1 November 1993 2 3 4 ON LIBERTY 5 6 ......John Stuart Mill 7 8 ================================= 9 10 CHAPTER I 11 INTRODUCTORY 12 13 THE subject of this Essay is not the so-called Liberty 14 of the Will, so unfortunately opposed to the mis- 15 named doctrine of Philosophical Necessity; but Civil, 16 or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which 17 can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual. 18 A question seldom stated, and hardly ever discussed, in gen- 19 eral terms, but which profoundly influences the practical 20 controversies of the age by its latent presence, and is likely 21 soon to make itself recognized as the vital question of the 22 future. It is so far from being new, that, in a certain sense, 23 it has divided mankind, almost from the remotest ages, but 24 in the stage of progress into which the more civilized por- 25 tions of the species have now entered, it presents itself 26 under new conditions, and requires a different and more fun- 27 damental treatment. 28 29 The struggle between Liberty and Authority is the most 30 conspicuous feature in the portions of history with which 31 we are earliest familiar, particularly in that of Greece, Rome, 32 and England. But in old times this contest was between 33 subjects, or some classes of subjects, and the government. 34 By liberty, was meant protection against the tyranny of the 35 political rulers. The rulers were conceived (except in some 36 of the popular governments of Greece) as in a necessarily 37 antagonistic position to the people whom they ruled. They 38 consisted of a governing One, or a governing tribe or caste, 39 who derived their authority from inheritance or conquest; 40 who, at all events, did not hold it at the pleasure of the gov- 41 erned, and whose supremacy men did not venture, perhaps 42 did not desire, to contest, whatever precautions might be 43 taken against its oppressive exercise. Their power was re- 44 garded as necessary, but also as highly dangerous; as a 45 weapon which they would attempt to use against their sub- 46 jects, no less than against external enemies. To prevent 47 the weaker members of the community from being preyed 48 upon by innumerable vultures, it was needful that there 49 should be an animal of prey stronger than the rest, commis- 50 sioned to keep them down. But as the king of the vultures 51 would be no less bent upon preying upon the flock than any 52 of the minor harpies, it was indispensable to be in a per- 53 petual attitude of defence against his beak and claws. The 54 aim, therefore, of patriots, was to set limits to the power 55 which the ruler should be suffered to exercise over the 56 community; and this limitation was what they meant by 57 liberty. It was attempted in two ways. First, by obtaining 58 a recognition of certain immunities, called political liberties 59 or rights, which it was to be regarded as a breach of duty 60 in the ruler to infringe, and which, if he did infringe, specific 61 resistance, or general rebellion, was held to be justifiable. A 62 second, and generally a later expedient, was the establish- 63 ment of constitutional checks; by which the consent of the 64 community, or of a body of some sort supposed to represent 65 its interests, was made a necessary condition to some of the 66 more important acts of the governing power. To the first 67 of these modes of limitation, the ruling power, in most 68 European countries, was compelled, more or less, to submit. 69 It was not so with the second; and to attain this, or when 70 already in some degree possessed, to attain it more com- 71 pletely, became everywhere the principal object of the lovers 72 of liberty. And so long as mankind were content to combat 73 one enemy by another, and to be ruled by a master, on con- 74 dition of being guaranteed more or less efficaciously against 75 his tyranny, they did not carry their aspirations beyond this 76 point. 77 78 A time, however, came in the progress of human affairs, 79 when men ceased to think it a necessity of nature that their 80 governors should be an independent power, opposed in in- 81 terest to themselves. It appeared to them much better that 82 the various magistrates of the State should be their tenants 83 or delegates, revocable at their pleasure. In that way alone, 84 it seemed, could they have complete security that the powers 85 of government would never be abused to their disadvan- 86 tage. By degrees, this new demand for elective and tem- 87 porary rulers became the prominent object of the exertions 88 of the popular party, wherever any such party existed; and 89 superseded, to a considerable extent, the previous efforts to 90 limit the power of rulers. As the struggle proceeded for 91 making the ruling power emanate from the periodical choice 92 of the ruled, some persons began to think that too much im- 93 portance had been attached to the limitation of the power 94 itself. That (it might seem) was a resource against rulers 95 whose interests were habitually opposed to those of the peo- 96 ple. What was now wanted was, that the rulers should be 97 identified with the people; that their interest and will should 98 be the interest and will of the nation. The nation did not 99 need to be protected against its own will. There was no 100 fear of its tyrannizing over itself. Let the rulers be ef- 101 fectually responsible to it, promptly removable by it, and it 102 could afford to trust them with power of which it could itself 103 dictate the use to be made. Their power was but the nation's 104 own power, concentrated, and in a form convenient for ex- 105 ercise. This mode of thought, or rather perhaps of feeling, 106 was common among the last generation of European liberal- 107 ism, in the Continental section of which, it still apparently 108 predominates. Those who admit any limit to what a gov- 109 ernment may do, except in the case of such governments 110 as they think ought not to exist, stand out as brilliant ex- 111 ceptions among the political thinkers of the Continent. A 112 similar tone of sentiment might by this time have been 113 prevalent in our own country, if the circumstances which 114 for a time encouraged it had continued unaltered. 115 116 But, in political and philosophical theories, as well as in 117 persons, success discloses faults and infirmities which failure 118 might have concealed from observation. The notion, that 119 the people have no need to limit their power over themselves, 120 might seem axiomatic, when popular government was a thing 121 only dreamed about, or read of as having existed at some 122 distant period of the past. Neither was that notion neces- 123 sarily disturbed by such temporary aberrations as those of 124 the French Revolution, the worst of which were the work 125 of an usurping few, and which, in any case, belonged, not 126 to the permanent working of popular institutions, but to a 127 sudden and convulsive outbreak against monarchical and 128 aristocratic despotism. In time, however, a democratic 129 republic came to occupy a large portion of the earth's sur- 130 face, and made itself felt as one of the most powerful mem- 131 bers of the community of nations; and elective and respon- 132 sible government became subject to the observations and 133 criticisms which wait upon a great existing fact. It was 134 now perceived that such phrases as "self-government," and 135 "the power of the people over themselves," do not express 136 the true state of the case. The "people" who exercise the 137 power, are not always the same people with those over whom 138 it is exercised, and the "self-government" spoken of, is not 139 the government of each by himself, but of each by all the 140 rest. The will of the people, moreover, practically means, 141 the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the 142 people; the majority, or those who succeed in making them- 143 selves accepted as the majority; the people, consequently, 144 may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precau- 145 tions are as much needed against this, as against any other 146 abuse of power. The limitation, therefore, of the power of 147 government over individuals, loses none of its importance 148 when the holders of power are regularly accountable to the 149 community, that is, to the strongest party therein. This view 150 of things, recommending itself equally to the intelligence 151 of thinkers and to the inclination of those important classes 152 in European society to whose real or supposed interests de- 153 mocracy is adverse, has had no difficulty in establishing itself; 154 and in political speculations "the tyranny of the majority" 155 is now generally included among the evils against which 156 society requires to be on its guard. 157 158 Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at 159 first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operat- 160 ing through the acts of the public authorities. But reflect- 161 ing persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant 162 --society collectively, over the separate individuals who 163 compose it--its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the 164 acts which it may do by the hands of its political function- 165 aries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and 166 if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any man- 167 dates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it 168 practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds 169 of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by 170 such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, pen- 171 etrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslav- 172 ing the soul itself. Protection, therefore, against the tyranny 173 of the magistrate is not enough; there needs protection also 174 against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; 175 against the tendency of society to impose, by other means 176 than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of 177 conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the de- 178 velopment, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any in- 179 dividuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all 180 characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its 181 own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of col- 182 lective opinion with individual independence; and to find 183 that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as in- 184 dispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protec- 185 tion against political despotism. 186 187 But though this proposition is not likely to be contested 188 in general terms, the practical question, where to place the 189 limit--how to make the fitting adjustment between individ- 190 ual independence and social control--is a subject on which 191 nearly everything remains to be done. All that makes exist- 192 ence valuable to any one, depends on the enforcement of 193 restraints upon the actions of other people. Some rules of 194 conduct, therefore, must be imposed, by law in the first 195 place, and by opinion on many things which are not fit sub- 196 jects for the operation of law. What these rules should be, 197 is the principal question in human affairs; but if we except 198 a few of the most obvious cases, it is one of those which 199 least progress has been made in resolving. No two ages, 200 and scarcely any two countries, have decided it alike; and 201 the decision of one age or country is a wonder to another. 202 Yet the people of any given age and country no more sus- 203 pect any difficulty in it, than if it were a subject on which 204 mankind had always been agreed. The rules which obtain 205 among themselves appear to them self-evident and self- 206 justifying. This all but universal illusion is one of the 207 examples of the magical influence of custom, which is not only, 208 as the proverb says a second nature, but is continually mis- 209 taken for the first. The effect of custom, in preventing any 210 misgiving respecting the rules of conduct which mankind 211 impose on one another, is all the more complete because the 212 subJect is one on which it is not generally considered neces- 213 sary that reasons should be given, either by one person to 214 others, or by each to himself. People are accustomed to believe 215 and have been encouraged in the belief by some who aspire 216 to the character of philosophers, that their feelings, on sub- 217 jects of this nature, are better than reasons, and render 218 reasons unnecessary. The practical principle which guides 219 them to their opinions on the regulation of human conduct, 220 is the feeling in each person's mind that everybody should 221 be required to act as he, and those with whom he sympathizes, 222 would like them to act. No one, indeed, acknowledges to 223 himself that his standard of judgment is his own liking; but 224 an opinion on a point of conduct, not supported by reasons, 225 can only count as one person's preference; and if the reasons, 226 when given, are a mere appeal to a similar preference felt 227 by other people, it is still only many people's liking instead 228 of one. To an ordinary man, however, his own preference, 229 thus supported, is not only a perfectly satisfactory reason, 230 but the only one he generally has for any of his notions of 231 morality, taste, or propriety, which are not expressly written 232 in his religious creed; and his chief guide in the inter- 233 pretation even of that. Men's opinions, accordingly, on what 234 is laudable or blamable, are affected by all the multifari- 235 ous causes which influence their wishes in regard to the 236 conduct of others, and which are as numerous as those 237 which determine their wishes on any other subject. Some- 238 times their reason--at other times their prejudices or super- 239 stitions: often their social affections, not seldom their anti- 240 social ones, their envy or jealousy, their arrogance or con- 241 temptuousness: but most commonly, their desires or fears 242 for themselves--their legitimate or illegitimate self-interest. 243 Wherever there is an ascendant class, a large portion of 244 the morality of the country emanates from its class interests, 245 and its feelings of class superiority. The morality between 246 Spartans and Helots, between planters and negroes, between 247 princes and subjects, between nobles and roturiers, between 248 men and women, has been for the most part the creation of 249 these class interests and feelings: and the sentiments thus 250 generated, react in turn upon the moral feelings of the mem- 251 bers of the ascendant class, in their relations among them- 252 selves. Where, on the other hand, a class, formerly as- 253 cendant, has lost its ascendency, or where its ascendency is 254 unpopular, the prevailing moral sentiments frequently bear 255 the impress of an impatient dislike of superiority. Another 256 grand determining principle of the rules of conduct, both 257 in act and forbearance which have been enforced by law or 258 opinion, has been the servility of mankind towards the sup- 259 posed preferences or aversions of their temporal masters, 260 or of their gods. This servility though essentially selfish, is 261 not hypocrisy; it gives rise to perfectly genuine sentiments 262 of abhorrence; it made men burn magicians and heretics. 263 Among so many baser influences, the general and obvious 264 interests of society have of course had a share, and a large 265 one, in the direction of the moral sentiments: less, however, 266 as a matter of reason, and on their own account, than as a 267 consequence of the sympathies and antipathies which grew 268 out of them: and sympathies and antipathies which had 269 little or nothing to do with the interests of society, have 270 made themselves felt in the establishment of moralities with 271 quite as great force. 272 273 The likings and dislikings of society, or of some powerful 274 portion of it, are thus the main thing which has practically 275 determined the rules laid down for general observance, un- 276 der the penalties of law or opinion. And in general, those 277 who have been in advance of society in thought and feeling, 278 have left this condition of things unassailed in principle, 279 however they may have come into conflict with it in some of 280 its details. They have occupied themselves rather in inquiring 281 what things society ought to like or dislike, than in question- 282 ing whether its likings or dislikings should be a law to in- 283 dividuals. They preferred endeavouring to alter the feelings 284 of mankind on the particular points on which they were 285 themselves heretical, rather than make common cause in 286 defence of freedom, with heretics generally. The only case 287 in which the higher ground has been taken on principle and 288 maintained with consistency, by any but an individual here 289 and there, is that of religious belief: a case instructive in 290 many ways, and not least so as forming a most striking in- 291 stance of the fallibility of what is called the moral sense: 292 for the odium theologicum, in a sincere bigot, is one of the 293 most unequivocal cases of moral feeling. Those who first 294 broke the yoke of what called itself the Universal Church, 295 were in general as little willing to permit difference of relig- 296 ious opinion as that church itself. But when the heat of 297 the conflict was over, without giving a complete victory to 298 any party, and each church or sect was reduced to limit its 299 hopes to retaining possession of the ground it already oc- 300 cupied; minorities, seeing that they had no chance of be- 301 coming majorities, were under the necessity of pleading to 302 those whom they could not convert, for permission to 303 differ. It is accordingly on this battle-field, almost solely, 304 that the rights of the individual against society have been as- 305 serted on broad grounds of principle, and the claim of 306 society to exercise authority over dissentients openly con- 307 troverted. The great writers to whom the world owes what 308 religious liberty it possesses, have mostly asserted freedom 309 of conscience as an indefeasible right, and denied absolutely 310 that a human being is accountable to others for his relig- 311 ious belief. Yet so natural to mankind is intolerance in what- 312 ever they really care about, that religious freedom has hardly 313 anywhere been practically realized, except where religious 314 indifference, which dislikes to have its peace disturbed by 315 theological quarrels, has added its weight to the scale. 316 In the minds of almost all religious persons, even in the most 317 tolerant countries, the duty of toleration is admitted with 318 tacit reserves. One person will bear with dissent in matters 319 of church government, but not of dogma; another can 320 tolerate everybody, short of a Papist or an Unitarian; an- 321 other, every one who believes in revealed religion; a few 322 extend their charity a little further, but stop at the belief 323 in a God and in a future state. Wherever the sentiment of 324 the majority is still genuine and intense, it is found to have 325 abated little of its claim to be obeyed. 326 327 In England, from the peculiar circumstances of our 328 political history, though the yoke of opinion is perhaps 329 heavier, that of law is lighter, than in most other countries 330 of Europe; and there is considerable jealousy of direct in- 331 terference, by the legislative or the executive power with 332 private conduct; not so much from any just regard for the 333 independence of the individual, as from the still subsisting 334 habit of looking on the government as representing an op- 335 posite interest to the public. The majority have not yet 336 learnt to feel the power of the government their power, or 337 its opinions their opinions. When they do so, individual 338 liberty will probably be as much exposed to invasion from 339 the government, as it already is from public opinion. But, 340 as yet, there is a considerable amount of feeling ready to be 341 called forth against any attempt of the law to control indi- 342 viduals in things in which they have not hitherto been ac- 343 customed to be controlled by it; and this with very little 344 discrimination as to whether the matter is, or is not, within 345 the legitimate sphere of legal control; insomuch that the 346 feeling, highly salutary on the whole, is perhaps quite as 347 often misplaced as well grounded in the particular instances 348 of its application. 349 350 There is, in fact, no recognized principle by which the 351 propriety or impropriety of government interference is cus- 352 tomarily tested. People decide according to their personal 353 preferences. Some, whenever they see any good to be done, 354 or evil to be remedied, would willingly instigate the govern- 355 ment to undertake the business; while others prefer to bear 356 almost any amount of social evil, rather than add one to 357 the departments of human interests amenable to govern- 358 mental control. And men range themselves on one or the 359 other side in any particular case, according to this general 360 direction of their sentiments; or according to the degree 361 of interest which they feel in the particular thing which it is 362 proposed that the government should do; or according to 363 the belief they entertain that the government would, or 364 would not, do it in the manner they prefer; but very rarely 365 on account of any opinion to which they consistently ad- 366 here, as to what things are fit to be done by a government. 367 And it seems to me that, in consequence of this absence of 368 rule or principle, one side is at present as often wrong as 369 the other; the interference of government is, with about 370 equal frequency, improperly invoked and improperly con- 371 demned. 372 373 The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple 374 principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of 375 society with the individual in the way of compulsion and 376 control, whether the means used be physical force in the 377 form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public 378 opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which man- 379 kind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfer- 380 ing with the liberty of action of any of their number, is 381 self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can 382 be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized com- 383 munity, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His 384 own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient war- 385 rant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear 386 because it will be better for him to do so, because it will 387 make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do 388 so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons 389 for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or per- 390 suading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, 391 or visiting him with any evil, in case he do otherwise. To 392 justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter 393 him must be calculated to produce evil to some one else. 394 The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is 395 amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the 396 part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of 397 right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, 398 the individual is sovereign. 399 400 It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to say that this doctrine 401 is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of 402 their faculties. We are not speaking of children, or of 403 young persons below the age which the law may fix as that 404 of manhood or womanhood. Those who are still in a state 405 to require being taken care of by others, must be protected 406 against their own actions as well as against external in- 407 jury. For the same reason, we may leave out of considera- 408 tion those backward states of society in which the race 409 itself may be considered as in its nonage. The early diffi- 410 culties in the way of spontaneous progress are so great, that 411 there is seldom any choice of means for overcoming them; 412 and a ruler full of the spirit of improvement is warranted 413 in the use of any expedients that will attain an end, per- 414 haps otherwise unattainable. Despotism is a legitimate 415 mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided 416 the end be their improvement, and the means justified by 417 actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no 418 application to any state of things anterior to the time when 419 mankind have become capable of being improved by free 420 and equal discussion. Until then, there is nothing for them 421 but implicit obedience to an Akbar or a Charlemagne, if 422 they are so fortunate as to find one. But as soon as man- 423 kind have attained the capacity of being guided to their own 424 improvement by conviction or persuasion (a period long 425 since reached in all nations with whom we need here con- 426 cern ourselves), compulsion, either in the direct form or in 427 that of pains and penalties for non-compliance, is no longer 428 admissible as a means to their own good, and justifiable only 429 for the security of others. 430 431 It is proper to state that I forego any advantage which 432 could be derived to my argument from the idea of abstract 433 right as a thing independent of utility. I regard utility as 434 the ultimate appeal on all ethical questions; but it must be 435 utility in the largest sense, grounded on the permanent 436 interests of man as a progressive being. Those interests, I 437 contend, authorize the subjection of individual spontaneity 438 to external control, only in respect to those actions of each, 439 which concern the interest of other people. If any one 440 does an act hurtful to others, there is a prima facie case for 441 punishing him, by law, or, where legal penalties are not 442 safely applicable, by general disapprobation. There are also 443 many positive acts for the benefit of others, which he may 444 rightfully be compelled to perform; such as, to give evi- 445 dence in a court of justice; to bear his fair share in the 446 common defence, or in any other joint work necessary to 447 the interest of the society of which he enjoys the protection; 448 and to perform certain acts of individual beneficence, such 449 as saving a fellow-creature's life, or interposing to protect 450 the defenceless against ill-usage, things which whenever it 451 is obviously a man's duty to do, he may rightfully be made 452 responsible to society for not doing. A person may cause 453 evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, 454 and in neither case he is justly accountable to them for the 455 injury. The latter case, it is true, requires a much more 456 cautious exercise of compulsion than the former. To make 457 any one answerable for doing evil to others, is the rule; to 458 make him answerable for not preventing evil, is, com- 459 paratively speaking, the exception. Yet there are many 460 cases clear enough and grave enough to justify that ex- 461 ception. In all things which regard the external relations 462 of the individual, he is de jure amenable to those whose 463 interests are concerned, and if need be, to society as their 464 protector. There are often good reasons for not holding 465 him to the responsibility; but these reasons must arise from 466 the special expediencies of the case: either because it is a 467 kind of case in which he is on the whole likely to act better, 468 when left to his own discretion, than when controlled in 469 any way in which society have it in their power to control 470 him; or because the attempt to exercise control would pro- 471 duce other evils, greater than those which it would prevent. 472 When such reasons as these preclude the enforcement of 473 responsibility, the conscience of the agent himself should 474 step into the vacant judgment-seat, and protect those inter- 475 ests of others which have no external protection; judging 476 himself all the more rigidly, because the case does not admit 477 of his being made accountable to the judgment of his fellow- 478 creatures. 479 480 But there is a sphere of action in which society, as dis- 481 tinguished from the individual, has, if any, only an indirect 482 interest; comprehending all that portion of a person's life 483 and conduct which affects only himself, or, if it also affects 484 others, only with their free, voluntary, and undeceived con- 485 sent and participation. When I say only himself, I mean 486 directly, and in the first instance: for whatever affects him- 487 self, may affect others through himself; and the objection 488 which may be grounded on this contingency, will receive 489 consideration in the sequel. This, then, is the appropriate 490 region of human liberty. It comprises, first, the inward do- 491 main of consciousness; demanding liberty of conscience, in 492 the most comprehensive sense; liberty of thought and feel- 493 ing; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all 494 subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theo- 495 logical. The liberty of expressing and publishing opinions 496 may seem to fall under a different principle, since it belongs 497 to that part of the conduct of an individual which concerns 498 other people; but, being almost of as much importance as 499 the liberty of thought itself, and resting in great part on the 500 same reasons, is practically inseparable from it. Secondly, 501 the principle requires liberty of tastes and pursuits; of 502 framing the plan of our life to suit our own character; of 503 doing as we like, subject to such consequences as may fol- 504 low; without impediment from our fellow-creatures, so long 505 as what we do does not harm them even though they should 506 think our conduct foolish, perverse, or wrong. Thirdly, 507 from this liberty of each individual, follows the liberty, 508 within the same limits, of combination among individuals; 509 freedom to unite, for any purpose not involving harm to 510 others: the persons combining being supposed to be of full 511 age, and not forced or deceived. 512 513 No society in which these liberties are not, on the whole, 514 respected, is free, whatever may be its form of government; 515 and none is completely free in which they do not exist abso- 516 lute and unqualified. The only freedom which deserves the 517 name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so 518 long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or 519 impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guard- 520 ian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spirit- 521 ual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other 522 to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each 523 to live as seems good to the rest. 524 525 Though this doctrine is anything but new, and, to some 526 persons, may have the air of a truism, there is no doctrine 527 which stands more directly opposed to the general tendency 528 of existing opinion and practice. Society has expended 529 fully as much effort in the attempt (according to its lights) 530 to compel people to conform to its notions of personal, as 531 of social excellence. The ancient commonwealths thought 532 themselves entitled to practise, and the ancient philosophers 533 countenanced, the regulation of every part of private con- 534 duct by public authority, on the ground that the State had 535 a deep interest in the whole bodily and mental discipline of 536 every one of its citizens, a mode of thinking which may 537 have been admissible in small republics surrounded by pow- 538 erful enemies, in constant peril of being subverted by 539 foreign attack or internal commotion, and to which even a 540 short interval of relaxed energy and self-command might so 541 easily be fatal, that they could not afford to wait for the salu- 542 tary permanent effects of freedom. In the modern world, the 543 greater size of political communities, and above all, the 544 separation between the spiritual and temporal authority 545 (which placed the direction of men's consciences in other 546 hands than those which controlled their worldly affairs), 547 prevented so great an interference by law in the details of 548 private life; but the engines of moral repression have been 549 wielded more strenuously against divergence from the 550 reigning opinion in self-regarding, than even in social mat- 551 ters; religion, the most powerful of the elements which have 552 entered into the formation of moral feeling, having almost 553 always been governed either by the ambition of a hierarchy, 554 seeking control over every department of human conduct, 555 or by the spirit of Puritanism. And some of those modern 556 reformers who have placed themselves in strongest opposi- 557 tion to the religions of the past, have been noway behind 558 either churches or sects in their assertion of the right of 559 spiritual domination: M. Comte, in particular, whose social 560 system, as unfolded in his Traite de Politique Positive, aims 561 at establishing (though by moral more than by legal appli- 562 ances) a despotism of society over the individual, surpassing 563 anything contemplated in the political ideal of the most 564 rigid disciplinarian among the ancient philosophers. 565 566 Apart from the peculiar tenets of individual thinkers, 567 there is also in the world at large an increasing inclination 568 to stretch unduly the powers of society over the individual, 569 both by the force of opinion and even by that of legislation: 570 and as the tendency of all the changes taking place in the 571 world is to strengthen society, and diminish the power of 572 the individual, this encroachment is not one of the evils 573 which tend spontaneously to disappear, but, on the contrary, 574 to grow more and more formidable. The disposition of 575 mankind, whether as rulers or as fellow-citizens, to impose 576 their own opinions and inclinations as a rule of conduct on 577 others, is so energetically supported by some of the best and 578 by some of the worst feelings incident to human nature, that 579 it is hardly ever kept under restraint by anything but want of 580 power; and as the power is not declining, but growing, un- 581 less a strong barrier of moral conviction can be raised 582 against the mischief, we must expect, in the present circum- 583 stances of the world, to see it increase. 584 585 It will be convenient for the argument, if, instead of at 586 once entering upon the general thesis, we confine ourselves 587 in the first instance to a single branch of it, on which the 588 principle here stated is, if not fully, yet to a certain point, 589 recognized by the current opinions. This one branch is the 590 Liberty of Thought: from which it is impossible to separate 591 the cognate liberty of speaking and of writing. Although 592 these liberties, to some considerable amount, form part of 593 the political morality of all countries which profess re- 594 ligious toleration and free institutions, the grounds, both 595 philosophical and practical, on which they rest, are perhaps 596 not so familiar to the general mind, nor so thoroughly ap- 597 preciated by many even of the leaders of opinion, as might 598 have been expected. Those grounds, when rightly under- 599 stood, are of much wider application than to only one 600 division of the subject, and a thorough consideration of this 601 part of the question will be found the best introduction to 602 the remainder. Those to whom nothing which I am about 603 to say will be new, may therefore, I hope, excuse me, if on 604 a subject which for now three centuries has been so often 605 discussed, I venture on one discussion more. 606 607 608 CHAPTER II 609 OF THE LIBERTY OF THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION 610 611 THE time, it is to be hoped, is gone by when any 612 defence would be necessary of the "liberty of the 613 press" as one of the securities against corrupt or 614 tyrannical government. No argument, we may suppose, can 615 now be needed, against permitting a legislature or an ex- 616 ecutive, not identified in interest with the people, to pre- 617 scribe opinions to them, and determine what doctrines or 618 what arguments they shall be allowed to hear. This aspect 619 of the question, besides, has been so often and so trium- 620 phantly enforced by preceding writers, that it needs not be 621 specially insisted on in this place. Though the law of Eng- 622 land, on the subject of the press, is as servile to this day 623 as it was in the time of the Tudors, there is little danger of 624 its being actually put in force against political discussion, 625 except during some temporary panic, when fear of insurrec- 626 tion drives ministers and judges from their propriety;[1] 627 and, speaking generally, it is not, in constitutional countries, 628 to be apprehended that the government, whether completely 629 responsible to the people or not, will often attempt to con- 630 trol the expression of opinion, except when in doing so it 631 makes itself the organ of the general intolerance of the 632 public. Let us suppose, therefore, that the government is 633 entirely at one with the people, and never thinks of exert- 634 ing any power of coercion unless in agreement with what it 635 conceives to be their voice. But I deny the right of the 636 people to exercise such coercion, either by themselves or 637 by their government. The power itself is illegitimate. The 638 best government has no more title to it than the worst. It 639 is as noxious, or more noxious, when exerted in accordance 640 with public opinion, than when in opposition to it. If all 641 mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one per- 642 son were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no 643 more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he 644 had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. 