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tribes whose forefathers wandered in the for-| themselves steadily at the head of the moveests when theirs had magnificent palaces and ment of the world. On the contrary, they have gorgeous temples, but over whom custom ex- become stationary, have remained so for thouercised only a divided rule with liberty and sands of years; and if they are ever to be farprogress. A people, it appears, may be pro-ther improved, it must be by foreigners. gressive for a certain length of time, and then They have succeeded beyond all hope in what stop: when does it stop? When it ceases to English philanthropists are so industriously possess individuality. If a similar change working at-in making a people all alike, all should befall the nations of Europe, it will not governing their thoughts and conduct by the be in exactly the same shape: the despotism same maxims and rules; and these are the of custom with which these nations are threat-fruits. The modern régime of public opinion ened is not precisely stationariness. It pro-is, in an unorganized form, what the Chinese scribes singularity, but it does not preclude educational and political systems are in an change, provided all change together. We organized; and unless individuality shall be have discarded the fixed costumes of our fore-able successfully to assert itself against this fathers; every one must still dress like other yoke, Europe, notwithstanding its noble antepeople, but the fashion may change once or cedents and its professed Christianity, will twice a year. We thus take care that when tend to become another China. there is a change it shall be for change's sake, What is it that has hitherto preserved Eu. and not from any idea of beauty or conven- rope from this lot? What has made the Euroience; for the same idea of beauty or conven-pean family of nations an improving, instead ience would not strike all the world at the same of a stationary portion of mankind? Not any moment, and be simultaneously thrown aside superior excellence in them, which, when it by all at another moment. But we are pro-exists, exists as the effect, not as the cause; gressive as well as changeable: we continually but their remarkable 'diversity of character make new inventions in mechanical things, and culture. Individuals, classes, nations, and keep them until they are again superseded have been extremely unlike one another; they by better; we are eager ior improvement in have struck out a great variety of paths, each politics, in education, even in morals, though leading to something valuable; and although in this last our idea of improvement chiefly at every period those who travelled in differconsists in persuading or forcing other people ent paths have been intolerant of one another, to be as good as ourselves. It is not progress and each would have thought it an excellent that we object to; on the contrary, we flatter thing if all the rest could have been compelled ourselves that we are the most progressive to travel his road, their attempts to thwart people who ever lived. It is individuality that each other's development have rarely had any we war against: we should think we had done permanent success, and each has in time enwonders if we had made ourselves all alike; dured to receive the good which the others forgetting that the unlikeness of one person have offered. Europe is, in my judgment, to another is generally the first thing which wholly indebted to this plurality of paths for draws the attention of either to the imperfec-its progressive and many-sided development, tion of his own type, and the superiority of But it already begins to possess this benefit in another, or the possibility, by combining the a considerably less degree. It is decidedly advantages of both, of producing something advancing toward the Chinese ideal of making better than either. We have a warning ex- all people alike. M. de Tocqueville, in his ample in China--a nation of much talent, and, last important work, remarks how much more in some respects, even wisdom, owing to the the Frenchmen of the present day resemble rare good fortune of having been provided at one another, than did those even of the last an early period with a particularly good set generation. The same remark might be made of customs, the work, in some measure, of of Englishmen in a far greater degree. In a men to whom even the most enlightened Euro- passage already quoted from Wilhelm von pean must accord, under certain limitations, Humboldt, he points out two things as neces'the title of sages and philosophers. They are sary conditions of human development, beremarkable, too, in the excellence of their ap- cause necessary to render people unlike one paratus for impressing, as far as possible, the another; namely, freedom, and variety of sitbest wisdom they possess upon every mind in uations. The second of these two conditions the community, and securing that those who is in this country every day diminishing. have appropriated most of it shall occupy the The circumstances which surround different posts of honor and power. Surely the people classes and individuals, and shape their charwho did this have discovered the secret of acters, are daily becoming more assimilated. human progressiveness, and must have kept | Formerly, different ranks, different neighbor
