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the cause of it, nor for the errors, merely per-fural penalties which cannot be prevented sonal to himself, which may have remotely from falling on those who incur the distaste led to it. In like manner, when a person dis- or the contempt of those who know them; let ables himself, by conduct purely self-regard- not society pretend that it needs, besides all ing, from the performance of some definite this, the power to issue commands and enduty incumbent on him to the public, he is force obedience in the personal concerns of guilty of a social offence. No person ought individuals, in which, on all principles of justo be punished simply for being drunk; but a tice and policy, the decision ought to rest soldier or a policeman should be punished for with those who are to abide the consequences. being drunk on duty. Whenever, in short, Nor is there anything which tends more to there is a definite damage, or a definite risk discredit and frustrate the better means of of damage, either to an individual or to the influencing conduct, than a resort to the public, the case is taken out of the province of worse. If there be among those whom it is liberty, and placed in that of morality or attempted to coerce into prudence or temper law.
ance, any of the material of which vigorous But with regard to the merely contingent, and independent characters are made, they or, as it may be called, constructive injury will infallibly rebel against the yoke. No which a person causes to society, by conduct such person will ever feel that others have a which neither violates any specific duty to right to control him in his concerns, such as the public, nor occasions perceptible hurt they have to prevent him from injuring them to any assignable individual except himself; in theirs; and it easily comes to be considered the inconvenience is one which society can a mark of spirit and courage to fly in the face afford to bear, for the sake of the greater of such usurped authority, and do with osgood of human freedom. If grown persons tentation the exact opposite of what it enare to be punished for not taking proper care joins; as in the fashion of grossness which of themselves, I would rather it were for succeeded, in the time of Charles II., to the their own sake, than under pretence of pre- fanatical moral intolerance of the Puritans. venting them from impairing their capacity With respect to what is said of the necessity of rendering to society benefits which society of protecting society from the bad example does not pretend it has a right to exact. But set to others by the vicious or the self-indul. I cannot consent to argue the point as if soci- gent; it is true that bad example may have a ety had no means of bringing its weaker pernicious effect, especially the example of members up to its ordinary standard of ra- doing wrong to others with impunity to the tional conduct, except waiting till they do wrong-doer. But we are now speaking of something irrational, and then punishing conduct which, while it does no wrong to them, legally or morally, for it. Society has others, is supposed to do great harm to the had absolute power over them during all the agent himself: and I do not see how those who early portion of their existence: it has had the believe this, can think otherwise than that whole period of childhood and nonage in the example, on the whole, must be more sal- ; which to try whether it could make them ca- utary than hurtful, since, if it displays the pable of rational conduct in life. The exist- misconduct, it displays also the painful or deing generation is master both of the training grading consequences which, if the conduct and the entire circumstances of the genera- is justly censured, must be supposed to be in tion to come; it cannot indeed make them all or most cases attendant on it. perfectly wise and good, because it is itself so But the strongest of all the arguments lamentably deficient in goodness and wisdom; against the interference of the public with and its best efforts are not always, in individ-purely personal conduct, is that when it does ual cases, its most successful ones; but it is interfere, the odds are that it interferes perfectly well able to make the rising genera- wrongly, and in the wrong place. On question, as a whole, as good as, and a little bet- tions of social morality, of duty to others, the ter than, itself. If society lets any consider- opinion of the public, that is, of an overruling able number of its members grow up mere majority, though often wrong, is likely to be children, incapable of being acted on by ra- still oftener right; because on such questions tional consideration of distant motives, soci- they are only required to judge of their own ety has itself to blame for the consequences. interests; of the manner in which some Armed not only with all the powers of edu- mode of conduct, if allowed to be practised, cation, but with the ascendency which the would affect themselves. But the opinion of authority of a received opinion always exer- a similar majority, imposed as a law on the cises over the minds who are least fitted to minority, on questions of self-regarding conjudge for themselves; and aided by the nat- duct, is quite as likely to be wrong as right:
