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the sufferers by it, as is the case with any | the Western Empire) by energetic barba: other form of the marriage institution; and rians. however surprising this fact may appear, it has its explanation in the common ideas and customs of the world, which teaching women to think marriage the one thing needful, make
CHAPTER V. it intelligible that many a woman should prefer being one of several wives, to not being a
APPLICATIONS. wife at all. Other countries are not asked to recognize such unions, or release any por- THE principles asserted in these pages must tion of their inhabitants from their own laws be more generally admitted as the basis for on the score of Mormonite opinions. But discussion of details, before a consistent appliwhen the dissentients have conceded to the cation of them to all the various departments hostile sentiments of others, far more than of government and morals can be attempted could justly be demanded; when they have with any prospect of advantage. The few obleft the countries to which their doctrines servations I propose to make on questions of were unacceptable, and established themselves detail, are designed to illustrate the principles, in a remote corner of the earth, which they rather than to follow them out to their consehave been the first to render habitable to hu-quences. I offer, not so much applications, as man beings; it is difficult to see on what prin- specimens of application; which may serve to ciples but those of tyranny they can be pre- bring into greater clearness the meaning and vented from living there under what laws limits of the two maxims which together form they please, provided they commit no aggres- the entire doctrine of this Essay, and to assion on other nations, and allow perfect free-sist the judgment in holding the balance bedom of departure to those who are dissatisfied tween them, in the cases where it appears with their ways. A recent writer, in some doubtful which of them is applicable to the respects of considerable merit, proposes (tocase. use his own words) not a crusade, but a civili- The maxims are, first, that the individual is zade, against this polygamous community, to not accountable to society for his actions, in put an end to what seems to him a retrograde so far as these concern the interests of no perstep in civilization. It also appears so to me, son but himself. Advice, instruction, persuabut I am not aware that any community has sion, and avoidance by other people if thought a right to force another to be civilized. So necessary by them for their own good, are long as the sufferers by the bad law do not in the only measures by which society can justivoke assistance from other communities, I fiably express its dislike or disapprobation of cannot admit that persons entirely unconnect- his conduct. Secondly, that for such actions ed with them ought to step in and require as are prejudicial to the interests of others, that a condition of things with which all who the individual is accountable, and may be are directly interested appear to be satisfied, subjected either to social or to legal punishshould be put an end to because it is a scandal ment, if society is of opinion that the one to persons some thousands of miles distant, or the other is requisite for its better protecwho have no part or concern in it. Let them tion. send missionaries, if they please, to preach In the first place, it must by no means be supagainst it; and let them, by any fair means posed, because damage, or probability of dam
of which silencing the teachers is not one), age, to the interests of others, can alone jusoppose the progress of similar doctrines among tify the interference of society, that therefore their own people. If civilization has got the it always does justify such interference. In better of barbarism when barbarism had the many cases, an individual, in pursuing a legitworld to itself, it is too much to profess to be imate object, necessarily and therefore legitiafraid lest barbarism, after having been fairly mately causes pain or loss to others, or intergot under, should revive and conquer civiliza- cepts a good which they had a reasonable tion. A civilization that can thus succumb hope of obtaining. Such oppositions of interto its vanquished enemy, must first have est between individuals often arise from bad become so degenerate, that neither its ap- social institutions, but are unavoidable while pointed priests and teachers, nor anybody those institutions last; and some would be unelse, has the capacity, or will take the trouble, avoidable under any institutions. Whoever to stand up for it. If this be so, the sooner succeeds in an overcrowded profession, or in such a civilization receives notice to quit, the a competitive examination; whoever is prebetter. It can only go on from bad to ferred to another in any contest for an object worse, until destroyed and regenerated (like which both desire, reaps benefit from the loss of others, from their wasted exertion and China; the restriction of the sale of poisons; their disappointment. But it is, by common all cases, in short, where the object of the inadmission, better for the general interest of terference is to make it impossible or difficult mankind, that persons should pursue their ob- to obtain a particular commodity. These injects undeterred by this sort of consequences. terferences are objectionable, not as infringeIn other words, society admits no right, either ments on the liberty of the producer or seller, legal or moral, in the disappointed competi- but on that of the buyer. tors, to immunity from this kind of suffering; One of these examples, that of the sale of and feels called on to interfere, only when poisons, opens a new question; the proper means of success have been employed which limits of what may be called the functions of it is contrary to the general interest to police; how far liberty may legitimately be permit-namely, fraud or treachery, and invaded for the prevention of crime, or of acforce.