hoods, different trades and professions, lived stages that any stand can be successfully in what might be called different worlds; at made against the encroachment. The depresent to a great degree in the same. Com-mand that all other people shall resemble our paratively speaking, they now read the same selves, grows by what it feeds on. If resistthings, listen to the same things, see the same ance waits till life is reduced nearly to one things, go to the same places, have their hopes uniform type, all deviations from that type and fears directed to the same objects, have will come to be considered impious, immoral, the same rights and liberties, and the same even monstrous and contrary to nature. means of asserting them. Great as are the Mankind speedily become unable to conceive differences of position which remain, they are diversity, when they have been for some nothing to those which have ceased. And the time unaccustomed to see it. assimilation is still proceeding. All the political changes of the age promote it, since they all tend to raise the low and to lower the high. Every extension of education promotes it, be
CHAPTER IV. cause education brings people under common influences, and gives them access to the gen- | OF THE LIMITS TO THE AUTHORITY OF SOCIETY eral stock of facts and sentiments. Improve
OVER THE INDIVIDUAL. ment in the means of communication promotes it, by bringing the inhabitants of distant What, then, is the rightful limit to the places into personal contact, and keeping up a sovereignty of the individual over himself? rapid flow of changes of residence between Where does the authority of society begin? one place and another. The increase of com- How much of human life should be assigned merce and manufactures promotes it, by dif- to individuality, and how much to society? fusing more widely the advantages of easy Each will receive its proper share, if each circumstances, and opening all objects of am- has that which more particularly concerns it. bition, even the highest, to general competi- To individuality should belong the part of life tion, whereby the desire of rising becomes in which it is chiefly the individual that is inno longer the character of a particular class, terested; to society, the part which chiefly inbut of all classes. A more powerful agency terests society. than even all these, in bringing about a gen- Though society is not founded on a coneral similarity among mankind, is the com-tract, and though no good purpose is answered plete establishment, in this and other free by inventing a contract in order to deduce countries, of the ascendency of public opinion social obligations from it, every one who rein the State. As the various social eminences ceives the protection of society owes a return which enabled persons entrenched on them for the benefit, and the fact of living in socito disregard the opinion of the multitude grad-ety renders it indispensable that each should ually become levelled; as the very idea of re- be bound to observe a certain line of conduct sisting•the will of the public, when it is posi- towards the rest. This conduct consists, first, tively known that they have a will, disappears in not injuring the interests of one another; or more and more from the minds of practical rather certain interests, which, either by expoliticians; there ceases to be any social sup-press legal provision or by tacit understandport for non-conformity — any substantive ing, ought to be considered as rights; and power in society, which, itself opposed to the secondly, in each person's bearing his share ascendency of numbers, is interested in taking (to be fixed on some equitable principle) of under its protection opinions and tendencies the labors and sacrifices incurred for defendat variance with those of the public.
ing the society or its members from injury The combination of all these causes form and molestation. These conditions society is so great a mass of influences hostile to Indi- justified in enforcing, at all costs to those who viduality, that it is not easy to see how it can endeavor to withhold fulfilment. Nor is this stand its ground. It will do so with increas- all that society may do. The acts of an indiing difficulty, unless the intelligent part of vidual may be hurtful to others, or wanting the public can be made to feel its value-to in due consideration for their welfare, withsee that it is good there should be differences, out going to the length of violating any of even though not for the better, even though, their constituted rights. The offender may as it may appear to them, some should be for then be justly punished by opinion, though the worse. If the claims of Individuality are not by law. As soon as any part of a person's ever to be asserted, the time is now, while conduct affects prejudicially the interests of much is still wanting to complete the en-others, society has jurisdiction over it, and forced assimilation. It is only in the earlier the question whether the general welfare will or will not be promoted by interfering with it, what only regards himself, must be grounded becomes open to discussion. But there is no on general presumptions; which may be alroom for entertaining any such question together wrong, and even if right, are as likewhen a person's conduct affects the interests ly as not to be misapplied to individual cases, of no persons besides himself, or needs not by persons no better acquainted with the ciraffect them unless they like (all the persons cumstances of such cases than those are who concerned being of full age, and the ordinary look at them merely from without. In this amount of understanding). In all such cases, department, therefore, of human affairs, Inthere should be perfect freedom, legal and dividuality has its proper field of action, in social, to do the action and stand the conse- the conduct of human beings towards one quences.
