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Full text of "Deontology or, The science of morality : in which the harmony and co-incidence of duty and self-interest, virtue and felicity, prudence and benevolence, are explained and exemplified : from the MSS. of Jeremy Bentham"

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PREFACE. . . . . vii to x 

INTRODUCTION. . . .1 26 


General Statement . . .27 80 


Self-regarding Prudence . . .81 131 


Extra-regarding Prudence . .132 188 

Negative Efficient Benevolence . .189 258 

Positive Efficient Benevolence . . 259 304 

Conclusion. . . . 305 319 


IT is not presumed that this Volume contains 
rules for every probable or possible contingency 
in which the inquirer may seek for the applica 
tion of the Deontological code. But the prin 
ciples being laid down, and so many incidents 
offered for their explanation and illustration, the 
reader may be safely left for himself to gather 
together such circumstances as his observation 
may furnish, in order to submit them to those 
tests with which he is here supplied. In doing 
this, he will forward the views of that wise and 
benevolent Philosopher to whom these pages 
owe their birth. I hope, he says in one of his 
memoranda, that the care of others, calling in 
the experience of their friends and acquaint- 
ance, will record all those cases which demand 
VOL. ii. b 


the application of the sound principles of mo- 
rality ; that they will solve them by right rules, 
and give the reasons for the solution/ Obser 
vation, he was accustomed to say, would ere 
long, condense the marrow of morality into a 
few simple rules, that would become the Vade 
Mecum of every body, and be ready on every 
occasion to apply to every demand. They will 
be pasted, he remarked, on the back of an 
almanack, which now loses part of its value 
every day, and soon is rendered worthless by 
the lapse of time ; but the moral side, while 
recording principles that are immutable, will 
remain as fresh, as true, as useful as ever. 

And, in elucidation of our Author s purpose, 
I can find nothing more characteristic, nothing 
more emphatic, than his own words : 

I have taken the principle of utility for my 
guide. I will follow wheresoever it leads me. 
No prejudices shall force me to quit the road. 
No interest shall seduce me. No superstitions 
shall appal me. Addressing myself to a free 
and enlightened nation, what have I to fear ? 


I will make the augmentation of the general fe- 
licity, which is the object, which is the motive 
of my inquiry, so plainly my purpose, that 
those who would persuade men to the contrary, 
shall not be able. How shall this be ? By 
opening my breast, by casting my offerings at 
the feet of the public without reserve. I write 
not to an Athenian mob, nor to a fanatic rabble. 
* I write to many who, were my merit ever so 
many times greater than I can hope, would be 
c worthy to be my judges ! 

There are, properly speaking, but two parties 
in morals or politics, and in religion. The one is 
for the unlimited exercise of reason ; the other 
is against it. I profess myself of the former : I 
hold myself to be more in communion with 
I feel myself more cordially disposed towards 
those who agree with me in that one point, than 
with those who, disagreeing with me in that, 
agree with me in every other. These, with res 
pect to each other, are the two grand heresies : 
the others are but schisms. 

The materials out of which this volume has 


been put together, are, for the most part, dis 
jointed fragments, written on small scraps of 
paper, on the spur of the moment, at times 
remote from one another, and delivered into my 
hands without order or arrangement of any 
sort. J. Bo. 


THE purpose of this volume is, to bring the 
Deontological system of morality into practical 
use ; to give to opinion the power of operation. 
Having laid down a rule of conduct, it is 
intended to show its applicability to the daily 
concerns of life, and its aptitude for the cre 
ation of human happiness and the diminution 
of human misery. 

The theory of the social science has been 
largely developed in the volume dedicated to 
the topic. With a view to the better under 
standing and greater usefulness of the Deon 
tological law, it appears desirable to revert, 
even though briefly, to the principles which it 
was our object to establish, in order that they 
may be at hand for use, as the various cases 
for abstention and action present themselves. 
The value of the philosophical instrument will 



not, it is believed, be lessened in the estimate 
either of wisdom or of virtue, when that instru 
ment is seen busied in its moral work. The 
present portion of our labor will be to the 
intelligent moralist what reports of cases ad 
judged, or set down for judgment, are to the 
inquiring jurisconsult ; and if it be found that 
our legislation leads in all cases to satisfactory 
decisions, a tolerable evidence will be given of 
the excellence of the code recommended. 

Laws in England the law of parliament and 
the common law take a considerable portion 
of human actions under their cognizance. 
Wherever the sufferings inflicted by miscon 
duct are so great as to affect the persons or 
property of the community on a large scale 
of mischievousness, penal visitation comes with 
its punishments : where actions are supposed to 
be beneficial over so large an extent as to 
demand the attention of the legislative or ad 
ministrative authorities, public recompense is 
brought to reward them. Beyond these limits 
vast masses of enjoyment and suffering are 
produced by human conduct, and here is the 


province of morality. Its directions and its 
sanctions become a sort of factitious law. Those 
directions are of course dependent on the sanc 
tions to which they appeal ; and it is only by 
bringing the behaviour of men under the ope 
ration of those sanctions that the moralist, or 
the divine, or the legislator, can have any 
success or influence. 

These sanctions deal out their pains and 
pleasures, their rewards and punishments ; and 
they emanate from the following sources : 

1 . The pathological, which include the phy 
sical and psychological, or the pleasures and 
pains of a corporeal character. 

2. The social or sympathetic, which grow 
immediately out of a man s domestic and social 

3. The moral or popular, which are the 
expression of public opinion. 

4. The political, which comprise the legal 
and administrative ; the whole of which belong 
to jurisprudential rather than moral ethics. 

5. The religious sanctions, which belong to 
the ecclesiastical teacher. 


With the two last of these the Deontologist 
has little concern. They are the instruments 
of the legislator and the divine. 

There are, as has been repeated, two grand 
divisions in a man s sphere of conduct; one con 
cerns himself, and the other concerns all be 
sides : these involve personal and extra-personal 
considerations. All actions that regard himself, 
and which are not indifferent, are either prudent 
or imprudent. All actions that regard others, 
and which are not indifferent, are either bene 
ficent or maleficent. Hence virtue and vice 
all virtues and all vices belong either to indi 
vidual or social relations. Virtue, if individual, 
is prudential ; if social, it is benevolent : and 
thus all the virtues are modifications either 
of prudence or benevolence. Not that all pru 
dence is virtue : for it is prudent to exercise 
the ordinary functions of nature ; but virtue is 
found where the temptation to a present enjoy 
ment is sacrificed to a greater future enjoyment; 
not that all benevolence is virtue, for bene 
volence may encourage both vice and misery; 
but in order to be efficient, it must operate 


to the diminution or extinction of both. The 
foundation of all virtue is individual happiness, 
the pursuit of which is necessary to the very 
existence of the human race, the pursuit of 
which is necessary to the existence of virtue, 
and the judicious pursuit of which is the true 
and sole resource for the extension of virtue 
and consequent felicity. 

In the search after this felicity, with whom 
has man to do ? He has to do with himself in 
those proceedings in which others are not con 
cerned ; with himself in those proceedings in 
which others are concerned ; and with others 
in those proceedings in which either himself or 
they are concerned. Within these limits come 
all questions of duty, and in consequence all 
questions of virtue. And into these divisions 
all investigations as to morality must be 

The first inquiry, then, should be directed 
to that conduct which concerns the individual 
alone, and which has no influence upon the 
pains or pleasures of others ; that is to say, 
the purely self-regarding. Where the influence 


of conduct does not reach beyond the indivi 
dual, where his thoughts, or tastes, or actions 
do not affect others, his line of duty is plainly 
marked. He must provide for his own per 
sonal enjoyment, weighing one pleasure against 
another, taking into account all corresponding 
pains, and then draw that balance of happiness 
which will best stand the test of thought and 
of time. As to his bodily acts, he will have 
to weigh the consequence of each ; the suffer 
ing growing out of pleasure, the pleasure atten 
dant upon privation. As to his mental acts, 
he will have to take care that present plea 
surable thoughts do not bring with them fu 
ture preponderant sufferings : in retrospective 
thoughts, it will become him to dwell only 
on such as leave a profit to happiness ; and 
in his thoughts for futurity, whether requiring 
or not requiring action, it will be his wisdom 
to avoid anticipations likely to be disappointed, 
or such as, when the accounts are closed, will 
give a loss of pleasure. So, in the expectations 
he may form, let him not add to possible future 
the more pernicious influence of positive pre- 


sent evil ; let him not create a misery now, 
which perhaps may never have an existence 

In those relations with others where a man s 
own happiness is involved, those relations 
which may be deemed of extra-regarding pru 
dence, Deontology will teach him to apply the 
same happiness-producing and misery-avoiding 
rules of conduct, and to watch the flux and 
reflux of his deportment towards others on his 
own individual well-being. For until a man s 
intercourse with other men can be shown to 
have some connection with his own felicity, 
it will be in vain to talk with him as to the 
conduct he should pursue towards them. His 
benevolence will be the re-action of benefits 
received or anticipated. Deontology will in 
struct him as to the course he should pursue 
towards men in general, and show him how 
his proceedings should be modified by all those 
circumstances in his social relations, which 
demand his special regard. It will trace out 
for him those peculiar duties which, as equal, 
inferior, or superior, are demanded from him, 


with a reference to his own individual interests. 
It will guide him in his connection with those 
who are habitually or frequently in contact 
with him, as well as with those whom acci 
dent may throw in his way friends, fellow- 
countrymen, strangers towards each will it 
assist him to measure out that portion of pru 
dential sympathy which will, on the whole, 
lead to the greatest ultimate sum of good. 

"Where the powers of benevolence come into 
operation, Deontology will be near with her 
beneficent instructions. In one hand she holds 
a bridle, to check the tendency to inflict pain ; 
in the other a spur, to impel the disposition 
to communicate pleasure. She puts her veto 
upon the will that would hurt ; she offers her 
recompense to that which would serve. Upon 
the lips whose discourse would annoy, without 
some preponderant good to the hearer or to 
society, she puts the finger of silence : to the 
language that would communicate enjoyment, 
without any preponderant evil either to the 
speaker or the listener, she gives expression. 
The written effusions which vex and torment 


and irritate, but bring with them no decided 
result of benefit, she claims to censure and 
to suppress. Where valuable truth and know 
ledge are communicated, where misconduct is 
exposed, whose exposure is predominantly use 
ful, where mischief is to be prevented, where 
good is to be effected, in all cases where, 
in a word, there results to the world a greater 
portion of good than of evil, she interferes with 
her imprimatur. 

And the same rules she applies to actions. 
She arrests the hand that would inflict pain, 
unless for the prevention of a greater pain. 
She counsels the transfer of every species of 
happiness to others, except where that transfer 
leads to a sacrifice of happiness greater than 
the happiness conferred. In her eyes happiness 
is a treasure of such value, and interest, and 
importance, that she would not willingly lose 
the smallest portion of it. She watches it in 
all its wanderings, and would fain bring it back 
to every bosom from whence it has escaped. 
If Deontology issue her cautions, it is solely 
in the spirit of maternal kindness. If she ever 


frown, in order to deter from misconduct, it is 
(if she succeed in checking the error) only 
that she may recompense its correction with 

The elements of pain and pleasure give to 
the Deontologist instruments sufficient for his 
work. Give me matter and motion/ said 
Descartes, and I will make a physical world. 
Give me/ may the Utilitarian teacher ex 
claim, give me the human sensibilities joy 
and grief, pain and pleasure and I will create 
a moral world. I will produce not only jus 
tice, but generosity, patriotism, philanthropy, 
and the long and illustrious train of sublime 
and amiable virtues, purified and exalted/ 

But, it may be said, Your principle of utility 
is useless ; it will not excite to virtuous action, 
it will not restrain from vicious/ If it will 
not, there is no help for it ; no other principle 
will stand in its stead, no other principle has 
so many elements for encouragement to good 
and discouragement to evil. Will clamoring 
about ought/ and ought not/ that perpe 
tual petitio principii will pronouncing the 


words, bonum, hone stum, utile, decorum, do 
more ? What motives can be furnished by any 
other system what motives which are not 
borrowed from this ? Men may wear out the 
air with sonorous and unmeaning words ; those 
words will not act upon the mind ; nothing will 
act upon it but the apprehensions of pleasure 
and pain. 

If, indeed, there could be conceived such a 
thing as virtue which would contribute nothing 
to the happiness of mankind, or vice which 
should contribute nothing to its misery, what 
possible motive could there be for embracing 
the one and avoiding the other? From man 
there could be none, as, by the supposition, 
he is uninterested in the matter : from God 
there can be none : a being all-sufficient and 
all-benevolent, who himself, placed beyond the 
reach of the effects of human actions, must 
estimate them only by their result, and whose 
benevolence can have no conceivable object 
but that very happiness for which sound mo 
rality strives. 


Stand up untremblingly, then, and avow that 
what is called the duty to oneself is but pru 
dence; and what is called duty to others is 
effective benevolence ; and that all other duties 
and virtues are resolvable into these. For that 
God willeth the happiness of his creatures is 
indisputable, and has made it impossible that 
they should not endeavour to obtain it. To 
this end he has given them every faculty they 
possess, and to no other end. 

It is absurd in reasoning, and dangerous in 
morals, to represent the Divine Being as having 
purposes to accomplish which are opposed to 
all the tendencies of our nature, he himself 
having created those tendencies. 

To suppose that a man can act without a 
motive, much less against a motive operating 
singly, is to suppose an effect without and 
against a cause. 

To suppose the Deity to require it, is to 
suppose a contradiction in terms, that he 
commands us to do what he has rendered it 
impossible for us to do that his will is opposed 


to his will his purpose to his purpose in a 
word, that in the same breath he forbids and 
commands the same action. The impulses of 
the principles of our nature are his undoubted 
voice a voice heard in all bosoms, and to which 
all bosoms respond. 

Be it owned, however, that in too many cases 
the discussion of the grounds of morality is 
carried on in a way little likely to advance its 
cause. Your motives are bad/ says the un 
believer to the orthodox ; you are interested in 
deceit you merely support the craft by which 
you get your bread. And you, retorts the 
orthodox, are influenced only by the love of 
paradox the pride of singularity ; if not by 
what is worse, a determination to cut up 
religion by the roots to do it all the mischief 
you can. Yours is a universal malice ; an 
odium generis humani. 9 In such recriminations, 
in such estimate of motives, the unbeliever is 
seldom right, the orthodox never. 

When moral teachers wander beyond the 
limits of experience, when, guided by other 
considerations than those of happiness and 


misery, they adventure upon a trackless waste 
leading no man can say whither. 

How can we reason but from what we know ? 

And the intrusion of the Divine Being, not as 
he is known to us, but as he is feigned or 
fancied by those who would make his attributes 
subservient to their theories, only makes their 
dogmatism more offensive. The happiness of 
mankind is too precious a possession to be 
sacrificed to any system. The felicity of a 
future state as a recompense for virtue, can 
never have been intended by a beneficent being 
to be employed for introducing false standards 
of virtue. In truth, if moralists are to dispose 
of a state of things unknown to them, they 
may as well advocate one system as another ; 
if they are to have a licence for coining suppo 
sitions, what is to prevent any extravagance? 
If the benevolence of God is to be cramped, or 
bent, or tortured, to become the servant of their 
malevolence, what fastings, whippings, mace 
rations, what deplorable caprices of a western 
monk or an eastern fakir, may not be proved to 
be a merit or a duty ! 


Sad must be the fate of religion, if it be 
placed in hostile array against morality ; for no 
religion can be reconciled to reason but on 
evidence that it is calculated to strengthen, 
and not to dissolve the moral ties. And what 
can be so extensive an appeal as that which is 
made to every man s bosom ? How could God 
declare himself in a manner less liable to be 
misunderstood, than by those infallible, inex 
tinguishable, universal sentiments, that he has 
implanted within us ? What words could speak 
so strongly as the omnipresent fact, that to will 
our own present happiness is the essence of our 
nature; and who made our nature what it is? 
our present happiness, be it repeated ; because 
it is only by being linked with the present 
that ideas of futurity can reach us at all. 
And on this basis, that man endeavors to 
procure his own felicity, shall we build our 
edifice without fear of its falling. 

For of a truth, that fact is subject to no dis 
pute, it is evident beyond the reach of doubt, 
it is paramount to all principles of reasoning, 
and forcible beyond all possibility of resist- 


ance. And let not the mind be led astray by 
any distinctions drawn between pleasures and 
happiness. Happiness is the aggregate of which 
pleasures are the component parts. 

Happiness without pleasures is a chimera and 
a contradiction ; it is a million without any units, 
a square yard in which there shall be no inches, 
a bag of guineas without an atom of gold. 

Be it understood that, in endeavouring to 
apply the Deontological code of morals to the 
business of life, in seeking to displace all those 
theories which have not happiness for their end 
and reason for their instrument, the only wish 
to be preceptive is in so far as utility can be 
called into operation. To drive out the ipse- 
dixitism of another, by an ipse-dixitism of his 
own, is no part of the business of theDeontologist, 
and with no ipse-dixitism has he so irreconcil 
able a quarrel as with that of asceticism. Other 
principles may or may not be wrong : sentimen- 
talism, which sometimes leads astray, may also 
sometimes conduct into the paths of benevo 
lence, without wandering so far from those of 
prudence as to make that benevolence perni- 


cious, but the ascetic principle must be wrong; 
wrong whenever it is in action. It exclaims, 
as Satan did Evil be thou my good ; and turns 
upside down all virtues in endeavouring to shift 
them from their true foundation happiness. 
In fact, asceticism is the natural growth of a 
barbarous and superstitious age ; it is the 
representation of a principle which would 
despotize over other men, by making duty 
something different from that to which interest 
points. The standard of happiness being in 
every man s bosom, his pains and pleasures 
being his own, and their value best estimated 
by himself, it is clear that, in order to obtain 
authority over him ; in order to legislate not for 
his interest, but for the interests of the legislator, 
some other influence than that of his own emo 
tions must be appealed to. Hence the preten 
sion to set up authority against reason and 
experience ; hence the disposition and determi 
nation to exalt the past at the expense of the 
present ; to laud up a Golden Age when know 
ledge was in its cradle, and to put forward the 
golden mean as the true test of virtue. Medi- 



ocrity, said the ancients ; Between extremes/ 
re-echo the moderns : useless and delusive 
phrases, well fitted to keep the mind and the 
affections from their safest and most judicious 
direction. Then again, refining upon refine 
ment, dividing the indivisible, moralists have 
introduced a class of virtues, which are not 
quite virtues, called half- virtues or semi-virtutes . 
Examine them closely, exhaust them of the 
prudence and the benevolent beneficence that 
are in them, the rest is worthlessness, and the 
parade of it foppery and folly. 

The omnipresence of the self-regarding affec 
tion, and its intimate union with the social, are 
the bases of all genuine morality. That in the 
human character certain dissocial affections 
should exist, so far from being injurious to the 
interests of virtue, is one of the greatest securi 
ties for virtue. The social affections are the 
instruments by which pleasure is communicated 
to others ; the dissocial are those by which the 
social are kept in check when a greater sacri 
fice is proposed to be made to beneficence than 
prudence warrants ; in other words, when less 


happiness is to be gained by others than is lost 
by ourselves. But with the term dissocial let no 
idea of antipathy be connected. Hatred, anger, 
indignation, or any such passions will rather 
bewilder and blind than serve the moralist in 
his investigations into the causes of vices, or their 
appropriate cures. The law- giver should be no 
more impassioned than the geometrician. They 
are both solving problems by sober calculation. 
The Deontologist is but an arithmetician whose 
cyphers are pains and pleasures ; his science 
is that of addition, subtraction, multiplica 
tion, and division. And certainly the result of 
his labors will be far more facilitated by the 
quiet influence of composed thought, than by 
imaginative wanderings, or passionate sallies. 

It may perhaps assist the understanding and 
recollection of the subject, if the Deontological 
principles be arranged under a few heads, 
taking the shape of axioms. 

Happiness may be defined to be the posses 
sion of pleasures with the absence of pains, or 
the possession of a preponderant amount of 
pleasure over pain. 


Good and evil, when resolved into their 
elements, are composed of pleasures and pains. 

These pleasures and pains may be either 
negative or positive, growing out of the absence 
of the one, or the presence of the other. 

The possession of a pleasure, or the absence 
of a menaced pain, is good. 

The presence of a pain, or the absence of a 
promised pleasure, is evil. 

A positive good is the possession, or the ex 
pectation of a pleasure. A negative good is the 
exemption, or the cause of exemption from a pain. 

Sensations are of two sorts; those accom 
panied by pleasure or by pain, and those which 
are unaccompanied by either. It is only on 
those which produce pain and pleasure, that 
motives or sanctions can be brought to operate. 

The value of a pleasure, separately considered, 
depends on its intensity, duration, and extent. 
On those qualities its importance to society 
turns; or in other words, its power of adding 
to the sum of individual and of general happiness. 

The magnitude of a pleasure depends on its 
intensity and duration. 


The extent of a pleasure depends on the 
number of persons who enjoy it. 

And the same laws apply to pains. 

The magnitude of a pleasure or a pain, in any 
one of its qualities, may compensate or over 
balance its deficiency in any other. 

A pleasure or a pain may be fruitful or barren. 

A pleasure may be fruitful in pleasures or in 
pains, fruitful in pleasures like their parent, or 
in pleasures of another character ; it may be 
fruitful also in pains, and in the same manner a 
pain may be fruitful in pains and pleasures. 

Where pains and pleasures are barren, the 
calculation of interest is easy. The task of the 
moralist becomes more complicated, when 
pains and pleasures produce fruits unlike them 

A pleasure or a pain may be derived either 
from another pleasure or pain, or by the act 
which produces that other pleasure or pain. If 
the act be the source of the derived pleasure or 
pain, it is the act that is fruitful ; if it be the 
pleasure that produces the secondary pleasure or 
pain, the fecundity is in the pleasure. 


The pleasure that is produced by the contem 
plation of the pleasure enjoyed by another, is a 
pleasure of sympathy. 

The pain that is suffered by the contemplation 
of the pain experienced by another, is a pain of 

The pleasure enjoyed by the contemplation of 
the pain suffered by another, is a pleasure of 

The pain suffered by the contemplation of the 
pleasure enjoyed by another, is a pain of 

The benevolence of a man must be measured 
by the number of beings out of whose pains 
and pleasures he draws his own pleasures and 
pains of sympathy. 

The virtues of a man must be measured by the 
number of persons whose happiness he seeks to 
promote; that is, the greatest portion and 
happiness to each, taking into amount the 
sacrifice which he knowingly makes of his own 

When the amounts of pleasures and pains are 
balanced, the balance of pleasure is the evidence 


of virtue, the balance of pain the evidence of 

Beyond, and exclusive of these balances of 
pains and pleasures, the words virtue and vice 
are emptiness and folly. 

Not that the quantity of happiness determines 
the quantity of virtue, there being much happi 
ness with which virtue has nothing whatever to 
do. Virtue implies the presence of a difficulty, 
the presence of fruitfulness too as to pains and 
pleasures. The greater the sacrifice, the greater 
the difficulty. 

The sources of happiness by which the 
individual is preserved, which sources, too, 
provide the greatest portion of happiness, are 
independent of the exercise of virtue. They 
may be called acts of well-doing, of beneficence, 
according to the strictest meaning of the words, 
but they are not acts of benevolence. 

In fine, it would be a self-contradiction to 
say, that an act which produced a balance of 
suffering could be a virtue, as it would be to 
declare, that an act producing a balance of 
enjoyment could be a vice. 


For the want of a standard to apply to con 
duct, the strangest errors and mistakes have 
been made : paradoxes one after another have 
intruded themselves into common use, and have 
served to darken counsels by words without 
knowledge/ The vessel of public felicity has 
been beaten about on the ocean of vague un 
certainty, without a helmsman or a rudder. 

Books have been printed, whose authors, had 
they but attached distinct ideas to the phrase 
ology they employed, would have rendered val 
uable service to the cause of truth and virtue. 
When Mandeville put forward his theory, that 
private vices are public benefits, he did not per 
ceive that the erroneous application of the terms 
vice and virtue was the source of the confusion 
which enabled him to advocate a seeming con 
tradiction. For if what is called virtue produce 
a diminution of happiness, and if vice, being 
the opposite of virtue, have a contrary effect, it 
is clear that virtue is the evil and vice the good, 
and that the principle which he advocates is 
merely the greatest-happiness principle under a 
cloud. If a private vice be on the whole in- 


strumental in producing a result of felicity to 
the community, all that can be said is, that the 
vice has been christened by an erroneous and 
mistaken name. True it is that utility will 
transfer many actions to the score of vice, which 
unenlightened opinion has honored as virtues, 
and will give to qualities, which have been fre 
quently called vices, some name of indifference, 
or even of approval. But the utilitarian scale 
vibrates only between good and evil pain and 
pleasure other elements count for nothing in 
the balance, let them be called by names as 
pompous as they may. 

That a system of morality adapted to the 
growing intelligence of man should not have 
come down to us from remote time, is not to be 
wondered at. Even in the knowledge of mate 
rial objects, antiquity had made small progress. 
In the knowledge of the functions of the human 
mind, in intellectual physiology, there was no 
progress at all. Ancient learning is the ware 
house of wit, the treasury of superficial resem 
blances. Modern learning science founded 
on experiment and observation is the mine 


whence materials for future progress are to be 
extracted. There only can those combinations 
be sought which constitute improvements ; there 
only will those discoveries be made, out of which 
theory rears its magnificent deductions. One 
after another, the different branches of practical 
philosophy are drawn into the regions of scien 
tific arrangement. It is not Homer, nor Horace, 
nor Virgil, nor Tibullus it is not all the furni 
ture of a whole Christ Church library that will 
help ethical science either to a nomenclature, or 
an analysis. Neither virtues nor vices can find 
their appropriate places, or exercise their true 
influences, until the test is found which is to 
divide them into the elements of pain and plea 
sure. The science of morals is but the gather 
ing up of the sensations of suffering and enjoy 
ment, and arranging them under their different 
heads of vice and virtue. Every moral law is 
an integrant and harmonious part of the great 
moral code, descending from and traceable to 
the two master principles of all virtuous con 
duct Prudence and Benevolence. 




THE object of Deontology is to instruct the 
inquirer in the management of the affections, 
so that they may be made most subservient to 
his own well-being. He has pains and plea 
sures of his own with .which the world has no 
concern ; he has pains and pleasures which de 
pend on his intercourse with mankind ; and it is 
in both these relations to give pleasure such a 
direction as that it may be the progenitor of 
other pleasures, and to give pain such a direc 
tion that, if possible, it may be made a source 
of pleasure, or at all events, that it may be 
made as light and as bearable and as transitory 
as possible, that the Deontological moralist 
pours out his instructions. 

Abstractedly they may be reduced to a single 
inquiry. At what cost of future pain or sacri 
fice of future pleasure is a present pleasure pur 
chased ? What repayment of future pleasure 
may be anticipated for a present pain ? Out of 
this examination morality must be developed. 
Temptation is the present pleasure punish- 


ment is the future pain ; sacrifice is the present 
pain enjoyment is the future recompense. The 
questions of virtue and vice are, for the most 
part, reduced to the weighing that which is, 
against that which will be. The virtuous man 
has a store of happiness in coming time, the 
vicious man has prodigally spent his revenues 
of happiness. To-day the vicious man seems 
to have a balance of pleasure in his favor ; to 
morrow the balance will be adjusted, and the 
day after it will be ascertained to be wholly in 
favor of the virtuous man. Vice is a spendthrift, 
flinging away what is far better than wealth, or 
health, or youth, or beauty namely, happiness: 
because all of these without happiness are of 
little value. Virtue is a prudent economist that 
gets back all her outlay with interest. 

The duty of the Deontological teacher cannot 
be better discharged than when he, watching 
the occasion of calm and quiet thought, trea 
sures up in his own mind, or conveys to the 
mind of others, those instructions which may be 
turned to account in the untranqnil or passionate 
hour. The time for planting truth is when 
there is freedom from excitation. Truths so 
planted may in the moment of excitation put 
forth their salutary power. Occasions there 
will be when the affections seem peculiarly at 
tuned to the influences of virtuous suggestion. 


There are hours of sunshine, hours of happiness, 
which dispose us to the reception of prudent 
and generous impulses. It is then that the 
word appropriately spoken the Deontological 
law felicitously put forward may make its in 
delible impression, and become a practical and 
efficient monitor, when impulses, either impru 
dent or maleficent, would lead astray. For, to 
bring passion into the regions of virtue, so that 
virtue may assume the sovereignty, or with simi 
lar success to conduct virtue into the regions of 
passion, is the highest triumph of morality ; a 
triumph which can only be secured by the pro 
visional foresight that lays in its stores of use 
ful precepts with anticipating care. It is not 
amidst the hurly-burly of exciting temptations 
that we can safely look around us for motives 
to check their promptings. Let the rules be 
gathered up, let the motives be fixed within us, 
while the temptations are absent, and it is thus, 
and thus only, that when the temptations are 
present, we shall find the arguments at hand 
for resisting them. 

In the still hour when passion is at rest, 
Gather up stores of wisdom in thy breast ; 
So when the storms awake, and in the din 
Imprudence or malevolence to sin 
Would tempt thy frailty thoughts of wisdom stor d 
Shall check the passion, ere its tides are pour d. 
A pebble turns the streamlet, whose proud sway 
Unbridled sweeps the granite rocks away. 


The principle of utility, or rather the greatest- 
happiness principle, has this advantage over 
every other that, whenever the divergences of 
opinion, which recognize another standard, do 
meet, it is in the field of utility. If there be 
any point of union or harmony between them, 
it is exhibited there. Even where men agree 
to recognise a certain authority, a text, a law, 
for example, it will be found far more difficult 
to induce them to coincide as to its interpreta 
tion, than as to the decision of a question which 
is submitted to the Deontological law. Let the 
articles of a code (dependent on authority, and 
removed from the application of the utilitarian 
tests), or let the various texts of a volume on 
morality be appealed to on any occasion as the 
standard of rectitude, and it will be seen that 
those who recognise the authority of the code 
or the text-book, will be far less unanimous in 
their suffrages, than would be the same number 
of persons who, making utility their standard, 
should be referred to for their decision on the 
case in point. 

Under the influence of the blind, instinctive 
impulse, people have, in truth, from the be 
ginning of the world, been in the habit of con 
sulting the greatest-happiness principle, and 
whenever they have acted reasonably, that prin 
ciple has been their guide. They have been 
led by it, without being aware of its existence : 


as, in a clouded day, men walk in the light 
without tracing the brightness to the uprising of 
the sun. Helvetius is the first moralist who 
turned with steady eye to the utilitarian prin 
ciple. He saw its radiance and its power, and 
reasoned under its influence. 

The general principle has been again and 
again referred to. Morality is the art of max 
imizing happiness : it gives the code of laws by 
which that conduct is suggested whose result 
will, the whole of human existence being taken 
into account, leave the greatest quantity of 

Now the greatest quantity of felicity must 
depend on the means, or sources, or instruments 
by which the causes of happiness are produced, 
and the causes of unhappiness avoided. 

In so far as these causes are accessible to 
man, and are under the influence of his will, 
and become the rule of his conduct for the pro 
duction of happiness, that conduct may be de 
signated by one word, virtue; in so far as, 
under similar circumstances, they lead to 
conduct generating a result of unhappiness, that 
conduct is designated by a word of an opposite 
character, namely, vice. 

Hence nothing that is called virtue is entitled 
to the name, unless, and in so far as, it is con 
tributory to happiness ; the happiness of the 


agent himself, or of some other being. And 
nothing that is called vice is properly desig 
nated, unless, and in so far as, it is productive 
of unhappiness. 

The sources of happiness are physical or in 
tellectual : it is with the physical sources that 
the moralist has principally to do. The culti 
vation of the mind the creation of pleasure 
from the purely mental faculties belongs to 
another department of instruction. 

Now, every person being for his own happi 
ness principally dependent on his own conduct, 
his conduct towards himself and his conduct 
towards others, in all those relations in which 
he exercises any influence upon their happiness, 
it remains to give this theory of morals its prac 
tical value, by applying it to the circumstances 
of life ; and thus, to group human actions 
into the two classes so often pointed at the 
two grand departments of prudence and bene 

It may at first appear, that the considerations 
of benevolence are intitled to take precedence 
of those of prudence, inasmuch as the field of 
action for prudence is narrow and individual, 
that for benevolence is social, vast, universal. 
But prudence must have the pre-eminence ; for 
though it regards but one individual, that indi 
vidual is the man himself that individual is 


the man over whose actions an influence can be 
exercised which cannot be exercised over the 
actions of any other man or men. Of his own 
will a man has the disposal, but he cannot 
employ more than a limited authority over the 
will of others. And could he do this, the self- 
regarding, the prudential affections, are more 
necessary to the existence, and thence to the 
happiness of man, than the sympathising can 
be ; to every man more necessary, and therefore 
to the whole of the human race. The subject, 
too, is more simple, and easy to be developed 
to begin with one being, ere the connection of 
that one being with others is traced. Hence it 
is natural to trace the influence of his conduct 
upon his own happiness, where the welfare of 
no other person is concerned ; to proceed then 
to consider what are the laws of prudence where 
the welfare of others is involved ; and then to 
proceed to the wider branch of the subject to 
the consideration of the laws of effective bene 

A stigma has too frequently been attached to 
the self-regarding considerations ; because in 
their erroneous calculations they have sometimes 
been allowed to invade and do mischief in the 
regions of benevolence ; because to them the 
beneficent sympathies have been sometimes 
sacrificed ; and an erroneous estimate of what 



human nature might become, if the social were 
allowed preponderance over the selfish principle, 
has often led men to fancy that there are analo 
gies teaching and justifying the uncalculating 
sacrifice of self. Beasts herd together, it is said, 
beasts of the same sex, who have no wants to 
satisfy by means of intercommunication, no 
motive but in the abstract gregarious instinct. 
Hence it is argued, that man seeks society for 
its own sake, from an irresistible social tendency, 
which has nothing to do with the enjoyments 
he derives from it. But the assumption may 
well be doubted. The search for food, the de 
fence against common enemies are, it is be 
lieved, the principal motives (and these undoubt 
edly self-regarding ones), which determine the 
congregation of animals together. Where the 
same sort of wants and the same sort of dangers 
exist, there is the bond the strongest : and a 
similarity of wants and dangers often determines 
the association of animals of different species. 
Those animals which derive no assistance from 
their fellows, either for the supply of their ne 
cessities or for their security from molestation ; 
those, the precariousness and scantiness of whose 
subsistence create on the contrary an opposi 
tion of interests, as, for example, the larger 
beasts of prey, such as lions, tigers, &c., do not 
associate even among themselves ; and if the 


case is otherwise in those of inferior strength, 
as wolves, it may safely be attributed to their 
inability singly to master the animals which are 
their most usual prey. They feed upon horses 
and oxen, which are stronger than themselves ; 
or sheep, which are watched and guarded by 
men, their proprietors. The fox is a beast of 
prey, and not usually a gregarious one, but his 
prey is poultry, and animals weaker than him 
self, his interests being solitary rather than 
social, his character and condition are solitary. 

Prudence thus divides itself into two classes ; 
the prudence which regards ourselves, the in 
sulated prudence, where no interests but those 
of the agent are at stake, and the prudence 
which has reference to others, where the in 
terests of others are at stake : for though a 
man s happiness is naturally and necessarily his 
primary and ultimate object, yet that happiness 
is so dependent on the conduct of others to 
wards him, as to make the regulation and direc 
tion of the conduct of others towards him an 
object of his prudential care. 

Hence grows the association of prudence with 
benevolence, and hence the necessity of ascer 
taining the dictates of effective benevolence, 
even with a view to the interests of prudence 


Effective benevolence, again, both in its ne 
gative shape, where a man refrains from doing 
that which may injure others, or in its positive 
shape, where a man confers pleasure upon 
others, is of two classes ; either practicable 
without self-sacrifice, or requiring self-sacrifice 
for its exercise. 

But for the application of these principles to 
practice, inasmuch as they bear upon all the 
concerns of existence, on every event of every 
day of every man s life, and as these events are 
infinitely varied in their character, it is obvious 
that nothing more can be done, than to lay 
down general rules, and to point out some cases 
for their exemplification. Such cases will be 
come like lamps illumining a sphere far beyond 
their own little flame. And the whole moral 
edifice is one of unity, simplicity, and symme 
try : each part enabling the inquirer to compre 
hend the rest any fragment of it will give the 
character, the measure of the whole. Taken 
out of the circle of dogmatism and vagueness, 
the moral code is perfectly harmonious, consist 
ing of very few articles ; but these are applica 
ble to every possible case, and resolve every 
debateable question. 

In self-love there is a foundation for universal 
benevolence ; there is none for universal malice. 


And this is in itself evidence of the union 
between the interest of the individual and that 
of mankind. 

In the universal desire to obtain the good 
opinion of others there is also security for this 
same union. No man is deaf to expressions of 
approbation and esteem. They are sources of 
satisfaction to all. For suppose smiles and 
praises were accompanied with the rod, and that 
on the contrary frowns and reproaches brought 
with them valuable gifts, who would not shun the 
smile and desire the frown ? The appetite for 
censure would supersede that for praise; frowns 
would diffuse the alacrity that now accompa 
nies smiles, and smiles be the harbinger of 
gloom. The desire of praise is in fact inter 
woven among our earliest sensibilities ; so early 
that no man recollects a period when it did not 
exist in his mind; nor does it require the pierc 
ing eye and attentive searching of the philoso 
pher to call into view a principle which is so 
interblended with the very ground-work of our 
nature. Existing in every man thus early, 
strengthened by repeated, by habitual exercise, 
this desire of approbation becomes indissolubly 
and intimately united with our physical wants: 
it is so associated that it can hardly be detached 
from the idea of a personal pleasure. Praise may 
indeed appear to be desired for itself, but the 


desire is so connected with the self- regarding 
principle that to separate them is impossible. 

The process by which benevolence is gene 
rated is a beautiful one, and by it virtue is asso 
ciated with felicity. A child receives praises and 
marks of affection when at command it ceases 
crying, or takes physic, or lays down a for 
bidden object which it had seized. Its earliest 
sacrifices are made to the moral, the happiness- 
generating principle, and it finds its recompense. 
The love of its parents, its brothers and sisters, 
its nurse and attendants, grows out of its phy 
sical sensibilities, and these sensibilities are 
awakened to felicity by the action of that love. 

Nor is there much value in the objection, that 
this process is too complicated and intricate, 
too long and difficult for childish intellects. The 
gradual production of the results is the real 
cause of the difficulty of following them by 
words ; and the absence of appropriate words to 
express the different phenomena, leaves the 
erroneous impression that the phenomena are 
themselves entangled and confused. To deny 
the connection is to deny the association of 
ideas in the minds of children ; though this 
association is exhibited in the very earliest 
development of intellect, and it is no more to 
be wondered at than that a child should put 
out its hands rather than its feet to grasp an 


object, and direct organically, as it were, its 
little means to an end. 

And as the child grows to manhood, and 
manhood with its stronger powers and passions 
impels to more ambitious efforts, the thirst for 
praise becomes more ardent. It is for this that 
men sacrifice their repose, and rush on to the 
goal even of public misery through the ranks of 
embattled competitors and in the defiles of toil 
and danger. It is for this, in happier times, that 
through the phalanxes and amidst the darts of 
ignorance and envy, men urge their course to 
the goal of public felicity, content though it 
should be their fate to sacrifice their tranquillity 
in the contest. 

There is in the world so universal and constant 
a competition for the respect, esteem and love 
of others, the dependence of every man upon 
other men is so obvious and so intimate, that a 
certain quantity of benevolence is almost a 
necessary condition of social existence. True 
it is that those whose station enables them 
most easily to command the services of others, 
value those services least, as those who want 
them most feel the greatest difficulty in obtain 
ing them ; but there is no man so poor who by 
his own good conduct may not increase the 
disposition to serve him, and no man so 
mighty as to be able to despise the services of 


others without diminishing their amount and 
lessening their value and efficacy. Absolute 
independence is the prerogative of none ; and 
were it possible to conceive of a human being 
wholly sufficient to his own enjoyments, a 
human being deriving neither pleasure nor 
pain from the persons or the events which 
surround him he would be no object of envy ; 
compared with him the hyssop on the wall 
would be privileged, since some consideration, 
some regard might now and then be flung upon 
it ; while the man removed from the regions of 
sympathy would at the same time be removed 
from those of beneficence. 

The great security for the active energy of 
the benevolent feeling is found in the mutual 
dependence of every human being upon other 
or others of the human race, and in this de 
pendence must we look for the check upon the 
maleficent affections ; since, if neither hatred 
nor love produced a re-action, if men could visit 
others with their ill-will without getting any 
ill-will in return ; or, on the other hand, if they 
poured out their kindly sympathies in mere 
waste, awakening no responsive kindly senti 
ment, the link between prudence and benefi 
cence would be wanting. If one man give pain 
to another either by words or deeds, that other 
will in all ordinary cases seek to inflict pain upon 


him in return. Hate engenders hate as a sort of 
self-defence. It is employed for prompt and often 
for vindictive punishment, whose awards are to 
a certain extent in the power of its employer. 
Cases there are, no doubt, where the disposition 
to return evil for evil is controlled by high and en 
nobling moral principle, by the true arithmetic of 
virtue. But those cases are exceptional, and to 
dream of escaping the ill-will of those whom we 
make the victims of our ill-will, is to calculate 
on miracles for the guidance of conduct. And be 
the exceptions what they may to the rule that 
malevolence in your bosom will, when brought 
into action, be the prolific parent of malevolence 
towards yourself in the bosom of others, an ex 
ception can scarcely be found to the counterpart 
of the rule, that love is the source of love. 

The practical deduction is obvious. Never let 
pain or uneasiness be inflicted on any one in any 
shape, but for the purpose of producing a prepon 
derate good, good clearly to be made out, and 
traceable in its consequences. The good, if good 
it be, will be good to some person or other ; to per 
sons one or more ; to yourself by whom the pain 
is caused ; to him in whom the pain is caused ; 
or to third persons ; to third persons, assignable, 
or to third persons in general. The demand of pru 
dence and benevolence is peremptory that there 
shall be a balance, a predominance, of good. 