645 Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except 646 to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it 647 were simply a private injury, it would make some difference 648 whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons 649 or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expres- 650 sion of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; 651 posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dis- 652 sent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. 653 If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity 654 of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what 655 is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier 656 impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. 657 658 It is necessary to consider separately these two hypotheses, 659 each of which has a distinct branch of the argument cor- 660 responding to it. We can never be sure that the opinion we 661 are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were 662 sure, stifling it would be an evil still. 663 664 First: the opinion which it is attempted to suppress by 665 authority may possibly be true. Those who desire to sup- 666 press it, of course deny its truth; but they are not infallible. 667 They have no authority to decide the question for all man- 668 kind, and exclude every other person from the means of 669 judging. To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they 670 are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty 671 is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of 672 discussion is an assumption of infallibility. Its condemnation 673 may be allowed to rest on this common argument, not the 674 worse for being common. 675 676 Unfortunately for the good sense of mankind, the fact 677 of their fallibility is far from carrying the weight in their 678 practical judgment, which is always allowed to it in theory; 679 for while every one well knows himself to be fallible, few 680 think it necessary to take any precautions against their own 681 fallibility, or admit the supposition that any opinion of 682 which they feel very certain, may be one of the examples of 683 the error to which they acknowledge themselves to be liable. 684 Absolute princes, or others who are accustomed to unlimited 685 deference, usually feel this complete confidence in their own 686 opinions on nearly all subjects. People more happily situ- 687 ated, who sometimes hear their opinions disputed, and are 688 not wholly unused to be set right when they are wrong, 689 place the same unbounded reliance only on such of their 690 opinions as are shared by all who surround them, or to 691 whom they habitually defer: for in proportion to a man's 692 want of confidence in his own solitary judgment, does he 693 usually repose, with implicit trust, on the infallibility of 694 "the world" in general. And the world, to each individual, 695 means the part of it with which he comes in contact; his 696 party, his sect, his church, his class of society: the man 697 may be called, by comparison, almost liberal and large- 698 minded to whom it means anything so comprehensive as his 699 own country or his own age. Nor is his faith in this col- 700 lective authority at all shaken by his being aware that other 701 ages, countries, sects, churches, classes, and parties have 702 thought, and even now think, the exact reverse. He de- 703 volves upon his own world the responsibility of being in the 704 right against the dissentient worlds of other people; and it 705 never troubles him that mere accident has decided which 706 of these numerous worlds is the object of his reliance, and 707 that the same causes which make him a Churchman in Lon- 708 don, would have made him a Buddhist or a Confucian in 709 Pekin. Yet it is as evident in itself as any amount of argu- 710 ment can make it, that ages are no more infallible than in- 711 dividuals; every age having held many opinions which subse- 712 quent ages have deemed not only false but absurd; and it is 713 as certain that many opinions, now general, will be rejected 714 by future ages, as it is that many, once general, are rejected 715 by the present. 716 717 The objection likely to be made to this argument, would 718 probably take some such form as the following. There is 719 no greater assumption of infallibility in forbidding the 720 propagation of error, than in any other thing which is 721 done by public authority on its own judgment and responsi- 722 bility. Judgment is given to men that they may use it. Be- 723 cause it may be used erroneously, are men to be told that 724 they ought not to use it at all? To prohibit what they think 725 pernicious, is not claiming exemption from error, but ful- 726 filling the duty incumbent on them, although fallible, of act- 727 ing on their conscientious conviction. If we were never 728 to act on our opinions, because those opinions may be wrong, 729 we should leave all our interests uncared for, and all our 730 duties unperformed. An objection which applies to all 731 conduct can be no valid objection to any conduct in par- 732 ticular. 733 734 It is the duty of governments, and of individuals, to 735 form the truest opinions they can; to form them care- 736 fully, and never impose them upon others unless they are 737 quite sure of being right. But when they are sure (such 738 reasoners may say), it is not conscientiousness but cowardice 739 to shrink from acting on their opinions, and allow doctrines 740 which they honestly think dangerous to the welfare of man- 741 kind, either in this life or in another, to be scattered abroad 742 without restraint, because other people, in less enlightened 743 times, have persecuted opinions now believed to be true. 744 Let us take care, it may be said, not to make the same mis- 745 take: but governments and nations have made mistakes in 746 other things, which are not denied to be fit subjects for the 747 exercise of authority: they have laid on bad taxes, made 748 unjust wars. Ought we therefore to lay on no taxes, and, 749 under whatever provocation, make no wars? Men, and 750 governments, must act to the best of their ability. There 751 is no such thing as absolute certainty, but there is assurance 752 sufficient for the purposes of human life. We may, and 753 must, assume our opinion to be true for the guidance of our 754 own conduct: and it is assuming no more when we forbid 755 bad men to pervert society by the propagation of opinions 756 which we regard as false and pernicious. 757 758 I answer, that it is assuming very much more. There is 759 the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be 760 true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it 761 has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose 762 of not permitting its refutation. Complete liberty of con- 763 tradicting and disproving our opinion, is the very condition 764 which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of 765 action; and on no other terms can a being with human 766 faculties have any rational assurance of being right. 767 768 When we consider either the history of opinion, or the 769 ordinary conduct of human life, to what is it to be ascribed 770 that the one and the other are no worse than they are? Not 771 certainly to the inherent force of the human understanding; 772 for, on any matter not self-evident, there are ninety-nine per- 773 sons totally incapable of judging of it, for one who is capable; 774 and the capacity of the hundredth person is only compara- 775 tive; for the majority of the eminent men of every past 776 generation held many opinions now known to be erroneous, 777 and did or approved numerous things which no one will now 778 justify. Why is it, then, that there is on the whole a pre- 779 ponderance among mankind of rational opinions and rational 780 conduct? If there really is this preponderance--which there 781 must be, unless human affairs are, and have always been, 782 in an almost desperate state--it is owing to a quality of the 783 human mind, the source of everything respectable in man, 784 either as an intellectual or as a moral being, namely, that 785 his errors are corrigible. He is capable of rectifying his 786 mistakes by discussion and experience. Not by experience 787 alone. There must be discussion, to show how experience is 788 to be interpreted. Wrong opinions and practices gradually 789 yield to fact and argument: but facts and arguments, to pro- 790 duce any effect on the mind, must be brought before it. 791 Very few facts are able to tell their own story, without 792 comments to bring out their meaning. The whole strength 793 and value, then, of human judgment, depending on the one 794 property, that it can be set right when it is wrong, reliance 795 can be placed on it only when the means of setting it right 796 are kept constantly at hand. In the case of any person 797 whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has 798 it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criti- 799 cism of his opinions and conduct. Because it has been his 800 practice to listen to all that could be said against him; to 801 profit by as much of it as was just, and expound to himself, 802 and upon occasion to others, the fallacy of what was falla- 803 cious. Because he has felt, that the only way in which a 804 human being can make some approach to knowing the whole 805 of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by per- 806 sons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in 807 which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No 808 wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; 809 nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in 810 any other manner. The steady habit of correcting and 811 completing his own opinion by collating it with those of 812 others, so far from causing doubt and hesitation in carrying 813 it into practice, is the only stable foundation for a just 814 reliance on it: for, being cognizant of all that can, at least 815 obviously, be said against him, and having taken up his 816 position against all gainsayers knowing that he has sought 817 for objections and difficulties, instead of avoiding them, 818 and has shut out no light which can be thrown upon the 819 subject from any quarter--he has a right to think his judg- 820 ment better than that of any person, or any multitude, who 821 have not gone through a similar process. 822 823 It is not too much to require that what the wisest of 824 mankind, those who are best entitled to trust their own judg- 825 ment, find necessary to warrant their relying on it, should 826 be submitted to by that miscellaneous collection of a few 827 wise and many foolish individuals, called the public. The 828 most intolerant of churches, the Roman Catholic Church, 829 even at the canonization of a saint, admits, and listens 830 patiently to, a "devil's advocate." The holiest of men, it 831 appears, cannot be admitted to posthumous honors, until all 832 that the devil could say against him is known and weighed. 833 If even the Newtonian philosophy were not permitted to be 834 questioned, mankind could not feel as complete assurance 835 of its truth as they now do. The beliefs which we have 836 most warrant for, have no safeguard to rest on, but a stand- 837 ing invitation to the whole world to prove them unfounded. 838 If the challenge is not accepted, or is accepted and the at- 839 tempt fails, we are far enough from certainty still; but we 840 have done the best that the existing state of human reason 841 admits of; we have neglected nothing that could give the 842 truth a chance of reaching us: if the lists are kept open, we 843 may hope that if there be a better truth, it will be found 844 when the human mind is capable of receiving it; and in 845 the meantime we may rely on having attained such approach 846 to truth, as is possible in our own day. This is the amount 847 of certainty attainable by a fallible being, and this the 848 sole way of attaining it. 849 850 Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the 851 arguments for free discussion, but object to their being 852 "pushed to an extreme;" not seeing that unless the rea- 853 sons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for 854 any case. Strange that they should imagine that they are 855 not assuming infallibility when they acknowledge that there 856 should be free discussion on all subjects which can possibly 857 be doubtful, but think that some particular principle or doc- 858 trine should be forbidden to be questioned because it is 859 so certain, that is, because they are certain that it is certain. 860 To call any proposition certain, while there is any one who 861 would deny its certainty if permitted, but who is not per- 862 mitted, is to assume that we ourselves, and those who agree 863 with us, are the judges of certainty, and judges without 864 hearing the other side. 865 866 In the present age--which has been described as "destitute 867 of faith, but terrified at scepticism,"--in which people feel 868 sure, not so much that their opinions are true, as that they 869 should not know what to do without them--the claims of an 870 opinion to be protected from public attack are rested not 871 so much on its truth, as on its importance to society. There 872 are, it is alleged, certain beliefs, so useful, not to say indis- 873 pensable to well-being, that it is as much the duty of govern- 874 ments to uphold those beliefs, as to protect any other of the 875 interests of society. In a case of such necessity, and so 876 directly in the line of their duty, something less than in- 877 fallibility may, it is maintained, warrant, and even bind, 878 governments, to act on their own opinion, confirmed by the 879 general opinion of mankind. It is also often argued, and 880 still oftener thought, that none but bad men would desire 881 to weaken these salutary beliefs; and there can be nothing 882 wrong, it is thought, in restraining bad men, and prohibiting 883 what only such men would wish to practise. This mode of 884 thinking makes the justification of restraints on discussion 885 not a question of the truth of doctrines, but of their 886 usefulness; and flatters itself by that means to escape the 887 responsibility of claiming to be an infallible judge of opin- 888 ions. But those who thus satisfy themselves, do not perceive 889 that the assumption of infallibility is merely shifted from 890 one point to another. The usefulness of an opinion is 891 itself matter of opinion: as disputable, as open to dis- 892 cussion and requiring discussion as much, as the opinion 893 itself. There is the same need of an infallible judge of 894 opinions to decide an opinion to be noxious, as to decide it 895 to be false, unless the opinion condemned has full oppor- 896 tunity of defending itself. And it will not do to say that the 897 heretic may be allowed to maintain the utility or harmless- 898 ness of his opinion, though forbidden to maintain its truth. 899 The truth of an opinion is part of its utility. If we would 900 know whether or not it is desirable that a proposition should 901 be believed, is it possible to exclude the consideration of 902 whether or not it is true? In the opinion, not of bad men, 903 but of the best men, no belief which is contrary to truth can 904 be really useful: and can you prevent such men from urging 905 that plea, when they are charged with culpability for denying 906 some doctrine which they are told is useful, but which they 907 believe to be false? Those who are on the side of received 908 opinions, never fail to take all possible advantage of this 909 plea; you do not find them handling the question of utility 910 as if it could be completely abstracted from that of truth: 911 on the contrary, it is, above all, because their doctrine is 912 "the truth," that the knowledge or the belief of it is held 913 to be so indispensable. There can be no fair discussion 914 of the question of usefulness, when an argument so vital 915 may be employed on one side, but not on the other. And 916 in point of fact, when law or public feeling do not permit 917 the truth of an opinion to be disputed, they are just as little 918 tolerant of a denial of its usefulness. The utmost they 919 allow is an extenuation of its absolute necessity or of the 920 positive guilt of rejecting it. 921 922 In order more fully to illustrate the mischief of denying 923 a hearing to opinions because we, in our own judgment, 924 have condemned them, it will be desirable to fix down the 925 discussion to a concrete case; and I choose, by preference, 926 the cases which are least favourable to me--in which the 927 argument against freedom of opinion, both on the score of 928 truth and on that of utility, is considered the strongest. Let 929 the opinions impugned be the belief in a God and in a future 930 state, or any of the commonly received doctrines of morality. 931 To fight the battle on such ground, gives a great advantage 932 to an unfair antagonist; since he will be sure to say (and 933 many who have no desire to be unfair will say it internally), 934 Are these the doctrines which you do not deem sufficiently 935 certain to be taken under the protection of law? Is the 936 belief in a God one of the opinions, to feel sure of which, 937 you hold to be assuming infallibility? But I must be per- 938 mitted to observe, that it is not the feeling sure of a doctrine 939 (be it what it may) which I call an assumption of infalli- 940 bility. It is the undertaking to decide that question for 941 others, without allowing them to hear what can be said on 942 the contrary side. And I denounce and reprobate this pre- 943 tension not the less, if put forth on the side of my most 944 solemn convictions. However positive any one's persuasion 945 may be, not only of the falsity, but of the pernicious conse- 946 quences--not only of the pernicious consequences, but (to 947 adopt expressions which I altogether condemn) the im- 948 morality and impiety of an opinion; yet if, in pursuance of 949 that private judgment, though backed by the public judg- 950 ment of his country or his cotemporaries, he prevents the 951 opinion from being heard in its defence, he assumes infalli- 952 bility. And so far from the assumption being less objec- 953 tionable or less dangerous because the opinion is called 954 immoral or impious, this is the case of all others in which 955 it is most fatal. These are exactly the occasions on which 956 the men of one generation commit those dreadful mistakes 957 which excite the astonishment and horror of posterity. It 958 is among such that we find the instances memorable in his- 959 tory, when the arm of the law has been employed to root 960 out the best men and the noblest doctrines; with deplorable 961 success as to the men, though some of the doctrines have 962 survived to be (as if in mockery) invoked, in defence of 963 similar conduct towards those who dissent from them, or 964 from their received interpretation. 965 966 Mankind can hardly be too often reminded, that there was 967 once a man named Socrates, between whom and the legal 968 authorities and public opinion of his time, there took place 969 a memorable collision. Born in an age and country abound- 970 ing in individual greatness, this man has been handed down 971 to us by those who best knew both him and the age, as the 972 most virtuous man in it; while we know him as the head 973 and prototype of all subsequent teachers of virtue, the 974 source equally of the lofty inspiration of Plato and the 975 judicious utilitarianism of Aristotle, "i maestri di color che 976 sanno," the two headsprings of ethical as of all other philos- 977 ophy. This acknowledged master of all the eminent thinkers 978 who have since lived--whose fame, still growing after 979 more than two thousand years, all but outweighs the whole 980 remainder of the names which make his native city illustrious 981 --was put to death by his countrymen, after a judicial con- 982 viction, for impiety and immorality. Impiety, in denying 983 the gods recognized by the State; indeed his accuser asserted 984 (see the "Apologia") that he believed in no gods at all. 985 Immorality, in being, by his doctrines and instructions, a 986 "corrupter of youth." Of these charges the tribunal, there 987 is every ground for believing, honestly found him guilty, 988 and condemned the man who probably of all then born had 989 deserved best of mankind, to be put to death as a criminal. 990 991 To pass from this to the only other instance of judicial 992 iniquity, the mention of which, after the condemnation of 993 Socrates, would not be an anti-climax: the event which took 994 place on Calvary rather more than eighteen hundred years 995 ago. The man who left on the memory of those who wit- 996 nessed his life and conversation, such an impression of his 997 moral grandeur, that eighteen subsequent centuries have 998 done homage to him as the Almighty in person, was igno- 999 miniously put to death, as what? As a blasphemer. Men 1000 did not merely mistake their benefactor; they mistook him 1001 for the exact contrary of what he was, and treated him as 1002 that prodigy of impiety, which they themselves are now held 1003 to be, for their treatment of him. The feelings with which 1004 mankind now regard these lamentable transactions, especially 1005 the latter of the two, render them extremely unjust in their 1006 judgment of the unhappy actors. These were, to all ap- 1007 pearance, not bad men--not worse than men most commonly 1008 are, but rather the contrary; men who possessed in a full, or 1009 somewhat more than a full measure, the religious, moral, 1010 and patriotic feelings of their time and people: the very 1011 kind of men who, in all times, our own included, have every 1012 chance of passing through life blameless and respected. 1013 The high-priest who rent his garments when the words were 1014 pronounced, which, according to all the ideas of his country, 1015 constituted the blackest guilt, was in all probability quite as 1016 sincere in his horror and indignation, as the generality of 1017 respectable and pious men now are in the religious and moral 1018 sentiments they profess; and most of those who now shudder 1019 at his conduct, if they had lived in his time and been born 1020 Jews, would have acted precisely as he did. Orthodox 1021 Christians who are tempted to think that those who stoned 1022 to death the first martyrs must have been worse men than 1023 they themselves are, ought to remember that one of those per- 1024 secutors was Saint Paul. 1025 1026 Let us add one more example, the most striking of all, if 1027 the impressiveness of an error is measured by the wisdom 1028 and virtue of him who falls into it. If ever any one, pos- 1029 sessed of power, had grounds for thinking himself the best 1030 and most enlightened among his cotemporaries, it was the 1031 Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Absolute monarch of the whole 1032 civilized world, he preserved through life not only the most 1033 unblemished justice, but what was less to be expected from 1034 his Stoical breeding, the tenderest heart. The few failings 1035 which are attributed to him, were all on the side of in- 1036 dulgence: while his writings, the highest ethical product 1037 of the ancient mind, differ scarcely perceptibly, if they 1038 differ at all, from the most characteristic teachings of Christ. 1039 This man, a better Christian in all but the dogmatic sense 1040 of the word, than almost any of the ostensibly Christian 1041 sovereigns who have since reigned, persecuted Christianity. 1042 Placed at the summit of all the previous attainments of 1043 humanity, with an open, unfettered intellect, and a character 1044 which led him of himself to embody in his moral writings the 1045 Christian ideal, he yet failed to see that Christianity was 1046 to be a good and not an evil to the world, with his duties 1047 to which he was so deeply penetrated. Existing society he 1048 knew to be in a deplorable state. But such as it was, he 1049 saw or thought he saw, that it was held together and pre- 1050 vented from being worse, by belief and reverence of the 1051 received divinities. As a ruler of mankind, he deemed it 1052 his duty not to suffer society to fall in pieces; and saw not 1053 how, if its existing ties were removed, any others could be 1054 formed which could again knit it together. The new re- 1055 ligion openly aimed at dissolving these ties: unless, there- 1056 fore, it was his duty to adopt that religion, it seemed to be 1057 his duty to put it down. Inasmuch then as the theology of 1058 Christianity did not appear to him true or of divine origin; 1059 inasmuch as this strange history of a crucified God was not 1060 credible to him, and a system which purported to rest en- 1061 tirely upon a foundation to him so wholly unbelievable, 1062 could not be foreseen by him to be that renovating agency 1063 which, after all abatements, it has in fact proved to be; the 1064 gentlest and most amiable of philosophers and rulers, under 1065 a solemn sense of duty, authorized the persecution of Chris- 1066 tianity. To my mind this is one of the most tragical facts 1067 in all history. It is a bitter thought, how different a thing 1068 the Christianity of the world might have been, if the Chris- 1069 tian faith had been adopted as the religion of the empire 1070 under the auspices of Marcus Aurelius instead of those of 1071 Constantine. But it would be equally unjust to him and 1072 false to truth, to deny, that no one plea which can be urged 1073 for punishing anti-Christian teaching, was wanting to Mar- 1074 cus Aurelius for punishing, as he did, the propagation of 1075 Christianity. No Christian more firmly believes that Atheism 1076 is false, and tends to the dissolution of society, than Marcus 1077 Aurelius believed the same things of Christianity; he who, 1078 of all men then living, might have been thought the most 1079 capable of appreciating it. Unless any one who approves 1080 of punishment for the promulgation of opinions, flatters 1081 himself that he is a wiser and better man than Marcus 1082 Aurelius--more deeply versed in the wisdom of his time, 1083 more elevated in his intellect above it--more earnest in his 1084 search for truth, or more single-minded in his devotion to 1085 it when found;--let him abstain from that assumption of 1086 the joint infallibility of himself and the multitude, which 1087 the great Antoninus made with so unfortunate a result. 1088 1089 Aware of the impossibility of defending the use of pun- 1090 ishment for restraining irreligious opinions, by any argument 1091 which will not justify Marcus Antoninus, the enemies of 1092 religious freedom, when hard pressed, occasionally accept 1093 this consequence, and say, with Dr. Johnson, that the per- 1094 secutors of Christianity were in the right; that persecution 1095 is an ordeal through which truth ought to pass, and always 1096 passes successfully, legal penalties being, in the end, power- 1097 less against truth, though sometimes beneficially effective 1098 against mischievous errors. This is a form of the argument 1099 for religious intolerance, sufficiently remarkable not to be 1100 passed without notice. 1101 1102 A theory which maintains that truth may justifiably be 1103 persecuted because persecution cannot possibly do it any 1104 harm, cannot be charged with being intentionally hostile to 1105 the reception of new truths; but we cannot commend the 1106 generosity of its dealing with the persons to whom man- 1107 kind are indebted for them. To discover to the world some- 1108 thing which deeply concerns it, and of which it was pre- 1109 viously ignorant; to prove to it that it had been mistaken 1110 on some vital point of temporal or spiritual interest, is as 1111 important a service as a human being can render to his 1112 fellow-creatures, and in certain cases, as in those of the 1113 early Christians and of the Reformers, those who think 1114 with Dr. Johnson believe it to have been the most precious 1115 gift which could be bestowed on mankind. That the authors 1116 of such splendid benefits should be requited by martyrdom; 1117 that their reward should be to be dealt with as the vilest of 1118 criminals, is not, upon this theory, a deplorable error and 1119 misfortune, for which humanity should mourn in sackcloth 1120 and ashes, but the normal and justifiable state of things. 1121 The propounder of a new truth, according to this doctrine, 1122 should stand, as stood, in the legislation of the Locrians, 1123 the proposer of a new law, with a halter round his neck, 1124 to be instantly tightened if the public assembly did not, on 1125 hearing his reasons, then and there adopt his proposition. 1126 People who defend this mode of treating benefactors, can 1127 not be supposed to set much value on the benefit; and I 1128 believe this view of the subject is mostly confined to the 1129 sort of persons who think that new truths may have been 1130 desirable once, but that we have had enough of them now. 1131 1132 But, indeed, the dictum that truth always triumphs 1133 over persecution, is one of those pleasant falsehoods which 1134 men repeat after one another till they pass into common- 1135 places, but which all experience refutes. History teems with 1136 instances of truth put down by persecution. If not sup- 1137 pressed forever, it may be thrown back for centuries. To 1138 speak only of religious opinions: the Reformation broke out 1139 at least twenty times before Luther, and was put down. 1140 Arnold of Brescia was put down. Fra Dolcino was put 1141 down. Savonarola was put down. The Albigeois were 1142 put down. The Vaudois were put down. The Lollards 1143 were put down. The Hussites were put down. Even 1144 after the era of Luther, wherever persecution was per- 1145 sisted in, it was successful. In Spain, Italy, Flanders, 1146 the Austrian empire, Protestantism was rooted out; and, 1147 most likely, would have been so in England, had Queen Mary 1148 lived, or Queen Elizabeth died. Persecution has always 1149 succeeded, save where the heretics were too strong a party 1150 to be effectually persecuted. No reasonable person can 1151 doubt that Christianity might have been extirpated in the 1152 Roman empire. It spread, and became predominant, be- 1153 cause the persecutions were only occasional, lasting but a 1154 short time, and separated by long intervals of almost un- 1155 disturbed propagandism. It is a piece of idle sentimentality 1156 that truth, merely as truth, has any inherent power denied 1157 to error, of prevailing against the dungeon and the stake. 1158 Men are not more zealous for truth than they often are for 1159 error, and a sufficient application of legal or even of social 1160 penalties will generally succeed in stopping the propagation 1161 of either. The real advantage which truth has, consists in 1162 this, that when an opinion is true, it may be extinguished 1163 once, twice, or many times, but in the course of ages there 1164 will generally be found persons to rediscover it, until some 1165 one of its reappearances falls on a time when from favour- 1166 able circumstances it escapes persecution until it has made 1167 such head as to withstand all subsequent attempts to sup- 1168 press it. 1169 1170 It will be said, that we do not now put to death the intro- 1171 ducers of new opinions: we are not like our fathers who 1172 slew the prophets, we even build sepulchres to them. It is 1173 true we no longer put heretics to death; and the amount of 1174 penal infliction which modern feeling would probably tol- 1175 erate, even against the most obnoxious opinions, is not 1176 sufficient to extirpate them. But let us not flatter ourselves 1177 that we are yet free from the stain even of legal persecu- 1178 tion. Penalties for opinion, or at least for its expression, 1179 still exist by law; and their enforcement is not, even in these 1180 times, so unexampled as to make it at all incredible that they 1181 may some day be revived in full force. In the year 1857, 1182 at the summer assizes of the county of Cornwall, an unfor- 1183 tunate man,[2] said to be of unexceptionable conduct in all 1184 relations of life, was sentenced to twenty-one months impris- 1185 onment, for uttering, and writing on a gate, some offensive 1186 words concerning Christianity. Within a month of the 1187 same time, at the Old Bailey, two persons, on two separate 1188 occasions,[3] were rejected as jurymen, and one of them 1189 grossly insulted by the judge and one of the counsel, be- 1190 cause they honestly declared that they had no theological 1191 belief; and a third, a foreigner,[4] for the same reason, was 1192 denied justice against a thief. This refusal of redress took 1193 place in virtue of the legal doctrine, that no person can be 1194 allowed to give evidence in a court of justice, who does not 1195 profess belief in a God (any god is sufficient) and in a future 1196 state; which is equivalent to declaring such persons to be 1197 outlaws, excluded from the protection of the tribunals; who 1198 may not only be robbed or assaulted with impunity, if no one 1199 but themselves, or persons of similar opinions, be present, 1200 but any one else may be robbed or assaulted with impunity, 1201 if the proof of the fact depends on their evidence. The as- 1202 sumption on which this is grounded, is that the oath is 1203 worthless, of a person who does not believe in a future 1204 state; a proposition which betokens much ignorance of his- 1205 tory in those who assent to it (since it is historically true 1206 that a large proportion of infidels in all ages have been per- 1207 sons of distinguished integrity and honor); and would be 1208 maintained by no one who had the smallest conception how 1209 many of the persons in greatest repute with the world, both 1210 for virtues and for attainments, are well known, at least to 1211 their intimates, to be unbelievers. The rule, besides, is sui- 1212 cidal, and cuts away its own foundation. Under pretence that 1213 atheists must be liars, it admits the testimony of all atheists 1214 who are willing to lie, and rejects only those who brave the 1215 obloquy of publicly confessing a detested creed rather than 1216 affirm a falsehood. A rule thus self-convicted of absurdity 1217 so far as regards its professed purpose, can be kept in force 1218 only as a badge of hatred, a relic of persecution; a persecu- 1219 tion, too, having the peculiarity that the qualification for 1220 undergoing it is the being clearly proved not to deserve it. 1221 The rule, and the theory it implies, are hardly less insulting 1222 to believers than to infidels. For if he who does not believe 1223 in a future state necessarily lies, it follows that they who do 1224 believe are only prevented from lying, if prevented they are, 1225 by the fear of hell. We will not do the authors and abettors 1226 of the rule the injury of supposing, that the conception 1227 which they have formed of Christian virtue is drawn from 1228 their own consciousness. 1229 1230 These, indeed, are but rags and remnants of persecution, 1231 and may be thought to be not so much an indication of the 1232 wish to persecute, as an example of that very frequent in- 1233 firmity of English minds, which makes them take a prepos- 1234 terous pleasure in the assertion of a bad principle, when they 1235 are no longer bad enough to desire to carry it really into 1236 practice. But unhappily there is no security in the state 1237 of the public mind, that the suspension of worse forms of 1238 legal persecution, which has lasted for about the space of 1239 a generation, will continue. In this age the quiet surface 1240 of routine is as often ruffled by attempts to resuscitate past 1241 evils, as to introduce new benefits. What is boasted of at 1242 the present time as the revival of religion, is always, in 1243 narrow and uncultivated minds, at least as much the revival 1244 of bigotry; and where there is the strongest permanent 1245 leaven of intolerance in the feelings of a people, which at 1246 all times abides in the middle classes of this country, it needs 1247 but little to provoke them into actively persecuting those 1248 whom they have never ceased to think proper objects of per- 1249 secution.[5] For it is this--it is the opinions men entertain, 1250 and the feelings they cherish, respecting those who disown 1251 the beliefs they deem important, which makes this country 1252 not a place of mental freedom. For a long time past, the 1253 chief mischief of the legal penalties is that they strengthen 1254 the social stigma. It is that stigma which is really effective, 1255 and so effective is it, that the profession of opinions which 1256 are under the ban of society is much less common in Eng- 1257 land, than is, in many other countries, the avowal of those 1258 which incur risk of judicial punishment. In respect to all 1259 persons but those whose pecuniary circumstances make them 1260 independent of the good will of other people, opinion, on 1261 this subject, is as efficacious as law; men might as well be 1262 imprisoned, as excluded from the means of earning their 1263 bread. Those whose bread is already secured, and who 1264 desire no favors from men in power, or from bodies 1265 of men, or from the public, have nothing to fear from the 1266 open avowal of any opinions, but to be ill-thought of and ill- 1267 spoken of, and this it ought not to require a very heroic 1268 mould to enable them to bear. There is no room for any 1269 appeal ad misericordiam in behalf of such persons. But 1270 though we do not now inflict so much evil on those who 1271 think differently from us, as it was formerly our custom to 1272 do, it may be that we do ourselves as much evil as ever 1273 by our treatment of them. Socrates was put to death, but 1274 the Socratic philosophy rose like the sun in heaven, and 1275 spread its illumination over the whole intellectual firma- 1276 ment. Christians were cast to the lions, but the Christian 1277 Church grew up a stately and spreading tree, overtopping 1278 the older and less vigorous growths, and stifling them by its 1279 shade. Our merely social intolerance, kills no one, roots out 1280 no opinions, but induces men to disguise them, or to abstain 1281 from any active effort for their diffusion. With us, hereti- 1282 cal opinions do not perceptibly gain or even lose, ground in 1283 each decade or generation; they never blaze out far and 1284 wide, but continue to smoulder in the narrow circles of 1285 thinking and studious persons among whom they originate, 1286 without ever lighting up the general affairs of mankind with 1287 either a true or a deceptive light. And thus is kept up a 1288 state of things very satisfactory to some minds, because, 1289 without the unpleasant process of fining or imprisoning any- 1290 body, it maintains all prevailing opinions outwardly undis- 1291 turbed, while it does not absolutely interdict the exercise of 1292 reason by dissentients afflicted with the malady of thought. 