 

The fortunes, the necessities of each must be 
known. The most generous, the most worthy, 
would stand always the worst chance. The 
most crafty, the least sincere, would be sure 
to gain the cause. What he gave he would 
give before witnesses; what he received he 
would receive in secret : there would soon be 
no such thing as either generosity on the one 
hand, or gratitude on the other. 


Friendliness is effective benevolence on a small 
scale. Like good-nature, it is a disposition to 
confer benefits ; but the disposition is principally 
directed towards those with whom the friendly 
person has had intercourse. It is ready to act 
whenever the opportunity may present itself. 
It imports somewhat more than a disposition 
to acts of kindness, and is accompanied by 
sympathy in a state of considerable activity. 
The notion of friendliness involves with it that 
of sympathy, at least in the common relations 
of life. In some of the higher walks, parti 
cularly the political, though the language of 
friendship is used, the sentiment is hardly sup 
posed to exist. Its connection with effective 
benevolence is, as has been stated, intimate; 
it is also sometimes produced by the self- 
regarding affections. To the two branches of 
morality, all in it that constitutes virtue must 
be referred. Its good and its evil may be 
considerably modified by the application of 
right principles to its operation, which, in fact, 
is the only reason for its admission into the 
field of inquiry. Morals are not made for 
application to that which is unchangeable, but 
to that which may be modified or changed by a 
more correct view of things. 

Aristotle has made friendship a sort of cousin 
to the virtues. It is a state or condition of life 


constituted by a certain sort of relation analo 
gous to maritality, uxoriality, paternity, ma 
ternity, filiality. It is a species of marriage, 
without sexual communion for its bond, or pro 
geny for its consequence, and is thence not for 
life or for a specific term. 

Generosity, where a virtue, is effective bene 
volence, friendliness on a larger scale; it is 
friendliness not bounded by the circle of ac 
quaintance, but extending to persons in general. 
Friendliness implies a preference. Generosity 
is diffusive. 

Generosity, without the guidance of prudence 
or benevolence, is vice and folly. He who 
gives away all that he has to another, who 
wants it less than himself, and thus confers less 
pleasure than he sacrifices, does a very gene 
rous, but a very foolish act. So he who lavishes 
money, or money s worth, for a pernicious pur 
pose, however generous the expenditure, is 
doing a vicious deed. 

The benevolence must be judged of by the 
sacrifice made. A small sum of money, for 
example, given by a poor man, would be evi 
dence of generosity ; while the giving a consi 
derable sum would scarcely be so from a man 
extremely opulent. The, generosity of the poor 
is generally visible in personal services, in the 
dedication of their time, in the exposure of their 


persons, in the risks they run. That of the 
more privileged classes in a mixture of personal 
and pecuniary services. As the value of money 
becomes less, and the station of the generous 
person is higher, money becomes more and 
more the instrument of generosity. At every 
stage, however, the same tests apply. 

Beneficence, it has been already remarked, 
is not necessarily a virtue. To render services, 
to do good to others, is not always a virtuous 
act. Every man who spends money is bene- / 
ficent, a doer of good ; but there is no virtue m) 
doing so. To discharge the common functions 
of nature is beneficent ; to eat and drink, to 
sleep, to dress, anything by which good is done. 
Where beneficence differs from effective bene 
volence, though it may be a good, it is not a 
virtue. The distinction has been so frequently 
drawn in the course of this work, that it is 
needless to repeat it here. 

Justice is effective benevolence, wherever it 
deserves the credit of virtue. It is the rendering 
of services where they are expected, on ade 
quate grounds. It is the doing good where 
disappointment would attach to its not being 
done, and the public-opinion tribunal sanctions 
the expectation that it will be done, ^ 

In civil matters and in penal matters justice 
is a very different thing. In the social field, 


justice is that which secures a man from the 
disappointment which would deprive him of 
objects to which he has a right, recognized by 
society. It is the application of the disappoint 
ment-preventing principle. If it is not this, it 
is what any person chooses to call justice. The 
law, * Do unto another as you would he should 
do unto you/ does not apply here, nor would 
it serve as a definition of justice, because no one 
would willingly inflict punishment on himself, 
and the infliction of punishment is often neces 
sary to establish the claims of justice. 

Justice in penal matters is the application 
of penal remedies. The best justice is the 
best application of remedies against the evils of 
maleficence. It has only to do with acts, and 
not with dispositions. The dispositions belong 
to the moral, the acts to the political field. 

In the class consisting of eleven qualities 
useful to ourselves, there is a jumble of qua 
lities almost identical, though called by different 
names. It would be difficult to distinguish in 
what respect, as to virtue, discretion and caution 
differ from prudence, honesty and fidelity from 
justice; how economy and frugality are to be 
disassociated from prudence ; why industry and 
assiduity are disunited ? But a few words upon 
each may serve to remove some of the mists 
which are gathered round the temple of morality. 


Discretion is the right judgment formed for 
the purpose of action, in cases of more or less 
difficulty. It is the quality of mind which 
makes for itself a correct estimate of probable 
results. It is the forethought which marks out 
the most appropriate line of proceeding in a 
given course. It is intellectual aptitude directed 
to conduct. But this is no more a virtue than 
the power of solving an arithmetical problem 
is a virtue, or than the possession of animal 
strength is a virtue. It is cleverness, derived 
either from birth or from education. 

Industry is an ambiguous word; supposing 
labor applied to purposes not illaudable, it 
includes activity with a view to profit. It may 
be an instrument in the hands of other virtues ; 
it is no virtue of itself. In another language, 
if not in our own, the word is sometimes em 
ployed in an unfavorable sense, chevalier d 1 In 
dustrie meaning a swindler or cheat, the expres 
sion implying that diligence is used in furthering 
the purposes of fraud. 

Frugality imports action positive or negative. 
It is prudence employed in the pecuniary field ; 
self-regarding prudence, for the most part. It 
is the check which prevents from being wasted 
or needlessly diminished, those pleasures which 
are purchaseable by wealth. It is adjacent,, 
as Hume remarks, to two vices to prodigality, 


which is imprudence; to avarice, which is op 
posed to effective benevolence. 

Honesty is subordinate to justice. It is some 
times an ambiguous phrase. Montaigne says 
every body ought to be honest in talking of his 
own virtues. He forgets that such talk will 
be likely to wound the self-love of another. 
A man may to himself prefer himself, but such 
self-preference is not very likely to be recog 
nized by a second person. 

Fidelity is also subordinate to justice. It is 
the manifestation of an active faculty, and im 
plies the observance of a contract, specific or 

Truth is not a human quality is not a virtue. 
Veracity is a far more convenient word ; and 
veracity is a virtue which occupies a very inap 
propriate place in the public mind, and the 
breaches of which are in consequence protected, 
to a great extent, by the popular sanction. 
Thucydides says, that in his time one hero 
would ask another, ( Are you a robber? The 
days are come in which a man might ask 
another, Are you an advocate ? an advocate 
being one whose power is in his tongue, and who 
sells that power to the first comer to the right 
side or the wrong side, as may be ; to advocate 
* justice or to defeat justice. {JThe old days were 
days of force ; the present are days of fraud. 


The powers of the body had once the mastery, 
now those of the mind. It was physical force 
that then ruled, it is now mental fraud. 

Lying has to a great extent introduced itself 
into the daily forms of society ; useless always, 
and frequently pernicious. It may not on every 
occasion do harm to others, but it invariably 
does harm to the liar himself. It will inevita 
bly lower him in the opinion of others, unless, as 
in the case of some of the professions, he is 
specially endowed with the privilege of lying. 

The Spaniard who says, Esta casa es de V. 
This house is your s/ when you quit him after a 
visit, tells a lie to no purpose whatever. The 
Frenchman who says, Je suis enchant^ je 
suisdeso!6 I am enchanted I am desola 
ted, though he preserves all the while his tran- 
quility, lies to no purpose whatever. The Eng 
lishman who says Not at home/ though he is 
at home, lies to no purpose whatever. In 
the terms of politeness, so called, mendacity 
occupies a leading place. 

The confusion of ideas between truth and 
veracity has often created great ambiguities of 
expression. Brissot was misled by it. He wrote 
a book on La Vwite, which verity marched him 
about as if it had been a will-o the-wisp he was 
running after. Sometimes it was a knowledge 
of things, sometimes it was veracity, correctness 


of statement the truth ; sometimes it was the 
love of truth, in resistance to religious tyranny ; 
by which he meant that knowledge which is the 
result of evidence, as opposed to those declara 
tions of belief which do not grow out of evi 
dence, but out of authority. He sometimes 
used it to represent the substantial fact of the 
real existence of certain objects. In fact, truth 
in the abstract, and with the vague associations 
which attach to it, is a very strange entity, and 
slippery as an eel. 

Veracity is the disposition of a man to give to 
others the exact impression of his own mind; 
it is the avoidance of misrepresentation, and that 
growing out of attention, intense in proportion 
to the importance of the representation itself. 

Veracity being wholly subordinate to pru 
dence and benevolence, is its exercise a virtue 
in a case where neither would be violated by its 
infraction, or would such infraction be a vice ? 
No ! but to find such cases would be no easy 
task. Veracity is not indeed of any value but 
with a reference to the circumstances that 
surround it. In the case of lying, it may be seen 
how insufficient the often employed religious 
sanction is for restraining childhood from vice. 
A child has it said to him, If you tell a lie you 
will go to hell; he tells a lie, the menaced pu- 

VOL. i. R 



nishment does not fall upon him, and the menace 
soon ceases to have any influence. If the child 
believe, his next thoughts may naturally be 
I may as well tell a hundred lies, it will not 
make the matter worse. 

Sincerity has a wider import than veracity. 
It js a breach of sincerity not to state a fact ; 
it is no breach of veracity. There is much less 
scruple in not stating things than in stating 
things falsely ; it is the contrast between what 
is negative and what is positive. To state what 
is annoying to another when no purpose is 
answered of corresponding pleasure, chance of 
pleasure, or exemption from pain, is the con 
trary of virtuous. Where there is a solemn 
demand for truth, the cases are few where it 
should not be disclosed. 

The importance of veracity must also be con 
sidered with a reference to the number of per 
sons interested in it. He who deceives two 
commits a greater crime than he who deceives 
one. Falsehoods are susceptible of a classifica 
tion which will serve to point out .the extent of 
their mischievousness and consequent immoral 
ity. Malicious falsehoods are flagitious ; they 
should be avoided for the sake of others. Inter 
ested falsehoods are mean ; a man should avoid 
them for his own sake. So falsehoods to excite 


astonishment are to a certain extent interested 
falsehoods, which for his own sake a. man 
should avoid. 

Falsehoods of humanity, falsehoods to avoid 
hurting the self-love of others or exposing the 
persons or property of others to injury ; as where, 
for instance, an assassin is in pursuit of his 
intended victim, and is misled by a falsehood 
told him as to the direction taken by the person 
he is pursuing ; these may be innocent and 
benevolent, as long as they do not give cause 
to suspect a general indifference to veracity. If 
lavishly employed this will infallibly be the 
result ; thence the demand of prudence that their 
employment should be most rare, as in fact the 
demand for them is rare. 

Falsehoods of necessity; such as are and 
must be used to madmen ; falsehoods of self- 
defence, against lawless violence, come under 
the same conditions. 

Equivocation differs from falsehood, and is 
preferable to it, inasmuch as it gives the chance 
that if the equivocator cannot immediately dis 
cover terms sufficiently ambiguous for equivo 
cation, he will tell the truth. 

An equivocation is a falsehood in ideas, not 
in words. 

A lie is a falsehood both in ideas and words. 

The having recourse rather to equivocation 


than to a lie direct, shows a certain regard to 
truth ; for though an equivocation might be pre 
ferred to truth, truth may be preferred to a lie. 

Truth may be had from a person who deals 
in equivocations ; for he may be taken on a 
sudden, before he has time to put together an 

If a man is known only for an equivocator, it 
is also known that there is a method of dealing 
with him. It is to press him with distinctions 
upon the terms of his answers, till you get him 
to terms not susceptible of ambiguity. You by 
this means force him at last to take his chance 
between simple truth and downright false 

An equivocator gives evidence of a disposition 
to keep upon terms with truth. 

Perjury is lying in the case where the reli 
gious sanction is put prominently forward as the 
guarantee for truth and the check upon falsehood. 
The force of the religious sanction depends 
wholly upon the state of the mind of the indi 
vidual to whom it is applied. It will add 
nothing to the power of eliciting truth in cases 
where the popular sanction is in full activity. In 
the cases of oaths and vows the sanction is the 
same. The profanation of a vow diminishes the 
force of the sanction as applied to promises of 
future conduct ; it therefore diminishes the force 


of the same sanction as applied to relations of 
past conduct or past events. 