In order to apply this general rule to every 
particular case, it becomes the Deontologist to 
consider, first, the various shapes in which pain 
may be produced, since pain is multiform; 2nd, 
the occasions on which pain may be produced, 
occasions presenting themselves whenever inter 
course exists between ourselves and others ; 
3rd, the persons on whom it may be produced ; 
and 4th, the acts by which it may be produced. 
All these are important elements in the score of 
suffering. When the other side of the account 
comes to be examined, when the good is to be 
estimated whose existence can alone counter 
balance or justify the evil, the quantity of that 
good must be brought into view ; the situation 
and susceptibility of the persons who are to 
benefit by the resulting good ; and when it is not 
traceable to individuals, its existence in the 
bosoms of unassignable persons must be evi 

Occasions for the illustration of this impor 
tant principle will present themselves as we 
proceed. Here it was intended only to give the 
general caution, and to establish the universal 
rule. Deductions will flow into the minds of the 
thoughtful. They will see that the mere cir 
cumstance of misbehaviour on the part of 
another will not of itself justify the infliction of 
pain. If that infliction will prevent the repeti- 


tion of the misbehaviour, then, indeed, the pain 
may be wisely and morally excited : the use 
of the pain is obvious ; but pain must not be 
created, pleasure must not be interfered with, 
where no end is answered of which utility can 
approve. Hence the reproach, the scorn, that 
are flung upon others in consequence of any 
irremediable defect, are useless, cruel, immoral 
inflictions of misery. Imperfections, whether 
corporeal or mental, which cannot be controlled 
or extirpated, must not be visited by punish 
ment. The stupidity, or wrong-headedness, 
or ill-temper, which are beyond the reach of 
discipline, which are not curable by attention, 
are not fit objects for the castigation of pain ; 
how far less is that castigation warrantable 
when it only exasperates the sufferer, and 
aggravates the defect? 

In bringing all conduct into the regions of 
pleasures and pains, inquiry will be much 
facilitated by tracing actions up to their sources, 
and distinguishing the relations which exist 
between the impulses which gave those actions 
birth . Emotions, affections, humors and passions, 
singly and mingled, are each of them the origin 
of action, and each presents its elements of 
enjoyment and suffering. An act is said to be 
the effect of an emotion when the motive by 
which it is produced is a pleasure or pain of a 


transient character. Where a permanent or 
habitual state of mind, as for example, where 
sympathy or antipathy towards an individual 
has created a continuous disposition to gratify 
or annoy, the motive will be the result of an 
affection; where the emotion becomes vehement, 
whether allied with an habitual affection or not, 
its consequences are called the effect of passion. 
Humor is somewhat more of a capricious cha 
racter, and implies a subjection of the emotions 
or passion to a predetermination of the under 
standing. It was my humor, e I controlled my 
actions by the volition of the moment/ I made 
the motive at my own good pleasure/ 

But among the sources of misjudgment, and 
among the causes of despotism, the busy search 
after men s motives is among the most fruitful. 
Claims to purity, accusations against impurity 
of motive are dragged about in eternal proces 
sions, to excuse, to justify, to laud, to reprove, to 
reprobate, to condemn. The whole field of action 
is covered with pretensions on this score, indefati- 
gably put forward, constantly appealed to, and 
seldom grounded on any thing better than the 
usurpation of the motive-denouncer. Why is 
a habit so baneful to the general well-being so 
constantly persisted in ? In the first place, it is 
so flattering to the self-regarding affections ; it 
enables the speaker or the writer to set up his 


own standard of right and wrong; it saves him 
from the laborious necessity of tracing the conse 
quences of actions ; it enables him to take the 
opinions of others into a region the region of 
another man s mind where those opinions find no 
light to guide, and men are but too willing from 
mere love of ease, to allow the usurper to set up 
his throne of judgment. If a man is to determine 
as to the value of an action by its consequences, he 
must study those consequences; he must present 
them to those whose approval or condemnation 
of the action he desires to obtain ; he exposes 
himself to contradiction if he misrepresents, to 
correction if he voluntarily or involuntarily errs. 
The blanks he leaves may be filled up, the 
exaggerations he introduces may be cut down ; 
he is, in a word, forced to come into court 
with his witnesses, and to establish his case 
by the evidence he can adduce. But if, on the 
contrary, he can, by his own dictum, proclaim 
that for the action there was a bad motive or 
a good motive in the mind of the actor, the 
judgment is an easy process ; its decrees are 
not complicated by a variety of entanglements. 
Good and evil present themselves at once, and 
thus rashness and self-conceit perform functions 
which belong to reason and philosophy. 

The imputation of motive is one of the most 
dangerous weapons with which to attack an 


adversary, and one of the most deceitful grounds 
for judgment; since motives can be known to 
him alone whose conduct is in question, and 
can only be guessed at by other persons. This 
disposition on the part of the impugner or the 
approver of an act, to esteem it praiseworthy 
or blameworthy, not according to its results, 
but to the unknowable intentions of the actor, 
may destroy all the reputation and recompense 
of virtuous conduct, by the insinuation that the 
motives were bad, and all the disreputableness 
and punishment of vicious conduct, by the 
setting forth the goodness of the motives that 
led to it. But, on the other hand, it should 
not be forgotten that every ill-founded impu 
tation is not mala fide invented by him who 
first casts it. A measure is deemed to be 
wrong, where it is opposed to the interest of 
another ; and if wrong in the eye of that other, 
it is but natural that he should attribute it to 
a wrong motive. Hence, to avoid the attribut 
ing motives to others, and to avoid ready or 
hasty condemnation of those who do attribute 
motives to others, are alike the dictates of 

Then, again, the perception of the prodigious 
strength of authority comes in aid of the self- 
regarding affections. The same inducements 
which influence the motive-denouncer, have, 


to a greater or less extent, influenced every 
body else. Authority, with prejudices, its 
favorite and baleful progeny, ally themselves 
with the egotistical principle. In the estimate 
of conduct, derivative judgment is wont to take 
possession of nearly the whole question, leav 
ing scarcely any portion to the decision of self- 
formed judgment. Thus, in the determination 
of human action, two elements become fre 
quently the principal guides : self-presumption 
and blind deference, qualities which seem some 
what incompatible, indeed ; but which unite 
in mischievous influence ; the deference being, 
in fact, submission to that species of authority 
which flatters the self-regarding principle. 

True it is that the ordinary phraseology of 
the world is likely to lead the inquirer astray. 
The qualities upon which the stamp of public 
approbation has been set are frequently those 
which deserve no such honorable distinction ; 
while public reprobation interdicts actions on 
which it would be difficult to affix the scandal 
or the stain of vice. The judgments of the 
public-opinion tribunal are thus sometimes in 
opposition with the dictates of utility and the 
conventions of society ; some of them, the mere 
vestiges of barbarism, make laws which resist 
all argument, and stand unshaken on the pre 
judices left by feudal times. 


The historian of morality will one day appear, 
to write the tales of the several dynasties that 
have ruled over human actions, and most in 
structive will the pages be. 

First epoch, that of Force. No other code, 
no other standard, no other source of morality. 
Violence the law, and violent the law-giver. 
Virtus, or virtue, is there found in its original 
sense, a mere conjugate of vis. This vis, when 
in action, took the name of courage, or virtus ; 
the quality which is most the object of admi 
ration among savages ; a quality far more animal 
than moral, and deserving of no praise, any 
farther than as the ally of prudence or bene 

Then comes the second reign, the reign of 
Fraud. Force belongs to a time of ignorance : 
fraud to semi-civilization. Its influence, like 
that of force, is usurpation ; but it comes with 
fallacies, instead of open violence, to help it. 
It fosters credulity, it leagues itself with super 
stition. It takes hold of the terrors of the 
mind, and makes them subservient to its real, 
but often concealed despotism. The usurping 
priest, the aristocratical lawyer, flourish under 
its dynasty. 

Last of all comes the reign of Justice, the 
reign of utility. Under its auspices the work 
of the legislator will be lightened, and the 


moralist will assume many of the legislator s 
functions. The great court of public opinion 
will take charge of the decision of many ques 
tions which are now in the keeping of penal 
judicature. The lines which separate right 
and wrong will be more clearly and more 
broadly defined as the predominance of the 
great social interest breaks down those barriers 
which have been raised for sinister purposes, 
or left by the ignorant traditions of ancient 
days. Delightful it is to contemplate the pro 
gress of virtue and of happiness; to see them 
subduing, by mighty efforts or by quiet influ 
ences, more and more of the domain where 
false maxims of private and public morality 
had so long held undisputed sway. Yet more 
delightful is it to anticipate a period when the 
moral code, grounded on the greatest-happiness 
principle, will be the code of nations, teaching 
them, in their vast political concerns, to create 
no useless misery, and to make their patriotism 
subservient to the demands of benevolence. As 
knowledge has, in its progress, gathered fami 
lies and tribes, once hostile, into the regions 
of common interest and mutual affection, so it 
will, in its further triumphs, fling the girdle 
of beneficence around now-separated nations. 
As the crimes of violence have diminished under 
the rebuke of more enlightened opinion as that 



opinion, acquiring strength, will not fail to 
act upon the other departments of improbity, 
who can doubt that war the maximizer of 
every crime, the harvester of every violence, 
the picture of every horror, the representative 
of every folly, will at last be overwhelmed and 
annihilated by the mighty and resistless influ 
ence of truth, virtue, and felicity? 

It is only to a certain extent the lot of man 
to mark out for himself his mortal destiny. 
He does not choose his position in the world. 
The accident of birth decides for him a thou 
sand contingencies. It puts into his hand cer 
tain sources of pleasure, and excludes him from 
others. But so regulated are the instruments 
of enjoyment and suffering, so beautifully 
balanced, so equitably compensated, that the 
ultimate portion of well-being dealt out to men 
in the different orders of society is, perhaps, 
not very unequal in amount. For whatever 
estimate may be given to the pleasures of frui 
tion, in any of their attributes, the pains of 
privation must be increased in proportion. 
Wants, which soon become pains, grow up 
more easily in the bosoms pampered with 
superfluity than among those whose enjoyment 
demands little for its satisfaction : and often, 
close upon the pleasures of rank and wealth, 
tread lassitude and weariness. The pleasures 


of sense may grow dull from over-use, or feeble 
from over-straining. The social or domestic 
sanction loses its power when pride supposes 
it can command all services without it. Public 
opinion is checked in its influence by the indis 
position of the powerful to recognize its au 
thority, or to submit to its awards. These and 
similar dangers wait on opulence, and thus 
lower its virtue-creating tendencies. Yet power, 
in all and every shape, is the sole instrument 
of morality, and the struggle for it, within the 
limits of prudence and benevolence, so far from 
being worthy of reprehension, is perhaps the 
very strongest of all excitements to virtue. 

In those regions of action which birth, edu 
cation, and social position have prescribed to 
the individual, he has the power of directing 
his pursuits and occupations with a view to the 
general happiness of life. No man is without 
some moments of leisure which may be em 
ployed in the search of pleasure, or, in other 
words, in the practice of that virtue which is 
the parent of pleasure ; and no occupation is 
there which does not create or allow occasions 
for those thoughts thoughts from recollection, 
or of anticipation, which are, in themselves, 
happiness. No man who has the gift of lan 
guage can, in the presence of others, pass a 
single hour without the opportunity being 


afforded him of communicating enjoyment. 
One principal reason why our existence has 
so much less of happiness crowded into it than 
is accessible to us is, that we neglect to gather 
up those minute particles of pleasure which 
every moment offers to our acceptance. In 
striving after a sum total, we forget the cyphers 
of which it is composed. Struggling against 
inevitable results which he cannot control, too 
often man is heedless of those accessible plea 
sures, whose amount is by no means incon 
siderable when collected together. Stretching 
his hand out to catch the stars, he forgets the 
flowers at his feet, so beautiful, so fragrant, so 
various, so multitudinous. 

By the condensation of the virtues into two, 
that is, into prudence and effective benevolence, 
let it not be supposed that any real, substan 
tial, or useful virtue is removed from the moral 
field. Wretched would be the task of that 
moralist who should seek to destroy a virtue, 
and deplorable would be his success. If, how 
ever, after the most scrutinizing and severe 
examination, it is discovered that whatever 
exists of virtue is really a part of one of these 
two great branches, the discovery is equivalent 
to those great advances that have been made 
in chemical science, by the reduction of the 
infinite variety of compounds to a few simple, 


elementary substances. And the time, per 
haps, will hardly be deemed uselessly em 
ployed, that is engaged in reviewing those 
moral qualities which, from time immemorial, 
at all events from the time of Aristotle, have 
put in their claims to be placed on the list of 
virtues. It is, in some respects, to repeat 
what has been urged before, yet, until the 
false, imperfect, and ambiguous virtues are 
moved aside, room will not be so easily found 
for the true and legitimate virtues. And the 
repetition may be excused on the score of its 
necessity for clearing away incumbrances, and 
preparing the field for the introduction of a 
genuine and practical morality. 

1 . Piety is the virtue by which is understood 
reverence for the Divine Being, exhibiting itself 
in obedience to his will. Reverence can only have 
its source in a high estimate of his attributes, 
especially of the attributes of wisdom, power, 
and goodness. Now to what purpose can 
these attributes be directed, so that they may 
harmonize, but to the production of happiness ? 
What other object can infinite goodness propose 
to itself? What can infinite wisdom be so effi 
ciently engaged in, as the discovery of the fittest 
means ? And how should infinite power, being 
allied to wisdom and to goodness, give evidence 
of its existence but in the accomplishment of 


this great end ? In what situation then does 
man stand to the Divinity ? In what way can 
he best serve, in what way can he best give 
evidence of that piety, which consists in obedi 
ence ? Surely by furthering the great objects 
proposed by the Divine Being; surely by labor 
ing in the same field the field of benevolence. 
And on whom can his benevolence be exerted ? 
Only on himself and others. To himself and 
others then all his powers of usefulness are con 
fined ; beyond these he has no sphere of action. 
What is piety, therefore, disassociated from 
prudence and benevolence? a mere empty 

2. Fortitude is a quality which is understood 
to embrace patience and equanimity. It is to 
a great extent the result of particular physical 
organization ; and in so far as this is the case, it 
is no more a virtue than strength, or symmetry, 
or any other gift of nature, Unobtainable by 
human effort. That portion of it which is under 
the dominion of the will, may, if made subor 
dinate to prudence and benevolence, be intitled 
to the denomination of virtue ; but it is not ne 
cessarily virtuous, for there may be an impru 
dent fortitude and a maleficent fortitude, though 
there can be no imprudent, no maleficent 
virtue : in other words, no virtuous imprudence 
or improbity. Fortitude generally implies Ion- 


ganimity under suffering, or resistance to pain ; 
and as one of the great objects of virtue is to 
diminish suffering, fortitude may frequently be 
a useful auxiliary. There are cases in which 
its exercise may only lead to a prolongation of 
suffering, as where, exhibited under torture, 
the opposition made by it to the ordinary 
expressions of suffering, brings down tortures 
more terrible. Whether in such a case the 
pleasures of the dissocial affections, of scorn 
and contempt, counterbalance the added agonies 
of the tortured, as some have supposed, may 
well be questioned. Few men would, of their 
own choice, allow the additional tortures to be 
inflicted for any gratification they could derive 
from hurling any quantity of scorn at the 
inflictor. The true reason may be, that though 
the torture is near, the scorn is nearer ; and 
when sufferings are intense, there may be a sort 
of doubt in the mind of the sufferer as to the 
possibility of adding to their intensity. 

Fortitude is nearly allied to courage ; and 
courage, like fortitude, depends wholly for its 
title to approval upon the use made of it. In 
itself it is no virtue ; and the exercise of it, 
independently of its application to prudent or 
beneficent purposes, is the exercise of a quality 
rather the distinction of wild beasts than men, 


and distinguishing them in the very degree of 
their fierceness and ferocity. 

3. Temperance, may include sobriety and chas 
tity. For the submission to their dictates there 
is the strongest prima facie case. Neither pru 
dence nor benevolence appears compromised by 
the observance of these virtues. Both may be so 
most seriously by their infraction. But even 
here, on a closer examination, it will appear that 
nothing but the subordination of temperance to 
the two great primary virtues will make it really 
virtuous. What virtue is there in the tempe 
rance which produces disease or death ? What 
virtue was there in the fastings of ascetic mora 
lists, making experiments on the powers of ab 
stinence, and frequently perishing in the strug 
gle ? In the instance of temperance, as in those 
of most of the virtues inculcated by ancient 
writers, the imperfection of their theory of 
morals is made manifest, and the necessity of 
introducing some other test besides the so-called 
virtue, in order to determine whether it really 
be a virtue, is the best evidence of the incom 
pleteness of their moral code. This test they 
called moderation, for their notion was, that in 
the excess of virtue there was no virtue at all. 
In too much temperance there was no virtue ; in 
too little there was none. Their golden mean 


\vas, in fact, a vague recognition of some higher 
quality to which their virtues, in order to prove 
them virtues, must be made subordinate. They 
were not happy in the choice of a word, though 
they could find no better a word than modera 
tion. They would have been ill-content with 
its application to the business of life : they 
would not have been satisfied certainly with 
moderate honesty on the part of their depen 
dants, or moderate chastity on the part of their 
wives, or moderate temperance on the part of 
their children. But, feeling the insufficiency 
and inapplicability of their phraseology, they 
wanted some other guide. Their virtues were 
the virtues of occasion, whose value depended 
not on their intrinsic and substantial excellence, 
but on the circumstances which called them 
into operation. What was virtue this moment, 
might not be virtue the next. Thus their defi 
nitions of virtue were sometimes so narrow as 
to exclude the highest virtue, and sometimes so 
wide and vague as to embrace equally both 
virtue and vice. 

4. Justice is one of those qualities of which 
a great parade is made by the moralists of the 
Aristotelian school. Its interests are, to a great 
extent, taken under the care of the legislator, 
and its infractions are made responsible to the 
criminal code in their most extensively perni- 


cious consequences. Justice is generally un 
derstood to be the coincidence of conduct with 
the dictates of law, or of morality. With the 
moral, and not with the legal department is our 
present concern; and the claims of justice, 
stripped of their vague phraseology, will be 
found to be simply the claims of benevolence ; 
the claims of benevolence being here the applica 
tion of the non-disappointment principle. Injus 
tice, in as far as it has any definite or definable 
meaning, is the denial of a pleasure which a 
man has a right to enjoy, or the infliction of a 
pain which he should not be exposed to suffer. 
In both cases the dictates of benevolence are 
violated towards him. But the claims of jus 
tice, disassociated from the tests which Deon 
tology applies to them, are vague and unsatis 
factory. The declaration that such and such 
an action, or such and such a course of action, 
is just or unjust, is mere declamatory pretence, 
unless, at the same time, the dependent plea 
sures and pains are brought into the calculation. 
If it could be proved that evil, in the shape of a 
balance of suffering upon the whole, grew out of 
a given line of conduct, and it were agreed that 
such line of conduct ought to be called just, the 
consequence would simply be, that justice and 
virtue might be opposed to one another, and that 
to be just would be to be immoral. Made 


secondary to the general happiness, or in other 
words, to the combined influences of prudence 
and benevolence, justice is intitled to the de 
signation of virtue. 

5. Liberality is beneficence on a large scale, 
but, unless under the guidance of prudence, 
may be a vice instead of a virtue ; and, unless 
under the guidance of benevolence, may be still 
more extensively pernicious. The word liberal 
is one of vague and various interpretations. It 
is applied, with different meanings, to thoughts, 
words, and actions. A liberal mind is usually 
understood to imply a disposition to give a 
friendly interpretation to the conduct of others ; 
to avoid harsh and sudden judgments; to be 
candid and charitable : reduced to conduct, 
liberality may mean mercy, justice, generosity; 
in a word, beneficence, either by abstention or by 
action. In order to associate the term with pru 
dence and benevolence, it is very usual to attach 
to it some phrase or word which takes it out of 
the region of possible misinterpretation : for ex 
ample, prudent liberality, well-judged liberality, 
well-timed liberality. Liberality, undisciplined 
by the two real and cardinal virtues, is mere 
folly. It would be very liberal for any man to 
give to others all that he has, either in posses 
sion or in prospect, but it would be neither wise 
nor virtuous : it might be very liberal to patro- 


nise and to reward error and misconduct, but it 
would be neither useful nor philanthropic. In 
fact, no liberality would be so liberal as that 
which should run into all sorts of extravagan 
ces. In the political field, liberal and liberalism 
are used as self-laudatory terms by a party in 
the state, and are generally associated, in the 
meaning of those who employ them, with the 
original idea of liberty, liberals, the advocates 
of liberty ; liberalism, the principles of liberty 
applied to public life. There are few words 
which, with its derivations, have been more mis 
chievous than this word liberty. When it 
means any thing beyond mere caprice and dog 
matism, it means good government ; and if good 
government had had the good fortune to occupy 
the same place in the public mind which has 
been occupied by the vague entity called liberty, 
the crimes and follies which have disgraced and 
retarded the progress of political improvement 
would hardly have been committed. The usual 
definition of liberty that it is the right to do 
every thing that the laws do not forbid shows 
with what carelessness words are used in ordi 
nary discourse or composition : for if the laws 
are bad, what becomes of liberty ; and if the 
laws are good, where is its value ? Good laws 
have a defined, intelligible meaning ; they pur 
sue an obviously useful end by obviously appro- 


priate means. When Madame de Roland un 
dertook to distinguish liberty from licence, she 
flattered the ear by alliteration, but brought no 
satisfaction to the understanding. 

6. Magnificence, which, however, is repre 
sented as under the check of frugality, in 
order to be deemed a virtue, simply means the 
doing great things. And were it a virtue, the 
masses of mankind would be wholly excluded 
from its exercise. A quality, whose power of 
action is confined to the extremely small mi 
nority of mankind, has happily no real claims 
to the recompense or to the praise of virtue. 
Magnificence is a sort of grandiloquent word for 
aristocratical beneficence. Ostentation has a 
dyslogistic character, and mingles some alloy of 
pride, or vanity, or scorn in its displays. Mag 
nificence, even with frugality for its check and 
control, is not of necessity either worthy of 
praise or blame ; it may not have any tincture 
of vice or virtue ; it may imply no sacrifice to 
others; it may bring no pleasure to oneself; it 
may be a mere waste of a means of pleasure. 
As a question of expenditure, it may be pru 
dential, and it may be benevolent ; but if it ab 
sorb or subtract from means which might be 
employed more prudentially and more benevo 
lently, it is, supposing the expenditure would, 
but for the magnificence, have been employed 


for the production of the greater instead of the 
lesser good, it is a source of mischief equal to 
the amount of difference between that lesser and 
that greater good. The decking magnificence 
with the pomp of virtue is, in the moral world, 
a fallacy of a somewhat similar character to 
that which has often intruded into the world of 
political economy, namely, that it is more meri 
torious to spend than to save. They both grow 
out of an inordinate estimate of the value of 
the social principle, separately and narrowly 
viewed, that social principle which there is a 
great disposition to aggrandize at the expense 
of the self-regarding. Now the value and true 
influence of the social depends on its subjection 
and subordination to the self-regarding, as the 
primary source of action, in the same way as 
all the minor virtues resolve themselves into the 
two major virtues which hold sole dominion 
over the regions of morality. 

7. Magnanimity is a word which, for popular 
use, might be conveniently translated into great- 
mindedness. It conveys an undefined idea of 
intellectual superiority prompting beneficent 
conduct of forbearance or of action, such as 
on ordinary occasions could not be expected of 
ordinary men. But magnanimous acts and vir 
tuous acts are by no means synonymous, neither 
are pusillanimous and vicious acts. Suppose a 


man, by sacrifice, to have done that which adds 
to his ultimate stock of happiness, while it in 
terferes not with, or increases the happiness of 
other men, will the vituperating his conduct 
with the charge of pusillanimity make it other 
than wise and virtuous ? Let a man have per 
formed a deed by which he has inflicted misery 
on himself or others, or both, will any pomp 
ous ejaculations to the honor and glory of his 
magnanimity make the deed any other than one 
of wickedness or folly ? Such two-edged in 
struments as, at one moment, do good service 
to the cause of morals, and the next inflict on 
that cause the deadliest wounds, should be 
hung up in the armoury of Deontology, to be 
very rarely, always cautiously employed, and 
never without the recollection, that they cut 
both ways. 

To estimate the quantity of virtue in an action 
claiming to be magnanimous, the peculiar phy 
sical organization of the actor must be taken 
into the account, in order to estimate the amount 
of sacrifice, and of consequent effort made. 
Then comes the question, has the action been 
more injurious to himself than useful to others ? 
Has it been more injurious to others than use 
ful to himself? In the first place, the magnani 
mous action was imprudent ; in the second, it 
was maleficent, in neither was it virtuous. 


The result of the magnanimous action, has it 
been the diminution of human happiness ? If 
so, there is nothing to save it from being drag 
ged forth by the Deontologist from the territory 
of virtue into which it has intruded, exposed as 
an impostor, and flung into the realms of im 

8. Modesty is a branch of extra-regarding 
prudence. It is a virtue of abstention. In its 
application to the two sexes, the sense of the 
word undergoes a somewhat remarkable modi 
fication. A modest man is understood generally 
to mean a bashful, unobtrusive, unpretending 
person ; a modest woman immediately associates 
the character with the idea of sexual purity or 
chastity. The different interpretation of the 
same word, when thus differently employed, is 
one of the consequences of that public opinion 
which imposes upon woman a far stricter moral 
law than that to which a man is required to 
submit. Yet the distinction does not exist as to 
the corresponding vice. Immodest, as applied 
to man or woman, has nearly the same meaning, 
and implies lasciviousness in words or action. 
Modesty, in its ordinary sense, wins men s affec 
tions by conciliating their opinion. It checks the 
disposition to annoy by contradiction. It is an 
unobtrusive tribute to the self-esteem of another. 
It is unwilling to sit in j udgment on the conduct 


of others, and if it do sit in judgment, that 
judgment is given in the least offensive shape. 
Modesty in language is the result of prudential 
restraint upon expression ; modesty in conduct 
of prudential constraint upon action. 

9. Mansuetude, when a virtue, is dependent 
on extra-regarding prudence. Like modesty, it 
is flattering to the self-esteem of the person 
towards whom it is exercised. It is modesty 
with a deeper tinge of humility ; or, which pro 
duces the same effect upon the object, it is 
modesty influenced by timidity : it goes farther 
in deference and submission than modesty does, 
and when suffering is brought into action man- 
suetude becomes patience or longanimity. It 
is a quality ordinarily virtuous, vibrating as it 
were between other ordinarily virtuous qualities, 
but whose amount of virtue can only be esti 
mated by the application of the Deontological 
tests. The meekness of a man whose meek 
ness diminishes his own enjoyments, and adds 
less to the happiness of others than the amount 
he sacrifices of his own, that meekness, being 
imprudent and improvident, is the contrary of 
virtuous. The meekness of a man whose meek 
ness is pernicious to others, and useless to him 
self, is unbenevolent, and the contrary of vir 
tuous. Meekness is to a considerable extent 
a natural personal gift, and it is only to such 



portion of it as is acquired by thought that the 
question of morality can apply. From this 
portion, so diminished, subtract every thing 
that is not prudence or benevolence, and the 
residuum will be the virtue ; that is to say the 
prudence and the effective benevolence will be 
the virtue, and nothing else. 

10. Veracity. There are two classes which com 
prize the pernicious breaches of veracity. They 
are the anti-prudential and the anti-social. The 
violation of truth, when by its violation mischief 
is done to the individual or the community, is 
vicious ; and the idea of the sacredness of truth 
is a very important element in the field of morals. 

But the value of truth is not always and on 
all occasions the same. Like every other 
quality professing to be virtuous, veracity must 
be made subservient to prudence and benevo 
lence. Its excellence can only be estimated by 
the result of good that it produces ; and though 
it may appear safe and simple legislation to 
declare that prudence and benevolence shall be 
made subservient to truth, a little examination 
will show that truth, in order to be most benefi 
cial, must be subordinate to the great and lead 
ing virtues. For truth must be either useful, 
useless, or pernicious. Upon useful truths no 
restraint should be placed ; the more influence, 
the more diffusion they have the better. Pru- 


dence and benevolence unite not only in en 
couraging their utterance but in giving wings to 
their circulation. As to truths whose influence 
is neutral, neither injurious nor beneficial, they 
may be left to men s caprices, for they stand 
upon their innoxious qualities ; but of those 
truths that are mischievous, truths which are 
creators of pain and destroyers of pleasure, let 
them be suppressed ; they are ministers of evil, 
not instruments of good. Happily, however, the 
number of such pernicious truths can be but 
small, and the demands for their utterance rare. 
The man who treats the dictates of veracity 
lightly, who seeks occasions either for the con 
cealment of truth, for prevarication, or for utter 
ing falsehood, loses that reputation for veracity 
the preservation of which is one of the highest 
objects of prudence. And strong must be the case 
of utility which will warrant a man s sacrificing 
any portion of his character for veracity, since 
falsehood is the high road to self-contradiction. 

1 1 . Amity or Friendship is neither a vice nor a 
virtue until it is brought into the domains of 
prudence or benevolence. It is merely a certain 
state of the affections implying an attachment 
to particular objects. Now that attachment may 
be pernicious or beneficial. Indifferent it can 
scarcely be, for that would suppose motives and 
consequences of pain and pleasure without any 


balance for a result ; a case so rare in the field 
of human action as scarcely to be worthy of 
consideration. Amity may be pernicious to 
both parties, in which case it violates both pru 
dence and benevolence ; it may be pernicious to 
the man who bestows his amity, and in that state 
of things the laws of prudence forbid its exer 
cise : without being pernicious to the man who 
confers, it may be so to the man who is the object 
of the amicable word or deed, or to others, in 
which case it is maleficent. Again, where the 
pleasures on either side are more than counter 
balanced by the pains on the other, there is a clear 
loss to happiness, and consequently to virtue. 
Where amity is the source of mutual benefit, pru 
dence and benevolence are served to the extent of 
that mutual benefit, always supposing that the 
consequences of the words or actions which are 
the source of that benefit do not extend beyond 
the parties. For no result of happiness to those 
parties will make their friendship virtuous, if that 
friendship destroy more happiness elsewhere 
than they have created for themselves. 

12. The word Urbanity is a very ambiguous 
description of a virtue. That portion of it which 
is denominated good temper or good nature is an 
idiosyncratic element ; a part of a person s con 
stitutional or physical identity, for which no title 
of vice or virtue can be properly claimed. Where 


urbanity is the result of an effort made to give 
pleasure to another, where it infuses benignity 
into a word or action, makes the gracious thing 
more gracious, and takes from that which is 
unacceptable to another all unnecessary in 
fliction of pain, where in a word it bears the 
character of benevolence ; there, and there only 
is virtue. But beyond that benevolence there 
is no virtue at all, and there is no virtue except 
in the benevolence. Urbanity, then, is intitled 
to the honors of virtue in all those cases where 
efficient benevolence is its guide and sovereign ; 
with the understanding that prudence makes no 
sacrifice of pleasure greater in value than the 
pleasure won by that benevolence. 

So vague are the conceptions, so unsatisfac 
tory the definitions of morality proceeding even 
from the most distinguished writers, that there 
would be little difficulty in drawing the picture 
of imprudence and improbity, and showing 
that it was quite consistent with the qualities 
to which, and to which alone they give the 
name of virtue. Examine, for example, the dif 
ferent characteristics which Mr Hume has put 
forward in his Essays as tests and evidence 
of virtuous disposition, which is/ he says, * in 

* other words, that which leads to action and 
employment, renders us sensible to the social 

* passions, steels the heart against the assaults of 


fortune, reduces the affections to a just modera- 
tion, makes our own thoughts an entertainment 
to us, and inclines us rather to the pleasures of 
society and conversation than to those of the 

It would be easy to show, that of these 
qualities there is scarcely one that is necessarily 
virtuous ; scarcely one that may not be applied 
to the production of misery. Action and 
employment may be as well directed to per 
nicious as to useful objects; the social passions 
may be the fruitful sources of imprudence and 
improbity ; the moderation of the affections 
may or may not be worthy of praise ; for why 
should not the virtuous affections be maximized 
instead of moderated ? The making our own 
thoughts an entertainment to us may be feeding 
those thoughts with poison : no thoughts are 
perhaps more entertaining than thoughts of 
profligacy, while the pleasures of society and 
conversation/ in preference to those of the 
senses/ may, without prudence and benevolence 
for their guide, be exhibitions equally perilous 
to the understanding, and depraving to the 
benevolent sympathies. 

But how should Hume be safe from error, 
who makes a sense of virtue a feeling 
referable to no results, the groundwork of good 
conduct? - An action/ he says, is virtuous or 


c vicious, because its view causes a pleasure or 
uneasiness of a particular kind. iii. 28. But 
what action is there which in different men will 
not produce different feelings ? To have the 
* sense of virtue, he proceeds, is nothing but 
to feel a satisfaction of a particular kind from 
the contemplation of a character. The very 
feeling constitutes our praise or admiration. 
We do not infer a character to be virtuous 
because it pleases ; but in feeling that it pleases 
after such a particular manner, we in effect 
feel that it is virtuous. The same is implied in 
our judgments concerning all kinds of beauty, 
and tastes, and sensations ; our approbation is 
implied in the immediate pleasure they convey 
to us/ 

Truly it is inexplicable how all mankind 
should have possessed this new sense this 
moral sense, without ever dreaming of it till the 
last century. And since the exercise of this 
sense is a pleasure, well is its inventor intitled 
to Xerxes and Tiberius s reward ! But if 
original, if organic, it would be as strong in 
savage as in civilised life : is that contended 

Hume was a man to get glimpses of truth. 
He brought in the light of utility to show what 
was the motive and the merit of justice. But 
he stopped there, as if unconscious of the value 


of his discovery. Yet in Hume there is no 
obstinacy, no uncandid artifice. Not wedded 
to a system by professional attachment, a mild 
philosophy breathes in his every line. 

But this moral sense, instead of being or giving 
a reason, is, after all, only an artifice to avoid 
giving a reason. It affords in reality no criterion 
to distinguish right from wrong; what ought 
to be done from what ought not to be done. 
It does not answer the question, Ought I to do 
this or not ? It may say peremptorily, Yes ! 
or No! Suppose the partisan of the moral sense 
says No ! and he were asked why ? he could 
only say, My moral sense condemns it. But, 
if farther pushed by an inquiry as to what he 
meant by his moral sense, he could but declare 
that it was painful to do it; and then, if asked 
for evidence of that pain, he might rejoin that 
all the wise and the good felt it ; but if more 
moderate and accurate he might content himself 
by averring that he felt it. In the first case, he 
throws the whole question back upon authority, 
which cuts, but does not untie the gordian 
knot, and makes all morality arbitrary ; in the 
second, he gives me, as a reason for not doing 
a thing that it would give him pain were he to 
do it. If he were to show that it would give 
me pain, he would do something ; but the case 
is by the supposition just the contrary ; for if 


it did give me pain, I should never think of 
doing it, nor of asking him the question. 

Besides, the existence of the moral sense, if 
not organic or intuitive, will just be wanting 
where it is most wanted, that is, in the case 
of those who have it not. It will explain what 
is understood already, and leave all the rest as 
dark an enigma as before. It is a medicine 
which will take effect only on those who are in 
good health, and we know who has said, and 
how wisely he has said it, They that are whole 
need not a physician. 

Vain is the attempt to teach morals by decla 
mation, or to build theories out of facts opposed 
to every thing we know. Is virtue less virtuous 
because it is proved not to be disinterested ? In 
no sense whatever. Shall the structure of 
morality be raised on the foundation of truth, 
or falsehood ? Answer, ye lovers of right ! 

Be men what they may, it becomes us to 
know them as they are ; no flattering and faithless 
portrait will mend the original. Were they 
still worse, it could not but be useful to study 
them honestly ; for every rule and argument 
founded on an erroneous estimate, must be idle 
or pernicious in proportion to the errors of that 
estimate. The knowledge of man must be 
beneficial to man. The times of the grossest 
depravity have always been those of the darkest 


ignorance, and never were examples of enor 
mous and devastating vice more abundant, 
than in the days when outrageous and useless 
sacrifices of happiness were most sedulously 
preached, and most scrupulously practised. 

They who discourse, and they who legislate 
on the supposition, that man will act in oppo 
sition to acknowledged interests, make morality 
a fable, arid law a romance. Their commands 
are nugatory their expedients vain. 

Of the systems of morality presented to the 
acceptance of mankind, which is there so ho 
norable to its advocates as the Deontological ? 
Sensible of no weakness, it asks for no mercy ; 
it has no hidden defects to be glossed over by 
sophistry ; no inexplicable mysteries to be 
covered by the shield of authority. In itself it 
contains the elements of its own purification, 
and offers no barriers to the progress of those 
investigations which are disposed to follow 
truth and virtue through every ethical labyrinth 
in which prejudice, or interest stronger than 
prejudice, may have involved them. No man 
need be ashamed on any occasion to own that 
he is desirous of being governed by the doctrines 
of utility in all his conduct ; and in making such 
a declaration, he is certain to find a large 
amount of sympathy ; for it cannot be denied 
that the moral sanction is really grounded on 


the recognition of those doctrines. The Deon- 
tological code is the harmonizer of that popular 
opinion which, in fact, is awakening to its re 
peated appeals. It is the law of society brought 
into order and reduced to system, with a few 
alterations necessary for the consistency and 
unity of the whole. 

But when a system of morals proposes to a 
man a higher degree of perfection than it can 
find motives to stimulate him to, that system is 
false and hollow. 

If the conduct it proposes to men in general 
is such as, from the very nature of things, few 
men can be expected to pursue, that system is 
false and hollow. 

If it proposes to a man a line of conduct as 
necessary to be maintained which is not main 
tainable, for which it can find no sanctions of 
pleasure to attract, no menaces of pain to force 
him to avoid ; if, in a word, it affects to accom 
plish what is not accomplishable, that system 
is false and hollow. 

But, in order for utility to be the ground of 
approbation for a species of action, it is not 
necessary that every one who approves it should 
have discovered or be able to explain its utility, 
or every one who disapproves an act have per 
ceived its mischievousness or be competent to 
point it out to others. One man perceives 


its mischievousness he disapproves of it he 
expresses his disapprobation he is looked to 
as an authority he says it is bad it is wrong 
it is mischievous nobody has any motive 
to approve it, that is, in others. Men take him 
at his word. A general opinion prevails that 
the action is bad ; fit to be disapproved. It is 
generally disapproved, The disapprobation 
against the act thus established, a person has 
occasion to consider whether he shall do it or 
not. He concludes not. Why ? It occurs to 
him that it is disapproved ; to do an action that is 
disapproved draws on him the ill will of the 
persons who disapprove of it; tis therefore that 
he abstains from doing it. Is it because he 
perceives it is mischievous ? No. He never 
thinks whether it is mischievous or not ; he has 
no occasion to look so far ; he does not look so 
far : if he did look so far as to see whether there 
were mischief or not in it, perhaps he might not 
find it of himself. It was general disapprobation 
of the act and not a sense of its mischievousness 
that \vas the ground of his disapprobation. 
But what was the ground of that general dis 
approbation of it ? Particular experience of its 

The mischievousness of the act, even if recog 
nised, would not be the immediate cause of his 
conduct ; the immediate cause, that is, his 


motive, would be the idea of pleasure and pain 
as about to arise from it : that is, the pain he 
might incur, in consequence of the ill will of 
men which would arise upon his committing an 
act marked with their disapprobation. 

Every thing concurs to make this train of 
reasoning habitual, so habitual and so rapid as 
to assume the guise of instinct ; it is a lesson we 
are learning almost every moment of our lives. 
Need we wonder at our being familiar with it, 
when we see what practice will do in the 
operation of the most difficult arts ? 

The ends of morality will, however, be on all 
occasions best served by the habit of comparing 
the consequences of action ; of weighing their 
results of pain and pleasure, and estimating the 
profit and loss to human happiness on the 
whole. The ablest moralist will be he who 
calculates best, and the most virtuous man will 
be he who most successfully applies right 
calculation to conduct. Nor will the result 
be always attainable without circuitousness, 
without reference to motives and consequences 
not immediately adjacent. To aim at virtuous 
conduct is the first element of success. 

Aiming supposes judgment; judgment is a 
comparison of two ideas at a time, the pro 
nouncing that one of them is or is not conform 
able to the other. 


When he who delivers the ball at cricket 
takes aim, you see him balancing the hand that 
holds it backwards and forwards several times 
before he parts with it. What is it that passes 
in his mind all the while ? He is placing the 
moving forces of his hand in an infinity of 
different situations; he is adjusting the several 
muscular fibres of his hand and arm to their 
several degrees of tension ; all these different 
adjustments pass over in review to no other 
purpose than out of them all to find some one 
which he recollected under parallel circum 
stances of distance to have been attended with 
the desired effect, namely, of hitting the wicket 
which is the aim of his action. 

Here then are an infinity of judgments passed 
in the compass of a few minutes ; for of all the 
adjustments that he has tried before his coming 
to that which determines the casting of the ball, 
there is not one of which he has not pronounced 
that it was different from any of those he had 
in his memory as models. 