1293 A convenient plan for having peace in the intellectual world, 1294 and keeping all things going on therein very much as they 1295 do already. But the price paid for this sort of intellectual 1296 pacification, is the sacrifice of the entire moral courage of 1297 the human mind. A state of things in which a large portion 1298 of the most active and inquiring intellects find it advisable 1299 to keep the genuine principles and grounds of their convic- 1300 tions within their own breasts, and attempt, in what they 1301 address to the public, to fit as much as they can of their own 1302 conclusions to premises which they have internally re- 1303 nounced, cannot send forth the open, fearless characters, and 1304 logical, consistent intellects who once adorned the thinking 1305 world. The sort of men who can be looked for under it, are 1306 either mere conformers to commonplace, or time-servers 1307 for truth whose arguments on all great subjects are meant 1308 for their hearers, and are not those which have convinced 1309 themselves. Those who avoid this alternative, do so by 1310 narrowing their thoughts and interests to things which can 1311 be spoken of without venturing within the region of princi- 1312 ples, that is, to small practical matters, which would come 1313 right of themselves, if but the minds of mankind were 1314 strengthened and enlarged, and which will never be made 1315 effectually right until then; while that which would strength- 1316 en and enlarge men's minds, free and daring speculation on 1317 the highest subjects, is abandoned. 1318 1319 Those in whose eyes this reticence on the part of heretics 1320 is no evil, should consider in the first place, that in conse- 1321 quence of it there is never any fair and thorough discussion 1322 of heretical opinions; and that such of them as could not 1323 stand such a discussion, though they may be prevented from 1324 spreading, do not disappear. But it is not the minds of 1325 heretics that are deteriorated most, by the ban placed on 1326 all inquiry which does not end in the orthodox conclusions. 1327 The greatest harm done is to those who are not heretics, and 1328 whose whole mental development is cramped, and their rea- 1329 son cowed, by the fear of heresy. Who can compute what 1330 the world loses in the multitude of promising intellects com- 1331 bined with timid characters, who dare not follow out any 1332 bold, vigorous, independent train of thought, lest it should 1333 land them in something which would admit of being con- 1334 sidered irreligious or immoral? Among them we may occa- 1335 sionally see some man of deep conscientiousness, and subtile 1336 and refined understanding, who spends a life in sophisticat- 1337 ing with an intellect which he cannot silence, and exhausts 1338 the resources of ingenuity in attempting to reconcile the 1339 promptings of his conscience and reason with orthodoxy, 1340 which yet he does not, perhaps, to the end succeed in doing. 1341 No one can be a great thinker who does not recognize, that 1342 as a thinker it is his first duty to follow his intellect to what- 1343 ever conclusions it may lead. Truth gains more even by the 1344 errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks 1345 for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only 1346 hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think. 1347 Not that it is solely, or chiefly, to form great thinkers, that 1348 freedom of thinking is required. On the contrary, it is as 1349 much, and even more indispensable, to enable average hu- 1350 man beings to attain the mental stature which they are capa- 1351 ble of. There have been, and may again be, great individual 1352 thinkers, in a general atmosphere of mental slavery. But 1353 there never has been, nor ever will be, in that atmosphere, 1354 an intellectually active people. Where any people has made 1355 a temporary approach to such a character, it has been be- 1356 cause the dread of heterodox speculation was for a time sus- 1357 pended. Where there is a tacit convention that principles 1358 are not to be disputed; where the discussion of the greatest 1359 questions which can occupy humanity is considered to be 1360 closed, we cannot hope to find that generally high scale of 1361 mental activity which has made some periods of history so 1362 remarkable. Never when controversy avoided the subjects 1363 which are large and important enough to kindle enthusiasm, 1364 was the mind of a people stirred up from its foundations, 1365 and the impulse given which raised even persons of the most 1366 ordinary intellect to something of the dignity of thinking 1367 beings. Of such we have had an example in the condition 1368 of Europe during the times immediately following the Ref- 1369 ormation; another, though limited to the Continent and to 1370 a more cultivated class, in the speculative movement of the 1371 latter half of the eighteenth century; and a third, of still 1372 briefer duration, in the intellectual fermentation of Ger- 1373 many during the Goethian and Fichtean period. These 1374 periods differed widely in the particular opinions which they 1375 developed; but were alike in this, that during all three the yoke 1376 of authority was broken. In each, an old mental despotism 1377 had been thrown off, and no new one had yet taken its place. 1378 The impulse given at these three periods has made Europe 1379 what it now is. Every single improvement which has taken 1380 place either in the human mind or in institutions, may be 1381 traced distinctly to one or other of them. Appearances have 1382 for some time indicated that all three impulses are well-nigh 1383 spent; and we can expect no fresh start, until we again 1384 assert our mental freedom. 1385 1386 Let us now pass to the second division of the argument, 1387 and dismissing the Supposition that any of the received 1388 opinions may be false, let us assume them to be true, and 1389 examine into the worth of the manner in which they are 1390 likely to be held, when their truth is not freely and openly 1391 canvassed. However unwillingly a person who has a strong 1392 opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be 1393 false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that how- 1394 ever true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fear- 1395 lessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living 1396 truth. 1397 1398 There is a class of persons (happily not quite so numerous 1399 as formerly) who think it enough if a person assents un- 1400 doubtingly to what they think true, though he has no knowl- 1401 edge whatever of the grounds of the opinion, and could 1402 not make a tenable defence of it against the most super- 1403 ficial objections. Such persons, if they can once get their 1404 creed taught from authority, naturally think that no good, 1405 and some harm, comes of its being allowed to be questioned. 1406 Where their influence prevails, they make it nearly impossi- 1407 ble for the received opinion to be rejected wisely and con- 1408 siderately, though it may still be rejected rashly and igno- 1409 rantly; for to shut out discussion entirely is seldom possible, 1410 and when it once gets in, beliefs not grounded on conviction 1411 are apt to give way before the slightest semblance of an 1412 argument. Waiving, however, this possibility--assuming 1413 that the true opinion abides in the mind, but abides as a 1414 prejudice, a belief independent of, and proof against, argu- 1415 ment--this is not the way in which truth ought to be held 1416 by a rational being. This is not knowing the truth. Truth, 1417 thus held, is but one superstition the more, accidentally 1418 clinging to the words which enunciate a truth. 1419 1420 If the intellect and judgment of mankind ought to be cul- 1421 tivated, a thing which Protestants at least do not deny, on 1422 what can these faculties be more appropriately exercised by 1423 any one, than on the things which concern him so much that 1424 it is considered necessary for him to hold opinions on them? 1425 If the cultivation of the understanding consists in one thing 1426 more than in another, it is surely in learning the grounds of 1427 one's own opinions. Whatever people believe, on subjects on 1428 which it is of the first importance to believe rightly, they 1429 ought to be able to defend against at least the common ob- 1430 jections. But, some one may say, "Let them be taught the 1431 grounds of their opinions. It does not follow that opinions 1432 must be merely parroted because they are never heard con- 1433 troverted. Persons who learn geometry do not simply com- 1434 mit the theorems to memory, but understand and learn like- 1435 wise the demonstrations; and it would be absurd to say that 1436 they remain ignorant of the grounds of geometrical truths, 1437 because they never hear any one deny, and attempt to dis- 1438 prove them." Undoubtedly: and such teaching suffices on a 1439 subject like mathematics, where there is nothing at all to be 1440 said on the wrong side of the question. The peculiarity of 1441 the evidence of mathematical truths is, that all the argu- 1442 ment is on one side. There are no objections, and no 1443 answers to objections. But on every subject on which dif- 1444 ference of opinion is possible, the truth depends on a balance 1445 to be struck between two sets of conflicting reasons. Even 1446 in natural philosophy, there is always some other explana- 1447 tion possible of the same facts; some geocentric theory in- 1448 stead of heliocentric, some phlogiston instead of oxygen; 1449 and it has to be shown why that other theory cannot be the 1450 true one: and until this is shown and until we know how it 1451 is shown, we do not understand the grounds of our opinion. 1452 But when we turn to subjects infinitely more complicated, 1453 to morals, religion, politics, social relations, and the business 1454 of life, three-fourths of the arguments for every disputed 1455 opinion consist in dispelling the appearances which favor 1456 some opinion different from it. The greatest orator, save 1457 one, of antiquity, has left it on record that he always 1458 studied his adversary's case with as great, if not with still 1459 greater, intensity than even his own. What Cicero practised 1460 as the means of forensic success, requires to be imitated by 1461 all who study any subject in order to arrive at the truth. 1462 He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little 1463 of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have 1464 been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to 1465 refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so 1466 much as know what they are, he has no ground for pre- 1467 ferring either opinion. The rational position for him 1468 would be suspension of judgment, and unless he contents 1469 himself with that, he is either led by authority, or adopts, 1470 like the generality of the world, the side to which he feels 1471 most inclination. Nor is it enough that he should hear the 1472 arguments of adversaries from his own teachers, presented 1473 as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as 1474 refutations. This is not the way to do justice to the argu- 1475 ments, or bring them into real contact with his own mind. 1476 He must be able to hear them from persons who actually 1477 believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their 1478 very utmost for them. He must know them in their most 1479 plausible and persuasive form; he must feel the whole force 1480 of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to 1481 encounter and dispose of, else he will never really possess 1482 himself of the portion of truth which meets and removes 1483 that difficulty. Ninety-nine in a hundred of what are called 1484 educated men are in this condition, even of those who can 1485 argue fluently for their opinions. Their conclusion may be 1486 true, but it might be false for anything they know: they 1487 have never thrown themselves into the mental position of 1488 those who think differently from them, and considered what 1489 such persons may have to say; and consequently they do 1490 not, in any proper sense of the word, know the doctrine 1491 which they themselves profess. They do not know those 1492 parts of it which explain and justify the remainder; the con- 1493 siderations which show that a fact which seemingly con- 1494 flicts with another is reconcilable with it, or that, of two 1495 apparently strong reasons, one and not the other ought to 1496 be preferred. All that part of the truth which turns the 1497 scale, and decides the judgment of a completely informed 1498 mind, they are strangers to; nor is it ever really known, but 1499 to those who have attended equally and impartially to both 1500 sides, and endeavored to see the reasons of both in the 1501 strongest light. So essential is this discipline to a real un- 1502 derstanding of moral and human subjects, that if opponents 1503 of all important truths do not exist, it is indispensable 1504 to imagine them and supply them with the strongest 1505 arguments which the most skilful devil's advocate can 1506 conjure up. 1507 1508 To abate the force of these considerations, an enemy 1509 of free discussion may be supposed to say, that there is no 1510 necessity for mankind in general to know and understand 1511 all that can be said against or for their opinions by philos- 1512 ophers and theologians. That it is not needful for common 1513 men to be able to expose all the misstatements or fallacies 1514 of an ingenious opponent. That it is enough if there is 1515 always somebody capable of answering them, so that nothing 1516 likely to mislead uninstructed persons remains unrefuted. 1517 That simple minds, having been taught the obvious grounds 1518 of the truths inculcated on them, may trust to authority for 1519 the rest, and being aware that they have neither knowledge 1520 nor talent to resolve every difficulty which can be raised, 1521 may repose in the assurance that all those which have been 1522 raised have been or can be answered, by those who are 1523 specially trained to the task. 1524 1525 Conceding to this view of the subject the utmost that can 1526 be claimed for it by those most easily satisfied with the 1527 amount of understanding of truth which ought to accom- 1528 pany the belief of it; even so, the argument for free 1529 discussion is no way weakened. For even this doctrine 1530 acknowledges that mankind ought to have a rational assur- 1531 ance that all objections have been satisfactorily answered; 1532 and how are they to be answered if that which requires to 1533 be answered is not spoken? or how can the answer be known 1534 to be satisfactory, if the objectors have no opportunity of 1535 showing that it is unsatisfactory? If not the public, at least 1536 the philosophers and theologians who are to resolve the 1537 difficulties, must make themselves familiar with those diffi- 1538 culties in their most puzzling form; and this cannot be ac- 1539 complished unless they are freely stated, and placed in the 1540 most advantageous light which they admit of. The Catholic 1541 Church has its own way of dealing with this embarrassing 1542 problem. It makes a broad separation between those who 1543 can be permitted to receive its doctrines on conviction, and 1544 those who must accept them on trust. Neither, indeed, are 1545 allowed any choice as to what they will accept; but the 1546 clergy, such at least as can be fully confided in, may ad- 1547 missibly and meritoriously make themselves acquainted with 1548 the arguments of opponents, in order to answer them, and 1549 may, therefore, read heretical books; the laity, not unless 1550 by special permission, hard to be obtained. This discipline 1551 recognizes a knowledge of the enemy's case as beneficial to 1552 the teachers, but finds means, consistent with this, of deny- 1553 ing it to the rest of the world: thus giving to the elite more 1554 mental culture, though not more mental freedom, than it 1555 allows to the mass. By this device it succeeds in obtaining 1556 the kind of mental superiority which its purposes require; 1557 for though culture without freedom never made a large and 1558 liberal mind, it can make a clever nisi prius advocate of a 1559 cause. But in countries professing Protestantism, this re- 1560 source is denied; since Protestants hold, at least in theory, 1561 that the responsibility for the choice of a religion must be 1562 borne by each for himself, and cannot be thrown off upon 1563 teachers. Besides, in the present state of the world, it is 1564 practically impossible that writings which are read by the in- 1565 structed can be kept from the uninstructed. If the teachers 1566 of mankind are to be cognizant of all that they ought to 1567 know, everything must be free to be written and published 1568 without restraint. 1569 1570 If, however, the mischievous operation of the absence of 1571 free discussion, when the received opinions are true, were 1572 confined to leaving men ignorant of the grounds of those 1573 opinions, it might be thought that this, if an intellectual, is 1574 no moral evil, and does not affect the worth of the opinions, 1575 regarded in their influence on the character. The fact, 1576 however, is, that not only the grounds of the opinion are 1577 forgotten in the absence of discussion, but too often the 1578 meaning of the opinion itself. The words which convey it, 1579 cease to suggest ideas, or suggest only a small portion of 1580 those they were originally employed to communicate. In- 1581 stead of a vivid conception and a living belief, there remain 1582 only a few phrases retained by rote; or, if any part, the 1583 shell and husk only of the meaning is retained, the finer 1584 essence being lost. The great chapter in human history 1585 which this fact occupies and fills, cannot be too earnestly 1586 studied and meditated on. 1587 1588 It is illustrated in the experience of almost all ethical doc- 1589 trines and religious creeds. They are all full of meaning 1590 and vitality to those who originate them, and to the direct 1591 disciples of the originators. Their meaning continues to 1592 be felt in undiminished strength, and is perhaps brought out 1593 into even fuller consciousness, so long as the struggle lasts 1594 to give the doctrine or creed an ascendency over other 1595 creeds. At last it either prevails, and becomes the general 1596 opinion, or its progress stops; it keeps possession of the 1597 ground it has gained, but ceases to spread further. When 1598 either of these results has become apparent, controversy on 1599 the subject flags, and gradually dies away. The doctrine 1600 has taken its place, if not as a received opinion, as one of 1601 the admitted sects or divisions of opinion: those who hold 1602 it have generally inherited, not adopted it; and conversion 1603 from one of these doctrines to another, being now an ex- 1604 ceptional fact, occupies little place in the thoughts of their 1605 professors. Instead of being, as at first, constantly on the 1606 alert either to defend themselves against the world, or to 1607 bring the world over to them, they have subsided into ac- 1608 quiescence, and neither listen, when they can help it, to 1609 arguments against their creed, nor trouble dissentients (if 1610 there be such) with arguments in its favor. From this time 1611 may usually be dated the decline in the living power of the 1612 doctrine. We often hear the teachers of all creeds lament- 1613 ing the difficulty of keeping up in the minds of believers a 1614 lively apprehension of the truth which they nominally recog- 1615 nize, so that it may penetrate the feelings, and acquire a real 1616 mastery over the conduct. No such difficulty is complained 1617 of while the creed is still fighting for its existence: even the 1618 weaker combatants then know and feel what they are fight- 1619 ing for, and the difference between it and other doctrines; 1620 and in that period of every creed's existence, not a few 1621 persons may be found, who have realized its fundamental 1622 principles in all the forms of thought, have weighed and 1623 considered them in all their important bearings, and have 1624 experienced the full effect on the character, which belief in 1625 that creed ought to produce in a mind thoroughly imbued 1626 with it. But when it has come to be an hereditary creed, 1627 and to be received passively, not actively--when the mind 1628 is no longer compelled, in the same degree as at first, to 1629 exercise its vital powers on the questions which its belief 1630 presents to it, there is a progressive tendency to forget all 1631 of the belief except the formularies, or to give it a dull and 1632 torpid assent, as if accepting it on trust dispensed with the 1633 necessity of realizing it in consciousness, or testing it by 1634 personal experience; until it almost ceases to connect itself 1635 at all with the inner life of the human being. Then are seen 1636 the cases, so frequent in this age of the world as almost to 1637 form the majority, in which the creed remains as it were out- 1638 side the mind, encrusting and petrifying it against all other 1639 influences addressed to the higher parts of our nature; mani- 1640 festing its power by not suffering any fresh and living con- 1641 viction to get in, but itself doing nothing for the mind or 1642 heart, except standing sentinel over them to keep them 1643 vacant. 1644 1645 To what an extent doctrines intrinsically fitted to make 1646 the deepest impression upon the mind may remain in it as 1647 dead beliefs, without being ever realized in the imagination, 1648 the feelings, or the understanding, is exemplified by the 1649 manner in which the majority of believers hold the doctrines 1650 of Christianity. By Christianity I here mean what is ac- 1651 counted such by all churches and sects--the maxims and pre- 1652 cepts contained in the New Testament. These are consid- 1653 ered sacred, and accepted as laws, by all professing Chris- 1654 tians. Yet it is scarcely too much to say that not one Chris- 1655 tian in a thousand guides or tests his individual conduct by 1656 reference to those laws. The standard to which he does re- 1657 fer it, is the custom of his nation, his class, or his religious 1658 profession. He has thus, on the one hand, a collection of 1659 ethical maxims, which he believes to have been vouchsafed 1660 to him by infallible wisdom as rules for his government; and 1661 on the other, a set of every-day judgments and practices, 1662 which go a certain length with some of those maxims, not 1663 so great a length with others, stand in direct opposition to 1664 some, and are, on the whole, a compromise between the 1665 Christian creed and the interests and suggestions of worldly 1666 life. To the first of these standards he gives his homage; 1667 to the other his real allegiance. All Christians believe that 1668 the blessed are the poor and humble, and those who are ill- 1669 used by the world; that it is easier for a camel to pass 1670 through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter 1671 the kingdom of heaven; that they should judge not, lest they 1672 be judged; that they should swear not at all; that they 1673 should love their neighbor as themselves; that if one take 1674 their cloak, they should give him their coat also; that they 1675 should take no thought for the morrow; that if they would 1676 be perfect, they should sell all that they have and give it to 1677 the poor. They are not insincere when they say that they 1678 believe these things. They do believe them, as people be- 1679 lieve what they have always heard lauded and never dis- 1680 cussed. But in the sense of that living belief which regu- 1681 lates conduct, they believe these doctrines just up to the 1682 point to which it is usual to act upon them. The doctrines 1683 in their integrity are serviceable to pelt adversaries with; 1684 and it is understood that they are to be put forward (when 1685 possible) as the reasons for whatever people do that they 1686 think laudable. But any one who reminded them that the 1687 maxims require an infinity of things which they never even 1688 think of doing would gain nothing but to be classed among 1689 those very unpopular characters who affect to be better than 1690 other people. The doctrines have no hold on ordinary be- 1691 lievers--are not a power in their minds. They have an 1692 habitual respect for the sound of them, but no feeling 1693 which spreads from the words to the things signified, and 1694 forces the mind to take them in, and make them conform 1695 to the formula. Whenever conduct is concerned, they look 1696 round for Mr. A and B to direct them how far to go in 1697 obeying Christ. 1698 1699 Now we may be well assured that the case was not thus, 1700 but far otherwise, with the early Christians. Had it been 1701 thus, Christianity never would have expanded from an ob- 1702 scure sect of the despised Hebrews into the religion of the 1703 Roman empire. When their enemies said, "See how these 1704 Christians love one another" (a remark not likely to be 1705 made by anybody now), they assuredly had a much livelier 1706 feeling of the meaning of their creed than they have ever 1707 had since. And to this cause, probably, it is chiefly owing 1708 that Christianity now makes so little progress in extending 1709 its domain, and after eighteen centuries, is still nearly con- 1710 fined to Europeans and the descendants of Europeans. Even 1711 with the strictly religious, who are much in earnest about 1712 their doctrines, and attach a greater amount of meaning to 1713 many of them than people in general, it commonly happens 1714 that the part which is thus comparatively active in their 1715 minds is that which was made by Calvin, or Knox, or some 1716 such person much nearer in character to themselves. The 1717 sayings of Christ coexist passively in their minds, producing 1718 hardly any effect beyond what is caused by mere listening to 1719 words so amiable and bland. There are many reasons, 1720 doubtless, why doctrines which are the badge of a sect retain 1721 more of their vitality than those common to all recognized 1722 sects, and why more pains are taken by teachers to keep 1723 their meaning alive; but one reason certainly is, that the 1724 peculiar doctrines are more questioned, and have to be 1725 oftener defended against open gainsayers. Both teachers 1726 and learners go to sleep at their post, as soon as there is 1727 no enemy in the field. 1728 1729 The same thing holds true, generally speaking, of all tra- 1730 ditional doctrines--those of prudence and knowledge of life, 1731 as well as of morals or religion. All languages and litera- 1732 tures are full of general observations on life, both as to what 1733 it is, and how to conduct oneself in it; observations which 1734 everybody knows, which everybody repeats, or hears with 1735 acquiescence, which are received as truisms, yet of which 1736 most people first truly learn the meaning, when experience, 1737 generally of a painful kind, has made it a reality to them. 1738 How often, when smarting under some unforeseen misfor- 1739 tune or disappointment, does a person call to mind some 1740 proverb or common saying familiar to him all his life, the 1741 meaning of which, if he had ever before felt it as he does 1742 now, would have saved him from the calamity. There are 1743 indeed reasons for this, other than the absence of discussion: 1744 there are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be 1745 realized, until personal experience has brought it home. 1746 But much more of the meaning even of these would have 1747 been understood, and what was understood would have been 1748 far more deeply impressed on the mind, if the man had been 1749 accustomed to hear it argued pro and con by people who did 1750 understand it. The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off 1751 thinking about a thing when it is no longer doubtful, is the 1752 cause of half their errors. A contemporary author has well 1753 spoken of "the deep slumber of a decided opinion." 1754 1755 But what! (it may be asked) Is the absence of unanimity 1756 an indispensable condition of true knowledge? Is it neces- 1757 sary that some part of mankind should persist in error, to 1758 enable any to realize the truth? Does a belief cease to be 1759 real and vital as soon as it is generally received--and is a 1760 proposition never thoroughly understood and felt unless 1761 some doubt of it remains? As soon as mankind have 1762 unanimously accepted a truth, does the truth perish within 1763 them? The highest aim and best result of improved intelli- 1764 gence, it has hitherto been thought, is to unite mankind more 1765 and more in the acknowledgment of all important truths: 1766 and does the intelligence only last as long as it has not 1767 achieved its object? Do the fruits of conquest perish by 1768 the very completeness of the victory? 1769 1770 I affirm no such thing. As mankind improve, the number 1771 of doctrines which are no longer disputed or doubted will be 1772 constantly on the increase: and the well-being of mankind 1773 may almost be measured by the number and gravity of the 1774 truths which have reached the point of being uncontested. 1775 The cessation, on one question after another, of serious con- 1776 troversy, is one of the necessary incidents of the consolida- 1777 tion of opinion; a consolidation as salutary in the case of 1778 true opinions, as it is dangerous and noxious when the 1779 opinions are erroneous. But though this gradual narrowing 1780 of the bounds of diversity of opinion is necessary in both 1781 senses of the term, being at once inevitable and indispensa- 1782 ble, we are not therefore obliged to conclude that all its con- 1783 sequences must be beneficial. The loss of so important an 1784 aid to the intelligent and living apprehension of a truth, as 1785 is afforded by the necessity of explaining it to, or defending 1786 it against, opponents, though not sufficient to outweigh, is 1787 no trifling drawback from, the benefit of its universal rec- 1788 ognition. Where this advantage can no longer be had, I 1789 confess I should like to see the teachers of mankind en- 1790 deavoring to provide a substitute for it; some contrivance 1791 for making the difficulties of the question as present to the 1792 learner's consciousness, as if they were pressed upon him 1793 by a dissentient champion, eager for his conversion. 1794 1795 But instead of seeking contrivances for this purpose, they 1796 have lost those they formerly had. The Socratic dialectics, 1797 so magnificently exemplified in the dialogues of Plato, were 1798 a contrivance of this description. They were essentially a 1799 negative discussion of the great questions of philosophy and 1800 life, directed with consummate skill to the purpose of con- 1801 vincing any one who had merely adopted the commonplaces 1802 of received opinion, that he did not understand the subject 1803 --that he as yet attached no definite meaning to the doc- 1804 trines he professed; in order that, becoming aware of his 1805 ignorance, he might be put in the way to attain a stable 1806 belief, resting on a clear apprehension both of the meaning 1807 of doctrines and of their evidence. The school disputations 1808 of the Middle Ages had a somewhat similar object. They 1809 were intended to make sure that the pupil understood his 1810 own opinion, and (by necessary correlation) the opinion 1811 opposed to it, and could enforce the grounds of the one and 1812 confute those of the other. These last-mentioned contests 1813 had indeed the incurable defect, that the premises appealed 1814 to were taken from authority, not from reason; and, as a 1815 discipline to the mind, they were in every respect inferior 1816 to the powerful dialectics which formed the intellects of the 1817 "Socratici viri:" but the modern mind owes far more to 1818 both than it is generally willing to admit, and the present 1819 modes of education contain nothing which in the smallest 1820 degree supplies the place either of the one or of the other. 1821 A person who derives all his instruction from teachers or 1822 books, even if he escape the besetting temptation of con- 1823 tenting himself with cram, is under no compulsion to hear 1824 both sides; accordingly it is far from a frequent accomplish- 1825 ment, even among thinkers, to know both sides; and the 1826 weakest part of what everybody says in defence of his 1827 opinion, is what he intends as a reply to antagonists. It is 1828 the fashion of the present time to disparage negative logic 1829 --that which points out weaknesses in theory or errors in 1830 practice, without establishing positive truths. Such nega- 1831 tive criticism would indeed be poor enough as an ultimate 1832 result; but as a means to attaining any positive knowledge 1833 or conviction worthy the name, it cannot be valued too high- 1834 ly; and until people are again systematically trained to it, 1835 there will be few great thinkers, and a low general average 1836 of intellect, in any but the mathematical and physical de- 1837 partments of speculation. On any other subject no one's 1838 opinions deserve the name of knowledge, except so far as 1839 he has either had forced upon him by others, or gone 1840 through of himself, the same mental process which would 1841 have been required of him in carrying on an active contro- 1842 versy with opponents. That, therefore, which when absent, 1843 it is so indispensable, but so difficult, to create, how worse 1844 than absurd is it to forego, when spontaneously offering it- 1845 self! If there are any persons who contest a received 1846 opinion, or who will do so if law or opinion will let them, 1847 let us thank them for it, open our minds to listen to them, 1848 and rejoice that there is some one to do for us what we 1849 otherwise ought, if we have any regard for either the cer- 1850 tainty or the vitality of our convictions, to do with much 1851 greater labor for ourselves. 1852 1853 It still remains to speak of one of the principal causes 1854 which make diversity of opinion advantageous, and will con- 1855 tinue to do so until mankind shall have entered a stage of 1856 intellectual advancement which at present seems at an in- 1857 calculable distance. We have hitherto considered only two 1858 possibilities: that the received opinion may be false, and 1859 some other opinion, consequently, true; or that, the received 1860 opinion being true, a conflict with the opposite error is es- 1861 sential to a clear apprehension and deep feeling of its truth. 1862 But there is a commoner case than either of these; when 1863 the conflicting doctrines, instead of being one true and the 1864 other false, share the truth between them; and the noncon- 1865 forming opinion is needed to supply the remainder of the 1866 truth, of which the received doctrine embodies only a part. 1867 Popular opinions, on subjects not palpable to sense, are 1868 often true, but seldom or never the whole truth. They are 1869 a part of the truth; sometimes a greater, sometimes a smaller 1870 part, but exaggerated, distorted, and disjoined from the 1871 truths by which they ought to be accompanied and limited. 1872 Heretical opinions, on the other hand, are generally some 1873 of these suppressed and neglected truths, bursting the bonds 1874 which kept them down, and either seeking reconciliation with 1875 the truth contained in the common opinion, or fronting it 1876 as enemies, and setting themselves up, with similar exclu- 1877 siveness, as the whole truth. The latter case is hitherto the 1878 most frequent, as, in the human mind, one-sidedness has al- 1879 ways been the rule, and many-sidedness the exception. 1880 Hence, even in revolutions of opinion, one part of the truth 1881 usually sets while another rises. Even progress, which 1882 ought to superadd, for the most part only substitutes one 1883 partial and incomplete truth for another; improvement con- 1884 sisting chiefly in this, that the new fragment of truth is 1885 more wanted, more adapted to the needs of the time, than 1886 that which it displaces. Such being the partial character of 1887 prevailing opinions, even when resting on a true foundation; 1888 every opinion which embodies somewhat of the portion of 1889 truth which the common opinion omits, ought to be con- 1890 sidered precious, with whatever amount of error and con- 1891 fusion that truth may be blended. No sober judge of human 1892 affairs will feel bound to be indignant because those who 1893 force on our notice truths which we should otherwise have 1894 overlooked, overlook some of those which we see. Rather, 1895 he will think that so long as popular truth is one-sided, it is 1896 more desirable than otherwise that unpopular truth should 1897 have one-sided asserters too; such being usually the most 1898 energetic, and the most likely to compel reluctant attention 1899 to the fragment of wisdom which they proclaim as if it 1900 were the whole. 