another, it is necessary that general rules It would be a great misunderstanding of should for the most part be observed, in order this doctrine, to suppose that it is one of self-that people may know what they have to exish indifference, which pretends that human pect; but in each person's own concerns, his beings have no business with each other's con- individual spontaneity is entitled to free exduct in life, and that they should not concern ercise. Considerations to aid his judgment, themselves about the well-doing or well-being exhortations to strengthen his will, may be of one another, unless their own interest is in- offered to him, even obtruded on him, by othvolved. Instead of any diminution, there is ers; but he himself is the final judge. All need of a great increase of disinterested exer- errors which he is likely to commit against tion to promote the good of others. But dis- advice and warning, are far outweighed by interested benevolence can find other instru- the evil of allowing others to constrain him ments to persuade people to their good, than to what they deem his good. whips and scourges, either of the literal or I do not mean that the feelings with which the metaphorical sort. I am the last person a person is regarded by others, ought not to to undervalue the self-regarding virtues; they be in any way affected by his self-regarding are only second in importance, if even second, qualities or deficiences. This is neither posto the social. It is equally the business of edu- sible nor desirable. If he is eminent in any of cation to cultivate both. But even education the qualities which conduce to his own good, works by conviction and persuasion as well he is so far a proper object of admiration and as by compulsion, and it is by the former so much the nearer to the ideal perfection only that, when the period of education is of human nature. If he is grossly deficient passed, the self-regarding virtues should in those qualities, a sentiment the opposite of be inculcated. Human beings owe to each admiration will follow. There is a degree of other help to distinguish the better from the foliy, and a degree of what may be called worse, and encouragement to choose the (though the phrase is not unobjectionable) former and avoid the latter. They should be lowness or depravation of taste, which, though forever stimulating each other to increased ex- it cannot justify doing harm to the person ercise of their higher faculties, and increased who manifests it, renders him necessarily and direction of their feelings and aims towards properly a subject of distaste, or, in extreme wise instead of foolish, elevating instead of cases, even of contempt: a person could not degrading, objects and contemplations. But have the opposite qualities in due strength neither one person, nor any number of per- without entertaining these feelings. Though sons, is warranted in saying to another hu-doing no wrong to any one, a person may so man creature of ripe years, that he shall not act as to compel us to judge him, and feel to do with his life for his own benefit what he him, as a fool, or as a being of an inferior orchooses to do with it. He is the person most der: and since this judgment and feeling are interested in his own well-being: the interest a fact which he would prefer to avoid, it is which any other person, except in cases of doing him a service to warn him of it beforestrong personal attachment, can have in it, is hand, as of any other disagreeable consetrifling, compared with that which he him-quence to which he exposes himself. It would self has; the interest which society has in him be well, indeed, if this good office were more individually (except as to his conduct to freely rendered than the common notions others) is fractional, and altogether indirect: of politeness at present permit, and if one perwhile with respect to his own feelings and son could honestly point out to another that circumstances, the most ordinary man or he thinks him in fault, without being conwoman has means of knowledge immeasur- sidered unmannerly or presuming. We have ably surpassing those that can be possessed a right, also, in various ways, to act upon our by any one else. The interference of society unfavorable opinion of any one, not to the opto overrule his judgment and purposes in pression of his individuality, but in the exercise of ours. We are not bound, for example, | vežia of the Greeks); the pride which derives to seek his society; we have a right to avoid gratification from the abasement of others; it (though not to parade the avoidance), for the egotism which thinks self and its concerns we have a right to choose the society most ac- more important than everything else, and deceptable to us. We have a right, and it may cides all doubtful questions in its own favor; be our duty, to caution others against him, if these are moral vices, and constitute a bad we think his example or conversation likely and odious moral character; unlike the selfto have a pernicious effect on those with whom regarding faults previously mentioned, which he associates. We may give others a prefer- are not properly immoralities, and to whatence over him in optional good offices, except ever pitch they may be carried, do not conthose which tend to his improvement. In stitute wickedness. They