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şi. “Give us a guide,” cry men to the philosopher, “We would escape from these miseries in which we are entangled. A better state is ever present to our imaginations, and we yearn after it; but all our efforts to realize it are fruitless. We are weary of perpetual failures; tell us by what rule we may attain our desire.”

“Whatever is expedient is right;" is one of the last of the many replies to this appeal.

“True," rejoin some of the applicants. “With the Deity right and expedient are doubtless convertible terms. For us, however, there remains the question, which is the antecedent, and which is the consequent ? Granting you assumption that right is the unknown quantity and expe- . diency the known one, your formula may be serviceable. But we deny your premises; a painful experience has proved the two to be equally indeterminate. Nay, we begin to suspect that the right is the more easily ascertained of the two; and that your maxim would be better if transposed .nto-whatever is right is expedient.”

“Let your rule be, the greatest happiness to the greatest number," interposes another authority.

a name.

“That, like the other, is no rule at all,” it is replied; “ but rather an enunciation of the problem to be solved. It is your greatest happiness' of which we have been se long and so fruitlessly in search; albeit we never gave it

You tell us nothing new; you merely give words to our want. What you call an answer, is simply our own question turned the right side up. If this is your philosophy it is surely empty, for it merely echoes the interrogation.”

“ Have a little patience,” returns the moralist, “and I will give you my opinion as to the mode of securing this greatest happiness to the greatest number.”

“There again,” exclaim the objectors, “you mistake our requirement. We want something else than opinions. We have had enough of them. Every futile scheme for the general good has been based on opinion; and we have no guarantee that your plan will not add one to the list of failures. Have you discovered a means of forming an infallible judgment ? If not, you are, for aught we can perceive, as much in the dark as ourselves. True, you have obtained a clearer view of the end to be arrived at; but concerning the route leading to it, your offer of an opinion proves that you know nothing more certain than we do. We demur to your maxim because it is not what we wanted—a guide; because it dictates no sure mode of securing the desideratum; because it puts no veto upon a mistaken policy ; because it permits all actions—bad, as readily as good-provided only the actors believe them conducive to the prescribed end. Your doctrines of expediency' or 'utility' or 'general good' or 'greatest happiness to the greatest number' afford not a solitary command of a practical character. Let but rulers think, or profess to think, that their measures will benefit the community, and your philosophy stands mute in the presence of the most egregious folly, or the blackest mis

THE CLAIM OF PHILOSOPHY.

15

conduct. This will not do for us. We seek a system that can return a definite answer when we ask—Is this act good ?' and not like yours, reply— Yes, if it will benefit you. If you can show us such an one—if you can give us an axiom from which we may develop successive propositions until we have with mathematical certainly solved all our difficulties—we will thank you. If not, we must go elsewhere.”

In his defence, our philosopher submits that such expectations are unreasonable. He doubts the possibility of a strictly scientific morality. Moreover he maintains that his system is sufficient for all practical purposes. He has definitely pointed out the goal to be attained. has surveyed the tract lying between us and it. lieves he has discovered the best route. And finally he has volunteered as pioneer. Having done this be claims to have performed all that can be expected of him, and deprecates the opposition of these critics as factious, and their objections as frivolous. Let us examine this position somewhat more closely.

§ 2. Assuming it to be in other respects satisfactory, a rule, principle, or axiom, is valuable only in so far as the words in which it is expressed have a definite meaning. The terms used must be universally accepted in the same sense, otherwise the proposition will be liable to such various constructions, as to lose all claim to the title-a rule. We must therefore take it for granted that when he announced "the greatest happiness to the greatest number” as the canon of social morality, its originator supposed mankind to be unanimous in their definition of "greatest happiness."

This was a most unfortunate assumption, for no fact is more palpable than that the standard of happiness is infinitely variable. In all ages-amongst every people—by each class—do we find different notions of it entertained. To the wandering gipsy a home is tiresome; whilst a Swiss is miserable without one. Progress is necessary to the well-being of the Anglo-Saxons; on the other hand the Esquimaux are content in their squalid poverty, have no latent wants, and are still what they were in the days of Tacitus. An Irishman delights in a row; a Chinese in pageantry and ceremonies; and the usually apathetic Javan gets vociferously enthusiastic over a cock-fight. The heaven of the Hebrew is “a city of gold and precious stones, with a supernatural abundance of corn and wine;" that of the Turk—a harem peopled by houris; that of the American Indian—a “happy hunting ground;" in the Norse paradise there were to be daily battles with magical healing of wounds; whilst the Australian hopes that after death he shall "jump up a white fellow, and have plenty of sixpences." Descending to individual instances, we find Louis XVI. interpreting “greatest happiness" to mean-making locks; instead of which his successor read -making empires. It was seemingly the opinion of Lycurgus that perfect physical development was the chief essential to human felicity; Plotinus, on the contrary, was so purely ideal in his aspirations as to be ashamed of his body. Indeed the many contradictory answers given by Grecian thinkers to the question, What constitutes happiness ? have given occasion to comparisons that have now become trite. Nor has greater unanimity been shown amongst ourselves. To a miserly Elwes the hoarding of money was the only enjoyment of life; but Day, the philanthropic author of “Sandford and Merton,” could find no pleausurable employment save in its distribution. Rural quietude, books, and a friend, are the wants of the poet; a turf-hunter iongs rather for a large circle of titled acquaintance, a box at the Opera, and the freedom of Almack's. The ambitions of the tradesman

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