There are cases where a vow, though an under 
taking for future conduct, may be violated in the 
act of taking it. Such is that of a vow taken 
to believe a proposition, of the truth of which 
the person vowing has no conviction at the 

The guilty of this profanation are those who 
insist on this sacrifice of principles to prejudices, 
on pretence of securing a tranquillity of mind 
which would be far better compassed by that 
liberty which takes away the motives to debate. 

As a means of this tranquillity their own voice 
is in favour of these forced professions ; the voice 
of experience in every country where this liberty 
is perfect, and of every country in which it has 
been admitted at all, as far as it has been 
admitted, is against them. 

Among the Romans, while the undertaking 
was confined to respect things at once useful 
and practicable, such as obedience to the order 
of a general, the force of this sanction was 

Veracity and mendacity are less immediately 
connected than the other virtues with pleasure 
and pain. Hence the difficulty of assigning to 
their modifications the character that belongs 
to them. Sincerity and insincerity, ingenuous- 


ness and disingenuousness, are more or less 
pernicious, more or less virtuous or vicious, as 
the particular case may exhibit them. Silence 
itself may have all the mischief and culpability 
of mendacity, where, for instance, the convey 
ance of information is a matter of duty, where 
prudence or benevolence require that the infor 
mation should be given. Veracity, in some 
cases, demands fortitude for an ally, and forti 
tude becomes a virtue when the alliance is to 
further the ends of sound morality. 

Caution is near akin to discretion, but has 


more timidity in it, and is applied to subjects 
from whence greater danger may arise. It is 
prudence wherever there is virtue in it. 

Enterprize is activity, combined with com 
parative fearlessness with reference to evil re 
sults ; it is one of the forms of activity, and 
may be considered a species of intellectual 
courage, either facing danger (i. e. probable 
evil) or turning aside from it. This may be 
either the result of the will, or of the non- 
application of the will to the subject. Attention 
is the applicaction of the will, when the will 
is acted on with a considerable degree of force. 

Assiduity is a continued enterprize, applied 
for a considerable length of time to the same 
subject, without any long interruption. 

Economy is frugality combined with good 


management, which is an intellectual attribute ; 
it is sometimes used without reference to eco 
nomy, and implies a self-denial which is not 
necessary to economy. Temptations to dissi 
pation surround every man; and here, as on 
other parts of the field, the continued practice 
of self-denial is a habit of virtue. 

Follow a list of qualities, fourteen in number, 
of which Hume says nobody can for a moment 
refuse them the tribute of praise and appro 
bation. Of these temperance, sobriety, and pa 
tience are but emanations from self-regarding 
prudence. Constancy, perseverance, forethought, 
and consider ateness, when virtues, are modifica 
tions of prudence, but are not necessarily vir 
tues, nay, they may be vices. Secrecy, when 
a virtue, belongs to prudence or effective bene 
volence; while order, insinuation, address, presence 
of mind, quickness of conception, and facility of 
expression, are, for the most part, intellectual 
attributes, and in no wise entitled to be clas 
sified either as virtues or vices, except in as 
far as they are regulated by the will. 

Sobriety is temperance applied to any thing 
producing intoxication. 

Patience may refer either to sensation or to 
action; it is the non-indication of suffering 
equal to the actual suffering, and the more 


patient a man is, the less is his suffering in 
creased by duration. 

Constancy has many meanings; constancy, 
in a bad cause, would be vice, as, in a good 
cause, it is virtue : it is perseverance in a cause, 
whether right or wrong; it is perseverance, 
in spite of temptation. It is vicious, virtuous, 
or neuter. A man constantly eats, drinks, and 
sleeps ; but his eating, drinking, and sleeping 
are not acts of vice nor virtue. 

Perseverance rather imports continuity of 
action : like constancy, it may, or may not, be 
virtue. It calls attention into exercise. 

Forethought is imagination applied to future 
contingent events : it is necessary to the proper 
exercise of self-regarding prudence. Its value 
depends on the remoteness and complexity 
of the objects towards which it is directed, 

Considerateness is the bringing together toll 
the ideas that bear on a subject with reference 
to the end in view; the end constituting the 
merit or demerit of the quality, 

Secrecy is a negative quality. It is negative 
effective benevolence, applied to the case where 
the disclosure of facts would be prejudicial to 
others ; it is self-regarding prudence when the 
disclosure would be prejudicial to the individual 
himself. When a secret is committed to you, 


and the divulging it would do no harm to your 
self or others, the divulging it is a breach of 

Order is a modification of method ; it is the 
putting things one after another, so that some 
particular end is answered by the arrangement. 
Order is an abstract word, which you cannot 
do without any more than you can do without 
the word time: it is the placing things in a line; 
it is a compound non-entity, growing out of our 
ideas of space and time. 

Insinuation is the faculty of recommending 
oneself to another by action or discourse, ac 
companied by a desire that the faculty should 
not be detected. It is the art of ingratiation 
the making oneself an object of sympathy, with 
a concealment of the purpose. 

Address is an instrument of insinuation ; it 
is insinuation in a wider field of thought and 

Presence of mind is a power over one s own 
mind ; it is the faculty of readily bringing into 
view all the several considerations necessary to 
correct decision : it is that which takes prompt 
measures for the prevention of evil. 

Quickness of conception should have preceded 
presence of mind. It is a simple idea ; it is 
implied in the idea of presence of mind. 


Facility of expression can be no virtue; it 
is quickness of conception giving language to 
its thought. 

The qualities agreeable to ourselves are, 
according to Hume, cheerfulness, dignity or 
magnanimity, courage and tranquillity. 

Cheerfulness, in so far as it is a natural 
disposition, is not a virtue : in so far as it is 
acquired, it is prudence. It is the being pleased, 
and the giving expression to the sense of plea- 
sure. It is, to a very great extent, an endow 
ment of a particular constitutional temperament. 
Virtue is something which can be excited by 
effort; it is something which obeys our com 
mands : but a disposition to sadness, or a dis 
position to gladness, does not obey our com 
mands. By study we may diminish the one 
and increase the other, and by so doing we give 
evidence of, and exercise to, self-regarding 
prudence. By far the larger portion of cheerful 
ness is inherent, though enjoyment acts upon it, 
and tends greatly to its increase. The habit 
of doing good/ as benevolence has been called, 
is the best instructor how to make instruments 
of cheerfulness. Every being who is the recipi 
ent of benevolence may be a source of future 
pleasure, and of exemption from future pain. 
Dignity, when a virtue, is extra-regarding 


prudence; it may be exhibited in behavior, 
or it may ;be the exhibition alone of the instru 
ments of dignity. 

Courage may be a virtue or may be a vice. 
To a great extent it is a natural quality : it 
does not always imply self-denial, nor always 
exhibit benevolence. It may be, perhaps, more 
properly said that courage is neither a virtue 
nor a vice, but an instrument of either, its 
character depending wholly on its application. 

For a man to value himself on his courage, 
without any reference to the occasions on which 
it is exercised, is to value himself on a quality 
possessed in a far higher degree by a dog, 
especially if the dog is mad. 

Tranquillity is insensibility to external causes 
of suffering, and particularly of remote suffering. 
Every man desires to keep in view objects that 
are agreeable, and out of view objects that are 

The qualities which Hume introduces, as 
agreeable to others, are politeness, wit, decency, 
and cleanliness. 

Politeness is more of a negative than a posi 
tive quality. It is the avoidance of actions 
or behavior which may be disagreeable to the 
person with whom you have to do. Its positive 
branch is the doing whatever it may be agree 
able to others that you should do. In all 


cases where the laws of prudence and bene 
volence are not opposed to the usages of society, 
self-interest demands attention to them. The 
highest order of politeness is the application 
of the rules which are recognized |jn^ high life. 
But herejthsre is mingled with it so much 
mendacity, and that of a useless, even when 
not vprominently pernicious character, that the 
analysis of politeness must be thoroughly made 
before its character can be determined-/ It 
easily degenerates into self-esteem, and instead 
of an instrument of pleasure, becomes one of 
annoyance. Many men intend to communicate 
enjoyment, for example, by stories, by exces 
sive attentions, and other efforts, which are the 
cause of weariness to those whom they really 
desire to gratifyJ Fashion is the competition 
for admiration, and its vices begin where annoy 
ances are caused to others for the purposes 
of selfishness. In some cases, as in the courts 
where etiquette is carried farthest, the sacrifice 
of the many to the one, of the comforts of the 
many to the pride of the one, is striking. 
Under the Bourbons at the Tuileries, etiquette 
required that, until the King sat down to cards, 
every body must stand, however weary. This 
was politeness, this was etiquette, but it was 
absurdity and folly. 

Wit is a very ambiguous virtue. Locke says 


that wit consists in discovering resemblances ; 
judgment, in discovering differences. Wit con 
fers power, and is thence an object of desire : 
it is the power of giving pleasure to some, but 
often at the expense of pain to others. If the 
subject of malevolent wit is present, his pain 
is immediate ; if absent, he suffers from losing 
a portion of the good opinion of others, and the 
quantity of his suffering cannot be traced. 

One of the merits of wit is that it should be 
unexpected. There is a species of it which 
may be produced from a dictionary by the mere 
juxta-position of words. Quidlibet cum quod- 
libet may be applied to its production. 

Wit has no existence except where the ana 
logy elicited is brought to view ; it may be by 
contrast, but the analogy or the contrast should 
be suddenly produced. 

Decency is a term vague and unsatisfactory. 
It means, as generally used, the avoidance of 
bringing forward what is disagreeable to others. 
This is a negative virtue. When it comes in a 
positive shape, it is frequently only an eccle 
siastical virtue, employing wealth for the pur 
poses of delusion. Decency is to cover the 
throne with crimson, to carve the pulpit, to 
provide lawn sleeves; it is to do that which 
it is agreeable to the ruling few to have done. 
Delicacy is one of the branches of decency, but 


more commonly referring to the avoidance of 
physical annoyances. It is not an unusual 
thing for men to take merit to themselves for 
being disgusted with that which does not dis 
gust people in general, and to imagine that this 
affected sensibility is a mark of their belonging 
to the aristocratic classes. Decorum is another 
of the forms of decency ; it refers, for the most 
part, to the avoidance of matters of small mo 
ment, the non-avoidance of which would expose 
us to the contempt of others. 

Cleanliness acts through the medium of the 
imagination ; it is a negative virtue. It is the 
avoidance of practices by which disease, or 
the apprehension of disease, is produced. The 
neglect of salutary attentions to the person is im 
mediately associated with the idea of disease. 
Dirt, for example, left on the body, calls up 
the thought of unhealthiness. It is a sort of 
mislocation of matter in small particles; and 
attention to cleanliness is demanded by pru 
dence, in as far as inattention to it is injurious 
to ourselves ; by benevolence, in as far as inat 
tention to it is offensive to others. The im 
pression of its absence may be produced where 
the intrusive substances are not in themselves 
disagreeable. Gold-dust sticking to a man s 
face would give nearly the same impression of a 
want of cleanliness as any other substance, just 


as the finest white powder on a scuttle of coals 
would give a notion of impurity. 

And Hume concludes his list by the intro 
duction of two virtues, classified as good qua 
lities in society. They are chastity and alle 
giance. Chastity is the refraining from sensual 
enjoyments where indulgence is improper, 
where their gratification would be productive of 
more pain to others than of pleasure to him 
who indulges in them. Modesty is not neces 
sarily a branch of chastity. There may be 
constant unchastity without immodesty. Gross 
language language in the highest degree immo 
dest, may be unaccompanied with an unchaste 
act; and acts of unchastity may be indulged in, 
without the utterance of an immodest word. 

Allegiance is vagueness itself, unless the spe 
cial subject be shewn, and then it is effective 
benevolence on the largest scale, provided the 
object of allegiance is conformable to the greatest 
happiness principle. All depends on the cha 
racter of that government for which allegiance 
is claimed. .Allegiance may be an obvious 
virtue, it may be a very pernicious crime. A 
good government is that in which the influence 
is placed in the hands of those who are inte 
rested in the exercise of benevolent power. 
Allegiance is a term employed instead of obe 
dience. Obedience is good when the govern- 


ment is good, bad when the government is bad. 
Opposition to institutions friendly to human 
happiness is vice proportioned to the amount 
of their excellence. Opposition to institutions 
unfriendly to human happiness is virtue pro 
portioned to the amount of their mischief. So 
far, at least, is the teaching of effective bene 
volence ; but if the sacrifice made to overthrow 
bad governments exceeds the chances of good 
to be produced by their overthrow, then virtue 
demands abstention. No case can be conceived 
in which virtue will allow the dictates of self- 
regarding interest to attempt the overthrow of 
good institutions ; for the amount of evil with 
which others would be visited must com 
pletely absorb the amount of good which the 
individual could obtain for himself. 