for in these cases public opinion means, atendeavoring to erect a barrier against imagthe best, some people's opinion of what is inary evils. And it is not difficult to show, good or bad for other people; while very by abundant instances, that to extend the often it does not even mean that; the public, bounds of what may be called moral police, unwith the most perfect indifference, passing til it encroaches on the most unquestionably over the pleasure or convenience of those legitimate liberty of the individual, is one of whose conduct they censure, and considering the most universal of all human propensities. only their own preference. There are many As a first instance, consider the antipathies who consider as an injury to themselves any which men cherish on no better grounds than conduct which they have a distaste for, and that persons whose religious opinions are difresent it as an outrage to their feelings; as a ferent from theirs, do not practise their religreligious bigot, when charged with disregard- ious observances, especially their religious ab ing the religious feelings of others, has been stinences. To cite a rather trivial example, known to retort that they disregard his feel- nothing in the creed or practice of Christians ings, by persisting in their abominable wor- does more to envenom the hatred of Mahomeship or creed. But there is no parity between dans against them, than the fact of their eatthe feeling of a person for his own opinion, ing pork. There are few acts which Chrisand the feeling of another who is offended at tians and Europeans regard with more unafhis holding it; no more than between the de- fected disgust, than Mussulmans regard this sire of a thief to take a purse, and the desire particular mode of satisfying hunger. It is, of the right owner to keep it. And a person's in the first place, an offence against their retaste is as much his own peculiar concern as ligion; but this circumstance by no means exhis opinion or his purse. It is easy for any plains either the degree or the kind of their one to imagine an ideal public, which leaves repugnance; for wine also is forbidden by the freedom and choice of individuals in all their religion, and to partake of it is by all uncertain matters undisturbed, and only re- Mussulmans accounted wrong, but not disquires them to abstain from modes of conduct gusting. Their aversion to the flesh of the which universal experience has condemned. unclean beast' is, on the contrary, of that But where has there been seen a public which peculiar character, resembling an instinctive set any such limit to its censorship? or when antipathy, which the idea of uncleanliness, does the public trouble itself about universal when once it thoroughly sinks into the feelexperience? In its interferences with per- ings, seems always to excite even in those sonal conduct it is seldom thinking of any- whose personal habits are anything but scruthing but the enormity of acting or feeling pulously cleanly, and of which the sentiment differently from itself; and this standard of of religious impurity, so intense in the Hinjudgment, thinly disguised, is held up to doos, is a remarkable example. Suppose now mankind as the dictate of religion and phi-that in a people, of whom the majority were losophy, by nine-tenths of all moralists and Mussulmans, that majority should insist upon speculative writers. These teach that things not permitting pork to be eaten within the are right because they are right; because we limits of the country. This would be nothing. feel them to be so. They tell us to search in new in Mahomedan countries.* Would it be our own minds and hearts for laws of conduct a legitimate exercise of the moral authority binding on ourselves and on all others. of public opinion? and if not, why not? The What can the poor public do but apply these practice is really revolting to such a public. instructions, and make their own personal They also sincerely think that it is forbidden feelings of good and evil, if they are tolerably and abhorred by the Deity. Neither could unanimous in them, obligatory on all the the prohibition be censured as religious perworld?
secution. It might be religious in its origin, The evil here pointed out is not one which exists only in theory; and it may perhaps be
* The case of the Bombay Parsees is a curious instance in expected that I should specify the instances point. When this industrious and enterprising tribe, the dein which the public of this age and country scendants of the Persian fire-worshippers, flying from their improperly invests its own preferences with native country before the Caliphs, arrived in Western India,
they were admitted to toleration by the Hindoo sovereigns, on the character of moral laws. I am not writ
condition of not eating beef. When those regions afterwards ing an essay on the aberrations of existing fell under the dominion of Mahomedan conquerors, the Parsees moral feeling. That is too weighty a subject
obtained from them a continuance of indulgence, on condition
of refraining from pork. What was at first obedience to auto be discussed parenthetically, and by way or illustration. Yet examples are necessary. I abstain both from beef and pork. Though not required by to show that the principle I maintain is of se
their religion, the double abstinence has had time to grow
into a custom of their tribe; and custom, in the East, is a ro rious and practical moment, and that I am not Iligion.