1901 1902 Thus, in the eighteenth century, when nearly all the in- 1903 structed, and all those of the uninstructed who were led 1904 by them, were lost in admiration of what is called civiliza- 1905 tion, and of the marvels of modern science, literature, and 1906 philosophy, and while greatly overrating the amount of un- 1907 likeness between the men of modern and those of ancient 1908 times, indulged the belief that the whole of the difference 1909 was in their own favor; with what a salutary shock did the 1910 paradoxes of Rousseau explode like bombshells in the midst, 1911 dislocating the compact mass of one-sided opinion, and 1912 forcing its elements to recombine in a better form and with 1913 additional ingredients. Not that the current opinions were 1914 on the whole farther from the truth than Rousseau's were; 1915 on the contrary, they were nearer to it; they contained more 1916 of positive truth, and very much less of error. Nevertheless 1917 there lay in Rousseau's doctrine, and has floated down the 1918 stream of opinion along with it, a considerable amount of 1919 exactly those truths which the popular opinion wanted; and 1920 these are the deposit which was left behind when the flood 1921 subsided. The superior worth of simplicity of life, the 1922 enervating and demoralizing effect of the trammels and 1923 hypocrisies of artificial society, are ideas which have never 1924 been entirely absent from cultivated minds since Rousseau 1925 wrote; and they will in time produce their due effect, though 1926 at present needing to be asserted as much as ever, and to be 1927 asserted by deeds, for words, on this subject, have nearly 1928 exhausted their power. 1929 1930 In politics, again, it is almost a commonplace, that a party 1931 of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are 1932 both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life; 1933 until the one or the other shall have so enlarged its mental 1934 grasp as to be a party equally of order and of progress, 1935 knowing and distinguishing what is fit to be preserved from 1936 what ought to be swept away. Each of these modes of 1937 thinking derives its utility from the deficiencies of the other; 1938 but it is in a great measure the opposition of the other that 1939 keeps each within the limits of reason and sanity. Unless 1940 opinions favorable to democracy and to aristocracy, to prop- 1941 erty and to equality, to co-operation and to competition, 1942 to luxury and to abstinence, to sociality and individuality, to 1943 liberty and discipline, and all the other standing antagonisms 1944 of practical life, are expressed with equal freedom, and en- 1945 forced and defended with equal talent and energy, there is 1946 no chance of both elements obtaining their due; one scale 1947 is sure to go up, and the other down. Truth, in the great 1948 practical concerns of life, is so much a question of the 1949 reconciling and combining of opposites, that very few have 1950 minds sufficiently capacious and impartial to make the ad- 1951 justment with an approach to correctness, and it has to be 1952 made by the rough process of a struggle between com- 1953 batants fighting under hostile banners. On any of the great 1954 open questions just enumerated, if either of the two opinions 1955 has a better claim than the other, not merely to be tolerated, 1956 but to be encouraged and countenanced, it is the one which 1957 happens at the particular time and place to be in a minority. 1958 That is the opinion which, for the time being, represents the 1959 neglected interests, the side of human well-being which is in 1960 danger of obtaining less than its share. I am aware that 1961 there is not, in this country, any intolerance of differences of 1962 opinion on most of these topics. They are adduced to show, 1963 by admitted and multiplied examples, the universality of the 1964 fact, that only through diversity of opinion is there, in the 1965 existing state of human intellect, a chance of fair play to all 1966 sides of the truth. When there are persons to be found, 1967 who form an exception to the apparent unanimity of the 1968 world on any subject, even if the world is in the right, it 1969 is always probable that dissentients have something worth 1970 hearing to say for themselves, and that truth would lose 1971 something by their silence. 1972 1973 It may be objected, "But some received principles, espe- 1974 cially on the highest and most vital subjects, are more than 1975 half-truths. The Christian morality, for instance, is the 1976 whole truth on that subject and if any one teaches a morality 1977 which varies from it, he is wholly in error." As this is of 1978 all cases the most important in practice, none can be fitter 1979 to test the general maxim. But before pronouncing what 1980 Christian morality is or is not, it would be desirable to de- 1981 cide what is meant by Christian morality. If it means the 1982 morality of the New Testament, I wonder that any one who 1983 derives his knowledge of this from the book itself, can sup- 1984 pose that it was announced, or intended, as a complete doc- 1985 trine of morals. The Gospel always refers to a preexisting 1986 morality, and confines its precepts to the particulars in which 1987 that morality was to be corrected, or superseded by a wider 1988 and higher; expressing itself, moreover, in terms most gen- 1989 eral, often impossible to be interpreted literally, and possess- 1990 ing rather the impressiveness of poetry or eloquence than the 1991 precision of legislation. To extract from it a body of ethi- 1992 cal doctrine, has never been possible without eking it out 1993 from the Old Testament, that is, from a system elaborate 1994 indeed, but in many respects barbarous, and intended only 1995 for a barbarous people. St. Paul, a declared enemy to this 1996 Judaical mode of interpreting the doctrine and filling up the 1997 scheme of his Master, equally assumes a preexisting moral- 1998 ity, namely, that of the Greeks and Romans; and his 1999 advice to Christians is in a great measure a system of ac- 2000 commodation to that; even to the extent of giving an ap- 2001 parent sanction to slavery. What is called Christian, but 2002 should rather be termed theological, morality, was not the 2003 work of Christ or the Apostles, but is of much later origin, 2004 having been gradually built up by the Catholic Church of the 2005 first five centuries, and though not implicitly adopted by mod- 2006 erns and Protestants, has been much less modified by them 2007 than might have been expected. For the most part, indeed, 2008 they have contented themselves with cutting off the additions 2009 which had been made to it in the Middle Ages, each sect 2010 supplying the place by fresh additions, adapted to its own 2011 character and tendencies. That mankind owe a great debt 2012 to this morality, and to its early teachers, I should be the 2013 last person to deny; but I do not scruple to say of it, that 2014 it is, in many important points, incomplete and one-sided, 2015 and that unless ideas and feelings, not sanctioned by it, had 2016 contributed to the formation of European life and character, 2017 human affairs would have been in a worse condition than 2018 they now are. Christian morality (so called) has all the 2019 characters of a reaction; it is, in great part, a protest against 2020 Paganism. Its ideal is negative rather than positive; pas- 2021 sive rather than active; Innocence rather than Nobleness; 2022 Abstinence from Evil, rather than energetic Pursuit of 2023 Good: in its precepts (as has been well said) "thou shalt 2024 not" predominates unduly over "thou shalt." In its horror 2025 of sensuality, it made an idol of asceticism, which has been 2026 gradually compromised away into one of legality. It holds 2027 out the hope of heaven and the threat of hell, as the ap- 2028 pointed and appropriate motives to a virtuous life: in this 2029 falling far below the best of the ancients, and doing what 2030 lies in it to give to human morality an essentially selfish 2031 character, by disconnecting each man's feelings of duty 2032 from the interests of his fellow-creatures, except so far as 2033 a self-interested inducement is offered to him for consulting 2034 them. It is essentially a doctrine of passive obedience; it 2035 inculcates submission to all authorities found established; 2036 who indeed are not to be actively obeyed when they com- 2037 mand what religion forbids, but who are not to be resisted, 2038 far less rebelled against, for any amount of wrong to our- 2039 selves. And while, in the morality of the best Pagan na- 2040 tions, duty to the State holds even a disproportionate place, 2041 infringing on the just liberty of the individual; in purely 2042 Christian ethics that grand department of duty is scarcely 2043 noticed or acknowledged. It is in the Koran, not the New 2044 Testament, that we read the maxim--"A ruler who appoints 2045 any man to an office, when there is in his dominions another 2046 man better qualified for it, sins against God and against the 2047 State." What little recognition the idea of obligation to the 2048 public obtains in modern morality, is derived from Greek and 2049 Roman sources, not from Christian; as, even in the morality 2050 of private life, whatever exists of magnanimity, high-mind- 2051 edness, personal dignity, even the sense of honor, is de- 2052 rived from the purely human, not the religious part of our 2053 education, and never could have grown out of a standard of 2054 ethics in which the only worth, professedly recognized, is 2055 that of obedience. 2056 2057 I am as far as any one from pretending that these defects 2058 are necessarily inherent in the Christian ethics, in every 2059 manner in which it can be conceived, or that the many 2060 requisites of a complete moral doctrine which it does not 2061 contain, do not admit of being reconciled with it. Far less 2062 would I insinuate this of the doctrines and precepts of 2063 Christ himself. I believe that the sayings of Christ are all, 2064 that I can see any evidence of their having been intended to 2065 be; that they are irreconcilable with nothing which a com- 2066 prehensive morality requires; that everything which is ex- 2067 cellent in ethics may be brought within them, with no greater 2068 violence to their language than has been done to it by all 2069 who have attempted to deduce from them any practical sys- 2070 tem of conduct whatever. But it is quite consistent with 2071 this, to believe that they contain and were meant to con- 2072 tain, only a part of the truth; that many essential elements 2073 of the highest morality are among the things which are not 2074 provided for, nor intended to be provided for, in the re- 2075 corded deliverances of the Founder of Christianity, and 2076 which have been entirely thrown aside in the system of 2077 ethics erected on the basis of those deliverances by the 2078 Christian Church. And this being so, I think it a great 2079 error to persist in attempting to find in the Christian doc- 2080 trine that complete rule for our guidance, which its author 2081 intended it to sanction and enforce, but only partially to 2082 provide. I believe, too, that this narrow theory is becoming 2083 a grave practical evil, detracting greatly from the value 2084 of the moral training and instruction, which so many well- 2085 meaning persons are now at length exerting themselves to 2086 promote. I much fear that by attempting to form the mind 2087 and feelings on an exclusively religious type, and discarding 2088 those secular standards (as for want of a better name they 2089 may be called) which heretofore coexisted with and sup- 2090 plemented the Christian ethics, receiving some of its spirit, 2091 and infusing into it some of theirs, there will result, and is 2092 even now resulting, a low, abject, servile type of character, 2093 which, submit itself as it may to what it deems the Supreme 2094 Will, is incapable of rising to or sympathizing in the concep- 2095 tion of Supreme Goodness. I believe that other ethics than 2096 any one which can be evolved from exclusively Christian 2097 sources, must exist side by side with Christian ethics to 2098 produce the moral regeneration of mankind; and that the 2099 Christian system is no exception to the rule that in an 2100 imperfect state of the human mind, the interests of truth 2101 require a diversity of opinions. It is not necessary that in 2102 ceasing to ignore the moral truths not contained in Christi- 2103 anity, men should ignore any of those which it does contain. 2104 Such prejudice, or oversight, when it occurs, is altogether an 2105 evil; but it is one from which we cannot hope to be always 2106 exempt, and must be regarded as the price paid for an in- 2107 estimable good. The exclusive pretension made by a part 2108 of the truth to be the whole, must and ought to be protested 2109 against, and if a reactionary impulse should make the pro- 2110 testors unjust in their turn, this one-sidedness, like the other, 2111 may be lamented, but must be tolerated. If Christians 2112 would teach infidels to be just to Christianity, they should 2113 themselves be just to infidelity. It can do truth no service 2114 to blink the fact, known to all who have the most ordinary 2115 acquaintance with literary history, that a large portion of 2116 the noblest and most valuable moral teaching has been the 2117 work, not only of men who did not know, but of men who 2118 knew and rejected, the Christian faith. 2119 2120 I do not pretend that the most unlimited use of the free- 2121 dom of enunciating all possible opinions would put an end to 2122 the evils of religious or philosophical sectarianism. Every 2123 truth which men of narrow capacity are in earnest about, 2124 is sure to be asserted, inculcated, and in many ways even 2125 acted on, as if no other truth existed in the world, or at all 2126 events none that could limit or qualify the first. I ac- 2127 knowledge that the tendency of all opinions to become sec- 2128 tarian is not cured by the freest discussion, but is often 2129 heightened and exacerbated thereby; the truth which ought 2130 to have been, but was not, seen, being rejected all the more 2131 violently because proclaimed by persons regarded as oppo- 2132 nents. But it is not on the impassioned partisan, it is on 2133 the calmer and more disinterested bystander, that this col- 2134 lision of opinions works its salutary effect. Not the violent 2135 conflict between parts of the truth, but the quiet suppression 2136 of half of it, is the formidable evil: there is always hope 2137 when people are forced to listen to both sides; it is when 2138 they attend only to one that errors harden into prejudices, 2139 and truth itself ceases to have the effect of truth, by being 2140 exaggerated into falsehood. And since there are few 2141 mental attributes more rare than that judicial faculty which 2142 can sit in intelligent judgment between two sides of a 2143 question, of which only one is represented by an advocate 2144 before it, truth has no chance but in proportion as every 2145 side of it, every opinion which embodies any fraction of the 2146 truth, not only finds advocates, but is so advocated as to be 2147 listened to. 2148 2149 We have now recognized the necessity to the mental well- 2150 being of mankind (on which all their other well-being de- 2151 pends) of freedom of opinion, and freedom of the expres- 2152 sion of opinion, on four distinct grounds; which we will 2153 now briefly recapitulate. 2154 2155 First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion 2156 may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this 2157 is to assume our own infallibility. 2158 2159 Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, 2160 and very commonly does, contain a portion of truth; and 2161 since the general or prevailing opinion on any object is 2162 rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision 2163 of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any 2164 chance of being supplied. 2165 2166 Thirdly, even if the received opinion be not only true, 2167 but the whole truth; unless it is suffered to be, and actually 2168 is, vigorously and earnestly contested, it will, by most of 2169 those who receive it, be held in the manner of a prejudice, 2170 with little comprehension or feeling of its rational grounds. 2171 And not only this, but, fourthly, the meaning of the doctrine 2172 itself will be in danger of being lost, or enfeebled, and 2173 deprived of its vital effect on the character and conduct: 2174 the dogma becoming a mere formal profession, inefficacious 2175 for good, but cumbering the ground, and preventing the 2176 growth of any real and heartfelt conviction, from reason or 2177 personal experience. 2178 2179 Before quitting the subject of freedom of opinion, it is 2180 fit to take notice of those who say, that the free expression 2181 of all opinions should be permitted, on condition that the 2182 manner be temperate, and do not pass the bounds of fair 2183 discussion. Much might be said on the impossibility of fix- 2184 ing where these supposed bounds are to be placed; for if the 2185 test be offence to those whose opinion is attacked, I think 2186 experience testifies that this offence is given whenever the 2187 attack is telling and powerful, and that every opponent who 2188 pushes them hard, and whom they find it difficult to answer, 2189 appears to them, if he shows any strong feeling on the sub- 2190 ject, an intemperate opponent. But this, though an impor- 2191 tant consideration in a practical point of view, merges in a 2192 more fundamental objection. Undoubtedly the manner of 2193 asserting an opinion, even though it be a true one, may be 2194 very objectionable, and may justly incur severe censure. 2195 But the principal offences of the kind are such as it 2196 is mostly impossible, unless by accidental self-betrayal, to 2197 bring home to conviction. The gravest of them is, to argue 2198 sophistically, to suppress facts or arguments, to misstate the 2199 elements of the case, or misrepresent the opposite opinion. 2200 But all this, even to the most aggravated degree, is so con- 2201 tinually done in perfect good faith, by persons who are not 2202 considered, and in many other respects may not deserve to be 2203 considered, ignorant or incompetent, that it is rarely pos- 2204 sible on adequate grounds conscientiously to stamp the mis- 2205 representation as morally culpable; and still less could law 2206 presume to interfere with this kind of controversial miscon- 2207 duct. With regard to what is commonly meant by intemperate 2208 discussion, namely, invective, sarcasm, personality, and the 2209 like, the denunciation of these weapons would deserve more 2210 sympathy if it were ever proposed to interdict them equally to 2211 both sides; but it is only desired to restrain the employ- 2212 ment of them against the prevailing opinion: against the 2213 unprevailing they may not only be used without general 2214 disapproval, but will be likely to obtain for him who uses 2215 them the praise of honest zeal and righteous indignation. 2216 Yet whatever mischief arises from their use, is greatest 2217 when they are employed against the comparatively defence- 2218 less; and whatever unfair advantage can be derived by any 2219 opinion from this mode of asserting it, accrues almost ex- 2220 clusively to received opinions. The worst offence of this 2221 kind which can be committed by a polemic, is to stigma- 2222 tize those who hold the contrary opinion as bad and im- 2223 moral men. To calumny of this sort, those who hold any 2224 unpopular opinion are peculiarly exposed, because they are 2225 in general few and uninfluential, and nobody but them- 2226 selves feels much interest in seeing justice done them; 2227 but this weapon is, from the nature of the case, denied 2228 to those who attack a prevailing opinion: they can neither 2229 use it with safety to themselves, nor if they could, would 2230 it do anything but recoil on their own cause. In general, 2231 opinions contrary to those commonly received can only ob- 2232 tain a hearing by studied moderation of language, and the 2233 most cautious avoidance of unnecessary offence, from which 2234 they hardly ever deviate even in a slight degree without 2235 losing ground: while unmeasured vituperation employed on 2236 the side of the prevailing opinion, really does deter people 2237 from professing contrary opinions, and from listening to 2238 those who profess them. For the interest, therefore, of 2239 truth and justice, it is far more important to restrain this 2240 employment of vituperative language than the other; and, 2241 for example, if it were necessary to choose, there would 2242 be much more need to discourage offensive attacks on in- 2243 fidelity, than on religion. It is, however, obvious that law 2244 and authority have no business with restraining either, 2245 while opinion ought, in every instance, to determine its 2246 verdict by the circumstances of the individual case; condemn- 2247 ing every one, on whichever side of the argument he places 2248 himself, in whose mode of advocacy either want of candor, 2249 or malignity, bigotry or intolerance of feeling manifest them- 2250 selves, but not inferring these vices from the side which a 2251 person takes, though it be the contrary side of the question 2252 to our own; and giving merited honor to every one, whatever 2253 opinion he may hold, who has calmness to see and honesty 2254 to state what his opponents and their opinions really are, 2255 exaggerating nothing to their discredit, keeping nothing back 2256 which tells, or can be supposed to tell, in their favor. This 2257 is the real morality of public discussion; and if often vio- 2258 lated, I am happy to think that there are many controver- 2259 sialists who to a great extent observe it, and a still greater 2260 number who conscientiously strive towards it. 2261 2262 [1] These words had scarcely been written, when, as if to give them an 2263 emphatic contradiction, occurred the Government Press Prosecutions of 2264 1858. That illjudged interference with the liberty of public discussion has 2265 not, however, induced me to alter a single word in the text, nor has it at 2266 all weakened my conviction that, moments of panic excepted, the era of 2267 pains and penalties far political discussion has, in our own country, passed 2268 away. For, in the first place, the prosecutions were not persisted in; and 2269 in the second, they were never, properly speaking, political prosecutions. 2270 The offence charged was not that of criticizing institutions, or the acts or 2271 persons of rulers, but of circulating what was deemed an immoral doctrine, 2272 the lawfulness of Tyrannicide. 2273 2274 If the arguments of the present chapter are of any validity, there ought 2275 to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of 2276 ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered. 2277 It would, therefore, be irrelevant and out of place to examine here, whether 2278 the doctrine of Tyrannicide deserves that title. I shall content myself with 2279 saying, that the subject has been at all times one of the open questions of 2280 morals, that the act of a private citizen in striking down a criminal, who, 2281 by raising himself above the law, has placed himself beyond the reach of 2282 legal punishment or control, has been accounted by whole nations, and by 2283 some of the best and wisest of men, not a crime, but an act of exalted 2284 virtue and that, right or wrong, it is not of the nature of assassination 2285 but of civil war. As such, I hold that the instigation to it, in a specific 2286 case, may be a proper subject of punishment, but only if an overt act has 2287 followed, and at least a probable connection can be established between the 2288 act and the instigation. Even then it is not a foreign government, but the 2289 very government assailed, which alone, in the exercise of self-defence, can 2290 legitimately punish attacks directed against its own existence. 2291 2292 [2] Thomas Pooley, Bodmin Assizes, July 31, 1857. In December following, 2293 he received a free pardon from the Crown. 2294 2295 [3] George Jacob Holyoake, August 17, 1857; Edward Truelove, July, 1857. 2296 2297 [4] Baron de Gleichen, Marlborough Street Police Court, August 4, 1857. 2298 2299 [5] Ample warning may be drawn from the large infusion of the passions 2300 of a persecutor, which mingled with the general display of the worst parts 2301 of our national character on the occasion of the Sepoy insurrection. The 2302 ravings of fanatics or charlatans from the pulpit may be unworthy of 2303 notice; but the heads of the Evangelical party have announced as their 2304 principle, for the government of Hindoos and Mahomedans, that no schools 2305 be supported by public money in which the Bible is not taught, and by 2306 necessary consequence that no public employment be given to any but real 2307 or pretended Christians. An Under-Secretary of State, in a speech deliv- 2308 ered to his constituents on the 12th of November, 1857, is reported to have 2309 said: "Toleration of their faith" (the faith of a hundred millions of 2310 British subjects), "the superstition which they called religion, by the 2311 British Government, had had the effect of retarding the ascendency of 2312 the British name, and preventing the salutary growth of Christianity.... 2313 Toleration was the great corner-stone of the religious liberties of this coun- 2314 try; but do not let them abuse that precious word toleration. As he 2315 understood it, it meant the complete liberty to all, freedom of worship, 2316 among Christians, who worshipped upon the same foundation. It meant 2317 toleration of all sects and denominations of Christians who believed in the 2318 one mediation." I desire to call attention to the fact, that a man who has 2319 been deemed fit to fill a high office in the government of this country, under 2320 a liberal Ministry, maintains the doctrine that all who do not believe in the 2321 divinity of Christ are beyond the pale of toleration. Who, after this imbe- 2322 cile display, can indulge the illusion that religious persecution has passed 2323 away, never to return? 2324 2325 2326 CHAPTER III 2327 ON INDIVIDUALITY, AS ONE OF THE ELEMENTS OF WELLBEING 2328 2329 SUCH being the reasons which make it imperative that 2330 human beings should be free to form opinions, and 2331 to express their opinions without reserve; and such 2332 the baneful consequences to the intellectual, and through 2333 that to the moral nature of man, unless this liberty 2334 is either conceded, or asserted in spite of prohibition; let 2335 us next examine whether the same reasons do not require 2336 that men should be free to act upon their opinions--to carry 2337 these out in their lives, without hindrance, either physical 2338 or moral, from their fellow-men, so long as it is at their 2339 own risk and peril. This last proviso is of course indispen- 2340 sable. No one pretends that actions should be as free as 2341 opinions. On the contrary, even opinions lose their im- 2342 munity, when the circumstances in which they are ex- 2343 pressed are such as to constitute their expression a positive 2344 instigation to some mischievous act. An opinion that corn- 2345 dealers are starvers of the poor, or that private property 2346 is robbery, ought to be unmolested when simply circulated 2347 through the press, but may justly incur punishment when 2348 delivered orally to an excited mob assembled before the 2349 house of a corn-dealer, or when handed about among the 2350 same mob in the form of a placard. Acts of whatever kind, 2351 which, without justifiable cause, do harm to others, may be, 2352 and in the more important cases absolutely require to be, 2353 controlled by the unfavorable sentiments, and, when needful, 2354 by the active interference of mankind. The liberty of the 2355 individual must be thus far limited; he must not make him- 2356 self a nuisance to other people. But if he refrains from 2357 molesting others in what concerns them, and merely acts 2358 according to his own inclination and judgment in things 2359 which concern himself, the same reasons which show that 2360 opinion should be free, prove also that he should be allowed, 2361 without molestation, to carry his opinions into practice 2362 at his own cost. That mankind are not infallible; that their 2363 truths, for the most part, are only half-truths; that unity 2364 of opinion, unless resulting from the fullest and freest com- 2365 parison of opposite opinions, is not desirable, and diversity 2366 not an evil, but a good, until mankind are much more ca- 2367 pable than at present of recognizing all sides of the truth, 2368 are principles applicable to men's modes of action, not less 2369 than to their opinions. As it is useful that while mankind 2370 are imperfect there should be different opinions, so is it 2371 that there should be different experiments of living; that 2372 free scope should be given to varieties of character, short 2373 of injury to others; and that the worth of different modes 2374 of life should be proved practically, when any one thinks 2375 fit to try them. It is desirable, in short, that in things which 2376 do not primarily concern others, individuality should assert 2377 itself. Where, not the person's own character, but the tradi- 2378 tions of customs of other people are the rule of conduct, 2379 there is wanting one of the principal ingredients of human 2380 happiness, and quite the chief ingredient of individual and 2381 social progress. 2382 2383 In maintaining this principle, the greatest difficulty to be 2384 encountered does not lie in the appreciation of means 2385 towards an acknowledged end, but in the indifference of 2386 persons in general to the end itself. If it were felt that the 2387 free development of individuality is one of the leading es- 2388 sentials of well-being; that it is not only a coordinate ele- 2389 ment with all that is designated by the terms civilization, 2390 instruction, education, culture, but is itself a necessary part 2391 and condition of all those things; there would be no danger 2392 that liberty should be undervalued, and the adjustment of the 2393 boundaries between it and social control would present no 2394 extraordinary difficulty. But the evil is, that individual spon- 2395 taneity is hardly recognized by the common modes of think- 2396 ing as having any intrinsic worth, or deserving any regard 2397 on its own account. The majority, being satisfied with the 2398 ways of mankind as they now are (for it is they who make 2399 them what they are), cannot comprehend why those ways 2400 should not be good enough for everybody; and what is more, 2401 spontaneity forms no part of the ideal of the majority of 2402 moral and social reformers, but is rather looked on with 2403 jealousy, as a troublesome and perhaps rebellious obstruc- 2404 tion to the general acceptance of what these reformers, in 2405 their own judgment, think would be best for mankind. Few 2406 persons, out of Germany, even comprehend the meaning of 2407 the doctrine which Wilhelm von Humboldt, so eminent both 2408 as a savant and as a politician, made the text of a treatise-- 2409 that "the end of man, or that which is prescribed by the 2410 eternal or immutable dictates of reason, and not suggested 2411 by vague and transient desires, is the highest and most har- 2412 monious development of his powers to a complete and con- 2413 sistent whole;" that, therefore, the object "towards which 2414 every human being must ceaselessly direct his efforts, and 2415 on which especially those who design to influence their 2416 fellow-men must ever keep their eyes, is the individuality 2417 of power and development;" that for this there are two 2418 requisites, "freedom, and a variety of situations;" and 2419 that from the union of these arise "individual vigor and 2420 manifold diversity," which combine themselves in "origi- 2421 nality."[1] 2422 2423 Little, however, as people are accustomed to a doctrine 2424 like that of Von Humboldt, and surprising as it may be to 2425 them to find so high a value attached to individuality, the 2426 question, one must nevertheless think, can only be one of 2427 degree. No one's idea of excellence in conduct is that people 2428 should do absolutely nothing but copy one another. No 2429 one would assert that people ought not to put into their 2430 mode of life, and into the conduct of their concerns, any 2431 impress whatever of their own judgment, or of their own 2432 individual character. On the other hand, it would be absurd 2433 to pretend that people ought to live as if nothing whatever 2434 had been known in the world before they came into it; as if 2435 experience had as yet done nothing towards showing that 2436 one mode of existence, or of conduct, is preferable to an- 2437 other. Nobody denies that people should be so taught and 2438 trained in youth, as to know and benefit by the ascertained 2439 results of human experience. But it is the privilege and 2440 proper condition of a human being, arrived at the maturity 2441 of his faculties, to use and interpret experience in his own 2442 way. It is for him to find out what part of recorded ex- 2443 perience is properly applicable to his own circumstances and 2444 character. The traditions and customs of other people are, 2445 to a certain extent, evidence of what their experience has 2446 taught them; presumptive evidence, and as such, have a 2447 claim to this deference: but, in the first place, their experi- 2448 ence may be too narrow; or they may not have interpreted 2449 it rightly. Secondly, their interpretation of experience may 2450 be correct but unsuitable to him. Customs are made for 2451 customary circumstances, and customary characters: and 2452 his circumstances or his character may be uncustomary. 2453 Thirdly, though the customs be both good as customs, 2454 and suitable to him, yet to conform to custom, merely 2455 as custom, does not educate or develop in him any 2456 of the qualities which are the distinctive endowment of a 2457 human being. The human faculties of perception, judg- 2458 ment, discriminative feeling, mental activity, and even moral 2459 preference, are exercised only in making a choice. He 2460 who does anything because it is the custom, makes no 2461 choice. He gains no practice either in discerning or in de- 2462 siring what is best. The mental and moral, like the mus- 2463 cular powers, are improved only by being used. The facul- 2464 ties are called into no exercise by doing a thing merely 2465 because others do it, no more than by believing a thing only 2466 because others believe it. If the grounds of an opinion 2467 are not conclusive to the person's own reason, his reason 2468 cannot be strengthened, but is likely to be weakened by his 2469 adopting it: and if the inducements to an act are not such 2470 as are consentaneous to his own feelings and character 2471 (where affection, or the rights of others are not concerned), 2472 it is so much done towards rendering his feelings and char- 2473 acter inert and torpid, instead of active and energetic. 