The examples given by Hume are, for the 
most part, mere assumptions that he, the mo 
ralist, is to decide on all the cases that come 
before him.Y He occupies a pulpit whence he 
deals out his moral dogmas, and speaks as 
if he were the representative of higher virtues 
than the man to whom he is speaking./ When 
he gives no examples, it is mere idle trum- 
petting, tantarara and fiddle-de-dee. He draws 
no intelligible distinctions between pleasure, 
passion, and pain : he makes distinctions where 
there are no differences, and dreams of settling 


moral points by phrases, such as * It is becom 
ing/ which are the mere sic volo despotism of 
an instructor. ^Pleasure and pain are the only 
clues for unravelling the mysteries of morality. 
Fly where you will, fumble about as you 
please, no other master key shall you find, to 
open all the doors which lead into the temple 

How does it happen that so many vague 
words, with vague ideas, or no ideas at all 
attached to them, have so long kept possession 
of the field ? It is because we imagine we 
thoroughly comprehend the terms which are 
familiar to us. 

What we are continually talking of, merely 
from our having been continually talking of it, 
we imagine we understand. So close an union 
has habit cemented between words and things, 
that we take one for the other, and when 
we have words in our ears we imagine we have 
thoughts in our minds. When an unusual 

* The services of Hume, in many parts of the field of 
moral and mental philosophy, were immense. He first drew 
a clear distinction between impressions and ideas, a distinc 
tion, without which it is hardly possible to obtain any clear 
notions on many topics of leading importance. The dis 
tinction is obvious when pointed out: I see a man it is a. 
perception : I close my eyes, but imagine myself to see him 
still it is an idea. 

VOL. I. S 


word presents itself, we challenge it ; we exa 
mine ourselves, to see whether we have an 
idea annexed to it ; but when a word that we 
are familiar with comes across us, we let it 
pass on, under favor of old recognition. The 
long acquaintance we have had with it makes 
us take for granted we have investigated all 
its meaning; we deal by it, in consequence, 
as the Custom-house officers in certain coun 
tries, who, having once set their seal upon a 
packet, so long as they see, or think they see 
their seal upon it, reasonably enough suppose 
themselves dispensed with from visiting and 
examining the contents of it anew. 




THERE are other qualities which have been put 
forward by different writers on morality as 
virtues, and as entitled to the praise and the 
recompense of virtue. In most cases they are 
of ambiguous character, and as they present 
certain points of contact with prudence and 
benevolence, they obtain the character of vir 
tue, not so much on account of their essential 
attributes as of their accidental association with 
qualities really virtuous. The very defect of 
character may in this way be made to present 
an aspect of virtue : and the affections may be 
so engaged with one side of a question, as to 
interfere with a right judgment of its moral 
merit, A mother steals a loaf to satisfy the 
hunger of a starving child. How easy it would 
be to excite the sympathies in favor of her 
maternal tenderness, so as to bury all con 
sideration of her dishonesty in the depth of 
those sympathies. And, in truth, nothing but 
an enlarged and expansive estimate, such as 
would take the case out of the regions of sen- 



timentality into the wider regions of public 
good, could ever lead to the formation of a right 
judgment in such matters. 

Contempt for Riches. Socrates contempt for 
riches was mere affectation and pride, just as 
meritorious as it would have been for him to 
have remained standing for a long time on one 
leg. It was only denying to himself the doing 
the good which riches would have enabled him 
to do. The desire of wealth is the desire, in 
a vague form, to possess what wealth can 
obtain. So again, his denying himself assist^ 
ance from others was a mere self-regarding 
calculation, it was only to excite their self- 
esteem for other purposes ; it was a calculation 
to receive more than he would otherwise obtain 
it was a refusal of 100/. in order to get 

So Epictetus, he had more pleasure in pride 
than in benevolence. He paid himself out of 
the testimonies of respect with which he was 
surrounded. He calculated on getting more 
from self-denial than he could get without it. 
But he was less meritorious than the Oriental 
fakirs, who suffer more than he. His conduct 
was that of the miser who stores his wealth, 
that, on any future occasion, he may command 
what he pleases by the exercise of that instru 
ment of power. He pays himself with the 


pleasures of imagination, which are greater to 
him than those of actual fruition. Misers, as 
they grow older, have less sense of present 
enjoyment, and become, therefore, more and 
more disposed to avarice, which is an anticipa 
tion of a future reward. 

Love of Action. Love of action, without an 
object, is nothing : it has in it neither vice nor 
virtue. Such part of it as proceeds from the 
will, and is directed to the production of hap 
piness, is virtuous. Such part as is intellectual 
is neutral; where it is the act of the will, 
and is directed to the production of evil, it is 

Attention. It is the quality which distin 
guishes the botanist who carefully gathers the 
flower, from the clown who tramples it under 
his feet. Fixed attention has been lately 
brought forward as a virtue, and a pretty virtue 
it is ; so that if I purpose to murder a man, 
and fix my attention upon it, that is a virtue ! 

Enterprize has also been honoured with the 
title of virtue. Enterprize, which may be as 
bad a vice as any in the calendar. And 
dispatch has reached the same laudatory eleva 
tion.* Dispatch is the employment of the 
least quantity of time sufficient for the attain- 

* Most of the above are introduced as virtues by Jevons, 
in his Principles of Morality. 


meot of an object. It is quickness without 
precipitation. It is a prudent means, which 
may be used for an end either of good or evil. 

But, having established a general rule, which 
every one may apply for himself to the estimate 
of those qualities of which he desires to form a 
judgment, having shown that unless they can 
be qlassed under the heads of prudence and 
effective benevolence, they are not virtues, that 
only such parts of them are virtues as can be so 
classed, it is scarcely needful to pursue the 
subject farther. 





PASSION is intense emotion emotion is evanes 
cent passion. 

The nature of the passions can only be un 
derstood by their division into the different 
heads of pleasure and pain : for the principles 
by which they are to be governed, reference 
must be made to the list of virtues and vices. 

Let the passion of anger be analysed, and its 
consequences traced. When under its influ 
ence, a man is suffering pain pain produced by 
the contemplation of the act which has excited 
the passion. An immediate consequence is, a 
desire to produce pain in the breast of the party 
who has awakened the anger. Anger, then, 
has in it two constant ingredients pain suffered 
by the angry man, and a desire to give pain to 
the person by whom he has been made angry. 

And now to the question of virtue and vice. 
As there is no anger without pain, the man who 
draws pain upon himself without the compen 
sation of a more lhan equivalent pleasure, vio 
lates the law of prudence. 

Next comes the desire to produce pain in the 


breast of the object of anger. This desire can 
not be gratified without malevolence and male 
ficence. Here is an obvious violation of the 
law of benevolence. And here we have an ex 
emplification of the relationship between passion 
and pain and pleasure ; between passion and 
virtue and vice. 

Cannot anger then be indulged without vice 
in both its shapes, without imprudence, and 
without maleficence ? 

It cannot ! It cannot, at least, whenever it 
rises to the height of passion. And here a more 
remote, but more mischievous result presents 
itself to view, as a violation of the law of self- 
regarding prudence. The passion cannot be 
gratified but by the production of pain in his 
breast by whom the anger has been excited, 
and pain cannot be produced there without a 
counter-desire to retaliate the pain, or greater 
pain on him who has produced it. To the pain 
in the breast of the angry man there is a termi 
nation, and most commonly a speedy termina 
tion, but to the remote pain, which may be con 
sidered the third link in the chain of causes and 
effects, who can put a limit ? Anger may have 
had what is called its revenge, but the exercise 
of that revenge may have created the durable 
passion of enmity, to whose consequence it is 
impossible to affix a boundary. 

Since anger cannot exist without vice, what 


is to be done ? Can a man exist without anger ? 
Without anger can injuries be averted, can self- 
defence, can self-preservation be provided for? 

Certainly not without the production of pain 
to him who has inflicted the injury. But to 
the production of this pain anger is not ne 
cessary. Anger is no more necessary than 
to the surgeon by whom, to save suffering or 
life, a painful operation is performed. No anger 
is excited in his breast by the view of the agony 
he inflicts, or by the contemplation of the 
greater evil which would follow but for his in 
terference. That anger should never have place 
is not possible; it is not consistent with the 
structure of the human mind. But it may be 
said, and that on every occasion, and without 
any exception, that the less there is of it the 
better : for whatever pain is needful to the pro 
duction of the useful effect, that pain will be 
much better measured without the passion, 
than by it. 

But, it may be said, there are circumstances 
in which not only pain the natural effect of 
anger pain purposely produced, but anger 
itself, the passion of anger, is useful, and even 
necessary to the existence of society, and that 
these circumstances in our own country, ex 
tend over the whole field of penal jurispru 
dence. I have been robbed. The offender, 


on conviction, will be capitally punished, or 
transported in a state of servitude. Shall I 
prosecute him ? Not if self- regarding prudence 
is alone to be my counsellor ; for her counsels 
would be Add not to the loss inflicted by the 
robbery, the farther loss inflicted on you by the 
prosecution.. Not if I consult benevolence, for 
she would say, the punishment is too great for 
the offence. And such is the response which 
in the knowledge of every body, and especially 
when the punishment of death is menaced, fre 
quently determines a man s conduct. 

But, were the matter rightly considered, the 
response, it might be said, would be Yes! 
prosecute ; for the good of the community re 
quires that neither the suffering of the offender 
in the shape of punishment, nor the suffering of 
yourself, the prosecutor, in the shape of vexa 
tion and expence, should be grudged. Good ! 
but I can ill afford it : the pecuniary burthen to 
me will be greater than that uncertain, unesti- 
mated, and remote benefit which will grow out 
of the prosecution and its results. Again, the 
responses of benevolence have no influence with 
me. Be they ever so decisive, they have not a 
preponderant weight in my mind, 

In this case, neither prudence nor benevolence 
will produce action ; and yet, if action were 
not produced, the security of society would suf- 


fer a serious shock a shock serious in propor 
tion to its frequency ; and, if constant, security 
would be wholly destroyed, and the general 
ruin of property would immediately follow. 
The supposed virtue in both its forms, is insuffi 
cient to preserve society, and anger, however 
dissocial its character, is indispensably neces 

It is not easy to refute this reasoning, under 
the present state of our penal code. But it will 
be immediately seen, that the necessity of the 
passion does not arise out of the nature of the 
case, and that it is produced, to a great extent, 
by the imperfections of our laws : for if those 
imperfections were removed, the demand for the 
passion of anger would, at all events, be very 
greatly diminished. Were the needless ex- 
pence and vexation attending a prosecution re 
moved, the answer of self-regarding prudence 
might be opposite to what it now is. Were the 
pernicious excess of punishment taken away, 
the answer of benevolence would be opposite to 
what it is. And if you suppose a state in which 
the passion of anger were subjected to the de 
mands of prudence and benevolence, how few 
would be the occasions in which the passion it 
self could find field for its exercise. 

The legislator, indeed, whose purpose is to 
keep delinquency within bounds, and whose 


conduct is to produce effect on the national 
scale, has a claim upon him somewhat different 
from that on the individual. The self- regarding 
motives are, in his case, not the prominent ones, 
and while the inhibition of the passion in the 
breast of individuals seems demanded by virtue, 
benevolence requires from the legislator such 
an exercise of it as will lead to those inflictions of 
pain, which are likely to minimize the quantity 
of crime. 

Anger has the quality of being increased 
by giving vent to itself. He who swears be 
cause he is angry, only becomes the more angry 
in consequence. The appetite is increased, not 
satisfied, by the aliment it feeds on. 

What has been said of anger applies to envy 
and jealousy. They both imply the presence 
of pain. To suppress them in our own breasts 
is demanded by prudence ; if they exist there in 
an inoperative state, it is prudence alone that 
requires their suppression. If they are likely 
so to be awakened as to produce a maleficent 
influence upon others, their suppression is called 
for by benevolence. 

But why is reason inefficacious against 
passion ? 

It cannot raise up images lively enough. 

What is called reason, as applied to the 
government of the passions, is the making the 


scale turn in favor of a greater pleasure in pre 
ference to a less. 

The will necessarily yields to the solicitation 
of the greatest apparent good. 

And the causes why the influences of passion 
domineer over the influences of reason are 

1, Want of apparent intensity in the distant 
pleasure which reason promises want of viva 
city in the idea of it. 

2. Want of apparent certainty want of 
ready discernment to trace out, at the instant, 
the train of effects and causes that promote or 
impede the production of the distant pleasure. 

Hence the use of the expedient, which has 
been frequently recommended, of playing off 
one passion against another. 

Habitually to exercise the mind in the appli 
cation of the true standard of morality, will be 
habitually to train the affections and the pas 
sions to virtuous tendencies and virtuous con 
duct. And the occasions are infinite they are 
occurring every hour of our existence, nor is 
any occasion to be despised. Like flakes of 
snow that fall unperceived upon the earth, the 
seemingly unimportant events of life succeed 
one another. As the snow gathers together, so 
are our habits formed. No single flake that is 
added to the pile produces a sensible change; no 
single action creates, however it may exhibit, a 


man s character ; but, as the tempest hurls the 
avalanche down the mountain, and overwhelms 
the inhabitant and his habitation, so passion, 
acting upon the elements of mischief, which 
pernicious habits have brought together by im 
perceptible accumulation, may overthrow the 
edifice of truth and virtue. 