thority became a second nature, and the Parsees to this day
but it would not be persecution for religion, present social and political condition of the since nobody's religion makes it a duty to kingdom, it is by no means impossible that pereat pork. The only tenable ground of con- sons of these sentiments may at some time or demnation would be, that with the personal other command a majority in Parliament. tastes and self-regarding concerns of individ- How will the remaining portion of the comuals the public has no business to inter- munity like to have the amusements that
shall be permitted to them regulated by the To come somewhat nearer home: the ma- religious and moral sentiments of the stricter jority of Spaniards consider it a gross impiety, Calvinists and Methodists? Would 'they not, offensive in the highest degree to the Supreme with considerable peremptoriness, desire these Being, to worship him in any other manner intrusively pious members of society to mina than the Roman Catholic; and no other pub- their own business? This is precisely what lic worship is lawful on Spanish soil. The should be said to every government and every people of all Southern Europe look upon public, who have the pretension that no pera married clergy as not only irreligious, but son shall enjoy any pleasure which they unchaste, indecent, gross, disgusting. What think wrong. But if the principle of the predo Protestants think of these perfectly sin- tension be admitted, no one can reasonably cere feelings, and of the attempt to enforce object to its being acted on in the sense of the them against non-Catholics? Yet, if man- majority, or other preponderating power in kind are justified in interfering with each the country; and all persons must be ready to other's liberty in things which do not concern conform to the idea of a Christian commonthe interests of others, on what principle is it wealth, as understood by the early settlers in possible consistently to exclude these cases? New England, if a religious profession similar or who can blame people for desiring to sup-to theirs should ever succeed in regaining its press what they regard as a scandal in the lost ground, as religions supposed to be desight of God and man? No stronger case can clining have so often been known to do. be shown for prohibiting anything which is To imagine another contingency, perhaps regarded as a personal immorality, than is more likely to be realized than the one last made out for suppressing these practices in mentioned. There is confessedly a strong tenthe eyes of those who regard them as impie- dency in the modern world towards a demoties; and unless we are willing to adopt the cratic constitution of society, accompanied or logic of persecutors, and to say that we may not by popular political institutions. It is persecute others because we are right, and affirmed that in the country where this tenthat they must not persecute us because they dency is most completely realized-where are wrong, we must beware of admitting a both society and the government are most principle of which we should resent as a gross democratic—the United States—the feeling of injustice the application to ourselves
the majority, to whom any appearance of a The preceding instances may be objected more showy or costly style of living than to, although unreasonably, as drawn from they can hope to rival is disagreeable, opercontingencies impossible among us: opinion, ates as a tolerably effectual sumptuary law, in this country, not being likely to enforce and that in many parts of the Union it is really abstinence from meats, or to interfere with difficult for a person possessing a very large people for worshipping, and for either marry- income to find any mode of spending it, which ing or not marrying, according to their creed will not incur popular disapprobation. Though or inclination. The next example, however, such statements as these are doubtless much shall be taken from an interference with liberty exaggerated as a representation of existing which we have by no means passed all danger facts, the state of things they describe is not of. Wherever the Puritans have been suffi- only a conceivable and possible, but a probciently powerful, as in New England, and in able result of democratic feeling, combined Great Britain at the time of the Common- with the notion that the public has a right to wealth, they have endeavored, with consider- a veto on the manner in which individuals able success, to put down all public, and nearly shall spend their incomes. We have only all private, amusements: especially music, further to suppose a considerable diffusion of dancing, public games, or other assemblages Socialist opinions and it may become infafor purposes of diversion, and the theatre.mous in the eyes of the majority to possess There are still in this country large bodies of more property than some very small amount, persons by whose notions of morality and re-or any income not earned by manual labor. ligion these recreations are condemned; and Opinions similar in principle to these, already those persons belonging chiefly to the middle prevail widely among the artizan class, and class, who are the ascendant power in the weigh oppressively on those who are amenable