The really practical part of morality consists in 
the management of the springs of action ; in the 
directing the affections to the increase of human 
happiness. These affections, as has been often 
repeated, are self-regarding, social, or dissocial ; 
each having a relation to pleasure and pain; 
each operating upon interests, and motives, 


and desires, and purposes. The question of 
virtue and of vice is on almost all occasions 
represented by a present evil or a present 
good, to be weighed against future good and 
evil. Morality is the true, immorality the 
false calculation of the final balance. The 
choice between that which is and that which 
will be, is, in fact, the whole subject of 
inquiry, and the laws of morality come into 
action from the moment in which the will 
exercises its influence upon the choice of con 
duct. The mastery of the mind over its own 
operations, is the only ground work on which 
any theory of morals can be raised. As well 
were it to preach to wood or to stone as to appeal 
to motives which cannot be brought into action. 
To drag forth pleasures and pains from their 
places of concealment, to show their connection 
with, and dependence on conduct, to enable 
the greater interest to prevail against the lesser 
interest, is the task of the genuine teacher. 
While he attaches to actions their consequences 
of good and evil, while he removes vague and 
obscure generalities into the domains of felicity 
and misery, while he brings the calculations of 
ultimate happiness to decide upon all the 
questions which vanity, or authority appealing 
to vanity, would place beyond the reach of a 
probing examination, he, the genuine teacher 


is advancing the cause of truth and virtue. 
That cause is, after all, one of the most intel 
ligible simplicity. Prudence and imprudence, 
beneficence and maleficence in these four words 
are the exhausted list of those virtues which 
alone it recognises, and the vices which alone 
it deprecates. Beyond these simple and intel 
ligible qualities, all is mystery and uncertainty. 




HAVING thus traversed, with somewhat wander 
ing footsteps, the domains of practical morality, 
so as to present a general view of the system 
which the greatest-happiness principle incul 
cates having shown, or attempted to show, 
that, after all, there are only two classes of vir 
tues the prudential and the beneficent it only 
remains to develope that mental discipline by 
which prudence and beneficence may be made 
most efficient for the creation of felicity. Pru 
dence, it has been shown, naturally divides itself 
into two departments : the first, that prudence 
with which others have nothing to do ; that 
which refers to actions whose influences do not 
reach beyond the actor ; in a word, that which 
belongs to the individual in his relations with 
himself, and not in his relations with society : 
and the second, that prudence which is de 
manded from him in consequence of his inter 
course with others ; a prudence which is closely 
connected with benevolence, and especially with 
abstential benevolence. The claims of purely 



self-regarding* prudence first demand attention : 
the subject is less embarrassed by complication ; 
the power of the individual over himself is 
more complete ; the estimate of pain and plea 
sure is more immediately accessible to the 
party concerned ; and any light thrown upon 
this portion of the subject will, perhaps, relieve 
the rest of some of its seeming embarrass 

Self-regarding prudence comprises in its 
domain actions and thoughts, or rather exter 
nal and internal actions; for thoughts are only 
internal or mental actions. Its dictates so 
direct the choice between actions, or the choice 
between thoughts, as to promote the greatest 
happiness to the individual concerned. 

As regards external actions, what prudence 
can do, and all that prudence can do, is to 
choose between the present and the future ; 
and in so far as the aggregate of happiness is 
increased, thereby to give preference to the 
greater future over the lesser present pleasure. 
But of two portions of happiness of equal 
magnitude, one present and the other not pre 
sent, the one present will always be greater 
in value than that which is future; the value 
of the future pleasure being measured by, and 
in proportion to its adjacency, and, in case of 
uncertainty, by the measure of its uncertainty. 


If time be out of the question, if two portions 
of happiness present themselves, equal in value 
and equal in remoteness, or equal in value, 
notwithstanding remoteness, virtue is not con 
cerned in the choice between them ; it is a 
matter, not of virtue, but of taste. 

Under the head of self-regarding prudence, 
as there has been occasion to remark, come 
several of those virtues which Aristotle and, 
guided by him, other moralists to this day 
have put on the same level with prudence ; each 
being, in fact, prudence presenting itself in some 
shape or other, and each requiring for its exer 
cise the sacrifice of the present to the future. 
These virtues are temperance, continence, for 
titude, magnanimity, and veracity. Subtract 
prudence from each of these, and the residuum 
will be almost nothing. If there be, under 
any circumstances, any virtue left after the 
subtraction of prudence, the small residuum of 
virtue must be benevolence ; whatever else 
remains, however it may pretend to the name 
of virtue, will be nothing but impos 
ture. If the interest of others be concerned 
in the exercise of the prudential virtues by 
ourselves, the prudence is not purely self- 
regarding, but extra-regarding. But if neither 
our own greater future happiness, nor the 
happiness of others, to an extent greater than 


the sacrifice demanded by a particular action 
is promoted by it, that sacrifice is mere asceti 
cism ; it is the very opposite to prudence ; it is 
the offspring of delusion ; it is miscalculating or 
uncalculating blindness ; since to sacrifice any, 
the least particle of pleasure, for any other 
purpose than that of obtaining for a man s self, 
or some other person, a greater quantity of 
pleasure, or of avoiding a more than equivalent 
quantity of pain, is not virtue, but folly; and 
to cause, or endeavor to cause any other person 
to give up any particle of pleasure, for any 
other purpose than in exchange for a greater 
quantity of pleasure, or to save him from a 
more than equivalent quantity of pain, is not 
virtue it is vice ; it is not benevolence it is 
malevolence; it is not beneficence it is male 

* Sperne voluptates/ says Horace ; c docet 
empta dolore voluptas, Spurn pleasures ; 
purchased pleasure teacheth pain. Silly is 
the precept ; sadly silly, if taken to the letter ; 
but no such silly notion had the poet in his 
head. No such silly notion did he mean to 
inculcate. He was thinking of the verse, not 
of the morality; and when the option is be 
tween truth and rhythm, between serving and 
pleasing, extraordinary indeed must be the poet 
who makes any other choice than was made 


by Horace. What he really meant to inculcate 
was that which we have been inculcating. 
* Utilitas/ he says elsewhere, utilitas justi 
prope mater et aequi/ Here, happily, sound 
and sense harmonize. Here is the principle of 
utility set up in express terms, as the standard 
of right and wrong; in terms, the import of 
which is plain enough, though even here the 
expression wants completeness. What is utility? 
What but the property of producing pleasure 
and preventing pain ? 

In the field of purely self-regarding prudence, 
the sensual pleasures being the most intense, and 
the most peremptory in their demands for grati 
fication, are especially those which require the 
most cautious and careful estimate of their asso 
ciated pains. The experience of the medical ad 
viser, the lessons of the economist, may indeed 
take place of the counsels of morality ; the option 
is often between the enjoyment of a moment 
and the pain of years ; between the excited 
satisfaction of a very short period and the 
sacrifice of a whole existence : between the 
stimulation of life for an hour, and the conse 
quent adjacency of disease or death. 

Of the crime and misery which exist in the 
world, the irregularities of the sexual passions 
are among the most pregnant. Guerry, in his 
< Statistique Morale de la France, states that 


one thirty-third portion of the attacks on the 
lives of men take place in houses of ill-fame : 
one-fourteenth of the cases of incendiarism, 
a great part of the duels, a large proportion 
of cases of insanity, all the cases of infanticide, 
and almost all the instances of suicide among 
young women, grow out of sexual immorality. 
The weakened force of public opinion on this 
part of the field of conduct demands prompt 
consideration ; and M. Guerry most properly 
draws the conclusion, that whatever opinions 
we may form of the innocence or guilt of the 
aberrations from chastity, men have but too 
much neglected to trace their physical con 
sequences, * for/ he continues, when deeply 
examined, views of true utility and moral 
duty will ever be found inseparable and iden 

But these pleasures of sex stand on the same 
ground as every other pleasure, and can be 
placed on their true basis by the Deontological 
principle alone. 

Certain it is that asceticism, calling itself 
religion, has set its face against them ; and by 
deductions from that most false and most per 
nicious dogma, that the favor of heaven is to 
be purchased only by the sacrifice of pleasure, 
has dragged forth the most intense of plea 
sures as the meetest for sacrifice. And truly, 


a great inroad was made upon the donfains of 
virtue, when it was laid down as a religious 
axiom, that these pleasures are simply and 
per se immoral, and offensive to the Deity, and 
that abstention from them is in itself meri 
torious. It was only by gathering round the 
word chastity a mist of confusion that a case 
could be seemingly made out for the virtue 
of abstention from enjoyment, under all cir 
cumstances, and without any reference to ulti 
mate good or evil. 

Is not chastity, then, a virtue? Most un 
doubtedly, and a virtue of high deserving. 
And why ? Not because it diminishes, but 
because it heightens enjoyment. 

Is not temperance a virtue? Aye, assuredly 
is it. But wherefore ? Because by restraining 
enjoyment for a time, it afterwards elevates it 
to that very pitch which leaves, on the whole, 
the largest addition to the stock of happiness. 

Modesty, itself a ramification and evidence 
of chastity, what is it but an invention by 
which pleasure is augmented ? Modesty dic 
tates concealment ; concealment stimulates cu 
riosity ; curiosity augments desire, and with 
previous desire subsequent gratification in 

Modesty, in fact, is to one appetite what 


bitters or acids are to another ; they contribute 
to its healthfulness and pleasurableness, not 
by their similarity, but by their contrast. If 
they create a temporary disagreeableness, they 
produce, on the whole, a greater amount of 
agreeable sensations than would have been 
experienced without them. If they repel a 
pleasure of the palate, and substitute an annoy 
ance, it is only to create a greater and more 
enduring pleasure. 

In fact, temperance, modesty, chastity, are 
among the most efficient sources of delight. 
They form part of the very pleasures which 
they magnify and purify, and which, without 
them, lose the best part of their value, and 
shrink into almost nothing. 

Strange that a result so obvious should have 
escaped the penetration of the whole herd of 
moralists ! Strange that the simple uses of 
such valuable instruments should have been 
so mistaken and so distorted ! The force that 
was intended to be applied to the spring of 
action, solely to increase and strengthen its 
activity, has been thus represented as meant to 
break that spring; and hence the means which 
Providence has put into men s power, for the 
creation of happiness, have been perverted to 
its destruction. Such moralists, indeed, would 


be aptly commented on by the surgeon who, 
in order to cure a pimple, should amputate a 

As it has been said, in the shape of a para 
doxical truth, that religion is the height of 
self-love, so, with equal propriety, may it be 
asserted that modesty is the height of volup 
tuousness. So futile is the distinction, so 
absurd the variance, so mischievous the rupture 
which have been made between interest and 
duty, between what is virtuous and what is 
pleasurable ! 

The acts which come under that branch of 
prudence which we are now considering, are 
either such as are in their character unsociable, 
and accordingly performed without witness, or 
such as are performed in the presence of others. 
They may therefore be divided into uncogniz- 
able and cognizable acts. 

Those which are performed out of view are 
actions purely internal, namely, thoughts, in 
so far as thoughts are voluntary, or external 
actions which may be performable in the pre 
sence of others. Actions there are, which, 
though performed in the presence of others, 
are to them subjects of complete indifference, 
and therefore come not under the control either 
of extra-regarding prudence or benevolence. 
Where an act is wholly inoffensive to others, 


it comes under the dominion of the physical 
or pathological sanction ; where it is or may 
be offensive, the retributive, the popular or 
moral, and the political, including the legal, 
may have application to it. 

But the acts that are not knowable, or 
at least not known in themselves, may be 
knowable, or known by their consequences, 
and those consequences may be immaterial or 

If an act is unknown, and unattended with 
material consequences, it belongs to the pro 
vince of taste, and not to that of morality. 
A man is perfectly free to perform it or not ; 
and whatever part he takes, he cannot do amiss. 
An apple being before him, and he, subject 
to no danger from indigestion, may eat it or 
not eat it, eat it with his right hand or his 
left hand ; an apple or a pear being before him, 
he may eat the pear first or the apple first. 
Deontology has nothing to do with his conduct 
on the occasion. 

But when material consequences grow out 
of an action, the authority of morality begins. 
Here may be two conflicting interests ; the 
interest of the moment, and the interest of the 
rest of life. Here may have place the tempt 
ation and the demand for sacrifice, the 
sacrifice of the present to the contingent 


future, or of the contingent future to the 

And then comes the question, of the two 
sacrifices, which is of the greatest value ? The 
apple, we will suppose, would have produced 
indigestion. At the cost of the future suffer 
ings that indigestion will bring, is it wise to 
buy the present immediate gratification of eat 
ing the apple? And if there be no danger 
of indigestion, there is no call for sacrifice : 
the eating of the apple is a pleasure from which 
no pain is to be deducted ; it is a clear result 
of good ; but if there be danger of indigestion, 
then must the comparative values of the pains 
and pleasures be estimated, and according to 
the reported balance will be the demand for 

Again shall I have beef or mutton to-day 
for dinner ? The price is the same, the cost 
of cooking the same ; it is only a question of 
taste. But suppose the price of the mutton 
be dearer than that of the beef, and that my 
pecuniary circumstances do not make the cost 
indifferent to me, here is obviously room for 
the exercise of prudence ; but suppose, farther, 
my wife has a fit of longing for the mutton, 
in exclusion of the beef, and that she is in 
circumstances requiring peculiar regard to her 
desires, then prudence combines with bene- 


volence, even at the expense of part of the 
next day s meal, in deciding in favor of the 

The rules for making our thoughts subser 
vient to our happiness are two : 

1. To exclude such thoughts as are painful, 

2. To introduce such as are pleasurable. 

The thoughts whose consequence is to influ 
ence action will engage our attention elsewhere. 
They belong to the head of means-selecting 
prudence. Such are the thoughts which review 
past life with a reference to future conduct. 

The first lesson, then, of self-regarding pru 
dence in the management of the thoughts is 
negative, it teaches the avoidance of thoughts 
which bring self-annoyance with them. The 
next law is positive, and encourages those 
thoughts to which self-gratification attaches. 
In both cases prudence requires that the rejec 
tion of painful and the creation of pleasurable 
thoughts should not be accompanied by the visi 
tation of a greater pain than that avoided, or 
the sacrifice of a greater pleasure than that ob 
tained. Do not, for the sake of laying them 
aside, or in the expectation that you may easily 
do so, look out for painful thoughts : that would 
be the way not to keep them out of your mind, 
but to keep them in. Look out exclusively for 


the pleasurable ones ; by so doing, in so far as 
you succeed, you will, at the same time, get in 
the pleasurable ones ; and by introducing the 
pleasurable you will keep out the painful ones ; 
by so doing, for in mind as in body, no two 
objects can at the same time occupy the 
same space. Matchless, it is true, is the rapid 
ity with which any two, or any greater number 
of such objects, may succeed one another ; but 
still succession is not co-existence : successive 
is not simultaneous existence. 

Without being looked after, thoughts will in 
troduce themselves, and in many a mind hateful 
thoughts more readily than pleasurable ones. 
It is idle to seek for unnecessary misery. The 
painful thoughts that will come must come; but 
add not uselessly to their number; encourage not 
their visitations, and drive them away as fast 
and as far as you can. 

Disassociated from the present and the future, 
the past is valueless, for as past, present, and 
future are only interesting or instructive, in so 
far as they afford materials out of which good 
may be extracted, the past being irrevocable, 
cannot, of course, be influenced by succeeding 
events or opinions. But, except in the past, 
there is no experience, and from it alone can be 
gathered those results which may serve for the 
guidance of the future. Beyond the lessons it 


gives, the remembrances of the past are, for the 
most part, painful. Its history is, to a great 
extent, the history of privations. If the mind 
can be so happily tuned as to make those 
privations sources of pleasurable retrospect, 
something will be gained to happiness by dwel 
ling upon them. In a great many instan 
ces the memory of departed time is sad and 
distressful. The calculation of what we had 
and have not, is not fairly balanced against the 
estimate of what we have. The lost, the irre 
vocable, is frequently exaggerated in import 
ance, because it is irrevocably lost, while there 
is a prevalent disposition to underrate the value 
of a present possession. On the whole, the 
safest general rule is, to apply the attention as 
little as possible to by-gone scenes and events. 
Every man may for himself mark out certain 
exceptions. There are thoughts of past enjoy 
ments that still leave pleasant impressions, 
notwithstanding the knowledge of their being 
never to return ; so there are recollections of 
painful events from which the remembrance of 
our escape will be constantly accompanied with 
pleasurable impressions. One class of reminis 
cences are wholly pernicious that of vain re 
grets, dreamings of what might have been had 
not that been which was. No regret can change 
the past, and unless it can be turned to some 


useful account for the future, prudence requires 
its suppression. There is profound philosophi 
cal truth in Shakespeare s dictum, that 

All regrets are vain, and those most vain 
Which, by pain purchased, do inherit pain/ 

Past occurrences in general, and in particular 
such as at the time were of a painful nature, 
will be continually forcing, or endeavoring to 
force themselves from their repository in the 
memory into present remembrance : and this in 
a proportion rising with that of their magnitude, 
and in particular to that of their intensity : that 
is, with the intensity which belongs to them at 
the time. To keep them out of present remem 
brance, in one word, out of view, will be but in 
an imperfect degree in any man s power. At 
tention, however strong, desire, however earn 
est, will fail to exclude the recurrence of sad 
and disagreeable recollections ; the will has not, 
in general, so perfect a command over the 
thoughts as to chase such recollections away. 

By exercise, however, this faculty, like any 
other, may be strengthened and improved. 

In fact, the thoughts have been often trained 
not only to whelm past sorrows in oblivion, but 
even to deaden the intensity of present suffer 
ing. Cases are recorded of men who, at the 
very time they were undergoing the severest 


torture, have had the faculty of drawing away 
their attention even from the present sensation 
with such force, as in a very considerable de 
gree to diminish the baleful influence of it. In 
comparison of the force of attention requisite 
for the production of such an effect, the force 
necessary to the keeping out of view the ordi 
nary stock of such unpleasant incidents as those 
which exist in the memory, will be found to be 
very inconsiderable. 

The power of managing the thoughts may 
seem to presuppose the absence of other strong 
excitement ; yet, if that power can be exercised 
notwithstanding excruciating tortures, if calm 
ness and even rejoicing under suffering have been 
sometimes exhibited, what an influence must 
strong determination produce upon the thoughts ? 
When an idea or ideas have possession of the 
mind, the will may be often successfully em 
ployed in keeping them there ; but the will 
cannot exclude ideas from the mind : the mind 
cannot empty itself at will ; it may keep itself 
full, it cannot keep itself empty ; it can only 
get rid of one idea by turning aside from it and 
calling in another idea. When the ideas so dealt 
with are arguments on the opposite side of a 
controverted question, the process so carried on 
is the self-deceptive process the process by 
which the reasonings on one side of a question 


are admitted, and the reasonings on the other 
side are excluded. In this way, there is scarcely 
a proposition so absurd but that a man may keep 
himself tolerably persuaded of the truth of it ; 
nor a proposition, however reasonable, but may 
be rejected. The instruments of this sad delu 
sion are hope and fear ; but especially by fear 
the stronger passion of the two, is this despotism 
exerted over the mind. 

In the question as to the power exercised 
over a man s own mind, is involved the question 
of liberty and necessity ; and a close attention 
to the subject will perhaps show that the 
two principles are co-existent. Liberty, or 
its equivalent, the sense of liberty, does un 
doubtedly and without dispute exist ; yet 
necessity is not excluded by it. It is solely 
in virtue of the power, the command, the 
mastery which I have over my own thoughts, 
of which I feel myself every moment in posses 
sion, that I am writing or dictating these 
observations. But what was it that set me 
on this occupation ? It was something other 
than these same thoughts, some thought which 
was already in my mind, without any exertion 
of my will to bring or keep it there. 

Among thoughts of pain which struggle to 
force themselves into the mind, endeavor espe 
cially to exclude the recollection or the anticipa- 

VOL. ir. H 


tion of irremediable evil. Evil to which you 
are quite sure that it is impossible for you to 
apply, or to assist others in applying any the 
least remedy, think of as little as possible ; 
for the more you think of it, the more you in 
crease it. To this case belong all the evils that 
are passed. Passed are they, and nothing 
can make them not to have passed ; no 
anxiety about an event which has happened 
will make it not to have happened. If it be an 
evil that you might have prevented by acting 
differently, then prudence requires that your 
thoughts should dwell upon it long enough to 
prevent a recurrence of the conduct that induced 
it. If you have suffered a loss of money, or 
power, or any object of desire or of gratification, 
and your own imprudence or improvidence was 
the cause, recall it to your mind sufficiently to 
prevent a repetition of your miscalculation. 
But if no error of yours led to the evil, revert 
not to it ; forget it as soon as you can ; you only 
waste your painful emotions, and in wasting, 
magnify them. Always remember that pains 
and pleasures are, after all, the stock of human 
good and evil the seed of future well-being. 
They should, wherever their creation depends 
upon volition, be thrown on no ground uncon 
genial to the production of good. A pain 
pregnant with future pleasure may be an in- 


strument as valuable as a pleasure-producing 
pleasure. If a primary pain be the parent of a 
greater balance of pleasure than a primary 
pleasure would give birth to, that primary pain 
is of more value, in the account of happiness, 
than that primary pleasure. The true discipline, 
the genuine arithmetic of morality is here. 

To resume. If, the recollection of past 
scenes of pleasure give more gratification, from 
the memory of the pleasure, than pain from the 
knowledge that the pleasure is passed away, it is 
wise and prudent to recall them to the thoughts. 
If on scenes that were originally painful, the 
delight of escape, the contrast which present 
relief affords to past suffering, leave a balance 
of satisfaction greater than would be left by 
absolute forgetfulness, the lesson of utility is to 
summon them forth from the recesses of remem 
brance. No rule can be given which shall apply 
to a particular case, as the constitution of 
different minds is so variable. To some, for 
example, the memory of the dead, whom they 
have loved and honored, comes always in the 
shape of pain ; nay, often of agony. They can 
think of nothing but of the privation of happiness, 
caused by the removal of those they loved. To 
others there is no source of pleasurable emotion 
more sweet, more pure, more permanent, than 
that which flows from the recollection of beings 


who no longer take a personal part in the busi 
ness of life. These dwell less upon the thought 
of what they lost by their absence than upon the 
memory of what they enjoyed in their presence. 
Happily, the tendency of reflection, and the 
progress of time, are generally in alliance with 
the teachings of prudence. The grief that 
mourns the dead, is subdued by a sense of its 
fruitlessness ; the mind is dragged forth gradu 
ally from the vanities of useless sorrow ; and 
regret, after exhausting itself in idle lamentation, 
yields to those more rational influences which 
utility recommended long before. 

Self-reproach may to a certain extent be 
prudential prudential as a check upon future 
conduct ; but self-reproach which has no refer 
ence to the time to come is the mere deposition 
of a certain quantity of misery in the mind, 
which in every respect it would have been 
better to have kept out of it. Reproach of 
others, where no purpose of good is to be 
answered by it the reproach which is concen 
trated in your own thoughts, is unqualified 
imprudence ; it is pain to yourself; it cannot be 
of any benefit to them. It is the first step to 
malevolent words, and to malevolent deeds. 
Cases there are, no doubt, where language 
and actions which give evidence of displea 
sure where reproaches and their accompanying 


appropriate punishment, are demanded alike 
by prudence and virtue ; but where this is 
not the case, where the reproach is not in 
tended to be exhibited in the shape of action, 
then it is only a pain planted in the mind of the 
reproacher : he will do well and wisely to shut 
the door against its access. 

To future evils, unpreventable by thought, 
let not thought be applied ; and if preventable, 
and the means of prevention are settled, think 
of them no longer. Some men waste their time 
and destroy their peace by imagining possible 
evils evils which may never visit them, and if 
they do, will not visit them the less severely for 
all the anxiety which anticipated their arrival. 
They will only have swelled the pains of 
endurance by the pains of expectation. Of evil 
contingent on prudential or unprudential con 
duct, it is, of course, not intended to speak. 
To think of these is the self-regarding prudence 
we are teaching ; but to harass the mind by 
imagining disease fancying the tortures of the 
stone, the visitations of blindness, or the loss of 
any of the senses, is a most unfruitful, not to say 
baleful occupation. Dr Johnson was an ex 
ample of a man whose existence was frequently 
made wretched by the fears of insanity fears 
so vivid as nearly to create the very calamity 
they deprecated fears which frequently inter- 


fered with his usefulness, always (when present) 
with his felicity. 

In the pursuit of pleasurable thoughts, what 
infinite regions are open to the explorer ! The 
world is all before him, and not this world 
only, but all the worlds which roll in the 
unmeasured tracks of space, or the measureless 
heights and depths of imagination. The past, 
the present, the future all that has been, all 
that is, of great and good, of beautiful and har 
monious and all that may be. Why should 
not the high intellects of the days that are gone 
be summoned into the presence of the inquirer ; 
and dialogues between or with the illustrious 
dead be fancied, on all the points on which they 
would have enjoyed to discourse, had their 
mortal existence stretched into the days that 
are ? Take any part of the field of knowledge, 
in its present state of cultivation, and summon 
into it the sages of former time ; place Milton, 
with his high-toned and sublime philanthropy, 
amidst the events which are bringing about the 
emancipation of nations ; imagine Galileo hold 
ing intercourse with Laplace; bring Bacon 
either the Friar or the Chancellor, or both 
into the laboratory of any eminent modern che 
mist, listening to the wonderful development, 
the pregnant results of the great philosophical 
mandate Experimentalize/ Every man, pur- 


suing his own favorite tendencies, has thus a 
plastic gift of happiness, which will become 
stronger by use, and which exercise will make 
less and less exhaustible. All the combinations 
of sense with matter, the far-stretching theories 
of genius, the flight of thought through eternity 
what should prevent such exercises of the 
mind s creative will ? How interesting are those 
speculations which convey men beyond the 
regions of earth into more intellectual and 
exalted spheres where creatures endowed 
with capacities far more expansive, with 
senses far more exquisite than observation 
had ever offered to human knowledge, are 
brought into the regions of thought ! How 
attractive and instructive are even some of the 
Utopian fancies of imaginative and benevolent 
philosophy ! Regulated and controlled by the 
utilitarian principle, imagination becomes a 
source of boundless blessings. 

Though the imaginative or mental powers 
depend on and are reducible into bodily plea 
sure, the field they expatiate in is far more 
extensive than any other ; and the expanse 
opened to the contemplation, more varied and 
sublime. As objects appear larger by night, 
as obscurity magnifies everything, so imagina 
tion of the vague outstrips the calculation of the 



real. When Milton describes the descent of 
Satan, who 

1 To this hour 
Had still been falling- 

the idea of the fall is far more great than if 
there had been a positive estimate of tens of 
thousands of miles, from the moment of his over 
throw to the present hour. A definite expres 
sion by numbers would have made a far less 
forcible impression on the imagination. Out of 
this disposition to magnify what is unknown, 
grows a great part of the charm of voyages of 
discovery. In an anticipated certainty, there 
can be none of the pleasure of surprise ; and 
hence the value of the mental pleasures is not 
of a nature opposite to and separate from the 
bodily ones, but is grounded on their giving an 
indistinct and, therefore, magnified view of the 
expected enjoyment of the latter. But utility 
must be applied to both for their fit estimate. 
It is the absence or presence of utility that 
makes the sole difference between the arrange 
ment of the pin on a pincushion by a child, or 
the locating the stars on a celestial globe by a 

In all these cases in all cases where the 
power of the will can be exercised over the 
thoughts let those thoughts be directed towards 


happiness. Look out for the bright, for the 
brightest side of things, and keep your face 
constantly turned to it. If exceptions there 
are, those exceptions are but few, and sanc 
tioned only by the consideration that a less 
favorable view may, in its results, produce a 
larger sum of enjoyment on the whole; as where, 
for example, an increased estimate of difficulty 
or danger, might be needful to call up a greater 
exertion for the getting rid of a present annoy 
ance. When the mind, however, reposes on 
its own complacencies, and looks around itself 
in search of food for thought when it seeks 
rest from laborious occupation, or is forced upon 
inaction by the pressure of adjacent circum 
stances, let all its ideas be made to spring 
up in the realms of pleasure, as far as the will 
can act upon their production. 

A large part of existence is necessarily passed 
in inaction. By day (to take an instance from 
the thousand in constant recurrence), when in 
attendance on others, and time is lost by being 
kept waiting ; by night, when sleep is un 
willing to close the eyelids the economy of 
happiness recommends the occupation of plea 
surable thought. In walking abroad, or in 
resting at home, the mind cannot be vacant; 
its thoughts may be useful, useless, or perni 
cious to happiness. Direct them aright ; the 


habit of happy thought will spring up like any 
other habit. 

Let the mind seek to occupy itself by the 
solution of questions upon which a large sum of 
happiness or misery depends. The machine, for 
example, that abridges labor will, by the very 
improvement and economy it introduces, produce 
a quantity of suffering. How shall that suffer 
ing be minimized ? Here is a topic for bene 
volent thought to engage in. Under the pres 
sure of the immediate demands of the poor, 
Sully is said to have engaged them in raising 
huge and useless mounds in his garden. Others 
have been found to propose the digging holes 
and filling them again, as meet employment for 
industry when ordinary labor fails. But what 
a fertile field for generous consideration is that, 
which seeks to provide the clear accession to 
the national stock of riches and happiness 
which all real improvements bring with them, 
at the least possible cost of pain ; to secure the 
permanent good at the smallest and least en 
during inconvenience; to make the blessings 
that are to be diffused among the many fall as 
lightly as possible in the shape of evil on the 
few! Perhaps when the inevitable misery is 
really reduced to the smallest amount, by 
the attention of the intelligent and benevolent, 
the transition will become in most instances 


neither perilous, as it has often been made 
by riotous violence towards those who intro 
duce it, nor alarming to those whose labor 
may be temporarily shifted by its intro 

To point out the projects of benevolence with 
which the mind might occupy itself would be to 
engage in a limitless task. But let a man pass 
in review the different sorts of human misery 
for the purpose of endeavoring to relieve or 
to remove it : what employments could be 
found for the blind, the deaf, the dumb ; for 
those who had lost one or both hands, and 
what pleasures could be invented for them ? 
How, by the least quantity of pain inflicted 
on a criminal, could the greatest effect possi 
ble be produced on the people? and so forth. 

The thoughts which have future consequences 
for their object are called expectations ; and 
upon these expectations no small part of a 
man s happiness depends. 

If a pleasure is anticipated, and fails of being 
produced, a positive pain takes place of the 
anticipation. For the designation of this pain 
the French language furnishes nothing but a 
compound appellation, namely, peine d attente 
trompe*e the pain of frustrated expectation. 
One word communicates the idea in English, 
namely, the pain of disappointment. 


And of such importance is this pain in the 
field of human existence, such its influence on 
the aggregate of happiness, that it constitutes a 
very great part of the foundation on which 
the whole branch of the civ 7 il law is erected : 
it is to the exclusion of disappointment that the 
labors of legislation are in that department 
mainly directed. Why do you give to the 
proprietor that which is his own, rather than 
to any other person? Because, by giving it 
to any other person than the proprietor, you 
would produce the pain of disappointment. 

Dean Swift has concentrated his notion of 
the necessity of excluding pain from this source 
in the vivacity of an apophthegm ; or rather he 
has added it to the beatitudes. * Blessed is 
he which expecteth nothing, for he shall not 
be disappointed/ 

Hence the high importance of forming correct 
estimates of what may be expected from man 
kind at large, in all those cases where their 
conduct may influence your own well-being. 

* If we would love mankind, says Helvetius, 
as before quoted, we ought to expect little 
from them ; and he might have added, if we 
love ourselves. The less sanguine are our expec 
tations that others will sacrifice their pleasures 
to our pleasures, the less shall we be exposed 
to disappointment, and the less will be the 


sum of disappointment. And if such sacrifices 
are really made to us by others, the more keen 
and exquisite will be our satisfaction : what 
ever pleasure the sacrifice made or the service 
done might render us, that pleasure will be 
heightened by the pleasure of surprise, and 
the pain of disappointment be supplanted by 
a pleasure beyond expectation. 

Now, though in every part of the field of 
morals the keeping in view the primary fact, 
that the social feelings must inevitably be 
subordinate to the self-regarding is of the high 
est importance, in this particular part of the 
field the necessity is more prominently obvious. 
Against the pain of disappointment he will be 
best able to preserve himself who takes a cor 
rect and complete view of the necessity of 
that preponderance which, by the unalterable 
condition of human nature, the force of self- 
regarding affection is destined to maintain over 
social or sympathetic affection. The rights of 
property, be they what they may, grow out of 
this source ; and indeed the whole machinery 
of society is the recognition of the truth of the 

We are thus naturally led to inquiry as to the 
the best means of giving to the mind mastery over 
its own thoughts. If it possess the power of 
banishing thoughts of pain, and introducing 


thoughts of pleasure, how can that power be 
exercised with most effect ? The obvious means 
are to divert the mind from the thoughts that are 
painful, and from the objects associated with 
those thoughts; and on the other hand to occupy 
it with thoughts that are pleasurable and with ob 
jects likely to awaken pleasurable thoughts. The 
expulsion of the one and the introduction of the 
other, are in truth closely allied ; for unless some 
thought of pleasure is at hand to take place 
of the thought of pain which exertion has eject 
ed, little may be won for happiness. Enough 
will not be done by the mere attempt at forcing 
an annoying thought to vacate the mind ; it 
will infallibly be supplanted by another thought, 
and the balance of happiness will be between 
the efforts of the thought which enters and that 
which makes its exit. 

In many cases, as in cases of annoyance 
from objects of the corporeal class, a man may 
employ direct means ; he may remove the object 
itself, or remove himself from its presence. 
When the fatal apple was presented to Eve, 
Eve might have turned her back upon it, or 
have made a present of it to the first frugivorous 
quadruped that crossed her path. 

But it is not thus with impressions underived 
from physical objects ; with ideas presented by 
memory or imagination. A man can employ 


no direct means for getting rid of these. He 
has but one way of ridding himself, and that an 
indirect one. He must detach his thoughts 
from the idea he desires to expel, by attaching 
them to some idea of a different nature. Until 
he can do this his object must be thwarted ; 
for the continuance of the endeavor to get rid 
of the unpleasant idea, until he has hold of some 
object to replace it, will but keep the unplea 
sant idea constantly present, and more promi 
nently in view. 

Thus, to drive or keep an unpleasant idea out 
of the mind, the attention must not be thrown 
on the idea itself; since that would only fix it 
the faster, and counteract the object. Endea 
vor to lay hold of some idea that interests you, 
and use it as the instrument for the expulsion 
of the other. If it fail to fix itself in your mind, 
and no other agreeable idea presents itself, use 
any that, even though afflicting, is less afflicting 
than the one you desire to be freed from. In 
this case, the remedy employed is analagous to 
that employed in the case of a blister : by a 
pain less intense and less lasting, a pain more 
intense and more lasting is subdued. 

For example. You are visited by the wrath 
of a near and dear relative. You plunge into 
business in order to mitigate your grief. If your 
grief be exceedingly afflictive, it might happen 
that the business you carry on, even though 


accompanied by loss and vexation, would bring 
alleviation with it. It might even involve you 
in quarrels with other parties, and still, by 
occupying your attention, distract you from the 
greater grief from which you sought to escape. 

But, in a case like this, the pursuit to which 
you fly in the search of a remedy must demand 
your continuous attention, an attention contin 
ued long enough to allow the sharpness of your 
sorrow to be mitigated ; for if the business be 
soon despatched, and you are left at liberty, 
and exposed to the influence of your former 
feelings, your purpose will scarcely be answer 
ed. Thus, if by way of remedy against the 
distress produced by the loss of a friend, you 
betake yourself to mere reading, especially 
light reading, the demand upon your attention 
will be so weak, that your attention will refuse 
obedience, and instead of the ideas which the 
book presents, the distressing thought will 
intrude itself at every turn, and take and keep 
its place. Nor is it irrelevant to refer here to 
the great advantages attendant on a busy, in 
contradistinction to an idle life ; to the privilege 
of being fitted for and practised in a variety of 
occupations in comparison of being dependent 
on a few ; to the distinction of having a mind 
highly cultivated by study in contrast with a 
mind left by want of culture in emptiness and 
barrenness. It is generally to persons of 


small fortunes and little or no education, that 
such domestic losses are most afflictive and 

Time for free thought, unoccupied or misoc- 
cupied time, almost every human being has in 
abundance. Apart from those engagements on 
which existence and its enjoyments depend, 
apart from those amusements which are neces 
sary to health, apart from hours of repose, or 
hours of repast, time there is in the posses 
sion of all men which they may employ in the 
exercise of free thought, giving to that thought 
a moral, or in other words, a useful and a feli 
citous direction. Every night, and every day, 
morning and evening, have those interstices 
which may be filled up to excellent purposes. 
Some time elapses between the moment of lying 
down and that of sleep. Sleep itself is not 
continuous, its breaks leave time for reflection. 
How much, again, of a man s life is employed 
in locomotion, in walking or being conveyed 
from place to place ; how much in attendance 
on others ! What thousand interruptions steal 
moments away from his occupations of business 
or of pleasure ! These moments are all of them 
precious. And then, how many of the engage 
ments of mankind are handicraft and mechani 
cal, leaving to the thoughts an almost unbridled 
liberty to wander whither they will ! Time for 

VOL. II. 1 


thought is wanting to no man who has learned 
how to husband time. In the multitudinous 
moments of existence, as in the multitudinous 
topics which have a claim upon the attention of 
our race, neither time nor subjects for pruden 
tial and benevolent reflection can be long sought 
for in vain. 

A few such subjects it may not be amiss to 
touch upon ; but the field is boundless, and will 
offer to every man some peculiar points of 
interest. All men may occupy themselves in 
thinking of means for the prevention of evil, 
in projects of profit or of amusement : if no 
such projects occur to them, hopes may take 
their place; if no hopes, agreeable imaginations; 
imaginations turning aside from the improba 
bility or impossibility of their being realised ; 
imaginations which may be made more vivid 
and delightful by individual recollections. 

For himself each individual must mould his 
habits of thought to suit his own circumstances. 
If his thoughts are engaged in the search after 
means of security against evil, and there be no 
evils in particular of which he is apprehensive, 
or none which it is in his power to guard 
against, or none against which he has not 
already made sufficient provision, he will do 
well to turn his thoughts away from any such 
unpleasant topic. And even if such evils 


menace him, his attention to the means of pre 
vention should not be continuous, he should 
seek his times of respite, otherwise the effect of 
his endeavors to secure himself against future 
suffering may be to make that suffering perpe 
tually present. 

In every case, the thoughts should be directed 
as much as possible to the means of prevention, 
and as little as possible to the evils themselves, 
to the evils only so far as is necessary for 
devising those means. 

Thoughts directed to the consideration of the 
means of alleviating the sufferings of others, do 
not belong to this part of the subject ; nor are 
they of any importance to others until and 
unless they lead to action. 

Projects have an advantage over imaginations. 
Projects, in addition to the present good, afford 
a chance of future. The interest and excite 
ment they create are more lasting than hopes 
and fancies, and more likely to extend; to be 
prolific, productive of ulterior projects ; and 
those of ulterior, and so on, in long suc 

But, in the absence of purposes and projects, 
hopes and imaginings come with their pleasure- 
giving influence. Though imagination must 
work upon the elements furnished by recollec 
tion, yet imagination and recollection are not 



the same thing. There may be recollection 
without any work done by imagination ; there 
may be imagination without any distinct recol 
lection of the individual objects by which the 
matter for the operations of the imagination has 
been furnished. 

No situation is there out of which imagination 
may not extract pleasure. Nothing so painful 
as not to offer to the fancy materials pregnant 
with enjoyment. When a man is laboring under 
any disorder, pleasure may be derived from the 
imagination of the mere absence of that disor 
der ; from the mere imagination unaccompanied 
by the expectation, and thus unaccompanied 
even by hope. But, in such a case, it must be 
the sufferer s endeavor to abstract his thoughts 
as effectually as possible from the consideration 
that the relief is not obtainable ; he must attach 
them as strongly as they can be attached to the 
recollection of his former state, and the several 
enjoyments furnished by it antecedently to the 
commencement of the disorder, shutting out 
the idea of the hopelessness of their return. 

To such a state of mind it is not uncommon 
for reflection to discipline us. Of the pleasures 
of the past, of boyhood and youth, of the 
glory in the grass and the sunshine on the 
flower, thousands think and talk with a satis 
faction which the thought that those pleasures 


are irrevocably departed has not been able to 

In proportion to the quantity of pain which a 
given thought brings with it, will, in general, 
be the difficulty of removing it from the mind. 
At all events, the motive for its removal will be 
proportioned to its intensity and duration. And 
of such painful thoughts those caused by the 
loss of friends are often the most painful. In 
the earlier stages of grief the power of intro 
ducing thoughts of a character unallied to grief 
can scarcely be exercised, and it then becomes 
the object of wisdom to modify the painful 
thought by associations naturally and easily 
linked to it, of which the presence of death 
itself furnishes an abundance, and almost every 
individual case of death some peculiar and per 
sonal elements. For there is no sorrow which 
has not in some way or other been linked with 
pleasure, and the very existence of sorrow im 
plies a contrast with the absence of sorrow. 
Grief and grievance derive many of their pains 
from the privation of some good once possessed 
or hoped for, and cannot enter the mind but in 
adjacency to pleasures enjoyed or anticipated; 
the remembrance of which enjoyment or antici 
pation is not necessarily, and on all occasions, 
overwhelmed with the idea of its loss. Thus the 
memory of the dead may be brightened with so 


many beautiful and pleasure-giving reflections 
as to make even their death a source of happi 
ness ;~ and there is a true philosophy as well 
as an affectionate tenderness in the reflection, 
that a greater bliss may be associated with 
the recollection of the dead we have loved 
than with the enjoyments gathered among the 

As to the direction to be given to dis 
course when the well-being of others is not 
concerned, little is required to be said. Such 
ill-timed or ill-judged conversation as is likely 
to bring with it the resentment of others, belongs 
to another branch of our inquiry. To such 
discourse as produces no influence on the con 
duct of others towards us, but merely leaves 
behind it a balance of pain, from the reflection 
of its having been calculated to lower us in their 
friendly opinion, to such discourse as, from that 
or any other cause, we think of with after-regret, 
so that when the balance is drawn between the 
pleasures of giving it utterance, and the pains of 
future reflection, something is found to be lost 
to our personal happiness, to such discourse 
the character of imprudence must attach, and 
therefore such discourse should be avoided. So, 
again, the discourse which, being pleasurable 
to the speaker, gives no annoyance to the 
hearer, leaves so much of gain as the pleasure 


it excites. But this is perilous ground, inas 
much as annoyance may often be felt by the 
listener, to which he will give no utterance, from 
his own prudential calculations ; from the desire 
of avoiding the appearance of contradiction, 
and the expression of displeasure. The only 
rule that can be given by way of estimating the 
effect of conduct, is, to change places with the 
other party ; to apply the law of doing to another 
as we should desire another to do unto us ; a law 
of great value and importance when made sub 
servient to the greatest-happiness principle ; but 
inapplicable on many occasions, and especially 
on those where the infliction of pain is necessary 
to accomplish the purposes of the moralist or 
the legislator; since if the offender, who is the 
object of punishment, could claim the benefit 
of the rule just referred to, it is clear he would 
escape punishment altogether, as no man 
willingly entails suffering upon himself. 