2474 2475 He who lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose 2476 his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty 2477 than the ape-like one of imitation. He who chooses his 2478 plan for himself, employs all his faculties. He must use 2479 observation to see, reasoning and judgment to foresee, ac- 2480 tivity to gather materials for decision, discrimination to 2481 decide, and when he has decided, firmness and self-control 2482 to hold to his deliberate decision. And these qualities he 2483 requires and exercises exactly in proportion as the part of his 2484 conduct which he determines according to his own judgment 2485 and feelings is a large one. It is possible that he might be 2486 guided in some good path, and kept out of harm's way, with- 2487 out any of these things. But what will be his comparative 2488 worth as a human being? It really is of importance, not 2489 only what men do, but also what manner of men they are 2490 that do it. Among the works of man, which human life is 2491 rightly employed in perfecting and beautifying, the first in 2492 importance surely is man himself. Supposing it were pos- 2493 sible to get houses built, corn grown, battles fought, causes 2494 tried, and even churches erected and prayers said, by ma- 2495 chinery--by automatons in human form--it would be a con- 2496 siderable loss to exchange for these automatons even the 2497 men and women who at present inhabit the more civilized 2498 parts of the world, and who assuredly are but starved speci- 2499 mens of what nature can and will produce. Human nature 2500 is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do 2501 exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires 2502 to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the 2503 tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing. 2504 2505 It will probably be conceded that it is desirable people 2506 should exercise their understandings, and that an intelligent 2507 following of custom, or even occasionally an intelligent de- 2508 viation from custom, is better than a blind and simply 2509 mechanical adhesion to it. To a certain extent it is ad- 2510 mitted, that our understanding should be our own: but there 2511 is not the same willingness to admit that our desires and 2512 impulses should be our own likewise; or that to possess im- 2513 pulses of our own, and of any strength, is anything but a 2514 peril and a snare. Yet desires and impulses are as much 2515 a part of a perfect human being, as beliefs and restraints: 2516 and strong impulses are only perilous when not properly 2517 balanced; when one set of aims and inclinations is developed 2518 into strength, while others, which ought to coexist with 2519 them, remain weak and inactive. It is not because men's 2520 desires are strong that they act ill; it is because their con- 2521 sciences are weak. There is no natural connection between 2522 strong impulses and a weak conscience. The natural con- 2523 nection is the other way. To say that one person's desires 2524 and feelings are stronger and more various than those of an- 2525 other, is merely to say that he has more of the raw material 2526 of human nature, and is therefore capable, perhaps of more 2527 evil, but certainly of more good. Strong impulses are but 2528 another name for energy. Energy may be turned to bad 2529 uses; but more good may always be made of an energetic 2530 nature, than of an indolent and impassive one. Those who 2531 have most natural feeling, are always those whose cultivated 2532 feelings may be made the strongest. The same strong sus- 2533 ceptibilities which make the personal impulses vivid and 2534 powerful, are also the source from whence are generated 2535 the most passionate love of virtue, and the sternest self- 2536 control. It is through the cultivation of these, that society 2537 both does its duty and protects its interests: not by rejecting 2538 the stuff of which heroes are made, because it knows not 2539 how to make them. A person whose desires and impulses 2540 are his own--are the expression of his own nature, as it has 2541 been developed and modified by his own culture--is said to 2542 have a character. One whose desires and impulses are not 2543 his owN, has no character, no more than a steam-engine has 2544 a character. If, in addition to being his own, his impulses 2545 are strong, and are under the government of a strong will, 2546 he has an energetic character. Whoever thinks that indi- 2547 viduality of desires and impulses should not be encouraged 2548 to unfold itself, must maintain that society has no need of 2549 strong natures--is not the better for containing many per- 2550 sons who have much character--and that a high general 2551 average of energy is not desirable. 2552 2553 In some early states of society, these forces might be, 2554 and were, too much ahead of the power which society then 2555 possessed of disciplining and controlling them. There has 2556 been a time when the element of spontaneity and individu- 2557 ality was in excess, and the social principle had a hard 2558 struggle with it. The difficulty then was, to induce men of 2559 strong bodies or minds to pay obedience to any rules which 2560 required them to control their impulses. To overcome this 2561 difficulty, law and discipline, like the Popes struggling against 2562 the Emperors, asserted a power over the whole man, claiming 2563 to control all his life in order to control his character-- 2564 which society had not found any other sufficient means of 2565 binding. But society has now fairly got the better of indi- 2566 viduality; and the danger which threatens human nature 2567 is not the excess, but the deficiency, of personal impulses and 2568 preferences. Things are vastly changed, since the passions 2569 of those who were strong by station or by personal en- 2570 dowment were in a state of habitual rebellion against laws 2571 and ordinances, and required to be rigorously chained up to 2572 enable the persons within their reach to enjoy any particle 2573 of security. In our times, from the highest class of society 2574 down to the lowest every one lives as under the eye of a 2575 hostile and dreaded censorship. Not only in what concerns 2576 others, but in what concerns only themselves, the individual, 2577 or the family, do not ask themselves--what do I prefer? or, 2578 what would suit my character and disposition? or, what 2579 would allow the best and highest in me to have fair play, and 2580 enable it to grow and thrive? They ask themselves, what 2581 is suitable to my position? what is usually done by persons 2582 of my station and pecuniary circumstances? or (worse still) 2583 what is usually done by persons of a station and circum- 2584 stances superior to mine? I do not mean that they choose 2585 what is customary, in preference to what suits their own 2586 inclination. It does not occur to them to have any inclina- 2587 tion, except for what is customary. Thus the mind itself 2588 is bowed to the yoke: even in what people do for pleasure, 2589 conformity is the first thing thought of; they like in crowds; 2590 they exercise choice only among things commonly done: 2591 peculiarity of taste, eccentricity of conduct, are shunned 2592 equally with crimes: until by dint of not following their 2593 own nature, they have no nature to follow: their human 2594 capacities are withered and starved: they become incapable 2595 of any strong wishes or native pleasures, and are generally 2596 without either opinions or feelings of home growth, or 2597 properly their own. Now is this, or is it not, the desirable 2598 condition of human nature? 2599 2600 It is so, on the Calvinistic theory. According to that, 2601 the one great offence of man is Self-will. All the 2602 good of which humanity is capable, is comprised in Obedi- 2603 ence. You have no choice; thus you must do, and no other- 2604 wise; "whatever is not a duty is a sin." Human nature be- 2605 ing radically corrupt, there is no redemption for any one 2606 until human nature is killed within him. To one holding 2607 this theory of life, crushing out any of the human faculties, 2608 capacities, and susceptibilities, is no evil: man needs no 2609 capacity, but that of surrendering himself to the will of 2610 God: and if he uses any of his faculties for any other 2611 purpose but to do that supposed will more effectually, he is 2612 better without them. That is the theory of Calvinism; and 2613 it is held, in a mitigated form, by many who do not con- 2614 sider themselves Calvinists; the mitigation consisting in 2615 giving a less ascetic interpretation to the alleged will of 2616 God; asserting it to be his will that mankind should gratify 2617 some of their inclinations; of course not in the manner 2618 they themselves prefer, but in the way of obedience, that 2619 is, in a way prescribed to them by authority; and, therefore, 2620 by the necessary conditions of the case, the same for all. 2621 2622 In some such insidious form there is at present a strong 2623 tendency to this narrow theory of life, and to the pinched 2624 and hidebound type of human character which it patronizes. 2625 Many persons, no doubt, sincerely think that human beings 2626 thus cramped and dwarfed, are as their Maker designed 2627 them to be; just as many have thought that trees are a 2628 much finer thing when clipped into pollards, or cut out 2629 into figures of animals, than as nature made them. But if 2630 it be any part of religion to believe that man was made by 2631 a good Being, it is more consistent with that faith to 2632 believe, that this Being gave all human faculties that they 2633 might be cultivated and unfolded, not rooted out and con- 2634 sumed, and that he takes delight in every nearer approach 2635 made by his creatures to the ideal conception embodied in 2636 them, every increase in any of their capabilities of com- 2637 prehension, of action, or of enjoyment. There is a different 2638 type of human excellence from the Calvinistic; a conception 2639 of humanity as having its nature bestowed on it for other 2640 purposes than merely to be abnegated. "Pagan self- 2641 assertion" is one of the elements of human worth, 2642 as well as "Christian self-denial."[2] There is a Greek 2643 ideal of self-development, which the Platonic and Chris- 2644 tian ideal of self-government blends with, but does 2645 not supersede. It may be better to be a John Knox than 2646 an Alcibiades, but it is better to be a Pericles than either; 2647 nor would a Pericles, if we had one in these days, be without 2648 anything good which belonged to John Knox. 2649 2650 It is not by wearing down into uniformity all that is 2651 individual in themselves, but by cultivating it and calling 2652 it forth, within the limits imposed by the rights and interests 2653 of others, that human beings become a noble and beautiful 2654 object of contemplation; and as the works partake the char- 2655 acter of those who do them, by the same process human 2656 life also becomes rich, diversified, and animating, furnish- 2657 ing more abundant aliment to high thoughts and elevating 2658 feelings, and strengthening the tie which binds every in- 2659 dividual to the race, by making the race infinitely better 2660 worth belonging to. In proportion to the development of his 2661 individuality, each person becomes more valuable to himself, 2662 and is therefore capable of being more valuable to others. 2663 There is a greater fulness of life about his own existence, 2664 and when there is more life in the units there is more 2665 in the mass which is composed of them. As much com- 2666 pression as is necessary to prevent the stronger specimens 2667 of human nature from encroaching on the rights of others, 2668 cannot be dispensed with; but for this there is ample com- 2669 pensation even in the point of view of human develop- 2670 ment. The means of development which the individual 2671 loses by being prevented from gratifying his inclinations 2672 to the injury of others, are chiefly obtained at the expense 2673 of the development of other people. And even to himself 2674 there is a full equivalent in the better development of the 2675 social part of his nature, rendered possible by the restraint 2676 put upon the selfish part. To be held to rigid rules of 2677 justice for the sake of others, develops the feelings and 2678 capacities which have the good of others for their object. 2679 But to be restrained in things not affecting their good, by 2680 their mere displeasure, develops nothing valuable, except 2681 such force of character as may unfold itself in resisting 2682 the restraint. If acquiesced in, it dulls and blunts the 2683 whole nature. To give any fair play to the nature of each, 2684 it is essential that different persons should be allowed to lead 2685 different lives. In proportion as this latitude has been ex- 2686 ercised in any age, has that age been noteworthy to posterity. 2687 Even despotism does not produce its worst effects, so long 2688 as Individuality exists under it; and whatever crushes in- 2689 dividuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called, 2690 and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God 2691 or the injunctions of men. 2692 2693 Having said that Individuality is the same thing with 2694 development, and that it is only the cultivation of individ- 2695 uality which produces, or can produce, well-developed human 2696 beings, I might here close the argument: for what more 2697 or better can be said of any condition of human affairs, 2698 than that it brings human beings themselves nearer to the 2699 best thing they can be? or what worse can be said of any 2700 obstruction to good, than that it prevents this? Doubtless, 2701 however, these considerations will not suffice to convince 2702 those who most need convincing; and it is necessary 2703 further to show, that these developed human beings 2704 are of some use to the undeveloped--to point out to 2705 those who do not desire liberty, and would not avail them- 2706 selves of it, that they may be in some intelligible manner 2707 rewarded for allowing other people to make use of it with- 2708 out hindrance. 2709 2710 In the first place, then, I would suggest that they might 2711 possibly learn something from them. It will not be denied 2712 by anybody, that originality is a valuable element in human 2713 affairs. There is always need of persons not only to discover 2714 new truths, and point out when what were once truths 2715 are true no longer, but also to commence new practices, and 2716 set the example of more enlightened conduct, and better 2717 taste and sense in human life. This cannot well be gainsaid 2718 by anybody who does not believe that the world has already 2719 attained perfection in all its ways and practices. It is true 2720 that this benefit is not capable of being rendered by every- 2721 body alike: there are but few persons, in comparison with 2722 the whole of mankind, whose experiments, if adopted by 2723 others, would be likely to be any improvement on established 2724 practice. But these few are the salt of the earth; without 2725 them, human life would become a stagnant pool. Not only is 2726 it they who introduce good things which did not before 2727 exist; it is they who keep the life in those which already 2728 existed. If there were nothing new to be done, would 2729 human intellect cease to be necessary? Would it be a reason 2730 why those who do the old things should forget why they 2731 are done, and do them like cattle, not like human beings? 2732 There is only too great a tendency in the best beliefs and 2733 practices to degenerate into the mechanical; and unless there 2734 were a succession of persons whose ever-recurring origi- 2735 nality prevents the grounds of those beliefs and practices 2736 from becoming merely traditional, such dead matter would 2737 not resist the smallest shock from anything really alive, and 2738 there would be no reason why civilization should not die 2739 out, as in the Byzantine Empire. Persons of genius, it is 2740 true, are, and are always likely to be, a small minority; 2741 but in order to have them, it is necessary to preserve the 2742 soil in which they grow. Genius can only breathe freely 2743 in an atmosphere of freedom. Persons of genius are, ex 2744 vi termini, more individual than any other people--less 2745 capable, consequently, of fitting themselves, without hurt- 2746 ful compression, into any of the small number of moulds 2747 which society provides in order to save its members the 2748 trouble of forming their own character. If from timidity 2749 they consent to be forced into one of these moulds, and to 2750 let all that part of themselves which cannot expand under 2751 the pressure remain unexpanded, society will be little the 2752 better for their genius. If they are of a strong character, 2753 and break their fetters they become a mark for the society 2754 which has not succeeded in reducing them to common-place, 2755 to point at with solemn warning as "wild," "erratic," and 2756 the like; much as if one should complain of the Niagara 2757 river for not flowing smoothly between its banks like a 2758 Dutch canal. 2759 2760 I insist thus emphatically on the importance of genius, 2761 and the necessity of allowing it to unfold itself freely both 2762 in thought and in practice, being well aware that no one 2763 will deny the position in theory, but knowing also that almost 2764 every one, in reality, is totally indifferent to it. People 2765 think genius a fine thing if it enables a man to write an 2766 exciting poem, or paint a picture. But in its true sense, 2767 that of originality in thought and action, though no one 2768 says that it is not a thing to be admired, nearly all, at 2769 heart, think they can do very well without it. Unhappily 2770 this is too natural to be wondered at. Originality is the 2771 one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of. 2772 They cannot see what it is to do for them: how should they? 2773 If they could see what it would do for them, it would not 2774 be originality. The first service which originality has to 2775 render them, is that of opening their eyes: which being 2776 once fully done, they would have a chance of being them- 2777 selves original. Meanwhile, recollecting that nothing was 2778 ever yet done which some one was not the first to do, and 2779 that all good things which exist are the fruits of originality, 2780 let them be modest enough to believe that there is something 2781 still left for it to accomplish, and assure themselves that 2782 they are more in need of originality, the less they are 2783 conscious of the want. 2784 2785 In sober truth, whatever homage may be professed, or 2786 even paid, to real or supposed mental superiority, the gen- 2787 eral tendency of things throughout the world is to render 2788 mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind. In ancient 2789 history, in the Middle Ages, and in a diminishing degree 2790 through the long transition from feudality to the present 2791 time, the individual was a power in himself; and If he 2792 had either great talents or a high social position, he was 2793 a considerable power. At present individuals are lost in the 2794 crowd. In politics it is almost a triviality to say that public 2795 opinion now rules the world. The only power deserving 2796 the name is that of masses, and of governments while they 2797 make themselves the organ of the tendencies and instincts 2798 of masses. This is as true in the moral and social relations 2799 of private life as in public transactions. Those whose 2800 opinions go by the name of public opinion, are not always 2801 the same sort of public: in America, they are the whole 2802 white population; in England, chiefly the middle class. But 2803 they are always a mass, that is to say, collective mediocrity. 2804 And what is still greater novelty, the mass do not now 2805 take their opinions from dignitaries in Church or State, from 2806 ostensible leaders, or from books. Their thinking is done 2807 for them by men much like themselves, addressing them or 2808 speaking in their name, on the spur of the moment, through 2809 the newspapers. I am not complaining of all this. I do 2810 not assert that anything better is compatible, as a general 2811 rule, with the present low state of the human mind. But 2812 that does not hinder the government of mediocrity from 2813 being mediocre government. No government by a democ- 2814 racy or a numerous aristocracy, either in its political acts 2815 or in the opinions, qualities, and tone of mind which it 2816 fosters, ever did or could rise above mediocrity, except in 2817 so far as the sovereign Many have let themselves be 2818 guided (which in their best times they always have done) 2819 by the counsels and influence of a more highly gifted and 2820 instructed One or Few. The initiation of all wise or noble 2821 things, comes and must come from individuals; generally 2822 at first from some one individual. The honor and glory of 2823 the average man is that he is capable of following that 2824 initiative; that he can respond internally to wise and noble 2825 things, and be led to them with his eyes open. I am not 2826 countenancing the sort of "hero-worship" which applauds 2827 the strong man of genius for forcibly seizing on the govern- 2828 ment of the world and making it do his bidding in spite 2829 of itself. All he can claim is, freedom to point out the way. 2830 The power of compelling others into it, is not only incon- 2831 sistent with the freedom and development of all the rest, 2832 but corrupting to the strong man himself. It does seem, how- 2833 ever, that when the opinions of masses of merely average 2834 men are everywhere become or becoming the dominant 2835 power, the counterpoise and corrective to that tendency 2836 would be, the more and more pronounced individuality of 2837 those who stand on the higher eminences of thought. It 2838 Is in these circumstances most especially, that exceptional 2839 individuals, instead of being deterred, should be encouraged 2840 in acting differently from the mass. In other times there 2841 was no advantage in their doing so, unless they acted not 2842 only differently, but better. In this age the mere example 2843 of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to 2844 custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of 2845 opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is 2846 desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that 2847 people should be eccentric. Eccentricity has always abounded 2848 when and where strength of character has abounded; and 2849 the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been 2850 proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and 2851 moral courage which it contained. That so few now dare 2852 to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time. 2853 2854 I have said that it is important to give the freest scope 2855 possible to uncustomary things, in order that it may in time 2856 appear which of these are fit to be converted into customs. 2857 But independence of action, and disregard of custom are not 2858 solely deserving of encouragement for the chance they 2859 afford that better modes of action, and customs more worthy 2860 of general adoption, may be struck out; nor is it only per- 2861 sons of decided mental superiority who have a just claim 2862 to carry on their lives in their own way. There is no reason 2863 that all human existences should be constructed on some one, 2864 or some small number of patterns. If a person possesses 2865 any tolerable amount of common sense and experience, his 2866 own mode of laying out his existence is the best, not because 2867 it is the best in itself, but because it is his own mode. Hu- 2868 man beings are not like sheep; and even sheep are not un- 2869 distinguishably alike. A man cannot get a coat or a pair 2870 of boots to fit him, unless they are either made to his meas- 2871 ure, or he has a whole warehouseful to choose from: and is 2872 it easier to fit him with a life than with a coat, or are hu- 2873 man beings more like one another in their whole physical 2874 and spiritual conformation than in the shape of their feet? 2875 If it were only that people have diversities of taste that 2876 is reason enough for not attempting to shape them 2877 all after one model. But different persons also require dif- 2878 ferent conditions for their spiritual development; and can 2879 no more exist healthily in the same moral, than all the 2880 variety of plants can in the same physical atmosphere and 2881 climate. The same things which are helps to one person 2882 towards the cultivation of his higher nature, are hindrances 2883 to another. The same mode of life is a healthy excitement 2884 to one, keeping all his faculties of action and enjoyment in 2885 their best order, while to another it is a distracting burden, 2886 which suspends or crushes all internal life. Such are the 2887 differences among human beings in their sources of pleasure, 2888 their susceptibilities of pain, and the operation on them of 2889 different physical and moral agencies, that unless there is a 2890 corresponding diversity in their modes of life, they neither 2891 obtain their fair share of happiness, nor grow up to the 2892 mental, moral, and aesthetic stature of which their nature is 2893 capable. Why then should tolerance, as far as the public 2894 sentiment is concerned, extend only to tastes and modes of 2895 life which extort acquiescence by the multitude of their ad- 2896 herents? Nowhere (except in some monastic institutions) 2897 is diversity of taste entirely unrecognized; a person may 2898 without blame, either like or dislike rowing, or smoking, or 2899 music, or athletic exercises, or chess, or cards, or study, be- 2900 cause both those who like each of these things, and those 2901 who dislike them, are too numerous to be put down. But the 2902 man, and still more the woman, who can be accused either 2903 of doing "what nobody does," or of not doing "what every- 2904 body does," is the subject of as much depreciatory remark 2905 as if he or she had committed some grave moral delinquency. 2906 Persons require to possess a title, or some other badge of 2907 rank, or the consideration of people of rank, to be able to 2908 indulge somewhat in the luxury of doing as they like with- 2909 out detriment to their estimation. To indulge somewhat, I 2910 repeat: for whoever allow themselves much of that in 2911 dulgence, incur the risk of something worse than disparag- 2912 ing speeches--they are in peril of a commission de lunatico, 2913 and of having their property taken from them and given to 2914 their relations.[3] 2915 2916 There is one characteristic of the present direction of 2917 public opinion, peculiarly calculated to make it intolerant of 2918 any marked demonstration of individuality. The general 2919 average of mankind are not only moderate in intellect, but 2920 also moderate in inclinations: they have no tastes or wishes 2921 strong enough to incline them to do anything unusual, and 2922 they consequently do not understand those who have, and 2923 class all such with the wild and intemperate whom they are 2924 accustomed to look down upon. Now, in addition to this 2925 fact which is general, we have only to suppose that a strong 2926 movement has set in towards the improvement of morals, 2927 and it is evident what we have to expect. In these days 2928 such a movement has set in; much has actually been effected 2929 in the way of increased regularity of conduct, and discour- 2930 agement of excesses; and there is a philanthropic spirit 2931 abroad, for the exercise of which there is no more inviting 2932 field than the moral and prudential improvement of our 2933 fellow-creatures. These tendencies of the times cause the 2934 public to be more disposed than at most former periods to 2935 prescribe general rules of conduct, and endeavor to make 2936 every one conform to the approved standard. And that 2937 standard, express or tacit, is to desire nothing strongly. Its 2938 ideal of character is to be without any marked character; to 2939 maim by compression, like a Chinese lady's foot, every part 2940 of human nature which stands out prominently, and tends to 2941 make the person markedly dissimilar in outline to common- 2942 place humanity. 2943 2944 As is usually the case with ideals which exclude one half 2945 of what is desirable, the present standard of approbation 2946 produces only an inferior imitation of the other half. In- 2947 stead of great energies guided by vigorous reason, and 2948 strong feelings strongly controlled by a conscientious will, 2949 its result is weak feelings and weak energies, which there- 2950 fore can be kept in outward conformity to rule without any 2951 strength either of will or of reason. Already energetic 2952 characters on any large scale are becoming merely tradi- 2953 tional. There is now scarcely any outlet for energy in this 2954 country except business. The energy expended in that 2955 may still be regarded as considerable. What little is left 2956 from that employment, is expended on some hobby; which 2957 may be a useful, even a philanthropic hobby, but is always 2958 some one thing, and generally a thing of small dimensions. 2959 The greatness of England is now all collective: individually 2960 small, we only appear capable of anything great by our habit 2961 of combining; and with this our moral and religious philan- 2962 thropists are perfectly contented. But it was men of another 2963 stamp than this that made England what it has been; and 2964 men of another stamp will be needed to prevent its decline. 2965 2966 The despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hin- 2967 drance to human advancement, being in unceasing antago- 2968 nism to that disposition to aim at something better than cus- 2969 tomary, which is called, according to circumstances, the spirit 2970 of liberty, or that of progress or improvement. The spirit 2971 of improvement is not always a spirit of liberty, for it may 2972 aim at forcing improvements on an unwilling people; and 2973 the spirit of liberty, in so far as it resists such attempts, may 2974 ally itself locally and temporarily with the opponents of im- 2975 provement; but the only unfailing and permanent source of 2976 improvement is liberty, since by it there are as many possi- 2977 ble independent centres of improvement as there are indi- 2978 viduals. The progressive principle, however, in either shape, 2979 whether as the love of liberty or of improvement, is antago- 2980 nistic to the sway of Custom, involving at least emancipation 2981 from that yoke; and the contest between the two constitutes 2982 the chief interest of the history of mankind. The greater 2983 part of the world has, properly speaking, no history, because 2984 the despotism of Custom is complete. This is the case over 2985 the whole East. Custom is there, in all things, the final 2986 appeal; Justice and right mean conformity to custom; the 2987 argument of custom no one, unless some tyrant intoxicated 2988 with power, thinks of resisting. And we see the result. 2989 Those nations must once have had originality; they did not 2990 start out of the ground populous, lettered, and versed in 2991 many of the arts of life; they made themselves all this, and 2992 were then the greatest and most powerful nations in the 2993 world. What are they now? The subjects or dependents of 2994 tribes whose forefathers wandered in the forests when theirs 2995 had magnificent palaces and gorgeous temples, but over 2996 whom custom exercised only a divided rule with liberty and 2997 progress. A people, it appears, may be progressive for a 2998 certain length of time, and then stop: when does it stop? 2999 When it ceases to possess individuality. If a similar change 3000 should befall the nations of Europe, it will not be in exactly 3001 the same shape: the despotism of custom with which these 3002 nations are threatened is not precisely stationariness. It 3003 proscribes singularity, but it does not preclude change, pro- 3004 vided all change together. We have discarded the fixed 3005 costumes of our forefathers; every one must still dress like 3006 other people, but the fashion may change once or twice a 3007 year. We thus take care that when there is change, it shall 3008 be for change's sake, and not from any idea of beauty or 3009 convenience; for the same idea of beauty or convenience 3010 would not strike all the world at the same moment, and be 3011 simultaneously thrown aside by all at another moment. But 3012 we are progressive as well as changeable: we continually 3013 make new inventions in mechanical things, and keep them 3014 until they are again superseded by better; we are eager for 3015 improvement in politics, in education, even in morals, though 3016 in this last our idea of improvement chiefly consists in per- 3017 suading or forcing other people to be as good as ourselves. 3018 It is not progress that we object to; on the contrary, we flat- 3019 ter ourselves that we are the most progressive people who 3020 ever lived. It is individuality that we war against: we 3021 should think we had done wonders if we had made ourselves 3022 all alike; forgetting that the unlikeness of one person to 3023 another is generally the first thing which draws the attention 3024 of either to the imperfection of his own type, and the su- 3025 periority of another, or the possibility, by combining the 3026 advantages of both, of producing something better than 3027 either. We have a warning example in China--a nation 3028 of much talent, and, in some respects, even wisdom, owing 3029 to the rare good fortune of having been provided at an 3030 early period with a particularly good set of customs, the 3031 work, in some measure, of men to whom even the most en- 3032 lightened European must accord, under certain limitations, 3033 the title of sages and philosophers. They are remarkable, 3034 too, in the excellence of their apparatus for impressing, as 3035 far as possible, the best wisdom they possess upon every 3036 mind in the community, and securing that those who have 3037 appropriated most of it shall occupy the posts of honor and 3038 power. Surely the people who did this have discovered the 3039 secret of human progressiveness, and must have kept them- 3040 selves steadily at the head of the movement of the world. 3041 On the contrary, they have become stationary--have re- 3042 mained so for thousands of years; and if they are ever to 3043 be farther improved, it must be by foreigners. They have 3044 succeeded beyond all hope in what English philanthropists 3045 are so industriously working at--in making a people all alike, 3046 all governing their thoughts and conduct by the same 3047 maxims and rules; and these are the fruits. The modern 3048 regime of public opinion is, in an unorganized form, what 3049 the Chinese educational and political systems are in an or- 3050 ganized; and unless individuality shall be able successfully to 3051 assert itself against this yoke, Europe, notwithstanding its 3052 noble antecedents and its professed Christianity, will tend 3053 to become another China. 3054 3055 What is it that has hitherto preserved Europe from this 3056 lot? What has made the European family of nations an 3057 improving, instead of a stationary portion of mankind? Not 3058 any superior excellence in them, which when it exists, exists 3059 as the effect, not as the cause; but their remarkable diversity 3060 of character and culture. Individuals, classes, nations, have 3061 been extremely unlike one another: they have struck out a 3062 great variety of paths, each leading to something valuable; 3063 and although at every period those who travelled in different 3064 paths have been intolerant of one another, and each would 3065 have thought it an excellent thing if all the rest could have 3066 been compelled to travel his road, their attempts to thwart 3067 each other's development have rarely had any permanent 3068 success, and each has in time endured to receive the good 3069 which the others have offered. Europe is, in my judgment, 3070 wholly indebted to this plurality of paths for its progressive 3071 and many-sided development. But it already begins to pos- 3072 sess this benefit in a considerably less degree. It is decidedly 3073 advancing towards the Chinese ideal of making all people 3074 alike. M. de Tocqueville, in his last important work, re- 3075 marks how much more the Frenchmen of the present day 3076 resemble one another, than did those even of the last gen- 3077 eration. The same remark might be made of Englishmen 3078 in a far greater degree. In a passage already quoted from 3079 Wilhelm von Humboldt, he points out two things as neces- 3080 sary conditions of human development, because necessary to 3081 render people unlike one another; namely, freedom, and 3082 variety of situations. The second of these two conditions is 3083 in this country every day diminishing. The circumstances 3084 which surround different classes and individuals, and shape 3085 their characters, are daily becoming more assimilated. For- 3086 merly, different ranks, different neighborhoods, different 3087 trades and professions lived in what might be called different 3088 worlds; at present, to a great degree, in the same. Compara- 3089 tively speaking, they now read the same things, listen to the 3090 same things, see the same things, go to the same places, have 3091 their hopes and fears directed to the same objects, have the 3092 same rights and liberties, and the same means of asserting 3093 them. Great as are the differences of position which re- 3094 main, they are nothing to those which have ceased. And 3095 the assimilation is still proceeding. All the political changes 3096 of the age promote it, since they all tend to raise the low 3097 and to lower the high. Every extension of education pro- 3098 motes it, because education brings people under common 3099 influences, and gives them access to the general stock of 3100 facts and sentiments. Improvements in the means of com- 3101 munication promote it, by bringing the inhabitants of distant 3102 places into personal contact, and keeping up a rapid flow of 3103 changes of residence between one place and another. The 3104 increase of commerce and manufactures promotes it, by 3105 diffusing more widely the advantages of easy circumstances, 3106 and opening all objects of ambition, even the highest, to 3107 general competition, whereby the desire of rising becomes 3108 no longer the character of a particular class, but of all 3109 classes. A more powerful agency than even all these, in 3110 bringing about a general similarity among mankind, is the 3111 complete establishment, in this and other free countries, of 3112 the ascendancy of public opinion in the State. As the various 3113 social eminences which enabled persons entrenched on them 3114 to disregard the opinion of the multitude, gradually became 3115 levelled; as the very idea of resisting the will of the public, 3116 when it is positively known that they have a will, disappears 3117 more and more from the minds of practical politicians; there 3118 ceases to be any social support for non-conformity--any sub- 3119 stantive power in society, which, itself opposed to the 3120 ascendancy of numbers, is interested in taking under its 3121 protection opinions and tendencies at variance with those 3122 of the public. 3123 3124 The combination of all these causes forms so great a mass 3125 of influences hostile to Individuality, that it is not easy to see 3126 how it can stand its ground. It will do so with increasing 3127 difficulty, unless the intelligent part of the public can be 3128 made to feel its value--to see that it is good there should be 3129 differences, even though not for the better, even though, 3130 as it may appear to them, some should be for the worse. If 3131 the claims of Individuality are ever to be asserted, the time 3132 is now, while much is still wanting to complete the enforced 3133 assimilation. It is only in the earlier stages that any stand 3134 can be successfully made against the encroachment. The 3135 demand that all other people shall resemble ourselves, grows 3136 by what it feeds on. If resistance waits till life is reduced 3137 nearly to one uniform type, all deviations from that type 3138 will come to be considered impious, immoral, even monstrous 3139 and contrary to nature. Mankind speedily become unable to 3140 conceive diversity, when they have been for some time un- 3141 accustomed to see it. 3142 3143 3144 [1] The Sphere and Duties of Government, from the German of Baron 3145 Wilhelm von Humboldt, pp. 11-13. 