to the opinion chiefly of that class, plore the recognition of any principle which namely, its own members. It is known that could be wrested to justify bigotry and persethe bad workmen who form the majority of cution,' undertakes to point out the broad the operatives in many branches of industry, and impassable barrier' which divides such are decidedly of opinion that bad workmen principles from those of the association. “All ought to receive the same wages as good, and matters relating to thought, opinion, conthat no one ought to be allowed, through science, appear to me,' he says, “to be withpiece-work or otherwise, to earn by 'superior out the sphere of legislation; all pertaining to skill or industry more than others can with social act, habit, relation, subject only to a out it. And they employ a moral police, discretionary power vested in the State itself, which occasionally becomes a physical one, and not in the individual, to be within it.' to deter skilful workmen from receiving, and No mention is made of a third class, different employers from giving, a larger remuneration from either of these, viz. acts and habits for a more useful service. If the public have which are not social, but individual; although any jurisdiction over private concerns, I can- it is to this class, surely, that the act of drinknot see that these people are in fault, or that ing fermented liquors, belongs. Selling ferany individual's particular public can be mented liquors, however, is trading, and blamed for asserting the same authority over trading is a social act. But the infringement his individual conduct, which the general complained of is not on the liberty of the public asserts over people in general.
seller, but on that of the buyer and consumer; But, without dwelling upon supposititious since the State might just as well forbid him cases, there are, in our own day, gross usur- to drink wine, as purposely make it impossipations upon the liberty of private life act- ble for him to obtain it. The Secretary, howually practised, and still greater ones threat ever, says, “I claim, as a citizen, a right to ened with some expectation of success, and legislate whenever my social rights are inopinions propounded which assert an unlim- vaded by the social act of another. And now ited right in the public not only to prohibit for the definition of these social rights.' 'If by law everything which it thinks wrong, but anything invades my social rights, certainly in order to get at what it thinks wrong, to the traffic in strong drink does. It destroys prohibit a number of things which it admits my primary right of security, by constantly to be innocent.
creating and stimulating social disorder. It Under the name of preventing intemperance, invades my right of equality, by deriving a the people of one English colony, and of profit from the creation of a misery I am nearly half the United States, have been in- taxed to support. It impedes my right to terdicted by law from making any use what- free moral and intellectual development, by ever of fermented drinks, except for medical surrounding my path with dangers, and by purposes: for prohibition of their sale is in weakening and demoralizing society, from fact, as it is intended to be, prohibition of which I have a right to claim mutual aid and their use. And though the impracticability intercourse.' A theory of social rights,' of executing the law has caused its repeal in the like of which probably never before several of the States which had adopted it, found its way into distinct language: being including the one from which it derives its nothing short of this—that it is the absolute name, an attempt has notwithstanding been social right of every individual, that every commenced, and is prosecuted with consider- other individual shall act in every respect able zeal by many of the professed philan- exactly as he ought; that whosoever fails thropists, to agitate for a similar law in this thereof in the smallest particular, violates my country. The association, or “ Alliance' as it social right, and entitles me to demand from terms itself, which has been formed for this the legislature the removal of the grievance. purpose, has acquired some notoriety through So monstrous a principle is far more dangerthe publicity given to a correspondence be-lous than any single interference with liberty; tween its Secretary and one of the very few there is no violation of liberty which it would English public men who hold that a politi- not justify; it acknowledges no right to any cian's opinions ought to be founded on princi- freedom whatever, except perhaps to that of ples. Lord Stanley's share in this correspond-holding opinions in secret, without ever disence is calculated to strengthen the hopes closing them: for, the moment an opinion already built on him, by those who know how which I consider noxious passes any one's rare such qualities as are manifested in some lips, it invades all the social rights' attribof his public appearances, unhappily are uted to me by the Alliance. The doctrine asamong those who figure in political life. The cribes to all mankind a vested interest in organ of the Alliance, who would 'deeply de- each other's moral, intellectual, and even physical perfection, to be defined by each tempts to stop railway travelling on Sunday, claimant according to his own standard. in the resistance to the opening of Museums,