BETWEEN the intellectual faculties and virtue 
and vice there exists an intimate relation. 
Wherever the will has any influence on their 
direction, they belong to the moral field ; and, 
in as far as it is in the power of the will to add. 
to their efficiency, they become instruments of 
pain and pleasure, and important in the propor 
tion of the amount of pain and pleasure which 
their exercise is able to produce. 

The faculty of invention, for instance, belongs 
to the understanding it is intellectual ; but, 
whether it is an instrument in the hands of 
virtue or vice, depends upon its application to 
purposes beneficent or maleficent. 

But the influence of the understanding upon 
the will is yet more important. It is to the un 
derstanding that every appeal must be made, 
and unless it can be associated with the demands 
of morality, there is little prospect for the suc 
cess of the Deontological teacher. His reason 
ings, his persuasions must be addressed to the 
intellectual faculties. He must win them to his 


side before he can influence conduct. It is by 
their assistance that he is to teach the arithme 
tic of pains and pleasures. By them he is to 
show what are the penalties to be paid by vice, 
and what are the recompenses to wait upon vir 
tue. He reasons ; and his reasons are prophetic 
of inevitable evil to imprudence and improbity ; 
of infallible good to prudence and benevolence. 
Passion appeals only to that which is, the in 
tellectual faculties bring what will be into the 
thoughts.! They, in fact, constitute the main 
difference between the virtues of beasts and 
those of men. The lower animals, for the most 
part, are unchecked in their search of pleasure 
by any anticipation of future pain. No appre 
hension of consequences would lead them to 
abstain from any present enjoyment. Except 
among a few of the more intelligent, all the les 
sons are lost even of experience : the waste of 
experience being, perhaps, attributable to the 
imperfections of the recollecting faculty. But 
the mind of man stretches before and after. 
Reason brings events that are passed to bear 
upon the future. It not only draws upon expe 
rience, but on imagination. The field of its 
influence is boundless as the range of thought. 
Observant of consequences, it presents them to 
the inquirer.. It abstracts pains and pleasures 
from the dross that surrounds them ; it analyses 


their value by dividing them into their compo 
nent parts, or gathers them up into a whole in 
order to ascertain the sum total. It compares 
them one with another when they are arranged 
on different sides, generalizes out of the col 
lected elements, and deduces the ultimate re 
sult. In this way do the intellectual faculties 
become the most important servants of virtue, 
leading men into the true and trust-worthy paths 
of felicity. 

Hume introduces his intellectual faculties 
without any arrangement or order. They may, 
however, be conveniently classed. 

First : Passive Faculties. I Those which 
operate, without need of much attention or com 
parison, on more than one object. 

1. Perception the source of all the other 

2. Memory becomes active when attention 
is applied to it. 

3. Imagination a passive quality, for it is 
busy even in dreams ; when active, it becomes 

II. Operating on two or more objects, but 
still without need of much attention. 

1. Judgment as in the case of vision. 

Second : Faculties active volitional. 

I. Operating without need of the judgment 
on more than one object. 

VOL. i. T 


1. Attention. 

2. Observation which is attention applied 
to a particular object. 

II. Requiring the assistance of the judg 
ment, and the presence of more than one 

1. Abstraction. 

2. Analysis. 

3. Synthesis, or combination. 

4. Comparison. 

5. Generalization. 

6. Deduction. 

III. Requiring the presence of two or 
more of the active-volitional faculties, and of 
two or more objects. 

1. Distribution. 

2. Methodization. 

Invention is performed by the use of the other 
faculties, including attention in an intense de 
gree, under the direction of the judgment, and 
having for its object the discovery of some new 
fact, the production of some new effort, or the 
formation of some new combination of ideas. 

Communication, with which Hume closes his 
list, seems to have no right to be classed among 
the intellectual faculties. 

When the intellectual faculties are not, or 
cannot be called into operation, conduct is 
taken out of the regions of virtue and vice. In 


infancy, for example, before the mind is brought 
into action; in insanity, where the thinking 
powers are overthrown, there is no respon 
sibility, and, consequently, no title can be made 
out to praise or blame. In the case of tempo 
rary aberration of the reasoning powers, as 
under the influence of intoxication, the actor is 
not responsible for the act committed, while his 
judgment is, as it were, extinguished. It is a 
secondary consequence of a primary impru 
dence. In the case of insanity, the course to be 
pursued by society is clear, the power of 
voluntary action must be taken away. In the 
case of infancy, the demand for impunity must 
depend on the quantity of mind which is de 
veloped ; and it will be found that, at a very early 
age, the influence of pain, which is made to visit 
misconduct, may be brought into operation, and 
from the moment that such discipline becomes 
operative, there is a demand for its application. 
In the case of acts committed under the influ 
ence of inebriety, there is no claim to impunity, 
nor can any general rule be laid down which 
shall be applicable to every case. All the sanc 
tions must be consulted, in order to exact the 
sufficient penalties for the past, and to obtain 
the most appropriate securities for the future. 




To what does all we have been advocating tend ? 
To the development of two principles, first, 
the greatest happiness principle, or the diffusion 
of good, and, secondly, the disappointment- 
opposing principle, or the prevention of evil. 
Out of these two items all the branches of mo 
rality grow. 

It may be objected, that all our reasonings 
have not brought our principles into the field of 
demonstration. What then ! If our arguments 
should so regulate conduct as to produce a 
result which will leave no regret behind it, 
what more have we reason to desire ? Are 
they strong enough to communicate that balance 
of pleasure towards which they tend, and to 
which alone they look? What better should 
they do ? 

Whether they be of that kind to which we have 
been accustomed to give the name of the in 
tuitive, or of the demonstrative, or only of the 
probable, it is no matter ; the satisfaction they 


give us is perfect; and, whatever be their name, 
their success could be no more. 

Give them the name of demonstration or any 
other, what matters it ? It is not the name we 
are concerned in, but the thing. 

There is however something at the bottom of 
all this anxiety. What men want to know is, 
the degree of assurance they are warranted 
to indulge. What evidence is there that this 
morality is the true morality? 

Call the sort of proof men have of a proposi 
tion, demonstration, they may be positive 
without being exposed to accusations of rash 
ness either from themselves or any one else. 

No one can have present to his mind the 
proof of every proposition, how true soever, 
which he believes. It is for want of the thing, 
that men are so anxious about the word. 

No man, how philosophical, how scrupulous 
soever, but believes infinitely more propositions 
upon trust than upon perception : the only 
difference in this particular between the philo 
sopher and the no-philosopher, or in short be 
tween the wise man and the weak is, that the 
latter rests upon authority conclusively, in the 
last as well as in the first instance ; the former 
always keeps open the appeal to reason, that is, 
to his own perceptions. The judgments of the 
first, upon hearing the report of authority, are 


provisional; the judgments of the latter are 

But of demonstration certain propositions are 
not susceptible. The proposition that happi 
ness is better than unhappiness cannot be sub 
jected to mathematical proof. But let him who 
impugns the doctrine impugn our reasonings. 
It is the only axiom we desire to have taken for 
granted, and this is to make a very small 
demand upon confidence or upon credulity. 

The march of utilitarian principles has been 
obvious. They have made their way by their 
native strength and excellence. How should 
men be better occupied than in tracing the con 
sequences of conduct? Observation brought 
with it its corresponding results. 

Men perceived such and such actions were 
useful ; they perceived such and such other 
actions were mischievous. They took a parti 
cular action, of the sort, for instance, that was 
mischievous : by abstracting the particular 
circumstances of time, of place, of parties, they 
formed a general idea ; to that general idea they 
gave a name ; that name constituted a genus to 
which other acts of the same nature were refer 
red in common. If any one took into consider 
ation that genus or species of action (no matter 
which we call it) and said of it that it was mis 
chievous, the proposition in which he said as 


much, the proposition in which he predicated 
mischievousness of action formed a maxim of 

But it is not probable that people put the 
quality of an action that affected them upon 
this conspicuous footing, in the early times 
of which we are speaking; those times which 
preceded the formation of laws. Men in gene 
ral are not arrived so far even now. They ex 
pressed their sentiments in some such obscure 
terms as * right or * fitting/ terms which served 
only to express their disapprobation, and not 
the ground of it. It is one thing (how strange 
soever the proposition may appear, expe 
rience has taught the truth of it), it itf one 
thing for men to feel pain from an act, and mark 
that act accordingly with a sentiment of disap 
probation ; and another thing to fix explicitly 
upon that pain as the cause of that disapprobation. 

Nothing can be idler than the appeal to anti 
quity as authority. In the midst of some truths 
there are a thousand fallacies. The light to be 
found shines by contrast with surrounding 
darkness. Of instruments of delusion, erudition 
has frequently made use of the most baleful. 
True, such language was held, such opinions 
were professed by self-styled philosophers. 
What then? For, if from their language no 
practical conclusion can be drawn, if from their 


opinions no result of good can be elicited, where 
is their value ? Men there are whose preach 
ing conies to this : 

Read modern books less and ancient more. 
Go for the moral sciences to Aristotle, to Plato. 
For metaphysics, not to Locke, but still to Aris 
totle. For Botany, not to Linnaeus, but to 
Theophrastus to ./Elian. 

This is precisely the way to talk of everything 
and know nothing; to be as much farther from 
knowledge in almost every science as a child 
who cannot tell his letters is from the most 
intelligent professor. 

Life is not long enough to store the mind with 
the facts that form the stock of the several sci 
ences, were no propositions presented but what 
are true and those dressed in their simplest garb. 
Yet many men would send us to rake in books in 
which, for ten propositions evidently false, and ten 
times the number of unintelligible ones, you will 
scarcely find a single one that is true, and that one 
dished out over and over again in the meanest 
modem compilation on the subject you can lay 
your hands on :) you may turn over whole vo 
lumes of antiquity without discovering a solitary 
truth to make you amends for your pains. 

To make this any but the most absurd ( as it 
is one of the most pernicious.species of prejudice, 
the whole order of nature must be reversed. 


The acorn must be larger than the oak it will 
become. A man must be wiser in his mother s 
womb than in the vigour of his manhood. Every 
thing must be supposed to grow backwards. 
New experiences added to the subsisting stock 
must lessen the number there existed before, 

It is scarcely possible to believe a man to 
stand bona fide on so noxious a system. If he 
do, grieve over him, but treat him as an enemy 
to knowledge, and to that happiness which is 
founded upon knowledge. The public interests 
demand that his notions rise not into credit. 

A man thinks not so highly of Plato as he 
deserves. What is the consequence ? Nothing. 
A man thinks more highly of Plato than he 
deserves. What is the consequence ? He goes 
and reads him. He tortures his brains to find 
meaning where there is none. He moves hea 
ven and earth to understand a writer who did 
not understand himself, and he crawls out of 
that mass of crudities with a spirit broken by dis 
appointment and humiliation. He has learned that 
falsehood is truth, and nonsense is sublimity. 

Of all the works that can be imagined, there 
could scarcely be a more useful one than an in 
dex expurgatorius* (but the composer of it must 
be a writer of sufficient eminence to give law to 
men s opinions) of the books which have bewil 
dered and betrayed mankind. 


If the theory of morals which has been here 
developed, has in it any value, that value will 
be found in its simplicity, intelligibleness, and 
universal applicability. But let it not be sup 
posed, because a standard has been recom 
mended by which the multitudinous questions of 
right and wrong are measured and decided, that 
the discovery of this standard, and of its all- 
Comprehensive fitness has been unattended with 
laborious meditation and inquiry. The merit 
of deep thought consists, not in compelling the 
reader to descend into the profound well of truth, 
there to draw for himself of its healthful and 
refreshing waters; but in its having enabled the 
writer to descend and to bring up for the use of 
others the invigorating draught. There is little 
due to the man who sends another forth in search of 
undiscovered truth ; but he has established some 
claim to the good opinion of his fellow men who, 
having gone forth in pursuit of the treasure, 
brings it home and delivers it over to the keep 
ing of all who are willing to receive it at his 

Of the merits of a work of which truth is the 
object we cannot have an adequate idea nor a 
perfect relish without some acquaintance with 
the errors against which it is levelled and which 
it is calculated to displace. With respect to 
many, the apparent merit of such a work vill 


be apt to be in an inverse proportion to the real. 
The better it answers its purpose of making an 
abstruse subject plain, the more apt it will be 
to appear to have nothing in it that is extra 

A single observation that seems to contain 
nothing more than what every body knew 
already, may turn volumes of specious and for 
midable fallacy into waste paper. 

The same book may succeed ill with different 
sorts of people for opposite reasons : by the 
ignorant, who have no opinion about the matter, 
it may be thought lightly of, as containing 
nothing that is extraordinary ; by the false learn 
ed, who have prejudices they cannot bear to 
have questioned, it may be condemned as para 
doxical, for not squaring with these prejudices. 