cident. Again, trade is a social act. Whoever un- It is one of the undisputed functions of dertakes to sell any description of goods to the government to take precautions against crime public, does what affects the interest of other before it has been committed, as well as to persons, and of society in general, and thus detect and punish it afterwards. The prehis conduct, in principle, comes within the ju- ventive function of government, however, is risdiction of society: accordingly, it was once far more liable to be abused, to the prejudice held to be the duty of governments, in all of liberty, than the punitory function; for Cases which were considered of importance, to there is hardly any part of the legitimate fix prices, and regulate the processes of man- freedom of action of a human being wbich ufacture. But it is now recognized, though would not admit of being represented, and not till after a long struggle, that both the fairly too, as increasing the facilities for some cheapness and the good quality of commodi- form or other of delinquency. Nevertheless, ties are most effectually provided for by leav- if a public authority, or even a private person, ing the producers and sellers perfectly free, sees any one evidently preparing to commit a under the sole check of equal freedom to the crime, they are not bound to look on inactive buyers for supplying themselves elsewhere. until the crime is committed, but may interThis is the so-called doctrine of Free Trade, fere to prevent it. If poisons were never which rests on grounds different from, though bought or used for any purpose except the equally solid with, the principle of individual commission of murder, it would be right to liberty asserted in this Essay. Restrictions prohibit their manufacture and sale. They on trade, or on production for purposes of may, however, be wanted not only for innotrade, are indeed restraints; and all restraint, cent but for useful purposes, and restrictions quá restraint, is an evil: but the restraints in cannot be imposed in the one case without question affect only that part of conduct operating in the other. Again, it is a proper which society is competent to restrain, and office of public authority to guard against acciare wrong solely because they do not really dents. If either a public officer or any one produce the results which it is desired to pro-else saw a person attempting to cross a bridge duce by them. As the principle of individual which had been ascertained to be unsafe, and liberty is not involved in the doctrine of Free there were no time to warn him of his danger, Trade, so neither is it in most of the questions they might seize him and turn him back, which arise respecting the limits of that doc- without any real infringement of his liberty; trine; as, for example, what amount of public for liberty consists in doing what one desires, control is admissible for the prevention of and he does not desire to fall into the river. fraud by adulteration; how far sanitary pre- Nevertheless, when there is not a certainty, cautions, or arrangements to protect work- but only a danger of mischief, no one but the people employed in dangerous occupations, person himself can judge of the sufficiency of should be enforced on employers. Such ques- the motive which may prompt him to incur tions involve considerations of liberty, only the risk: in this case, therefore (unless he is in so far as leaving people to themselves is al- a child, or delirious, or in some state of excite ways better, cæteris paribus, than controlling ment or absorption incompatible with the full them: but that they may be legitimately con- use of the reflecting faculty), he ought, I controlled for these ends, is in principle undenia- ceive, to be only warned of the danger; not ble. On the other hand, there are questions forcibly prevented from exposing himself relating to interference with trade, which are to it. essentially questions of liberty, such as the Similar considerations, applied to such a Maine Law, already touched upon; the pro- question as the sale of poisons, may enable us hibition of the importation of opium into to decide which among the possible modes of regulation are cr are not contrary to principle. person who had once been convicted of any Such a precaution, for example, as