There is a source of enjoyment in words not 
listened to by others : in recitations and 
soliloquies; in viva voce composition; in reading 
alone when no one is present but the reader. 
For if the art of chasing grief be often unsuc 
cessfully practised in supplanting thoughts of 
grief by thoughts less painful, the instrument of 
language will sometimes prove a valuable 
auxiliary; and it frequently happens, when oui 


own mind is unable to furnish ideas of pleasure 
with which to drive out the impressions of pain, 
these ideas may be found in the writings of 
others, and those writings will probably have 
a more potent influence when utterance is given 
to them. To a mind rich in the stores of 
literature and philosophy, some thought appro 
priate to the calming of sorrow, or the brighten 
ing of joy, will scarcely fail to present itself, 
clothed in the attractive language of some 
favorite writer, and when emphatic expression 
is given to it, its power may be considerably 
increased. Poetry often lends itself to this 
benignant purpose, and where sound and sense, 
truth and harmony, benevolence and eloquence 
are allied, happy indeed are their influences. 

In the management of conduct at large, 
the two great departments of abstention and of 
action, naturally present themselves, and they 
again may conveniently be divided into corpo 
real, intellectual, and mixed. Though some 
general principles may be laid down, both 
negative and positive, yet in all questions of 
suffering and enjoyment, much depends on the 
peculiar constitution of the individual. For be 
the sense of pleasure what it may, a man has 
no right to assume that because he has no 
relish for it, therefore his neighbor has none ; 
and still less reason has he to interdict to another 


an enjoyment, on the ground that it is no enjoy 
ment to himself. Every man is able to form the 
best estimate of his own pleasures and his own 
pains. No description of them, no sympathy 
for them, can be equivalent to their reality. No 
story of a blow ever produced a bruise, nor was 
the agony of tooth-drawing ever felt by mere 
interest excited in the sufferings of a friend under 
the hands of a dentist. Even were it other 
wise, the power of sympathy is nothing till it 
acts upon self: a truism which is almost reduci 
ble to the self-identical proposition, that a man 
can feel nothing but his own feelings. To escape 
from one s self, to forget one s own interests, 
to make unrequited sacrifices, and all for duty, 
are high-sounding phrases, and, to say the truth, 
as nonsensical as high sounding. Self-preference 
is universal and necessary : if destiny be any 
where despotic, it is here. When self is sacri 
ficed, it is self in one shape to self in another 
shape, and a man can no more cast off regard to 
his own happiness, meaning the happiness of the 
moment, than he can cast off his own skin, or 
jump out of it. And if he could, why should 
he? What provision could have been made 
for the happiness of the whole so successful, so 
complete as that which engages every individual 
of that whole to obtain for himself the greatest 
possible portion of happiness ? and what amount 


of happiness to mankind at large could be so 
great on the aggregate as that which is made up 
of the greatest possible portion obtained by 
every individual man ? Of the largest number 
of units, and those units of the largest amount, 
the largest sum total must be the necessary 

One considerable branch of abstential self- 
regarding prudence may be called the medical ; 
it is that in which bodily future suffering is the 
penalty of imprudent present enjoyment. The 
discipline of after-punishment generally follows 
the excess of sensual pleasure ; if the excess be 
extreme it invariably follows. The pleasure of 
fruition will be in most cases corporeal, but the 
adjacent, or consequent pain, will be both 
corporeal and mental ; for imprudence calls 
down the chastisement of the mind in alliance 
with that of the body; and regret adds stings to 
suffering, when man s frame is least able to 
endure them. 

Take any case of imprudence ; intoxication, 
for instance, from the excessive use of spirituous 
liquors. Setting aside the effect upon others, 
the evils of example, the loss of reputation, the 
exposure to commit all those indiscretions and 
offences which the temporary absence of reason 
brings with it, what is the amount of pleasure 
and pain which regards the individual con- 


sidered as isolated from the rest of his race ? 
At the cost of a certain loss of time and money, he 
purchased a certain quantity of pleasurable ex 
citement. To the loss of time occupied by the 
enjoyment, add the loss of time and money sacri 
ficed by or in consequence of the inebriety ; add 
to that the sufferings of sickness and the suffer 
ings of debility; the loss of self-control by 
strengthening a vicious propensity ; the shame, 
the sorrow, attendant on the imprudence (and if 
no shame and sorrow be there, far more than 
their amount of suffering will have to be added 
to the extra-regarding portion of the account.) 
All these are considerations affecting the indivi 
dual, without reference to those pains which it 
is in the power of others to inflict upon him. 
To calculate the consequences of immorality is 
the first step towards escaping from it. 

To the acts of imprudence which may be 
considered of a mental, or mixed character, the 
same tests must be applied ; irascibility, for 
example, which to a certain extent is attribut 
able to natural temperament, but upon which 
the greatest-happiness principle would put a 
strong and an effective bridle. The pleasure of 
its exercise, the pleasure of being in a passion, 
is a very transitory one. Excessive anger soon 
exhausts its stores. Now, the irascible affections 
as respects others, are of all the most infectious, 


and ordinarily produce a vehement re-action. 
Let them be directed against whom they may, 
they diminish the pleasure felt in serving the 
irascible person, and with the diminution of 
the pleasure comes the diminution of the 
disposition or the motive to serve him. But 
what is the effect on the irascible person, as 
disassociated from others ? What price has he 
paid for the short-lived pleasure of being out 
of humor? He has fluttered his temper; he 
has weakened his powers of judgment; his 
mastery over his own mind is diminished ; he 
has lost time; he has lost influence : in a word, 
he is left with a serious balance of loss. 

Upon gaming self-regarding prudence lays 
its interdict. Benevolence is not the less 
peremptory in insisting on the immorality of 
this so dearly-purchased pleasure. The public- 
opinion tribunal has stigmatized the practice 
with sufficient disgrace to hold a considerable 
check upon the gaming propensity, and legis 
lation has, at different times and in different 
ways, interfered to bring the offence into the 
field of penal judicature. Its consequences, 
too, have been frequently followed into all 
their ramifications of misery, personal, domes 
tic, and social, by the pens and pencils of 
authors and artists. But there is a consider 
ation, and one of mere prudential calculation, 


which seems to have escaped observation, or, 
at all events, has not had any popular cur 

Has it ever been hitherto considered that 
every gamester who plays upon equal terms, 
plays to a disadvantage? Though the stake, 
skill and chance be entirely equal, a man 
loses more than he could have gained. Sup 
pose the stake 20/. on each side. If he loses, 
he loses 20/. If he wins, he wins 20/. and 
no more. Now 20/. lost is more on the side 
of pain than 20/. won on the side of pleasure. 
A man can better bear to be without 201. added 
to what he has already, than to be without 
20/. out of that which he has ; so that, in fact, 
either person is sure to lose more than the other 

In order for the one to gain as much as the 
other loses, or rather say, for the one to lose 
no more than the other gains, the sum at stake 
should be a sum that had belonged to neither 
of them before. 

In extravagant expenditure, imprudence is 
often exhibited; and the error is sometimes 
brought about by the benevolent affections ; by 
the exercise of those very qualities which oc 
cupy so large a part of the domain of virtue, 
but which, when escaped from the control of 
the self-regarding interest, become pernicious 


vices. The imprudence will be greatest where 
its errors are least reparable ; and though the 
estimate of the quantity of imprudence must 
be weighed in every particular case, yet the 
fit distribution of expenditure may be subjected 
to some general considerations, which it will 
be well to keep in view, as, for example, 
where income depends wholly upon labor ; 
in such case, the necessity is obvious of a 
strict economy, and of the laying by some 
portion of the fruits of labor, as a security 
against those interruptions to which ill-health, 
or accidents, or the inevitable inroads of time, 
subject the whole human race. When the 
work of the laborer, who is wholly dependent 
on daily exertions for his daily bread, is sus 
pended, and he has no store gathered out of 
the economy of the past, the imprudence which 
neglected the habit of a strict economy will 
be most painfully and most prominently felt. 
In the expenditure of income underived from 
labor, considerations of another character pre 
sent themselves. Its judicious distribution will 
be facilitated by the removal of all those un 
certainties and contingencies to which the 
income of the laborer is subjected. The means 
of judging what prudence deprecates or de 
mands are more accessible, and at the same 
time the habit of labor, as a resource against 


want, being wanting, it will not, in ordinary 
cases, be looked to as a resource. Perhaps 
the happiest of human conditions is that in 
which income is derived partly from and partly 
without labor, in which labor is looked to, not 
for the supply of absolute necessities, but for 
those extra enjoyments which add so much to 
the sum of human pleasures. That the fruition 
of them should be pushed to the greatest ex 
tent, it is needful that their present intensity 
should not interfere with their future duration, 
so far as would, on a fair calculation of pro 
babilities, diminish the final amount of them. 
If, for the purchase of one pleasure to-day, 
two, each of equal amount, are to be sacrificed 
to-morrow, it is clear the bargain is one of loss, 
of folly, of imprudence. 

The means of positive pleasure, which self- 
regarding prudence presents to the mind, are 
multifarious. They depend for their extent 
upon the habits and pursuits of the individual, 
and must be followed out with a particular re 
ference to those sources of enjoyment which 
experience has taught to be most valuable to 
him. Groups of pleasures will be found in 
those different regions of amusement to which 
different men address themselves, amuse 
ments intellectual and corporeal, stationary and 
locomotive, scientific and artistical; amusements 


of research into the past, or of discovery for the 
future. Sex, age, station may influence some 
of these. In every individual s case he must 
select for his own pursuit those which to him 
afford the greatest amount of satisfaction. 
Happily for mankind, men s minds are so vari 
ously endowed, so variously trained and tutored, 
that tastes will always be distributed among a 
considerable number of dissimilar objects. To 
some the solitary, to others the social investi 
gation will be most delightful. The leaves of 
the library will instruct one, the flowers of the 
field another. Some enjoy the examination of 
the minutest details, others are most gratified 
when they can grasp great and general princi 
ples. And thus it is that in turn the whole 
domain of thought and inquiry is occupied, 
and the crowding upon some departments, and 
the abandonment of others provided against. 
Where no distinct tendency towards a particular 
study has been perceived, a little attention to 
the pursuits and amusements of men distin 
guished for their possession of happiness may 
be very useful. Of amusements purely mental 
the list would be multitudinous, embracing all 
the topics to which mind can devote itself. Pass 
in review the various games by which skill may 
be exercised without such a mixture of chance 
as to produce more annoyance from unexpected 


disappointment than satisfaction from unex 
pected success. How much enjoyment may 
grow from the collection of antiquities, with a 
view to illustrate the past, to assist the investi 
gation of historical facts, and especially to 
throw light upon any topics which might be 
made instructive to the future ; from the collec 
tion of objects of natural history, in the animal, 
mineral, and vegetable field, but particularly in 
the two latter, since their collection inflicts no 
pain, and implies no destruction of life, or of 
happiness or enjoyment ; and most of all in the 
last, the vegetable or botanical, which fre 
quently gives the opportunity of diffusing plea 
sure to others by the multiplication of speci 
mens ; and, as connected with such studies, 
the breeding of domestic animals, with a view 
to the observance of their peculiar instincts, 
habits, and propensities; the power of education 
upon them ; their aptitude for services to which 
they have not been before applied ; the culture 
of beautiful flowers, such as tulips, auriculas, 
or anemones, or of choice and useful plants for 
purposes culinary or medicinal. Of locomotive 
amusements many will present themselves, 
both healthful and varied. Nutting, or mush 
room hunting, or the thousand other attractions 
of forest and field amusements not only plea 
surable in themselves, but useful in their con- 



sequences, and sometimes even lucrative ; and 
no man need blush if, without loss to others, his 
amusements can be made pecuniarily profitable 
to himself. The mechanical arts again ; those 
arts which invent and modify the instruments 
directly subservient to animal enjoyment, or 
indirectly subservient by their subserviency to 
sciences which promote that enjoyment. But 
prudence, setting out in the chace for happi 
ness, will seldom fail of success ; the world is 
all before it, a world which presents at every 
turning some new instrument, some new ele 
ment of pleasure. 

All the virtues, whether prudential or bene 
volent, do, in effect, essentially, though indi 
rectly, belong to the regions of self-regarding 
prudence. For, be their action upon the minds 
of others what it may, their action upon the 
mind of him who exercises them must be bene 
ficent. When the temper is in the most com 
placent and pleasurable state, the disposition 
to display acts of kindness is most fervent. It 
may happen, indeed, that the effort of benefi 
cence may not benefit those for whom it was 
intended, but when wisely directed, it must 
benefit the person from whom it emanates. 
Good and friendly conduct may meet with an 
unworthy, with an ungrateful return, but the 
absence of gratitude on the part of the receiver 


cannot destroy the self-approbation which re 
compenses the giver. And we may scatter the 
seeds of courtesy and kindness around us at so 
little an expense ! Some of them will inevit 
ably fall upon good ground, and grow up into 
benevolence in the minds of others, and all of 
them will bear fruit of happiness in the bosom 
whence they spring. Once blest are all the 
virtues always ; twice blest sometimes. 

The counterpart of these observations applies 
to the baneful and immoral qualities. Their 
influence upon others may be undefinable, not 
so their influence on the person who exhibits 
them: he must be deteriorated. Cases may 
occur in which incivility, asperity, anger, ill- 
will, may, as far as they regard others, produce 
consequences opposed to their natural tenden 
cies, but they can only have a pernicious effect 
upon him who makes the foolish experiment of 
trifling with the happiness of others. 




THIS branch of the great moral topic may be 
perhaps most conveniently and satisfactorily 
treated by considering, first, the general laws 
which extra-regarding prudence dictates in our 
ordinary intercourse with mankind; and then by 
pursuing the inquiry into relations which de 
mand modification of those general laws, in order 
to produce on the whole the greatest accessible 
sum of felicity. 

The dependence of man upon his fellow men 
is the sole source of the extra-regarding, as it is 
of the benevolent principle. For if a man were 
wholly sufficient to himself, to himself he would 
be sufficient ; and as the opinions and conduct of 
others towards him, would by the supposition 
be indifferent to him, no sacrifice would he 
make to obtain their friendly affections. In fact, 
such sacrifice would be but a waste, and such 
waste would be a folly. 

Happily for each, happily for all of us, the 
human being is differently constituted. Of man s 
pleasures, a great proportion is dependent on 


the will of others, and can only be possessed by 
him with their concurrence and co-operation. 
There is no possibility of disregarding the hap 
piness of others without, at the same time, risk 
ing happiness of our own. There is no possi 
bility of avoiding those inflictions of pain with 
which it is in the power of others to visit us, 
except by conciliating their good will. Each 
individual is linked to his race by a tie, of all 
ties the strongest, the tie of self-regard. 

Dream not that men will move their little 
finger to serve you, unless their advantage in so 
doing be obvious to them. Men never did so, 
and never will, while human nature is made of 
its present materials. But they will desire to 
serve you, when by so doing they can serve 
themselves ; and the occasions on which they 
can serve themselves by serving you are multi 
tudinous. The intelligent will catch at oppor 
tunities which escape the eyes of the vulgar ; 
and in these mutual services there is virtue, 
and there is little virtue beyond them ; and hap 
pily of such virtue, there is more than those 
who do not possess it are willing to acknowledge 
or able to believe. 

The social and popular sanctions are called 
into action in the field of extra-regarding pru 
dence. In the domestic and private relations 
of man, as well as in his public position, he has 


not only to create but to apply those pains and 
pleasures which the tribunals of social and 
popular opinion distribute ; to create, by fixing 
as far as he is able, an accurate standard of vice 
and virtue; to apply, by judging every action 
according to the greatest- happiness principle, 
and awarding to it the recompense or penalty 
which that principle demands. Of the head of 
a family, in his family circle, the power is great, 
because he is the principal source of opinion ; 
and the character of the moral atmosphere in 
which his household dwells will essentially 
depend upon himself. He may establish around 
him a state of things, in which happiness being 
wisely, will on most occasions be successfully 
sought; but the sound judgments established at 
home, will spread abroad and afar off in every 
direction in which the members of such a family 
may be placed. Were a correct estimate of 
right and wrong, were sound notions on moral 
topics born in the centre of families, they would 
soon make their way into the civic and thence 
to the national world. For the felicity-promot 
ing code is universally applicable, applicable 
to all men, on all occasions, in all places. 
Where the dictates of prudence, and those of 
benevolence obviously harmonize, the line of 
duty is clear ; where they clash, as for example, 
where prudence requires abstention from benefi- 


cent action, or even the infliction of pain by ac 
tive interference, no other rule can be laid down 
than that the evil should be made not greater 
than is necessary to accomplish the good, and 
that the good obtained should be as great as is 
obtainable. The question must always be one 
of arithmetic ; for morality can be nothing but 
the sacrifice of a lesser for the acquisition of a 
greater good. 

The virtue of extra-regarding prudence is only 
limited by the limits of our intercourse with our 
fellow men ; it may even extend far beyond the 
bounds of our personal communion with others, 
by secondary, or reflected influences. In the 
public field, and as forming a part of a whole 
people, both national and international law may 
be said to constitute a proper ground for the in 
troduction of that prudence which concerns 
others. And, were this the fit occasion, the 
subject might be followed into the ramifications 
which the legislative and the executive depart 
ments of government present, and these again 
subdivided into their administrative and judicial 
functions. But these topics belong more pro 
perly to the question for philosophical legisla 
tion ; and it is therefore to the private part of 
the subject, as divided into the domestic and 
non-domestic branches, that our attention will 
be given; that part which embraces man s 


social relations which have not a public cha 
racter; relations either permanent or accidental, 
constituted by genealogical ties which are dis 
solved only by death, or growing out of those 
shifting or temporary associations which form a 
part of every man s history. 

Various are the situations in which an indivi 
dual may be placed, as connected with public 
opinion ; at its tribunal, a man may be either 
judge, pleader, or party. He may have to award 
and dispense pains and pleasures to others ; to 
advocate at the hands of others the dispensa 
tion of reward or punishment, or to receive from 
the decrees of others the penalty or recompense 
of acts submitted to the scrutiny of the social or 
the popular sanction. In all these cases, let 
him be on his guard against a common failing, 
the ascription to others of certain motives, 
inducements, or intentions, or the setting up a 
claim of motive, inducement, or intention for 
himself. In the character of a judge, nothing 
can more assist an honest and a useful decision, 
than the laying bare all actions as they really 
are ; the tracing consequences as they present 
themselves in overt conduct; avoiding carefully, 
on the one hand, all attempts to dive into the 
unfathomable regions of motives which cannot 
be known ; and, on the other, steering clear of 
that petty, pharisaical vanity which is so fond 


of exhibiting itself to the great detriment of the 
exhibitor. As an advocate, happily removed 
from that most perilous position in which usage 
has placed a numerous profession, who are 
doomed, at the bidding of a sufficient fee, indis 
criminately to defend right or wrong, by truth or 
falsehood ; as an advocate, who is bound, if he 
can, to obtain a correct verdict at the hands of 
the popular sanction, no attempt to misdirect, 
or lead astray from the consequences of the 
action in question, can be sanctioned by the 
moral principle. And, as a party to be judged 
by the tribunal of public opinion, nothing can 
be more safely recommended than to bear con 
stantly in mind the conditions on which the 
affection of others is held, namely, the inter 
change of mutual services ; the sacrifice, on fit 
occasions, of the present to the future. As a 
general rule, let useless reproaches in thought 
be avoided : they may lead to useless reproaches 
in words, or useless reprobation in action. In 
all these in thoughts, words and actions, 
extra-regarding prudence has to exhibit itself. 
Thoughts, not leading to words or actions, are 
harmless to others, however painful or pleasur 
able to ourselves. But, inasmuch as thoughts 
often, do lead to words and actions are their 
source and origin in fact, are in every case the 
first impulse which prompts to conduct, they must 
be followed into their recesses by the inquiring 


moralist, and divested, as far as may be, of 
those qualities which are likely to break out in 
pernicious influence upon individuals, bodies of 
men, or mankind at large. 

Thoughts there are prejudicial to a fair esti 
mate of human character, and which by their 
disparagement of our nature lead to erroneous 
judgment, and what is worse to practical injus 
tice and malevolence. Of these it will be suffi 
cient to point out some of the most obvious. 
The list might easily be extended, but the 
inquirer will not be ill-employed in drawing on 
his experience, his recollection, or his observa 
tion, in order to increase the number of instruc 
tive examples. 

One, is to conclude, because professions once 
made have afterwards been departed from, that 
therefore they were insincere at the time they 
were made. 

Another, is to suppose that men profess such 
and such sentiments solely because they are of 
such and such a party : whereas, the case may 
be that they are of such a party, because such 
and such are their sentiments. 

A third is, where a man may be a gainer by 
professing such and such sentiments, to con 
clude, in every case, that such interest is the sole 
cause of his professing such sentiments. 

The greater part of those who in point of 
opinions are swayed by interest, are probably 


sincere. This is the case when the interest 
which sways them is not perceived by or 
sensible to themselves. 

There are few, perhaps, who have the bold 
ness to own their dishonesty to themselves : few 
who say to themselves aloud : This is not my 
opinion, but yet I will say it is, because I can 
* get so much by saying so. Interest in general, 
acts in a more insensible and covert manner. 
It does not attack men s integrity in front, but 
undermines it. It occasions them to view the 
arguments against the proscribed opinion with 
more complacency ; those in favor of it with 
less. When any of the former make their appear 
ance in the mind, they are thought much of; they 
are regarded with attention, and have their full 
weight given them; when any of the latter present 
themselves they are received askance, and hustled 
as it were out of the mind without a hearing. 

In the political world, errors of opinion, 
which may well be called vulgar from their 
universality, are the sources of much unchari- 
tableness and suffering. Such are those which 
make consummate characters either in depra 
vity or in virtue ; those which refer every 
motion of public men to political motives; which 
attribute every action to ends and purposes 
which belong to them as politicians, and none 
to those which belong to them as men ; which 
lay every instance of supposed misconduct in 


public men to the account of the depravity of 
the heart, and none to the imbecility of the 
head ; which suppose every thing immoral 
which appears inexpedient. 

True it is, that every observer of public men 
may have noticed instances of misconduct 
which would seem to justify the severest judg 
ment; but the severest judgment is seldom the 
wisest ; and the passions, which in political 
matters so often mingle with the estimate we 
form of others, sadly bewilder the intellect, and. 
play havoc with the generous affections. The 
law of benevolence requires that our thoughts 
of others should be candid and merciful, and 
this the claim of prudence yet more emphatic 
ally urges; for harsh judgments of others will 
bring back harsh judgments on ourselves; and 
the pleasure of malevolence must be purchased 
by the reaction of its penalties. 

The prudential management of discourse is a 
difficult, but most important branch of morals. 
The aberrations of the tongue have been from 
time immemorial the topic upon which prose 
and poetry have poured forth their judgments, 
though neither prose nor poetry has hitherto 
given us any complete set of rules by which 
the faculty of speech may be made most sub 
servient to the creation of happiness and the 
diminution of misery. With that great object 
in view, the functions of the tongue, like all the 


other functions of the body, may be made the 
instruments of good. 

In a great part of the regions of conversation, 
boundless as they are, the dictates of bene 
volence are in complete accordance with those 
of prudence : and the topics are multitudinous 
which, while they are pernicious to no one, are 
pleasurable to the hearer, pleasurable to the 
speaker, and pleasurable or useful to mankind 
at large. And such topics should undoubtedly 
be those of primary choice, where the direction 
of conversation is in our hands, and where, at 
the same time, the more urgent claims of a par 
ticular present interest do not interfere. But 
the mistake must be specially guarded against, 
which is too frequently made, of supposing that 
a topic interesting to the speaker is necessarily 
so to the hearer, however really important that 
topic may be. The prudential, as well as the 
benevolent motives, dictate an abstention from 
conversation which is annoying to others, and 
even from that which is indifferent to them. 
Nay, that which is pleasurable to both parties 
may be in disaccordance with the great rule of 
virtue the ultimate balance of good. 

The discourse by which a man may be 
affected is susceptible of three divisions. Dis 
course to him, of him, and both ; in other 
words, that discourse addressed to him of which 


he is not the topic ; that discourse addressed to 
him of which he is the topic ; and that dis 
course addressed to others of which he is the 
object. But by the discourse of which he is 
not the topic he may be very sensibly influ 
enced, though, in ordinary cases, far more sen 
sibly by that which concerns his own person 
and character. The discourse addressed to 
others will act upon him as a portion of the 
awards of the public-opinion tribunal ; and, in 
fact, the judgments we give expression to, are 
in themselves awards, and dispense the pains 
and pleasures, the recompense and punishment, 
of which we have the disposal. Those judg 
ments may or may not harmonize with the 
opinions of the majority ; they may or may not 
influence the opinions of the majority ; they 
may or may not affect the happiness of the 
individual in question ; but we are bound to 
suppose that unfavorable judgment will infalli 
bly produce pain, and we have no right to pro 
duce it without satisfactory evidence that the 
mischief inflicted by the pain in one direction, 
will be more than compensated by the produc 
tion of pleasure, or the removal of pain in 
another direction. And so with undeserved, or 
ill-deserved eulogium. To lower the standard 
of morals, by dealing out the language of 
approval to character or conduct in itself blame- 


worthy, that is to say, to conduct or character 
unfriendly to the happiness of mankind, is to 
play a pernicious part on the stage of morality, 
is to pervert that judgment in its sources, 
whose correctness and appropriateness are the 
great securities for its beneficial influences, in 
a word, is to lend a helping hand to the demo 
ralization of the race. 

As a general rule, if the affections of him 
with whom you are about to commence a con 
versation are matters of indifference to you, all 
topics are open to you : if it be an object with 
you to gain or keep his affections, choose that 
topic, whatever it be, that is most agreeable 
to him. At any rate, you may avoid every 
topic which you know or suspect to be dis 
agreeable to him. 

So, as to hearing and making others hear, 
it will be a question of prudence as to the 
proportion of time you shall yourself occupy in 
the discussion, or allow to your companions for 
their portion of the conversation. Not to fur 
nish your contingent when that contingent 
might instruct or amuse instruct without 
annoyance, or amuse without mischief, is to be 
wanting in one of the great arts of pleasing ; 
while, on the other hand, to assume an unfair 
portion of the time employed in conversational 
intercourse, to intrude your discourse upon 


others, to their annoyance, is to assume a right 
to interfere with the pleasures or the prejudices 
of others, which sound morality will by no 
means justify, still less recommend. 

Let the tone of your conversation be inva 
riably benevolent. Differ without asperity : 
agree without dogmatism. Kind words cost no 
more than unkind ones. Kind words produce 
kind actions : not only on the part of him to 
whom they are addressed, but on the part of 
him by whom they are employed ; and this not 
incidentally only, but habitually, in virtue of 
the principle of association. 

There is an infirmity to which many men 
are subject, and which cannot but leave an 
unfavorable impression on the minds of their 
hearers. It is the use of hyberbolical language, 
of praise or blame, as applied to actions of too 
little importance to merit such extreme judg 
ments : out of such phraseology oratory is 
wont to choose its instruments of delusion, and 
to these a great portion of the mischief of 
erroneous moral estimate is to be attributed. 
It is an act of sophistry to attach terms of 
stigma to the conduct which the sophist wishes 
to deprecate. The conduct in itself, perhaps, 
if plainly and simply stated, would excite little 
emotion ; but if some opprobrious name can be 
attached to it, it is already half-condemned in 


the mind of the inconsiderate. Among the 
most important triumphs of mental discipline, 
is that which at once separates good and evil 
actions from the laudatory or condemnatory 
language in which they are so frequently wrapt 
up, and which serves to bewilder or to blind 
the observer. To the substantive act some 
adjectival qualification is frequently appended, 
by which the act is removed from its appropri 
ate region into that where the applause or vitu 
peration of the speaker chooses to place it. 
Phrases eulogistic or dyslogistic act upon the 
mind as stained glasses act upon the visual 
sense, and the object contemplated assumes a 
coloring which is not its own. In the political 
world especially, men are prone to indulge in 
that decorative and dishonest language, which 
may sometimes serve the purposes of spite or 
of flattery, but must, in the long run, be per 
nicious to the moral and intellectual reputation 
of him who employs it. 

Avoid all arguments that you know to be so 
phistical. Think not, by shutting your own eyes 
against the weakness of your statements, that 
you have thereby shut the eyes of your hearer. 
Your sophistry will but irritate, for sophistry is 
not only uncandid, but dishonest. It is an at 
tempt to cheat, not the purse of another, but his 
senses and his judgment. His aversion to you 



will be awakened by your effort to shine at his 
expense ; and his contempt will be roused for 
the folly that supposed it was able so to shine. 
In all argument be candid, for the sake of your 
comrade and for your own sake. The triumph 
of an argument which is known and felt to be 
unfair and unfounded, is a wretched exhibition 
of perversity. If successful, it can serve no 
interests but those of fraud : if unsuccessful, 
it brings with it the consequences of blunder 
ing and detected dishonesty. Constituted as 
society is, with its errors and prejudices, its 
narrow interests and interested passions, the 
pursuit of truth makes demands enough upon 
courageous virtue ; for he who goes one step 
beyond the line which the world s poor con 
ventions have drawn around moral and political 
questions, must expect to meet with the thun 
dering anathemas and obloquies of all who 
wish to stand well with the arbiters of opinion. 
Let no searcher after truth be led into the 
labyrinths of sophistry. He will have enough 
to do in order to make good his ground one 
step beyond that trodden by those who dog 
matize about decorum, and propriety, and right 
and wrong. 

While differing in opinion from others, and 
giving expression to that difference, let care be 
taken to avoid the appearance of personal 


attack. And this may be accomplished by the 
use of those forms of expression which secure 
you against seeming personally to assume a 
hostile position. You have, for example, oc 
casion to convey your disapproval of certain 
opinions, held by another. There is no need 
of bringing upon yourself the sort of un 
divided hostility which may probably result 
from your direct and violent onset against those 
opinions which, for aught you know, may be 
as deeply rooted in your opponent s mind as 
the contrary are in your own mind. Instead, 
therefore, of taking the front ground, as it 
were, of personal offence, you may represent 
yourself to be one of a number who have not 
been able to see the weight of the arguments 
alleged in favor of your opponent s doctrine ; 
that the doctrine has been met by such and 
such difficulties, and so on. Or, you may put 
your own opinions into the mouth of another, by 
using a class of men indefinitely, or any deter 
minate body of men, for the avoidance of that 
sort of personal jousting which is so frequently 
a source of annoyance to both combatants. 
Such a form of expression as Some say, or 
The opponents of this opinion say, will blunt 
the sharp edge of the controversy ; and, if the 
subject be one in which particular classes are 
concerned, the terms of dissent will be suffi- 


ciently conveyed by a phrase like this Yet 
there are lawyers who contend/ &c. ; or, * But 
some divines argue/ and so on, with reference 
to the special case before you. 

And this contrivance has many uses. It 
leaves your argument free from obnoxious per 
sonality, and it leaves your person free from 
the obnoxious associations which your opinions 
might have attached to yourself. 

True, a state of things may exist and to 
such a state of things we are happily tending 
in which opinions will not require to shroud 
themselves in any trappings but those of ho 
nesty. Yet, independently of difference of 
opinions, respect must be had even to the pre 
judices of others, so as to check the disposition 
to intrude opposed opinion in what appears to 
them an incongruous or offensive shape. Minds 
there are, to whom the treating even ludicrous 
topics with any thing like levity would be 
vexatious and disagreeable ; and others, to 
which serious and mathematical reasoning is 
repugnant. To each the general rule applies, 
though for each a distinct course may have to 
be adopted. In the shape we give to the com 
munication of our opinions, as well as in the 
opinions themselves, let every thing be avoided 
which creates a useless pain. 

There is an instrument of tyranny, and con- 


sequent source of annoyance, against whose 
intrusions it is most desirable to find protection. 
It is that of imprudent interrogation. It as 
sumes various shapes, and sometimes produces 
evil of no inconsiderable amount. Its powers 
of annoyance vary with the situation of the 
person who asks the question, as compared or 
contrasted with that of him who is expected 
to answer it ; they vary with the topic which 
is put forward, and with the times or occasions 
on which it is introduced. Where an individual 
in a superior situation asks a question of an 
inferior, which that inferior is known to be un 
willing to answer, what is the question but 
the interference of despotism on the part of the 
questioner ; and what to the party questioned 
but a cause of suffering, and of mendacity, 
self-preservative mendacity? When a monarch 
inquired of a novelist, in the presence of others, 
whether he was the author of certain works, 
whose authorship the monarch knew was 
intended to be kept a profound secret, the 
interrogation was an exhibition of tyranny, a 
lie-compelling tyranny. 

But to avoid collision, prudence requires, 
not that the intrusion of offensive questionings 
should be met with offensive answers, but 
rather that they should be turned aside by 


good-humored management. What a ques 
tion! You are not serious, surely! Thereby 
hangs a tale ; and so forth. A facetious quo 
tation, the singing a line of a ballad, an appro 
priate look or gesture, may relieve the mind of 
its embarrassment, and prevent the mischiefs 
of imprudence. It is scarcely possible to pro 
vide formulas for every condition in life, but 
the broad Deontological line is sufficiently ob 

The restraints demanded upon discourse by 
prudence must be sought in every direction 
where discourse has the power of inflicting 
pain ; and, indeed, the rules which apply to 
words differ only from the rules that apply to 
actions, in that the immediate influence of dis 
course upon human felicity is not so easily nor 
so accurately definable. The pain which is 
the consequence of a corporeal injury can be 
estimated without much difficulty. The value 
of a pleasure derived from a particular grati 
fication might be, probably, averaged without 
any considerable error. But the influence of 
words upon the mind of the speaker, or upon 
the mind of the hearer, cannot be very correctly 
traced. The same quantity of tooth-ache would 
affect, pretty equally, ten different individuals ; 
but the same words, which addressed to one 


man would fill his mind with acute distress, 
would be heard by another with complete 

In the giving advice to others, and in the 
abstaining from giving it, there is great reason 
for the exercise of prudential calculation. 
Cases are rare, in which the giving advice is 
not the infliction of pain on him who receives 
it; for, unless his conduct were in some re 
spects defective, there would be no motive for 
giving him the advice ; and to have defects 
pointed at, or weaknesses divulged, cannot but 
be disagreeable to him whom, by the advice, 
it is sought to improve. Is there a certainty 
that the advice will be wasted ? Let the adviser 
spare himself the pains of disappointment, and 
spare the advised the annoyance of a useless 
infliction. But, escorted between self-regard 
ing prudence and beneficence, if the adviser 
has good reason to believe that his lessons will 
not be lost, he is well occupied in giving them. 
Let him avoid reference to by-gone misconduct, 
except as necessary to give more efficiency to 
his counsels. Let those counsels be tinged as 
little as possible with reproach for the past, 
but brightened as much as may be with encou 
ragement for the future. In a word, let him 
look forward instead of backward, and urge 
his hearer to do the same. By sparing him 


the recollections of pain, by opening to him the 
prospects of pleasure, he will best discharge his 
moral mission. 

To restrain those sallies of wit which give 
annoyance to others, is one of the duties, and 
a difficult one, whose exercise is demanded by 
extra-regarding prudence. The complacency 
with which men in general display their intel 
lectual superiority, and especially in the regions 
of ridicule, often betrays them into disregard 
for the feelings they wound, and the reaction 
of those wounded feelings upon themselves. 
Happy he, who, tempted to say a clever but 
malicious thing, has his own self-love so con 
trolled by the benevolent principle, as to be 
able, on any occasion, to check the utterance 
of that which would distress another; and hap 
pier still the man in whom the powers of wit 
and ridicule have been so constantly subjected to 
the influence of beneficence, as to feel no dispo 
sition to utter that which could give to another 
useless pain ! Men there are, whose minds have 
been so successfully disciplined, as to be placed, 
by a temperament which has become habitual, 
beyond the influence, and even beyond the 
suggestions of that infirmity, w 7 hich exasperates 
its victims far more than it injures them, and 
is often repaid by a malevolence more intense, 
because its fears do not allow it to break forth 


in ordinary expression. Pleasantry, the gay 
and joyous pleasantry which proceeds from 
happy spirits, and avoids all topics of painful 
results, is alike an attraction and a merit. 

Beware in your discourse of raising expect 
ations, without a certainty of their realization ; 
and if you have the certainty, take care that the 
expectation be rather of something less than of 
something more than you anticipate. The value of 
the pleasure, when it arrives, will be heightened 
by its being greater in amount, intensity, or in 
duration than was looked for. If you prepare 
disappointment, you suffer in the good opinion of 
the party whose hopes your representations have 
raised too high, and you suffer in your own 
good opinion. You will have lost something in 
usefulness by losing something in reputation. 
In exciting a less amount of expectation than the 
case would warrant, you can do neither yourself, 
nor the expecting person any evil ; for if the 
event happen, it will bring with it greater 
pleasure from its out-weighing anticipation, and 
if the event do not happen, the pain will be 
lessened in proportion to the smallness of the 
disappointment. And that we should prevent 
all needless disappointment, is but the corollary 
to the principle that we should not awaken 
undue expectation. Next to the creation of 
felicity, as the great and fundamental basis 


of all sound morals and legislation, comes the 
non-disappointment principle as second in im 
portance. And its application to discourse is 
obvious : the language which creates an expect 
ation not to be fulfilled, or in other words, 
which lays the ground-work of a disappointment 
which is inevitable, is as pernicious as any 
other conduct which does not produce a greater 
amount of suffering. Promises lightly made, 
and carelessly broken, are frequent sources of 

The pretension which indicates the motives of 
others is almost always futile and offensive. 
For if their motive be what we suppose it, and 
the motive be a praiseworthy one, it will be 
visible by and in the act ; and if the motive be 
blameworthy, to denounce it will but be a 
cause of annoyance to him to whom the motive 
is attributed. And after all, we have nothing 
to do with motives. If bad motives produce 
good actions, so much the better for society ; 
and if good motives produce bad actions, so 
much the worse. It is the act, and not the. 
motive, with which we have to do; and when the 
act is before us, and the motive concealed from 
us, it is the idlest of idling to be inquiring into 
that which has no influence, and forgetting that 
which has all the real influence upon our condi 
tion. What acts, however outrageously and ex- 


tensively mischievous, but may be excused and 
justified, if the motives of the actor, instead of the 
consequences of the act, become the test of right 
and wrong? Perhaps there never was a group of 
more conscientious and well-intending men than 
the early inquisitors ; they verily believed they 
were doing God service ; they were under the 
influence of motives most religious and pious, 
while they were pouring out blood in rivers, 
and sacrificing, amidst horrid tortures, the wisest 
and best of their race. Motive, indeed ! as if all 
motives were not the same, to obtain for the 
actor some recompense for his act, in the shape 
of pain averted, or pleasure secured. The 
motive, as far as that goes, of the vilest is the 
same as the motive of the noblest, to increase 
his stock of happiness. The man who murders, 
the man who robs another, believes that the 
murder and the robbery will be advantageous to 
him, will leave to him more happiness than if 
he had not committed the crime. In the field 
of motive, however, he may make out a case as 
recommendatory of his conduct, as if he were 
the most accomplished of moralists. To say 
that his motives were ill-directed to his object, 
is to reason wisely with him ; to say that his 
motives had not the object of obtaining for 
himself some advantage, is to deny the operation 
of cause on effect. There is, and the existence 


of the disposition is a striking evidence of the 
tendency of men towards despotic assertion, 
there is by far too great a willingness to turn 
away from the consequences of conduct in order 
to inquire into its sources. The inquiry is a 
fruitless one, and were it not fruitless it would 
be useless. For were motives other than they 
are, were they fit and proper evidence of the 
vice or virtue of any given action, it would not 
be the less true, that opinion could ultimately 
have no other test for judgment than the 
consequences of that action. A man s motives 
affect nobody until they give birth to action ; 
and it is with the action and not with the 
motive, that individuals or societies have any 
concern. Hence, in discourse, let all indica 
tions of motives be avoided. This will remove 
one spring of error and false judgment from 
the mind of the speaker, and from the minds of 
the hearers one source of misunderstanding. 