IF the intentions of the Author and of the Editor 
have been accomplished, this volume will be 
found to be nothing but an application of the 
Greatest-Happiness Principle to the field of 
morals. When the principle first presented 
itself to Mr Bentham s mind, he denominated 
it the Utilitarian Theory ; but he soon discovered 
that the phrase did not immediately present to 
the views of others, the ideas which he attached 
to it ; namely, that any thing is useful only in 
as far, and in as much as it promotes the hap 
piness of man. Happiness being the end and 
object to be kept constantly in view, the word 
Utility did not necessarily bring with it felicity 
as its associate- It can hardly be without inter 
est to trace the influences of the Greatest-Hap 
piness Principle upon Mr Bentham s philosophy, 
from the period when it first occupied his seri- 


ous thoughts, until it became the master-key 
which he applied to unlock all the intricacies of 
moral and political science. 

It was indeed his directing post, which he 
consulted in all the walks of life, whether pub 
lic or private ; the oracle, to whose voice he 
unhesitatingly and on all occasions deferred, 
both in his individual capacity, when seeking 
guidance for his own steps, and as one of the 
community endeavoring to mark out for others 
the path of popular wisdom and virtue. In 
every part of the field of thought and action he 
invoked its aid and counsel : he appealed to it 
for its laws, and for the reasons of those laws, 
and registered its responses for the use and 
government of his fellow men. 

To himself he suggested it, and to others he 
recommended it, not only as an end to be pro 
posed, but as a means of attaining that end, 
and as a motive to impel men to its pursuit, 
It was to him a storehouse of arguments, 
objects, instruments, and rewards. 

He did not leave his purpose clouded in a 
vague, misty and general phraseology, but drew 
forth from the regions of happiness and misery 
all those pleasures and pains of which happiness 
and misery are composed, and of which man s 
nature is susceptible. In the pleasures which 
the human being can enjoy, in the pains from 


which the human being can be exempted, he 
found the elements of the science he taught. 
To calculate their number, to weigh their value, 
to estimate their results, was the object in 
which he was perpetually engaged; and to ga 
ther up the greatest possible quantity of felicity 
for every man, whether by alleviating suffering 
or increasing enjoyments, was the great busi 
ness of his life. 

These pains and pleasures when applied to 
the business of government, whether legislative 
or administrative, are but so many elementary 
parts of the stock employable by rulers in the 
manufacture of human happiness. 

The history of the Utilitarian Principle, is the 
history of contributions to the stock of happi 
ness; it is the history of what has been done, 
from time to time, to improve and perfect the 
operations of which enjoyment is the result. 
The finished work is felicity, and every instru 
ment and every workman assisting in its pro 
duction, or producing it in a more complete and 
enduring shape, is intitled to the honor of co 
operation or of discovery. 

Those literary works which have led to the 
efficient application of the instruments of happi 
ness, those instructions by which advances 
have been made from the speculative and unem 
ployed principle, towards its use in the business 

VOL. i. u 


of life, must be considered among the most im 
portant auxiliaries in the furtherance of the 
triumphs of felicity. 

The earliest known mention of the principle 
is to be found in the 3rd Satire of Horace (book 
first), written a few years before the birth of 
Christ. The poet speaks of the opinions held 
by the Stoics, that all misdeeds (peccata} stand 
on the same level in the scale of ill desert, or 
rather should be visited with the same amount 
of blame, and thus pursues the topic 

Queis paria esse fere placuit peccata, laborant 

Quum ventum ad verum est : sensus moresque repugnant ; 

Atque ipsa utilitasjusti prope mater et <equi. 

Men s feelings, customs, and utility itself are, 
he declares, in hostility with the Stoic theory. 
And he is right : the observation, as far as it 
goes, if not profound, it is at least correct. It 
proposes an end; the end to which justice and 
equity lead and are subservient; and yet more, 
he avows that, if our ideas of justice and equity 
are right, they will have their source in utility. 

At a somewhat later period than that in which 
Horace flourished, Phaedrus taught a somewhat 
similar doctrine. 

Nisi utile est quod faceris, stulta est gloria. 

Your glory is foolish, unless it is obtained by usefulness. 

But, in both Horace and Phsedrus, the men- 


tion of utility as a motive to conduct appears 
rather accidental than otherwise. Neither of 
them seems to have understood the value and 
importance of the doctrine they put forward. 
In neither case does it occupy the position of a 
great and important principle. It was adopted 
by no sect ; it was avowed, followed, worshipped 
by no votaries. It was wholly in an embryo 
state. It had no influential, no presiding power ; 
it had not obtained a place in the Elysian fields, 
among those aphorisms, written in letters of 
light, which ./Eneas found Anchises passing 
under review. Unvalued and unheeded, it re 
mained, like the truth which dropped by chance 
from the heedless pen of Aristotle, that all 
ideas have their origin in the senses; another 
magnificent principle whose consequences were 
hidden from the perception of many, many gene 
rations. Locke was the first to discern the 
value of an observation, whose development 
enabled him to subvert the universal empire 
usurped by so-called logic, under the command 
of Aristotle himself, while David Hume, in 1742, 
gave importance to the word Utility. 

Hume s Essays recognised Utility as a prin 
ciple. He employed the word with much indis 
tinctness, sometimes representing the idea of 
usefulness usefulness considered as conducive- 
ness to an end, no matter what ; sometimes as 


synonymous with conduciveness to happiness as 
an end. On no occasion does he intimate, that 
the idea of happiness is to be inseparably con 
nected with the idea of utility. He speaks of it 
as * inhering to a machine, a piece of furniture, 
a vestment, a house/ where these are useful 
by being conducive to the end that is sought. 
He mentions pleasure and pain, but no where 
does he present pleasures and exemptions from 
pains as the elements, whose aggregate is desig 
nated by the word happiness. He introduces, 
without any attempt to show their relationship 
or dependence, pleasures, pains, desires, emo 
tions, affections, passions, interests, virtues, 
vices, and other entities, in the direst confusion, 
looking like so many equestrians in the ride cal 
led Rotten Row ; or dancing before the eyes, as 
atoms in the sunshine, undefined and indistinct. 
The reference to a pleasure is like the reference 
to utility, vague and unsatisfactory ; the refer 
ence to pain, exemption from which is at least as 
necessary to happiness as is the presence of plea 
sure, is even more vague and distant. No trace is 
visible of that analysis by which one sort of plea 
sure or pain is distinguishable from another. 
Of the elementary component parts of every 
mass of good and evil, whether pure or mixed, 
no account is taken ; no criterion of right or 
wrong is advanced; no answer found for the 


question, What ought to be done, and what 
left undone ? And so as to virtues, of par 
ticular virtues, names in great abundance are 
scattered here and there; but as Horace s 
Satires placed misdeeds (peccata) all on the 
same level, so Hume arranges his virtues in 
the same line, drawing no boundary between 
them, giving no rules by which they are to 
be distinguished from one another. Classified, 
indeed, they are, but their classification is of 
no assistance to the great and only important 
inquiry, as to the proportions in which they 
are conducive to happiness. The propositions 
that Hume has put forward are thus, for the 
most part, vague generalities, a dangerous and 
unsatisfactory result, affording no information 
to the ignorant, and no comfort to the perplexed 

From a mind so acute, and with no interests 
opposed to the interests of truth, something 
better might have been expected. If, in the 
field of law, the whole herd of ordinary writers 
are rather engaged in ascertaining what was 
or is, instead of what ought to be, their pursuit 
is not to be wondered at. The practice, and 
not the philosophy of law, is to them the 
source of gain ; but it is sorely to be lamented, 
that David Hume should have so missed his 
mark as not to have seen that pains and plea- 


sures were susceptible of different estimates ; 
that they represented different values ; that 
good and evil were undefined, and really unin 
telligible phrases, until they could be divided 
into their component parts ; that happiness 
itself was but a chimera, until the elements of 
which it is made up could be rendered acces 
sible to investigation. Hume has left the great 
moral questions in the regions of speculation ; 
no part of them has he made applicable to 
useful purpose by intelligible and distinguish 
ing marks. He has exhibited his theory like a 
mist in the air, a cloud floating at different levels ; 
but never in the form of dew or rain descending 
on the earth : it tantalizes the weary traveller, 
without contributing any thing towards his 

Hume, however, did this great service. He 
pointed out utility as the foundation or corner 
stone of a system of morals. He put it for 
ward, in contra-distinction to the ground-work 
on which another set of philosophers built their 
ethical theories ; that ground-work being what 
they denominated the moral sense. It was 
something to bring the two principles into 
contrast. When thoroughly investigated, they 
were far as the poles asunder, the moral-sense 
principle being only one of the forms of dicta 
tion and dogmatism, resolvable into the moral 


sense or opinion of the individual ; while the 
principle of utility almost certainly directed 
the thoughts towards, if it did not necessarily 
lead them into, the regions of pain and pleasure ; 
and hence of vice and virtue. 

In 1749, Hartley published the first edition 
of his work on Man. In it he gave the true 
meaning of happiness, by showing that it is 
composed of those elements which the differ 
ent pleasures furnish. He translated, so to 
speak, the language of felicity into the lan 
guage of pain and pleasure. He made out a 
list of pleasures and a parallel list of pains, 
but saw not the bearing of the whole on the 
Greatest-Happiness Principle, nor referred to it 
under that name, nor under the name of utility, 
nor under any other name, as the all-directing 
guide in the walk of public and private life. 
He advanced beyond his forerunners, and then 
stopped short in sight of the shore, upon which 
he never landed. This work of Hartley s, Dr 
Priestley popularized to a certain extent in an 
after edition, from which he expunged what, 
in the quaint phraseology once in vogue, was 
called the. quisquilious matter/ 

Helvetius wrote, in 1758, his work De 
r Esprit, a title for which no adequate transla 
tion has been found in our language ; the word, 
unfortunately, having no English equivalent. 


Great indeed was the contribution which that 
book brought to the science of morals and 
legislation; but it would be most difficult, in 
a few sentences, or even pages, to convey a cor 
rect estimate of all it did, and all it left to do. 
For sometimes it blazes forth in the splendor 
of a mid-day sun, throwing light and truth over 
the whole domain of thought and action, anon 
that light is veiled in clouds of darkness, leav 
ing the gazer to wonder how it should be so 
suddenly withdrawn. There are to be found 
flashes of eloquence, rather than the steady 
lustre of reason ; the lightning that dazzles, for 
a moment, with more than needful splendor, 
which the oppressed eye would often fain ex 
change for that regular and quiet illumination 
which the ordinary lamps of evening provide. 

To that book, however, Mr Bentham has 
often been heard to say he stood indebted for 
no small portion of the zeal and ardor with 
which he advocated his happiness-producing 
theory. It was from thence he took encou 
ragement, flattering his efforts with the assur 
ance that they would not be useless. It was 
there he learned to persevere, in the conviction 
that his power would strengthen, and his field 
of usefulness extend. Not that Helvetius had 
done the work, which remained to do. He 
had not marshalled pains and pleasures, nor 


classified them according to their value; but 
he had brought prominently into view the 
influence of interest on opinion, and this was a 
point overflowing with important consequences. 
He laid bare many of those springs of action, 
the knowledge of which is absolutely essential 
to any thing like a right estimate of conduct 
or character. And in showing the subserviency 
of opinion to interest, he demonstrated not only 
that the opinions publicly advocated were sub 
servient, but those privately and even clan 
destinely formed. His list of the causes of 
misconduct, especially in public men, is as 
profoundly philosophical as it is sagaciously 
observant. Sinister interest, interest-begotten 
prejudice, authority-begotten prejudice, and 
primeval or inbred weakness, in these he saw, 
and in these all men may see, the sources of 
human infirmity. 

Helvetius thus applied the principle of utility 
to practical use ; to the direction of human 
conduct in the ordinary course of life. On that 
airy nothing, happiness, he conferred a sub 
stantial existence by identifying it with plea 
sures, to which he gave a local habitation and 
a name/ He made utility pregnant with plea 
sure, and thus it gave birth to ideas in abun 
dance ; ideas of a positive and intelligible cha 
racter; ideas so successfully elicited, so attrac- 


lively recommended, that they could not but be 
continually present and familiar to the most 
inattentive, unobservant, and scantily-instructed 

Dr Priestley published his Essay on Govern 
ment in 1768. He there introduced, in italics, as 
the only reasonable and proper object of govern 
ment, the greatest happiness of the greatest 
number. It was a great improvement upon 
the word utility. It represented the principal 
end, the capital, the characteristic ingredient. 
It took possession, by a single phrase, of every 
thing that had hitherto been done. It went, 
in fact, beyond all notions that had preceded it. 
It exhibited not only happiness, but it made 
that happiness diffusive; it associated it with 
the majority, with the many. Dr Priestley s 
pamphlet was written, as most of his produc 
tions, currente calamo, hastily and earnestly, 

Somehow or other/ to use the words taken 
from Mr Bentham s lips, when he was talking 
over with the writer what he called the " Adven- 
" tures of the Greatest-Happiness Principle, its 
" parentage, birth, education, travels, and his- 
" tory," Somehow or other, shortly after its 
publication, a copy of this pamphlet found its 
way into the little circulating library belonging 
to a little coffee-house, called Harper s coffee- 
house, attached, as it were, to Queen s College, 


4 Oxford, and deriving, from the popularity of 
4 that college, the whole of its subsistence. It 

* was a corner house, having one front towards 

* the High street, another towards a narrow lane, 

* which on that side skirts Queen s College, 
4 and loses itself in a lane issuing from one of 
4 the gates of New College. To this library 
4 the subscription was a shilling a quarter, or 
4 in the University phrase, a shilling a term. 