3146 3147 [2] Sterling's Essays. 3148 3149 [3] There is something both contemptible and frightful in the sort of evi- 3150 dence on which, of late years, any person can be judicially declared unfit 3151 for the management of his affairs; and after his death, his disposal of his 3152 property can be set aside, if there is enough of it to pay the expenses of 3153 litigation--which are charged on the property itself. All of the minute details 3154 of his daily life are pried into, and whatever is found which, seen through 3155 the medium of the perceiving and escribing faculties of the lowest of the 3156 low, bears an appearance unlike absolute commonplace, is laid before the 3157 jury as evidence of insanity, and often with success; the jurors being little, 3158 if at all, less vulgar and ignorant than the witnesses; while the judges, with 3159 that extraordinary want of knowledge of human nature and life which con- 3160 tinually astonishes us in English lawyers, often help to mislead them. These 3161 trials speak volumes as to the state of feeling and opinion among the vulgar 3162 with regard to human liberty. So far from setting any value on individu- 3163 ality--so far from respecting the rights of each individual to act, in things 3164 indifferent, as seems good to his own judgment and inclinations, judges and 3165 juries cannot even conceive that a person in a state of sanity can desire such 3166 freedom. In former days, when it was proposed to burn atheists, charitable 3167 people used to suggest putting them in a madhouse instead: it would be 3168 nothing surprising now-a-days were we to see this done, and the doers 3169 applauding themselves, because, instead of persecuting for religion, they had 3170 adopted so humane and Christian a mode of treating these unfortunates, not 3171 without a silent satisfaction at their having thereby obtained their deserts. 3172 3173 3174 CHAPTER IV 3175 OF THE LIMITS TO THE AUTHORITY OF SOCIETY OVER THE INDIVIDUAL 3176 3177 WHAT, then, is the rightful limit to the sovereignty 3178 of the individual over himself? Where does the 3179 authority of society begin? How much of human 3180 life should be assigned to individuality, and how much to 3181 society? 3182 3183 Each will receive its proper share, if each has that which 3184 more particularly concerns it. To individuality should be- 3185 long the part of life in which it is chiefly the individual that 3186 is interested; to society, the part which chiefly interests 3187 society. 3188 3189 Though society is not founded on a contract, and though 3190 no good purpose is answered by inventing a contract in 3191 order to deduce social obligations from it, every one who 3192 receives the protection of society owes a return for the ben- 3193 efit, and the fact of living in society renders it indispensable 3194 that each should be bound to observe a certain line of con- 3195 duct towards the rest. This conduct consists, first, in not 3196 injuring the interests of one another; or rather certain 3197 interests, which, either by express legal provision or by tacit 3198 understanding, ought to be considered as rights; and sec- 3199 ondly, in each person's bearing his share (to be fixed on 3200 some equitable principle) of the labors and sacrifices in- 3201 curred for defending the society or its members from injury 3202 and molestation. These conditions society is justified in 3203 enforcing, at all costs to those who endeavor to withhold 3204 fulfilment. Nor is this all that society may do. The acts of 3205 an individual may be hurtful to others, or wanting in due 3206 consideration for their welfare, without going the length of 3207 violating any of their constituted rights. The offender may 3208 then be justly punished by opinion, though not by law. As 3209 soon as any part of a person's conduct affects prejudicially 3210 the interests of others, society has jurisdiction over it, and 3211 the question whether the general welfare will or will not be 3212 promoted by interfering with it, becomes open to discussion. 3213 But there is no room for entertaining any such question 3214 when a person's conduct affects the interests of no persons 3215 besides himself, or needs not affect them unless they like 3216 (all the persons concerned being of full age, and the ordinary 3217 amount of understanding). In all such cases there should be 3218 perfect freedom, legal and social, to do the action and stand 3219 the consequences. 3220 3221 It would be a great misunderstanding of this doctrine, to 3222 suppose that it is one of selfish indifference, which pretends 3223 that human beings have no business with each other's con- 3224 duct in life, and that they should not concern themselves 3225 about the well-doing or well-being of one another, unless 3226 their own interest is involved. Instead of any diminution, 3227 there is need of a great increase of disinterested exertion 3228 to promote the good of others. But disinterested benevo- 3229 lence can find other instruments to persuade people to their 3230 good, than whips and scourges, either of the literal or the 3231 metaphorical sort. I am the last person to undervalue the 3232 self-regarding virtues; they are only second in importance, 3233 if even second, to the social. It is equally the business of 3234 education to cultivate both. But even education works by 3235 conviction and persuasion as well as by compulsion, and it is 3236 by the former only that, when the period of education is 3237 past, the self-regarding virtues should be inculcated. Human 3238 beings owe to each other help to distinguish the better from 3239 the worse, and encouragement to choose the former and 3240 avoid the latter. They should be forever stimulating each 3241 other to increased exercise of their higher faculties, and 3242 increased direction of their feelings and aims towards wise 3243 instead of foolish, elevating instead of degrading, objects 3244 and contemplations. But neither one person, nor any num- 3245 ber of persons, is warranted in saying to another human 3246 creature of ripe years, that he shall not do with his life for 3247 his own benefit what he chooses to do with it. He is the 3248 person most interested in his own well-being, the interest 3249 which any other person, except in cases of strong personal 3250 attachment, can have in it, is trifling, compared with that 3251 which he himself has; the interest which society has in him 3252 individually (except as to his conduct to others) is frac- 3253 tional, and altogether indirect: while, with respect to his own 3254 feelings and circumstances, the most ordinary man or woman 3255 has means of knowledge immeasurably surpassing those that 3256 can be possessed by any one else. The interference of 3257 society to overrule his judgment and purposes in what only 3258 regards himself, must be grounded on general presumptions; 3259 which may be altogether wrong, and even if right, are as 3260 likely as not to be misapplied to individual cases, by per- 3261 sons no better acquainted with the circumstances of such 3262 cases than those are who look at them merely from with- 3263 out. In this department, therefore, of human affairs, Indi- 3264 viduality has its proper field of action. In the conduct of 3265 human beings towards one another, it is necessary that gen- 3266 eral rules should for the most part be observed, in order that 3267 people may know what they have to expect; but in each per- 3268 son's own concerns, his individual spontaneity is entitled to 3269 free exercise. Considerations to aid his judgment, exhorta- 3270 tions to strengthen his will, may be offered to him, even 3271 obtruded on him, by others; but he, himself, is the final 3272 judge. All errors which he is likely to commit against advice 3273 and warning, are far outweighed by the evil of allowing 3274 others to constrain him to what they deem his good. 3275 3276 I do not mean that the feelings with which a person is 3277 regarded by others, ought not to be in any way affected by 3278 his self-regarding qualities or deficiencies. This is neither 3279 possible nor desirable. If he is eminent in any of the quali- 3280 ties which conduce to his own good, he is, so far, a proper 3281 object of admiration. He is so much the nearer to the ideal 3282 perfection of human nature. If he is grossly deficient in 3283 those qualities, a sentiment the opposite of admiration will 3284 follow. There is a degree of folly, and a degree of what 3285 may be called (though the phrase is not unobjectionable) low- 3286 ness or depravation of taste, which, though it cannot justify 3287 doing harm to the person who manifests it, renders him 3288 necessarily and properly a subject of distaste, or, in ex- 3289 treme cases, even of contempt: a person could not have the 3290 opposite qualities in due strength without entertaining these 3291 feelings. Though doing no wrong to any one, a person may 3292 so act as to compel us to judge him, and feel to him, as a 3293 fool, or as a being of an inferior order: and since this judg- 3294 ment and feeling are a fact which he would prefer to avoid, 3295 it is doing him a service to warn him of it beforehand, as of 3296 any other disagreeable consequence to which he exposes 3297 himself. It would be well, indeed, if this good office were 3298 much more freely rendered than the common notions of 3299 politeness at present permit, and if one person could honestly 3300 point out to another that he thinks him in fault, without 3301 being considered unmannerly or presuming. We have a 3302 right, also, in various ways, to act upon our unfavorable 3303 opinion of any one, not to the oppression of his individuality, 3304 but in the exercise of ours. We are not bound, for example, 3305 to seek his society; we have a right to avoid it (though not 3306 to parade the avoidance), for we have a right to choose the 3307 society most acceptable to us. We have a right, and it may 3308 be our duty, to caution others against him, if we think his 3309 example or conversation likely to have a pernicious effect 3310 on those with whom he associates. We may give others a 3311 preference over him in optional good offices, except those 3312 which tend to his improvement. In these various modes a 3313 person may suffer very severe penalties at the hands of 3314 others, for faults which directly concern only himself; but 3315 he suffers these penalties only in so far as they are the 3316 natural, and, as it were, the spontaneous consequences of the 3317 faults themselves, not because they are purposely inflicted 3318 on him for the sake of punishment. A person who shows 3319 rashness, obstinacy, self-conceit--who cannot live within 3320 moderate means--who cannot restrain himself from hurtful 3321 indulgences--who pursues animal pleasures at the expense 3322 of those of feeling and intellect--must expect to be lowered 3323 in the opinion of others, and to have a less share of their 3324 favorable sentiments, but of this he has no right to com- 3325 plain, unless he has merited their favor by special excellence 3326 in his social relations, and has thus established a title to 3327 their good offices, which is not affected by his demerits 3328 towards himself. 3329 3330 What I contend for is, that the inconveniences which are 3331 strictly inseparable from the unfavorable judgment of others, 3332 are the only ones to which a person should ever be sub- 3333 jected for that portion of his conduct and character which 3334 concerns his own good, but which does not affect the inter- 3335 ests of others in their relations with him. Acts injurious to 3336 others require a totally different treatment. Encroachment 3337 on their rights; infliction on them of any loss or damage 3338 not justified by his own rights; falsehood or duplicity in deal- 3339 ing with them; unfair or ungenerous use of advantages over 3340 them; even selfish abstinence from defending them against 3341 injury--these are fit objects of moral reprobation, and, in 3342 grave cases, of moral retribution and punishment. And not 3343 only these acts, but the dispositions which lead to them, are 3344 properly immoral, and fit subjects of disapprobation which 3345 may rise to abhorrence. Cruelty of disposition; malice and 3346 ill-nature; that most anti-social and odious of all passions, 3347 envy; dissimulation and insincerity, irascibility on insuffi- 3348 cient cause, and resentment disproportioned to the provoca- 3349 tion; the love of domineering over others; the desire to 3350 engross more than one's share of advantages (the [greekword] 3351 of the Greeks); the pride which derives gratification from 3352 the abasement of others; the egotism which thinks self and 3353 its concerns more important than everything else, and de- 3354 cides all doubtful questions in his own favor;--these are 3355 moral vices, and constitute a bad and odious moral charac- 3356 ter: unlike the self-regarding faults previously mentioned, 3357 which are not properly immoralities, and to whatever pitch 3358 they may be carried, do not constitute wickedness. They 3359 may be proofs of any amount of folly, or want of personal 3360 dignity and self-respect; but they are only a subject of 3361 moral reprobation when they involve a breach of duty to 3362 others, for whose sake the individual is bound to have care 3363 for himself. What are called duties to ourselves are not 3364 socially obligatory, unless circumstances render them at the 3365 same time duties to others. The term duty to oneself, when it 3366 means anything more than prudence, means self-respect or 3367 self-development; and for none of these is any one account- 3368 able to his fellow-creatures, because for none of them is it for 3369 the good of mankind that he be held accountable to them. 3370 3371 The distinction between the loss of consideration which a 3372 person may rightly incur by defect of prudence or of per- 3373 sonal dignity, and the reprobation which is due to him for 3374 an offence against the rights of others, is not a merely nomi- 3375 nal distinction. It makes a vast difference both in our feel- 3376 ings and in our conduct towards him, whether he displeases 3377 us in things in which we think we have a right to control 3378 him, or in things in which we know that we have not. If he 3379 displeases us, we may express our distaste, and we may stand 3380 aloof from a person as well as from a thing that displeases 3381 us; but we shall not therefore feel called on to make his 3382 life uncomfortable. We shall reflect that he already bears, 3383 or will bear, the whole penalty of his error; if he spoils his 3384 life by mismanagement, we shall not, for that reason, desire 3385 to spoil it still further: instead of wishing to punish him, we 3386 shall rather endeavor to alleviate his punishment, by show- 3387 ing him how he may avoid or cure the evils his conduct 3388 tends to bring upon him. He may be to us an object of pity, 3389 perhaps of dislike, but not of anger or resentment; we shall 3390 not treat him like an enemy of society: the worst we shall 3391 think ourselves justified in doing is leaving him to himself, 3392 If we do not interfere benevolently by showing interest or 3393 concern for him. It is far otherwise if he has infringed the 3394 rules necessary for the protection of his fellow-creatures, 3395 individually or collectively. The evil consequences of his 3396 acts do not then fall on himself, but on others; and society, 3397 as the protector of all its members, must retaliate on him; 3398 must inflict pain on him for the express purpose of punish- 3399 ment, and must take care that it be sufficiently severe. In 3400 the one case, he is an offender at our bar, and we are called 3401 on not only to sit in judgment on him, but, in one shape or 3402 another, to execute our own sentence: in the other case, it 3403 is not our part to inflict any suffering on him, except what 3404 may incidentally follow from our using the same liberty in 3405 the regulation of our own affairs, which we allow to him 3406 in his. 3407 3408 The distinction here pointed out between the part of a 3409 person's life which concerns only himself, and that which 3410 concerns others, many persons will refuse to admit. How (it 3411 may be asked) can any part of the conduct of a member of 3412 society be a matter of indifference to the other members? 3413 No person is an entirely isolated being; it is impossible for a 3414 person to do anything seriously or permanently hurtful to 3415 himself, without mischief reaching at least to his near con- 3416 nections, and often far beyond them. If he injures his 3417 property, he does harm to those who directly or indirectly 3418 derived support from it, and usually diminishes, by a greater 3419 or less amount, the general resources of the community. If 3420 he deteriorates his bodily or mental faculties, he not only 3421 brings evil upon all who depended on him for any portion 3422 of their happiness, but disqualifies himself for rendering 3423 the services which he owes to his fellow-creatures generally; 3424 perhaps becomes a burden on their affection or benevolence; 3425 and if such conduct were very frequent, hardly any offence 3426 that is committed would detract more from the general sum 3427 of good. Finally, if by his vices or follies a person does no 3428 direct harm to others, he is nevertheless (it may be said) 3429 injurious by his example; and ought to be compelled to con- 3430 trol himself, for the sake of those whom the sight or knowl- 3431 edge of his conduct might corrupt or mislead. 3432 3433 And even (it will be added) if the consequences of mis- 3434 conduct could be confined to the vicious or thoughtless indi- 3435 vidual, ought society to abandon to their own guidance those 3436 who are manifestly unfit for it? If protection against them- 3437 selves is confessedly due to children and persons under age, 3438 is not society equally bound to afford it to persons of ma- 3439 ture years who are equally incapable of self-government? 3440 If gambling, or drunkenness, or incontinence, or idleness, or 3441 uncleanliness, are as injurious to happiness, and as great a 3442 hindrance to improvement, as many or most of the acts pro- 3443 hibited by law, why (it may be asked) should not law, so far 3444 as is consistent with practicability and social convenience, en- 3445 deavor to repress these also? And as a supplement to the 3446 unavoidable imperfections of law, ought not opinion at least 3447 to organize a powerful police against these vices, and visit 3448 rigidly with social penalties those who are known to prac- 3449 tise them? There is no question here (it may be said) about 3450 restricting individuality, or impeding the trial of new and 3451 original experiments in living. The only things it is sought 3452 to prevent are things which have been tried and condemned 3453 from the beginning of the world until now; things which 3454 experience has shown not to be useful or suitable to any 3455 person's individuality. There must be some length of time 3456 and amount of experience, after which a moral or prudential 3457 truth may be regarded as established, and it is merely de- 3458 sired to prevent generation after generation from falling 3459 over the same precipice which has been fatal to their prede- 3460 cessors. 3461 3462 I fully admit that the mischief which a person does to 3463 himself, may seriously affect, both through their sympathies 3464 and their interests, those nearly connected with him, and in 3465 a minor degree, society at large. When, by conduct of this 3466 sort, a person is led to violate a distinct and assignable obli- 3467 gation to any other person or persons, the case is taken out 3468 of the self-regarding class, and becomes amenable to moral 3469 disapprobation in the proper sense of the term. If, for 3470 example, a man, through intemperance or extravagance, be- 3471 comes unable to pay his debts, or, having undertaken the 3472 moral responsibility of a family, becomes from the same 3473 cause incapable of supporting or educating them, he is de- 3474 servedly reprobated, and might be justly punished; but it is 3475 for the breach of duty to his family or creditors, not for the 3476 extravagence. If the resources which ought to have been 3477 devoted to them, had been diverted from them for the 3478 most prudent investment, the moral culpability would have 3479 been the same. George Barnwell murdered his uncle to get 3480 money for his mistress, but if he had done it to set him- 3481 self up in business, he would equally have been hanged. 3482 Again, in the frequent case of a man who causes grief to 3483 his family by addiction to bad habits, he deserves reproach 3484 for his unkindness or ingratitude; but so he may for culti- 3485 vating habits not in themselves vicious, if they are painful 3486 to those with whom he passes his life, or who from personal 3487 ties are dependent on him for their comfort. Whoever fails 3488 in the consideration generally due to the interests and feel- 3489 ings of others, not being compelled by some more imperative 3490 duty, or justified by allowable self-preference, is a subject 3491 of moral disapprobation for that failure, but not for the 3492 cause of it, nor for the errors, merely personal to himself, 3493 which may have remotely led to it. In like manner, when 3494 a person disables himself, by conduct purely self-regarding, 3495 from the performance of some definite duty incumbent on 3496 him to the public, he is guilty of a social offence. No per- 3497 son ought to be punished simply for being drunk; but a sol- 3498 dier or a policeman should be punished for being drunk on 3499 duty. Whenever, in short, there is a definite damage, or a 3500 definite risk of damage, either to an individual or to the 3501 public, the case is taken out of the province of liberty, and 3502 placed in that of morality or law. 3503 3504 But with regard to the merely contingent or, as it may be 3505 called, constructive injury which a person causes to society, 3506 by conduct which neither violates any specific duty to the 3507 public, nor occasions perceptible hurt to any assignable indi- 3508 vidual except himself; the inconvenience is one which so- 3509 ciety can afford to bear, for the sake of the greater good 3510 of human freedom. If grown persons are to be punished 3511 for not taking proper care of themselves, I would rather 3512 it were for their own sake, than under pretence of preventing 3513 them from impairing their capacity of rendering to society 3514 benefits which society does not pretend it has a right to 3515 exact. But I cannot consent to argue the point as if society 3516 had no means of bringing its weaker members up to its ordi- 3517 nary standard of rational conduct, except waiting till they 3518 do something irrational, and then punishing them, legally 3519 or morally, for it. Society has had absolute power over them 3520 during all the early portion of their existence: it has had 3521 the whole period of childhood and nonage in which to try 3522 whether it could make them capable of rational conduct in 3523 life. The existing generation is master both of the training 3524 and the entire circumstances of the generation to come; it 3525 cannot indeed make them perfectly wise and good, because 3526 it is itself so lamentably deficient in goodness and wisdom; 3527 and its best efforts are not always, in individual cases, its 3528 most successful ones; but it is perfectly well able to make 3529 the rising generation, as a whole, as good as, and a little 3530 better than, itself. If society lets any considerable number 3531 of its members grow up mere children, incapable of being 3532 acted on by rational consideration of distant motives, so- 3533 ciety has itself to blame for the consequences. Armed 3534 not only with all the powers of education, but with the as- 3535 cendency which the authority of a received opinion always 3536 exercises over the minds who are least fitted to judge for 3537 themselves; and aided by the natural penalties which can- 3538 not be prevented from falling on those who incur the dis- 3539 taste or the contempt of those who know them; let not 3540 society pretend that it needs, besides all this, the power to 3541 issue commands and enforce obedience in the personal con- 3542 cerns of individuals, in which, on all principles of justice 3543 and policy, the decision ought to rest with those who are 3544 to abide the consequences. Nor is there anything which 3545 tends more to discredit and frustrate the better means of 3546 influencing conduct, than a resort to the worse. If there be 3547 among those whom it is attempted to coerce into prudence 3548 or temperance, any of the material of which vigorous and 3549 independent characters are made, they will infallibly rebel 3550 against the yoke. No such person will ever feel that others 3551 have a right to control him in his concerns, such as they have 3552 to prevent him from injuring them in theirs; and it easily 3553 comes to be considered a mark of spirit and courage to fly in 3554 the face of such usurped authority, and do with ostentation 3555 the exact opposite of what it enjoins; as in the fashion of 3556 grossness which succeeded, in the time of Charles II., to the 3557 fanatical moral intolerance of the Puritans. With respect to 3558 what is said of the necessity of protecting society from the 3559 bad example set to others by the vicious or the self-indulgent; 3560 it is true that bad example may have a pernicious effect, 3561 especially the example of doing wrong to others with im- 3562 punity to the wrong-doer. But we are now speaking of 3563 conduct which, while it does no wrong to others, is supposed 3564 to do great harm to the agent himself: and I do not see how 3565 those who believe this, can think otherwise than that the 3566 example, on the whole, must be more salutary than hurtful, 3567 since, if it displays the misconduct, it displays also the pain- 3568 ful or degrading consequences which, if the conduct is justly 3569 censured, must be supposed to be in all or most cases at- 3570 tendant on it. 3571 3572 But the strongest of all the arguments against the inter- 3573 ference of the public with purely personal conduct, is that 3574 when it does interfere, the odds are that it interferes 3575 wrongly, and in the wrong place. On questions of social 3576 morality, of duty to others, the opinion of the public, that 3577 is, of an overruling majority, though often wrong, is likely 3578 to be still oftener right; because on such questions they 3579 are only required to judge of their own interests; of the 3580 manner in which some mode of conduct, if allowed to be 3581 practised, would affect themselves. But the opinion of a 3582 similar majority, imposed as a law on the minority, on ques- 3583 tions of self-regarding conduct, is quite as likely to be 3584 wrong as right; for in these cases public opinion means, at 3585 the best, some people's opinion of what is good or bad for 3586 other people; while very often it does not even mean that; 3587 the public, with the most perfect indifference, passing over 3588 the pleasure or convenience of those whose conduct they 3589 censure, and considering only their own preference. There 3590 are many who consider as an injury to themselves any con- 3591 duct which they have a distaste for, and resent it as an 3592 outrage to their feelings; as a religious bigot, when charged 3593 with disregarding the religious feelings of others, has been 3594 known to retort that they disregard his feelings, by per- 3595 sisting in their abominable worship or creed. But there 3596 is no parity between the feeling of a person for his own 3597 opinion, and the feeling of another who is offended at his 3598 holding it; no more than between the desire of a thief to take 3599 a purse, and the desire of the right owner to keep it. And 3600 a person's taste is as much his own peculiar concern as his 3601 opinion or his purse. It is easy for any one to imagine an 3602 ideal public, which leaves the freedom and choice of indi- 3603 viduals in all uncertain matters undisturbed, and only re- 3604 quires them to abstain from modes of conduct which uni- 3605 versal experience has condemned. But where has there been 3606 seen a public which set any such limit to its censorship? 3607 or when does the public trouble itself about universal ex- 3608 perience. In its interferences with personal conduct it is 3609 seldom thinking of anything but the enormity of acting or 3610 feeling differently from itself; and this standard of judg- 3611 ment, thinly disguised, is held up to mankind as the dictate 3612 of religion and philosophy, by nine tenths of all moralists 3613 and speculative writers. These teach that things are right 3614 because they are right; because we feel them to be so. 3615 They tell us to search in our own minds and hearts for 3616 laws of conduct binding on ourselves and on all others. 3617 What can the poor public do but apply these instructions, 3618 and make their own personal feelings of good and evil, if 3619 they are tolerably unanimous in them, obligatory on all the 3620 world? 3621 3622 The evil here pointed out is not one which exists only in 3623 theory; and it may perhaps be expected that I should specify 3624 the instances in which the public of this age and country 3625 improperly invests its own preferences with the character 3626 of moral laws. I am not writing an essay on the aberra- 3627 tions of existing moral feeling. That is too weighty a sub- 3628 ject to be discussed parenthetically, and by way of illustra- 3629 tion. Yet examples are necessary, to show that the principle 3630 I maintain is of serious and practical moment, and that I am 3631 not endeavoring to erect a barrier against imaginary evils. 3632 And it is not difficult to show, by abundant instances, that 3633 to extend the bounds of what may be called moral police, 3634 until it encroaches on the most unquestionably legitimate 3635 liberty of the individual, is one of the most universal of all 3636 human propensities. 3637 3638 As a first instance, consider the antipathies which men 3639 cherish on no better grounds than that persons whose re- 3640 ligious opinions are different from theirs, do not practise 3641 their religious observances, especially their religious ab- 3642 stinences. To cite a rather trivial example, nothing in the 3643 creed or practice of Christians does more to envenom the 3644 hatred of Mahomedans against them, than the fact of their 3645 eating pork. There are few acts which Christians and 3646 Europeans regard with more unaffected disgust, than Mus- 3647 sulmans regard this particular mode of satisfying hunger. 3648 It is, in the first place, an offence against their religion; 3649 but this circumstance by no means explains either the de- 3650 gree or the kind of their repugnance; for wine also is for- 3651 bidden by their religion, and to partake of it is by all Mus- 3652 sulmans accounted wrong, but not disgusting. Their aversion 3653 to the flesh of the "unclean beast" is, on the contrary, of 3654 that peculiar character, resembling an instinctive antipathy, 3655 which the idea of uncleanness, when once it thoroughly 3656 sinks into the feelings, seems always to excite even in those 3657 whose personal habits are anything but scrupulously cleanly 3658 and of which the sentiment of religious impurity, so intense 3659 in the Hindoos, is a remarkable example. Suppose now 3660 that in a people, of whom the majority were Mussulmans, 3661 that majority should insist upon not permitting pork to be 3662 eaten within the limits of the country. This would be noth- 3663 ing new in Mahomedan countries.[1] Would it be a legitimate 3664 exercise of the moral authority of public opinion? and if 3665 not, why not? The practice is really revolting to such a 3666 public. They also sincerely think that it is forbidden and 3667 abhorred by the Deity. Neither could the prohibition be 3668 censured as religious persecution. It might be religious in 3669 its origin, but it would not be persecution for religion, since 3670 nobody's religion makes it a duty to eat pork. The only 3671 tenable ground of condemnation would be, that with the 3672 personal tastes and self-regarding concerns of individuals 3673 the public has no business to interfere. 3674 3675 To come somewhat nearer home: the majority of Span- 3676 iards consider it a gross impiety, offensive in the highest 3677 degree to the Supreme Being, to worship him in any other 3678 manner than the Roman Catholic; and no other public 3679 worship is lawful on Spanish soil. The people of all South- 3680 ern Europe look upon a married clergy as not only irre- 3681 ligious, but unchaste, indecent, gross, disgusting. What do 3682 Protestants think of these perfectly sincere feelings, and of 3683 the attempt to enforce them against non-Catholics? Yet, 3684 if mankind are justified in interfering with each other's 3685 liberty in things which do not concern the interests of 3686 others, on what principle is it possible consistently to ex- 3687 clude these cases? or who can blame people for desiring 3688 to suppress what they regard as a scandal in the sight of 3689 God and man? 3690 3691 No stronger case can be shown for prohibiting anything 3692 which is regarded as a personal immorality, than is made 3693 out for suppressing these practices in the eyes of those who 3694 regard them as impieties; and unless we are willing to adopt 3695 the logic of persecutors, and to say that we may persecute 3696 others because we are right, and that they must not persecute 3697 us because they are wrong, we must beware of admitting 3698 a principle of which we should resent as a gross injustice the 3699 application to ourselves. 3700 3701 The preceding instances may be objected to, although un- 3702 reasonably, as drawn from contingencies impossible among 3703 us: opinion, in this country, not being likely to enforce ab- 3704 stinence from meats, or to interfere with people for wor- 3705 shipping, and for either marrying or not marrying, accord- 3706 ing to their creed or inclination. The next example, however, 3707 shall be taken from an interference with liberty which we 3708 have by no means passed all danger of. Wherever the Puri- 3709 tans have been sufficiently powerful, as in New England, and 3710 in Great Britain at the time of the Commonwealth, they have 3711 endeavored, with considerable success, to put down all public, 3712 and nearly all private, amusements: especially music, danc- 3713 ing, public games, or other assemblages for purposes of 3714 diversion, and the theatre. There are still in this country 3715 large bodies of persons by whose notions of morality and 3716 religion these recreations are condemned; and those persons 3717 belonging chiefly to the middle class, who are the ascendant 3718 power in the present social and political condition of the 3719 kingdom, it is by no means impossible that persons of these 3720 sentiments may at some time or other command a majority 3721 in Parliament. How will the remaining portion of the com- 3722 munity like to have the amusements that shall be permitted 3723 to them regulated by the religious and moral sentiments 3724 of the stricter Calvinists and Methodists? Would they not, 3725 with considerable peremptoriness, desire these intrusively 3726 pious members of society to mind their own business? This 3727 is precisely what should be said to every government and 3728 every public, who have the pretension that no person shall 3729 enjoy any pleasure which they think wrong. But if the prin- 3730 ciple of the pretension be admitted, no one can reasonably 3731 object to its being acted on in the sense of the majority, or 3732 other preponderating power in the country; and all persons 3733 must be ready to conform to the idea of a Christian com- 3734 monwealth, as understood by the early settlers in New Eng- 3735 land, if a religious profession similar to theirs should ever 3736 succeed in regaining its lost ground, as religions supposed 3737 to be declining have so often been known to do. 3738 3739 To imagine another contingency, perhaps more likely to 3740 be realized than the one last mentioned. There is confessedly 3741 a strong tendency in the modern world towards a democratic 3742 constitution of society, accompanied or not by popular po- 3743 litical institutions. It is affirmed that in the country where 3744 this tendency is most completely realized--where both so- 3745 ciety and the government are most democratic--the United 3746 States--the feeling of the majority, to whom any appearance 3747 of a more showy or costly style of living than they can hope 3748 to rival is disagreeable, operates as a tolerably effectual 3749 sumptuary law, and that in many parts of the Union it is 3750 really difficult for a person possessing a very large income, 3751 to find any mode of spending it, which will not incur popular 3752 disapprobation. Though such statements as these are doubt- 3753 less much exaggerated as a representation of existing facts, 3754 the state of things they describe is not only a conceivable 3755 and possible, but a probable result of democratic feeling, 3756 combined with the notion that the public has a right to a 3757 veto on the manner in which individuals shall spend their 3758 incomes. We have only further to suppose a considerable 3759 diffusion of Socialist opinions, and it may become infamous 3760 in the eyes of the majority to possess more property than 3761 some very small amount, or any income not earned by 3762 manual labor. Opinions similar in principle to these, already 3763 prevail widely among the artisan class, and weigh oppres- 3764 sively on those who are amenable to the opinion chiefly of 3765 that class, namely, its own members. It is known that the 3766 bad workmen who form the majority of the operatives in 3767 many branches of industry, are decidedly of opinion that 3768 bad workmen ought to receive the same wages as good, and 3769 that no one ought to be allowed, through piecework or other- 3770 wise, to earn by superior skill or industry more than others 3771 can without it. And they employ a moral police, which oc- 3772 casionally becomes a physical one, to deter skilful workmen 3773 from receiving, and employers from giving, a larger remu- 3774 neration for a more useful service. If the public have any 3775 jurisdiction over private concerns, I cannot see that these 3776 people are in fault, or that any individual's particular pub- 3777 lic can be blamed for asserting the same authority over his 3778 individual conduct, which the general public asserts over 3779 people in general. 