In the conveying approbation to another for 
meritorious conduct, let the expressions be warm 
and cordial. Let the recompense be as much 
as the circumstances of the case justify. Sin 
cerity and candor, indeed, are modifications of 
veracity ; or rather veracity is a modification of 
sincerity ; but veracity has its shapes more or 
less attractive ; and when it has the matter of 
pleasure at its disposal, let its distribution be 


made as welcome as possible to the receiver. 
That a favor denied may be made, by the grace 
of its denial, almost as pleasurable as a bene 
fit conferred has almost passed into a proverb ; 
and that the language of approval may lose all, 
or almost all its acceptableness by its forms of 
expression or manner of utterance, is within the 
observation of every man s experience. Let 
your praise then, when given, be given with all 
the accompaniments which make praise most 
delightful. The exercise which conveys appro 
bation is in itself most salutary. Let it be the 
expression of truth combined with warm-heart 
edness : one sentence so characterized will be 
worth many in which such qualities are wanting. 
And, where extra-regarding prudence requires 
that disapprobation should be conveyed to an 
other, let only so much of pain be created as is 
necessary for the accomplishing the object you 
have in view. If you create too little pain, indeed, 
that which you do create is wasted, because the 
purpose for which it was created fails. But the 
common error is on the other side. Vindictive- 
ness frequently mingles with the awards of 
justice. The disposition of power to display 
itself, usually leads to the infliction of more 
suffering than prudence or benevolence warrant. 
And in ordinary cases disapprobation is con 
veyed in that moment when passion has 


enfeebled the power of judging how much of pain 
is demanded. As a general rule, avoid the ex 
pression of disapprobation when you are angry. 
The violent expressions to which irritation gives 
birth, are those which will be least adapted 
to the end ; for the blindness of anger prevents 
it from seeing and seizing the fit object for 
the accomplishment of its ends. If a man has 
injured you, avoid, if possible, being yourself the 
awarder of the punishment the injury merits : 
wait for denunciation of the injury by some 
other person ; it will produce more effect than 
from you, and the odium to yourself will be 

Some men have a failing, which is a source of 
great annoyance to others, and for which they 
pay the penalty, by making their conversation 
less agreeable, and even at times making their 
conversation intolerable : it is the habit of 
stickling for the final word. Right or wrong in 
the controversy, subdued or victorious, there 
are persons who insist on exercising the petty 
and vexatious despotism of uttering the last sen 
tence that is uttered. This disposition is the 
outbreak of pride in a very offensive shape ; it 
is the usurpation of dominion over the self-love 
of other men, on a ground where men are ordi 
narily most sensitive. It is, in fact, a determi 
nation to humiliate him with whom you have 


been holding intercourse, to humiliate him, 
not by the success of an irresistible argument, 
but by the intrusion of a tyrannic power. 
Avoid then the act, lest the act should create 
the habit ; and if the habit exist, extra-regard 
ing prudence requires that it should be got rid 
of. Watch yourself ; and inquire of any friend 
on whose sincerity you can rely, inquire, if 
you are quite sure that you will not be hurt 
by his reply, whether the infirmity is exhibited 
by, or has been observed in you. And if it be, 
correct the infirmity. 

The proper subjugation of the virtue of vera 
city to those of prudence and benevolence has 
been already insisted on. Of the vice men 
dacity, which is the contrasted vice to the virtue 
of veracity, there are several ramifications, of 
a character more or less pernicious, but against 
whose exercise prudence demands us to be on 
our guard. Mendacity is one of many modes 
by which deceit is practised. Disingenuous- 
ness is another. Its tendency always, and its 
intention generally, is to produce misconcep 
tion. Insincerity is another form of mendacity, 
to be estimated, as to the extent of its per- 
niciousness, by the extent of evil which it 
generates. Exceptions excepted and those 
are the rare cases in which the higher demands 
of prudence and benevolence require the sacri- 


fice of veracity ingenuousness and sincerity 
are among the virtues which extra-regarding 
prudence takes under its care. They are sin 
gularly fascinating and self-recommendatory. 
The interest that every individual feels, on 
ordinary occasions, in the communication of 
truth, gives to truth a peculiar recommendation 
when it comes in a shape so attractive. Its 
charm is then upon the surface ; visible to the 
eye; obvious to the understanding. 

As to the general influence of our actions 
upon others, as reflected back upon ourselves, 
and with a sole regard to our own happiness, 
that is, supposing their happiness to form no 
part of our estimate, it is certain that an en 
lightened selfishness would prescribe friendly 
deeds towards them. For, take any object of 
desire, power, for example, power, as a 
source of pleasure, which it undoubtedly is, 
and inquire how it is best obtainable, in so far 
as other men are concerned. There are two 
courses of action, namely, doing good to them, 
or doing evil to them ; for non-action will, of 
course, produce no results. By doing evil to 
them, you make enemies ; by doing good to 
them, you make friends : now which, in refer 
ence to your own good, is preferable ? 

Solitary and isolated man disposes but of 
small portions of pleasure. Alone, all his ex- 


ertions would scarcely be enough to provide for 
himself food and clothing, and protection against 
the elements. Even in the earlier periods of 
civilization, where the means of association are 
few, his sufferings are considerable, from the 
frequent absence of the necessaries of life ; and 
it is often his fate to perish from the want of 
co-operation. All that social knowledge does, 
is to make men more useful to one another, 
is to give to each an interest in the resources 
of the whole, is to deal out to every man, for 
himself, a greater portion of the enjoyments 
which are in the gift of others, than he would 
otherwise have obtained. 

Though, to the definitions of the Aristotelians 
a thousand irresistible objections may be urged, 
though their classification of morality, under 
the bifurcate divisions of virtues and half- 
virtues, is wholly untenable, yet the virtues may 
be very conveniently and fitly divided into two 
sections, the major and the minor morals, the 
major, as they regard the interests which are 
greater, but are more rarely at stake; the 
minor, those which regard interests that are 
comparatively less, but are continually brought 
into question. 

To both branches the same rules apply; but, 
inasmuch as the quantity of good and evil 
which depends on any one action belonging to 

VOL. ir. M 


tho minor hrancli will be comparatively small, 
it is .MM inn. . more dillieult lo mark out the 
course which prudence and benevolence pre 
scribe, hut the popular sanction ha.s taken u 
great j)art of the minor morals under its wing, 
and, to a very considerable extent, the, laws of 
goad hm tHng are in conformity with the, Deon- 
tological principle*. To those laws there is 
seldom any hostility on the part of the aristo- 
eratical seetion of society. Like the rest of 
mankind, the inliiig lew are dependent on their 
observance (or no small portion of their own 
happiness, and then-lore they combine to give 
them action and effect. Ueeklcss as are too 
often the*, opulent and privileged classes of the 
claims of morality in its more exalted and 
important bearings, they are cautious in violat 
ing its dictates in that narrower field, where 
aristocratical opinion has itself marked out a 
certain course. Their extra-regarding prudence 
ha.s I M! a decided check upon the dissocial 
affections. In numberless cases, the impulse 
which would inflict pain on another is disarmed 
by the, well-established code of courtesy, (jood 
manners already tolerate difference of opinion 
in religion, politics, and taste. Tin- outbreaks 
which, only a lew years ago, would have 
been allowed to intolerance, have been already 
checked by the peremptory mandates of polite 
ness. A better system of morals than that 


which has so long overruled society is gra 
dually introducing itself, and regulating the 
world s judgment by a more faithful standard 
of right. In this there is consolation, in this 
may be seen a tendency towards a state of 
tilings where social and popular rewards and 
punishments will be sufficient to restrain and 
encourage a vast number of acts which are now 
left to the intervention either of the legislative, 
administrative, or judicial authorities; to the 
dictum of the priesthood, or the terrors of the 
law-giver. With the Deontological test in hand, 
let Chesterfield s Letters be read, or any other 
work whose object it is to teach the minor 
morals, and it will be found very easy to 
separate the chaff from the wheat, to rescue 
and reduce to practice whatever is wise and 
virtuous, and to pick out and fling aside, as 
unfit for use, all those instructions which violate 
the great primary principles. Such an employ 
ment would be a delightful exercise, both for 
the intellect and the affections : for the intel 
lect, as engaged especially in calculating the 
claims of the self-regarding interest; and for 
the affections, in giving weight to all the sug 
gestions of effective benevolence. 

If the accomplishment of any one purpose 
which a man proposes to himself be submitted 
to any other rule of action than that we have 


laid down, will that other rule give him so 
many chances of success, or make his success 
so complete or so economical as the rule of 
Deontology, which is resumable in two sim 
ple precepts, Maximize good, minimize evil ? 
Take any case that can be suggested. You 
have, for example, long been in habits of inter 
course with another. His society has ceased to 
be acceptable to you. It is desirable the connec 
tion should be dissolved. Now, for the putting 
a termination, whether temporarily or other 
wise, to his visits, could any better advice be 
offered to you than that, while removing from 
yourself the annoyance caused by his company, 
you should take care that as little vexation as 
possible should be given to him ? No good 
end can be answered by exciting in his mind, 
or in your own, a useless pain. Prudence 
would guard you against distressing yourself 
unnecessarily. Benevolence would prevent your 
bringing down upon him unneeded suffering. 
Such being the general law, you would so 
apply it, in every case, as to give it the greatest 
efficiency. If there were any peculiar suscep 
tibility in the mind of your acquaintance, that 
susceptibility you would take care not to 
wound. Unless the case demanded an imme 
diate rupture, you would break off your inter 
course gradually ; if instant cessation of com- 


munication were absolutely needful, you would 
put forward the least offensive reason you could 
find for your justification. 

Let a man s object be to ingratiate himself 
with another, a fit and proper object, if pursued 
in accordance with prudence and benevolence, 
how can he best accomplish it ? How shall he 
apply the Deontological rule ? 

To ingratiate yourself with another is to 
obtain his good opinion, his good opinion on 
any particular occasion, or his good opinion in 
general. Out of his good opinion will grow 
the desire to render you acceptable services ; 
services in a shape which you or he may spe 
cially have in view, or services of a more exten 
sive character. It is your desire that he should 
not regard you as he regards men in general, 
or men unknown to him, but that his mind 
should be impressed with favorable and friendly 
affections towards you. 

You have these two distinguishable courses 
to pursue. If you have the power of giving 
evidence of your disposition to render accept 
able services to the party whose good opinion 
you are seeking, and still more, if you have 
the power of rendering him such services ; if 
you can induce him to look upon you as likely 
to be able, or as able in reality to add any 
thing to his enjoyment; if, in a word, you are 


in a situation to exercise towards him the 
virtues of benevolence and beneficence, do so : 
it is the first and most obvious means of ingra- 
tiation, and may be intitled courtship. 

But if this be wanting, you have another 
means of ingratiation. Set yourself, as regards 
men in general, in a favorable light. Endeavor 
to appear in his eyes as a fit object of social 
affection, as worthy of love or esteem, or both. 
This may be called self-recommendation, or 

With some persons this self-elevation is the 
most recommendatory course ; with others, the 
system of courtship, in other words, the exhibi 
tion of the qualities which make your title out to 
friendly regard, may be put forward with more 
success and with less reserve to certain per 
sons than to others. 

Where the desire of ingratiating is exhibited 
with prudence and wisdom, it seldom fails of 
success, since there is no man who is not de 
pendent, to some extent, on the good-will of 
others, and very few who, in the obvious calcu 
lations of self-interest, are not willing to make 
some return for tendered useful services. But 
self-recommendation cannot be employed with 
out more or less hazard; it is an attempt to 
occupy a higher position than that we fill in 
the mind of the person appealed to. If it fail, 


we are lowered in his opinion, and humiliated 
in our own. Yet it is the most agreeable 
instrument, and the most flattering to self: it 
is that which is most frequently employed for 
the purpose of winning the friendly sympathies 
of others ; and the anxiety to employ it is the 
frequent cause of the counteraction of its own 
purpose. To the young it is peculiarly fasci 
nating and peculiarly delusive. They are wont 
to assign to themselves a place more exalted 
than the world in general is disposed to re 
cognize ; a place above the ordinary level in 
the scale of popular estimation. They do not 
easily lend themselves to the practice of court 
ship, lest it should be deemed disreputable 
flattery, and are therefore more prone to take 
their stand upon their own merit. 

But, in as far as the good opinion of others 
can be purchased by services done, and if those 
services can be done without any other sacrifice 
of self than will be recompensed by a greater 
result of good, no opportunity should be lost 
which enables us to win the friendly affections 
of mankind in general, or of any individual in 
particular whose approval will augment our 
own and the general happiness. 

Various rules have at various times been 
given for the suppression of anger, most of 
which consist of devices for giving the irritation 


time to allay itself, before it breaks out into 
offensive words or actions. All these rules are 
in fact appeals to sober judgment against ex 
cited passions. The deliberate repetition of the 
alphabet, a walk into the open air, if the scene 
of excitement be within doors, any device, 
indeed, for diverting the mind from its irascible 
tendency, may be used with effect. But 
instead of depending on the chance of finding 
the power of alienating the mind from its angry 
dispositions, when on any particular occasion 
they chance to be awakened, it would be far 
better to obtain the power of subjugating those 
dispositions by the habitual exercise of the cor 
rective influences. Hence, in the cool and 
quiet hour, when nothing disturbs the tranquil 
lity of your feelings, satisfy yourself completely 
of the usefulness and applicability of those rules 
for which you may have occasion in the moment 
of exasperation. Lodge them fix them firmly 
in your memory think frequently of their 
value ; and thus, when any incidental provoca 
tion happens to excite anger, the recollection of 
these rules may serve to repress it. It is in 
this way you will purchase redemption from the 
slavery to which passion would subject you, on 
the cheapest and the safest terms. 

The hoarding money is among the mistakes 
of imprudence and miscalculation. With refer- 


ence to ourselves to treasure it up unproduc- 
tively is an obviously false estimate of interest. 
As a means of enjoyment, the transfer of the 
affections from the reality, to that which is only 
the instrument by which the reality is obtain 
able, will, in its consequences, reduce many 
pleasures to one, and that one disassociated 
from, or even opposed to, the pleasures of 
others. The sensibility to pleasure being dead 
ened by non-exertion, the vague and undefined 
anticipation of good to be obtained by money, 
as a source of pleasure, is magnified. One 
after another, the individual pleasures vanish, 
and as they vanish the pleasure of possessing 
the source of so many pleasures takes stronger 
and stronger root in the affections ; it becomes 
in itself an object of desire, independent of 
and above all others, and at last excludes 
them all. 

Here then is a man who has disconnected the 
self-regarding principle from the social, and 
endeavored to obtain for himself an additional 
portion of good by alienating others from co 
operation in his own happiness. And the con 
sequences are as Deontology and philanthropy 
would desire they should be. He has made a 
foolish bargain in the interest of self. He has 
lost much good to obtain little, and that little 
good is made almost an evil by its being associ- 


ated with the anxieties which attend the one, 
single, solitary source of pleasure. Indifferent 
to the opinion of others, that opinion retaliates 
a sentiment that is not indifferent. For how 
ever men may desire to escape the judgment of 
mankind, escape is impossible : the tribunal 
of opinion drags all men inexorably before its 

The rules of extra-regarding prudence, though 
simple in their claims, dictate different forms 
of operation with reference to the different 
situations in which a man may be placed with 
respect to others. The law is in all cases the 
same, and the inquiry resolves itself into the 
means of giving that law the greatest efficiency. 
In the various grades of social position various 
rules apply. The general reasoning is grounded 
on the average of those grades. But it may be 
well to point out some of those diversities of 
position which demand the attention of the 
Deontological student. 

The cases presenting themselves where no 
conflict of interest has place, will be of the 
easiest decision. On those occasions where, 
to do that which is most agreeable to others 
is to do that which is most agreeable to your 
self, and where to do that which is most 
agreeable to yourself is, at the same time, to 
ingratiate yourself with others, the task of exer- 


tion is easy. In so far as without sacrifice of 
prudence on the one hand, or of benevolence 
on the other, you can make your own wishes to 
accord with the wishes of others your own 
interests with their interests, you will advance 
the cause of virtue and consequent felicity. 

But the points of difficulty will be, when con 
flicting, or, still worse, irreconcilable interests 
meet, where the conduct which would be 
satisfactory to yourself is repelled by others, as 
the cause of vexation and pain to them. It 
might be a great enjoyment to a man to smoke, 
notwithstanding the annoyance caused to others 
by involving them in the fumes of his tobacco. 
Setting aside the question as to what benevo 
lence might prompt, would not extra-regarding 
prudence demand from him the sacrifice of his 
enjoyment, for the sole purpose of protecting 
himself from the re-action, upon his own com 
forts, of the ill-will of those he had annoyed ? 
He might consider that the quantity of pleasure 
which the smoking communicated would be less 
in amount than the pleasures he would lose by 
losing other men s good opinion, or in compari 
son of the pains which other men would have it 
in their power, and perhaps in their disposition, 
to inflict. 

Again, the laws of extra-regarding prudence 
will be applied with greater facility on those 


occasions where no difference has place as to 
the inferiority or superiority of a man s con 
dition, as regards the party with whom he has 
to do. Actions, which, generally speaking, 
appear controlled by the Deontological princi 
ple, might be found more or less accordant with 
it, when the relative situation of the parties is 
duly weighed. The very conduct which might 
be prudent and benevolent when practised, for 
example, by an opulent man towards his poorer 
neighbour, by a wise man towards his less 
instructed acquaintance, by a father towards 
a child, by an old man to a youth, might 
change its character on being adopted by the 
opposite side, by those whose condition is 
contrasted in the circumstance of wealth, or 
knowledge, or of paternity, or age. In a situa 
tion of equality, the mind is released from 
weighing in the balance many topics of differ 
ence which, if they exist, are intitled to be 
duly estimated. As the pains and pleasures 
enjoyed or suffered by persons in the same 
condition, resemble each other more closely 
than where the gradations of rank have sepa 
rated men, the similarity of position will in 
crease the power of accurately estimating the 
value of the pleasure and the pain. For plea 
sures and pains are not worth seeking or avoid 
ing, except in so far as they act upon the 


individual, and can be applied to his particular 

The domestic and social relations present, 
under their various characters, various demands 
for the exercise of extra-regarding prudence. 
The intimacy and adjacency of a connection, 
and our dependence upon it for our own hap 
piness, strengthen the influence of the pruden 
tial principle, by bringing us more immediately 
into the presence of those who hold in their 
hands the power of distributing to us frequently 
recurring pains or pleasures. The ties of con 
sanguinity are ordinarily the strongest ; next 
follow r those of affinity ; next those of domestic 
contract, such as exist between master and 
servant ; next those of accidental social inter 
course ; and last, those of neighborhood. To 
some family circle almost every individual 
belongs ; upon the services rendered by the 
other members of that family circle every indi 
vidual is greatly dependent for his ordinary 
portion of happiness. Immediately beyond or 
beneath the habitual relations of family, come 
those accidental relations which grow out of 
the communications by which others are some 
times brought into our domestic circle, or by 
which we are taken into theirs ; while the 
friendly, but less intimate, intercourse of neigh 
borhood may be deemed the last grade to 


which the social sanctions apply. Beyond it, 
the popular sanction begins its action. 

A family is a small community, in which the 
situation of the heads is analogous to that of 
rulers in a state : it is a government in minia 
ture ; a government armed with all the powers 
necessary for regulating its own concerns, and 
especially all those which belong to the Deon- 
tological field. Appropriate rewards, for the 
recompense of actions which add to the hap 
piness of the domestic circle, and appropriate 
punishments for actions which diminish it, are 
in the hands of those who exercise the func 
tions of authority. And to them the rules of 
extra-regarding prudence apply ; for their au 
thority must become more or less influential, 
as exercised with a greater or less regard to 
the well-being of their dependents. 

Every human being is dependent, in some 
degree, upon others. In the very highest 
elevations of the social ranks, the influences 
exercised descend upon the ranks beneath, 
while the very lowest are not without influence 
on those above them, being called upon for 
services necessary to the enjoyments of the 
more privileged classes. To every individual 
whether as patron or as subject, the claims of 
Deontology apply. If his views look not be 
yond his own personal interest, if he be reck- 


less of every thing but the means of exacting 
from others useful and agreeable services, the 
dictates of wisdom will lead him to seek the 
accomplishment of every end he proposes to 
himself by the instrumentality of happiness. 
Let the conditions of man s varied existence be 
examined, one after another. Let the master 
inquire how the ready attentions of his servant 
can be best obtained. How but, by associat 
ing the interests of that servant with his duties, 
by making the duties pleasurable ? How can 
the servant most easily win that good opinion 
of his master which will lighten his labors or 
make them sources of enjoyment ? Certainly 
only by giving evidence to the master, that his 
services are not without their beneficent influ 
ence upon that master s felicity. 

In following the claims dependent on man s 
varied condition, those of superiority, inferiority, 
and equality have been referred to, as present 
ing topics for distinct consideration. 

Superiority may represent greater excellence 
in general, or greater excellence in some par 
ticular and special branch. Superiority in 
power, whencever derived, is the ordinary 
ground for the claim to superior services ; and 
the claim is obvious, for whatsoever induce 
ments you have to the exercise of beneficence 
towards inferiors and equals, on the score of 


prudence and benevolence, you have these, and 
others too, when the virtues are to be exercised 
towards a superior. The claims of self- regard 
ing prudence come in to add their weight to 
the claims of beneficence. The superiority of 
him you serve places in his hands an additional 
means of recompense, and your own self-regard 
would compel you to endeavor to obtain it. 

Superiority in power, derived from wealth, 
shuts out, to a certain extent, the influence 
of the inferior in that particular. The smaller 
sum sacrificed by the unopulent may be a 
greater loss than the larger sum obtained by 
the opulent. The value of money, in different 
hands, is a most important consideration, when 
it is to be employed as a means of influence. 

In early life, strange mistakes are wont to 
be made by inexperience. Indifference, or 
even haughtiness to superiors, is assumed as a 
characteristic of independence, and an evidnece 
of high-mindedness. And yet such exhibitions 
do not alter the real situations of men. The 
gradations of rank exist, in spite of all that 
benevolence can anticipate, or philosophy sug 
gest. Let any man ascertain what he gets 
by scorn or disdain directed towards those 
above him ! The ill-will of those who are 
mightier than he is cannot serve his purpose. 
Even if beneficence did not prompt him to 


avoid the giving useless pain, a prudent regard 
to his own well-being should teach him for 

By superiors in general are to be understood 
superiors in power ; and, consequently, on the 
part of the persons who are considered as their 
inferiors, there exists, as towards them, a cor 
respondent degree of dependence. In regard 
to the deportment proper to be maintained by 
their inferiors, as towards such superiors, the 
error of which we have spoken is apt to have 
place; and it is of a sort prejudicial, at once, 
to beneficence as well as prudence, and which 
is apt not to stop at the breach of these negative 
virtues, but to go on to a violation of the cor 
responding positive ones. A sort of merit is 
attached by some to the refusal to manifest 
towards the feelings of superiors that degree 
of regard which, by the same persons, would 
not be refused to equals or to inferiors. To 
this supposed merit is annexed more or less of 
self-praise, on the score of spirit, as it is called ; 
on the score of a spirit of independence. But 
if there is no merit in the violation of the 
dictates of a single virtue, viz. beneficence, 
negative or positive, still less can there be in 
the violation of the dictates of that same virtue, 
added to the dictates of self- regarding pru 



In this particular a difference may have place, 
according as, on the occasion in question, third 
persons are, or are not present. 

The case where third persons are present, is 
the case in which a display of this sort of spirit 
is most apt to be made. 

It will depend, however, upon the cast of 
mind that has place on the part of the persons 
thus present. It may possibly happen that, in the 
opinion of them, or some of them, the character 
of the person in question may be raised by this 
display of independence : so far as this is the 
case, what a man loses in the affection and 
regard of the superior in question, this, or 
more, he may gain by increase of regard on 
the part of these same third persons. In 
this case, a sort of conflict has place between 
the two virtues. The dictates of beneficence 
are neglected ; those of prudence self-regard 
ing prudence are consulted and conformed 
to ; and happiness gains by the sacrifice made 
by the one virtue to the other. 

In the other case in the case where no 
other persons are presentif imprudence, in 
this shape, is committed, ill humor anger 
is apt to be the cause. By the anti-social 
passion, the joint force of the self-regarding and 
the social affections is overborne : folly presents 
itself to the actor under the garb of merit : he 


fancies himself to be displaying strength when, 
in fact, he is betraying weakness. 

A case, not absolutely impossible or unex 
ampled, is, that by this display of hostility, in 
a case where obsequiousness is not only more 
advisable but more common, the inferior enter 
tains a hope of raising himself in the estimation 
of the superior ; and where that hope may even 
have its accomplishment. But the experiment 
is a hazardous one, and requires no small 
degree of skill and attention to be made 

The nature and existence of equality is as 
easily conceived as those of superiority and infe 
riority ; it being a negation of both. 

But between no two persons is the existence 
of it capable of being demonstrated, or with 
any thing like precision capable of being ascer 

Suppose, for argument sake, the existence 
of it ascertained, as between yourself, whoever 
you are, and another person, whoever he is. 
From self-partiality you, in your own scale, 
may be placed above him ; he, in his scale, 
above you. 

This difference, therefore, it belongs to you 
to bear constantly in mind, as well with respect 
to beneficence as with respect to self-regarding 


The difference, however, is not so great in 
the case of those classes which have least, as 
in the case of those which have most powerful 
incentives to emulation. Examples: day- 
laborers on the one hand, professional men on 
the other. 

Superiority and inferiority suppose each other: 
neither would have place without the other. 

But superiority and inferiority, in order to 
present a positive idea to the mind, must be 
associated with some object, in itself a good, 
or, at all events, supposed to be a good, so as 
to awaken desire. The different quantity of 
that good possessed relatively, may be con 
sidered as the different degrees of a scale of 
superiority or inferiority, with a reference to the 
particular good in question. 

One of the shapes in which superiority pre 
sents itself most obviously to the mind has been 
already referred to. It is that of power. It is 
a superiority easily conceived, early established, 
and widely spread. 

Take, for example, the dependence of the 
infant child upon its mother, and the power she 
exercises over it. It begins with the child s 
existence, it is absolute, it is boundless, it 
even precedes existence ; on the mother the 
child depends for its very being. 

The power she exercises cannot but be hers. 


No child can be born without a mother ; the 
existence of a mother implies the existence of 
a determinate child. The mother, standing in 
the relation of extreme superiority and absolute 
power over the child ; the child in those of 
extreme inferiority and absolute dependence 
upon the mother. 

Of primeval, and necessary, and absolute 
superiority, the relation of the mother to the 
child is far more complete, though less seldom 
quoted as an example, than that of father and 
son. No man can with positive, indisputable 
certainty, be known to be the father of a deter 
minate child. His connection with his sup 
posed or real offspring is, in the very nature of 
things, less intimate than that of the mother. 

By Filmer, whose name is kept alive by his 
having had Locke for his antagonist in the field 
of the political branch of moral art and science, 
by Sir Robert Filmer, the supposed necessary 
as well as absolute power of the father over 
his children was taken as the foundation and 
origin, and thence justifying cause of the power 
of the monarch in every political state. With 
more propriety he might have stated the abso 
lute dominion of a female as the only legitimate 
form of government. 

In the Negro kingdom of Ashantee, the king 
has for his successor the eldest male child of 


his eldest sister. In so far as certainty, com 
bined with proximity of natural relationship to 
the preceding monarch, is a proper, efficient 
cause of title to the vacant throne, the advisers 
of the black monarch of Africa have been, and 
are wiser than the advisers of the white monarchs 
of Europe. 

The scales of comparison by which supe 
riority, equality, and inferiority may be mea 
sured, embrace, necessarily, a great variety of 
topics, and may be classified under the head 
of qualities which distinguish one man s situa 
tion from another, or under those situations 
themselves. Qualities useful to self, qualities 
useful to others ; qualities natural, qualities 
acquired ; and these, again, divided into the 
qualities which are acquirable by a man s own 
exertions alone, and not acquirable, except with 
the concurrence of others ; qualities also of the 
body, and qualities of the mind, in the pos 
session of each, or all of these, almost every 
man is in some way distinguished from every 
other man. The amount of these qualities may 
be the same in the cases of different individuals, 
but their distribution is never so ; and a great 
portion of the charm of social intercourse grows 
out of the infinite distinctions by which these 
varied elements exist in different persons. A 
man may be distinguished from another by his 


wisdom on general topics, by an all-pervading 
accuracy of judgment, or by a wisdom peculiarly 
associated with certain determinate objects. A 
man may be characterised, though very rarely, 
by universal knowledge ; but in nine hundred 
cases, or more, out of a thousand, it will be his 
devotion to, and acquirements in some particular 
branch of study, that denote his superiority 
over any man, or over men in general. So, 
in that more vague dependence, which may 
be called the dependence of expectation, an 
inferior may anticipate good from a superior, 
growing out of any one of the qualities spoken 
of, or of any one of the various branches of 
those qualities. 

Among the more determinable sources of infe 
riority and superiority in position, age, wealth, 
rank, and political power, are particularly pro 

The difference in age is easily definable, and 
in some cases towers over every other distinc 
tion. The power of the nurse, for example, 
over the infant, however wealthy or high-born 
the infant may be, is almost limitless. In 
general estimate it may be remarked, that the 
superiority conferred by age is frequently ex 
aggerated, or rather, the points of character in 
which youth may be fairly considered as pos- 


sessing greater excellence, are not sufficiently 
taken into the account. The mental powers 
are generally improved by the teachings of 
time ; at all events, up to a certain period of 
man s existence ; but this can hardly be said of 
the benevolent tendencies. 

If age bring experience with it, a cooler and 
a riper judgment, if by it the intellectual 
faculties are strengthened, youth presents, on 
the other hand, valuable and virtuous qualities, 
which are not, alas ! fortified by long life ; for 
youth is the season of generous affections, of 
warm and glowing sympathies, of zeal and of 
activity. And occasions there are in which 
difficulties are vanquished by it, because their 
magnitude has not been perceived ; difficulties 
against which, perhaps, reflection would have 
counselled a more advanced intelligence not to 
contend. Youth, too, has a longer period of 
recompense or punishment before it; its cal 
culations of the fruitfulness of pains and plea 
sures are spread over a wider future field ; its 
susceptibilities are more intense ; its hopes are 
brighter ; it has more to gain and more to lose ; 
its destinies are not fixed, but remain to be 
called up, to a great extent, by the tendencies 
itself must give. 

From the novi homines the great advances 


must be expected ; un palled by satiety of 
honors, to them the slightest regale is a ban 
quet the most exquisite. 

The distinctions of wealth, in the scale of 
superiority and inferiority, may be easily mea 
sured. The pound in the hands of the foolish 
man cannot, indeed, be considered an instru 
ment of the same value as a pound in the 
hands of the \vise ; but, as far as the standard 
of wealth is applied, the fool and the wise are 
in the same condition. Wealth, however, re 
garded through the optics of utility, is only one 
of the many means of power ; the means of 
possessing that which is an object of desire; 
and upon its application, less than its distribu 
tion, depends the quantity of pleasure pur 
chased, and pain avoided by it. 

The number of fallacies current on the sub 
ject of wealth is extremely great, and many 
of them leave erroneous impressions on the 
mind, both as to the value and the use of 
wealth. Its value, its sole value, is as an 
instrument of power, and the possession of 
power, until called into exercise, counts for 
little in the balance of pain or pleasure. 
On its exercise its value depends. There is no 
more truth in saying that Money is the root 
of all evil, than in saying that Money is the 
source of all good. The phrase endeavors to 


give to a small portion of a truth, mingled with 
a large portion of that which is not truth, all the 
influence of a truism. No doubt, some desire 
or other is the cause of all misconduct, and 
money is the means for gratifying a large por 
tion of our desires. But as there are many 
pains which neither the presence nor the 
absence of money can create, remove, or even 
influence, so there are pleasures beyond the 
reach of wealth, however boundless. 

Rank, as a representative of prosperity, is, 
like wealth, to be estimated by its own scale of 
influence, as different titles constitute different 
grades of social position. But their bearing 
upon the general question of a man s superior in 
fluence, depends also upon moral and intellectual 
qualities. As a rule of conduct, extra-regarding 
prudence demands, in almost every case, the 
recognition of those habits of deference which are 
ordinarily paid to rank. Exceptional cases there 
are in which self-regarding prudence will league 
with benevolence to prevent that prostration 
which is painful to the prostrate, and pernicious 
to him who exacts or allows the humiliation. 

Political power implies the means of action 
in a wider sphere of influence. It enables a 
man to dispose of a larger portion of good and 
evil than power in any other shape will confer 
on him. And prudence requires that conduct 


should be directed with a view to that greater 
quantity of happiness and misery of which 
political power disposes. 

In intercourse with superiors, prudence par 
ticularly requires attention to all those lesser 
marks of respect which superior station is wont 
to exact. Great faults are sometimes par 
doned, little ones seldom. Many great men 
there are very willing to forgive an error, but 
few who would forgive an inattention. In the 
world, men s thoughts are far less occupied 
with important than with trivial things. The 
usages of polite society, the minor morals are 
within every body s observation and estimate 
who dwells in the more privileged social regions. 
Hence, there is little chance of any violation of 
them passing undetected and unpunished. 

Among the lessons of extra-regarding pru 
dence, that which teaches us to brook the inso 
lence of office, is not the least valuable. How 
shall that insolence be divested of its sting of 
annoyance ? 

Consider yourself as having to do with a stock 
or a stone. In that case there is no use in giving 
expression to resentment : as little in the other 
case. In that case no mischief results to your 
self from the expression of irritation : in the 
other case mischief indefinite. 

If your social position enables you success- 


fully to resist the disposition of men in power 
to worry others by the display of their authority, 
good service may be done by your appealing 
against, by your resisting their pretensions ; but 
if you can neither serve others nor serve your 
self, by rebellion against those pretensions, 
subdue your disposition to break out into fruit 
less contention. Save yourself from vexation, 
by preventing your own irascible passions from 
urging your susceptibilities into openly ex 
pressed discontent. Think that the possession of 
power in the hands of others is in itself a means 
of annoying you, and take care that the occasion 
is not given to them. 




THE compound term effective or efficient be 
nevolence/ has been adopted, in consequence of 
the want of a single word which should imply the 
union of benevolence and beneficence. These 
operate by checkingorby excitingto action. They 
are either restrictive or instigative. The effective 
benevolence which requires abstention from 
action is the first branch that deserves atten 
tion. Actions there are, and those very numer 
ous, which at the same time that they are 
inhibited by efficient benevolence, are mani 
festly so by the considerations of prudence. 
And where the alliance between prudence and 
benevolence is obvious, there can be no doubt 
as to the line of duty. But the miscalculations 
of self-regard so often encroach on the claims of 
benevolence, the sacrifice of the happiness of 
others is so often made on the false estimate, 
that by such sacrifice our own happiness is best 
promoted, that the first and most important task 
of the moralist, is to harmonize the selfish and 
beneficent principle, and to demonstrate that a 


due regard to the felicity of others, is the best 
and wisest provision for our own. 

Negative effective benevolence consists in 
nothing more than in the avoiding to do evil to 

But of evil done to others, some portions are 
taken cognizance of by law, others are left to 
the operation of opinion, with its different sanc 
tions or instruments of pain and pleasure. 

Evil done to others by man s instrumentality 
may be deemed annoyance ; and annoyance is 
either punishable or not punishable by judicial 

This division, it is obvious, must be riot 
natural but factitious. Its lines of demarcation 
shift with time and place. In different countries 
different laws visit the same acts with different 
consequences; what is sanctioned by the legis 
lation of one nation, is unnoticed or prohibited 
by that of another. In the same country the 
same act has been at different epochs rewarded, 
allowed, or punished. The annoyance that is 
punishable by law is termed injury, personal 

But the evil we are engaged in prevent 
ing here is that, and that alone, which it is in a 
man s power to produce, without exposing him 
self to legal punishment. 

It would be a service of no small moment 


done to mankind, if a work were specially de 
voted to the collection and exhibition of those 
evils and annoyances to which men are exposed, 
and which are not visited by the interference of 
the law. A manual of this sort would convey 
a mass of practical moral instruction, which 
might be turned to beneficial account, on occa 
sions of constant occurrence. 

If the different cases of men s vexations and 
sufferings produced by the acts of others, and 
remediable by forbearance, were gathered out 
of the different volumes which tell the tales, 
whether in ridicule of, or sympathy for, human 
misery, such a collection might be made the 
manual of abstential virtue. 

Of these evils, one division might be com 
posed of those, by the infliction of which no 
advantage in any positive shape is produced, or 
expected to be produced to himself, by the 
agent. In the case of these, the efficient in 
ducement may be referred to one or other of 
two causes: 1. Antipathy, or say malignity; 
2. Sport. 

Another division may be composed of the 
cases in which, from the production of the evil, 
positive advantage, in some shape or other, is 
reaped or looked for by the agent. 

Of this class, one sub-class may be composed 
of those in which superiority, on some account 


or other, is by the agent exercised, or supposed 
by him to be exercised over, or at the expense 
of the patient. 

Such an investigation, conducted in a benevo 
lent and inquiring spirit, would assuredly lay 
open vast fields of pain, in which the tares of 
misery might be torn up by the roots, and, 
perhaps, no small portion of the ground be 
covered with the seeds of happiness. 

How many little pleasures are interfered with 
by the meddling of unwelcome intruders, how 
many checked by the asceticism, or the ill- 
nature, or the ridicule, or the scorn of a by 
stander ? How many trifling vexations are 
aggravated by the dissocial qualities, or heed 
less deportment of a looker-on ? At the end of 
a day how much total loss is there not of hap 
piness by inattention to those small elements of 
which it is composed ? What an aggregate 
amount is made up of those particles of pain 
produced by carelessness alone ! 

The time will perhaps arrive, when all these 
sources of evil will be investigated, grouped 
together in their distinguishing characteristics, 
illustrated by examples, and their inconsistency 
with virtue be made so apparent, that opinion 
will take charge of their extirpation, opinion, 
which to enlighten and to make influential, is 
the highest purpose of the moralist. 


The general rules of negative benevolence 
and beneficence may be thus enumerated : 

1 . Never do evil, in any shape or quantity, to 
any individual, but for the purpose of some 
determinate and specific greater good : good to 
yourself, to the other party in question, or to 
third persons : to third persons, assignable or 

In one verse, 

Never do evil but for greater good. 

2. Never do evil, solely on the ground that it 
is deserved. 

In one verse, 

Never do evil for mere ill-desert. 

These two branches of morality correspond 
with the branches of negative and positive 
offences which are taken cognizance of by law. 

A negative offence is the omitting to prevent 
that which, if done, would constitute a positive 
offence. It is a guilt of abstention. It is the 
forbearance of a man to prevent a mischief pre 
ventable by his interference. 

A positive offence is the direct infliction of a 

In both cases, the offence consists in that 
course of conduct which leaves a balance on the 
side of evil. 

Negative beneficence is exercised by me, in 
so far as evil, which, by an act of mine, might 



have been done to another, is purposely forborne 
to be done. 

It has benevolence for its cause, or, at any 
rate, for its accompaniment, in so far as the 
contemplation of the evil in question, and the 
efficient desire and endeavor to avoid contribut 
ing to the production of the evil, has place in 
my breast. 

It will be highly conducive to the cultivation 
of negative beneficence and benevolence, to have 
present to the mind the several sources from 
which evil-doing to others is liable to flow ; and 
these sources or motives may be classified under 
the following heads : 

1. Self- regarding interest at large, and in 
particular the interests of the senses, and the 
interest of the sceptre ; the interests of active 
corporeal enjoyments, and those of power. 

2. Interest of the pillow, interest correspond 
ing to the love of ease ; to the aversion to labor 
of body or mind. In this case, the cause of the 
evil may generally be expressed by some such 
single word as heedlessness, carelessness, inad 
vertence, indifference, and so forth. 

3. Interest of the trumpet. Interest corres 
ponding to the pleasures and pains of the 
popular or moral sanction. In this is included 
the interest affected by wounds given to pride 
and vanity. 


4. Interest of malevolence. Interest corres 
ponding to the motive termed ill-will or 

Ill-will or antipathy, considered in respect of 
its source or cause, may be thus distinguished : - 

1. Ill-will or antipathy on account of rivalry; 
opposition of interests, in respect of self-regard 
ing interest at large. 

2. Ill-will on account of trouble, that is, labor 
of mind, regarded by me as produced in my 
mind by the individual who is the object of the 
ill-will thus produced ; say anti-social affection. 

3. Ill-will on account of wounded pride or 
vanity ; pains of the popular or moral sanction 
experienced by me, and regarded as having 
their source in some act, habit, or disposition 
of his. 

4. Ill-will or antipathy, having its source, its 
immediate source, in sympathy : in sympathy 
for the feelings of some person to whom evil, in 
any of its shapes, is regarded by me as being 
done, or more or less likely to be done, by the 
instrumentality of the individual in question, in 
whom this anti-social affection of mine beholds 
its object. 

5. Ill-will on the score of difference in opinion. 
In this case, the interest affected is composed of 
the interests respectively corresponding to love 
of power, and to the love of the pleasure, and 


aversion to the pains of the popular or moral 
sanction. In a man whose opinions are, in 
respect of some point or system, or topic of 
importance, in a state of determinate opposition 
to mine, I behold a man in whose mind there 
cannot be that esteem, or that affection, which 
there might be in the opposite case ; I behold 
a man in whose instance my love of power 
cannot receive that exercise and that gratifica 
tion which it would receive, if I could cause 
him to give up that adverse opinion of his, and 
adopt mine ; I behold a man at whose hands 
I receive the evil, consisting in the suspicion of 
an exemplification of mental weakness on my 
own part : for the greater the number of the 
persons by whom the opinion opposite to mine 
is entertained, the greater the probability is 
that mine may be erroneous. 

Of the sufferings experienced by others, in 
consequence of our behavior to them, a very 
large portion brings with it no benefit, in any 
shape, to ourselves. Nothing is gained to the 
self-regarding interests, in order to form a coun 
terpoise to the pain to which we have given 
birth. The sole justification for annoyances 
caused to others is, the obtaining for ourselves 
some advantage: the justification can only be 
complete when the advantage gained is clearly 
greater than the annoyance caused. 


Hence the rule of general application that 
nothing be ever done of which you have reason 
to suppose it will, in any shape, be productive 
of uneasiness to any individual, unless some 
obvious, special, and preponderant advantage 
to yourself, to some other individual or indivi 
duals, or to mankind at large, is to be the 
certain result. 

Such a subject, wherever the pains and plea 
sures of others are involved, demands the strict 
est investigation : for to every individual the 
stock of pains and pleasures possessed, recol 
lected, or anticipated, forms all the elements out 
of which existence itself is made worthy of his 

Even in joke, say nothing and do nothing 
which you have reason to apprehend will cause 
uneasiness to another : that uneasiness is a sad, 
an unworthy source of merriment. 

And if for no purpose of merriment the inflic 
tion of uneasiness is to be allowed, how much 
less can it be tolerated for any purpose of 
malignity ? 