* Of this subscription the produce was composed 
4 of two or three newspapers, with magazines 
4 one or two, and now and then a newly-pub- 
4 lished pamphlet ; a moderate-sized octavo was 
4 a rare, if ever exemplified spectacle: composed 
4 partly of pamphlets, partly of magazines, half- 
4 bound together, a few dozen volumes made 
4 up this library, which formed so curious a 
4 contrast with the Bodleian Library, and those 
4 of Christ s Church and All Soul s. 

4 The year 17G8 was the latest of the years in 
4 which I ever made at Oxford a residence of 
4 more than a day or two. The motive of that 
4 visit was the giving my vote, in the quality of 
4 Master of Arts, for the University of Oxford, 
4 on the occasion of a parliamentary election ; 
4 and not being at that time arrived at the age of 
4 twenty-one, this deficiency in the article of age 
4 might have given occasion to an election contest 
4 in the House of Commons, had not the majority 


been put out of doubt by a sufficient number of 
votes not exposed to contestation. This year, 
1768, was the latest of all the years in which 
this pamphlet could have come into my hands. 
Be this as it may, it was by that pamphlet, and 
this phrase in it, that my principles on the sub- 
ject of morality, public and private together, 
were determined. It was from that pamphlet 
and that page of it, that I drew the phrase, the 
words and import of which have been so widely 
diffused over the civilized world. At the sight 

* of it, I cried out, as it were in an inward ecstasy, 
like Archimedes on the discovery of the funda- 
mental principle of hydrostatics, Evpwa. Little 
did I think of the correction which, within a 
few years, on a closer scrutiny, I found myself 
under the necessity of applying to it. 

Long before this period, the mind of Bentham 
had been taken possession of by the Utilitarian 
principle. At a very early age, he had been 
annoyed beyond measure, and scarcely less 
annoyed than disgusted, by what he then called 
4 Ciceronian trash. 

I had not completed my thirteenth year, to 
use his own words, when at Queen s College, 
Oxford, the task was imposed on me, not, in- 
deed, by my academical instructors, but by a 
not less irresistible authority, the task of ren- 
dering into English that work of Cicero which 


* is known by the title of The Tusculan Ques- 

* tions, or Tusculan Dissertations. Pain, I there 

* learnt, was no evil. Virtue was, and is, of 
itself, sufficient to confer happiness on any man 
who is disposed to possess it on these terms. 
What benefit, in any shape, could be derived 
4 from impregnating the memory with such non- 
sense? What instruction from a self-contradic- 
tory proposition, or any number of any such 

* propositions ? When it happens to a man to 
have a pain, whether in the head or the great 
toe, or any intermediate part of the bodily 
frame, can he, by saying to himself or to any 

* body else, that pain is no evil, drive the pain 
away, or diminish it at all ? 

As to virtue, to have shown in how many dif- 
ferent ways, or though it were but one way, it 
contributes, as it really does, to happiness, this 
would have been of some use, and might have 
been made of great use. But to say that vir- 
tue is .of itself to produce and maintain happi- 
ness, whatsoever be a man s condition in other 
respects, is merely giving utterance to a 
position directly in the teeth of universal and 

* constant experience. To have given a definition 

* to the word virtue would have been something, 
and this is what the Greatest-Happiness Prin- 
ciple will enable a man to do. But if you see 

* a man suffering under a fit of the gout, or the 



stone, or the tic-douloureux, to inform hint that 

* he is happy, or that if he is not, it is for want of 

* virtue, would this be any relief to him? Would 
*l it not rather be a cruel mockery and insult ? 

This was the sort of trash which a set of men 
used to amuse themselves with talking while pa- 
rading backwards and forwards in colonnades, 
called porches : that is to say, the Stoics, so 
called from stva, the Greek name for a porch. 
In regard to these the general notion has been, 
that compared with our contemporaries in the 

* same ranks, they were, generally speaking, a 
good sort of men ; and assuredly, in all times, 

* good sort of men, talking ; all their lives long, 
nonsense, in an endless variety of shapes, never 
have been wanting ; but that, from talking non- 

* sense in this or any other shape, they or their 
successors have, in any way or degree, been 

* the better, this is what does not follow. 

Mr Bentham s Fragment on Government was 
published in 1776. It produced no little sen 
sation in the world. The fame of Black- 
stone s Commentaries was at its very height, 
and it was the first successful attempt to lower 
the reputation, and curtail the influence of that 
eloquent flatterer of all English abuses ; that 
indiscriminating worshipper of good and evil. 
Dr Johnson attributed the work to Dunning ; and 
Mr Bentham confesses that he had, to a great 



extent, made Running s style the model of his 
own, having been struck by its * precision, cor 
rectness, clearness, guardedness in expression, 
and closeness in argumentation. The imme 
diate object of the Fragment* was, to destroy 
the foolish fable of original contract/ upon which 
lawyers had been long in the habit of raising 
the edifice of government ; and the instrument 
used for the overthrow of an assumption so 
groundless was the principle of utility, and 
with that principle in hand complete was the 
demolition of the great Commentator s theory. 
In the Fragment/ however, the language of hap 
piness is not substituted to that of utility, both 
terms are employed, as if convertible, and trans 
lated, as it were, one into the other. Beyond 
this primary step the Fragment* did not proceed. 
Neither was the word utility, nor the word hap 
piness analysed into its component elements. 
Pains and pleasures are not brought into view, 
still less are they divided into their different 
species, or classified according to their separate 
or com parative value. Mr Bentham has often 
said, so intimate in his own mind was then the 
association between utility and happiness, that 
he could scarcely fancy the ideas separated in 
the mind of any man. Whatever was left un 
done by the Fragment/ it succeeded in anni 
hilating the original contract scheme. Mr 


Bentham s first quarrel with the dogma grew 
from his observation of the purposes to which it 
was turned, in order to justify law-abuses, and 
to oppose the most necessary reforms in the 
administration of justice. The dogma had been 
introduced into the world under the sanction of 
John Locke s great name ; but before Bentham 
had attained the age of sixteen he was dis 
gusted, while sitting at the feet of Blackstone, 
by the use which that smooth sophist made of 
it in his lectures for the justification of the abo 
minations of misrule. I determined to grapple 
with it, he says, in one of his memoranda ; I 
determined to fling it to the grou:!, ! did so, 
and no man has since ventured to raise it up, 
and give support to it/ 

The ascetic philosophy received a mortal 
wound from Mr Bentham, by his exposure of 
it in the Introduction to Morals and Legis 
lation. No man is, perhaps, now to be found 
who would contend, that the pursuit of pain 
ought to be the great object of existence, how 
ever he might deem the infliction of certain 
pains upon himself meritorious and virtuous. No 
man will now deny, that there are occasions on 
which pleasure may reasonably and morally be 
pursued as an end, or on which the avoidance of 
pain may be alike an interest and a duty. But 
he who contends that the pursuit of a balance 


of pleasure is an offence in any case, is bound 
to produce that case, and to show the grounds 
of its exception from the general rule. On him 
the onus probandi rests with all its force. In 
the monkish ages the demon of asceticism ruled 
in his sanguinary power. That demon was alike 
the creator of misery and the father of lies. 
Come what may of the Greatest-Happiness Prin 
ciple, its open antagonist is silenced for ever. 

In fact, asceticism is characterised by every 
thing that is mischievous, absurd, inconsistent, 
and self-contradictory, all heightened in the 
very proportion in which the ascetic principle is 
called into action. What is mischievous, if it 
be not mischievous to create misery ? What is 
absurd, if not the doctrine which would induce 
its supporter to dash his head against the wall, 
since, according to him, to create suffering is 
the proper ultimate end of human action? What 
is inconsistent, unless a creed be so which is 
belied by every practice of a man s existence ? 
And what is self-contradiction but absurdity 
and inconsistency, exhibited in their most fla 
grant forms, and pushed to all the extremes of 
folly and delusion ? 

But to dispose of the indirect antagonists of 
the Greatest-Happiness Principle is not quite 
so easy. Ipse-dixitism is a very Proteus, assum 
ing every conceivable shape which caprice and 

VOL. i. x 


arrogance can form or fancy. Its progenitor 
is despotism ; its offspring every species of 

John Locke s misconceptions of the end and 
object of government were not only exhibited 
in his * original contract* theory, but in the ex 
tremely narrow \iew taken by him of the 
regions of pains and pleasures, and by that 
notion of his that morals and politics are ex 
plainable by the mere exhibition of the rela 
tions which one word bears to another. Again, 
his doctrine respecting uneasiness as the cause 
of action as if a man enjoying certain plea 
sures could not seek other pleasures in addition, 
shows how vaguely the ideas of pleasure pre 
sented themselves to his mind. By his theory 
of the original contract, an end of government 
is advocated independently and in preference 
to that of its conduciveness to the felicity of the 
community. And this end, even were it a fact, 
and not the fable, the fiction, and the falsehood 
which it is, would be wholly unworthy to com 
pete with the Greatest-Happiness Principle. 
For though in most cases observance of con 
tracts is demanded by that principle, yet their 
observance in every conceivable case would be 
destructive of it. Suppose a contract entered 
into by one individual for the commission of a 
crime, must that contract be deemed sacred? 


And what must be said of the contrivance by 
which every body would be bound to a con 
tract, the operation of which might be the 
destruction of pleasures, and the continuation of 
pains, even after experience had proved that 
the pleasures might be preserved and the pains 
alienated by setting the contract aside ? 

It is by thus substituting a partial and subor 
dinate, to the only legitimate and comprehen 
sive end of government, that misrule has found 
a terrible instrument of power. By this sort of 
appeal to promise, and to contract, adherence 
and support have been given to principles and 
conduct the most deleterious and maleficent. 

By fear or hope, in a word, by corruption in 
any shape, exercised by a ruler or rulers, decla 
rations are extorted to \vlv\c\x \\\e sanction o? an 
oath is frequently given, that a particular line of 
conduct shall, at all events and under all circum 
stances, be maintained. Such promises are among 
the strongest holds that despotism has upon its 
devotees, and hence the quarrel of despotism 
with the Greatest-Happiness Principle. As a 
matter of history, such engagements have rarely 
been entered into between rulers and nations, 
and if they had they would be of no value ; no 
more binding on posterity than the engagements 
of a drunken man. If the engagement were con 
sonant with the Greatest-Happiness Principle, 



the recognition of that principle would be far 
better than the engagement ; if opposed to it, 
if the object or practical end be the production 
of crime, evil, or human suffering, removable 
by its removal, who will contend for its 
continuance ? 

If there be cause for mourning in the world, 
it is that men of powerful talents, comprehensive 
minds, and generous affections, are so often 
engaged in closing their own eyes, or the eyes 
of others, and keeping them closed against the 
light of reason and experience ! 

In holding up to view the rights of property 
as the sole foundation for justice, Locke had lost 
sight of a great variety of other topics, upon 
which maleficence might be exercised by indi 
viduals that maleficence requiring in conse 
quence to be inhibited by governments. Power, 
reputation, condition in life, exemption from 
pains, and other possessions, (for language does 
not give an apter word) which demand protec 
tion from the civil and the penal code, are pas 
sed over in silence. 

Sad, unguarded, infelicitous, was in truth 
that ill-considered definition, that attempt to 
lay with such loose materials the foundation of 
human happiness, as resting alone upon justice 
and the rights of property. Sad the triumphs 
which, by a designing and uncandid antagonist, 


might on this occasion have been reaped over 
that honest, candid, and in every respect amia 
ble mind ! Property the only thing intitled to 
be the object of care to government ! Posses 
sors of property, accordingly, the only persons 
intitled to be objects of that same care ! The 
possessor of property the only person intitled 
to be represented in and by a representative 
body forming part and parcel of the sovereign 
authority ! The poor, in a body, held up as 
a community which the rich, in a body, are 
intitled to make slaves of, and for ever treat as 
such ! Corporeal slavery, a state of things still 
worse, perhaps, than political slavery ; a state 
of things the production and maintenance of 
which is a proper object of government! The 
meridian of the West Indies is the meridian where 
the supposed champion of liberty and good 
government would find a striking application 
of his theory! For, indeed, with but too much 
reason might the theory of John Locke have 
been employed for the defence of slavery, for 
the defence of boundless mischief, for the 
defence of boundless misery. 