Another important example of illegitimate and the like, has not the cruelty of the old interference with the rightful liberty of the persecutors, the state of mind indicated by it individual, not simply threatened, but long is fundamentally the same. It is a determi. since carried into triumphant effect, is Sab-nation not to tolerate others in doing what is batarian legislation. Without doubt, absti- permitted by their religion, because it is not nence on one day in the week, so far as the permitted by the persecutor's religion. It is exigencies of life permit, from the usual daily a belief that God not only abominates the act occupation, though in no respect religiously of the misbeliever, but will not hold us guiltbinding on any except Jews, is a highly bene- less if we leave him unmolested. ficial custom. And inasmuch as this custom I cannot refrain from adding to these excannot be observed without a general consent amples of the little account commonly made to that effect among the industrious classes, of human liberty, the language of downright therefore, in so far as some persons by work- persecution which breaks out from the press ing may impose the same necessity on others, of this country, whenever it feels called on to it may be allowable and right that the law notice the remarkable phenomenon of Morshould guarantee to each the observance by monism. Much might be said on the unexothers of the custom, by suspending the pected and instructive fact, that an alleged greater operations of industry on a particular new revelation, and a religion founded on it, day. But this justification, grounded on the the product of palpable imposture, not even direct interest which others have in each in- supported by the prestige of extraordinary dividual's observance of the practice, does qualities in its founder, is believed by hunnot apply to the self-chosen occupations indreds of thousands, and has been made the which a person may think fit to employ his foundation of a society, in the age of newspaleisure; nor does it hold good, in the smallest pers, railways, and the electric telegraph. degree, for legal restrictions on amusements. What here concerns us is, that this religion, It is true that the amusement of some is the like other and better religions, has its marday's work of others; but the pleasure, not to tyrs; that its prophet and founder was, for say the useful recreation, of many, is worth his teaching, put to death by a mob; that the labor of a few, provided the occupation is others of its adherents lost their lives by the freely chosen, and can be freely resigned. same lawless violence; that they were forciThe operatives are perfectly right in thinking bly expelled, in a body, from the country in that if all worked on Sunday, seven days' which they first grew up; while, now that work would have to be given for six days' they have been chased into a solitary recess wages: but so long as the great mass of em- in the midst of a desert, many in this country ployments are suspended, the small number openly declare that it would be right (only who for the enjoyment of others must still that it is not convenient) to send an expediwork, obtain a proportional increase of earn- tion against them, and compel them by force ings; and they are not obliged to follow those to conform to the opinions of other people. occupations, if they prefer leisure to emolu- The article of the Mormonite doctrine which ment. If a further remedy is sought, it might is the chief provocative to the antipathy be found in the establishment by custom of a which thus breaks through the ordinary reholiday on some other day of the week for straints of religious tolerance, is its sanction those particular classes of persons. The only of polygamy; which, though permitted to Ma. ground, therefore, on which restrictions on homedans, and Hindoos, and Chinese, seems Sunday amusements can be defended, must to excite unquenchable animosity when pracbe that they are religiously wrong; a motive tised by persons who speak English, and proof legislation which can never be too earnest- fess to be a kind of Christians. No one has a ly protested against. “Deorum injuriæ Diis deeper disapprobation than I have of this Morcuræ.' It remains to be proved that society mon institution; both for other reasons, and or any of its officers holds a commission because, far from being in any way countefrom on high to avenge any supposed offence nanced by the principle of liberty, it is a dito Omnipotence, which is not also a wrong to rect infraction of that principle, being a mere our fellow-creatures. The notion that it is riveting of the chains of one half of the comone man's duty that another should be relig-munity, and an emancipation of the other ious, was the foundation of all the religious from reciprocity of obligation towards them. persecutions ever perpetrated, and if admit. Still, it must be remembered that this related, would fully justify them. Though the tion is as much voluntary on the part of the feeling which breaks out in the repeated at- women concerned in, and who may be deemed