that of act of violence to others under the influence labelling the drug with some word expressive of drink, should be placed under a special of its dangerous character, may be enforced legal restriction, personal to himself; that if without violation of liberty: the buyer cannot he were afterwards found drunk, he should wish not to know that the thing he possesses be liable to a penalty, and that if when in has poisonous qualities. But to require in all that state he committed another offence, the cases the certificate of a medical practitioner, punishment to which he would be liable for would make it sometimes impossible, always that other offence should be increased in seexpensive, to obtain the article for legitimate verity. The making himself drunk, in a peruses. The only mode apparent to me, in son whom drunkenness excites to do harm to which difficulties may be thrown in the way others, is a crime against others. So, again, of crime committed through this means, with- idleness, except in a person receiving support out any infringement worth taking into ac- from the public, or except when it constitutes count, upon the liberty of those who desire a breach of contract, cannot without tyranny the poisonous substance for other purposes, be made a subject of legal punishment; but if, consists in providing what, in the apt lan- either from idleness or from any other avoidguage of Bentham, is called preappointed able cause, a man fails to perform his legal evidence. This provision is familiar to duties to others, as for instance to support his every one in the case of contracts. It is children, it is no tyranny to force him to fulfil usual and right that the law, when a con- that obligation, by compulsory labor, if no tract is entered into, should require as the other means are available. condition of its enforcing performance, that Again, there are many acts which, being dicertain formalities should be observed, such rectly injurious only to the agents themselves, as signatures, attestation of witnesses, and ought not to be legally interdicted, but which, the like, in order that in case of subsequent if done publicly, are a violation of good man dispute, there may be evidence to prove that ners, and coming thus within the category the contract was really entered into, and that of offences against others, may rightly be there was nothing in the circumstances to prohibited. Of this kind are offences against render it legally invalid: the effect being to decency; on which it is unnecessary to dwell, throw great obstacles in the way of fictitious the rather as they are only connected indicontracts, or contracts made in circumstances rectly with our subject, the objection to pubwhich, if known, would destroy their validity. licity being equally strong in the case of many Precautions of a similar nature might be en- actions not in themselves condemnable, nor forced in the sale of articles adapted to be in- supposed to be so. struments of crime. The seller, for example, There is another question to which an anmight be required to enter in a register the swer must be found, consistent with the prinexact time of the transaction, the name and ciples which have been laid down. In cases of address of the buyer, the precise quality and personal conduct supposed to be blamable, quantity sold; to ask the purpose for which but which respect for liberty precludes sociit was wanted, and record the answer he re-ety from preventing or punishing, because ceived. When there was no medical prescrip- the evil directly resulting falls wholly on the tion, the presence of some third person might agent; what the agent is free to do, ought be required, to bring home the fact to the other persons to be equally free to counsel or purchaser, in case there should afterwards be instigate? This question is not free from difreason to believe that the article had been ap- ficulty. The case of a person who solicits anplied to criminal purposes. Such regulations other to do an act, is not strictly a case of would in general be no material impediment self-regarding conduct. To give advice or to obtaining the article, but a very consider- offer inducements to any one, is a social act, able one to making an improper use of it and may, therefore, like actions in general without detection.