Though the sensibilities of men are more or 
less acute, and the same actions, which as re 
spects some would cause little suffering, and as 
respects others, more, or even much suffering, 
no better rule can be given for enabling you 
properly to estimate the amount of suffering, 


than that of changing places with the sufferer. 
Put yourself in his position imagine the pains 
are inflicted on yourself, and then make the 
estimate of their burthensomeness. The more 
you have accustomed your thoughts to weigh 
the different classes of pains and pleasures, the 
more accurate your opinions as to their value, 
the sounder will be your judgment in all those 
matters where they come in question within the 
domains of morality. 

But under both classes of negative and posi 
tive benevolence, provision must be made for 
those exceptions, where a preponderant good or 
evil takes the case out of the ordinary instances. 

Hence, in order to avoid producing prepon 
derant evil for want of being aware of it, caution 
is necessary. 

The caution may be exercised by guidance 
from a pernicious course. 

Direct guidance is employed by indication or 
creation of pain. 

Indirect guidance by the indication or creation 
of pleasure. 

Indirect where practical is preferable ; for it 
gives pleasure to both parties, and it is more 
likely to be efficacious. 

The modes of gratification and annoyance are 
two : 

Physical acting on the bodily organs. 


Mental acting by impressions on the mind. 

The occasions of benevolent action and absten 
tion are 

Incidental, or 


The permanent occasions are 

Domestic, or 


And the domestic are again divided into those 
of kindred, which have their origin at the begin 
ning of the social relation, and are dissolved 
only when that relation is terminated by death ; 
or such as exist between masters and servants . 
between hosts and visitors, which are entered 
upon, and closed at the will of either or both 
the parties. 

The instruments by which effective benevo 
lence gives evidence of its existence are words 
and deeds. Words, as exhibited either in oral 
or written discourse ; deeds, which have an in 
fluence upon the pains or pleasures of others. 

Much of the ground which has been gone 
over in the inquiry as to the demands of extra- 
regarding prudence, again presents itself for 
examination under the head of effective bene 
volence. Their claims are in many instances 
the same their interests happily identical. 

One of the topics treated of, however, leaves 
little to be said. In the regions of thought 


thought as unconnected with, or unproductive 
of actions, prudence has many laws to estab 
lish ; for thoughts have no small influence upon 

But unless and until thoughts become words 
or deeds, they do not concern others ; they 
form no part of the field of effective benevo 
lence. Intrusion into their sanctuary is usurpa 
tion. If any thoughts do you, or do others, no 
mischief, on what plea do you interfere with 
them ? If they do, they must be exhibited in 
some mischievous shapes. They must have 
found expression, they must have become an act. 

To words and deeds, therefore, the inquiry 
into the exigencies of effective benevolence must 
be confined ; and, first, it will be convenient 
to examine into the requirements of negative 
effective benevolence as to discourse. 

The general rule for the abstention from the 
infliction of all unnecessary pain, all pain 
unnecessary to the avoidance of greater pain, 
or the production of a balance of pleasure, 
must be accommodated to the different cases, 
as they present themselves. The great moral law 
is peremptory : Exceptions excepted, inflict 
no pain. The province of the legislator and the 
moralist is to inquire into, to produce, to justify 
the exceptions. 

To prevent the uneasiness produced by dis- 


course, where that uneasiness, in its general 
results, would be useless or pernicious, is the 
object of the instructions about to be offered. 
And, as a primary precept 

Consider whether the words you are about 
to employ are likely to produce uneasiness in 
the breast of those to whom they are addressed, 
or whom they may reach. 

Discourse is either conveyed by evanescent 
or by permanent signs : when evanescent, com 
monly by word of mouth ; when permanent, 
usually by writing or printing. 

Word-of-mouth discourse being the most sim 
ple, and the only original mode, with this let 
us commence. And, in the first place, let 
it be to one person alone that the ideas thus 
expressed are communicated. That person may 
be either present at the utterance of the dis 
course, or absent. 

If, among its probable effects, be that of 
producing uneasiness, consider, in the next 
place, whether, in the account of good and 
evil, in compensation for the uneasiness so pro 
duced, good may not be produced in some 
shape or shapes, in which it will be prepon 
derant in value, with reference to such unea 
siness. More briefly thus. If uneasiness be 
among the probable effects of it, consider, then, 


whether the uneasiness may not be compensated 
for by some greater good ; by a more than equi 
valent good. In this case comes the consi 
deration of the justifying causes for producing 
uneasiness by discourse. 

Again. In the case where uneasiness to the 
other party is regarded as a probable conse 
quence, consider whether, among the effects or 
accompaniments of such uneasiness, anger, of 
which you are the object, may not be the 

For want of a sufficient attention to the 
particular causes by which uneasiness may be 
produced by discourse, an indefinite quantity 
of suffering is often caused, even where the 
satisfaction felt by the utterer is extremely 
small. The sufferings of others, originating in 
the words of heedlessness, are often greater 
than malevolence itself would be disposed to 
inflict. Inattention may create an intenser pain 
than hatred; and levity be more mischievous 
than immorality. 

In every case, however, small though it be, 
there must be some motive of pleasure to him 
self, which induces any man to give pain to 

As to evil without good, that is impossible; 
for no evil ever is, or can be done, but with 


a view to good. The least possible good is, in 
this case, where it is through ill-will to the 
man that you do the evil, without doing good, 
in any shape, other than that of a gratification 
to your own ill-will : which gratification, in the 
supposition of your conceiving yourself to have 
received evil at his hands ; and to be acting in 
consideration of such evil, is called vengeance, 
or revenge. 

But let the evil thus done by you be ever so 
enormous, and the gratification to be derived 
from it ever so slight, still the object, in con 
templation of which the act found its motive, 
is in itself not evil, but good. 

To do good to a man, the evil you speak 
must be to him, not of him, unless it be in the 
view that what is said of him may, in some 
way or other, for his good, have the effect of 
drawing on him punishment, at the hands of the 
political or of the popular sanctions. 

Supposing always that the good in question 
cannot be produced at any cheaper rate, the 
following are the justifying causes by which the 
production of evil, in any shape, and therefore 
in this shape, may be justified : 

1. Production of preponderant good to the 
evil- speaker himself. 

2. Production of preponderant good to the 


person who is spoken to or spoken of, and to 
whom evil is thus done. 

3. Preponderant good to any other person or 
persons at large. 

4. Preponderant good to the public at large. 
To the head of preponderant good done, done 

to the public at large, belongs the case where, in 
the production of the uneasiness, the author of 
it acts in the character of a member of the 
tribunal of public opinion, applying the force 
of the popular or moral sanction. 

But a distinction must be drawn between 
the case, where there is nobody present but the 
person in whom the uneasiness is caused, and 
the case where there are another or others pre 
sent. Abstraction made of any particular 
relation borne by them to either of the parties, 
the uneasiness produced will be the greater, 
the greater the number of the persons so 

Always keeping, therefore, in view the mini 
mization of suffering, if the discourse which 
benevolence demands will answer the ends of 
benevolence, by being addressed to the indi- 
^ 7 idual in the absence of all other persons, it 
should only be addressed to him in their 
absence. If the presence of others be necessary 
for its intended effect, let the number present 


be as few as are needful for producing that 

In the cases of the exercise of the domestic 
authority, and of the exercise of the public 
authority in an official situation ; that is, as a 
depository of the political sanction, true and 
proper grounds may be found for the infliction 
of pain by discourse, which could not be justi 
fied as disassociated from that authority. And, 
as a member of the public-opinion tribunal, as 
a dispenser of the popular sanction, language is 
demanded frequently by benevolence in repro 
bation of misdeeds, which the same benevo 
lence would check, if addressed personally to 
the misdoers. 

But, in ordinary cases, the justifications put 
forth for the infliction of pain by discourse are 
not tenable. It is far from sufficient to say 
that the assertions made are true ; it is far from 
sufficient to pretend that the person on whom 
the pain is inflicted deserves the infliction ; it 
is far from sufficient to urge that he is reckless 
or worthless, or that you deal charitably with 
his misconduct. Unless you can come and 
show that preponderant good is to result from 
the sufferings you create, your vituperation of 
your victim, your laudation of yourself, are but 
vain and wasted words. 

The modes in which the feelings of others 


may be wounded by discourse are many for 
example : 

By direct reprehension, whether by the im 
putation of positive misconduct, on a particular 
occasion, on the part of the persons addressed, 
or by that assumption of authority which inti 
mates, by words, the right of general dictation. 

The right to reprehend is in itself a virtual 
claim of superiority, and a claim which is likely 
to hurt the pride and vanity of him upon whom 
it is exercised. Reprehension is awarded pun 
ishment ; and in proportion to the doubtfulness 
of the title to arbitrate and to condemn, of him 
who thus takes on himself the functions of 
condemner, will be the perils incurred by his 
own self-interest, from the enmity of the party 
punished. The extent of his malevolence will 
be measured by the same standard, and the 
amount of his usurpation will be measured by 
the needless seventy of his reprehension. 

Imperiousness is the attempt to strengthen 
argument by despotic authority. Not satisfied 
even with being right, some men s pleasure 
seems to consist in putting others in the wrong. 
They must have a triumph for their dogmatism 
as well as their reason. They must humiliate 
while they subdue. They will beat down a 
companion, even though his downfall should 
not be needful to their success. Not only shall 


their opponent be in the wrong, but they will 
extort from him a confession that he is in the 
wrong. They condemn him others condemn ; 
but their tyranny will be satisfied with nothing 
but a declaration of self-condemnation from the 
condemned himself. 

Stickling for the last word is another form 
of this conversational imperiousness, a poor 
and petty triumph, which only serves to lengthen 
the endurance of pain, and to exasperate by 
humbling an opponent. 

A form of imperiousness is that of positive 
and unqualified assertion, which is made more 
offensive when it contradicts an opposite opinion 
expressed by another : and the arrogance be 
comes heightened if the assertion be of a 
character not to be substantiated by proof. Of 
a fact, for instance, a man may have evidence 
that amounts to demonstration ; but imperious- 
ness is not satisfied with unqualified assertions 
as to facts, it often makes them, as to matters 
wholly incapable of proof. A man may safely 
say, that he witnessed such and such an action ; 
but that such an action was a crime or a virtue, 
might be a matter of opinion ; and if the case 
were one of doubt, his peremptory declaration 
as to the character of the action could not fail to 
wound the man who had been giving a contrary 

So, positive assertions as to matters of fact, 


not witnessed by the assertor, the proof of 
which depends upon evidence; assertions ma 
king no reference to that evidence, but demand 
ing belief on no other ground than the assertion 
itself. But of this anon. 

Peremptoriness of decision, before an opportu 
nity has been given to others to express their con 
victions, is a usurpation, shutting the door upon 
discussion. Peremptoriness of decision after an 
opinion has been given by others is annoying 
and offensive. 

Useless contradiction is another violation of 
benevolence; it is also an exhibition of folly; 
for while it manifests impotence, it wounds 

There is a form of imperiousness, somewhat 
less annoying, but still worthy of discourage 
ment and reprobation, which may be called 
assummgness -. It generally displays itself in 
the naked and crude assertion of an alleged 
matter of fact, without reference to any per 
cipient interest. Its pretension is to demand 
implicit credence. 

Now, if with the expression of the opinion of 
the speaker, intimation were given of the evi 
dence on which that opinion was founded, no 
thing would be lost to the reputation of the 
speaker, and the hearers would be spared the 
annoyance inflicted by a rude and unauthorized 
demand upon their credulity. 


Another of the exhibitions of an assuming 
temper, is the peremptory assertion of future 
events ; such and such a circumstance will 
take place. In so far as the speaker has any 
knowledge which enables him to predict the 
coming events of futurity, he may, without 
giving any pain to the self-love of others, em 
ploy some such formula as, I should, or I 
should not expect to find, It would not sur 
prise me if 

Whether the domineering spirit exhibits itself 
by undervaluing your companion, or overvaluing 
yourself; in whatever shape of arrogance or 
overbearingness it displays its propensities, 
tyranny and aristocracy are there. 

Its consequences will be resentment, either 
open or secret : if open, quarrels ensue; if secret, 
secret plans of injury. 

Benevolence insists on its suppression: to all, 
its efforts are maleficent ; if exercised towards 
a dependent, it is ungenerous ; if exercised to 
wards a patron, it is imprudent. 

If you have benefited another, do not fancy 
that your beneficence gives you a right to 
tyrannize over him. Destroy not the good of 
one action by the evil of another. 

Discourse may wound by advice-giving, in 
volving in it the appearance of reprehension, or 
exhibiting itself in a shape implying the pos- 

VOL. II. p 


session of an authority not recognized by the 
hearer. Even the giving good advice is the 
assumption of authority on the score of wisdom. 

A man may be in the wrong, but however 
egregiously wrong you may deem him, do not 
think it is incumbent on you to set him right. 

If the case require the interference of good 
advice, give it so that it may be least offensive 
to his self-esteem and self-complacency. 

Speak to him rather alone than in company ; 
rather in the company of few than of many. 

If a man be engaged in a pursuit in which 
success is hopeless and the expense seriously 
prejudicial to him, advise him to abandon it. 

But if not, avoid saying anything that can 
tend to discourage him. 

On the contrary, say what appears to you, so it 
be consistent with truth, likely to encourage him. 

Hold up to his view the considerations which 
tend to probabilize success ; not bringing out 
spontaneously any, the tendency of which is, to 
disprobabilize it. 

More particularly if success would, in your 
view, be upon the whole beneficial to himself 
and mankind at large. 

If in this case you represent success as im 
probable, you will hurt his feelings without any 
possible good. If he, on his part, contend in 
favor of probability of success, you will appear 


to him in the character of a person making pre 
tension to superior wisdom, and holding him in 
contempt in the character of a self-deceiver. 

Whereas want of judgment may be evidenced, 
as well by regarding success as improbable 
where it is probable, as by regarding it as pro 
bable where it is improbable. 

Discourse may wound by information-giving ; 
first, where it involves the supposition of general 
ignorance or general inferiority in the scale of 
knowledge on the part of the person to whom 
it is given ; or relative ignorance in relation to 
some special subject of knowledge which, for 
some special reason, he ought to be possessed 
of; and secondly, where it involves a suppo 
sition of a supposed consciousness of superiority, 
general or special, on the part of the speaker 
with relation to the person spoken to. 

In all these cases a circumstance supposed 
is, that, with reference to the speaker, the 
person spoken to is, in point of general estima 
tion, superior, decidedly superior, or at least 
equal ; or, if inferior, not so decidedly inferior 
as to warrant any such assumption of superi 
ority as above. 

Beyond these cases, the communicating infor 
mation cannot come within the limits of offence ; 
for no person is so knowing as not sometimes to 
stand in need of instruction, even from the 


If you have to communicate information of 
any sort, avoid all arrogance. 

In preference to general, employ the most 
particular assertion, and state, if possible, the 
authority or authorities, the person or persons, 
who, with reference to yourself, are the narrat 
ing witness or witnesses. 

General assertions are but conclusions con 
clusions drawn by the judgment from particular 
supposed facts. Assent to a general assertion 
supposes two things : unlimited confidence in 
the appropriate aptitude of all supposed wit 
nesses through whose minds and tongues, or 
pens, the supposed fact has passed, or is sup 
posed to have passed ; and the like confidence 
in the rectitude of their conclusions. Hence in 
the general rectitude of the intellectual facul 
ties of the party by whom the communication 
has been made. 

If it be to a familiar friend that the commu 
nication is made by you, the non-mention of 
the individual person, or other source of evi 
dence, from whence your belief has been de 
rived, is a token of want of confidence in him : 
if by any tie of propriety you stand precluded 
from making the disclosure, acknowledging that 
this is the case is less offensive than the arro 
gance which calls for implicit credence : it 
indicates some confidence, not the absence of 


If a friend be permanently distant, do not 
communicate to him any vexations of yours 
which he is unable to relieve. You will spare 
him all the suffering that his sympathy would 
have excited. 

Discourse may wound, by contempt ex 
pressed for the religious opinions of another. 
The contempt which is poured forth on those 
who differ from us in religious matters, is 
ordinarily close upon the regions of hate. 
The dogmatism of establishments, the dam 
natory creeds of church usurpation, sharpen 
the edge of scorn with the instruments of 
maleficence. Why should I spare my ana 
themas towards those who are under the 
curse of God? Why? Because I cannot hate 
without pain to myself pain increasing with 
the increase of hatred, so that my self-regard 
ing interest should check the growth of hatred. 
Why ? Because I cannot hate without desiring 
to punish those I hate, to punish them in the 
ratio of my hatred ; and as the outbreak of 
hatred must thus necessarily be maleficent, my 
regard for others should prohibit that outbreak. 
And what is true of hatred is true in a less 
degree of scorn. Scorn has its pains, too ; and 
even though they may sometimes be outweighed 
by the pleasures of the scorner, they cannot 
counterbalance the sufferings produced in the 
breast of the scorned. 


Abstential benevolence requires that no ques 
tion should be put, the answer to which would, 
or might expose the answerer to considerable, 
or lasting inconvenience. 

Such might be the consequence of inquiries 
as to the religious sentiments of an individual. 
He might gain little if his opinions were found 
in accordance with those of the inquirer, and of 
other persons present. He might lose much if 
they were found discordant. Even without 
culpable intention, much damage might be done, 
and the damage might be irreparable. 

The very question has more of intolerance in 
it than even of curiosity. 

Let, then, intolerance be checked in every 
shape, the expression of impatience, con 
tempt, or ill-will, when you are unable to con 
vince another, however cogent and irresistible 
your arguments may appear to yourself. No 
man can believe just what he likes to believe, 
at all events, at a moment s notice. He can do 
a great deal towards believing in future, by 
lending a favorable and attentive ear to the 
evidence on one side, and resolutely turning 
away from the evidence on the other. This is 
all that can be exacted from him by way of 
operating on his convictions, to produce the re 
sult you desire. But such a convert would do 
little honor to your apostleship ; and, at all 
events, take care that no dishonest declaration 


is obtained by the menace, or the infliction of 
evil, or by the withdrawal of good. 

Discourse may wound by contempt ex 
pressed for the tastes of another. For taste 
there can be no standard. To you such an 
object of sight is beautiful, to another it is 
offensive. How can you estimate the causes, 
which, in his mind, have associated with pain 
that which you deem pleasurable ? To you 
such and such an assemblage of sounds is har 
monious and attractive, to another they seem 
discordant, or they afford no gratification. What 
mischief results to you, or to mankind, from 
that difference of opinion ? In what possible 
way is any one injured from the circumstance, 
that certain colors, or forms, or melodies do not 
make exactly similar impressions on the senses 
of different individuals? If you fed contempt 
for the judgment of another on such topics, it 
is your misfortune ; if you express it, it is your 
offence. Abstential benevolence need not pre 
vent your adopting the opinions which seem to 
you best founded, but abstential benevolence 
requires you should not so express them, as to 
give needless pain to others. 

Discourse may wound by contempt, or ill- 
will, expressed towards the class of men, or 
country, to which the hearer belongs. This 
is a malevolence exercised on a wide scale, 


and unfortunately finding sympathy in the 
bosoms of many who are in the same con 
dition as the malevolent person. It some 
times takes the name of esprit de corps, of 
nationality ; sometimes the higher title of 
patriotism ; and, in so far as these imply the 
desire and the action of good upon the indivi 
duals or parties with which we are specially 
connected, nothing can be said against them : it 
is a diffusion of the benevolent and beneficent 
principle. But, from the moment in which 
their exercise is exclusively directed to the 
body, the class, or nation to which we belong, 
and is denied to others, from the moment in 
which they break out into words and deeds 
of antipathy, from the moment in which the 
fact, that a fellow man speaks a different lan 
guage, or lives under a different government, 
constitutes him an object for contempt, abhor 
rence, or misdoings, from that moment they 
are maleficent. A toast, for example, in Ame 
rica, has been given, Our country, right or 
wrong, which is, in itself, a proclamation of 
maleficence, and if brought into operation, 
might lead to crimes and follies on the widest 
conceivable field, to plunder, murder, and all 
the consequences of unjust war. Nor less 
blameworthy was the declaration of a prime 
minister of this country, that England nothing 


but England formed any portion of his care 
or concern. An enlarged philanthropy might, 
indeed, have given to both expressions a Deon- 
tological meaning, since the true interests of 
nations, as the true interests of individuals, are 
equally those of prudence and benevolence ; 
but the phrases were employed solely to justify 
wrong, if that wrong were perpetrated by the 
land or government which we call our own. 

Among the various exhibitions by which 
superiority is assumed, and annoyance caused 
to others by conversation, imperative command, 
whether of injunction or prohibition, is among 
the most vexatious. 

Remember, on all occasions, that kind costs 
a man no more than unkind language. 

To use kind language costs nothing at all ; 
unkind costs always more or less ; oftentimes 
more to him who employs it than even to those 
to whom it is addressed. But every man is 
bound to anticipate that unkind language will 
produce the fruits of unkindness ; that is, suffer 
ing, in the bosoms of others. 

The mandate which exacts obedience may 
lose the despotic character with which harsh 
ness would invest it, and become even plea 
surable, if communicated in forms and terms of 
kindness. Men there are, whom, to serve, is 



in itself pleasurable, from the consideration for 
the feelings of others which accompanies their 
demands for service. 

Interrogation is often offensive, other than in 
the way of request : there is a manner of inter 
rogation which assumes all the dogmatism of 
command. A question is put in the shape of a 
requisition. Information is called for with the 
coerciveness of authority. It is one of the exhi 
bitions of imperiousness. It is generally exer 
cised by superiors towards inferiors ; and its 
vexatiousness increases in proportion as the 
interrogator is less and less removed above the 
rank of the interrogated. The purpose of a 
question being to obtain an answer, morality 
requires that the answer should be associated 
with no unnecessary pain. 

Discourse may wound by censure, whether 
it takes the form of direct disapprobation, or 
of laudation bestowed on conduct similar to 
your own, and opposed to that of the party 
censured. When censure is vituperative, it 
assumes the functions of judge and execu 
tioner. Defamation, when no person is pre 
sent but the party defamed, is but vituperation 

If you have occasion to speak of a man s 
fault, if for the prevention of its repetition, or 


for some other undoubted purpose of good, it is 
desirable that reference should be made to it in 
your conversation with him, provide him with 
an exculpation ; suppose, if that be possible, 
a casual and blameless ignorance on his part, 
on yours a casual knowledge. 

Equally avoid accompanying your censure 
with any expression of scorn, with any phrase 
ology which shall convey a wish of yours to 
degrade or lower him in the social scale. 

Abstain from all vituperative words, when 
neutral will express the meaning. Instead of 
saying that a man intended to defraud you of 
your rent, say he appeared desirous of avoiding 
the payment. 

If you think a man has used you ill, do not 
overwhelm him with reproaches, do not even 
let him know that such are your thoughts, unless 
their communication to him be necessary to pre 
vent a repetition of the misdeed. In almost every 
case, the reproach will come with more grace 
and more effect from any other party ; for the 
judgment of a third party will be less liable to be 
warped by interest, or exasperated by passion. 

If called upon to give an unfavorable opinion 
as to a saying of any kind, or a work of any 
kind of which you disapprove, do not be forward 
to communicate your disapprobation merely be 
cause your self-love is flattered by the appeal 


made to your judgment. If the influence of 
that of which you disapprove be pernicious to 
mankind, in conveying your opinion to others, 
for a purpose of preponderate good, employ 
no phraseology stronger than is absolutely 
necessary to communicate the amount of your 
disapproval ; taking care that no portion of 
malevolence mingles with your award. 

Be cautious not to drag forward ill-conduct 
which, but for your reference to it, might be for 
gotten. Except for some obvious purpose of 
future good, to treasure up in your mind the 
records of old misdeeds of others, is to sin 
against prudence and benevolence ; it is to make 
your breast a store-house of pain, to be inflicted 
on yourself and on others. The expression of 
dissatisfaction at past ill-conduct, when it 
has no reference to present ill-conduct, and at 
the same time is not likely to prevent future ill- 
conduct, is the creation of misery to no end 
whatever, or to a bad end. 

If you imagine you have cause for complaint 
against any man, on the ground of his miscon 
duct, towards you, and if it appear to you of 
use that he should be informed of this, take 
care that the communication be made so as to 
give him the least possible annoyance ; do not 
convey your expression in a way to make him 
suppose you think ill of him ; so speak that he 


may regard you as attributing his conduct to a 
cause in which he is little, or not at all blame 
worthy. You have asked him, for example, to 
visit you ; he has neither done this, nor sent an 
answer ; he ought to have come, or at least to 
have given a reason why he did not, or would 
not come. Impute his neglect to the possible 
miscarriage of your letter; or if the message 
was a verbal one, to probable misconception on 
the part of the bearer, to misconception, or 
misexpression, or forgetfulness ; for, as the effect 
might have been produced by any of these 
causes, there is no insincerity in a man s sup 
posing as much. 

Choose a fit time for that reproof which 
effective benevolence demands. If a failure 
have taken place on the part of any individual 
toward you, avoid mentioning it at the moment, 
for nothing you can say will cause that not to 
have happened which has happened. The 
tendency of your observation will naturally and 
necessarily be to produce suffering on his part, 
and that ill-humour toward you which is the 
result of his suffering. 

If a similar occasion is likely to occur, then 
and then only, just before the occasion, if you 
see a prospect that your interposition will be of 
use, is the time for recalling to his mind the 
former failure. The effect will thus be influ- 


ential at the moment when it is wanted, and 
all the intermediate suffering will be spared. 

But remember, that of useless reproof pure 
evil is the consequence, evil certain and con 
siderable, in the humiliation of the person re 
proved, evil contingent, in the loss of his 
amity and the exposure to his enmity. 

These lessons may be resumed in a single 
sentence : Blame nobody but for preventing 
further cause of blame. 

Direct and avowed interruption of the speaker 
is one of the evidences of contemptuous dis- 
esteem to be particularly guarded against. Its 
offensiveness is often so intolerable as to make 
conversation painful rather than pleasurable, 
and to produce so much of annoyance as to 
excite even the reaction of ill-will. 

Indirect and unavowed interruption of the 
speaker, by your own loud discourse, while the 
other party has not completed his, this is 
only another mode of annoyance ; the attempt 
is injurious, and, in case of success, oppressive. 

When, by such interruption, the thread of a 
man s discourse is broken, it is frequently irre 
coverable. By a man with a stronger voice 
a man with a voice less strong may thus be 
rendered at any time virtually dumb ; the 
weak-voiced man kept in a sort of depressed 
and slavish state, and the strong-voiced man 


deprived of whatsoever benefit he might have 
derived from the conversation of the other. 

Departure from the presence of the speaker 
before he has ended his discourse, is one of the 
offences against good-breeding, which abstential 
benevolence takes under its care. Great must be 
the demand for the presence of the listener 
elsewhere, to justify his abruptly quitting that 
of the speaker. And in a less degree is the 
exhibition of impatience, by language or ges 
ture, during conversation prohibited by the 
minor morals, always barring those exceptions 
where an obvious and preponderate good is to 
be set against the annoyance caused. 

Affectation of disregard, while another person 
is speaking, is another exhibition of contempt. 
To hear what a man is saying to you, and take 
no notice of it, is a breach of good-breeding 
which would find little justification in public 
opinion ; and the inattention is more offensive, 
if a request is conveyed that you will not do so 
and so, and paying no attention to his desires, 
you continue to do it. This, indeed, is positive, 
not negative maleficence ; but negative bene 
volence should induce you to refrain. 

A mode of annoyance which does not neces 
sarily assume superiority, is direct or virtual 
inquisitiveness into the private affairs of the 
person addressed. By such interrogations pain 


will almost certainly be excited. In ordinary 
cases the communication will be spontaneous, 
if it be, on the whole, desirable that the know 
ledge should >be conveyed. At all events, the 
right of judging whether the communication 
should be made, is with the party inquired of, 
and not with the inquirer. The inquiry creates 
pain to the inquirer, if the information be re 
fused ; pain to the other party, if it be unwil 
lingly given : and, in many cases, pain to both. 
And where pain to either is a probable con 
sequence, the motive to abstention from the 
inquisitiveness should check its expression. 

Avoid causing annoyance by the communica 
tion of unpleasant, afflictive, or useless infor 

The general exception is where the evil of 
the annoyance promises to be outweighed by 
the good produced by the information. The 
persons susceptible of the good are 1. The 
person to whom the information is conveyed ; 
2. The person by whom the information is con 
veyed ; and 3. Other persons at large. 

If it be supposed that no good, in any shape, 
can accrue from the information to any person 
of any one of these classes, it is clearly the 
case to which the application of the rule is 
absolute : to convey the information is incon 
sistent with benevolence and beneficence. But 


if there are cases where, to set against the evil 
from the information, good, in some shape and 
quantity, is created on the other side ; where, 
for example, the communication of disagreeable 
news is necessary to the adoption of certain 
measures of prudence, whose adoption is of 
preponderating importance ; where, but for the 
communication, more pain would be suffered 
than if the communication had not been made ; 
where some important object is to be accom 
plished by him who makes the communication, 
or some important benefits to be obtained by 
individuals or society at large : on such occa 
sions the pain must be inflicted, for its infliction 
will prevent greater pain, or secure pleasure 
more than sufficient to counterbalance the pain. 

Never bring to view irremediable disasters ; 
especially to or in the hearing of any who, in 
the eyes of others or their own, may have 
contributed to those same disasters, or the like. 
No reference to them will make them not to 
have happened ; and, in addition to the suffer 
ings they caused, acid not the sufferings which 
the reminiscence of them brings with it. 

Avoid condolence with those who are mourn 
ing the loss of .friends. Condolences, as well 
as mournings, are bad things. Men, and more 
especially women, give actual increase to their 
grief while, under the notion of duty, and 



even of merit, they make display of it. If 
mournings were altogether out of use, a vast 
mass of suffering would be prevented from 
coming into existence. Some savage or bar 
barous nations make merry at funerals : they 
are wiser, in this respect, than polished ones. 

Instead of offering condolence to your friend, 
if you cannot persuade him to take any amuse 
ment, contrive that business shall, in some 
shape or other, make an irresistible demand 
upon him for his attention. 

Abstain from holding up to a man s view 
imperfections which it is clearly beyond his 
power to remedy or remove. The value of 
your abstention will be in the ratio of your 
elevation above his position. If his position be 
superior to yours, prudence should teach you 
forbearance ; if you be so little dependent on 
him, that his ill-will can do you no sort of mis 
chief, effective benevolence requires that you 
should cause him no useless suffering. 

Such forbearance is demanded, whether the 
infirmity is intellectual, moral, or corporeal ; it 
is demanded even in the absence of others; it 
is more strongly demanded in their presence. 

One never-failing result of unkindness in this 
shape is, a pain of humiliation. 

This pain will be greater or less, according 
to the relations existing between the person 


thus annoyed and other persons present : and, 
be those relations what they may, it will be 
greater and greater, in proportion to the increased 
number of persons present. 

And if the consequences of such unkindness 
be 1 raced, they will be found to produce evil 
to all parties: 1. Evil to the person thus 
annoyed, by the infliction of this pain of humi 
liation : 2. Evil to the third persons present, by 
the infliction of the pain of sympathy, produced 
in their minds, by the idea of his pain : 3. Evil 
by pain of antipathy, of which you will be the ob 
ject of antipathy produced by their sympathy : 
4. Evil to yourself, by danger of retribution at 
the hands of the person thus annoyed ; and, 
eventually, at the hands of those in whose 
breasts any such antipathy may have been 
excited. For this mass of evil, whatever it 
may amount to, compensation cannot, in any 
shape or quantity, have place. Yes, perhaps, 
if the imperfection thus brought to view were 
remediable ; but, by the supposition, this is not 
the case. 

If any reference to irremediable infirmities 
be thus prohibited, by the laws of benevolence, 
far more decidedly and severely is it where it 
comes in the shape of ridicule. Derision of 
organic defects is one of the most cruel forms 
of pain-giving. Imperfections there are, which 


may or may not be shaken off; but where, in 
the very constitution of the human being, some 
infirmities are interblended, the demands of ab- 
stential beneficence are peremptory. 

To this class of evils belong many of those 
tricks and inflictions known as school-boy jokes. 
Some malformation some human wretched 
ness, is often marked and selected as the butt 
for petty inflictions of pain. Let the maleficent 
tendency be checked in its very earliest exhi 
bitions. Let children, especially, be instructed 
that the pleasure which finds its aliment in the 
pain of another in the useless, uncompensated 
pain of another, has in it the germ of all that is 

In the case of remediable imperfections, though 
the rule which suppresses allusion to them does 
not absolutely apply; yet before you refer to 
them by oral discourse, and especially oral dis 
course in the presence of third parties, be sure 
that the object, which allusion to them purposes 
to accomplish, cannot be accomplished without 
those pains of humiliation which your reference 
to them brings with it. Be sure that the good 
is not attainable by some lesser evil. Be sure 
that you are the person most likely to attain 
the good at the least expense of evil. 

In your intercourse with a child, servant or 
other dependent, in regard to every fault or im- 


perfection not incorrigible by his exertions, re 
mind him of it every time you observe it, so 
long as prospect of amendment have place. If 
all prospect is at an end, cease reminding him ; 
and never afterwards let him see that you 
observe it. 

In the choice of subjects for conversation, 
abstential benevolence will often find occasion 
for its exercise. Every man s mind is so 
organized, or at all events so trained by habit 
and usage, that certain topics are less pleasur 
able than others. Let those be avoided which 
are the least agreeable, and in proportion to 
their disagreeableness, be your anxiety to shun 
them. The presence of important interests 
may require the introduction of subjects on 
which there is a known discordance of opinion. 
Necessity, or preponderant benefit, can alone 
justify their being brought forward.* 

* I remember an interesting case in point. For two or 
three years after my acquaintance with Mr Bentham, we 
had frequent discussions on some points of religious con 
troversy. Certainly on his part there was no diminution of 
affection towards me ; on mine, no diminution of reverence 
towards him, notwithstanding the unchanged state of our 
minds on the subject in question, after so many and such 
long debates. One day, he said to me I shall not change 
1 your mind, I see; you will not change mine, you know. If 
4 we goon, I shall give you pain, or you will give me pain, and 


Avoid on all occasions wounding the self- 
love of another. If a man misunderstand, or do 
not understand your conversation, attribute the 
failure not to misconception on his part, but to 
misexpression on yours. For misexpression 
may be the cause of misconception, and there 
is no reason for seeking an explanation which 
will give pain, when one is at hand which can 
give no pain. 

Give no expression, and as far as you can 
avoid it, give no place in your mind to useless 
resentment ; not even where you feel that you 
are calumniated. If you are accused of bad 
conduct, past or intended, and it is in your 
power to disprove the accusation, do not fly into 
a passion, but give disproofs : to fly into a pas 
sion is naturally a guilty man s sole and there 
fore natural resource ; disproofs are the only 
means of distinguishing your case from that of 
a guilty man. Where you think you observe 
marks of stupidity, beware of asperity in your 
observations. Only in so far as negligence is 
the cause, can they be of any use. Suppose 
negligence out of the question, the effect of any 

in either case pain to both will be the consequence. We will 
never talk on this matter again/ Nor did we. And yet, if 
ever there were a man who unveiled his bosom to another, 
Bentham unveiled his to me. J. Bo. 


asperity is to give purely useless pain, and to 
excite resentment towards yourself on the score 
of your injustice and cruelty. 

Patience under invective is a lesson hard to 
learn and difficult to practice, but well worthy 
of being learned and practised. 

If, in your presence, an attack is made upon 
you, be it ever so outrageous, especially if there 
be others in company, treat it, if you can, either 
with manifest indifference, plain good humor, 
or with pleasantry, as occasion serves. The 
more outrageous the attack and to the assail 
ant who makes it the more disgraceful the 
more effectually will he be then put down : 
he will be disappointed, humbled, and yet not 
irritated, nor made your enemy in a greater de 
gree than he was before ; he may possibly be 
even reconciled. As to his disappointment, it 
follows of course : at any rate, if no other 
persons are present. For in such a case what 
could have been the object of the attack? 
No other assuredly than the making you 
suffer : and the more completely undisturbed 
your complacency, the more complete his 

This is no doubt of the number of those 
lessons which it is so much easier to give than 
to obey : few lessons, be it repeated, either 


of self-regarding prudence or of effective bene 
volence, can be more difficult than this. 

This, however, or any other conquest over 
temptation may, on adequate inducement, be 
effected by previous preparation. Exercises 
for the strengthening the body, have been inven 
ted, and with illustrious success brought into 
practice : this is of the number of those exer 
cises by which, on a similar principle, strength, 
the passive strength of patience, may be given 
to the mind. 

In the denial of favors, let the denial give as 
little pain as possible to the person who applies. 
Even though the request should appear ill- 
timed and unreasonable, there is no motive for 
showing that there is any disinclination on your 
part to oblige or serve him. Should it seem 
necessary to convince him that the request is 
unreasonable, do so suaviter in modo : by the 
fortiter in modo, you may humble or irritate him, 
or both ; you may make him unhappy without 
need or use ; you may even make him your 
enemy; and what advantage can you obtain 
from his suffering what good from his enmity ? 

In the case of otherwise unmanageable im 
portunity, that is, if gentleness and kind expres 
sion have failed to rid you of the suppliant s 
presence, have recourse to the punitory method. 


Abstain from all expressions whose object is 
the manifestation of opposition to the will or 
judgment of another; no matter how trivial the 

Contest not a point of no practical importance, 
merely because you are in the right and another 
in the wrong. Out of such contests spring 
dissension and enmity. 

If, on account of something which he has 
done, a demand presents itself for speaking of 
a man in the correspondent unfavorable light, 
mention the particular fact, but not in general 
terms the opinion formed by you on account of 
the fact. The fact may prove the correctness 
of your judgment of condemnation. The terms 
of condemnation will prove nothing, perhaps, 
in the eyes of the person you are conversing 
with, but the state of your affection with refer 
ence to the person in question. 

Excite in the minds of others no unreasonable 
hopes, by holding out prospects of whose 
realization there is any reasonable doubt. Let 
the language in which you speak of anticipated 
pleasures be such as to leave the smallest 
amount of disappointment, should the pleasures 
never arrive. Little will be lost by lowering 
the tone of expectation ; much will be suffered 
if it be raised too high. 

The passion of anger has been already de- 


nounced as useful on no occasion ; pernicious 
and pain-giving on almost every occasion. All 
habits, therefore, that administer to it are to be 
avoided. Of these habits, that of cursing and 
swearing is among the most foolish and the 
most mischievous. The popular sanction is 
happily directing its opprobrium against such 
exhibitions. Fashion had once taken them 
under its protection; fashion is now repudiating 
them. In addition to the pain produced by the 
anger which excites them, other pain will be 
produced by the expression of anger in a form 
so offensive. In the minds of some, it will 
shock the religious affections ; in the minds of 
all, it will produce sensations which benevolence 
should avoid conveying. 

Thoughtlessness, or heedlessness of the con 
sequences of language, is the source of the 
greater portion of the evils inflicted by language. 
Men are apt to speak, without consideration of 
the effect their words may produce upon those 
with whom they are conversing, or who are 
within hearing. 

Truth, it is said, ought not to be spoken at 
all times. But there is a dangerous ambiguity 
in the aphorism, and hence it is often employed 
to a pernicious purpose. It has two senses; 
one a bad, the other a good one. Falsehood 
ought sometimes to be spoken, this is the bad 


and perilous sense. Cases there are, in which 
truth ought not to be spoken. What, then, 
ought to be spoken? Falsehood? No! nothing 
at all. This is the good sense. And this is 
the sense in which only it should be employed 
as an aphorism by the moralist. 

The maxims which have been thus put for 
ward, as the rules for conduct in matters of 
discourse, will be found of similar application 
where actions are in question. In fact, in the 
progress of our investigations, it will have been 
seen, that it has been convenient sometimes to 
associate actions as the consequences of words, 
their connection with one another being so inti 
mate, that it has been difficult to separate the 
consideration of them. 

Of actions, however, a greater proportion 
than of words comes into the domains of judicial 
authority. The actions which are controlled by 
the laws may be considered obligatory; those 
of which the laws take no cognizance may 
be deemed free; and they are such as are not 
considered to belong to the domain of penal 

Actions annoying to others may either be so 
by offending the physical senses, or the intel 
lectual feelings. 

Of the five senses, the feeling and the taste 
do not, on this occasion, come in question : 


annoyance to either of these senses presents 
itself in the form of a legally-punishable offence : 
annoyance to the touch or feeling becomes 
what, in law language, is called assault : an 
noyance to the taste presents the idea of poison ; 
and, unless deceit or intimidation be employed 
as the instrument of it, cannot but involve in 
it an offence of the nature of assault. 

In a word, the only senses exposed to those 
annoyances which come under Deontological 
cognizance, are the three senses which are 
capable of being operated upon without imme 
diate contact. These are the smell, the hear 
ing, and the sight. 

1. The smell. The ways in which annoy 
ance may be inflicted on this sense are, for the 
most part, sufficiently obvious. Under this 
head some cautions may not be altogether with 
out their use. 

Trifling as they may seem at first sight, in 
regard to all these modes of annoyance which 
operate through the senses, such may be the 
effect as to banish one friend from the society 
of another, and even render a man an object 
of recorded aversion to a whole company, in 
any degree numerous. Trifling as it may seem, 
what renders the mischief in this case the more 
serious is, that by a sort of mixture of shame, 
fear, and sympathy, the person by whom the 


annoyance is felt is apt to be restrained from 
making communication of his feelings to the 
person who is the author of it. Here, then, 
is the case of an act which, having the effect 
of maleficence, stands clearly prohibited by the 
dictates of negative beneficence, and thence of 
self-regarding prudence. Trifling in the ex 
treme as it may seem, greater annoyance is pro 
duced by it than would be produced by many 
a punishable offence ; at the same time that, 
by the circumstance just mentioned, the injury, 
such as it is, stands precluded from the benefit 
of pardon. 