The case is, that in the mind of this philoso 
pher, to whom, after all, the debt owed by 
mankind is so indisputable, real and extensive, 
experience had not at that time at least, gone 
beyond aristocracy, the opulent rulers and influ- 


ential few ; the people, the unopulent and 
subject many, had not as yet fallen within the 
sphere of his observation, or arrived at an ap 
parent importance necessary to the being num 
bered among the objects of his care. 

That, in respect of experience, such was the 
state of his mind, that in the application of that 
experience his views of morals, politics, and 
legislation, as the consequence, were very 
limited and imperfect, is evidenced in and by 
his constitution for one of the Carolinas : a per 
formance which from that day down to this has 
never been spoken of in any other character 
than that of a failure. 

He is, accordingly, the most adored of all the 
idols which, within the temple of British devo 
tion, lay claim to the worship of those whose 
political Bible is the matchless and all-perfect 
constitution emanating from the glorious Revo 
lution of 1688, with Protestant despotism and 
Catholic slavery among its immediate blessings. 

It was in 1785 that Paley published his 
Elements of Moral and Political Philosophy. He 
mentions the principle of utility, but seems to 
have no idea of its bearing upon happiness. 
And if he had any such idea, he was the last 
man to give expression to it. He wrote for the 
youth of Cambridge, of one of the colleges of 
which he was tutor. In that meridian, eyes 


were not strong enough, nor did he desire they 
should be strong enough, to endure the light 
from the orb of utilitarian felicity. Insincere 
himself, and the bold, oft-declared advocate of 
insincerity, what could be expected from his 
courage or his virtue? Over his bottle, those 
who knew him, knew that he was the self- 
avowed lover and champion of corruption, rich 
enough to keep an equipage, but not (as he 
himself declared) to keep a conscience. For 
the remaining twenty years of his life, his book 
was the text-book of the universities ; but he left 
the utilitarian controversy as he found it; not 
even honoring the all-beneficent principle with 
an additional passing notice, 

It was in the year 1789, that the Introduc 
tion to the Principles of Morals and Legislation 
appeared. Here, for the first time, are pains 
and pleasures separately defined, and regularly 
grouped; and the classification and definition of 
them is so complete for all ordinary purposes of 
moral and legislative investigation, that Mr 
Bentham, in after life, found little to modify or 
to add to in the list. By the side of the pains 
and the pleasures, the corresponding motives are 
brought to view, and a clear and determinate 
idea attached to the springs of action by show 
ing their separate operation. And, moreover, the 
author uncovers and sifts that phraseology which 


has done so much mischief in the field of right 
and wrong by the judgment of motives, instead of 
the judgment of conduct, so that the same motive 
is frequently spoken of in terms opposed to and 
incompatible with one another. Sometimes the 
eulogistic form is adopted, to convey sentiments 
of approbation ; sometimes the dyslogistic, to 
communicate sentiments of disapprobation ; 
sometimes the neutral, to avoid the expression 
of either praise or blame ; but in all cases these 
irrelevant and delusive adjuncts serve to bewil 
der inquiry, and to distort truth. Of this truly 
extraordinary and philosophical volume, it has 
chanced to the writer to hear the opinion of 
several of the most acute and distinguished 
men of the present day (not of the Utilitarian 
school) who, after a discussion as to what 
literary work ought to be considered the most 
remarkable intellectual production of the last 
century, unanimously decided that the Intro 
duction to the Principles of Morals and Legis 
lation T was intitled to that honor. In the later 
years of Mr Bentham s life he was far from 
deeming it complete. He had not taken man s 
interests and man s desires into his list, and he 
employed the phraseology of utility instead of 
that of happiness. 

The first part of Chrestomathia was published 
in 1810, the second part in the year following. 


Its principal object was, to bring together the 
several branches of art and science, and to 
exhibit their conduciveness to happiness; to 
point out their relationship to each other through 
this their common property, and to give the 
whole that direction which, as a result, should 
produce the maximization of felicity. It was 
as early as 17G9 that Bentham s mind was 
occupied with this topic. Even then he fancied 
that happiness might be made the common 
trunk to support all the branches of know 
ledge, forming together a perfect encyclopae 
dical tree. In Lord Bacon s writings he found 
planted the pristine tree ; it was in some sort 
improved by D Alembert ; but neither the 
English nor the French philosopher had taken 
any notice of that most useful of properties, 
to which all arts and sciences tend, and to 
which alone they are indebted for any value 
they possess. The trees they sought to plant 
had, however, never taken root, and, in the 
presence of Bentham s nobler production, must 
be considered as mere cumberers of the ground. 
It was in 1817 that The Table of the 
Springs of Action appeared. The purpose of 
the author was to facilitate comparisons of and 
observations on the mutual relations between 
pains and pleasures, inducements or motives, 
desires and interests. lie endeavored to make 


the list complete of all the elements that influ 
ence conduct. While, in his previous writings, 
pains, pleasures, and motives had been the 
principal topics of inquiry, Mr Bentham added, 
on this occasion, the corresponding desires and 
interests, proposing, as a means of consistency 
and completeness, the designation of each inte 
rest by a particular name. Helvetius had in 
some cases attached names to interests, and 
Mr Bentham proposed to perfect the nomen 
clature, and to assist the association between 
all the points of comparison, by presenting the 
topics in a tabular form. To these Tables he 
subjoined notes, explaining and giving deter 
minate expression to other psychological terms, 
such as passions, virtues, vices, moral good, 
moral evil, and so forth, showing their connec 
tion with the objects displayed in the Tables. 
Though the Greatest-Happiness Principle was 
constantly in view the now all-ruling influ 
ence in Mr Bentham s mind no reference is 
made to it by name in The Springs of Action/ 
This volume is, however, the evidence of a 
great progress in utilitarian philosophy. The 
operations of motives on conduct had been 
most lucidly explained in the Introduction to 
Morals and Legislation/ Motives, the source 
of action in all its modifications, are brought 
into association with all the pleasures and pains 


they are able to influence : a motive, in fact, 
being only the fear of some pain from a certain 
mode of action, which pain the will is urged 
to avoid, or the hope of a pleasure which the 
will is urged to create. The Springs of Ac 
tion did for interests what the * Introduction* 
did for motives ; they also drew the distinction 
between motives and desires. To each desire 
Bentham attached the adjectives by which the 
desire had been qualified, in order to suit the 
purpose of the speakers or writers who had 
occasion to refer to it, either in terms of praise 
or blame, the very same desire having ordinarily 
three designations, one laudatory, one vitupe- 
ratory, and the other neutral. 

Having observed the prodigious extent to 
which these collateral adjuncts are in use, as 
instruments of delusion and deception, espe 
cially in the hands of interested deceivers, it 
occurred to him that it would be a useful ser 
vice to mark out, and, as it were, give warning 
of the characteristic difference between the 
three classes, by means of appropriate deno 
minations. Accordingly, for the designation of 
the cas^ in which, to the idea of desire the 
idea of disapprobation, as existing in the mind 
of him who is speaking of it, is attached, he 
employed the epithet dyslogistic; as a synonyme, 
he might have added disapprobative: and, for 


the designation of the case in which, to the 
idea of desire, the idea of approbation, as exist 
ing in the mind of him who is speaking of it, 
is attached, he employed the epithet eulogistic ; 
as a synonyme, he might have added appro- 

Mr Bentham has mentioned, that, in all his 
pursuits and inquiries, one idea was constantly 
operating on his mind. !f Bacon, with his 
Experimentalize ! was justly honored for doing 
more than any man who had preceded him, for 
the diffusion of the philosophy of physics, Ben 
tham, with his ever-present maxim Observe! 1 
is intitled to the first rank among those who 
have successfully labored for the advancement 
of the philosophy of morals. 

The phenomena of the material world, not 
only as they present themselves, but also as 
they can be made to present themselves, 
together with the relations in the way of cause 
and effect that appear to have place between 
them, may, without reserve (so as injury to 
persons and things be avoided) be taken for 
subjects of experiment as well as observation, 
when applied to the material world : in the 
case of moral and political science, the proper 
subject-matters of observation are pains and 
pleasures, as they respectively result from 
the several modifications of which human con 


duct, or say human agency, is susceptible. 
Without reserve, these may be taken for sub 
ject-matters of observation : but, not without 
great reserve and caution, for subjects of expe 
riment ; especially in the case where the insti- 
tutor of the experiment is any other person 
than the sovereign, or a person or persons con 
stituted for the purpose, in authority under 
him. Accordingly, it is by the observation of 
the occasions on which, and shapes in which 
pain and pleasure result from the modes of 
agency respectively productive of them pains 
more especially that Mr Bentham ascertains 
the quantity and quality of the applications 
necessary as remedies for the evils which actions 
of the maleficent class bring in their train : 
and while the graphic pencil is engaged in 
the delineation of their respective qualities or 
forms, scales, with weights and measures, are 
at the same time to be kept employed in giving 
intimation of their respective quantities. 

In the application of legislation to the pur 
poses of life, the legislator has only the choice 
of evils. There can be no government without 
coercion ; no coercion without suffering ; and, 
separately considered, that coercion must be 
an evil. The punitory functions of government 
consist in the application of that evil to the 
individual misdoers, for the purpose of obtain- 


ing, in the interests of the community, an 
exemption from greater evils, or a production 
of pleasures of greater value than the sufferings 
created by its coercive interposition. 

It is thus that the Greatest-Happiness Prin 
ciple brings the legislator into the field of 
particular pains and pleasures, and the first 
emanation of that principle is the disappoint 
ment-prevention/ or, as Mr Bentham more 
habitually called it, the non-disappointment* 
principle. Upon this the laws of property have 
their sole foundation ; for if no disappointment 
were felt no pains suffered from the loss of 
property no demand would there be for penal 
visitation in cases of the violation of what are 
called the rights of property. Let disappoint 
ment, as far as possible, be prevented. Why pre 
vented ? Because disappointment cannot have 
place without pain. Inseparably connected 
with the idea of disappointment is that of 
expectation of agreeable expectation. The 
disappointment prevents the expectation from 
being realized. The legislator s business is to 
protect the subject from the sufferings of that 

An observation made to Mr Bentham by 
Lady Holland produced a great impression upon 
him. She said that his doctrine of utility 
put a veto upon pleasure ; while he had been 


fancying that pleasure never found so valuable 
and influential an ally as the principle of utility. 
It was clear, therefore, that the word utility* 
not only failed in communicating to other minds 
the ideas which Bentham attached to it, but 
that to some minds it communicated ideas 
wholly different and opposed to them. And 
true it i*, that unless the Greatest-Happiness 
Principle be recognized as the end, the doctrine 
of utility might be represented as useful to 
some other end. And if the pursuit of pleasure 
were assumed as worthy of disapprobation, 
utility would teach abstention from that pursuit. 
Dissatisfaction, therefore, with utilitarian phra 
seology, gradually increased in Bentham s 

The phrase greatest happiness of the great 
est number was first employed by Mr Bentham 
in 1822, in his Codification Proposal. Every 
suggestion there put forward is made to turn 
upon the requirements of the greatest happi 
ness of the greatest number. In this work, 
happiness, utility, pains and pleasures, are con 
stantly introduced for the purposes of explain 
ing one another ; and the augmentation of the 
felicity of all, by the increase of pleasures, and 
the exemption from pains, is the constantly pre 
sent theme. 

In our language, and in every known language, 


the advance of philosophy is greatly retarded 
by the want of appropriate expressions. If with 
the word utility * the idea of happiness could 
have been habitually and irrevocably associated, 
utilitarianism would have conveniently repre 
sented the Greatest-Happiness Principle, and 
* utilitarians 3 its advocates and supporters. And 
hitherto it has been almost necessary to use 
the terms which have indeed received a certain 
currency. Bentham once thought of proposing 
the employment of the word Eudaimonology, to 
represent the utilitarian doctrines, and Eudai- 
monologians its professors. To those acquainted 
with Greek the meaning would be sufficiently 
obvious ; but that acquaintance is so rare, that 
he did not venture to recommend the terms to 
general adoption. Besides, custom must be 
departed from in not rendering the word Euda- 
monology ; and in such a shape umbrage might 
be given to men of pious minds, who would 
possibly associate with it the idea of a doctrine, 
art, or science, of which devils were the sub 
ject. Hereafter, when the principle shall have 
made new conquests in other lands, and especi 
ally in those, the roots of whose languages are 
Latin, some terms may be found making way to 
general acceptance. Fettcitism, or Feliritarian- 
i snit Felicitists, or Felicitarians, may then put 
forward their claim. The word felicity has 


already two conjugates, to felicitate, and felt* 
citous* The increase of the number of conju* 
gates would be of important asvsistance to lan 
guage; but for our purpose the idea of greatest* 
is needful, and the Felicity-maximizing princi 
ple will, perhaps, be found the most convenient 
of all the terms hitherto employed. 