which affect others, be supposed amenable to The right inherent in society, to ward off social control. But a little reflection corrects crimes against itself by antecedent precau- the first impression, by showing that if the tions, suggests the obvious limitations to the case is not strictly within the definition of inmaxim, that purely self-regarding misconduct dividual liberty, yet the reasons on which the cannot properly be meddled with in the way principle of individual liberty is grounded, of prevention or punishment. Drunkenness, are applicable to it. If people must be allowed, for example, in ordinary cases, is not a fit in whatever concerns only themselves, to act subject for legislative interference; but I as seems best to themselves, at their own peril, should deem it perfectly legitimate that a they must equally be free to consult with one another about what is fit to be so done; to ex- | be said) though the statutes respecting unlawchange opinions, and give and receive sugges- ful games are utterly indefensible—though tions. Whatever it is permitted to do, it must all persons should be free to gamble in their be permitted to advise to do. The question is own or each other's houses, or in any place doubtful, only when the instigator derives a of meeting established by their own subscrippersonal benefit from his advice; when he tions, and open only to the members and inakes it his occupation, for subsistence or pe- their visitors-yet public gambling-houses cuniary gain, to promote what society and the should not be permitted. It is true that the State consider to be an evil. Then, indeed, a prohibition is never effectual, and that, whatnew element of complication is introduced; ever amount of tyrannical power may be namely, the existence of classes of persons with given to the police, gambling-houses can alan interest opposed to what is considered as ways be maintained under other pretences; the public weal, and whose mode of living is but they may be compelled to conduct their grounded on the counteraction of it. Ought operations with a certain degree of secrecy this to be interfered with, or not? Fornica- and mystery, so that nobody knows anything tion, for example, must be tolerated, and so about them but those who seek them; and must gambling; but should a person be free to more than this, society ought not to aim at. be a pimp, or to keep a gambling-house? The There is considerable force in these arguments. case is one of those which lie on the exact I will not venture to decide whether they are boundary line between two principles, and it is sufficient to justify the moral anomaly of zot at once apparent to which of the two it punishing the accessary, when the principal properly belongs. There are arguments on is (and must be) allowed to go free; of fining both sides. On the side of toleration it may or imprisoning the procurer, but not the forbe said, that the fact of following anything as nicator—the gambling-house keeper, but not an occupation, and living or profiting by the the gambler. Still less ought the common practice of it, cannot make that criminal operations of buying and selling to be interwhich would otherwise be admissible; that fered with on analogous grounds. Almost the act should either be consistently per- every article which is bought and sold may mitted or consistently prohibited: that if be used in excess, and the sellers have a pecuthe principles which we have hitherto de- niary interest in encouraging that excess; but fended are true, society has no business, no argument can be founded on this, in favor, as society, to decide anything to be wrong for instance, of the Maine Law; because the which concerns only the individual; that class of dealers in strong drinks, though init cannot go beyond dissuasion, and that terested in their abuse, are indispensably reone person should be as free to persuade quired for the sake of their legitimate use. as another to dissuade. In opposition to The interest, however, of these dealers in prothis it may be contended, that although moting intemperance is a real evil, and justithe public, or the State, are not warranted in fies the State in imposing restrictions and authoritatively deciding, for purposes of re- requiring guarantees which, but for that pression or punishment, that such or such justification, would be infringements of libconduct affecting only the interests of the erty. individual is good or bad, they are fully jus- A further question is, whether the State, tified in assuming, if they regard it as bad, while it permits, should nevertheless indithat its being so or not is at least a disputable rectly discourage conduct which it deems conquestion: that, this being supposed, they trary to the best interests of the agent; whethvannot be acting wrongly in endeavoring toer, for example, it should take measures to Exclude the influence of solicitations which render the means of drunkenness more costly ere not disinterested, of instigators who can- or add to the difficulty of procuring them not possibly be impartial-who have a direct by limiting the number of the places of sale. personal interest on one side, and that side On this, as on most other practical questions, the one which the State believes to be wrong, many distinctions require to be made. To and who promote it for personal objects tax stimulants for the sole purpose of making only.