3780 3781 But, without dwelling upon supposititious cases, there are, 3782 in our own day, gross usurpations upon the liberty of private 3783 life actually practised, and still greater ones threatened with 3784 some expectation of success, and opinions proposed which 3785 assert an unlimited right in the public not only to prohibit 3786 by law everything which it thinks wrong, but in order to get 3787 at what it thinks wrong, to prohibit any number of things 3788 which it admits to be innocent. 3789 3790 Under the name of preventing intemperance the people 3791 of one English colony, and of nearly half the United States, 3792 have been interdicted by law from making any use what- 3793 ever of fermented drinks, except for medical purposes: for 3794 prohibition of their sale is in fact, as it is intended to be, 3795 prohibition of their use. And though the impracticability 3796 of executing the law has caused its repeal in several of the 3797 States which had adopted it, including the one from which 3798 it derives its name, an attempt has notwithstanding been 3799 commenced, and is prosecuted with considerable zeal by 3800 many of the professed philanthropists, to agitate for a simi- 3801 lar law in this country. The association, or "Alliance" as 3802 it terms itself, which has been formed for this purpose, has 3803 acquired some notoriety through the publicity given to a 3804 correspondence between its Secretary and one of the very 3805 few English public men who hold that a politician's opinions 3806 ought to be founded on principles. Lord Stanley's share in 3807 this correspondence is calculated to strengthen the hopes 3808 already built on him, by those who know how rare such 3809 qualities as are manifested in some of his public appear- 3810 ances, unhappily are among those who figure in political life. 3811 The organ of the Alliance, who would "deeply deplore the 3812 recognition of any principle which could be wrested to jus- 3813 tify bigotry and persecution," undertakes to point out the 3814 "broad and impassable barrier" which divides such princi- 3815 ples from those of the association. "All matters relating to 3816 thought, opinion, conscience, appear to me," he says, "to 3817 be without the sphere of legislation; all pertaining to social 3818 act, habit, relation, subject only to a discretionary power 3819 vested in the State itself, and not in the individual, to be 3820 within it." No mention is made of a third class, different 3821 from either of these, viz., acts and habits which are not 3822 social, but individual; although it is to this class, surely, 3823 that the act of drinking fermented liquors belongs. Selling 3824 fermented liquors, however, is trading, and trading is a 3825 social act. But the infringement complained of is not on the 3826 liberty of the seller, but on that of the buyer and consumer; 3827 since the State might just as well forbid him to drink wine, 3828 as purposely make it impossible for him to obtain it. The 3829 Secretary, however, says, "I claim, as a citizen, a right to 3830 legislate whenever my social rights are invaded by the 3831 social act of another." And now for the definition of these 3832 "social rights." "If anything invades my social rights, cer- 3833 tainly the traffic in strong drink does. It destroys my primary 3834 right of security, by constantly creating and stimulating 3835 social disorder. It invades my right of equality, by de- 3836 riving a profit from the creation of a misery, I am taxed to 3837 support. It impedes my right to free moral and intellectual 3838 development, by surrounding my path with dangers, and by 3839 weakening and demoralizing society, from which I have a 3840 right to claim mutual aid and intercourse." A theory of 3841 "social rights," the like of which probably never before 3842 found its way into distinct language--being nothing short of 3843 this--that it is the absolute social right of every individual, 3844 that every other individual shall act in every respect 3845 exactly as he ought; that whosoever fails thereof in the 3846 smallest particular, violates my social right, and entitles me 3847 to demand from the legislature the removal of the grievance. 3848 So monstrous a principle is far more dangerous than any 3849 single interference with liberty; there is no violation of lib- 3850 erty which it would not justify; it acknowledges no right 3851 to any freedom whatever, except perhaps to that of holding 3852 opinions in secret, without ever disclosing them; for the mo- 3853 ment an opinion which I consider noxious, passes any one's 3854 lips, it invades all the "social rights" attributed to me by 3855 the Alliance. The doctrine ascribes to all mankind a vested 3856 interest in each other's moral, intellectual, and even physical 3857 perfection, to be defined by each claimant according to his 3858 own standard. 3859 3860 Another important example of illegitimate interference 3861 with the rightful liberty of the individual, not simply threat- 3862 ened, but long since carried into triumphant effect, is Sab- 3863 batarian legislation. Without doubt, abstinence on one day 3864 in the week, so far as the exigencies of life permit, from the 3865 usual daily occupation, though in no respect religiously bind- 3866 ing on any except Jews, is a highly beneficial custom. And in- 3867 asmuch as this custom cannot be observed without a general 3868 consent to that effect among the industrious classes, there- 3869 fore, in so far as some persons by working may impose the 3870 same necessity on others, it may be allowable and right that 3871 the law should guarantee to each, the observance by others 3872 of the custom, by suspending the greater operations of in- 3873 dustry on a particular day. But this justification, grounded 3874 on the direct interest which others have in each individual's 3875 observance of the practice, does not apply to the self-chosen 3876 occupations in which a person may think fit to employ his 3877 leisure; nor does it hold good, in the smallest degree, for 3878 legal restrictions on amusements. It is true that the amuse- 3879 ment of some is the day's work of others; but the pleasure, 3880 not to say the useful recreation, of many, is worth the labor 3881 of a few, provided the occupation is freely chosen, and can 3882 be freely resigned. The operatives are perfectly right in 3883 thinking that if all worked on Sunday, seven days' work 3884 would have to be given for six days' wages: but so long as 3885 the great mass of employments are suspended, the small 3886 number who for the enjoyment of others must still work, 3887 obtain a proportional increase of earnings; and they are 3888 not obliged to follow those occupations, if they prefer lei- 3889 sure to emolument. If a further remedy is sought, it might 3890 be found in the establishment by custom of a holiday on 3891 some other day of the week for those particular classes of 3892 persons. The only ground, therefore, on which restrictions 3893 on Sunday amusements can be defended, must be that they 3894 are religiously wrong; a motive of legislation which never 3895 can be too earnestly protested against. "Deorum injuriae 3896 Diis curae." It remains to be proved that society or any of 3897 its officers holds a commission from on high to avenge any 3898 supposed offence to Omnipotence, which is not also a wrong 3899 to our fellow-creatures. The notion that it is one man's 3900 duty that another should be religious, was the foundation of 3901 all the religious persecutions ever perpetrated, and if ad- 3902 mitted, would fully justify them. Though the feeling which 3903 breaks out in the repeated attempts to stop railway travelling 3904 on Sunday, in the resistance to the opening of Museums, and 3905 the like, has not the cruelty of the old persecutors, the state 3906 of mind indicated by it is fundamentally the same. It IS a 3907 determination not to tolerate others in doing what is per- 3908 mitted by their religion, because it is not permitted by the 3909 persecutor's religion. It is a belief that God not only abomi- 3910 nates the act of the misbeliever, but will not hold us guiltless 3911 if we leave him unmolested. 3912 3913 I cannot refrain from adding to these examples of the 3914 little account commonly made of human liberty, the language 3915 of downright persecution which breaks out from the press 3916 of this country, whenever it feels called on to notice the 3917 remarkable phenomenon of Mormonism. Much might be 3918 said on the unexpected and instructive fact, that an alleged 3919 new revelation, and a religion, founded on it, the product 3920 of palpable imposture, not even supported by the prestige of 3921 extraordinary qualities in its founder, is believed by hun- 3922 dreds of thousands, and has been made the foundation of 3923 a society, in the age of newspapers, railways, and the elec- 3924 tric telegraph. What here concerns us is, that this religion, 3925 like other and better religions, has its martyrs; that its 3926 prophet and founder was, for his teaching, put to death by 3927 a mob; that others of its adherents lost their lives by the 3928 same lawless violence; that they were forcibly expelled, in 3929 a body, from the country in which they first grew up; while, 3930 now that they have been chased into a solitary recess in the 3931 midst of a desert, many in this country openly declare that 3932 it would be right (only that it is not convenient) to send an 3933 expedition against them, and compel them by force to con- 3934 form to the opinions of other people. The article of the 3935 Mormonite doctrine which is the chief provocative to the 3936 antipathy which thus breaks through the ordinary restraints 3937 of religious tolerance, is its sanction of polygamy; which, 3938 though permitted to Mahomedans, and Hindoos, and 3939 Chinese, seems to excite unquenchable animosity when prac- 3940 tised by persons who speak English, and profess to be a kind 3941 of Christians. No one has a deeper disapprobation than I 3942 have of this Mormon institution; both for other reasons, and 3943 because, far from being in any way countenanced by the 3944 principle of liberty, it is a direct infraction of that principle, 3945 being a mere riveting of the chains of one half of the com- 3946 munity, and an emancipation of the other from reciprocity 3947 of obligation towards them. Still, it must be remembered 3948 that this relation is as much voluntary on the part of the 3949 women concerned in it, and who may be deemed the suffer- 3950 ers by it, as is the case with any other form of the marriage 3951 institution; and however surprising this fact may appear, it 3952 has its explanation in the common ideas and customs of the 3953 world, which teaching women to think marriage the one 3954 thing needful, make it intelligible that many a woman should 3955 prefer being one of several wives, to not being a wife at all. 3956 Other countries are not asked to recognize such unions, or 3957 release any portion of their inhabitants from their own laws 3958 on the score of Mormonite opinions. But when the dissen- 3959 tients have conceded to the hostile sentiments of others, far 3960 more than could justly be demanded; when they have left 3961 the countries to which their doctrines were unacceptable, 3962 and established themselves in a remote corner of the earth, 3963 which they have been the first to render habitable to human 3964 beings; it is difficult to see on what principles but those of 3965 tyranny they can be prevented from living there under what 3966 laws they please, provided they commit no aggression on 3967 other nations, and allow perfect freedom of departure to 3968 those who are dissatisfied with their ways. A recent writer, 3969 in some respects of considerable merit, proposes (to use his 3970 own words,) not a crusade, but a civilizade, against this 3971 polygamous community, to put an end to what seems to him 3972 a retrograde step in civilization. It also appears so to me, 3973 but I am not aware that any community has a right to force 3974 another to be civilized. So long as the sufferers by the bad 3975 law do not invoke assistance from other communities, I can- 3976 not admit that persons entirely unconnected with them ought 3977 to step in and require that a condition of things with which 3978 all who are directly interested appear to be satisfied, should 3979 be put an end to because it is a scandal to persons some 3980 thousands of miles distant, who have no part or concern in 3981 it. Let them send missionaries, if they please, to preach 3982 against it; and let them, by any fair means, (of which silenc- 3983 ing the teachers is not one,) oppose the progress of similar 3984 doctrines among their own people. If civilization has got 3985 the better of barbarism when barbarism had the world to 3986 itself, it is too much to profess to be afraid lest barbarism, 3987 after having been fairly got under, should revive and con- 3988 quer civilization. A civilization that can thus succumb to 3989 its vanquished enemy must first have become so degenerate, 3990 that neither its appointed priests and teachers, nor anybody 3991 else, has the capacity, or will take the trouble, to stand up 3992 for it. If this be so, the sooner such a civilization receives 3993 notice to quit, the better. It can only go on from bad to 3994 worse, until destroyed and regenerated (like the Western 3995 Empire) by energetic barbarians. 3996 3997 [1] The case of the Bombay Parsees is a curious instance in point. When 3998 this industrious and enterprising tribe, the descendants of the Persian fire- 3999 worshippers, flying from their native country before the Caliphs, arrived in 4000 Western India, they were admitted to toleration by the Hindoo sovereigns, 4001 on condition of not eating beef. When those regions afterwards fell under 4002 the dominion of Mahomedan conquerors, the Parsees obtained from them a 4003 continuance of indulgence, on condition of refraining from pork. What was 4004 at first obedience to authority became a second nature, and the Parsees to 4005 this day abstain both from beef and pork. Though not required by their 4006 religion, the double abstinence has had time to grow into a custom of their 4007 tribe; and custom, in the East, is a religion. 4008 4009 4010 CHAPTER V 4011 APPLICATIONS 4012 4013 THE principles asserted in these pages must be more 4014 generally admitted as the basis for discussion of de- 4015 tails, before a consistent application of them to all 4016 the various departments of government and morals can be 4017 attempted with any prospect of advantage. The few ob- 4018 servations I propose to make on questions of detail, are 4019 designed to illustrate the principles, rather than to follow 4020 them out to their consequences. I offer, not so much appli- 4021 cations, as specimens of application; which may serve to 4022 bring into greater clearness the meaning and limits of the 4023 two maxims which together form the entire doctrine of this 4024 Essay and to assist the judgment in holding the balance be- 4025 tween them, in the cases where it appears doubtful which of 4026 them is applicable to the case. 4027 4028 The maxims are, first, that the individual is not account- 4029 able to society for his actions, in so far as these concern 4030 the interests of no person but himself. Advice, instruction, 4031 persuasion, and avoidance by other people, if thought neces- 4032 sary by them for their own good, are the only measures by 4033 which society can justifiably express its dislike or disappro- 4034 bation of his conduct. Secondly, that for such actions as 4035 are prejudicial to the interests of others, the individual is ac- 4036 countable, and may be subjected either to social or to legal 4037 punishments, if society is of opinion that the one or the 4038 other is requisite for its protection. 4039 4040 In the first place, it must by no means be supposed, be- 4041 cause damage, or probability of damage, to the interests of 4042 others, can alone justify the interference of society, that 4043 therefore it always does justify such interference. In many 4044 cases, an individual, in pursuing a legitimate object, neces- 4045 sarily and therefore legitimately causes pain or loss to 4046 others, or intercepts a good which they had a reasonable 4047 hope of obtaining. Such oppositions of interest between 4048 individuals often arise from bad social institutions, but are 4049 unavoidable while those institutions last; and some would be 4050 unavoidable under any institutions. Whoever succeeds in 4051 an overcrowded profession, or in a competitive examination; 4052 whoever is preferred to another in any contest for an object 4053 which both desire, reaps benefit from the loss of others, 4054 from their wasted exertion and their disappointment. But 4055 it is, by common admission, better for the general interest 4056 of mankind, that persons should pursue their objects unde- 4057 terred by this sort of consequences. In other words, society 4058 admits no right, either legal or moral, in the disappointed 4059 competitors, to immunity from this kind of suffering; and 4060 feels called on to interfere, only when means of success have 4061 been employed which it is contrary to the general interest 4062 to permit--namely, fraud or treachery, and force. 4063 4064 Again, trade is a social act. Whoever undertakes to sell 4065 any description of goods to the public, does what affects the 4066 interest of other persons, and of society in general; and thus 4067 his conduct, in principle, comes within the jurisdiction of 4068 society: accordingly, it was once held to be the duty of gov- 4069 ernments, in all cases which were considered of importance, 4070 to fix prices, and regulate the processes of manufacture. 4071 But it is now recognized, though not till after a long 4072 struggle, that both the cheapness and the good quality of 4073 commodities are most effectually provided for by leaving the 4074 producers and sellers perfectly free, under the sole check 4075 of equal freedom to the buyers for supplying themselves else- 4076 where. This is the so-called doctrine of Free Trade, which 4077 rests on grounds different from, though equally solid with, 4078 the principle of individual liberty asserted in this Essay. 4079 Restrictions on trade, or on production for purposes of 4080 trade, are indeed restraints; and all restraint, qua restraint, 4081 is an evil: but the restraints in question affect only that part 4082 of conduct which society is competent to restrain, and are 4083 wrong solely because they do not really produce the results 4084 which it is desired to produce by them. As the principle of 4085 individual liberty is not involved in the doctrine of Free 4086 Trade so neither is it in most of the questions which arise 4087 respecting the limits of that doctrine: as for example, what 4088 amount of public control is admissible for the prevention of 4089 fraud by adulteration; how far sanitary precautions, or ar- 4090 rangements to protect work-people employed in dangerous 4091 occupations, should be enforced on employers. Such ques- 4092 tions involve considerations of liberty, only in so far as 4093 leaving people to themselves is always better, caeteris pari- 4094 bus, than controlling them: but that they may be legitimately 4095 controlled for these ends, is in principle undeniable. On the 4096 other hand, there are questions relating to interference with 4097 trade which are essentially questions of liberty; such as the 4098 Maine Law, already touched upon; the prohibition of the 4099 importation of opium into China; the restriction of the sale 4100 of poisons; all cases, in short, where the object of the inter- 4101 ference is to make it impossible or difficult to obtain a par- 4102 ticular commodity. These interferences are objectionable, 4103 not as infringements on the liberty of the producer or seller, 4104 but on that of the buyer. 4105 4106 One of these examples, that of the sale of poisons, opens 4107 a new question; the proper limits of what may be called the 4108 functions of police; how far liberty may legitimately be in- 4109 vaded for the prevention of crime, or of accident. It is one 4110 of the undisputed functions of government to take precau- 4111 tions against crime before it has been committed, as well as 4112 to detect and punish it afterwards. The preventive function 4113 of government, however, is far more liable to be abused, to 4114 the prejudice of liberty, than the punitory function; for 4115 there is hardly any part of the legitimate freedom of action 4116 of a human being which would not admit of being repre- 4117 sented, and fairly too, as increasing the facilities for some 4118 form or other of delinquency. Nevertheless, if a public au- 4119 thority, or even a private person, sees any one evidently pre- 4120 paring to commit a crime, they are not bound to look on 4121 inactive until the crime is committed, but may interfere to 4122 prevent it. If poisons were never bought or used for any 4123 purpose except the commission of murder, it would be right 4124 to prohibit their manufacture and sale. They may, how- 4125 ever, be wanted not only for innocent but for useful pur- 4126 poses, and restrictions cannot be imposed in the one case 4127 without operating in the other. Again, it is a proper office 4128 of public authority to guard against accidents. If either a 4129 public officer or any one else saw a person attempting to 4130 cross a bridge which had been ascertained to be unsafe, and 4131 there were no time to warn him of his danger, they might 4132 seize him and turn him back without any real infringement 4133 of his liberty; for liberty consists in doing what one desires, 4134 and he does not desire to fall into the river. Nevertheless, 4135 when there is not a certainty, but only a danger of mischief, 4136 no one but the person himself can judge of the sufficiency 4137 of the motive which may prompt him to incur the risk: in this 4138 case, therefore, (unless he is a child, or delirious, or in some 4139 state of excitement or absorption incompatible with the full 4140 use of the reflecting faculty,) he ought, I conceive, to be 4141 only warned of the danger; not forcibly prevented from ex- 4142 posing himself to it. Similar considerations, applied to such 4143 a question as the sale of poisons, may enable us to decide 4144 which among the possible modes of regulation are or are 4145 not contrary to principle. Such a precaution, for example, 4146 as that of labelling the drug with some word expressive 4147 of its dangerous character, may be enforced without viola- 4148 tion of liberty: the buyer cannot wish not to know that the 4149 thing he possesses has poisonous qualities. But to require 4150 in all cases the certificate of a medical practitioner, would 4151 make it sometimes impossible, always expensive, to obtain 4152 the article for legitimate uses. The only mode apparent 4153 to me, in which difficulties may be thrown in the way of 4154 crime committed through this means, without any infringe- 4155 ment, worth taking into account, Upon the liberty of those 4156 who desire the poisonous substance for other purposes, con- 4157 sists in providing what, in the apt language of Bentham, 4158 is called "preappointed evidence." This provision is fa- 4159 miliar to every one in the case of contracts. It is usual 4160 and right that the law, when a contract is entered into, 4161 should require as the condition of its enforcing performance, 4162 that certain formalities should be observed, such as signa- 4163 tures, attestation of witnesses, and the like, in order that in 4164 case of subsequent dispute, there may be evidence to prove 4165 that the contract was really entered into, and that there 4166 was nothing in the circumstances to render it legally invalid: 4167 the effect being, to throw great obstacles in the way of fic- 4168 titious contracts, or contracts made in circumstances which, 4169 if known, would destroy their validity. Precautions of a 4170 similar nature might be enforced in the sale of articles 4171 adapted to be instruments of crime. The seller, for ex- 4172 ample, might be required to enter in a register the exact 4173 time of the transaction, the name and address of the buyer, 4174 the precise quality and quantity sold; to ask the purpose for 4175 which it was wanted, and record the answer he received. 4176 When there was no medical prescription, the presence of 4177 some third person might be required, to bring home the fact 4178 to the purchaser, in case there should afterwards be reason 4179 to believe that the article had been applied to criminal pur- 4180 poses. Such regulations would in general be no material 4181 impediment to obtaining the article, but a very considerable 4182 one to making an improper use of it without detection. 4183 4184 The right inherent in society, to ward off crimes against 4185 itself by antecedent precautions, suggests the obvious limita- 4186 tions to the maxim, that purely self-regarding misconduct 4187 cannot properly be meddled with in the way of prevention 4188 or punishment. Drunkennesses, for example, in ordinary 4189 cases, is not a fit subject for legislative interference; but I 4190 should deem it perfectly legitimate that a person, who had 4191 once been convicted of any act of violence to others under 4192 the influence of drink, should be placed under a special legal 4193 restriction, personal to himself; that if he were afterwards 4194 found drunk, he should be liable to a penalty, and that if 4195 when in that state he committed another offence, the punish- 4196 ment to which he would be liable for that other offence 4197 should be increased in severity. The making himself drunk, 4198 in a person whom drunkenness excites to do harm to others, 4199 is a crime against others. So, again, idleness, except in a 4200 person receiving support from the public, or except when it 4201 constitutes a breach of contract, cannot without tyranny be 4202 made a subject of legal punishment; but if either from idle- 4203 ness or from any other avoidable cause, a man fails to per- 4204 form his legal duties to others, as for instance to support his 4205 children, it is no tyranny to force him to fulfil that obliga- 4206 tion, by compulsory labor, if no other means are available. 4207 4208 Again, there are many acts which, being directly injurious 4209 only to the agents themselves, ought not to be legally inter- 4210 dicted, but which, if done publicly, are a violation of good 4211 manners, and coming thus within the category of offences 4212 against others, may rightfully be prohibited. Of this kind 4213 are offences against decency; on which it is unnecessary to 4214 dwell, the rather as they are only connected indirectly with 4215 our subject, the objection to publicity being equally strong 4216 in the case of many actions not in themselves condemnable, 4217 nor supposed to be so. 4218 4219 There is another question to which an answer must be 4220 found, consistent with the principles which have been laid 4221 down. In cases of personal conduct supposed to be blame- 4222 able, but which respect for liberty precludes society from 4223 preventing or punishing, because the evil directly resulting 4224 falls wholly on the agent; what the agent is free to do, 4225 ought other persons to be equally free to counsel or insti- 4226 gate? This question is not free from difficulty. The case 4227 of a person who solicits another to do an act, is not strictly 4228 a case of self-regarding conduct. To give advice or offer 4229 inducements to any one, is a social act, and may therefore, 4230 like actions in general which affect others, be supposed 4231 amenable to social control. But a little reflection corrects 4232 the first impression, by showing that if the case is not 4233 strictly within the definition of individual liberty, yet the 4234 reasons on which the principle of individual liberty is 4235 grounded, are applicable to it. If people must be allowed, in 4236 whatever concerns only themselves, to act as seems best to 4237 themselves at their own peril, they must equally be free to 4238 consult with one another about what is fit to be so done; 4239 to exchange opinions, and give and receive suggestions. 4240 Whatever it is permitted to do, it must be permitted to ad- 4241 vise to do. The question is doubtful, only when the insti- 4242 gator derives a personal benefit from his advice; when he 4243 makes it his occupation, for subsistence, or pecuniary gain, 4244 to promote what society and the State consider to be an evil. 4245 Then, indeed, a new element of complication is introduced; 4246 namely, the existence of classes of persons with an interest 4247 opposed to what is considered as the public weal, and whose 4248 mode of living is grounded on the counteraction of it. Ought 4249 this to be interfered with, or not? Fornication, for example, 4250 must be tolerated, and so must gambling; but should a per- 4251 son be free to be a pimp, or to keep a gambling-house? The 4252 case is one of those which lie on the exact boundary line 4253 between two principles, and it is not at once apparent to 4254 which of the two it properly belongs. There are arguments 4255 on both sides. On the side of toleration it may be said, that 4256 the fact of following anything as an occupation, and living 4257 or profiting by the practice of it, cannot make that criminal 4258 which would otherwise be admissible; that the act should 4259 either be consistently permitted or consistently prohibited; 4260 that if the principles which we have hitherto defended are 4261 true, society has no business, as society, to decide anything 4262 to be wrong which concerns only the individual; that it can- 4263 not go beyond dissuasion, and that one person should be as 4264 free to persuade, as another to dissuade. In opposition to 4265 this it may be contended, that although the public, or the 4266 State, are not warranted in authoritatively deciding, for pur- 4267 poses of repression or punishment, that such or such con- 4268 duct affecting only the interests of the individual is good or 4269 bad, they are fully justified in assuming, if they regard it as 4270 bad, that its being so or not is at least a disputable question: 4271 That, this being supposed, they cannot be acting wrongly in 4272 endeavoring to exclude the influence of solicitations which 4273 are not disinterested, of instigators who cannot possibly be 4274 impartial--who have a direct personal interest on one side, 4275 and that side the one which the State believes to be wrong, 4276 and who confessedly promote it for personal objects only. 4277 There can surely, it may be urged, be nothing lost, no sac- 4278 rifice of good, by so ordering matters that persons shall 4279 make their election, either wisely or foolishly, on their own 4280 prompting, as free as possible from the arts of persons who 4281 stimulate their inclinations for interested purposes of their 4282 own. Thus (it may be said) though the statutes respecting 4283 unlawful games are utterly indefensible--though all persons 4284 should be free to gamble in their own or each other's houses, 4285 or in any place of meeting established by their own subscrip- 4286 tions, and open only to the members and their visitors--yet 4287 public gambling-houses should not be permitted. It is true 4288 that the prohibition is never effectual, and that whatever 4289 amount of tyrannical power is given to the police, gambling- 4290 houses can always be maintained under other pretences; but 4291 they may be compelled to conduct their operations with a 4292 certain degree of secrecy and mystery, so that nobody knows 4293 anything about them but those who seek them; and more 4294 than this society ought not to aim at. There is considerable 4295 force in these arguments. I will not venture to decide 4296 whether they are sufficient to justify the moral anomaly of 4297 punishing the accessary, when the principal is (and must be) 4298 allowed to go free; of fining or imprisoning the procurer, 4299 but not the fornicator, the gambling-house keeper, but not 4300 the gambler. Still less ought the common operations of buy- 4301 ing and selling to be interfered with on analogous grounds. 4302 Almost every article which is bought and sold may be used 4303 in excess, and the sellers have a pecuniary interest in en- 4304 couraging that excess; but no argument can be founded on 4305 this, in favor, for instance, of the Maine Law; because the 4306 class of dealers in strong drinks, though interested in their 4307 abuse, are indispensably required for the sake of their legiti- 4308 mate use. The interest, however, of these dealers in promot- 4309 ing intemperance is a real evil, and justifies the State in 4310 imposing restrictions and requiring guarantees, which but 4311 for that justification would be infringements of legitimate 4312 liberty. 4313 4314 A further question is, whether the State while it permits, 4315 should nevertheless indirectly discourage conduct which it 4316 deems contrary to the best interests of the agent; whether, 4317 for example, it should take measures to render the means of 4318 drunkenness more costly, or add to the difficulty of pro- 4319 curing them, by limiting the number of the places of sale. 4320 On this as on most other practical questions, many distinc- 4321 tions require to be made. To tax stimulants for the sole 4322 purpose of making them more difficult to be obtained, is a 4323 measure differing only in degree from their entire pro- 4324 hibition; and would be justifiable only if that were justifia- 4325 ble. Every increase of cost is a prohibition, to those whose 4326 means do not come up to the augmented price; and to those 4327 who do, it is a penalty laid on them for gratifying a par- 4328 ticular taste. Their choice of pleasures, and their mode of 4329 expending their income, after satisfying their legal and 4330 moral obligations to the State and to individuals, are their 4331 own concern, and must rest with their own judgment. These 4332 considerations may seem at first sight to condemn the selec- 4333 tion of stimulants as special subjects of taxation for pur- 4334 poses of revenue. But it must be remembered that taxation 4335 for fiscal purposes is absolutely inevitable; that in most 4336 countries it is necessary that a considerable part of that 4337 taxation should be indirect; that the State, therefore, cannot 4338 help imposing penalties, which to some persons may be pro- 4339 hibitory, on the use of some articles of consumption. It is 4340 hence the duty of the State to consider, in the imposition of 4341 taxes, what commodities the consumers can best spare; and 4342 a fortiori, to select in preference those of which it deems 4343 the use, beyond a very moderate quantity, to be positively in- 4344 jurious. Taxation, therefore, of stimulants, up to the point 4345 which produces the largest amount of revenue (supposing 4346 that the State needs all the revenue which it yields) is not 4347 only admissible, but to be approved of. 4348 4349 The question of making the sale of these commodities a 4350 more or less exclusive privilege, must be answered differently, 4351 according to the purposes to which the restriction is in- 4352 tended to be subservient. All places of public resort require 4353 the restraint of a police, and places of this kind peculiarly, 4354 because offences against society are especially apt to originate 4355 there. It is, therefore, fit to confine the power of selling 4356 these commodities (at least for consumption on the spot) 4357 to persons of known or vouched-for respectability of con- 4358 duct; to make such regulations respecting hours of opening 4359 and closing as may be requisite for public surveillance, and 4360 to withdraw the license if breaches of the peace repeatedly 4361 take place through the connivance or incapacity of the 4362 keeper of the house, or if it becomes a rendezvous for con- 4363 cocting and preparing offences against the law. Any fur- 4364 ther restriction I do not conceive to be, in principle, justi- 4365 fiable. The limitation in number, for instance, of beer and 4366 spirit-houses, for the express purpose of rendering them 4367 more difficult of access, and diminishing the occasions of 4368 temptation, not only exposes all to an inconvenience because 4369 there are some by whom the facility would be abused, but is 4370 suited only to a state of society in which the laboring classes 4371 are avowedly treated as children or savages, and placed 4372 under an education of restraint, to fit them for future ad- 4373 mission to the privileges of freedom. This is not the prin- 4374 ciple on which the laboring classes are professedly governed 4375 in any free country; and no person who sets due value on free- 4376 dom will give his adhesion to their being so governed, unless 4377 after all efforts have been exhausted to educate them for 4378 freedom and govern them as freemen, and it has been defini- 4379 tively proved that they can only be governed as children. 