The cautions in question consist in present 
ing to view, to the reader, this or that cir 
cumstance which, though really productive of 
mischief in the shape in question, has been 
found, by experience, to be liable to escape 

First, then, as to annoyance in that shape in 
which the seat of it is in the sense of smell. 

The most obvious is that which is produced 
by the emission of gas from the alimentary 

Of gas of that species which is emitted from 
the lower part of that canal, the emission is, 
almost always, optional : in such sort that, in ge 
neral, annoyance in tins shape cannot be inflicted 
without being intended : forbearance is in the 


power of the individual by whom it is inflicted. 
In the production of annoyance which has 
place in this shape, though the sense is the 
immediate seat of it, imagination acts the prin 
cipal part : the self-same scent which, if emitted 
from a man s own body, would not have been 
productive of any annoyance to him, is ren 
dered productive of annoyance to him, in a 
highly offensive degree, by the mere circum 
stance of its being by another person that it 
has been emitted, and the annoyance is capable 
of being mitigated or enhanced by a variety 
of circumstances connected with the person 
of the individual whose body has been the 
source of it. 

As the share which the imagination has in 
the production of annoyance in this shape is 
so great, annoyance may, in this case, have 
place without any actual impression on the 
organ which is the natural seat of it. Such is 
the disgust apt to be produced by the impres 
sion, that, by means of the principle of asso 
ciation, a disgust correspondent in its nature, 
though inferior in degree, is commonly pro 
duced by the idea, when excited by operations 
which apply not to any other sense than that 
of hearing. 

Education has done much for the suppression 
of annoyances from this source. The good- 


breeding which has penetrated even to the 
masses of society, has succeeded in making 
acts unfrequent, which are considered such 
evidence of rudeness and ill-manners as to 
make their exercise perilous to the reputation 
of the offender. 

The power of preventing disagreeable emis 
sions from the mouth is not possessed to the 
same extent ; but absolute power is possessed, 
to regulate them so as to prevent their offen- 
siveness to others. Eructation, which cannot 
always be controlled, may be made less annoy 
ing to those present, by watching the direction 
in which the blast will not reach any person ; 
then let the air escape in that direction, from 
the smallest possible aperture at the corner of 
your mouth, so the act may be unperceived. 

If there be persons on every side within 
reach of the blast, either cover your mouth 
with your handkerchief or your hand ; the car 
bonic acid gas will descend by its own gravity. 

If you are at table, with any person opposite 
to you, the covering your mouth is better than 
your visibly puffing out the effluvia ; for if the 
distance be so great that the annoyance will not 
affect your companion s sense of smell, you 
may save him from fancying that he does per 
ceive it, a fancy likely to be created by his 


perceiving that the act of eructation has had 

2. Hearing sense of hearing. To this sense 
annoyance may be applied in a direct way, or 
in a collateral way, by the instrumentality of 
the association of ideas. 

In a direct way, either by the quality of the 
sound, or by its quantity. 

Annoyance by means of sounds offensive by 
their quality, independent of their quantity, is 
not very apt to be inflicted without intention : 
without intention, having, for its end in view, 
the production of such an effect. If inflicted 
in pursuance of any such intention, it might, 
perhaps, be considered as forming the matter of 
a legally-punishable injury ; at any rate, any 
warning to abstain from the practice can be no 
better than superfluous and useless. 

By the principle of association, any sound, 
the effect of which is to call up and place in the 
mind the idea of an application offensive to any 
other sense, such as, for example the sense of 
smell, becomes thereby, itself, noisome. 

Annoyance may be created through the ear 
to the inside of the nose and mouth by the 
power of sympathy. 

By an assortment of glands opening into the 
nose, the interior of the mouth, and the passage 


called the larynx into the lungs, a viscous 
liquid, subservient to various uses, a liquid, 
but in some cases, partly by its original texture, 
partly by evaporation, approaching to solidity, 
is discharged. This liquid, when accumulated 
in the passages to a certain quantity, becomes, 
in various ways, productive of disagreeable sen 
sations, which cannot be removed but by the 
expulsion of it. That portion of it which lines 
the lungs, the larynx, and the interior of the 
mouth, is capable of being discharged through 
either of two channels : through the mouth, in 
which case it is expelled out of the body alto 
gether, and in its own form; or through the gullet 
into the stomach, in which latter case it mixes 
itself with the food, and, after having undergone 
like changes, is finally expelled through the 
same passages. That which lines the nose, the 
upper part of it at least, is capable of being dis 
charged through anyone of three orifices : namely, 
at the nostrils ; at the mouth, as above ; or into 
the stomach. When at the nose, it is driven out 
from above by an extraordinary quantity of air 
inhaled for that purpose ; in this case, the nose is 
said to be blowed ; that which is expelled through 
the mouth, is discharged partly by means of a 
current of air inhaled for the purpose, partly by 
means of the muscular force of the tongue and 
the lips. In the instance of some persons, if, 



instead of being expelled from the mouth or 
nose, this mucus is swallowed, sickness is apt 
to be produced : sickness, partly by the diffi 
cultly-digestible quality of the matter when 
taken into the stomach, party by its tenacity, 
by which it is kept in a state of continuous 
strings, extending themselves down the gullet, 
and stimulating it in such manner as to pro 
duce a sort of convulsion called retching. 

A man who is liable to be thus affected, 
when, by the sense of hearing, he perceives 
that another person experiences annoyance from 
the accumulation of mucus in an extra quantity 
is, in order to relieve himself, swallowing, or 
preparing to swallow it into his stomach, instead 
of expelling it through the mouth or the nose, 
such a man is apt to receive from such percep 
tion no inconsiderable annoyance. This annoy 
ance has for its cause the affection of sym 
pathy. By his own experience, in his own 
case, the idea of sickness is associated with the 
idea of that state of things. 

Very considerable, indeed, is the suffering 
produced by a cause apparently so inconsider 
able, and the nature of which seems not to be 
commonly understood. 

A distinction must here be observed between 
the cases in which the bodily organ, the organ 
of sense, is itself the seat of annoyance suf- 


fered, and the cases in which it is but an inlet 
to the impression made on some other part of 
the body or on the mind. 

Thus, for example, the organs of sight and 
hearing are each of them exposed to particular 
modes of annoyance, of which they are respec 
tively the seats. But, taken together, they are 
the inlets to an infinity of annoyances as well 
as of enjoyments, the seat of which is not in 
the respective organs, but in the mind ; in a 
word, of the annoyances and enjoyments capa 
ble of being afforded by the means of discourse. 

The only cases in which it is worth while, for 
the present purpose, and on the present occa 
sion, to bring a mode of annoyance to view, are 
those in which it is in a man s power to avoid 
giving the annoyance, without taking himself 
out of the presence of those who are exposed 
to it. There are some persons to whom the 
sight of a person whose eyes are the seat of a 
certain morbid affection, is sufficient to produce 
a similar affection ; no forbearance, except the 
forbearance to introduce himself into the pre 
sence of the person laboring under this morbid 
susceptibility, being sufficient to prevent the 
annoyance, the case belongs not to this head. 
On terms of less inconvenience than that of 
their avoiding each other s presence, the annoy 
ance may be avoided by an easy forbearance on 


the part of the person laboring under the mor 
bid susceptibility : namely, by his avoiding to 
turn his eyes towards those eyes, by the morbid 
state of which the morbid sensibility is affected, 
and the annoyance produced. 

These cases, purposely gone into with some 
detail, will be sufficient to awaken attention to 
other points, where the corporeal senses are 
likely to be affected by want of attention to the 
causes which bring annoyance to them; and will 
enable every man for himself to watch the in 
stances in which benevolence demands absten 
tion from practices thus offensive to others. 
The subject is in itself so unattractive, that 
even what has been said would seem to demand 
an apology, were it not that to such sources a 
large amount of disagreeable sensations is to 
be traced, and that the full importance of pro 
tecting men, as far as possible, from the visita 
tions of such annoyance is not sufficiently, or 
generally felt. 

As an example of the way in which the topic 
may be followed into other departments of the 
minor morals, the following extract is given from 
the Examiner newspaper : 

Mode of Feeding annoying to persons of any 
delicacy : making a clattering with their 
knives and forks ; smacking their lips ; draw- 
ing in their liquids with a bubbling sound ; 


chewing with a noise ; and eating with rapid - 
ity. These things may seem of little import- 
ance to some, but they are very far from being 
so ; for they not only indicate coarse feelings 
* on the part of the offenders, but tend greatly 
to make their company very distasteful to per- 
sons of refinement, and must therefore operate 
greatly to their injury in their commerce with 

Unkind expressions, with regard to the infir 
mities of others, have been referred to as vio 
lations of the Greatest-Happiness Principle. 
Unkind actions are yet more palpable and de 
cided violations of it. If you meet with any 
person laboring under corporeal or mental de 
fects, let your attention be especially awakened, 
and be most anxious to say, and still more to 
do, nothing which can wound the person suffer 
ing from the defect. If the infirmity be one of 
temper, do not suppose that you are authorised 
to let your disapproval exhibit itself in words 
or deeds of unkindness. Many defects of tem 
per are constitutional, and cannot be overcome: 
the cases are very rare indeed, where any, the 
slightest good, can be done by your giving evi 
dence of hostility, or even censure. Appear 
not to notice the weakness, and if you notice it, 
let it, at all events, be in a manner which shall 
give the least possible pain. 


In cases of corporeal defects, do not refer to 
them. It is dangerous to do so, even by an 
expression, or an act of sympathy ; for the de 
fect is brought by that sympathy into the im 
mediate view of the sufferer; and the pleasure 
of your sympathy, even where it communicates 
a pleasure, which it will not always do, may be 
overbalanced by the pain which excited atten 
tion will awaken. 

The case is different where the suffering is 
remediable remediable by your kindness, or 
alleviable by your sympathy. Such a case 
establishes a claim to both. 

If the words or deeds of another give you 
pain, and you, in consequence, desire they 
should cease from annoying you, so manage that 
the discontinuance of the annoyance be obtained 
with as little pain as possible to the other party. 
Do not, therefore, desire abruptly that the vex 
ation may cease ; do not give evidence of the 
pain it causes you, but propose some new topic ; 
give a direction to the conversation, or conduct, 
which shall lead it away from the course that 
annoys you. 

In the interference of others on your behalf, 
it may well happen that there has been impru 
dence ; that the interference has not been such 
as you would approve, and that your dissatis 
faction is well-grounded. Before you complain, 


be quite sure that, with a reference to the 
future, it is necessary to apprize the party of 
your displeasure : nothing but some reference 
to the future will authorise, in any case, an ex 
pression of dissatisfaction ; for no such expres 
sion will change the past, or make an evil that 
has been, not to have been. Should a recur 
rence of ill-judged interference be contem 
plated, then, at the moment when it is about to 
take place, gently apprize the party that, on a 
former occasion, some unintended mischief was 
done ; otherwise, do not let him perceive that 
you noticed the consequences of his injudicious 
interference, nor apprize him of it. 

The rule has been mentioned by which you 
are enabled to judge of pains and pleasures 
experienced by another : namely, by changing 
positions with him. Thus, to avoid giving use 
less offence, or uneasy pain, on the occasion of 
any thing you are about to do or to say in rela 
tion to any individual, think, in the first place, 
in what manner, if said or done in relation to 
yourself, it would aifect yourself. If to your 
self it would be a matter of indifference, think 
then whether between your situation and his 
there may not be some difference, the effect of 
which may be to render painful to him what 
would not be so to you. 

The best ordinary rule is, to assume equality; 


to make equality the law of general application 
exceptional variations, growing out of differ 
ence of position, must be applied to the parti 
cular cases as they occur. There may be cases 
where the peculiar character of the individual 
likely to be offended, makes him less suscep 
tible of pain than in ordinary persons; but safety 
is on the side of forbearance. 

What thou doest, do quickly/ and especially 
if the deed be one that is likely to gratify 
others. Hence, negative benevolence exacts, 
that there should be no needless waste of time 
in the discharge of those functions, on whose 
exercise others depend for any portion of their 

Unnecessary delay in answering letters, for 
example, is inconsistent with prudence and 
beneficence. It brings with it loss of reputa 
tion, in so far as you are concerned, and is likely 
to cause annoyance to others. Promptitude 
adds to the value of every service. Procrasti 
nation is punishment imposed by the despotism 
of indolence. 

The same service rendered promptly is often 
of far greater value than a more important ser 
vice when delayed. Bis dat qui citd dat, He 
gives twice who gives quickly, is an aphorism 
which, when the gift is a benevolent one, the 
Deontologist may adopt into his code. For to 


promptitude of beneficent action not only is 
greater efficiency of service ordinarily attached, 
but greater vivacity in the generous affections. 

Applications for services are too frequently 
treated with inattention. At a little cost, the 
pains of delay may be saved to the applier. It 
was said to be the Duke of Wellington s prac 
tice invariably and promptly to reply to all 
such communications. Next to conferring the 
favor, attention to the application is the surest 
way of gratifying the applicant. It is a 
saving of all those sufferings which grow out 
of hope deferred. 

Occasion has been found to point out some of 
the instances of discordance between the laws 
of politeness and the Deontological laws, or in 
other words, the want of coincidence between 
the popular sanction and the Deontological 

Persons, for example, have been deemed 
perfect gentlemen whose morality was as bad 
as it could well be, and whose manners really 
no better than their morality. Perhaps, if such 
persons had not occupied stations pre-eminently 
exalted, they would not have been quoted as 
models. At all events, a politeness of a higher 
character, and a gentlemanly spirit more re 
gardful of the pains and pleasures of others, 
might more properly be proposed for imitation. 


Far from being inconsistent with true moral 
ity, the laws of genuine politeness harmonize 
with those of benevolent beneficence. It will 
as cautiously avoid giving pain, or exciting 
painful associations, as if its name were virtue. 

But fashionable habits, to be made truly 
polite, must undergo many changes. These 
habits are now a very chaos of inconsistencies, 
inconsistencies sanctioned by aristocratic usage, 
and escaping from the influence of any gene 
ral law. A gentleman whose conversational 
demeanor is courtesy itself, who will not utter 
a word that shall cause needless pain, will not 
hesitate to break an engagement for the dispatch 
of business, to keep a visitor in weary attend 
ance, to leave unanswered letters of intense 
interest to the writer, to mislay or lose valuable 
manuscripts, in a word, to give extreme and 
gratuitous pain, without any sort of benefit to 

As in your words, so by your conduct excite 
no expectation that is likely to be disappointed ; 
and, in as far as the intensity of expectation 
depends on you, take care that it is less than 
the probable amount of gratification ; for though 
the pleasures of anticipation occupy no small 
portion of the field of happiness, they will be 
overbalanced by the pains of disappointment, 
in so far as disappointment follows them. And 


that portion of the pleasure really obtained, 
which had not been looked for, will come 
with the additional relish and welcome of 

Your exaggeration of your own ability to serve 
will not only increase the demands of others 
upon you, but lead to diminished affection 
towards you when that exaggeration is made 
manifest by the failure of your attempts to 
serve. Your self-love will leave more vexation 
from its detected helplessness than gratification 
from its anticipated influence ; and others will 
experience the annoyance of unrequited expec 
tation, without any of those abatements, which 
the pleasure of making fair promises to others 
had excited in your mind. 

Intrusion into the company of another, when 
unexpected or uninvited, is one of the modes of 
annoyance which effective benevolence would 
avoid. It is the substitution of your will for the 
will of another, and in so far is the assump 
tion of despotism. A purpose, an important 
purpose, may have to be answered; the intrusion 
may be justified by preponderant good; but 
such a case is exceptional. You are to take for 
granted, unless on some general understanding 
that your presence is welcome at all times, or at 
specified times, you are bound to suppose that, 
if your company were wished for, you would have 


been advised of the wish. At all events, your 
intrusion does not give the person intruded on any 
choice: it may compel him to submit to an an 
noyance he would not have chosen, or to inflict on 
you the annoyance of expulsion. If you have a 
wish to see a person, and the business is not of 
a peremptory character, communicate the wish 
in a way which may leave him the privilege of 
a refusal, without giving him pain or you 

Do not let the timidity of another induce you 
to act intolerantly towards him. If, in ordinary 
cases, a benevolent man would avoid giving pain, 
still more would he be anxious to avoid it were 
any additional susceptibility excited in the 
mind of the sufferer. 

So in case of dullness. Let a man be naturally 
ever so stupid, do not give him reason to believe 
that you are annoyed by his stupidity ; do not let 
him perceive that you have discovered it. No 
thing that you can say or do can make him less 
stupid than nature has made him, and your tell 
ing him of his stupidity will only bring bad con 
sequences to both ; to him, by the uneasiness 
you cannot fail to give him ; to you by that 
ill-will which no stupidity will prevent being 
excited, to a greater or less extent, in his bosom. 

A remote, but not unimportant consequence 
of a habit of effective benevolence is, that in case 


of rupture between yourself and any associate 
of yours, the presumption antecedently to a 
particular investigation will be in your favor in 
the minds of your common associates. The 
habit, which, being a habit, will have exhibited 
itself in the presence of others, has laid up for 
you a fund of reputation in the minds of other 
men, which will influence their judgment with 
out your knowing it. 

If you have deserved, as you will have de 
served, the credit of abstaining from all those 
causes of offence which ordinarily are supposed 
to justify reprisals, the advantage of so honor 
able a distinction will be your acquittal, in 
doubtful cases, of blame, and an unwillingness, 
on all occasions, to receive evidence tending to 
shake your acquired fame. Your character 
will be your justification. 

As the field of pernicious action widens, the 
demand for beneficent abstention increases. If 
the claims of benevolence be strong where the 
happiness and misery of few are concerned, still 
stronger are they in view of the happiness 
and misery of the multitude. And, it unfortu 
nately happens, that the popular sanction as 
regards one of the great topics of human wretch 
edness is miserably immoral. Nothing can be 
worse than the general feeling on the subject of 
War. The church, the state, the ruling few, 


the subject many, all seem to have combined, 
in order to patronise vice and crime, in their 
very widest sphere of evil. Dress a man in 
particular garments, call him by a particular 
name, and he shall have authority on divers 
occasions to commit every species of offence ; to 
pillage ; to murder ; to destroy human felicity ; 
to maximize human suffering ; and for so doing 
he shall be rewarded ! 

Of all that is pernicious in admiration, the 
admiration of heroes is the most pernicious ; 
and how delusions should have made us admire 
what virtue should teach us to hate and loathe, 
is among the saddest evidences of human weak 
ness and folly. The crimes of heroes seem 
lost in the vastness of the field they occupy. A 
lively idea of the mischief they do, of the 
misery they create, seldom penetrates the mind 
through the delusions with which thoughtless 
ness and falsehood have surrounded their names 
and deeds. Is it that the magnitude of the evil 
is too gigantic for entrance ? We read of twenty 
thousand men killed in a battle, with no other 
feeling than that it was a glorious victory/ 
Twenty thousand, or ten thousand what reck 
we of their miserable sufferings ? The hosts 
who perished are the evidence of the com 
pleteness of the triumph; and the complete 
ness of the triumph is the measure of merit 


and the glory of the conqueror. Our school 
masters, and the immoral books they so often 
put into our hands, have inspired us with an 
affection for heroes ; and the hero is more 
heroic, in proportion to the numbers of the 
slain. Add a cypher, not one iota is added 
to our disapprobation. Four, or two figures, 
give us no more sentiment of pain than one 
figure, while they add marvellously to the 
grandeur and splendor of the victor. Let 
us draw forth one individual from those thou 
sands or tens of thousands : his leg has been 
shivered by one ball, his jaw broken by an 
other ; he is bathed in his own blood, and 
that of his fellows ; yet he lives, tortured 
by thirst, fainting, famishing : he is but one 
of the twenty thousand, one of the actors and 
sufferers in the scene of the hero s glory, and 
of the twenty thousand, there is scarcely one 
whose suffering or death will not be the centre 
of a circle of misery. Look again, admirer of 
that hero ! Is not this wretchedness ? Because 
it is repeated ten ten hundred ten thousand 
times, is not this wretchedness? 

The period will assuredly arrive, when better 
instructed generations will require all the 
evidence of history to credit that, in times 
deeming themselves enlightened, human beings 
should have been honored with public approval, 


in the very proportion of the misery they caused, 
and the mischiefs they perpetrated. They will 
call upon all the testimony which incredulity 
can require, to persuade them that, in past 
ages, men there were, men, too, deemed 
worthy of popular recompense, who, for some 
small pecuniary retribution, hired themselves 
out to do any deeds of pillage, devastation, 
and murder, which might be demanded of 
them. And still more will it shock their sen 
sibilities, to learn that such men, such men- 
destroyers, were marked out as the eminent 
and the illustrious ; as the worthy of laurels 
and monuments, of eloquence and poetry. In 
that better and happier epoch, the wise and 
the good will be busied in hurling into oblivion, 
or dragging forth, for exposure to universal 
ignominy and obloquy, many of the deeds we 
deem heroic; while the true fame and the 
perdurable glories will be gathered round the 
creators and the difFusers of happiness. 

Intolerance in language, for difference in religi 
ous opinions, bad as it is, is more worthy of tole 
ration than intolerant deeds. Persecution in action 
is the exhibition of this lamentable species of 
maleficence. And next to the mischiefs of war 
come the mischiefs of religious hatred. To say 
nothing more than has been said of the immo 
rality of punishing men for holding opinions 


different to our own, let the absurdity of the 
pretence be investigated. Why are they to be 
punished? Because they will not bow to 
your authority, will not blindly submit to the 
faith you would impose upon them. 

Now a blind faith can operate only by sup 
pressing evidence. It cannot change sensation ; 
it cannot change the sentiment of truth and 

Offering rewards for faith, and punishments 
for the want of it, is therefore like offering 
rewards for, and punishing the absence of, preju 
dice and partiality in a judge. 

To say, Believe this proposition rather than 
its contrary/ is to say, do all that is in your 
power to believe it. Now, what is in a man s 
power to do in order to believe a proposition, 
and all that is so, is to keep back and stifle 
the evidences that are opposed to it. For, 
when all the evidences are equally present to 
his observation, and equally attended to, belief 
or disbelief is no longer in his power. It is the 
necessary result of the preponderance of the 
evidence on one side over that of the other. 

The sources to which is to be attributed the 
pain-giving which it is the object of negative effec 
tive benevolence to avoid or counteract, are to be 
found in arrogance, imperiousness, scornfulness, 
overbearingness, coldness, closeness, pride, and 

VOL. jr. s 


affectation. Any one of these vices may pro 
duce a similar result. To the sufferer, it mat 
ters little whether his suffering emanates from 
one bad quality or another. The law of ab 
stention applies to all. In some minds, some 
of them predominate ; in other minds, others. 
They must be measured in the scale of moral 
defects, by the quantity of pain they cause. 
One man s scorn may be less offensive than 
another man s coldness, and therefore less mis 
chievous. The arrogance of a man in an ele 
vated station may be more tolerable than the 
closeness of a man in a station of inferiority, or 
even of equality. Of each of these vices some 
examples have been given ; but each of them 
is susceptible of so many modifications, each of 
being exhibited in such varieties of words and 
deeds, that it must be left to every man to fill 
up, from the pages of his own experience, the 
blanks that are left. To root out these vices 
from the mind, is to extirpate their fruits. They 
partake, more or less, of the two fundamental 
vices, of imprudence and maleficence, and 
therefore cannot be retained without injury and 




BENEFICENCE consists in contributing to the 
comforts of our fellow-creatures : benevolence is 
the desire so to contribute. Beneficence is not 
a virtue, except in so far as accompanied with 
benevolence. The food we eat contributes to 
the comfort of those by whom it is eaten. But 
the comfort of the eater does not render the 
food or the act of eating virtuous. 

Benevolence may be a virtue, without being 
accompanied by beneficence ; for the desire 
may exist, without any power of carrying it 
into effect. But benevolence is not a virtue, 
any farther than, as occasion serves, it is ac 
companied with beneficence ; if, when occasion 
serves, correspondent beneficence is not exer 
cised, it is a proof that the desire was not, 
in reality, present ; or that, if present, it was 
inoperative ; it was so faint as to be of no use. 

Over and above any present pleasure with 
which an act of beneficence may be accompanied 
to the actor, the inducement which a man has 
for its exercise is of the same sort as that which 


the husbandman has for the sowing of his seed ; 
as that which the frugal man has for the laying 
up money. Seed sown is no otherwise of any 
value than for the crops of which it is produc 
tive. Money is of no value, but for the ser 
vices of all sorts which it procures at the hands 
of other men : at the hands of the laborer, the 
service rendered by the performance of his 
labor ; at the hands of the baker, the service 
performed by the delivery of his bread to the 
customer, who gives the money for it. 

By every act of virtuous beneficence which 
a man exercises, he contributes to a sort of 
fund, a savings-bank, a depository of general 
good-will, out of which services of all sorts 
may be looked for, as about to flow from other 
hands into his ; if not positive services, at any 
rate negative services ; services consisting in the 
forbearance to vex him by annoyances with 
which he might otherwise have been vexed. 

Negative beneficence, as we have seen and 
we again go over the ground, for the sake of 
showing what is left to positive beneficence 
negative beneficence is exercised in so far as 
mischief is not done to others. Negative bene 
ficence amounts to nothing, unless in so far 
as accompanied either with correspondent be 
nevolence or with self-regarding prudence. The 
most mischievous of all beings exercises nega- 


live beneficence in respect of all imaginable 
mischief, except that which he does. 

Negative beneficence is a virtue, in so far 
as any mischief which without consideration 
might have been produced, is by consideration 
forborne to be produced. In so far as it is by 
the consideration of the effect which the mis 
chievous action might have upon a man s own 
comfort, the virtue is prudence self-regarding 
prudence : in so far as it is by the consideration 
of the effect which the mischievous action might 
have upon the comfort of any other person, the 
virtue is benevolence. 

A main distinction here is, between bene 
ficence which cannot be exercised without self- 
sacrifice, and beneficence which can be exer 
cised without self-sacrifice. To that which 
cannot be exercised without self-sacrifice, there 
are, necessarily, limits, and these, compara 
tively, very narrow ones. In truth, beneficence 
which is accompanied with self-sacrifice is 
not exercised but at the expense of a certain 
amount of self-regarding prudence ; although it 
may be no otherwise at the expense of self- 
regarding prudence, than as the seed sown by 
the husbandman is sown at the expense of 
self- regarding prudence. In no case in which 
money is disbursed without adequate return 


can beneficence be exercised without correspon 
dent self-sacrifice. 

To the exercise of beneficence, where it is 
exercised without self-sacrifice, there can be 
no limits; and by every exercise thus made 
of it, a contribution is made to the good-will 
fund, and made without expense. In a certain 
sense, indeed, beneficence that has any virtue 
in it cannot be exercised without self-sacrifice ; 
for it cannot be exercised without forbearance ; 
and forbearance, in so far as there is any the 
smallest desire to perform the act forborne 
from, requires consideration, requires effort ; 
and to undergo any uneasiness with which this 
effort may be accompanied, is, by the amount 
of that uneasiness, self-sacrifice. There are 
cases in which this self-sacrifice is accompanied 
with uneasiness to a great amount ; an amount 
beyond the endurance of the generality of men, 
in the present state of society at least. Such 
as that which causes a forbearance to gratify 
the appetite of revenge, when excited by severe 

But to self-sacrifice in this shape, whatever 
limits may be set by the dictates of benefi 
cence and self-regarding prudence, there are 
others set by the nature of the case ; others, 
such as those which are set in the case where 


the act of beneficence consists in the gift of 
money, and the rendering of service by labor 

Negative beneficence, then, is exercised in so 
far as annoyance is forborne to be inflicted on 
others. Negative beneficence is forbearance of 
annoyance. By acts of this description no 
direct contribution, it is true, can be said to be 
made to the good- will fund abovementioned. 
But, on the other hand, correspondent to that 
same good-will fund there is an ill-will fund ; 
and by every exercise of negative beneficence 
the ill-will fund is kept from receiving contri 
bution, contribution to the amount of value it 
would otherwise have received. In an indirect 
way, the withdrawing contribution from the ill- 
will fund may be productive of an effect equi 
valent to that produced by a contribution to the 
good- will fund. For if, while malevolence 
keeps filling his ill-will fund, benevolence keeps 
his ill-will-fund empty, it is manifest what the 
advantage will be which, in a case when they 
are rival candidates for a certain service, which 
may be rendered to either, and must be rendered 
to one of them, benevolence will have on his 

Described in general terms, the inducement 
to positive beneficence, in all its shapes, is the 
contribution it makes to the man s general 


good-will fund ; to the general good-will 
fund from which draughts in his favor may 
come to be paid : the inducement to negative 
beneficence is the contribution it keeps back 
from his general ill-will fund the general 
ill-will fund hanging over his head ; and besides 
its own particular use, any exertion made to 
keep the ill-will fund empty, may be produc 
tive of advantage in the same shape as that pro 
duced by contribution made to a man s general 
good- will fund. 

I le who is in possession of a fund of this sort, 
and understands the value of it, will understand 
himself to be the richer by every act of bene 
volent beneficence he is known to have exer 
cised. He is the richer, and feels that he is so, 
by every act of kindness he has ever done. Will 
it be believed believed or not, it is strictly 
true F knew a man once, of whose mind the 
very contrary impression had taken hold ? He 
had a phrase of his own by which he gave ex 
pression to it. Even without self-sacrifice, in 
any shape, to be the source of advantage or 
gratification to any one else, without receiving 
an advantage equal, at least, in value, he called, 
* being made a property of. Often have I heard 
him declare, he did not like to be made a pro 
perty of, or, he would not be made a property 
of: he would have regarded himself as being so 


much the poorer for it ; he would have been 
ashamed of it as of a weakness. 

If a disposition of this stamp was in this same 
instance productive of its natural effects, it had 
for its accompaniment an ardent ambition, and 
to that appetite it contributed to secure contin 
ually-repeated rebuffs and disappointments. 

The retributive sanction has been pointed out 
as a motive to efficient benevolence, its power 
of reward depending on the relation existing 
between the parties. Widely separated as they 
may be, there is no case where the influence 
possessed by any individual, however mean, 
over any other individual, however mighty, is 
really null, and unworthy of all regard. The 
mouse in the fable releasing the lion from bond 
age, is an exemplification of the possible de 
pendence of the strong upon the weak. 

Popular opinion, in so far as it is enlightened 
and has cognizance of beneficent actions, takes 
them under its care. Its awards depend on the 
estimate it forms of the merit of an action, and 
the number and influence of those who sit in 
judgment, and decree the recompense of that 

Independently of the rewards of opinion, and 
the pleasures of sympathy, the acts of positive 
benevolence tend to the creation of the habits 
of benevolence. Every act adds something to 


the habit ; the greater the number of acts, the 
stronger will be the habit ; and the stronger the 
habit, the larger the recompense; and the larger 
the recompense, the more fruitful in producing 
similar acts ; and the more frequent such acts, 
the more will there be of virtue and felicity in 
the world. 

Employ, then, every opportunity of benefi 
cent action, and look out for other opportuni 
ties. Do all the good you can, and seek the 
means of doing good. 

Efficient benevolence, when in action, may be 
considered the gymnastics of the mind, or the field 
in which it is displayed the mental gymnasium. 
Like the gymnastics of the body, they will not 
only give enjoyment but strength ; enjoyment 
in their exercise, and strength from their calling 
into greater activity the moral and intellectual 
faculties, training them to the vigor of habitual 
exertion. The indirect and general object is, to 
fortify the mind, in order that it may better 
guide the affections to virtue; the direct and 
particular purpose is, on any given occasion, so 
to influence conduct, as that a result of happi 
ness may be the consequence of the individual 
action in question. 

In the application of evil for the production 
of good, never let it be applied for the gratifica 
tion of mere antipathy ; never but as subser- 


vient to, and necessary for the only proper ends 
of punishment, the determent of others by ex 
ample, the determent of the offender by suffer 
ing. In the interest of the offender, reformation 
is the great object to be aimed at ; if this can 
not be accomplished, seek to disable him from 
inflicting the like evil on himself or others. 
But always bear in mind the maxim, \vhich 
cannot be repeated too often : Inflict as much 
and no more pain than is necessary to accom 
plish the purpose of benevolence. Create not 
evil greater than the evil you exclude. 

When it is settled in a man s mind that such 
or such another is a bad man, an effect apt to 
be produced by such judgment is a settled affec 
tion of antipathy ; of antipathy more or less 
strong, according to the temper of the indivi 
dual. Thereupon, without troubling himself 
to measure out the proper quantity of punish 
ment which it would be proper for him to ad 
minister, upon every opportunity that presents 
the means of expressing towards the offending 
party the affection of hatred and contempt, he 
accordingly employs it ; and in so doing he piques 
himself upon the evidence he affords to others 
of his hatred of vice and love of virtue; while, 
in truth, he is only affording a gratification to 
his own dissocial and self-regarding affections, 
to his own antipathy and his own pride. 


The happiness of the worst man of the species 
is as much an integrant part of the whole mass 
of human happiness as is that of the best man. 

On every occasion in which evil done to a 
delinquent does not afford an adequate promise 
of greater good to the delinquent himself, or 
others so far from doing evil to him, the law of 
benevolence enjoins us to do as much good to 
him as is consistent in other respects with bene 
ficence and extra-regarding prudence. 

The points of abstential benevolence which 
have been brought forward, will serve as analo 
gies in exhibiting parallel cases of active efficient 
benevolence. To avoid giving pain being the ne 
gative rule, to seek to give pleasure is the posi 
tive. And though it cannot be invariably said, 
that the virtuous abstention has necessarily a 
counterpart of virtuous action, yet in a great 
number of cases, to act precisely contrary to 
what imprudence and maleficence would dic 
tate, is to pursue the course which morality 

It is not always possible to draw the exact 
line between the claims of efficient benevolence, 
whether positive or negative, and those of pru 
dence, self-regarding or extra-regarding ; nor is 
it always necessary nor desirable, for where the 
interests of the two virtues are the same, the 
path of duty is quite clear. But points of 


agreement and of difference may be easily 
pointed out, and a general definition may show 
what, in ordinary cases, is the distinction be 
tween the two qualities. As for example : you 
are called upon to do service to another. If he 
is in a condition to render you services in 
return, prudence as well as benevolence com 
bine to interest you in his favor. If he is 
wholly removed from the occasions of serving 
you, your motives can be those of benevolence 

But though in a given case it may be diffi 
cult to show, that the interests of prudence 
demand a particular act of beneficence, it is not 
the less true that the self-regarding consider 
ation does, in fact, occupy the whole ground of 
conduct. Whatever peculiar reasons benevo 
lence may furnish for a given course of benefi 
cent action, the universal principle remains, 
that it is every man s interest to stand well in 
the affections of other men, and in the affections 
of mankind in general. A really beneficent 
act, which may seem to be removed from the 
prudential considerations always taking for 
granted that the act is itself no violation of pru 
dence, and that it is one which has the sanction 
of the Deontological principle, by producing a 
balance of good, such an act will, in its remoter 
consequences, serve the self-regarding interests, 


by helping to create, to establish, or to extend 
that general reputation for judicious benevolence, 
which it is every man s obvious interest to pos 
sess in the opinions of his fellow men. 

Suetonius records that a Roman tyrant offered 
a premium to the inventor of a new pleasure. 

Since that time, many a moralist has numbered 
the tyrant s desire to create a new enjoyment 
among that tyrant s most obnoxious crimes. 

Yet to the discovery of unexperienced grati 
fications, a great portion of man s anxiety is 
directed. From the moment human beings 
associate, that object becomes their prominent 
concern. In proportion to their aggregate num 
ber are their efforts to provide some untasted 
enjoyment. Every newspaper bears evidence 
of the attempt. The list of theatrical exhibitions 
is a list by which an appeal is made to attention 
by rarities and novelties, by something in the 
shape of pleasure unenjoyed before. 

But, it will be said, the tyrant was a sensual 
ist ; his desire was for some other sensual gratifi 
cation ; it wanted to make his senses subservient 
to the production of some new delight. What 
then ? Had he succeeded it would have been 
the better for him and the better for us. And 
as to pleasure of which the senses are not to be 
the instruments, let colors be presented to the 
blimund, sic to the deaf, or motion to the lifeless. 


As a matter of fact, however, civilization, 
knowledge, commerce, have invented new plea 
sures. And no generation passes away without 
adding something to the stock of the generation 
that preceded it. The discovery of America 
opened a host of unexperienced gratifications to 
our hemisphere. 

And what various and valuable pleasures has 
not the progress of philosophy brought with it ! 
The experiments of chemistry, the discoveries 
of astronomy, the telescope, the microscope, 
the mechanical powers, natural history, in a 
word, the world of modern science ; a world 
more extensive than that which Columbus made 

These, and whatever besides can add an iota 
to happiness, have been added to the domains of 
effective benevolence. These are to be appealed 
to, these are to be drawn upon, in order to pro 
mote the felicity of man. Exhibit any source 
from whence enjoyment can be made to flow, 
and you may add that source to the sum total 
of prolific good. 

And if the premium once offered by despot 
ism could now be offered by intelligent benevo 
lence, it would be given to him who should suc 
ceed in exhibiting the greatest variety of shapes 
in which pleasure can be produced, and how its 


magnitude, intensity, duration, and extent can 
best be secured. 

To give exercise, influence, and extension to 
efficient benevolence, is one of the great con 
cerns of virtue. Nor let it be thought that such 
benevolence is to be bounded in its conse 
quences by the race of man. There are other, 
though inferior, sensitive objects intitled to its 
consideration and its care. There is happiness 
beyond the sphere of human beings happiness 
with which human beings have much to do 
happiness of which human beings are the 
guardians, though the participators of that hap 
piness are not of the human species. Let men 
remember, that happiness wherever it is, and by 
whomever experienced, is the great gift confided 
to their charge that any thing else is unworthy 
their regard, and that this this alone is the 
pearl of great price. 

It has been said, that Honesty is the best 
policy. This is not exactly true. There is a 
policy that is better, the policy of active 
benevolence. Honesty is but negative : it 
avoids doing wrong; it will not allow intrusion 
into the enjoyments of others. It is, however, 
only an abstential, and not an active quality. 
The best policy is that which creates good ; the 
second best is that which avoids evil. 


The modes by which efficient benevolence 
can gratify others by action, may be arranged 
under the same heads as those by which annoy 
ance is avoided, and belong to two classes : 
1. Discourse. 2. Deportment. And as nega 
tive morality takes under its cognizance those 
acts of mischief which the laws allow to pass 
unpunished the political sanction being too 
great and solemn for the occasion, so positive 
morality takes under its charge that con 
duct which state recompense leaves unre 
warded. But the interposition of the law being 
more punitory and prohibitory than remuneratory 
and exciting, inasmuch as it is more specially 
charged with the functions of protecting indivi 
duals against wrong, than with those of en 
couragement for right, a small portion alone of 
the field of active beneficence is taken posses 
sion of by the legal or political authority. 
Numerous acts of maleficence fall under the 
cognizance of the law s penalties, for whose 
counter or corresponding acts of beneficence 
those laws provide no reward. Over multitu 
dinous deeds, whose results would be a balance 
of pain, the Deontological authority obtains the 
allied influence of the retributive legal power, 
each assisting the other with its restrictive force ; 
but in the regions of positive benevolence, the 
Deontological principle is, for the most part, left 
VOL. ir. T 


to its own solitary influences for the production 
of good. Ill-appropriated as are, in many cases, 
the legal sanctions of punishment to offences, the 
application of reward by those same sanctions, 
is even more irregular and imperfect. With the 
growth of intelligence, with the spread of mo 
rality, the state of public opinion will become 
more and more accordant with the Deontological 
code, and the popular affections will be more 
busied in distinguishing real from spurious vir 
tue, and in giving to the virtue that is real its 
fit recompense. Meanwhile, to that end we 
must labor, each for himself, and as far as he is 
able, marking out for his highest approbation in 
the conduct of others those actions which have 
produced, or are likely to produce, the greatest 
sum of happiness, and visiting with his loudest 
reprobation that conduct which leads to, or 
creates, the greatest amount of misery. By 
these means, every man will do something to 
make the popular sanctions more useful, health 
ful, active, and virtuous. The alliance of true 
morality with the great interests of mankind, 
mankind will soon discover, and the discovery 
once generalized, it will not be in the power of 
fallacy, of dogmatism, or despotism, to prevent 
its influence, its universal action. 

As regards discourse, the inquiry of positive 
effective benevolence is what are the means 


by which language can be best made to advance 
the happiness of others? And the occasions 
which offer themselves for consideration are, as 
before, those in which the subject-person is 
present: those in which the subject-person 
is absent: and those where the subject-persons 
and others are present. 

In all these cases, the pleasure produced 
must primarily depend on the power of the 
speaker ; power intellectual, moral and active : 
the power growing out of wisdom, knowledge, 
the social affections, and the will to give them 
a beneficent direction : the power of supe 
riority in any of its shapes, whether political or 
social ; whether of age, station, wealth, or any 
other influence. To employ their action for the 
removal of pain, or the sources of pain, for the 
promotion of pleasure, or the introduction of the 
sources of pleasure, whether the discourse be 
oral or written, is the business of active 

In the presence of the person of whom you 
are speaking, and in so far as the topics of con 
versation are in your power, choose always those 
which are likely to be the most pleasurable to 
him, taking care, however, that nothing is said 
by you, the result of which would lower your 
own credit for veracity, or imply approbation 
of pernicious words or actions. In the first case, 


damage might be done to your own reputation; 
in the second, damage to the character of the 
hearer. But, if you have occasion to refer to 
meritorious conduct, on the part of him to whom 
you are speaking, deal out such liberal en 
couragement as the case will justify. 

For the prevention of a balance of mischief, 
take into consideration the disposition of the 
individual, and be sure that your putting forth 
prominently his merits will not give such inor 
dinate increase to his pride or vanity, as by its 
results will produce evil to himself or others. 