them more difficult to be obtained, is a measThere can surely, it may be urged, be noth- ure differing only in degree from their entire ing lost, no sacrifice of good, by so ordering prohibition; and would be justifiable only it matters that persons shall make their election, that were justifiable. Every increase of cost either wisely cr foolishly, on their own prompt-is a prohibition, to those whose means do not ing, as free as possible from the arts of per- come up to the augmented price; and to those sons who stimulate their inclinations for in- who do, it is a penalty laid on them for gratiterested purposes of their own. Thus (it may fying a particular taste. Their choice of pleasures, and their mode of expending their country; and no person who sets due value income, after satisfying their legal and moral on freedom will give his adhesion to their beobligations to the State and to individuals, ing so governed, unless after all efforts have are their own concern, and must rest with been exhausted to educate them for freedom their own judgment. These considerations and govern them as freemen, and it has been may seem at first sight to condemn the selec- definitively proved that they can only be govtion of stimulants as special subjects of taxa- erned as children. The bare statement of the tion for purposes of revenue. But it must be alternative shows the absurdity of supposing remembered that taxation for fiscal purposes that such efforts have been made in any case is absolutely inevitable; that in most countries which needs be considered here. It is only it is necessary that a considerable part of that because the institutions of this country are a taxation should be indirect; that the State, mass of inconsistencies, that things find adtherefore, cannot help imposing penalties, mittance into our practice which belong to which to some persons may be prohibitory, the system of despotic, or what is called paon the use of some articles of consumption. ternal, government, while the general freedom It is hence the duty of the State to consider, of our institutions precludes the exercise of in the imposition of taxes, what commodities the amount of control necessary to render the the consumers can best spare; and à fortiori, restraint of any real efficacy as a moral eduto select in preference those of which it deems cation. the use, beyond a very moderate quantity, It was pointed out in an early part of this to be positively injurious. Taxation, there- Essay, that the liberty of the individual, in fore, of stimulants, up to the point which pro- things wherein the individual is alone conduces the largest amount of revenue (suppos- cerned, implies a corresponding liberty in any ing that the State needs all the revenue which number of individuals to regulate by mutual it yields) is not only admissible, but to be ap- agreement such things as regard them jointly, proved of.
and regard no persons but themselves. This The question of making the sale of these question presents no difficulty, so long as the commodities a more or less exclusive privi- will of all the persons implicated remains unallege, must be answered differently, accord-tered; but since that will may change, it is ing to the purposes to which the restriction is often necessary, even in things in which they intended to be subservient. All places of pub-alone are concerned, that they should enter lic resort require the restraint of a police, and into engagements with one another; and when places of this kind peculiarly, because offences they do, it is fit, as a general rule, that those against society are especially apt to originate engagements should be kept. Yet, in the laws there. It is, therefore, fit to confine the power probably, of every country, this general rule of selling these commodities (at least for con- has some exceptions. Not only persons are sumption on the spot) to persons of known or not held to engagements which violate the vouched-for respectability of conduct; to make rights of third parties, but it is sometimes such regulations respecting hours of opening considered a sufficient reason for releasing and closing as may be requisite for public sur-them from an engagement, that it is injurious veillance, and to withdraw the license if to themselves. In this and most other civilbreaches of peace repeatedly take place ized countries, for example, an engagement through the connivance or incapacity of the by which a person should sell himself or allow keeper of the house, or if it becomes a ren- himself to be sold, as a slave, would be null dezvous for concocting and preparing offences and void ; neither enforced by law nor by opinagainst the law. And further restriction I do ion. The ground for thus limiting his power not conceive to be, in principle, justifiable. of voluntarily disposing of his own lot in life, The limitation in number, for instance, of beer is apparent, and is very clearly seen in this and spirit houses, for the express purpose of extreme case. The reason for not interfering, rendering them more difficult of access, and unless for the sake of others, with a person's diminishing the occasions of temptation, not voluntary acts, is consideration for his liberty. only exposes all to an inconvenience because His voluntary choice is evidence that what there are some by whom the facility would be he so chooses is desirable, or at the least enabused, but is suited only to a state of society durable, to him, and his good is on the whole in which the laboring classes are avowedly best provided for by allowing him to take his treated as children or savages, and placed un- own means of pursuing it. But by selling der an education of restraint, to fit them for himself for a slave, he abdicates his liberty; future admission to the privileges of freedom. he foregoes any future use of it beyond that This is not the principle on which the laboring single act. He therefore defeats, in his own classes are professedly governed in any free case, the very purpose which is the justifica."