may be proofs of these various modes a person may suffer very any amount of folly, or want of personal dig. severe penalties at the hands of others, for nity and self-respect; but they are only a subfaults which directly concern only himself;ject of moral reprobation when they involve a but he suffers these penalties only in so far as breach of duty to others, for whose sake the they are the natural, and, as it were, the spon- individual is bound to have care for himself. taneous consequences of the faults themselves, What are called duties to ourselves are not not because they are purposely inflicted on him socially obligatory, unless circumstances renfor the sake of punishment. A person who der them at the same time duties to others. shows rashness, obstinacy, self-conceit—who The term duty, to oneself, when it means any. cannot live within moderate means—who thing more than prudence, means self-respect cannot restrain himself from hurtful indul-or self-development; and for none of these is gences—who pursues animal pleasures at the any one accountable to his fellow-creatures, expense of those of feeling and intellect-must because for none of them is it for the good of expect to be lowered in the opinion of others, mankind that he be held accountable to them, and to have a less share of their favorable The distinction between the loss of considersentiments; but of this he has no right to com-ation which a person may rightly incur by de plain, unless he has merited their favor by fect of prudence or of personal dignity, and special excellence in his social relations, and the reprobation which is due to him for an ofhas thus established a title to their good offices, fence against the rights of others, is not a which is not affected by his demerits towards merely nominal distinction. It makes a vast himself.
difference both in our feelings and in our conWhat I contend for is, that the inconven- duct towards him, whether he displeases us in iences which are strictly inseparable from things in which we think we have a right to the unfavorable judgment of others, are the control him, or in things in which we know only ones to which a person should ever be that we have not. If he displeases us, we may subjected for that portion of his conduct and express our distaste, and we may stand aloof character which concerns his own good, but from a person as well as from a thing that diswhich does not affect the interests of others in pleases us; but we shall not therefore feel their relations with him. Acts injurious to called on to make his life uncomfortable. We others require a totally different treatment. shall reflect that he already bears, or will bear Encroachment on their rights; infliction on the whole penalty of his error; if he spoils his them of any loss or damage not justified by life by mismanagement, we shall not, for that his own rights; falsehood or duplicity in deal- reason, desire to spoil it still further: instead ing with them; unfair or ungenerous use of of wishing to punish him, we shall rather enadvantages over them; even selfish abstinence deavor to alleviate his punishment, by show from defending them against injury-these ing him how he may avoid or cure the evils are fit objects of moral reprobation, and, in his conduct tends to bring upon him. He may grave cases, of moral retribution and punish- be to us an object of pity, perhaps of dislike, ment. And not only these acts, but the dis- but not of anger or resentment; we shall not positions which lead to them, are properly treat him like an enemy of society: the worst immoral, and fit subjects of disapprobation we shall think ourselves justified in doing is which may rise to abhorrence. Cruelty of dis- leaving him to himself, if we do not interfere position; malice and ill-nature; that most an- benevolently by showing interest or concern ti-social and odious of all passions, envy; dis- for him. It is far otherwise if he has infringed simulation and insincerity; irascibility on in- the rules necessary for the protection of his sufficient cause, and resentment dispropor- fellow-creatures, individually or collectively. tioned to the provocation; the love of domi- The evil consequences of his acts do not then neering over others; the desire to engross fall on himself, but on others; and society, as more than one's share of advantages (the Theo- ho protector of all its members, must retaliate on him; must inflict pain on him for the |And as a supplement to the unavoidable imexpress purpose of punishment, and must take perfections of law, ought not opinion at least care that it be sufficiently severe. In the one to organize a powerful police against these case, he is an offender at our bar, and we are vices, and visit rigidly with social penalties called on not only to sit in judgment on him, those who are known to practise them. but, in one shape or another, to execute our There is no question here it may be said) own sentence: in the other case, it is not our about restricting individuality, or impeding part to inflict any suffering on him, except the trial of new and original experiments in what may incidentally follow from our using living. The only things it is sought to prethe same liberty in the regulation of our own vent are things which have been tried and affairs, which we allow to him in his.