4380 The bare statement of the alternative shows the absurdity of 4381 supposing that such efforts have been made in any case 4382 which needs be considered here. It is only because the insti- 4383 tutions of this country are a mass of inconsistencies, that 4384 things find admittance into our practice which belong to the 4385 system of despotic, or what is called paternal, government, 4386 while the general freedom of our institutions precludes the 4387 exercise of the amount of control necessary to render the 4388 restraint of any real efficacy as a moral education. 4389 4390 It was pointed out in an early part of this Essay, that the 4391 liberty of the individual, in things wherein the individual is 4392 alone concerned, implies a corresponding liberty in any num- 4393 ber of individuals to regulate by mutual agreement such things 4394 as regard them jointly, and regard no persons but themselves. 4395 This question presents no difficulty, so long as the will of all 4396 the persons implicated remains unaltered; but since that will 4397 may change, it is often necessary, even in things in which they 4398 alone are concerned, that they should enter into engagements 4399 with one another; and when they do, it is fit, as a general 4400 rule, that those engagements should be kept. Yet in the laws 4401 probably, of every country, this general rule has some excep- 4402 tions. Not only persons are not held to engagements which 4403 violate the rights of third parties, but it is sometimes con- 4404 sidered a sufficient reason for releasing them from an en- 4405 gagement, that it is injurious to themselves. In this and most 4406 other civilized countries, for example, an engagement by 4407 which a person should sell himself, or allow himself to be 4408 sold, as a slave, would be null and void; neither enforced by 4409 law nor by opinion. The ground for thus limiting his power 4410 of voluntarily disposing of his own lot in life, is apparent, 4411 and is very clearly seen in this extreme case. The reason for 4412 not interfering, unless for the sake of others, with a person's 4413 voluntary acts, is consideration for his liberty. His volun- 4414 tary choice is evidence that what he so chooses is desirable, 4415 or at the least endurable, to him, and his good is on the whole 4416 best provided for by allowing him to take his own means of 4417 pursuing it. But by selling himself for a slave, he abdicates 4418 his liberty; he foregoes any future use of it, beyond that 4419 single act. He therefore defeats, in his own case, the very 4420 purpose which is the justification of allowing him to dispose 4421 of himself. He is no longer free; but is thenceforth in a 4422 position which has no longer the presumption in its favor, 4423 that would be afforded by his voluntarily remaining in it. 4424 The principle of freedom cannot require that he should be 4425 free not to be free. It is not freedom, to be allowed to 4426 alienate his freedom. These reasons, the force of which is 4427 so conspicuous in this peculiar case, are evidently of far 4428 wider application; yet a limit is everywhere set to them by 4429 the necessities of life, which continually require, not indeed 4430 that we should resign our freedom, but that we should con- 4431 sent to this and the other limitation of it. The principle, 4432 however, which demands uncontrolled freedom of action in 4433 all that concerns only the agents themselves, requires that 4434 those who have become bound to one another, in things 4435 which concern no third party, should be able to release one 4436 another from the engagement: and even without such volun- 4437 tary release, there are perhaps no contracts or engagements, 4438 except those that relate to money or money's worth, of which 4439 one can venture to say that there ought to be no liberty what- 4440 ever of retractation. Baron Wilhelm von Humboldt, in the 4441 excellent Essay from which I have already quoted, states it 4442 as his conviction, that engagements which involve personal 4443 relations or services, should never be legally binding beyond 4444 a limited duration of time; and that the most important of 4445 these engagements, marriage, having the peculiarity that its 4446 objects are frustrated unless the feelings of both the parties 4447 are in harmony with it, should require nothing more than the 4448 declared will of either party to dissolve it. This subject is 4449 too important, and too complicated, to be discussed in a 4450 parenthesis, and I touch on it only so far as is necessary for 4451 purposes of illustration. If the conciseness and generality 4452 of Baron Humboldt's dissertation had not obliged him in this 4453 instance to content himself with enunciating his conclusion 4454 without discussing the premises, he would doubtless have 4455 recognized that the question cannot be decided on grounds 4456 so simple as those to which he confines himself. When a 4457 person, either by express promise or by conduct, has encour- 4458 aged another to rely upon his continuing to act in a certain 4459 way--to build expectations and calculations, and stake any 4460 part of his plan of life upon that supposition, a new series 4461 of moral obligations arises on his part towards that person, 4462 which may possibly be overruled, but can not be ignored. 4463 And again, if the relation between two contracting parties 4464 has been followed by consequences to others; if it has placed 4465 third parties in any peculiar position, or, as in the case of 4466 marriage, has even called third parties into existence, obli- 4467 gations arise on the part of both the contracting parties 4468 towards those third persons, the fulfilment of which, or at 4469 all events, the mode of fulfilment, must be greatly affected 4470 by the continuance or disruption of the relation between the 4471 original parties to the contract. It does not follow, nor can 4472 I admit, that these obligations extend to requiring the fulfil- 4473 ment of the contract at all costs to the happiness of the re- 4474 luctant party; but they are a necessary element in the ques- 4475 tion; and even if, as Von Humboldt maintains, they ought to 4476 make no difference in the legal freedom of the parties to 4477 release themselves from the engagement (and I also hold 4478 that they ought not to make much difference), they neces- 4479 sarily make a great difference in the moral freedom. A per- 4480 son is bound to take all these circumstances into account, 4481 before resolving on a step which may affect such important 4482 interests of others; and if he does not allow proper weight 4483 to those interests, he is morally responsible for the wrong. 4484 I have made these obvious remarks for the better illustration 4485 of the general principle of liberty, and not because they are 4486 at all needed on the particular question, which, on the con- 4487 trary, is usually discussed as if the interest of children was 4488 everything, and that of grown persons nothing. 4489 4490 I have already observed that, owing to the absence of any 4491 recognized general principles, liberty is often granted where 4492 it should be withheld, as well as withheld where it should be 4493 granted; and one of the cases in which, in the modern 4494 European world, the sentiment of liberty is the strongest, is 4495 a case where, in my view, it is altogether misplaced. A 4496 person should be free to do as he likes in his own concerns; 4497 but he ought not to be free to do as he likes in acting for 4498 another under the pretext that the affairs of another are 4499 his own affairs. The State, while it respects the liberty of 4500 each in what specially regards himself, is bound to maintain 4501 a vigilant control over his exercise of any power which it 4502 allows him to possess over others. This obligation is almost 4503 entirely disregarded in the case of the family relations, a case, 4504 in its direct influence on human happiness, more important 4505 than all the others taken together. The almost despotic 4506 power of husbands over wives needs not be enlarged upon 4507 here, because nothing more is needed for the complete re- 4508 moval of the evil, than that wives should have the same 4509 rights, and should receive the protection of law in the same 4510 manner, as all other persons; and because, on this subject, 4511 the defenders of established injustice do not avail them- 4512 selves of the plea of liberty, but stand forth openly as the 4513 champions of power. It is in the case of children, that mis- 4514 applied notions of liberty are a real obstacle to the fulfilment 4515 by the State of its duties. One would almost think that a 4516 man's children were supposed to be literally, and not meta- 4517 phorically, a part of himself, so jealous is opinion of the 4518 smallest interference of law with his absolute and exclusive 4519 control over them; more jealous than of almost any inter- 4520 ference with his own freedom of action: so much less do the 4521 generality of mankind value liberty than power. Consider, 4522 for example, the case of education. Is it not almost a self- 4523 evident axiom, that the State should require and compel the 4524 education, up to a certain standard, of every human being 4525 who is born its citizen? Yet who is there that is not afraid 4526 to recognize and assert this truth? Hardly any one indeed 4527 will deny that it is one of the most sacred duties of the 4528 parents (or, as law and usage now stand, the father), after 4529 summoning a human being into the world, to give to that 4530 being an education fitting him to perform his part well in 4531 life towards others and towards himself. But while this is 4532 unanimously declared to be the father's duty, scarcely any- 4533 body, in this country, will bear to hear of obliging him to 4534 perform it. Instead of his being required to make any ex- 4535 ertion or sacrifice for securing education to the child, it is 4536 left to his choice to accept it or not when it is provided 4537 gratis! It still remains unrecognized, that to bring a child 4538 into existence without a fair prospect of being able, not only 4539 to provide food for its body, but instruction and training 4540 for its mind, is a moral crime, both against the unfortunate 4541 offspring and against society; and that if the parent does 4542 not fulfil this obligation, the State ought to see it fulfilled, 4543 at the charge, as far as possible, of the parent. 4544 4545 Were the duty of enforcing universal education once ad- 4546 mitted, there would be an end to the difficulties about what 4547 the State should teach, and how it should teach, which now 4548 convert the subject into a mere battle-field for sects and 4549 parties, causing the time and labor which should have been 4550 spent in educating, to be wasted in quarrelling about educa- 4551 tion. If the government would make up its mind to require 4552 for every child a good education, it might save itself the 4553 trouble of providing one. It might leave to parents to obtain 4554 the education where and how they pleased, and content itself 4555 with helping to pay the school fees of the poorer classes of 4556 children, and defraying the entire school expenses of those 4557 who have no one else to pay for them. The objections which 4558 are urged with reason against State education, do not apply 4559 to the enforcement of education by the State, but to the 4560 State's taking upon itself to direct that education: which 4561 is a totally different thing. That the whole or any large part 4562 of the education of the people should be in State hands, I 4563 go as far as any one in deprecating. All that has been said 4564 of the importance of individuality of character, and diversity 4565 in opinions and modes of conduct, involves, as of the same 4566 unspeakable importance, diversity of education. A general 4567 State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to 4568 be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it 4569 casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in 4570 the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, 4571 an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation, in 4572 proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a 4573 despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one 4574 over the body. An education established and controlled by 4575 the State, should only exist, if it exist at all, as one among 4576 many competing experiments, carried on for the purpose of 4577 example and stimulus, to keep the others up to a certain 4578 standard of excellence. Unless, indeed, when society in gen- 4579 eral is in so backward a state that it could not or would not 4580 provide for itself any proper institutions of education, unless 4581 the government undertook the task; then, indeed, the gov- 4582 ernment may, as the less of two great evils, take upon itself 4583 the business of schools and universities, as it may that of 4584 joint-stock companies, when private enterprise, in a shape 4585 fitted for undertaking great works of industry does not exist 4586 in the country. But in general, if the country contains a 4587 sufficient number of persons qualified to provide education 4588 under government auspices, the same persons would be able 4589 and willing to give an equally good education on the volun- 4590 tary principle, under the assurance of remuneration afforded 4591 by a law rendering education compulsory, combined with 4592 State aid to those unable to defray the expense. 4593 4594 The instrument for enforcing the law could be no other 4595 than public examinations, extending to all children, and begin- 4596 ning at an early age. An age might be fixed at which every 4597 child must be examined, to ascertain if he (or she) is able 4598 to read. If a child proves unable, the father, unless he 4599 has some sufficient ground of excuse, might be subjected to a 4600 moderate fine, to be worked out, if necessary, by his labor, 4601 and the child might be put to school at his expense. Once in 4602 every year the examination should be renewed, with a grad- 4603 ually extending range of subjects, so as to make the universal 4604 acquisition, and what is more, retention, of a certain mini- 4605 mum of general knowledge, virtually compulsory. Beyond 4606 that minimum, there should be voluntary examinations on 4607 all subjects, at which all who come up to a certain standard 4608 of proficiency might claim a certificate. To prevent the 4609 State from exercising through these arrangements, an im- 4610 proper influence over opinion, the knowledge required for 4611 passing an examination (beyond the merely instrumental 4612 parts of knowledge, such as languages and their use) should, 4613 even in the higher class of examinations, be confined to 4614 facts and positive science exclusively. The examinations on 4615 religion, politics, or other disputed topics, shouLd not turn 4616 on the truth or falsehood of opinions, but on the matter of 4617 fact that such and such an opinion is held, on such grounds, 4618 by such authors, or schools, or churches. Under this system, 4619 the rising generation would be no worse off in regard to all 4620 disputed truths, than they are at present; they would be 4621 brought up either churchmen or dissenters as they now are, 4622 the State merely taking care that they should be instructed 4623 churchmen, or instructed dissenters. There would be noth- 4624 ing to hinder them from being taught religion, if their 4625 parents chose, at the same schools where they were taught 4626 other things. All attempts by the State to bias the conclu- 4627 sions of its citizens on disputed subjects, are evil; but it may 4628 very properly offer to ascertain and certify that a person 4629 possesses the knowledge requisite to make his conclusions, 4630 on any given subject, worth attending to. A student of phi- 4631 losophy would be the better for being able to stand an ex- 4632 amination both in Locke and in Kant, whichever of the two 4633 he takes up with, or even if with neither: and there is no 4634 reasonable objection to examining an atheist in the evidences 4635 of Christianity, provided he is not required to profess a be- 4636 lief in them. The examinations, however, in the higher 4637 branches of knowledge should, I conceive, be entirely volun- 4638 tary. It would be giving too dangerous a power to govern- 4639 ments, were they allowed to exclude any one from profes- 4640 sions, even from the profession of teacher, for alleged 4641 deficiency of qualifications: and I think, with Wilhelm von 4642 Humboldt, that degrees, or other public certificates of scien- 4643 tific or professional acquirements, should be given to all who 4644 present themselves for examination, and stand the test; but 4645 that such certificates should confer no advantage over com- 4646 petitors, other than the weight which may be attached to 4647 their testimony by public opinion. 4648 4649 It is not in the matter of education only that misplaced 4650 notions of liberty prevent moral obligations on the part of 4651 parents from being recognized, and legal obligations from 4652 being imposed, where there are the strongest grounds for 4653 the former always, and in many cases for the latter also. 4654 The fact itself, of causing the existence of a human being, 4655 is one of the most responsible actions in the range of human 4656 life. To undertake this responsibility--to bestow a life 4657 which may be either a curse or a blessing--unless the being 4658 on whom it is to be bestowed will have at least the ordinary 4659 chances of a desirable existence, is a crime against that 4660 being. And in a country either over-peopled or threatened 4661 with being so, to produce children, beyond a very small num- 4662 ber, with the effect of reducing the reward of labor by their 4663 competition, is a serious offence against all who live by the 4664 remuneration of their labor. The laws which, in many 4665 countries on the Continent, forbid marriage unless the parties 4666 can show that they have the means of supporting a family, 4667 do not exceed the legitimate powers of the State: and 4668 whether such laws be expedient or not (a question mainly 4669 dependent on local circumstances and feelings), they are 4670 not objectionable as violations of liberty. Such laws are in- 4671 terferences of the State to prohibit a mischievous act--an 4672 act injurious to others, which ought to be a subject of repro- 4673 bation, and social stigma, even when it is not deemed 4674 expedient to superadd legal punishment. Yet the current 4675 ideas of liberty, which bend so easily to real infringements 4676 of the freedom of the individual, in things which concern 4677 only himself, would repel the attempt to put any restraint 4678 upon his inclinations when the consequence of their indul- 4679 gence is a life, or lives, of wretchedness and depravity 4680 to the offspring, with manifold evils to those sufficiently 4681 within reach to be in any way affected by their actions. 4682 When we compare the strange respect of mankind for lib- 4683 erty, with their strange want of respect for it, we might 4684 imagine that a man had an indispensable right to do harm 4685 to others, and no right at all to please himself without 4686 giving pain to any one. 4687 4688 I have reserved for the last place a large class of questions 4689 respecting the limits of government interference, which, 4690 though closely connected with the subject of this Essay, do 4691 not, in strictness, belong to it. These are cases in which 4692 the reasons against interference do not turn upon the princi- 4693 ple of liberty: the question is not about restraining the 4694 actions of individuals, but about helping them: it is asked 4695 whether the government should do, or cause to be done, 4696 something for their benefit, instead of leaving it to be done 4697 by themselves, individually, or in voluntary combination. 4698 4699 The objections to government interference, when it is not 4700 such as to involve infringement of liberty, may be of three 4701 kinds. 4702 4703 The first is, when the thing to be done is likely to be better 4704 done by individuals than by the government. Speaking gen- 4705 erally, there is no one so fit to conduct any business, or to 4706 determine how or by whom it shall be conducted, as those 4707 who are personally interested in it. This principle con- 4708 demns the interferences, once so common, of the legislature, 4709 or the officers of government, with the ordinary processes 4710 of industry. But this part of the subject has been sufficiently 4711 enlarged upon by political economists, and is not particularly 4712 related to the principles of this Essay. 4713 4714 The second objection is more nearly allied to our subject. 4715 In many cases, though individuals may not do the particular 4716 thing so well, on the average, as the officers of government, 4717 it is nevertheless desirable that it should be done by them, 4718 rather than by the government, as a means to their own 4719 mental education--a mode of strengthening their active 4720 faculties, exercising their judgment, and giving them a 4721 familiar knowledge of the subjects with which they are 4722 thus left to deal. This is a principal, though not the sole, 4723 recommendation of jury trial (in cases not political); of 4724 free and popular local and municipal institutions; of the 4725 conduct of industrial and philanthropic enterprises by vol- 4726 untary associations. These are not questions of liberty, and 4727 are connected with that subject only by remote tendencies; 4728 but they are questions of development. It belongs to a dif- 4729 ferent occasion from the present to dwell on these things 4730 as parts of national education; as being, in truth, the peculiar 4731 training of a citizen, the practical part of the political edu- 4732 cation of a free people, taking them out of the narrow circle 4733 of personal and family selfishness, and accustoming them 4734 to the comprehension of joint interests, the management of 4735 joint concerns--habituating them to act from public or semi- 4736 public motives, and guide their conduct by aims which unite 4737 instead of isolating them from one another. Without these 4738 habits and powers, a free constitution can neither be worked 4739 nor preserved, as is exemplified by the too-often transitory 4740 nature of political freedom in countries where it does not 4741 rest upon a sufficient basis of local liberties. The manage- 4742 ment of purely local business by the localities, and of the 4743 great enterprises of industry by the union of those who 4744 voluntarily supply the pecuniary means, is further recom- 4745 mended by all the advantages which have been set forth in 4746 this Essay as belonging to individuality of development, and 4747 diversity of modes of action. Government operations tend 4748 to be everywhere alike. With individuals and voluntary as- 4749 sociations, on the contrary, there are varied experiments, 4750 and endless diversity of experience. What the State can 4751 usefully do, is to make itself a central depository, and active 4752 circulator and diffuser, of the experience resulting from many 4753 trials. Its business is to enable each experimentalist to bene- 4754 fit by the experiments of others, instead of tolerating no ex- 4755 periments but its own. 4756 4757 The third, and most cogent reason for restricting the 4758 interference of government, is the great evil of adding un- 4759 necessarily to its power. Every function superadded to those 4760 already exercised by the government, causes its influence 4761 over hopes and fears to be more widely diffused, and con- 4762 verts, more and more, the active and ambitious part of the 4763 public into hangers-on of the government, or of some party 4764 which aims at becoming the government. If the roads, the 4765 railways, the banks, the insurance offices, the great joint-stock 4766 companies, the universities, and the public charities, were all 4767 of them branches of the government; if, in addition, the 4768 municipal corporations and local boards, with all that now 4769 devolves on them, became departments of the central ad- 4770 ministration; if the employes of all these different enter- 4771 prises were appointed and paid by the government, and 4772 looked to the government for every rise in life; not all the 4773 freedom of the press and popular constitution of the legis- 4774 lature would make this or any other country free otherwise 4775 than in name. And the evil would be greater, the more 4776 efficiently and scientifically the administrative machinery 4777 was constructed--the more skilful the arrangements for ob- 4778 taining the best qualified hands and heads with which to 4779 work it. In England it has of late been proposed that all 4780 the members of the civil service of government should be 4781 selected by competitive examination, to obtain for those em- 4782 ployments the most intelligent and instructed persons pro- 4783 curable; and much has been said and written for and against 4784 this proposal. One of the arguments most insisted on by its 4785 opponents is that the occupation of a permanent official ser- 4786 vant of the State does not hold out sufficient prospects of 4787 emolument and importance to attract the highest talents, 4788 which will always be able to find a more inviting career in 4789 the professions, or in the service of companies and other 4790 public bodies. One would not have been surprised if this 4791 argument had been used by the friends of the proposition, as 4792 an answer to its principal difficulty. Coming from the op- 4793 ponents it is strange enough. What is urged as an objection 4794 is the safety-valve of the proposed system. If indeed all the 4795 high talent of the country could be drawn into the service of 4796 the government, a proposal tending to bring about that result 4797 might well inspire uneasiness. If every part of the business 4798 of society which required organized concert, or large and 4799 comprehensive views, were in the hands of the government, 4800 and if government offices were universally filled by the ablest 4801 men, all the enlarged culture and practised intelligence in the 4802 country, except the purely speculative, would be concen- 4803 trated in a numerous bureaucracy, to whom alone the rest 4804 of the community would look for all things: the multitude 4805 for direction and dictation in all they had to do; the able 4806 and aspiring for personal advancement. To be admitted 4807 into the ranks of this bureaucracy, and when admitted, to 4808 rise therein, would be the sole objects of ambition. Under 4809 this regime, not only is the outside public ill-qualified, for 4810 want of practical experience, to criticize or check the mode 4811 of operation of the bureaucracy, but even if the accidents 4812 of despotic or the natural working of popular institutions oc- 4813 casionally raise to the summit a ruler or rulers of reforming 4814 inclinations, no reform can be effected which is contrary to 4815 the interest of the bureaucracy. Such is the melancholy 4816 condition of the Russian empire, as is shown in the accounts 4817 of those who have had sufficient opportunity of observa- 4818 tion. The Czar himself is powerless against the bureaucratic 4819 body: he can send any one of them to Siberia, but he can- 4820 not govern without them, or against their will. On every 4821 decree of his they have a tacit veto, by merely refraining 4822 from carrying it into effect. In countries of more advanced 4823 civilization and of a more insurrectionary spirit the public, ac- 4824 customed to expect everything to be done for them by the 4825 State, or at least to do nothing for themselves without ask- 4826 ing from the State not only leave to do it, but even how it 4827 is to be done, naturally hold the State responsible for all 4828 evil which befalls them, and when the evil exceeds their 4829 amount of patience, they rise against the government and 4830 make what is called a revolution; whereupon somebody else, 4831 with or without legitimate authority from the nation, vaults 4832 into the seat, issues his orders to the bureaucracy, and every- 4833 thing goes on much as it did before; the bureaucracy being 4834 unchanged, and nobody else being capable of taking their 4835 place. 4836 4837 A very different spectacle is exhibited among a people 4838 accustomed to transact their own business. In France, a 4839 large part of the people having been engaged in military 4840 service, many of whom have held at least the rank of non- 4841 commissioned officers, there are in every popular insurrection 4842 several persons competent to take the lead, and improvise 4843 some tolerable plan of action. What the French are in mil- 4844 itary affairs, the Americans are in every kind of civil busi- 4845 ness; let them be left without a government, every body of 4846 Americans is able to improvise one, and to carry on that or 4847 any other public business with a sufficient amount of intel- 4848 ligence, order and decision. This is what every free people 4849 ought to be: and a people capable of this is certain to be 4850 free; it will never let itself be enslaved by any man or body 4851 of men because these are able to seize and pull the reins 4852 of the central administration. No bureaucracy can hope to 4853 make such a people as this do or undergo anything that they 4854 do not like. But where everything is done through the 4855 bureaucracy, nothing to which the bureaucracy is really ad- 4856 verse can be done at all. The constitution of such countries 4857 is an organization of the experience and practical ability 4858 of the nation, into a disciplined body for the purpose of gov- 4859 erning the rest; and the more perfect that organization is 4860 in itself, the more successful in drawing to itself and edu- 4861 cating for itself the persons of greatest capacity from all 4862 ranks of the community, the more complete is the bondage of 4863 all, the members of the bureaucracy included. For the gov- 4864 ernors are as much the slaves of their organization and dis- 4865 cipline, as the governed are of the governors. A Chinese 4866 mandarin is as much the tool and creature of a despotism 4867 as the humblest cultivator. An individual Jesuit is to the 4868 utmost degree of abasement the slave of his order though 4869 the order itself exists for the collective power and impor- 4870 tance of its members. 4871 4872 It is not, also, to be forgotten, that the absorption of all the 4873 principal ability of the country into the governing body is 4874 fatal, sooner or later, to the mental activity and progressive- 4875 ness of the body itself. Banded together as they are--work- 4876 ing a system which, like all systems, necessarily proceeds in 4877 a great measure by fixed rules--the official body are under 4878 the constant temptation of sinking into indolent routine, or, 4879 if they now and then desert that mill-horse round, of rush- 4880 ing into some half-examined crudity which has struck the 4881 fancy of some leading member of the corps: and the sole 4882 check to these closely allied, though seemingly opposite, ten- 4883 dencies, the only stimulus which can keep the ability of the 4884 body itself up to a high standard, is liability to the watchful 4885 criticism of equal ability outside the body. It is indispensa- 4886 ble, therefore, that the means should exist, independently of 4887 the government, of forming such ability, and furnishing it 4888 with the opportunities and experience necessary for a cor- 4889 rect judgment of great practical affairs. If we would pos- 4890 sess permanently a skilful and efficient body of functionaries 4891 --above all, a body able to originate and willing to adopt 4892 improvements; if we would not have our bureaucracy degen- 4893 erate into a pedantocracy, this body must not engross all the 4894 occupations which form and cultivate the faculties required 4895 for the government of mankind. 4896 4897 To determine the point at which evils, so formidable to 4898 human freedom and advancement begin, or rather at which 4899 they begin to predominate over the benefits attending the 4900 collective application of the force of society, under its recog- 4901 nized chiefs, for the removal of the obstacles which stand 4902 in the way of its well-being, to secure as much of the advan- 4903 tages of centralized power and intelligence, as can be had 4904 without turning into governmental channels too great a pro- 4905 portion of the general activity, is one of the most difficult 4906 and complicated questions in the art of government. It is, in 4907 a great measure, a question of detail, in which many and 4908 various considerations must be kept in view, and no abso- 4909 lute rule can be laid down. But I believe that the practical 4910 principle in which safety resides, the ideal to be kept in 4911 view, the standard by which to test all arrangements in- 4912 tended for overcoming the difficulty, may be conveyed in 4913 these words: the greatest dissemination of power consistent 4914 with efficiency; but the greatest possible centralization of 4915 information, and diffusion of it from the centre. Thus, in 4916 municipal administration, there would be, as in the New 4917 England States, a very minute division among separate of- 4918 ficers, chosen by the localities, of all business which is not 4919 better left to the persons directly interested; but besides this, 4920 there would be, in each department of local affairs, a central 4921 superintendence, forming a branch of the general govern- 4922 ment. The organ of this superintendence would concentrate, 4923 as in a focus, the variety of information and experience de- 4924 rived from the conduct of that branch of public business in 4925 all the localities, from everything analogous which is done 4926 in foreign countries, and from the general principles of 4927 political science. This central organ should have a right 4928 to know all that is done, and its special duty should be that 4929 of making the knowledge acquired in one place available 4930 for others. Emancipated from the petty prejudices and nar- 4931 row views of a locality by its elevated position and compre- 4932 hensive sphere of observation, its advice would naturally 4933 carry much authority; but its actual power, as a permanent 4934 institution, should, I conceive, be limited to compelling the 4935 local officers to obey the laws laid down for their guidance. 4936 In all things not provided for by general rules, those officers 4937 should be left to their own judgment, under responsibility to 4938 their constituents. For the violation of rules, they should be 4939 responsible to law, and the rules themselves should be laid 4940 down by the legislature; the central administrative authority 4941 only watching over their execution, and if they were not 4942 properly carried into effect, appealing, according to the nature 4943 of the case, to the tribunal to enforce the law, or to the con- 4944 stituencies to dismiss the functionaries who had not executed 4945 it according to its spirit. Such, in its general conception, is 4946 the central superintendence which the Poor Law Board is 4947 intended to exercise over the administrators of the Poor 4948 Rate throughout the country. Whatever powers the Board 4949 exercises beyond this limit, were right and necessary in that 4950 peculiar case, for the cure of rooted habits of mal-adminis- 4951 tration in matters deeply affecting not the localities merely, 4952 but the whole community; since no locality has a moral 4953 right to make itself by mismanagement a nest of pauperism, 4954 necessarily overflowing into other localities, and impairing 4955 the moral and physical condition of the whole laboring com- 4956 munity. The powers of administrative coercion and subordi- 4957 nate legislation possessed by the Poor Law Board (but 4958 which, owing to the state of opinion on the subject, are very 4959 scantily exercised by them), though perfectly justifiable in a 4960 case of a first-rate national interest, would be wholly out of 4961 place in the superintendence of interests purely local. But a 4962 central organ of information and instruction for all the locali- 4963 ties, would be equally valuable in all departments of adminis- 4964 tration. A government cannot have too much of the kind of 4965 activity which does not impede, but aids and stimulates, indi- 4966 vidual exertion and development. The mischief begins when, 4967 instead of calling forth the activity and powers of individuals 4968 and bodies, it substitutes its own activity for theirs; when, 4969 instead of informing, advising, and upon occasion de- 4970 nouncing, it makes them work in fetters or bids them stand 4971 aside and does their work instead of them. The worth of a 4972 State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals com- 4973 posing it; and a State which postpones the interests of their 4974 mental expansion and elevation, to a little more of adminis- 4975 trative skill or that semblance of it which practice gives, in 4976 the details of business; a State, which dwarfs its men, in 4977 order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands 4978 even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no 4979 great thing can really be accomplished; and that the perfec- 4980 tion of machinery to which it has sacrificed everything, will 4981 in the end avail it nothing, for want of the vital power which, 4982 in order that the machine might work more smoothly, it has 4983 preferred to banish. 4984 ===============================