If the quality which appears to its possessor 
a merit or an accomplishment, is really of a cha 
racter to injure others by its exercise ; that is to 
say, if it cause preponderant evil, either to its 
possessor or others, the flatterer who encourages 
its development, becomes accessary to all the 
evil done in consequence by the person flattered. 
Again, if your flattery exceed the bounds of truth, 
and the flattered person detects your insincerity, 
and perceives that you are yourself aware of 
it, you may become to him an object of con 
tempt and dislike ; your influence for the future 
may be destroyed, and even the honest praise 
with which you may have gratified him on for 
mer occasions will thus lose its value. 

The annoyance caused by the intrusion of 
good advice has been referred to, while inquiry 


was engaged in the claims of abstential benevo 
lence. In the too-frequent way of communicat 
ing even useful counsels, there is almost invari 
ably something to vex, often to insult, and almost 
always the arrogance which assumes authority, 
and exercises a species of despotism. Now, if 
men were as willing, and as ready to give rea 
sons as they are to give rules, ( much mischief 
might be prevented, and some good might be 
done. Pride is undoubtedly gratified by being 
enabled to deal out its animadversions, and self- 
regard is flattered, but at a terrible expense a 
great sacrifice of benevolence. Yet, it is no 
small part of good-breeding and good morals to 
give appropriate advice appropriately. 

There is a class of people in the world, offen 
sive intruders, forward hypocrites, and bold 
usurpers, who, under the mask of friendly ad 
visers, are great creators of misery. 

Vice is never so much at ease, never more 
tyrannical, never more ambitious, than when it 
imagines it has found a mask, under the cover 
and protection of which it may pass off for vir 
tue. And masks there are which, to a certain 
extent, deceive even the wearers ; a deceit to 
which they lend themselves with alacrity, and 
find in their own delusion, encouragement to 
make daring experiments on the credulity, 
timidity, or dependence of others. 


By no other means can a man give himself 
so good a chance of conquering the weakness 
which he finds in his way, of subduing the wills 
of others by the instrumentality of their under 
standings, as by taking upon himself the cha 
racter of a giver of good advice. 

In this character some men so dextrously 
comport themselves, as to make abuse of others 
the very instrument of self-elevation. 

Not that, on every occasion, the counsels of 
the adviser, even though injudicious, can be taken 
as evidence of an unfriendly purpose. For fool 
ish though it be, hastily concocted and inconsi 
derately communicated, it may have had its 
source in sympathy, and be really a mark of 
good- will. 

But such cases are exceptions. Selfishness 
untouched by sympathy, is ordinarily the in- 
spirer of the intrusive counsellor. Pure self 
ishness is abundantly sufficient for the produc 
tion of the character. And without good grounds 
for believing that credit is to be given to 
benevolence, it may, with great probability, 
be presumed that some quality, far removed 
from benevolence, gave birth to the intervention. 

It is clearly then demanded by morality, that 
advice-giving, as a habit, should be abstained 
from ; and if the demand for it be obvious and 
undoubted, if the case be clear and urgent, that 


it should be accompanied with such statements 
and reasons as will, in so far as may be, plead 
its excuse and justification to the person ad 
vised, and cause to him as little suffering as 
may be necessary, to give the advice its in 
tended effect. Without strong evidence both of 
the necessity for its application, and the proba 
bility of its success, virtue requires the sup 
pression of the advice, and the abstention of the 

Revenge itself sometimes takes the shape of 
advice-giving. For a gratification of ill-will a 
man censures another in the shape of counsel. 
He visits another with the burthen of evil, for 
the obtaining a small pleasure in the infliction of 
that evil. In so far as the inflicter is concerned, 
no doubt the infliction of evil is good, for no 
action can have its source in any other motive. 
However enormous the evil may be, and how 
ever trifling the pleasure of inflicting it, still 
that pleasure is good, and must be taken into 
account. But the law of effective benevolence 
requires that the advice you give to a man, or 
the evil speaking of him, necessary to do him 
good, should lead to no waste of evil. Only in 
the absolute necessity of drawing on him 
punishment from the popular source, or sanction, 
are you authorised to speak evil of him to 
others ; and then be sure there is reason to 


believe that the awarded punishment will bring 
a result of good. 

Ingenuousness is sometimes a virtue, some 
times not. Where it leads a man to declare his 
sentiments without being called upon, there 
would be no disingenuousness in his refraining 
from doing so ; and, exceptions excepted, the 
declaration of unasked opinions is to be avoided. 
Where, being asked to declare his opinions, he 
forbears to express them, his conduct would be 
disingenuous, but not necessarily blameworthy. 
Where no evil, in any shape, would result from 
giving utterance to opinions, and the expression of 
those opinions is solicited, ingenuousness would 
be worthy of praise. 

To abstain from bringing into view the infir 
mities of others, was exhibited as one of the 
marks of negative efficient benevolence. To 
hold up to view the accomplishments or merits 
of another, occupies the corresponding place in 
the regions of positive benevolence. But, as 
will have been naturally deduced from preced 
ing observations, while in the negative part of 
the field of action, there are no restrictions or 
limitations, since the avoidance of action is the 
avoidance of evil ; in the positive part, care 
must be taken that the good which is done, the 
pleasure which is purchased, do not cost more 
than its worth, by leading to the destruction of 


a greater amount of good, or the creation of a 
greater portion of evil. 

Within these limits, it is an act of effective 
benevolence to give to deserving conduct its full 
meed of approbation. The effect of praise is 
to dispose to imitation, and you as effectually 
elevate the standard of morals by encouraging 
virtue, as by exposing or reprobating vice. The 
immediate recognition of the merits of an act of 
efficient benevolence, will have the advantage 
of helping to place it at once in the regions of 
public approval. The value of the praise will be 
heightened by its promptitude a promptitude 
which will take the character of generosity. In 
cases where an action, obviously beneficial to 
mankind, is left, by the want of courage on the 
part of others, floating in the regions of unde 
cided judgment, do what it depends upon you 
within the pale of prudence, to give it the benefit 
and sanction of your favorable opinion. 

In intercourse with others, it may sometimes 
be demanded by benevolence that their opinions 
should be corrected on points affecting their 
own happiness. In general, however, it be 
comes us rather to seek points of agreement 
than points of difference ; but where points of 
difference are to be discussed, give the dis 
cussion the character of a joint search after 
truth an inquiry by which both are to be 


benefited, rather than of a contention for vic 
tory, or an exhibition of dogmatism. Knowledge 
communicated by benevolence has the united 
charm of intellect and virtue, intellect engaged 
in clearing the ground of evil, and virtue en 
gaged in covering it with good. 

If you have two topics to talk to a man about, 
one of which interests him the most, while 
the other interests you the most, begin with 
that which interests him the most. It will put 
him in good humor ; it will confer pleasure. 

If you are not assured that a particular topic 
on which you have to speak interests him, allow 
him every facility for commencing the conver 
sation with the subject that is most agreeable 
to him. 

The power exercised over the press, is one of 
those instruments of good or evil whose influ 
ences upon human felicity are, though not de 
finable, of most extended range. And, in as 
much as the re-action of opinion upon a public 
writer, especially if anonymous, is for the most 
part less operative than if individual responsi 
bility were present to answer for the consequen 
ces of thoughts or actions, it is rather to the 
claims of benevolence than to those of prudence, 
that mankind must look for the proper direction 
of the writer s productions. They act in a 
wide field, a field proportioned to the number 


of readers, and to the influence of those readers 
upon society. When an author gives vent, from 
some inaccessible retirement, to opinions which 
distress the feelings of others, his dissocial 
affections have not the restraint put upon them 
which exists when a man gives utterance to his 
ideas viva voce. If, however, the desire to maxi 
mize good were present to the minds of public 
writers if it were ever less their purpose to give 
pain to some object of individual hostility than 
to further the great ends of the popular felicity, 
the atmosphere of opinion would soon become 
bright and clear. 

Public meetings, or deliberative assemblies, 
often afford occasion for the exercise of active 
beneficence on a large scale. But, under the 
excitement which the presence of numbers 
creates, too often the passions obtain the mas 
tery, and the passions of the orator acting upon 
those of the auditors, lead to consequences 
which benevolence must deplore. That always 
mischievous, and often dishonest practice of 
attaching to conduct adjectival terms of praise 
or blame, the habit of speaking of actions, not 
in their simple shape, but with the association 
of some term of reproach or eulogy, is too apt 
to obtain, on occasions, where to move men s 
feelings is as much an object of desire, as to con 
vince their judgments ; where, in fact, the great 


ambition of the speaker is, to find such instru 
ments as will enable him to carry his auditors 
with him to the conclusions at which he 
desires they should arrive. But let the Deon- 
tological law be present to his mind, and the 
triumph he will desire will be only the triumph 
of the greatest- happiness principle. Contend 
ing for that, and for that alone, the victory of 
any sentiments more friendly to the principle 
than his own sentiments will be, in fact, his 

Whatever object of good is to be accom 
plished by our interference, will be best accom 
plished by the instruments of veracity and by 
the avoidance of exaggeration. If we have to 
speak of actions, let them, therefore, be repre 
sented as they are, without the addition of those 
terms of vituperation, or of applause, by which 
men are led astray from the action itself to our 
estimate of the action. The best testimony is 
the simple statement of facts ; the worst, is that 
which distorts and tortures facts into a prede 
termined shape, and communicates them with 
a judgment tacked to them. Now, the man 
who, in seeking my opinion of the conduct of 
another, gives his own opinion in putting the 
question to me, does all he can to deprive me 
of the power of judging truly, and of expressing 
myself honestly. 


To point out public abuses is a high function 
of positive efficient beneficence, and to point 
them out so that their removal may be accom 
plished with the least possible sacrifice on the 
part of those interested in their continuance, is 
the task of intellectual virtue. For it often 
happens that, in the anxiety to get rid of an evil, 
a greater evil is entailed on an individual 
or a class, than the evil got rid of by the com 
munity ; that the sufferings experienced by the 
few are not counterbalanced by the benefits 
resulting to the many. In the demand for poli 
tical reforms, the situation of those who benefit 
by the unreformed state of things, is seldom 
held up to view, as benevolence, as morality 
itself would dictate. Sweep abuses away is 
undoubtedly the maxim of political wisdom ; 
but so sweep them away that as little disap 
pointment, vexation, or pain, be created as pos 
sible. A man occupies a situation for which he 
is overpaid, but occupies it on an understand 
ing with the public authorities that he shall not 
be displaced. Is it wise, is it just to displace 
him? I care little how that question is an 
swered, but of this I am sure, that the greatest- 
happiness principle, while it would provide that 
no other person should be appointed to succeed 
him on the same conditions, would also provide 
that he individually should suffer no loss ; that 


the future good to the public should not be 
accompanied by present injury to him. 

Some rules of positive benevolence and bene 
ficence may be made the immediate source of 
happiness amidst the daily events of life. 

Whenever you have nothing else to do, in 
other words, whenever you have no particular 
object in view, of pleasure or profit, of imme 
diate or remote good, set yourself to do good 
in some shape or other ; to men, to sensitive 
beings, rational or irrational ; to one or to 
many; to some individual, or to the whole race. 

In so doing, and in proportion as you do 
so, you will be producing a stock of sympathy 
and good reputation, laid up in the breasts of 
others, ready, upon occasion, to be brought 
into action for your advantage. In the mean 
time, whatsoever be the result to you or to them, 
you will have been giving exercise to your 
own powers ; giving exercise to your faculties, 
mental and bodily, and, by means of such 
exercise, strength. Your reward will be, at 
all events, to experience and enjoy the pleasure 
of power ; that sort of pleasure which is capable 
of being reaped from the mere exercise of 
power, independently of all advantage in the 
shape of the fruit of labor, or of any other 
fruit or result of such exercise. 

That pleasure may be reaped from the mere 


exercise of power, independently of all fruit 
expected from it, is true beyond dispute : it 
is proved so by universal experience. Witness 
the pleasure derived from games of skill from 
which all pecuniary profit-seeking is excluded: 
for example, among mental exercises, chess 
and draughts; amongst athletic bodily exer 
cises, walking and riding with extraordinary 
speed or perseverance. 

Again, when your endeavors are directed 
towards doing good to an individual, in other 
words, to do him service, if there be any option 
as to the mode or way, consider and observe 
what mode of so being served is most to his 

If you serve him, as you think or say, in 
a way which is yours, and not his, the value 
of any service may, by an indefinite amount, 
be thus reduced. If the action of serving a 
man, not in the way in which he wishes to be 
served, but in the way in which he ought to 
be served, or the way in which it is best for 
him to be served, be carried to a certain length, 
it becomes tyranny, not beneficence ; an exer 
cise of power for the satisfaction of the self- 
regarding affection, not an act of beneficence, 
for the gratification of the sympathetic or social 

True it is, that so you do but produce to the 


individual in question a balance on the side 
of good, the choice as to the quantity you will 
produce is yours, and be it greater or less, 
your act is an act of beneficence ; but if, by 
a little self-restraint, at the end of a little 
reflection, you could do good to him in his 
own way, or serve him in his own way ; it is bad 
economy and weakness, on your part, to choose 
to serve him, or do a less good to him, only 
because it is your own way, rather than do 
more good to him, render him greater service, 
as you might do, by serving him in his own 
way instead of yours. 

A belief, an honest belief, that they are under 
the real influences of benevolence, sometimes 
leads men to conduct the most intrusive and 
tyrannical. Power is usurped for the purpose, 
it is supposed, of doing good. The doing good 
is beneficent, therefore it ought to be done. 
Beneficence is virtue, and virtue must, at all 
events, be practised. 

Under the shadow of this fallacy, vast 
masses of misery have been poured out upon 
the world, and that with the most benevolent 

The ground-work of the mischief is this. A 
man fancies he knows what is best for other 
men; that he is better acquainted with their 
sources of happiness than they can be ; that 


he has more appropriate knowledge, and having 
more power, that he can turn his knowledge 
to good account on their behalf. He has formed 
his own estimate of good; he is thoroughly 
persuaded that such and such a thing is good, 
and being good, he will compel others to 
receive and to adopt it, because it is good, 
and because he knows, from experience, that 
it is so. 

Yet despotism never takes a worse shape 
than when it comes in the guise of benevolence ; 
and is never more dangerous than when it acts 
under the impression that it represents bene 

Pleasures and pains, the sweets and the 
bitters of existence, cannot be tried by the 
taste of another. What is good for another 
cannot be estimated by the person intending 
to do the good, but by the person only to whom 
it is intended to be done. The purpose of 
another may be to increase my happiness, but 
of that happiness I alone am the keeper and 
the judge. His feelings are not my feelings, 
nor can they be ; nor can his feelings be made 
to comprehend my feelings, except in so far as, 
by observation or by frank communication on 
my part, he has mastered my springs of action, 
my pleasures arid my pains. But no obser 
vation of his, and no communication of mine, 



can have made him as much the subject as 
I am of my own enjoyments and sufferings ; 
and any pretence on his part to understand 
them better is a freak of usurpation. 

Refrain, then, from doing good to any man 
against his will, or even without his consent. 
Obtain his consent beforehand, or be sure of 
his subsequent consent. If the good you pro 
pose to do be really such as, in his estimate 
of it, will add to his happiness, no resistance 
on his part will there be to your doing it. No 
man opposes an increase to his pleasures, when 
he sees reason to believe that the increase will 
have place. And for his sake do not exhibit, 
and for your own sake suppress, any annoyance 
that you may feel from his rejection of a good 
proffered by you. Your forbearance will be 
more truly beneficent than your persistance in a 
purpose of greater beneficence. 

To this source, to this pretension of doing 
good to others in spite of themselves, may be 
traced the worst of religious persecutions. They 
had their origin in a desire to benefit the per 
secuted : to give them some chance of that 
eternal happiness, of which their persistance 
in error was supposed wholly to deprive them. 
And let it not be supposed, that those misdeeds 
which have flooded the world with misery are 
to be attributed to malignant intentions. To 


do evil for its own sake is not in the nature 
of man. The most horrible of offences, the 
most devastating and murderous of crimes, if 
followed up to their origin, will be found only 
a distortion of the happiness-seeking principle ; 
the creation of a misery, intending to prevent 
a greater misery, but mistaking its purpose 
and miscalculating its means. And of such 
mistakes and such miscalculations none has 
been more prolific than the despotism of bene 
volent intention ; a despotism taking no account 
of the parties it subjects to its influence ; a 
despotism setting up its own standard for other 
men s happiness. A man who, on principle, 
pretends to be, or is in reality, a benefactor, 
in spite of, or in opposition to him he intends 
to benefit, is among the most maleficent of 
tyrants: beneficent or not in purpose, he is 
necessarily maleficent in effect. 

The motives to seek the good opinion of 
others will be strong, in the proportion of the 
power of others to do us service. Inferiority 
of social position diminishes the means of be 
nevolent action, and scarcely allows those of 
positive beneficence to be brought at all into 
operation. There are two methods of winning 
the friendly sympathies of superiors : by accom 
modating ourselves to their wishes and plea 
sures, or by the display of talents in whose 


exercise they may see an after-interest, and 
feel the desire of appropriating them to their 
service. But this latter case requires pre 
eminence of talents, and therefore is at the 
disposal of few: the other means are at the 
disposal of all. 

Rising in the scale of superiority, man rises 
in that of usefulness. Superiority is, in fact, the 
representative of power ; power in its various 
shapes ; the power of good and the power of 
evil. To associate all the power we have with 
the exercise, and hence with the habit of effec 
tive benevolence, is to give to virtue its widest 
scope. By what is the exercise of that bene 
volence to be limited ? By nothing, as respects 
objects susceptible of pain or pleasure ; by no 
limits of family, or clanship, or province, or 
nation : no, not even by the boundaries of 
the human species ; but by the considerations 
of prudence alone. Prudence must not allow 
the individual to sacrifice more happiness than 
he gains. Benevolence demands that, to the 
common stock of happiness, every man should 
bring the largest possible contribution. 

To this diffusive spirit of benevolence it has 
been commonly objected, that it weakens the 
ties of friendly and family relations, and gives 
less of enjoyment to the many than it takes 
from the few. But why should it? Is it found 


by experience that the really philanthropic man 
is the man most wanting in domestic affections? 
Are the tone and temper which constitute bene 
volence likely to find no fit exercise among 
those who are habitually in contact with them ? 
Or must not the social principle be essentially 
strong and influential, when it enables its 
possessor to act upon the wide field of public 
happiness ? In general, so far from neglecting 
the enjoyments of those immediately dependent 
on him, the true lover of his race brings into 
the circle of their enjoyments the re-action of 
the beneficent influences, which he exercises 
on the vaster scale ; his contributions to the 
happiness of mankind are so much in addition 
to the happiness he creates in his own social 
sphere. Let no man apprehend for himself or 
others, that he can produce too much good, or 
remove too much evil. It is not on the side 
of expansive benevolence that his mistakes are 
likely to be made. Let him do all the good 
he can, and wherever he can, he will never do 
too much for his own happiness, or the hap 
piness of others. 

The immorality of acts of maleficence may 
be greatly heightened by the want of tempta 
tion ; that is, in cases where the pleasure 
purchased is small to the evil-doer, from the 
absence of want, or other cause, contrasted 


with the injury done to the sufferer. Thus, the 
rich man who is a despoiler, commits an offence 
far more culpable than one of the same cha 
racter committed by a poor man. And, in the 
regions of active or positive beneficence, where 
the good done has required some special effort, 
in consequence of the situation of the good- 
doer, the merit (always supposing the laws of 
prudence not to be violated) will be great, in 
proportion to the sacrifice. As a mischievous 
act will naturally be considered evidence of a 
man s malignity, should its natural consequence 
be the production of other mischievous acts, 
so those acts of beneficence will be worthy 
of the highest praise, whose result and effect 
are the creation of other acts of beneficence ; 
in other words, should the one deed of virtue be 
prolific of other deeds of virtue. 

The exercise of positive efficient benevolence 
towards inferiors brings with it increase of the 
power which constitutes superiority. Of two 
men occupying a position of equality as regards 
others, the man who contributes most to the 
happiness of those others will infallibly become 
the most influential : will dispose of a greater 
quantity of service. He will strengthen his 
position by augmenting the number of his good 
deeds. Every benefit conferred on others will 
be prolific to himself. And the benefits con- 


ferred on others increase the power of others ; 
and the increase of power in the hands of those 
willing to do him service, is the increase of his 
own power. The compound interest brought 
to effective benevolence by deeds of benevo 
lence, is happily limitless. Of the seeds scat 
tered by the husbandry of virtue, few will turn 
out barren. 

And the gratitude exhibited towards a man 
who has benefited us, is, on our parts, an act of 
positive beneficence. 

It may be laid down as a general principle, 
that a man becomes rich in his own stock 
of pleasures, in proportion to the amount he 
distributes to others. His opulence will be the 
offspring of his generosity. Every time he 
creates to himself a pleasure, by the commu 
nication of a pleasure, or the suppression of a 
pain, he increases the sum of his own hap 
piness, directly, speedily, surely. Every time 
he renders a service to another, he augments 
the amount of his own happiness, indirectly, 
remotely, slowly ; but in both cases his well- 
being will be added to by his benevolence. 

What then? Where no means are at hand 
for increasing your happiness directly, employ 
yourself in increasing it indirectly. In the 
field of active benevolence there is always work 
to be done. 


You have the night for repose. How better 
can you employ the day than in the pursuit 
of happiness ? You cannot always add to your 
stock by direct means ; it is surely better to 
do so by indirect means than not to add to 
it at all. Those indirect means are labors of 

You have solitary pleasures, perhaps. You 
smoke your pipe, you drink your coffee alone. 
You do well, if your enjoyment causes nobody 
annoyance. But how are your thoughts em 
ployed? They cannot be better employed than 
in turning over in your mind all those oppor 
tunities of usefulness which, though they seem 
primarily to concern others, yet have the faculty 
of bringing happiness home to yourself. 

Promptitude has been mentioned as one of 
the evidences of effective benevolence. In 
general much pain is saved, and sometimes 
much pleasure communicated by early atten 
tion. While delay lasts, false hopes are excited, 
and the mind is kept on the rack by painful 
expectation. In public functionaries, where 
the points of consideration are often of the 
greatest importance, and the anxieties of the 
applicant, therefore, the greater, the virtue 
which avoids procrastination is peculiarly me 
ritorious. It is pleasant to speak of a depart 
ment where promptitude appears the order of 


the day. The Secretary of the Post-office is 
said to give immediate attention to every appli 
cation. It is an honorable distinction, and 
worthy of all praise. On every occasion in 
which the virtue is exercised, if something is 
not added to happiness, something is taken 
away from anxiety. 

If, from day to day, our recollection recorded 
the little circumstances which had given us 
pleasure in the conduct of others, in order to 
dispose us to imitation for the benefit of others ; 
and, on the other hand, if the causes of annoy 
ance created by others were reverted to in our 
intercourse with our own minds, solely for the 
purpose of guarding against them in our rela 
tions with our fellow men, no day would pass 
without treasuring up some addition to the 
store of virtue. 

You leave your house in the morning. Many 
circumstances may occur in which the know 
ledge of the hour of your return would be 
useful, useful to your inmates, useful to stran 
gers. Mention, therefore, the time when you 
will probably be at home, and be sure that the 
information be as correct as your thoughtful 
anticipation will allow it to be. Wilful mis- 
statement will be more mischievous than silence : 
it will lower your reputation for veracity. Heed 
less mis-statement, though not equally per- 


nicious with intended mis-statement, will be 
almost equally liable to cause annoyance. 

A stranger calls. You are at home. Keep 
him not waiting. His time is not yours, nor 
are you to judge of its value. If he call on you 
by appointment, his claim on your prompt at 
tention is undoubted. Out of his weariness 
from being kept in attendance, will grow loss of 
reputation to yourself, and when admitted, his 
frame of mind will be less pleasurable, less fit 
ted for the discussion and dispatch of the busi 
ness that has brought him to you. The habitual 
practice of requiring inferiors to lose their time 
in waiting-rooms, is one of the ordinary mis 
deeds of aristocratical and official pride. If the 
amount of annoyance suffered in the anti-cham 
ber of many a great man could be added up, 
and presented to him in its results, he might be 
made to blush at the quantity of useless misery 
he had created. A great portion of the aliment 
of pride is suffering ; suffering gratuitously 
created by itself, for its own good pleasure, 
without bringing any addition to those elements 
of power, the possession of which is pride s 
main ambition. On the contrary, pride saps 
its own foundation by the intrusive display of 
its influence. To be proud of the power of 
doing evil is something ; to be proud of possess 
ing the power without exercising it is something 


better ; but to be proud because our pride has 
made others unhappy, is an exhibition of vice 
equally maleficent and mean. 

The laws of good-breeding might be pro 
perly classed under the pleasures of amity, to 
which they belong. They demand, as depen 
dent upon positive efficient benevolence in the 
ordinary intercourse of life, the doing all those 
services, the creating all those pleasures against 
which neither prudence nor beneficence in their 
regions of wider influence have aught to object. 
Good-breeding, when it degenerates into for 
mality or ceremoniousness, loses the charm of 
beneficence. Separately taken, acts of good- 
breeding are of small importance. Added to 
gether, the amount of pain and pleasure depen 
dent on them will be found to be very consider 
able. Good-breeding is a quality perpetually 
in demand, while conducting our relations with 
others ; for there is scarcely any one action 
which may not be made instrumental to more 
or less of pain or pleasure, that pain or pleasure 
dependent often on the good or ill grace with 
which the action is done. 

No man can have opened his eyes upon the 
events of every day, without perceiving how con 
stantly the occasions occur in which the benevo 
lent person is placed in advantageous contrast to 
the unbenevolent. No man but mav have remark- 


ed at how small a sacrifice of self, some persons 
win the good affections of others, and find occa 
sions for the exercise of friendly sympathies, 
which either wholly escape the attention or the 
regard of minds less happily constituted or 
less virtuously trained. 

You are travelling, for example, in a public 
carriage, shut up with others, and mutually de 
pendent for the pleasures or annoyances of your 
position. Now watch how many subjects of 
contention may arise. Shall the windows, one 
or both, be shut or open? One man will shut 
or open them in spite of the remonstrances of 
all the rest. On that occasion, as far as that 
act is concerned, his maleficence would be maxi 
mized ; another man would do so against the re 
monstrances of one passenger, the others contin 
uing silent ; a third would do so without having 
heard or consulted the opinions of the others. 
The line of true morality, as of genuine courtesy, 
would be to consult the majority, and if in an 
individual case there were any special cause of 
annoyance, or gratification from the opening or 
shutting the window, to state that case for the 
consideration of the rest. But suppose the rest 
were unreasonable ? It is a rare case, but it 
would still be more for the interest of the rea 
sonable person to give way. 

Which side of the coach shall I occupy ? 


Suppose a case, a frequent one, that a fellow 
passenger suffers from riding in a particular 
position, say with his back to the horses, or 
from being forced to lean on the right side 
or the left, beneficence would demand from me 
that I who suffer little, or less, or not at all 
from that particular position, should surrender 
my place to him who suffers more. But by 
surrendering it, I abandon a right ; a right whose 
recognition is important for the general good ; 
a right whose recognition prevents mistakes, 
quarrels and their consequences. No doubt it 
is so ; no doubt I make some sacrifice ; but I do 
so in the interests of benevolence. I aban 
don a small temporary pleasure in order to com 
municate to another a greater temporary plea 
sure. I have added to the amount of happiness ; 
I have excited gratitude ; I have done good to 
myself and to another. 

The coach stops, a passenger expresses a 
desire for food ; says he is hungry or thirsty ; 
he had not time to eat before the coach started ; 
and asks his fellow passengers to consent to a 
short delay. They have the power, the right 
to refuse him the gratification. Should they ? 
Certainly not, unless the delay were unreason 
able ; for the pains of hunger may be greater in 
his case than any pains growing out of that 
short delay. 

The dinner-time arrives. The same passen- 


ger having satisfied his own wants, becomes 
impatient, and attempts to shorten the average 
duration and enjoyment of the meal. Here is 
again a conflict of wills and interests. Does 
benevolence demand that the individual will 
should be submitted to by the rest ? On the 
contrary, it is a fit occasion for resistance, and 
for the display of the popular sanction ; for a les 
son gently and not intrusively given, that those 
who had exhibited patience and kindness to 
wards the passenger just before, are intitled to 
his consideration then ; but it is no occasion for 
vituperation or anger. Even self-regarding pru 
dence would check these, and demand that 
only as much pain should be given to the party 
offending as was necessary to prevent a repeti 
tion of the offence : for what is to be gained by 
his ill-will ? He is your companion, and being 
so, many opportunities of manifesting his ill- 
will, will be in his power during the remainder 
of the journey, and by these you may suffer. 
Why then should he be rebuked at all ? Be 
cause the interests of the community require 
that such a want of beneficence should not be 
unnoticed; because, if the instruction be judi 
ciously conveyed, it is not unlikely that to the 
person himself the vexations may be saved 
which a repetition of his offence would bring 
with it. 

A subject of conversation is started. It is ob- 


viously painful to one of the parties. Opinions, 
political or religious, are expressed which wound 
the sensibilities of a fellow-traveller. Is it an 
occasion to rebuke the speaker ? In ordinary 
cases not, unless the case be one of more than 
common impropriety ; but often there is a very 
obvious claim on benevolence for endeavoring 
to give another turn to the conversation. And 
the course taken should be such as least to 
annoy the annoy er and the annoyed. It is not 
necessary to show that you have been hurt by 
what may have been a want of temper, or a 
want of liberality, on the part of him who has 
been irritated by the expression of opinions hos 
tile to his own ; it is not necessary that you 
should give pain to the speaker who, in the in 
troduction of a disagreeable topic, had, perhaps, 
no intention to hurt the feelings of his neighbor. 
Check not the conversation, then, by imperious 
reproof, nor even by any species of animadver 
sion ; the animadversion will not be justifiable 
till other means have been tried. If you can 
seduce the conversation away to pleasurable 
topics, by any other than painful agencies, that 
is your duty. 

And, as a necessary consequence of this, the 
acts of benevolence cannot be better exercised, 
on occasions where we are forced, as it were, 
into the company of others, than by the choice 


of pleasurable topics of conversation. A little 
attention will discover those topics. To detect 
what are the peculiar riches of another man s 
mind, or experience, or knowledge, is among 
the happiest of resources. Its exercise is alike 
complimentary to the other party and instructive 
to ourselves. 




IN pursuing these important inquiries, it is 
hoped and believed that the sole disposition 
operating on the mind of the writer has been 
the promotion of that great interest, the interest 
of human happiness, to which reason and mo 
rality, if they are of any worth, must be made 
subservient. Since to trace errors to their 
source is to refute them, there has been no 
hesitation in threading the mazes of sophistry, 
or following up the aberrations of honest pur 
pose, or exposing the sinister interests of dog 
matism and self-conceit. When progress shall 
have been made in the true philosophy of 
morals, investigation may possibly take a bolder 
range, and proceed with less anxiety and less 
distrust. As matters are, the counsel given in 
Roman Catholic countries is the most judicious 
counsel which can be offered to the student : 
let him, in order to keep clear of mistakes, 
believe not the testimony of his own eyes. 
Let him be warned, at every turning, to take 



care how he trusts to the dictates of his own 
senses. But while the Roman Catholic teacher 
insists on the prostration of his moral and 
intellectual perceptions, before the said teacher 
and the church which he represents, the Deon- 
tologist asks for the submission of the inqui 
rer s faculties to his own felicity. He assumes 
nothing but that happiness is the end and aim 
of his being, and reasons only on that contin 

While thus prosecuting the interests of truth, 
the Deontologist will employ none of the arts 
of falsehood. Why need he? What possible 
end could he accomplish by it ? Applying to 
himself the theory he proposes to others, his 
labors are, to him, felicity ; and if he earnestly 
intreat the attention of others to the thoughts 
he scatters abroad, he asks no welcome for 
them, but in so much and in so far as they 
are susceptible of becoming to others instru 
ments of felicity. He cares not whether the 
honors of invention belong to him or not ; for 
he is consoled with the reflection, that there are 
men who, as wise to their own true interests 
as they are zealous in the cause of truth, are 
indifferent as to the manner in which they 
make the commonwealth their debtor; whether 
the discovery of truth is due to their sagacity, 


the recognition of it to their candor, or the 
diffusion of it to their zeal. 

Among the highest and brightest hopes of 
the Deontologist, upon this he dwells, that he 
is laboring, not unsuccessfully, to hasten the 
day when opinion will give expression and 
effect to the greatest-happiness principle. For 
till that time arrives, vast mischiefs and mise 
ries, which would not exist but for the preju 
dices that sanction them, will continue to walk 
abroad and devastate the earth. War, for 
example, inadequately grounded, or utterly 
groundless war, must infallibly be suppressed 
by the progress of a sound morality. Nothing 
but the lamentable success of those who, for 
personal and sinister interests, have sought to 
narrow the field of good-will and sympathy, 
could have made those destructive contests, 
in which nations have been so constantly en 
gaged, appear innocent or laudable. And had 
they not found fit instruments in phrases of 
delusion, had they not filled men s ears with 
the clamors of honor/ glory/ dignity/ and 
so forth, till the sounds of human felicity and 
human wretchedness could obtain no entrance 
there ; had they not, in a word, turned upside 
down all that wisdom or benevolence ever 
taught, the greatest of scourges and the greatest 


of crimes could not so long have afflicted hu 
manity. There is much, there is very much 
to be done. Who, of all those who are the 
actors in the murderous deeds of war, who but 
looks with abhorrence on a solitary murderer ? 
Napoleon himself made a boast that he had 
never committed a crime ! 

In the same way, though to an extent less 
lamentable, exists the notion that power, rank, 
opulence, may convert malevolence into inno 
cence, wrong into right. The obtaining money 
under false pretences, an offence punished, 
when found among the poor, according to 
statute, by imprisonment, whipping, or trans 
portation ; when carried on by great men, on a 
great scale, appears scarcely illaudable. Is the 
measure of wretchedness produced by the 
crime considered as the measure of wickedness? 
Far from it; too often is it the wretchedness 
of the criminal. Let him be dirty and untidy 
in his apparel; let him use a phraseology 
different from that of the opulent ; let him, in 
a word, be vulgar, and see how differently, in 
ordinary cases, will he be judged and punished, 
even by popular opinion. Vulgar is the word 
to which the association of dislike attaches ; and 
hence the willingness to bring down the fruits 
of dislike upon the vulgar. Yet what is the 


meaning of the epithet ? Vulgar is that which 
is in use among the common people. And 
what are the common people ? What but the 
great majority of the people ? And because a 
thing is in use among the great majority of the 
people, is that a reason, a sufficient reason that 
it should be held in contempt ? Is the exist 
ence of a usage among the relatively few, 
and among those alone, a reason, an adequate 
reason, for its being held in honor ? Poets and 
philosophers have not been blind, indeed, to 
the enormous injustice of opinion on these 
matters ; they have not failed to observe the 
impunity with which the errors of the rich are 
clothed, and the harshness which scourges the 
offences of the poor. Aphorisms, metaphors 
in abundance, dance up and down the pages 
of moralists, from the biblical books to the 
newspaper of this morning, but still nearly 
the same measure of injustice is dealt out, and 
will be dealt out, until men shall see that 
virtue is made up of pleasures, vice of pains, 
and that morality is but the maximization of 

The state of opinion as to duels is alike 
unfortunate and immoral. Take an ordinary 
case, in which the popular sanction may be said 
to be leagued with evil. A man imputes to 


another a wilful falsehood ; and here, in ordi 
nary judgment, a man is authorised to destroy 
another s life, and to risk his own. Could the 
magnitude of the suffering be less appropriately 
weighed against the demand for it? A false 
hood has been uttered, and the life of the 
utterer is to be staked in consequence ; and 
because the falsehood has been uttered, an 
innocent person, already, perhaps, suffering from 
its utterance, is placed on a level with the 
guilty, and compelled to risk his own life. 
Could a more monstrous distribution of penal 
ties be fancied by barbarism? But it was a 
falsehood, a wilful falsehood ! And where is 
the man who, while he calls upon another to 
expiate the falsehood with his life, can boldly 
say that he has never uttered a falsehood ; that 
he has not done so more than once ; that he has 
not done so frequently? The jealousy of 
honor, as it is called, if pursued into its 
recesses, will be found, far more frequently, the 
self-convicted, self-condemning sense of frailty, 
the exhibition of inwardly-avowed assailable- 
ness, than the evidence of conscious strength 
and purity. But in this particular the tribunal 
of the vulgar is far more enlightened than that 
of the privileged. Duelling has not descended 
to the many ; and if, on any occasion, it has 


attempted to intrude itself among them, ridicule 
has been sufficient to stop its progress. The 
popular sanction has protected the common 
people from a folly monopolized by their 
betters; and the benefit of the example of that 
many may one day act with salutary influ 
ence upon the few/ 

It is thus, by gathering up, wherever they 
are found, the elements of good, by giving 
patronage to whatever exists of truth, virtue, 
and happiness, and more especially where they 
are found spreading over a wide field of thought 
and action, it is thus, by putting into every 
man s hand an instrument of power and an 
instrument of felicity, that the work, the great 
work of morality advances. If each man, for 
himself, will seek emancipation from those 
fraudful delusions by which his own well-being 
is sacrificed ; if each man, while thinking of the 
well-being of others, will ask the true meaning 
of the words and the things by which social 
and national affairs are conducted ; if he will 
bring down the pompous phraseology of the 
eloquent into the regions of his own and other 
men s happiness ; if he will strip influential 
opinions of the artful decorations of interest 
and passion ; if he have the courage to ask, 
Shew me, then, the good, and shew me the 


evil : exhibit to me what there is of enjoyment, 
and what there is of suffering/ the seed 
planted by true morality will be indeed ripen 
ing to an abundant harvest, and the reapers will 
be the whole family of man. 

But, alas ! not such has been the course of 
those who have had the monopoly of morals 
in their hands : those who, seated in pomp 
and pretence, loaded with dignities, riches, and 
honors, have taught that it was sacrilege to 
doubt their authority, impious to resist their 

And what have been their tactics, and what 
their conquests ? 

Theirs the art to cover their advances from 
the eyes of the people, and their usurpations 
from the scrutiny of the conscience of the 

They have taught mankind to be silent, se 
cret, submissive, accommodating : to hate inno 
vations, to join those with alacrity who would 
stop up the inlets at which light may enter, in 
order to save them the fatigue of examining 
projects which distress their indolence, and 
the vexation of being obliged to adopt measures 
which oppose a bar to their cupidity. Why 
should these worldly ones insult weakness, 
and ignorance, and mediocrity, with the demon- 


strations of wisdom ? They know that, to avoid 
being tempted, the safest plan is to close up 
the entrance of wisdom into the minds of the 

How many are there who, for six days, have 
the Mammon of unrighteousness, of intrigue, 
of avidity, of fraud, of insincerity, of time 
serving, of debasement, in their hearts, and 
who dream of settling matters easily if, on the 
seventh, the gospel of righteousness, or what 
they call the gospel of righteousness, is in their 

How many are there, who live in the habitual 
practice of what themselves call perjury, and 
in the still more flagitious tyranny of forcing 
that perjury upon others, who rise to vow- 
breaking as to their breakfast, and sleep on it 
as their pillow ? 

Are they not the nurses of that corruption 
which is the child of weakness : are they not 
the teachers of that profligacy which is the 
parent of crime ? 

In the course of these volumes, it will have 
been seen, that mathematical terms have been 
sometimes employed ;; and their employment 
requires explanation, in order that two dangers 
may be guarded against. 

One is, that some people will think mathe- 



matical certainty attained : others, who see 
very well that it is not attained, will think it 
affected. It is not attained, neither is it affected. 
It is not mathematical modes of expression that 
can give mathematical certainty, to the facts 
which are necessarily put forward, as the foun 
dation of the notions advanced, but they may 
serve, in a certain degree, to give mathematical 
precision to those notions. 

But the inadequacy and insufficiency of lan 
guage is a source of equal embarrassment to 
the writer and the reader. Moral philosophy 
will, in the course of time, probably create 
better modes of expression, in proportion as 
moral truths force their way into men s minds, 
and the poverty of existing terms is conse 
quently felt. Meanwhile, such words must be 
employed as are found ready-made to the hands 
of the teacher : all that he can permit himself 
to do is now and then to venture upon a new 
locution. And though, in the progress of this 
work, the necessity of making such experiments 
has been strongly felt, yet have they been 
sparingly and unfrequently ventured on. 

Will these volumes find mercy at the hands 
of dogmatism? Probably not! Yet, it is hoped, 
humbly and earnestly hoped, that the im- 
pugner of the greatest-happiness principle, be 


he whom he may, will bring forward cases 
to which it does not apply. This it is incum 
bent on him to do, if he mean to conduct a 
controversy in the love of truth and the spirit 
of honesty. A standard of morals is here pro 
posed. Its dictates are clear and intelligible. 
He who runs may read ; and it is believed that 
it has the merit of universal, invariable appli 
cability. If men retreat from it into the regions 
of mysticism, all that its advocate will have 
to say is, that he stands in the light, while its 
adversaries shroud themselves in darkness. If 
authority comes with arbitrary and despotic 
mandates, the Deontologist has only to tell 
mankind that he reasons, but does not menace. 
If crabbed asceticism pronounce evil to be the 
real good, the advocate of happiness can but 
retort, that to him evil is evil. And the world 
will decide between them ; the world, which 
will create its own futurity, which has its own 
felicity in its own keeping, and which will 
hereafter give to the disputants of the present 
day the influence which unto it shall seem 

For the earnestness with which the cause of 
happiness has been advocated, can an apology 
be needed ? It is a cause, in the presence of 
which every thing else really sinks into insig 
nificance. It is a cause, beyond which man 


has nothing to desire, nothing to accomplish. 
It is the sole link which binds him to the 
present, the past, or the future. It is the 
treasury in which all he has, all he hopes 
for, is up-gathered. Happy he who points 
out the edifice, happier still who unlocks the 





Bentham, Jeremy 
Deontology *