The Gothic branch of our language unfortu 
nately does not lend itself to the wants of the 
utilitarian. There is no making one word of 
* Greatest Happiness; still more difficult is it to 
extract from its roots the substitutes for those 
conjugates which the Latin will supply. 

The antagonist to the felicity-maximizing is, 
the ipse-dixit principle, and there is no reason 
why the ipse-dixit root should not produce all 
the branches necessary to discourse, as ipse- 
divitists, and ipse-dixitism. 

It is scarcely out of place, by the way, to 
state here, in answer to those who have so fre- 
quently animadverted on Mr Bentham s unusual 
terms, that there is no topic on which his mind 
was more habitually occupied than in the search 
of fit terms to convey his ideas. No man was 
ever more impressed with the importance of 
appropriate nomenclature, as the necessary 
instrument for logical reasoning, for introducing 
and disseminating correct ideas. It was the 
ambition of a Roman emperor to plant a word 

VOL. i. Y 


which should be allowed by after times to grow, 
Two words, at least, have been planted by 
Bentham, and adopted into our language, the 
adjective international, the noun codification, with 
its conjugates, to codify and codifiers; and 
though he can hardly be said to have introduced 
the verbs to maximize and to minimize, with their 
correspondent nouns, he has certainly given 
them that currency, and attached to them that 
value, which afford the assurance of their escap 
ing the doom of oblivion. 

But even the words which are every day in 
the mouth of every man are constantly employed 
without any accurate understanding of their 
precise or real meaning. Virtue and vice, justice 
and injustice, what are they ? By nothing but 
in connection with the Greatest-Happiness Prin 
ciple can any clear or useful application be 
made of them, or any of them. Whenever, 
indeed, they are employed, there is some refer 
ence, implied or expressed, to one of these prin 
ciples, the Greatest-Happiness Principle, or 
the principle directly opposed to it, that is, the 
ascetic principle, or the dogmatic principle of 
ipse-dixitism. For the end in view, the stand 
ard of right and wrong must be either happi 
ness or unhappiness, or else some opinion which 
is put forward as sufficient in itself to deter 
mine the standard. The appellative of ipse- 


dixitism is not a new one ; it comes down to us 
from an antique and high authority, it is the 
principle recognised (so Cicero informs us) by 
the disciples of Pythagoras. Ipse (he, the mas 
ter, Pythagoras), ipse dixit, he has said it ; the 
master has said that it is so ; therefore, say the 
disciples of the illustrious sage, therefore so it is. 

When the Introduction to Morals and Legis 
lation was published, Bentham imagined that 
the principle of sympathy and antipathy was to 
be considered the groundwork of one of the 
theories of morals. In after life, he discovered 
that this was only the dogmatic, or ipse-dixit 
principle divided into two branches : the 
branch of sympathy applying reward, that of 
antipathy, punishment ; but, wherever disasso 
ciated from the Greatest-Happiness Principle, 
being really nothing but the authority of the 
ipse-dixit doctrine. 

The principle of caprice was the appellative 
that afterwards occurred to, and has been em 
ployed by him for the designation of that branch 
of the ipse-dixit principle which applies to the 
civil, or non-penal branch of law, including 
every portion not comprised within the denomi 
nation of the penal ; the civil, or non-penal, 
over which, in his view of the matter, the non- 
disappointment principle presides. 

To return to virtue and vice. By virtue, 


under the direction of the Greatest-Happiness 
Principle, is understood that line of conduct and 
correspondent disposition, which is conducive to 
happiness : by vice, that which is conducive to 
unhappiness. In the case of the virtue one 
addition, however, and that productive of a 
limitative effect, requires to be made ; this is 
that of the sort of action denominated virtuous, 
the exercise requires more or less of self- 
denial : that is to say, of a sacrifice made of the 
present good, whether pleasure or exemption 
from pain, to some greater good to come. For 
keeping the position in question within the pale 
of truth, this limitative adjunct is altogether 
indispensable. And the evidence that it is so is 
irresistible. Among the actions, by the exercise 
of which the existence of the individual is con- 
tinued, and among them of those by which 
pleasure is experienced, or pain averted and 
excluded, small is the proportion of those by 
which virtue, in any shape, can with propriety 
be said to be exercised. Why? Because, in 
the exercise made of them, no self-denial, no 
sacrifice of the present to the future good is 
made. Thus it is, for example, with the plea 
sures of sense in general. 

But here comes in an objection. Suppose a 
man to have his appetites and desires of all 
sorts in such complete subjection, that, in the 


sacrifice of the lesser present to the greater 
future good, no uneasiness is experienced, 
nothing that can be called self -denial is prac 
tised. Of such a man will you say, that, in 
his mental frame virtue is on a lower level, in 
the scale of perfection, than in the case of one 
in whom the contest between the lesser present 
and greater future good, or, according to Dean 
Swift s emblem, the game of leap-frog between 
flesh and spirit, is continually renewed ? No, 
assuredly. But for this not less true is it, that 
to the applying with propriety to a man s habit 
and disposition the appellatives virtue and virtu 
ous, the supposition of the existence of reluc 
tance and self-denial in the character of an ac 
companiment of an ingredient in the habit is 
indispensable ; at the time in question no such 
unpleasant sensation has place, but at some 
anterior point of time it had place ; only in the 
intervening space of time it has been gradually 
worn away ; as a laborious exertion by long 
habit becomes pleasurable. 

The Greatest-Happiness Principle is not only 
attacked by prinriplr.s oprnly mid proflwt illy 

opposed to it ; it has had to suffer from covert 
and influential usurpers of its name and 
authority ; and from such sources it has 
perhaps been most injured. Reference has 
been made and homage paid to it by principles 


which have claimed alliance with it, while they 
have, in fact, been only subordinate to ipse- 
dixitism. This has been too ofjen the position 
of the preachers of Justice, men, who, under 
the cloak and covering of an attractive title, 
have generally strung together their directions 
precepts, mandates call them what you will 
saying to every body who will listen, Do so and 
so, for this is what is required by justice/ Two 
assumptions are here, and both are represen 
tatives of the ipse-dixit system: first, that 
justice is the proper and sufficient standard of 
reference ; and second, that this which you are 
required to do is dictated by justice, assump 
tions (need it be said ?) both unsupported by 
argument, both gratuitous and dogmatical. 

When Mr Godwin took Political Justice for 
the title of his well-known work, he committed 
an act of insubordination, not to say rebellion, 
or high treason, against the sovereignty of the 
only legitimate, all-ruling principle. 

Justice is subservient to the Greatest-Happi 
ness Principle, or it is not : its dictates teach 
the minimization of misery, and the maximiza 
tion of happiness, or they do not. If they do, 
and as far as they do, they are in accordance 
with that principle, and they represent it. 

But, suppose their dictates differ, suppose 
there is dissonance, hostility between the two, 


which is to succumb ? Justice or happiness, 
the end or the means ? 

In order to a proper intelligence and applica 
tion of the meaning of the word justice, it must 
be divided into its two branches, civil and 
penal ; for nothing can be more vague, obscure, 
and unsatisfactory, than the ideas attached to 
the word justice, as it is ordinarily applied. 

Civil justice is the recognition of proprietary 
rights in all their shapes, whether as objects of 
desire, or of possessed value. To invade the 
proprietor of them in his expectations or pos 
sessions, or to deprive him of them, is to create 
in his mind the pains of disappointment, pains, 
which the felicity-maximizing principle requires 
to be averted. This disappointment-preventing 
principle stands second in importance to the 
happiness-creating principle. 

The penal branch of civil justice presents a 
different aspect. Its purpose is to minimize 
wrongs. Its means are preventive, suppres- 
sive, satisfactive, and punitive. It is only in as 
far as wrongs are the cause of unhappiness that 
there is any demand for penalties. To reduce 
the aggregate of wrongs, and thereby the 
sources of suffering growing out of them, and 
to do this at the least cost of pain, is the de 
mand of that justice which is in alliance with 
the Greatest-Happiness Principle. But under 


* 3 * 3 -HrSTORY OT THE- -i /. .Ut. 

the Tiame of justice verjr : different objects, and 
those to be accomplished by very different ends, 
are frequently proposed, 1 

In the later years of Mr Bentham s life the 
phrase Greatest happiness of the greatest num 
ber appeared, on a closer scrutiny, to be want 
ing in that clearness and correctness which had 
originally recommended it to his notice and 
adoption. And these are the reasons for his 
change of opinion, given in his own words: 

Be the community in question what it may, 
divide it into two unequal parts ; call one of 
them the majority, the other the minority; lay 
out of the account the feelings of the minority ; 
include in the account no feelings but those of 
the majority, you will find, that to the aggre- 
gate stock of the happiness of the community, 
loss, not profit, is the result of the operation. 
Of this proposition the truth will be the more 
4 palpable, the greater the ratio of the number of 
the minority to that of the majority; in other 
words, the less the difference between the two 
unequal parts; and suppose the undivided parts 
equal, the quantity of the error will then be at 
* its maximum. 

Number of the majority suppose 2001, 
number of the minority, 2000. Suppose, in 
the first place, the stock of happiness in such 
sort divided, that by every one of the 4001 an 


equal portion of happiness shall be possessed. 
4 Take now from every one of the 2000 his share 
of happiness, and divide it any how among the 
2001 : instead of augmentation, vast is the 
diminution you will find to be the result. The 
feelings of the minority being, by the supposi- 
4 tion, laid intirely out of the account (for such, 
4 in its enlarged form, is the import of the propo- 
4 sition), the vacuum thus left may, instead of 
remaining a vacuum, be filled with unhappiness, 
4 positive suffering, in magnitude, intensity, and 

* duration taken together, the greatest which it is 
in the power of human nature to endure. 

4 Take from your 2000, and give to your 2001 
all the happiness you find your 2000 in pos- 
4 session of : insert, in the room of the happiness 
you have taken out, unhappiness in as large 
4 a quantity as the receptacle will contain : to 
the aggregate amount of the happiness pos- 
4 sessed by the 4001 taken together, will the 
4 result be net profit ? on the contrary, the whole 
4 profit will have given place to loss. How so ? 
because so it is, that such is the nature of the 

* receptacle, the quantity of unhappiness it is 
4 capable of containing, during any given portion 
of time, is greater than the quantity of hap- 
4 piness. 

4 At the outset, place your 4001 in a state of 
perfect equality, in respect of the means, 
VOL. i. x 


or say, instruments of happiness, and in par- 
ticular, power and opulence : every one of them 
in a state of equal liberty; every one indepen- 
dent of every other : every one of them pos- 
sessing an equal portion of money and money s 
worth : in this state it is that you find them, 
.Taking in hand now your 2000, reduce them 
to a state of slavery, and, no matter in what 
proportions of the slaves thus constituted, divide 
the whole number with such, their property, 
among your 2001; the operation performed, 
of the happiness of what number will an 
augmentation be the result? The question 
answers itself. 

* Were it otherwise, note now the practical 
application that would be to be made of it in 
the British Isles. In Great Britain, take the 
whole body of the Roman Catholics, make 
slaves of them, and divide them in any pro- 
portion, them and their progeny, among the 
whole body of the Protestants. In Ireland, 
take the whole body of the Protestants, and 
divide them, in like manner, among the whole 
body of the Roman Catholics. 

The danger of putting forward any proposi 
tion as a leading principle, other than that 
which would maximize felicity, consists in this 
that if it coincide with the greater principle 
it is supererogatory; if it do not coincide, it is 


pernicious. Any principle that is not subordi 
nate to it may be opposed to it, either diametri 
cally or collaterally. The ascetic principle, if 
all-comprehensive and consistent, may be evi 
denced as one of direct opposition, the ipse- 
dixit principles of all sorts may be ranked 
among the indirect opponents. Qui non sub 
me contra me. * He who is not under me is 
against me/ may be said with figurative or meta 
phorical truth by the Greatest-Happiness Prin 
ciple, and with literal truth by every one of its 
partisans. And let not this declaration be taken 
as the result of arrogance of disposition : it 
grows out of the nature of things, and the ne 
cessities of the case. Let it not be considered 
to bespeak unkindness towards any advocate of 
the opposite opinions, for such unkindness is 
neither its necessary, nor even its natural 






26 for obteperous/ read obstreperous. 

53 four lines from bottom, dele be/ 

89 for * remunatory, read remuoeratory. 1 

143 first line, for garding, read * regarding. 

167 5 lines from bottom, for the interest in a family/ retd the interest 

Jelt in a family, 

1 69 10 lines from top, for these thoughts, read their thoughts. 

204 13 lines from top, for sactiou read sanction. 

236 6 lines from top, for* in,* read for. 




"-JAN 9 -1966 

Bentham, Jeremy 
1006 Deontology *