condemned from the beginning of the world The distinction here pointed out between until now; things which experience has the part of a person's life which concerns shown not to be useful or suitable to any peronly himself, and that which concerns others, son's individuality. There must be some many persons will refuse to admit. How it length of time and amount of experience, may be asked) can any part of the conduct of after which a moral or prudential truth may a member of society be a matter of indiffer- be regarded as established: and it is merely ence to the other members? No person is an desired to prevent generation after generation entirely isolated being; it is impossible for a from falling over the same precipice which person to do anything seriously or perma- has been fatal to their predecessors. nently hurtful to himself, without mischief I fully admit that the mischief which a perreaching at least to his near connections, and son does to himself may seriously affect, both often far beyond them. If he injures his through their sympathies and their interests, property, he does harm to those who directly those nearly connected with him, and in a or indirectly derived support from it, and minor degree, society at large. When, by usually diminishes, by a greater or less conduct of this sort, a person is led to violate amount, the general resources of the commu- a distinct and assignable obligation to any nity, If he deteriorates his bodily or mental other person or persons, the case is taken out faculties, he not only brings evil upon all who of the self-regarding class, and becomes amendepended on him for any portion of their hap- able to moral disapprobation in the proper piness, but disqualifies himself for rendering sense of the term. If, for example, a man, the services which he owes to his fellow through intemperance or extravagance, becreatures generally; perhaps becomes a bur- comes unable to pay his debts, or, having unden on their affection or benevolence; and if dertaken the moral responsibility of a family, such conduct were very frequent, hardly any becomes from the same cause incapable of offence that is committed would detract more supporting or educating them, he is deseryfrom the general sum of good. Finally, if by edly reprobated, and might be justly punhis vices or follies a person does no direct ished; but it is for the breach of duty to his harm to others, he is nevertheless it may be family or creditors, not for the extravagance. said) injurious by his example; and ought to If the resources which ought to have been debe compelled to control himself, for the sake voted to them, had been diverted from them of those whom the sight or knowledge of his for the most prudent investment, the morconduct might corrupt or mislead.
al culpability would have been the same. And even (it will be added) if the conse- George Barnwell murdered his uncle to get quences of misconduct could be confined to money for his mistress, but if he had done it the vicious or thoughtless individual, ought to set himself up in business he would equalsociety to abandon to their own guidance ly have been hanged. Again, in the frequent those who are manifestly unfit for it? If pro- case of a man who causes grief to his family tection against themselves is confessedly due by addiction to bad habits, he deserves reto children and persons under age, is not soci- proach for his unkindness or ingratitude; ety equally bound to afford it to persons of but so he may for cuitivating habits not in mature years who are equally incapable of themselves vicious, if they are painful to self-government? If gambling, or drunken- those with whom he passes his life, or who ness, or incontinence, or idleness, or unclean- from personal ties are dependent on him for liness, are as injurious to happiness, and as their comfort. Whoever fails in the considgreat a hindrance to improvement, as many eration generally due to the interests and or most of the acts prohibited by law, why (it feelings of others, not being compelled by may be asked) should not law, so far as is some more imperative duty, or justified by consistent with practicability and social con- allowable self-preference, is a subject of moral venience, endeavor to repress these also? | disapprobation for that failure, but not for